Who'll Stay Perfect?

The number of unbeatens is dropping quickly, and there will be even fewer after these four big Saturday games
October 10, 2004

NO. 2 OKLAHOMA (4-0) VS. NO. 5 TEXAS (4-0) AT DALLAS

This could be Texas's best chance in years to beat Oklahoma, but with the Sooners stacking nine in the box against RB Cedric Benson, sophomore QB Vince Young will have to prove he can throw downfield and convert on third-and-long. Oklahoma's offense is well balanced, with sensational freshman RB Adrian Peterson and underappreciated receiver Mark Clayton (22 receptions, 320 yards). Texas has one of the best linebackers in the country in the speedy, athletic Derrick Johnson, but while the Sooners' defense may not be as star-studded as last year, it's plenty good enough to shut down the Longhorns.

PREDICTION

Oklahoma 35, Texas 24

NO. 7 CAL (3-0) AT NO. 1 USC (4-0)

Can the 11th-ranked Cal defense clamp down on the most explosive player in the nation? Multiple-threat sophomore Reggie Bush is averaging 212.8 all-purpose yards for the Trojans, and the Bears must find a way to limit his big plays. This game also features two top wideouts: Cal's Chase Lyman had five catches for 176 yards against Oregon State last week, and USC's Steve Smith ranks 20th in the nation with 6.3 catches per game. The Bears were the only team to beat Southern Cal in '03; this year they lead the nation in scoring (48.7 ppg) and rank second in total offense (539 ypg). Ready for another upset?

PREDICTION

Cal 38, USC 35

NO. 13 MINNESOTA (5-0) AT NO. 14 MICHIGAN (4-1)

Unstoppable force, meet immovable object. Minnesota boasts the best one-two rushing punch in the nation in RBs Marion Barber III and Laurence Maroney, who've combined for 254.4 yards per game; Michigan has the nation's top rushing defense (a scant 47.2 yards per game). A stalemate on that front means the game could come down to the quarterbacks, where Minnesota has the edge. Golden Gophers sophomore Bryan Cupito has thrown seven TDs and just one interception. Michigan true freshman Chad Henne, while promising, has been inconsistent and could be susceptible to pressure.

PREDICTION

Minnesota 24, Michigan 20

NO. 17 TENNESSEE (3-1) AT NO. 3 GEORGIA (4-0)

The bad news: Tennessee true freshman quarterback Erik Ainge had trouble with Auburn's pressure (four INTs) in a 34-10 loss last Saturday. The worse news: The Bulldogs' defense is much better than Auburn's. After looking sluggish at the beginning of the season, Georgia unveiled a ground attack led by freshman RB Danny Ware (95.0 rushing yards per game) and showed why it's a national championship contender in routing LSU, 45--16. Reality bit Tennessee against Auburn, and now Volunteers rookie Ainge gets to find out what life is like on the road in the nation's toughest conference.

PREDICTION

Georgia 42, Tennessee 10

COLOR PHOTOJOSH MERWIN (CLAYTON) Clayton COLOR PHOTOCALEB SIMPSON/ICON SMI (JOHNSON) Johnson COLOR PHOTOTODD BIGELOW/AURORA (LYMAN) Lyman COLOR PHOTOPETER READ MILLER (SMITH) Smith COLOR PHOTO JOHN BIEVER (CUPITO; HENNE) Cupito COLOR PHOTO JOHN BIEVER (CUPITO; HENNE) Henne COLOR PHOTOAL TIELEMANS (AINGE) Ainge COLOR PHOTO BOB ROSATO (WARE) Ware

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)