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THIS WEEK'S BEST GAMES

Oct. 03, 2011
Oct. 03, 2011

Table of Contents
Oct. 3, 2011

GOLF PLUS
LEADING OFF
Inside: THE WEEK IN SPORTS
MLB PLAYOFF PREVIEW
PRO FOOTBALL
  • The Bills are a shocking 3--0—take that, Pats!—thanks to a Harvard-bred quarterback and a spirit of togetherness that reflects their city

PRO HOCKEY
COLLEGE FOOTBALL
WALTER PAYTON
  • One of the game's true icons, a player so esteemed that the NFL's Man of the Year Award bears his name, Walter Payton retired in 1988 as pro football's alltime leading rusher. But even to those closest to him, he had always been an enigma, and in his final years the mysteries deepened

Departments

THIS WEEK'S BEST GAMES

Here are the teams and themes to keep an eye on in Week 5

NO. 3 ALABAMA at NO. 12 FLORIDA

This is an article from the Oct. 3, 2011 issue

What we've learned about the Tide: What we already knew—that their D is neck-and-neck with LSU's as the best in the country. Alabama held high-powered Arkansas to 17 yards on the ground (and 226 in all) in a 38--14 beatdown.

What we've learned about the Gators: They can run the ball against inferior competition. Florida rolled up 405 rushing yards in a 48--10 rout of Kentucky, including 100-yard games from Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey.

What it all means on Saturday: Alabama has won five of its last seven games against Florida, including last year's. Both D's are stout (Alabama is third against the run, Florida fifth), but the Tide plays at another level. It will roll by double digits.

NO. 8 NEBRASKA at NO. 7 WISCONSIN

What we've learned about the Huskers: Their ground game is ready for the Big Ten. Rex Burkhead ran for 170 yards in a 38--14 win over Wyoming, the second straight game in which Nebraska has rushed for at least 200 yards in the second half.

What we've learned about the Badgers: They've outscored their first four opponents 194--34 behind senior QB Russell Wilson, the first Badger to throw for at least 325 yards twice in the same season.

What it all means on Saturday: Nebraska's inaugural Big Ten game is the first meeting of top 10 teams at Camp Randall since 1962. Hard to see Wisconsin losing, especially if injured Huskers defensive tackle Jared Crick can't go.

NO. 13 CLEMSON at NO. 11 VIRGINIA TECH

What we've learned about the Tigers: Clemson is 4--0 for the first time since 2007, and QB Tajh Boyd (left), who had three passing TDs and one rushing score in a 35--30 win over Florida State, deserves some Heisman love.

What we've learned about the Hokies: Not much. Sure, they waxed Marshall 30--10 and improved to 4--0, but even coach Frank Beamer lamented, "We had some good plays, and we had some that were not so good. We were not consistent."

What it all means on Saturday: Clemson makes big plays, and Virginia Tech is prone to giving them up. It's never easy to win in Blacksburg, but Clemson will win back-to-back-to-back games over ranked opponents.

NO. 14 TEXAS A&M vs. NO. 18 ARKANSAS

What we've learned about the Aggies: They let Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden put up big numbers in a 30--29 loss. After the game, A&M coach Mike Sherman said his players "lost their legs" in the second half when they blew a 20--3 lead.

What we've learned about the Razorbacks: So much for the SEC's No. 1 offense. Facing a superior Alabama squad, the Hogs were limited to 17 yards on 19 rushes and were outgained 397--226.

What it all means on Saturday: The Southwest Classic in Arlington, Texas, (the Razorbacks have won the last two meetings), has added significance this year with A&M's plans to enter the SEC. Go with Arkansas by a field goal.

WASHINGTON at UTAH

What we've learned about the Huskies: QB Keith Price threw for three scores in a 31--23 win over Cal and has 14 TD passes this season. "He was a freakin' stud again for us," said Washington coach Steve Sarkisian.

What we've learned about the Utes: They enjoyed a bye week after a 54--10 win over BYU, their largest victory over the Cougars since 1922. Utah's opportunistic D is tied for sixth nationally in turnovers gained (12).

What it all means on Saturday: Utah and Washington have not played since 1979 and have never played in Salt Lake City. A stat to keep in mind: Utes coach Kyle Whittingham is 6--0 coming off regular-season byes. That should go to 7--0 this week.

PHOTOSIMON BRUTY