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Uneven matchups mark college slate

Posted: Thursday, September 26, 2002

It's Bully Week in college football.

Just about every year, there's a Saturday in September that produces some of the most lopsided scores of the season. That day arrives shortly.

Seven of the top 13 teams in the AP's Top 25 poll are favored by at least 22 points on Saturday, with No. 11 Tennessee topping the list as 40 1/2-point favorites over Rutgers.

Pity Rutgers (1-3). Not only do the Scarlet Knights have to play in Knoxville, but the Vols aren't in a hospitable mood after last week's 30-13 loss to rival Florida.

The other matchups, or likely mismatches: No. 13 Washington is a 30 1/2-point favorite over Idaho; No. 3 Texas a 30-point pick over Tulane, No. 8 Georgia a 28 1/2-point choice over New Mexico State; No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 6 Ohio State are 27 1/2-point choices over South Florida and Indiana, respectively; and No. 5 Virginia Tech is a 22 1/2-point pick over Western Michigan.

While there's little doubt about the outcome, the expected losers also win. The router gets an easy win over a I-A opponent, and the visiting routee cashes in on a big payday to help balance the athletic budget.

Washington quarterback Cody Pickett is looking for another 400-yard plus passing day (he had 404 against Wyoming last week). Idaho's pass defense is ranked 117th and last in I-A, allowing 322.75 yards per game.

There's one eye-opener of a point spread this week. Nebraska visits Iowa State, and the game is listed as ''pick 'em.'' In the past 10 years, the Huskers have never been less than 15 1/2-point favorites over the Cyclones, according to the folks who produce the Glantz-Culver line.

The picks:

South Florida (plus 27 1/2) at No. 2 Oklahoma

These are Bulls, not Gators ... OKLAHOMA, 45-0.

No. 3 Texas (minus 30) at Tulane

In first 17 meetings, 'Horns are 15-1-1 with nine shutouts ... TEXAS, 48-7.

No. 4 Florida State (minus 15) at Louisville (Thursday)

Rix or Ragone, you make the call ... FLORIDA STATE, 41-21.

No. 5 Virginia Tech (minus 22 1/2) at Western Michigan

Hokies allowing just 9.8 points per game ... VIRGINIA TECH, 28-10.

Indiana (plus 27 1/2) at No. 6 Ohio State

Freshman RB Clarett set to return for Buckeyes' Big Ten opener ... OHIO STATE, 41-10.

Kentucky (plus 19) at No. 7 Florida

Gators bring Wildcats -- and QB Lorenzen -- down to earth ... FLORIDA, 34-20.

New Mexico State (plus 28 1/2) at No. 8 Georgia

'Dawgs posted last shutout 24 games ago -- vs. Aggies ... GEORGIA, 31-0.

Rutgers (plus 40 1/2) at No. 11 Tennessee

We can't watch ... TENNESSEE, 59-7.

Iowa (plus 8) at No. 12 Penn State

Not a pushover for unbeaten Nittany Lions ... PENN STATE, 27-21.

Idaho (plus 30 1/2) at No. 13 Washington

Huskies QB Pickett third in total offense (347.3) ... WASHINGTON, 49-21.

No. 14 Michigan (minus 7 1/2) at Illinois

Wolverines still shaky ... MICHIGAN, 21-20.

No. 16 Washington State (plus 3 1/2) at California

Cal capable of avenging 31-point loss in '01 ... CALIFORNIA, 34-28.

Massachusetts (no line) at No. 17 North Carolina State

UMass has fine QB in Krohn, but NC State has fab QB in Rivers ... NC STATE, 42-21.

No. 23 Oregon State (plus 3) at No. 18 USC

Beavers 0-18 at Coliseum since winning in '60 ... OREGON STATE, 31-21.

No. 20 Nebraska (pick 'em) at No. 19 Iowa State

With QB Wallace, Cyclones set to end nine-game slide vs. Huskers ... IOWA STATE, 28-24.

Mississippi State (plus 13) at No. 22 LSU

LSU has won nine of last 10 vs. Bulldogs, including 42-0 in '01 ... LSU, 31-10.

Louisiana Tech (plus 13) at No. 24 Texas A&M

Aggies defense to the rescue ... TEXAS A&M, 20-17.

No. 25 Colorado State (minus 11 1/2) at Nevada

Rams 7-0 vs. Wolfpack ... COLORADO STATE, 31-17.

Last week: 13-5 (straight); 9-7 (vs. points)

Season: 69-14 (straight); 45-31 (vs. points)



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