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Four college football unbeatens try to avoid upsets

Posted: Thursday, November 04, 2004

The list of unbeatens is down to six with a month left in the regular season.

No. 1 Southern California, No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 7 Utah are all favored to stay perfect Saturday. But Miami's loss to North Carolina last week served as a reminder to the top teams that it's hard to hide flaws in conference games, especially on the road.

USC seems to be gaining momentum every week. Since winning back-to-back close games at Stanford and against California, the Trojans have outscored their opponents 125-19.

Now they go to Oregon State, which has won three straight against some of the Pac-10's weaklings since a rough start.

Corvallis is unfamiliar territory for the Trojans. They haven't played there since 2000, when the Beavers broke a 26-game losing streak to USC with a 31-21 win. But that was before coach Pete Carroll arrived in Los Angeles.

''It presents new challenges because we have not been there before. We are accustomed to the format of the trip, but you don't know something until you go do it,'' Carroll said.

In 1967, Oregon State knocked off No. 1 USC and O.J. Simpson 3-0 in Corvallis, one of the greatest victories in school history.

Oklahoma barely escaped Stillwater with a 38-35 victory over Oklahoma State last Saturday. Texas A&M awaits the Sooners in College Station.

''We have to come out in a very tough Big 12 South setting at Texas A&M and improve in some areas,'' Sooners coach Bob Stoops said.

The Aggies slipped up last week at Baylor, but they've been waiting all year to avenge the worst loss in Big 12 history. Oklahoma beat Texas A&M 77-0 in 2003.

Wisconsin appears to have an easier task at home against slumping Minnesota, which has lost three of four. But this a rivalry game in the Big Ten, with Paul Bunyan's ax going to the winner.

Utah has been storming through its Mountain West Conference rivals next up is Colorado State. Coach Sonny Lubick's Rams were the league's kingpin until coach Urban Meyer moved to Salt Lake City. The Rams (3-5, 2-2) are in danger of having their first losing season since 1993, Lubick's first in Fort Collins.

Auburn (9-0) and Boise State (8-0) are idle.

The picks:

Thursday

No. 14 Louisville (minus 13) at Memphis

Cardinals' toughest remaining game ... LOUISVILLE 38-28.

Saturday

No. 1 Southern Cal (minus 18) at Oregon State

USC's last game outside Los Angeles ... USC 37-10.

No. 2 Oklahoma (minus 12) at No. 22 Texas A&M

Revenge couldn't get much sweeter ... TEXAS A&M 31-27. Oregon (plus 21) at No. 4 California

Ducks have won four straight since 1-3 start ... CALIFORNIA 34-21.

Minnesota (plus 6 1/2) at No. 5 Wisconsin

Healthy Badgers defense greets Gophers ... WISCONSIN 24-13.

No. 19 Oklahoma State (plus 12 1/2) at No. 6 Texas

Now here's an Oklahoma team the Longhorns can handle ... TEXAS 34-20.

Colorado State (plus 26 1/2) at No. 7 Utah

Rams had won five straight against Utes, before last season's loss. ... UTAH 48-17.

No. 8 Georgia (minus 24) at Kentucky

Bulldogs gearing up for Auburn .... GEORGIA 33-7.

Notre Dame (plus 7) at No. 9 Tennessee

Irish's last three opponents are combined 20-3 ... TENNESSEE 28-14.

Clemson (plus 17) at No. 11 Miami

'Canes still smarting ... MIAMI 34-23.

Maryland (plus 14) at No. 12 Virginia

Cavaliers have renewed hopes for ACC title ... VIRGINIA 29-6.

Duke (plus 31) at No. 13 Florida State

QB Chris Rix back at the helm for FSU ... FLORIDA STATE 44-10. Temple (plus 28) at No. 15 West Virginia

Good time for Mountaineers to bench troublesome WR Chris Henry .... WEST VIRGINIA 45-10.

No. 18 Virginia Tech (minus 10) at North Carolina

Tar Heels face better defense this week ... VIRGINIA TECH 24-16.

Purdue (no line) at No. 20 Iowa

QB Kyle Orton (hip) might not play for Purdue ... IOWA 15-12. Cincinnati (plus 5 1/2) at No. 21 Southern Mississippi

Golden Eagles keep pace with Louisville in C-USA ... SOUTHERN MISS 38-13.

Stanford (plus 10 1/2) at No. 23 Arizona State

Cardinal offense is struggling as bad as Sun Devils' D ... ARIZONA STATE 31-14.

Rutgers (plus 14 1/2) at No. 24 Boston College

BC looking to big game against West Virginia ... BOSTON COLLEGE 34-23.

Last week: 12-7 (straight); 8-10-1 (vs. points)

Season: 135-37 (straight); 84-77-4 (vs. points)



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