Ratings and Recommendations

Thursday, May 5, 2011

More on the line this weekend than Oklahoma-Texas Tech

Thursday, May 5, 2011

But what about the rest of the teams in action on Saturday? They've got plenty to play for as well

Penn State and Michigan State will square off with the winner getting a share of the Big Ten title.

Utah can lock up its spot in the BCS, but first must beat its biggest rival, Brigham Young, who can earn a share of the Mountain West and possibly steal that BCS spot.

Pittsburgh and Cincinnati will determine which team has the inside track on the Big East title.

Oregon State still controls its own destiny for the Rose Bowl.

It is also a weekend for rivalries and trophy games that are always important.

Ohio State against Michigan, no matter the records, will establish bragging rights for another 365 days. Purdue and Indiana will fight for the Old Oaken Bucket. Floyd of Rosedale is on the line between Iowa and Minnesota.

The Apple Cup might not be as important to Washington and Washington State as winning their first Pac-10 game.

The day will wrap up with the aforementioned matchup between the Sooners and Red Raiders. Like Tech's nail-biter against Texas, it should be a battle of quarterbacks with Graham Harrell and Sam Bradford. Add in Michael Crabtree and you have three of the five contenders for the Heisman Trophy.

Texas Tech can confirm itself as the Big 12 South representative in the conference title game and move one win against Missouri away from the title game.

Or a win by Oklahoma will send the Sooners into next week's Bedlam battle against Oklahoma State with three teams tied for the division lead, which would set the stage for another crazy Saturday.

No. 2 Texas Tech at No. 5 Oklahoma, 8 p.m.

The Sooners seemed to have recovered from the loss of linebacker Ryan Reynolds. That will be tested by the high-octane Red Raiders offense. The home crowd will be a big advantage to Bob Stoops' team, who is 59-2 in Norman since he arrived in 1999. Oklahoma 38, Texas Tech 35.

No. 3 Florida vs. The Citadel, 1:30 p.m.

Not exactly the perfect senior day opponent for the Gators unless you are a walk-on looking to see the field one last time. Florida 56, The Citadel 10.

No. 7 Utah vs. No. 14 Brigham Young, 6 p.m.

As if the annual Holy War wasn't enough to stir the emotions between the Utes and Cougars. BYU can stop its rival from reaching the BCS and share the Mountain West title with a victory. The last three games in the series have come down to the final minute. Expect the same this year. Utah 23, Brigham Young 21.

No. 8 Penn State vs. No. 15 Michigan State, 3:30 p.m.

Beating the Spartans and earning a trip to the Rose Bowl would be an amazing way for Joe Paterno to finish his career at Happy Valley. JoePa doesn't seem the sentimental type, however, so we probably haven't seen the last of him. Penn State 30, Michigan State 17.

No. 9 Boise State at Nevada, 4 p.m.

The Broncos had to go four overtimes to survive the Wolf Pack in Boise. Now the stage turns to Reno, and they have to win to stay alive in their hunt for a BCS berth. The key will be stopping the nation's top rushing attack and getting a ground attack going against the second-best defense against the run. Boise State 31, Nevada 30.

No. 10 Ohio State vs. Michigan, noon

Even though the Buckeyes could win the Big Ten and go to the Rose Bowl, there's a lot less at stake than your standard edition of The Game. Rich Rodriguez would like something positive to take into the offseason after a rough first year as coach of the Wolverines. Ohio State 30, Michigan 12.

No. 17 TCU vs. Air Force, 3:30 p.m.

The Horned Frogs hopefully are over their loss to Utah that cost them dearly in the Mountain West. They better be because the Falcons aren't the opponent you want to play if you are not focused. TCU 27, Air Force 14.

No. 18 LSU vs. Mississippi, 3:30 p.m.

The Tigers were 15 minutes away from an embarrassing loss to Troy before an amazing fourth quarter saved them. A similar letdown would be disastrous against the Rebels, who have already won at The Swamp and seek a road win at another SEC shrine. Mississippi 24, LSU 21.

No. 19 Pittsburgh at No. 20 Cincinnati, 7:15 p.m.

Want to know why Brian Kelly is being considered for some plum jobs? He's got the Bearcats in position to go to a major bowl for the first time in school history. Dave Wannstedt's Panthers have other ideas. A victory would leave West Virginia as the only obstacle in between their own BCS berth. Cincinnati 26, Pittsburgh 20.

No. 21 Oregon State at Arizona, 7 p.m.

Two more steps left for the Beavers as they drive toward the Rose Bowl. Mike Stoops probably has saved his job in Tucson, but he could use a win to solidify where he will be next year. Oregon State 28, Arizona 21.

No. 23 Maryland vs. Florida State, 7:45 p.m.

In the crazy ACC, the Terps are one of two teams with just two losses in the league while seven others have three losses, including the Seminoles. Maryland would have preferred FSU win last week as it is perfect against Top 25 teams this year.Maryland 21, Florida State 19.

No. 24 Northwestern vs. Illinois, 3:30 p.m.

While the Wildcats are one of the nice stories this year, it is do-or-die time for the Illini. A loss would cause them to miss out on the bowl season and place them with other huge disappointments Tennessee, Auburn and Arizona State. Illinois 26, Northwestern 24.

No. 25 Boston College at Wake Forest, 3:30 p.m.

One thing about the Eagles, they don't beat themselves. Chris Crane may not be Matt Ryan, but he is doing enough to lead BC to the ACC title game with two more wins. Boston College 23, Wake Forest 20.

Last week's record:  15-3

This year's record:  182-51


Erick Smith is the online college football editor at USA TODAY. Please send questions or comments to him at easmith@usatoday.com.

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