College Football: Top 25 preview

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 7, 2008

Associated Press
The Top 25 preview …
BATON ROUGE, La. ó Having staked out their familiar spot in the parking lot sandwiched between Tiger Stadium and the Mississippi River, a group of LSU fans was asked what sort of reception Nick Saban can expect Saturday from the purple-and-gold faithful.
That’s an easy one.
“I think we’re going to boo him out of the stadium,” Jim Huggins said Friday afternoon, already partying with food, drink and friends even though the game was still 24 hours away. “They probably should bring him there in the pope-mobile,” the pontiff’s bulletproof vehicle.
Saban is now in charge of the crimson and white ó Alabama’s colors ó and the folks in these parts are still miffed that after trading LSU for the NFL, he returned to the Southeastern Conference just two years later at a rival school that made him the highest-paid coach in college football.
They’re big on loyalty in Cajun Country, which is why few are willing to forgive Saban for his alleged treachery ó especially since he’s guided the Crimson Tide to its first No. 1 ranking during the regular season since 1980.
Alabama (9-0, 5-0 SEC) can clinch the Western Division championship with a win over Saban’s former employer and stay on track to play for its first national title in 16 years.
No. 8 OKLAHOMA STATE (8-1) at No. 2 TEXAS TECH (9-0)
Get ready for another “biggest game in the history of this year.”
That’s what dry-witted Texas Tech coach Mike Leach called the Big 12’s prime-time showdown tonight, this one against eighth-ranked Oklahoma State a week after the Red Raiders rose to No. 2 by beating Texas for the program’s first win against a top-ranked team.
Frankly, Cowboys coach Mike Gundy is worn out, and his team even got a relative break with last week’s 59-17 home romp against Iowa State.
“This is getting kind of monotonous with the big games in this league,” said Gundy, whose team helped kick off the Big 12 craziness a month ago with an upset of No. 3 Missouri the same day fifth-ranked Texas bounced No. 1 Oklahoma. “There’s just not a lot of time to back off.”
Under different circumstances, the chatter would be all about the first Texas Tech-Oklahoma State game since Gundy’s “I’m a man” rant that became a YouTube sensation after last year’s 49-45 Cowboys win.
No. 3 PENN STATE (9-0) at IOWA (5-4)No. 2 in BCS rankings, Nittany Lions are three wins away from likely spot in BCS title game Jan. 8 in Miami.
No. 4 FLORIDA (7-1) at VANDERBILT (5-3)Since 1989, Gators have beaten Commodores 17 straight times. After emotional-revenge win last week over LSU, Gators need to be on letdown alert as style points do count in tight BCS race. QB Tim Tebow once again looked like Heisman winner last week going 10-of-13 for 154 yards with two TDs and running for two other scores.
No. 6 OKLAHOMA (8-1) at TEXAS A&M (4-5)QB Sam Bradford (third in nation in QB rating, 129-of-187, 3,086 passing, leads nation with 34 TD passes) taking aim at weak Aggies’ secondary
No. 21 CALIFORNIA (6-2) at No. 7 USC (7-1)
Under Carroll, Trojans are unbeaten 24-0 in November games. Only half-game behind Trojans, Bears need sizable upset to keep alive hopes for first Pac-10 title since 1958.
No. 12 OHIO STATE (7-2) at NORTHWESTERN (7-2)
Still with outside shot at share of Big Ten title, Buckeyes need to pick up pieces from disheartening 13-6 loss at home to Penn State Oct. 25.
KANSAS STATE (4-5) at No. 13 MISSOURI (7-2)After losing 13 straight to Wildcats, Tigers have beaten KSU last two years by combined score of 90-53.