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Other Colleges Smizik's College Football Picks

Oklahoma's title hopes get tested vs. Colorado

Friday, November 01, 2002

The national championship hopes of No. 2 Oklahoma (7-0) will be put to the test tomorrow when it takes on No. 13 Colorado (6-2) at Boulder, Colo., but certainly the Sooners seem up to the task.


Colorado's offensive force is Chris Brown, who leads NCAA Division I-A in rushing with 163 yards a game. But the Sooners own the No. 2 defense in Division I, and in their past two games, against Texas and Iowa State, they've allowed 70 rushing yards on 58 carries.

Since opening 1-2, the Buffaloes are averaging 38 points a game. Iowa State was averaging 40 points going into its game with Oklahoma and was held to 3. Oklahoma, 17-14.

In other games:

Pitt (6-2) at Virginia Tech (8-0): The Panthers are playing well and the Hokies have struggled a bit against teams they should be dusting. The Pitt defense must control running backs Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones, no easy task. A win puts the Panthers in the Top 25. Virginia Tech, 24-13.

Illinois (3-5) at Penn State (5-3): With the tough part of the schedule behind them, the Lions should be able to win out against Big Ten Conference second-tier teams and Virginia, schools with a combined record of 15-18. Zack Mills must rebound from his terrible game against Ohio State and has a good chance of doing so against the 10th-ranked defense in the conference. Penn State, 35-7.

West Virginia (5-3) at Temple (3-5): The Owls are a bit of a surprise in the Big East, but not nearly so much as the Mountaineers. Coach Rich Rodriquez is ahead of schedule with his rebuilding and has every reason to believe his team can finish 8-4. West Virginia, 27-20.

Minnesota (7-1) at Ohio State (9-0): On paper, a classic; on the field, a mismatch. The Gophers have played no one. The Division I teams they've beaten have a combined 15-35 record; only Toledo has a winning record. After the Buckeyes, they have Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin. Ohio State, 34-10.

Florida (5-3) at Georgia (8-0): This game, played in Jacksonville and known as the world's largest outdoor cocktail party, could bury the Gators' disappointing season. For the first time since 1992, the Bulldogs enter the game as the higher-ranked team. Georgia, 33-21.

Boston College (4-3) at Notre Dame (8-0): The Eagles love nothing better than to win this one -- the title game for Division I-A Catholic universities -- and have done so two of the past three times the teams have met. Boston College knocked the unbeaten Irish out of the national title picture in 1993 with a memorable 41-39 win. That game, like this one, came a week after the Irish beat Florida State. Notre Dame, 27-10.

Arizona State (7-2) at Washington State (7-1): The surprising Sun Devils, expected to finish near the bottom of the league, are on the road to Pasadena, Calif., but it's tough getting through Pullman, Wash. The Cougars, who have lost only to Ohio State, must contain Terrell Suggs, who has 17 1/2 sacks. Washington State, 31-20.

Michigan State (3-5) at Michigan (6-2): The Spartans have lost three in a row -- by an average of 22 points -- and five of their past six. Wolverines running back Chris Perry should run wild against the porous Michigan State defense. Michigan, 31-13.

Texas (7-1) at Nebraska (6-3): Haven't the once-proud Cornhuskers suffered enough? Not if Texas has its way. Nebraska owns a 26-game home winning streak, sort of its final connection with excellence. Its 38-31 comeback win at Texas A&M last week might be a sign Nebraska is coming back. Texas, 31-29.

Wisconsin (6-3) at Iowa (8-1): Can the Hawkeyes focus after giving Michigan its worst home loss in 35 years? They'll have to against a Wisconsin team that ran for 313 yards last week against Michigan State. Iowa, 27-21.

Tennessee (4-3) at South Carolina (5-3): The Volunteers are one of the most disappointing teams in the country. Their best win is against Arkansas (4-3). The Gamecocks have won four of five. South Carolina, 27-24.

Georgia Tech (5-3) at North Carolina State (9-0): The Wolfpack is proof of how far you can advance without playing a successful team. Their Division I-A opponents have a combined 23-37 record, which still is good enough to make them a dubious 10th in the nation. The Yellow Jackets lost two in a row before upsetting Virginia last week. North Carolina State, 28-20.

Last week: 9-4; season: 74-40, .649.

Bob Smizik can be reached at bsmizik@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1468.

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