At long last, college football returns Saturday. Kick off your shoes and forget about those lifelike Playstation duplications of the most hallowed of sports, because the real thing's back.
Michigan State at No. 23 Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m. (NBC)
This game finds Notre Dame in search of a win and Michigan State in search of an upset.
Although Michigan State merely slid past Central Michigan in its opener, the sting from a beating at the hands of Nebraska still rings in Irish heads.
The 'Huskers were up 27-3 before anyone in gold could turn around, and Saturday could be more of the same.
Behind the legs of T.J. Duckett, the Spartans have one of the best offenses in the Big Ten - course that's not saying a whole lot this year. Duckett ran for 120 yards in the opener, and he'll be too much for Bob Davie and the Irish.
Spartans 28, Irish 13
No. 21 Ohio State at No. 12 UCLA, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
Another one of those Big Ten/Pac-10 matchups, and probably the best game of the week. Too bad it won't be a game.
UCLA has one of the best offensive machines in the country; they're also one of the oldest.
Tailback DeShaun Foster, quarterback Cory Paus and receiver Brian Poli-Dixon must be on the Bruins' six- or seven-year plans. And the ageless wonders are winning.
Foster has 300 yards on the young season, but it's Paus who said he expects to have a breakout game against the Buckeyes. Scary thought for first-year coach Jim Tressel and OSU as they head to the Rose Bowl.
Bruins 42, Buckeyes 17
No. 25 Louisville at Illinois, noon (ESPN)
Louisville and Illinois aren't among the nation's football elite, but their quarterbacks sure are.
The Cardinals' Dave Ragone and the Illini's Kurt Kittner are two the top five passers in the country. Ragone (53-of-88, 858 yards, six TDs) has the newly ranked Cards playing like a top-15 team. His confidence should be enough to push U of L to 3-0 on the
season.
Cardinals 35, Illini 20
Southern California at No. 7 Oregon, 10:15 p.m. (Fox Sports Net)
Oregon isn't getting a whole lot of respect these days.
Yeah, the Ducks are 2-0, but they've just managed to get by the likes of Wisconsin and Utah, hardly looking like a top-10 team at times.
The Trojans are playing with heart thanks to new coach and former New England Patriots boss Pete Carroll.
The last time USC and Oregon met, the game went into triple overtime. Don't expect that this week as the Ducks should flap their way back into the national picture, with Joey Harrington reinserting his name in the Heisman race.
Ducks 44, Trojans 28
Arkansas at Alabama, 3:30 p.m. (CBS regional)
At last check, Arkansas was still looking for an offense.
The Razorbacks still haven't cleared the 100-yard mark for total offense in games against UNLV and Tennessee, and the going doesn't get much easier as the Hogs travel to 'Bama. Tuscaloosa will be a tough place for All-SEC tailback Cedric Cobbs to get untr
acked as he goes up against a very tough Tide defensive front.
Alabama, likewise struggling offensively, should break out against the undermanned Hogs; look for a lot of receiver Freddie Milons and tailback Ahmaad Galloway.
Crimson Tide 34, Razorbacks 10
Auburn at Syracuse, 7:45 p.m. (ESPN)
It was supposed to be a rebuilding year down on The Plains at Auburn, but Tommy Tuberville has the Tigers playing like SEC contenders thanks to quarterback Jason Campbell.
Campbell, a Dameyune Craig clone, is 31-of-47 for 356 yards in two games as a starter, but the trip to Syracuse - and more notably the cavernous Carrier Dome - will be his first test.
The surroundings and the Orangemen defense might prove too much for the young Tigers as the 'Cuse will get back to .500.
Orangemen 17, Tigers 14
Other top-25 games: Florida 50, Kentucky 14; Texas 31, Houston 17; Florida State 40, North Carolina 10; Virginia Tech 34, Rutgers 7; Fresno State 24, Tulsa 0; Kansas State 34, New Mexico State 6; Washington 30, Idaho 10; Northwestern 28, Duke 10; Clemson
20, Virginia 10; Michigan 30, Western Michigan 21.
(Last week: 19-1, Season: 40-3)