Desert dustup awaits Trojans

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:02 AM ET

Bye-bye, Michigan. See ya later, Louisville. And take a deep breath, Tennessee. You're not quite dead yet.

With each passing week, the national championship chase becomes a little more clearly defined, as supposed contenders continue to be weeded out as mere pretenders.

What's become certain is this: USC, Texas and Virginia Tech are the class of this field, with each one a prospect to run the table.

Surely, the BCS folks hope one of them stumble. Otherwise, it'll be a repeat of 2004, when Auburn went 13-0 and got jobbed out of a chance to play for national crown.

If you're No. 3 Virginia Tech, that's not exactly a hokey thought.

On with this week's picks:

GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 1 USC (-16) at No. 14 Arizona State (Saturday, 3:30 p.m.) -- QB Sam Keller and the high-powered Sun Devils offence will test mighty Trojans, and they'll score plenty. But so, too, will USC and RB Reggie Bush. Nobody's figured out yet how to stop the Trojans for four quarters. Look for USC to escape in a wild shootout right to the finish.

Pick: ARIZONA STATE.

NEXT BEST THINGS

Michigan (+51/2) at No. 11 Michigan State (Saturday, Noon, ABC) -- Speaking of hot offences ... the Spartans and QB Drew Stanton keep firing on all cylinders, while Wolverines pivot Chad Henne clearly misses injured RB Michael Hart. Michigan State blew a huge lead at Ann Arbor a year ago. But that was last year. Pick: MICHIGAN STATE.

No. 13 Notre Dame (+3) at No. 22 Purdue (Saturday, 7:45 p.m., The Score) -- Minnesota ran all over the Boilermakers last week. Now the Irish and Darius Walker roll into town. Purdue is aiming for first three-game winning streak against Notre Dame since 1967-69. Irish stay road warriors. Pick: NOTRE DAME.

UPSET SPECIAL

No. 5 Florida (-31/2) at No. 15 Alabama (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS) -- At 4-0, the Crimson Tide is a player again in the SEC title race, and gets all its toughest foes at home in Tuscaloosa. Alabama QB Brodie Croyle can match the Gators' more heralded Chris Leak, and the Tide defence is sturdy. PICK: ALABAMA.

BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK

Florida Atlantic (+38) at No. 24 Louisville (Saturday) -- Cardinals are steamed after last week's stunning flop at South Florida. And Florida Atlantic is no South Florida. Not even close. Pick: LOUISVILLE.

QUICK PICKS

(Straight-up selections in bold)

Saturday

Missouri (+14) over No. 2 Texas

West Virginia (+10) over No. 3 Virginia Tech

No. 4 LSU (-14 1/2) over Mississippi State

Syracuse (+21) over No. 6 Florida State

South Florida (+21) over No. 9 Miami (Fla.)

Mississippi (+21 1/2) over No. 10 Tennessee

Arizona (+16) over No. 12 California

No. 16 Texas Tech (-18) over Kansas

Indiana (+17 1/2) over No. 17 Wisconsin

No. 18 Minnesota (-2 1/2) over Penn State

No. 19 Virginia (-3 1/2) over Maryland

No. 20 UCLA (-21 1/2) over Washington

No. 21 Boston College (-38 1/2) over Ball State

No. 23 Iowa State (+3 1/2) over Nebraska

Last week -- 14-4 straight up; 6-12 ATS.

Season record -- 56-18 straight up; 32-39-3 ATS.

Best bet -- Virginia (1-3).

Upset special -- Alabama (0-4).


Videos

Photos