Texas two-step double trouble

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:05 AM ET

Call it Redemption Saturday in the world of college football.

You've got the mighty Texas Longhorns, losers of five straight to Oklahoma in their bitter Red River Shootout -- and rather sick of hearing about it. Nobody more than Texas coach Mack Brown, who's built the Steers into a powerhouse but still can't escape the Oklahoma question.

Up north in the Heartland, the folks at Nebraska have been lying in wait for a year for another crack at Texas Tech.

This after the Red Raiders hung an embarrassing 70-10 loss on the Huskers in Lubbock, Tex., in their Big 12 matchup in 2004 -- Nebraska's worst setback in 115 years of football.

So payback will clearly be the theme in Dallas and Lincoln on Saturday.

A few other thoughts that come to mind ...

- Most popular yarn spun after last weekend's play: The 'revival' of the so-called traditional powers, with Alabama, Penn State and yes, Nebraska, front and centre. The trio is a combined 14-0 so far (all were .500 or worse in 2004), lending itself to such sentiment. But hold on a second here. The Crimson Tide (idle this week) hasn't yet played LSU or Tennessee, not to mention hated foe Auburn. The Nittany Lions still have Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Michigan State -- all ranked -- on deck. And the Cornhuskers play in the Big 12 North, not exactly the power end of that conference. In other words, we'll reserve judgment on glory's return for this resurgent trio for a few more weeks yet.

- The pollsters often do things that make pigskin pundits scratch their heads. But they're spot on at the top of the polls these days. USC, Texas and Virginia Tech have clearly separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Expect two of those three to play for the national crown Jan. 4 in the Rose Bowl. Our choice right now: USC-Virginia Tech.

On with this week's picks:

GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 5 Georgia (+3) at No. 8 Tennessee (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS) -- The road isn't getting any easier for the Volunteers, who play their third ranked team in four games, but at least Rick Clausen has taken charge at QB. Visiting Bulldogs get their first real test of the season before 108,000 orange-clad folks in Knoxville. Rocky Top rules here in a defensive struggle. Pick: TENNESSEE.

NEXT BEST THINGS

No. 6 Ohio State (-21/2) at No. 16 Penn State (Saturday, 7:45 p.m., The Score) -- Freshman Derrick Williams has given the Nittany Lions' offence a flashiness that belies the staid uniforms Joe Pa's gang still wears. It's high time Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel turned loose his own electrifying talent, Ted Ginn Jr. Stingy Ohio State defence makes the difference. Pick: OHIO STATE.

Oklahoma (+131/2) at No. 2 Texas (Saturday, 1 p.m., ABC) -- This isn't the same Sooner team that has dominated this series and its most dangerous weapon, RB Adrian Peterson, is on the limp. If QB Vince Young and the loaded Longhorns can't win this year, who knows when they will. Texas is simply better on both sides of the ball. Pick: TEXAS.

UPSET SPECIAL

No. 15 Texas Tech (-4) at Nebraska (Saturday, 4 p.m., TBS) -- Red Raiders' aerial circus feasted on seven Cornhusker turnovers in mega-blowout a year ago. Texas Tech leads nation in scoring with 52.7 ppg, but non-conference schedule was nothing short of pathetic. Nebraska's Zac Taylor had a breakout 431-yard passing game in big victory over a quality Iowa State team last week. Payback is sweet for the Huskers. PICK: NEBRASKA.

BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK

Duke (+35) at No. 9 Miami (Fla.) (Saturday) -- The Blue Devils' basketball brethren have been on the other end of countless spreads like this. But we're talking football here, and the Hurricanes are clearly in another league on the gridiron. Pick: MIAMI.

QUICK PICKS

(Straight-up selections in bold)

Thursday

N.C. State (+41/2) over No. 24 Georgia Tech

Saturday

No. 1 USC (-37) over Arizona

No. 3 Virginia Tech (-34) over Marshall

No. 4 Florida State (-21) over Wake Forest

No. 10 California (+11/2) over No. 20 UCLA

No. 11 LSU (-151/2) over Vanderbilt

Mississippi State (+27) at No. 13 Florida

Northwestern (+7) over No. 14 Wisconsin

No. 24 Oregon (+10) over No. 17 Arizona State

No. 18 Boston College (-7) over Virginia

No. 21 Michigan (-71/2) over Minnesota

No. 23 Louisville (-121/2) over North Carolina

Last week -- 15-4 straight up; 8-11 ATS.

Season record -- 71-22 straight up; 40-50-3 ATS.

Best bet -- Texas (1-4).

Upset special -- Nebraska (1-4).


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