Ohio State, Michigan setting up biggest showdown

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:28 AM ET

Things I think must be true as we wind up for the stretch run in this college football season ...

- Ohio State and Michigan are setting the table for what just might be the biggest game in the long history of their storied rivalry. For the first time ever, they hold down the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in the BCS rankings.

Barring a shocker of epic proportions, they'll both be unbeaten heading into their Nov. 18 showdown. That hasn't happened since 1973 (when it ended up a 10-10 tie, for those with shorter memories than mine). The winner this time will surely occupy one of the berths in the Jan. 8 national championship game, meaning ...

- USC holds all the cards in the race to finalize that matchup. If the Trojans win out -- and it's far from a safe bet -- then they'll play for it all (again) in Glendale, Ariz. But if USC stumbles, the fun really begins. And a whole flock of one-loss teams, along with unbeaten West Virginia and Louisville, would suddenly have burgeoning hope.

- Rutgers is the real deal. With a stout defence and that ever-present ground game, Ray Rice and Co. overpowered a Pitt team many predicted would end the Scarlet Knights' dream of an unbeaten season. Now, it's fair to suggest, the game of the season in the Big East might not be West Virginia-Louisville next week, but rather Rutgers-West Virginia on Dec. 2 -- another date that's starting to loom extra large in the title chase.

But before then ...

Week 9 picks (odds supplied by Sportsbook.com):

GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 19 Oklahoma (+2) at No. 23 Missouri (Saturday, Noon, ABC regional) -- The Tigers haven't beaten Oklahoma and Missouri in the same season since 1969. But if QB Chase Daniel and the Tigers want to make some noise in the Big 12, it needs to start here against the Adrian Peterson-less Sooners (with Nebraska on deck next week). However, Oklahoma's defence has finally grown some real teeth in recent weeks. PICK: OKLAHOMA.

NEXT BEST THINGS

Georgia (+14) vs. No. 9 Florida, at Jacksonville (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS) -- Once upon a time, this looked like a key piece of the puzzle in the Southeastern Conference (and perhaps national) title picture. Now, it's hard to imagine the sputtering Bulldogs offence doing a thing against the Florida fierce defence. Meaning the tail-Gators at the 'World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party' should have plenty to toast. Point worth noting, though: The last four games in this series have been decided by a TD or less. PICK: GEORGIA.

No. 8 Tennessee (-5) at South Carolina (Saturday, 7:45 p.m., Rogers NCAA) -- Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks threw a scare into Auburn on their home field a few weeks back. But can the Ol' Ball Coach, who's 10-4 against Tennessee teams, figure out a way to match weapons with Erik Ainge and these Volunteers? It's up to the elusive Syvelle Newton and Sidney Rice to keep it interesting, and they just might. But Tennessee gets the win. PICK: SOUTH CAROLINA.

QUICK PICKS

(STRAIGHT-UP SELECTIONS

IN BOLD)

TONIGHT

No. 10 Clemson (-41/2) over Virginia Tech

SATURDAY

No. 1 Ohio State (-27) over Minnesota

Northwestern (+33) over No. 2 Michigan

Oregon State (+12) over No. 3 USC

No. 5 Texas (-12) over Texas Tech

Mississippi (+19) over Auburn

No. 11 Notre Dame (-14) over Navy

No. 13 Arkansas (-361/2) over Louisiana-Monroe

No. 17 Wisconsin (-211/2) over Illinois

No. 18 Boston College

(-36) over Buffalo

No. 20 Nebraska (-51/2) over Oklahoma State

Miami (Fla.) (+6) over No. 21 Georgia Tech

Baylor (+5) over No. 22 Texas A&M

North Carolina (+81/2) over No. 24 Wake Forest

No. 25 Oregon (NL) over Portland State

SUNDAY

No. 16 Rutgers (-191/2) over Connecticut

Last week -- 17-3 straight up; 10-9 ATS.

Season record -- 143-19 straight up; 79-74-3 ATS.

Best bet -- Miami (6-2).


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