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Today's key national games


Today's key national games

Clemson at No. 8 Fla. State

Quick slant: The Seminoles must win to keep their league-title hopes alive.

About Clemson: The defense has been a disappointment, especially against the run. Leroy Hill is one of the ACC's top linebackers, and CB Justin Miller and SS Jamaal Fudge are solid. QB Charlie Whitehurst already has thrown seven interceptions.

About Florida State: The Seminoles haven't thrown a touchdown pass this season, but the return of G Bobby Meeks and C David Castillo last week helped get the running game on track. The defense has played well, especially T Travis Johnson, who already has six tackles for loss.

Key injuries: FSU backup FB Chad Canfield (concussions) and Clemson starting DE Vontrell Jamison (Achilles') and backup FS Roy Walker (knee) won't play.

The buzz: Clemson won, 26-10, last year, sparking a four-game winning streak to end the year.

The line: FSU by 17 1/2

The pick: FSU, 28-14

Iowa at No. 18 Michigan

Quick slant: There are serious questions about each of these teams, so think of this as an elimination game in the Big Ten.

About Iowa: The Hawkeyes were blasted at Arizona State last week, but it's doubtful Michigan will be able to move the ball through the air like the Sun Devils did. QB Drew Tate won't scare anyone with his arm.

About Michigan: The Wolverines are coming off back-to-back unimpressive performances. They have the best receivers in the nation, but freshman QB Chad Henne is struggling to get the ball to them.

Key injuries: Iowa starting G David Walker (arm) will miss the game.

The buzz: Iowa has beaten Michigan two straight seasons.

The line: Michigan by 13

The pick: Michigan, 20-10

Penn State at No. 20 Wisconsin

Quick slant: If Wisconsin has legit designs on the Big Ten title, it can't lose a league game at home to Penn State.

About Penn State: The Nittany Lions already have committed 11 turnovers, but the offense still is better than it was last season. TBs Tony Hunt and Austin Scott give the Nittany Lions speed in the backfield.

About Wisconsin: TB Booker Stanley is the man in the spotlight because of an injury to starter Anthony Davis. QB John Stocco still is developing his passing acumen, and if the running game is shut down, the Badgers struggle to move the ball. The Badgers have given up only one touchdown.

Key injuries: Wisconsin starting TB Anthony Davis (eye) will miss the game.

The buzz: This looks like a yawner.

The line: Wisconsin by 3

The pick: Wisconsin, 14-10

No. 1 USC at Stanford

Quick slant: USC has won 12 in a row and 23 of its past 24.

About USC: The Trojans' backfield is tremendous, thanks to QB Matt Leinart and TBs Reggie "The President" Bush and LenDale "Showcase" White. There still are some concerns at receiver, though.

About Stanford: Sophomore QB Trent Edwards (242.0 ypg, five TDs, no picks) is starting to live up to his high school hype, but the Trojans' defense is a step above the defenses he has seen this season. It's vital that the Cardinal get some semblance of a running game because if it doesn't, Edwards will be on his back quite often.

Key injuries: No player is listed as out.

The buzz: USC hasn't started 4-0 since 1995, which was John Robinson's last Rose Bowl team.

The line: USC by 22

The pick: USC, 40-21

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