Your 2003 College Football Viewer's Guide

Here is a look at a number of the top match-ups scheduled for the upcoming college football season, including Ohio State's Sept. 13 date with N.C. State and quarterback Philip Rivers. The season begins with Saturday's BCA Classic pitting Kansas State against California.

Summer must be officially over because the college football season is set to kick off, not within a matter of days, but within just a few hours.

Yes, the preseason classic games have been largely legislated out of business. But the Black Coaches Association, citing an existing television contract, will conduct one last BCA Classic Saturday night as Kansas State "hosts" California at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium.

That will be just a taste, though, as the season will begin in earnest next weekend.

Once again this year, college football will be all over the airwaves for the next four months, all the way up through the national championship game at the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4.

You can consider the following as a viewer's guide for the 2003 season. In most cities, college fans can access as many as 12 to 15 games a weekend via a basic cable package. Those with access to ESPN's Game Plan package or a satellite dish can access as many as 10 more games each weekend.

As a general rule, Notre Dame's home games will be shown nationally on NBC. The biggest games at SEC venues will be shown on CBS.

ABC, which televises the season-ending Bowl Championship Series, would have to be considered the home of college football. The network has longstanding arrangements to televise the best games at Big Ten, Big East, ACC, Big 12, Pac-10 and Mountain West venues each week.

If ABC is the home of college football, ESPN (and also ESPN2) have to be considered the sport's heartbeat. The ESPN umbrella will televise over 100 games, featuring its weekly Thursday night coverage as well as special games on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year. ESPN will fill in the cracks with games from the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, Big East, Conference USA, Mountain West, WAC and the MAC.

Fox Sports Net will add coverage of the Pac-10, Big 12 and Conference USA. For the second year in a row, TBS will also show a package of games from those same conferences.

But before we get into the games to watch this year, it is interesting to note which teams may have the toughest road to New Orleans.

When the coaches poll was revealed Aug. 1, the coaches looked past defending national champion Ohio State and up to Oklahoma as the preseason No. 1. OSU was second, followed by Miami (Fla.), Texas, Kansas State, Auburn, Michigan, USC, Georgia and Virginia Tech to round out the top 10.

Of teams picked in the coaches poll top 25, Ohio State and Florida State are each scheduled to face six teams picked in the preseason poll. Florida, Miami and Notre Dame are all on the hook to meet five teams picked in the preseason top 25. Tennessee and Georgia each have four opponents in the preseason poll, plus they each must face dangerous Alabama, ineligible for the coaches poll due to probation.

Notre Dame will open the year with games against eight schools from Bowl Championship Series conferences before its annual breather with Navy.

The toughest first month schedules have to be at Florida, where the Gators visit Miami and host Tennessee early on, and at Ohio State, where the Buckeyes will host Washington and N.C. State in the season's first three weeks.

The toughest October stretch belongs to USC, which will visit three preseason ranked teams in a span of four weeks with trips to Arizona State, Notre Dame and Washington. Purdue also faces three preseason ranked teams in October (Penn State, at Wisconsin, at Michigan).

Five top 25 schools will meet as many as three preseason ranked teams in the month of November. They include Florida State (at Notre Dame, N.C. State, at Florida), Miami (at Virginia Tech, Tennessee, at Pittsburgh), N.C. State (Virginia, at FSU, Maryland), Ohio State (at Penn State, Purdue, at Michigan) and Virginia (at N.C. State, at Maryland, Virginia Tech).

A pair of Pac-10 teams may have the easiest road to the promised land. Washington is ticketed to meet just two preseason top 25 teams (at Ohio State, USC), while Arizona State has just one preseason ranked team on the docket (USC).

Of course, all of it will culminate in Championship Saturday Dec. 6 with title games in the SEC and Big 12. The BCS pairings will be announced the next day on ABC.

In terms of television, most of the August and September games have been slotted. Some of the bigger games later in the season have also been tabbed. Others will be selected on a six- or 12-day basis as the season wears on.

We have pored over the 2003 schedule and have picked out what we think will be the best five to 10 games from each weekend. Plus, we will examine each week for Ohio State.

File this list -- call it your Official 2003 Viewer's Guide -- away as a reference tool this season. (All times Eastern time.)

Week 1 (Aug. 23)

* California vs. Kansas State at Kansas City, Aug. 23, 7:45 p.m. (BCA Classic on ESPN) -- K-State, playing a glorified home game in K.C. will want to carry over the momentum after winning its last six games a year ago. Senior QB Ell Roberson should feast on a Cal defense that returns just one starter.

Week 2 (Aug. 28-Sept. 1)

* Miami (Fla.) vs. Louisiana Tech at Shreveport, La., Aug. 28, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN) -- LaTech stunned Oklahoma State in last year's opener. Senior QB Luke McCown will keep it interesting for a while, but look for Brock Berlin to make a big debut for the 'Canes.

* Georgia Tech at BYU, Aug. 28, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2) -- You have to hand it to ESPN. They are putting this game on as a hedge, knowing it will start about the time the Miami-LaTech game is getting out of hand. BYU will want payback after falling 28-19 at Tech a year ago.

* Georgia at Clemson, Aug. 30, noon (ABC) -- The Bulldogs began their magical 2002 with a 31-28 win over the Tigers.

* Wisconsin at West Virginia, Aug. 30, noon (ESPN) -- WVU fell 34-17 in Madison last year.

* Miami (Ohio) at Iowa, Aug. 30, noon (ESPN2) -- Could the Hawkeyes go from a Big Ten title and a berth in the Orange Bowl to a season opening loss to QB Ben Roethlisberger and the RedHawks? Iowa escaped Oxford with a 29-24 win last year.

* Alabama vs. South Florida at Birmingham, Ala., Aug. 30, 3 p.m. (ESPN) -- The Tide used to play two or three games a year at storied Legion Field in Birmingham. But costly renovations at Bryant-Denny Stadium on campus in Tuscaloosa have put a premium on playing games there. Alas, this will be Alabama's only appearance in B-ham this year.

* USC at Auburn, Aug. 30, 6 p.m. (CBS) -- This is the season's first match-up of top-10 powers. The Trojans prevailed 24-17 in L.A. last year. This should be a great defensive struggle.

* Colorado vs. Colorado State at Denver, Aug. 30, 7:45 p.m. (ESPN) -- CSU pulled off a 19-14 upset against the eventual Big 12 North champs last year. CSU has won three of the last four against its instate rival.

* Washington at Ohio State, Aug. 30, 8 p.m. (ABC) -- The atmosphere at the 'Shoe figures to be off the hook when the defending national champions take the field for a rare night game. OSU's string of 28 straight home nonconference wins will be on the line. This will be Keith Gilbertson's debut as the UW head coach. He'll rely on the All-American passing tandem of Cody Pickett to Reggie Williams.

* Florida State at North Carolina, Aug. 30, 8 p.m. (ABC) -- Much of the Southeast and Atlantic Coast will get this game. FSU will want to start the year strong after a disastrous 9-5 campaign last year and an off-season of strife.

* Louisville at Kentucky, Aug. 31, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2) -- Rich Brooks makes his debut as the UK coach.

* East Carolina at Cincinnati, Sept. 1, noon (ESPN) -- Can't beat college football on Labor Day, especially when it involves Rick Minter's entertaining Bearcats and QB Gino Guidugli.

Week 3 (Sept. 4-6)

* Oregon State at Fresno State, Sept. 5, 10 p.m. (ESPN) -- The Beavers buried FSU 59-19 in Corvallis last year. But there is something about the Valley that always lifts the Bulldogs up in games like this.

* San Diego State at Ohio State, Sept. 6, noon (ESPN-Plus) -- The Aztecs led at halftime two years ago in Ohio Stadium before OSU rallied for a 27-12 win.

* Boston College at Penn State, Sept. 6, noon (ABC) -- PSU has dominated this series 19-2, but BC won the last meeting in 1992.

* Washington State at Notre Dame, Sept. 6, 2:30 p.m. (NBC) -- ND hosts both Pac-10 co-champs, WSU and USC, this year.

* Auburn at Georgia Tech, Sept. 6, 3:30 p.m. (ABC) -- If the Tigers have national title aspirations, they need sidestep this pothole in Atlanta.

* Marshall at Tennessee, Sept. 6, 4 p.m. (ESPN) -- Thundering Herd doesn't mind such tough out of conference challenges.

* Maryland at Florida State, Sept. 6, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN2) -- The Terrapins have enjoyed success the last two years, but no wins over FSU.

* Oklahoma at Alabama, Sept. 6, 7:45 p.m. (ESPN) -- OU slid past the Tide 37-27 last year. This will be the first big game for new Alabama coach Mike Shula.

* Florida at Miami (Fla.), Sept. 6, 8 p.m. (ABC) -- Miami humbled the Gators 41-16 a year ago in the teams' first regular season meeting since 1987. The win gave Miami a 26-25 all-time edge in the series. Berlin will go against his former mates here, looking, obviously, for TE Kellen Winslow Jr.

* LSU at Arizona, Sept. 6, 10 p.m. (TBS) -- This should be an entertaining intersectional match-up.

Week 4 (Sept. 11-13)

* Toledo at Marshall, Sept. 12, 7 p.m. (ESPN2) -- This is a rematch of last year's MAC title game, which Marshall won 49-45 in thrilling fashion.

* N.C. State at Ohio State, Sept. 13, noon (ABC) -- After whacking Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl, the Wolfpack is pointing to this year as the one it takes the next step toward a BCS bowl.

* Arkansas at Texas, Sept. 13, noon (ABC) -- This one will hearken back memories to their great battles in the old Southwest Conference. WR Roy Williams a legit Heisman candidate -- if new QB Chance Mock can get him the ball -- for the Longhorns.

* Purdue at Wake Forest, Sept. 13, noon (ESPN) -- The Boilermakers will be out to avenge a 24-21 loss last year.

* Iowa at Iowa State, Sept. 13, 12:30 p.m. (Fox Sports Net) -- ISU was the only team to ding Iowa in the regular season, winning 36-31 in Iowa City. This is always a heated game, but it will be without star power at QB after Seneca Wallace and Brad Banks have moved on.

* Notre Dame at Michigan, Sept. 13, 3:30 p.m. (ABC) -- This one gets national treatment as one of the game's great annual showdowns. The loser seldom goes on to achieve greatness. The Irish haven't won in The Big House since 1993. ND won 25-23 a year ago.

* Illinois at UCLA, Sept. 13, 8 p.m. (ABC) -- Nice showcase game for the Illini as they visit the Rose Bowl.

* Penn State at Nebraska, Sept. 13, 8 p.m. (ABC) -- It is a make-or-break year for Frank Solich and the 'Huskers, who were dealt a 40-7 defeat at Happy Valley last year.

Week 5 (Sept. 18-20)

* Texas A&M at Virginia Tech, Sept. 18, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN) -- The Hokies won 13-3 at College Station last year. With Lee Suggs gone, Tech RB Kevin Jones could make a Heisman push this year.

* Bowling Green at Ohio State, Sept. 20, noon (ESPN-Plus) -- The Falcons begin OSU's second pass through the MAC. Since 1997, OSU is 6-0 against MAC teams with a margin of victory in excess of 27 points.

* Tennessee at Florida, Sept. 20, noon (CBS) -- The Gators stormed through Knoxville last year, winning 30-13. The loser rarely redeems themselves to get to the SEC title game.

* Michigan State at Notre Dame, Sept. 20, 2:30 p.m. (NBC) -- After wading through Western Michigan, Rutgers and Louisiana Tech, new MSU coach John L. Smith's Spartans will be in with the varsity.

* Georgia at LSU, Sept. 20, 3:30 p.m. (CBS) -- The last two SEC title game champs square off in Baton Rouge. QB David Greene is back for Georgia, but much of his supporting cast is in the NFL.

* Michigan at Oregon, Sept. 20, 3:30 p.m. (ABC) -- UM hoping for better fate on the Left Coast after falling at UCLA in 2000 and at Washington in 2001.

* Arizona State at Iowa, Sept. 20, 6 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. (ESPN or ESPN2) -- A nice intersectional match-up. ASU needs a win to make a serious push toward a BCS bid.

* Colorado at Florida State, Sept. 20 -- Colorado RB Bobby Purify gives the Buffs have a chance.

Week 6 (Sept. 25-27)

* Nebraska at Southern Miss, Sept. 25, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN) -- Many marquee teams have gone to Hattiesburg and come back with a loss.

* Northwestern at Ohio State, Sept. 27 -- Likely a noon start on one of the ESPN outlets. The Wildcats figure to be much better than a year ago. The real improvement must come on defense, where eight of NU's 12 opponents scored 39 or more points a year ago. OSU, though, was not one of them, winning just 27-16 at Evanston.

* Wisconsin at Illinois, Sept. 27, 6 p.m. (ESPN2) -- The Badgers need a win if they intend to contend in the Big Ten. The Illini won 37-20 in Madison last year.

* Arizona State at Oregon State, Sept. 27 -- ASU has won 21 of its last 23 meetings -- including the last seven -- with that OSU.

* Notre Dame at Purdue, Sept. 27 -- ABC will almost certainly grab this one for a 3:30 p.m. start. PU gift wrapped a 24-17 win for the Irish last year in South Bend.

* Pittsburgh at Texas A&M, Sept. 27 -- The Aggies eked out a 14-12 win at Pitt last year.

Week 7 (Oct. 2-4)

* West Virginia at Miami (Fla.), Oct. 2, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN) -- The Canes enjoy prime time games like this one.

* Oregon at Utah, Oct. 3, 10 p.m. (ESPN2) -- The Utes get some nice national exposure.

* Wisconsin at Penn State, Oct. 4, noon (ESPN or ESPN2) -- PSU won a 34-31 barnburner in Madison last year. The winner should remain in the hunt.

* Michigan at Iowa, Oct. 4, 3:30 p.m. (ABC) -- UM will be out for blood: The Hawkeyes decimated the Wolverines 34-9 in The Big House last year. That was UM's worst home defeat by margin in 35 years.

* Illinois at Purdue, Oct. 4, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN or ESPN2) -- PU dropped a 38-31 heartbreaker in overtime at Champaign last year.

* Kansas State at Texas, Oct. 4 -- The Longhorns better not be looking toward Oklahoma because K-State has what it takes to win this one. UT escaped Manhattan with a 17-14 win last year. RB Darren Sproles powers the Wildcats.

* Tennessee at Auburn, Oct. 4 -- This could be an SEC title game preview. CBS figures to make this a 3:30 p.m. start.

* USC at Arizona State, Oct. 4 -- All eyes will be on Sun Devil Stadium to see if ASU is legit.

Week 8 (Oct. 9-11)

* Colorado State at BYU, Oct. 9, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN) -- The winner of this annual showdown has gone on to win or share the last four Mountain West titles. CSU rolled 37-10 last year.

* TCU at South Florida, Oct. 10, 8 p.m. (ESPN or ESPN2) -- USF went 17-5 over the last two years as it prepared for its debut season in Conference USA.

* Oklahoma vs. Texas at Dallas, Oct. 11 -- If I had to guess, I'd say ABC will make this a noon national broadcast. Do you remember when Florida-FSU was the big game every year? Now it's this. OU has owned Mack Brown's Longhorns in recent years. The winner could be in the national title hunt for the long haul. Last year, OU won its third straight over the Horns, prevailing 35-24.

* Georgia at Tennessee, Oct. 11 -- Georgia took its third straight win over UT, winning 18-13 in Athens last year.

* Florida at LSU, Oct. 11 -- LSU exorcized some demons with a 36-7 win in The Swamp last year. UF had won 13 of the last 14 in the series.

* Notre Dame at Pittsburgh, Oct. 11 -- The Panthers mustered no offense in a 14-6 loss at South Bend last year.

* Miami (Fla.) at Florida State, Oct. 11 -- The Canes defeated FSU for the third straight year last season, rallying for a 28-27 win after FSU kicker Xavier Beitia last-second field goal sailed wide left.

* Penn State at Purdue, Oct. 11 -- PSU has won all six of the Big Ten games between the schools since 1995.

* Ohio State at Wisconsin, Oct. 11, 9 p.m. (ESPN) -- A scheduling quirk sends OSU back to Madison for the second consecutive year. With an 8 p.m. Central start time, it is a given this will be the most hostile crowd the Buckeyes will play in front of this year. OSU barely escaped Mad-town with a 19-14 win a year ago. OSU has won three straight at Camp Randall dating to a 1993 tie.

Week 9 (Oct. 16-18)

* Clemson at N.C. State, Oct. 16, 7:45 p.m. (ESPN) -- The Wolfpack crushed the Tigers 38-6 last year.

* Air Force at Colorado State, Oct. 16, 10 p.m. (ESPN2) -- This will be a key game in the Mountain West race.

* Illinois at Michigan, Oct. 18, noon (ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPN-Plus) -- UM pulled out a 45-28 win in Champaign last year.

* Purdue at Wisconsin, Oct. 18, noon (ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPN-Plus) -- This always entertaining series resumes after a two-year hiatus.

* USC at Notre Dame, Oct. 18, 2:30 p.m. (NBC) -- The Irish had their national apirations and a BCS bid dashed with a 44-13 pasting in L.A. USC has only won once (1997) in its last 10 trips to South Bend.

* Iowa at Ohio State, Oct. 18, 3:30 p.m. (ABC) -- A year ago, this would have been a de facto Big Ten title game. The Buckeyes will want to show they were the legitimate conference champions.

* Colorado at Kansas State, Oct. 18 -- This may be the pivotal game in the Big 12 North race. CU prevailed 35-31 last year.

* Florida State at Virginia, Oct. 18 -- UVa. was the first ACC team to defeat FSU in a conference game (1995), but they haven't come close since.

Week 10 (Oct. 22-25)

* Virginia Tech at West Virginia, Oct. 22, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN or ESPN2) -- WVU dinged the Hokies 21-18 in Blacksburg last year.

* Maryland at Georgia Tech, Oct. 23, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN) -- The Terps rolled 34-10 last year.

* Ohio State at Indiana, Oct. 25 -- If OSU opens 7-0, this would be the game that would allow the Buckeyes to match the school's longest winning streak ever of 22 games (1967-69).

* USC at Washington, Oct. 25, 3:30 p.m. (ABC) -- A potential marquee match-up in Seattle.

* Auburn at LSU, Oct. 25, 7:45 p.m. (ESPN) -- This could be the deciding game in the SEC West race. Auburn routed LSU 31-7 last year.

* Purdue at Michigan, Oct. 25 -- Michigan scraped by the Boilers 23-21 last year.

* Notre Dame at Boston College, Oct. 25 -- The Golden Eagles have dealt ND defeats in three of the last four years. Last year's 14-7 win at South Bend crushed the 8-0 Irish.

* Oklahoma at Colorado, Oct. 25 -- The Sooners beat CU twice last year, including a 29-7 shiner in the Big 12 title game.

Week 11 (Oct. 30-Nov. 1)

* Boise State at BYU, Oct. 30, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN) -- A Mountain West/WAC match-up. Shouldn't they just consolidate those two leagues? Oh, they tried that.

* Florida State at Notre Dame, Nov. 1, 2:30 p.m. (NBC) -- The Irish shocked the Seminoles 34-24 in Tallahassee last year. By this point in the year, this could be a huge game for both sides.

* Washington State at USC, Nov. 1, 7 p.m. (ABC) -- These two teams shared the Pac-10 title, but the Cougars gutted out a 30-27 overtime win in Pullman last year.

* Oregon at Washington, Nov. 1, 10 p.m. (TBS) -- The Huskies stunned the Ducks 42-14 in Eugene last year.

* Miami (Fla.) at Virginia Tech, Nov. 1, TBA (ESPN) -- The Canes haven't lost a Big East game since 1999 in Blacksburg.

* Florida vs. Georgia at Jacksonville, Nov. 1 -- This would almost certainly be a CBS game at 3:30 p.m., although ESPN is keeping the evening slot open just in case. In his debut, Ron Zook picked up where Steve Spurrier left off, leading UF to a 20-13 win a year ago. That gives Florida wins in 12 of the last 13 games in the series.

* Virginia at N.C. State, Nov. 1 -- This game pits the ACC's top two quarterbacks in N.C. State's Philip Rivers and Virginia's Matt Schaub.

* Michigan at Michigan State, Nov. 1 -- UM blasted MSU 49-3 last year, hastening Bobby Williams' departure. Now the Wolverines have the brash Smith to contend with.

* Ohio State at Penn State, Nov. 1 -- This has noon start on ABC written all over it. OSU is just 1-4 in Big Ten games in State College. As noted before, if OSU opens the year 8-0 this would be for a school record breaking 23rd straight win. That should rachet things up a notch or two.

* Nebraska at Texas, Nov. 1 -- The Longhorns won 27-24 in Lincoln last year.

* Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, Nov. 1 -- The Sooners have lost four games in the last three years. Two of them have been to rival OSU, including 38-28 last year.

Week 12 (Nov. 6-8)

* Navy at Notre Dame, Nov. 8, 2:30 p.m. (NBC) -- This is the nation's longest running intersectional rivalry at 77 years. ND's all-too-narrow 30-23 win over the Midshipmen last year extended the all-time record for consecutive wins over a Division I-A opponent to 39.

* UCLA at Washington State, Nov. 8, 7 p.m. (ABC) -- WSU capped its Pac-10 title campaign with a 48-27 win at the Rose Bowl last year.

* Tennessee at Miami (Fla.), Nov. 8 -- Likely a noon start on ABC. The Canes embarrassed UT 26-3 in Knoxville last year.

* Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh, Nov. 8 -- Pitt downed Virginia Tech 28-21 last year. The Hokies had opened the year 8-0, but this loss was the first of three straight late in the season.

* Iowa at Purdue, Nov. 8 -- One more bit of payback for the Boilers, who gift wrapped a 31-28 win for Iowa last year.

* Michigan State at Ohio State, Nov. 8 -- MSU derailed an unbeaten OSU team in 1998 on basically the same weekend. Could lightning strike twice?

* Wisconsin at Minnesota, Nov. 8 -- Paul Bunyan's Axe will be on the line at the Metrodome. A win could spur the Gophers toward a nice bowl bid.

Week 13 (Nov. 12-15)

* Marshall at Miami (Ohio), Nov. 12, 8 p.m. (ESPN2) -- Can Roethlisberger and the Hawks finally move to the forefront in the MAC? This could decide the MAC East.

* Virginia at Maryland, Nov. 13, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN) -- The Cavaliers blasted the Terps 48-13 last year.

* BYU at Notre Dame, Nov. 15, 2:30 p.m. (NBC) -- ND holds an all-time 2-1 edge, but BYU won the last meeting 21-14 in 1994 in South Bend.

* Auburn at Georgia, Nov. 15 -- This may be the SEC title game preview. The Tigers haven't lost in Athens since 1991.

* N.C. State at Florida State, Nov. 15 -- The Wolfpack will be out for a third straight win over FSU, something no team outside Florida has done since Auburn in 1983-85.

* Purdue at Ohio State, Nov. 15 -- This will likely be a 3:30 p.m. start on ABC. OSU can't get caught looking ahead to the season finale at Michigan. Nine starters return for the defense that supplanted OSU as the Big Ten's best after the bowl games (those stats were factored in for the first time last year). PU hasn't won at the 'Shoe since 1988.

* Kansas State at Nebraska, Nov. 15 -- The Wildcats have made great progress over the last six or seven years. But they still haven't won in Lincoln since 1968.

Week 14 (Nov. 19-22)

* Marshall at Central Florida, Nov. 19, 8 p.m. (ESPN2) -- Marshall welcomed UCF to the MAC with a 26-21 defeat last year.

* TCU at Southern Mississippi, Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN) -- This should be the game of the year in C-USA. TCU won at Hattiesburg 14-12 in 2001 and blasted Southern Miss 37-7 last year.

* Boise State at Fresno State, Nov. 21, 9 p.m. (ESPN2) -- Fresno has games on the schedule with Tennessee, Oklahoma and Colorado State. But this is the one that may matter the most after BSU blasted the Bulldogs 67-21.

* Ohio State at Michigan, Nov. 22, noon (ABC) -- If it is possible, the 100th rendition of The Game could mean as much or more than any other in series history. OSU will be gunning for a third straight win over UM for the first time since 1960-63. With each team firmly in everybody's preseason top 10, this could be one for the ages. Then again, aren't they all?

* Maryland at N.C. State, Nov. 22 -- Maryland nipped N.C. State 24-21 last year in College Park.

* Alabama at Auburn, Nov. 22 -- With the Tide on probation (again), this will be Alabama's bowl game. Auburn won 17-7 a year ago.

* UCLA at USC, Nov. 22 -- The Trojans have won two straight in this rivalry. But new Bruins coach Karl Dorrell hopes to turn the tables.

* Iowa at Wisconsin, Nov. 22 -- Iowa dominated the Badgers 20-3 last year at Iowa City.

* Washington State at Washington, Nov. 22 -- The Huskies denied WSU an unbeaten Pac-10 crown with a 29-26 three overtime win last year. That was U-Dub's fifth straight win in the Apple Cup series.

Week 15 (Nov. 27-29)

* Mississippi at Mississippi State, Nov. 27, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN) -- The Egg Bowl has become a Thanksgiving night tradition. Ole Miss QB Eli Manning will try to put on a show, certainly.

* Louisville at Cincinnati, Nov. 28, 11 a.m. (ESPN2) -- UC won 24-14 at Louisville last year.

* Nebraska at Colorado, Nov. 28, noon (ABC) -- The Buffs cemented the Big 12 North with a 28-13 win in Lincoln last year.

* Arkansas at LSU, Nov. 28, 2:30 p.m. (CBS) -- The Razorbacks nipped the Tigers 21-20 last year.

* Arizona at Arizona State, Nov. 28, 3 p.m. (Fox Sports Net) -- ASU, playing on 13 days rest, hopes this will cement at least a Rose Bowl bid. The Sun Devils prevailed 34-20 last year.

* Texas at Texas A&M, Nov. 28, 3:30 p.m. (ABC) -- A&M's Dennis Franchione gets his first taste of this bitter rivalry. He will be out to stop UT's three-game winning streak in the series.

* Florida State at Florida, Nov. 29, 3:30 p.m. (CBS) -- The Seminoles spanked the Gators 31-14 in Tallahassee last year.

* Notre Dame at Stanford, Nov. 29, 8 p.m. (ABC) -- ND coach Tyrone Willingham makes his triumphant return to Palo Alto. He guided the Irish to a 31-7 win over his former team a year ago.

* Miami (Fla.) at Pittsburgh, Nov. 29 -- The Big East title could hinge on this one. Pitt nearly derailed Miami's express last year before falling 28-21 at the Orange Bowl.

* Virginia Tech at Virginia, Nov. 29 -- Virginia's Al Groh fell to 0-2 against his future ACC rival with a 21-9 loss in Blacksburg last year.

* Georgia at Georgia Tech, Nov. 29 -- Chan Gailey's Yellow Jackets were obliterated 51-7 by the powerful Dawgs a year ago.

Week 16 (Dec. 4-6)

* MAC Championship Game, Dec. 4, TBA (ESPN) -- Marshall has won five of the last six MAC title games. The West champ will host.

* Notre Dame at Syracuse, Dec. 6, 1 p.m. (ABC) -- This will be the schools' first meeting since 1963, when Syracuse prevailed 14-7 at Yankee Stadium. ND holds a 2-1 all-time edge, though.

* Army vs. Navy at Philadelphia, Dec. 6, 4 p.m. (CBS) -- Not usually high caliber football, but as a spectacle few things compare. This will be the 104th rendition.

* Oregon State at USC, Dec. 6, 4:30 p.m. (ABC) -- The Trojans blanked OSU 22-0 a year ago.

* SEC Championship Game at Atlanta, Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m. (CBS) -- The pundits believe this will be Auburn's coronation, but the SEC race and, specifically, this game rarely go as everybody would think.

* Big 12 Championship Game at Kansas City, Dec. 6, 8 p.m. (ABC) -- The Oklahoma-Texas winner against K-State, Nebraska or Colorado. Sounds interesting on paper.

* Boise State at Hawaii, Dec. 6, 11:30 p.m. (ESPN or ESPN2) -- The regular season comes to a close with what should be a high scoring barnburner.

Postseason

The NCAA certified one new bowl (the Fort Worth Bowl), recertified 27 others and decertified one bowl (the Seattle Bowl) for this season.

A year ago, the 28 bowl games distributed $182 million in payouts and a record 1.4 million fans saw the games live.

This will be the sixth year of the BCS rotation. The BCS lineup this year features (all games televised by ABC):

* Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, 5 p.m., Pasadena, Calif. -- This game would feature the Big Ten and Pac-10 champions, unless one of them gets tapped for the Sugar.

* Orange Bowl, Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m., Miami -- This one matches the ACC or Big East champion against a BCS at-large team.

* Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 2, 8 p.m., Tempe, Ariz. -- The Big 12 champion would meet a BCS at-large team here.

* Sugar Bowl, Jan. 4, 8 p.m., New Orleans -- The national title game will match up the top two teams in the final BCS rankings. The game is being delayed until Sunday night due to NFL playoff coverage on Saturday.


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