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Archive for Thursday, November 24, 2005

West Virginia eyes BCS; LSU, Viriginia Tech play for division titles

November 24, 2005

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Two Bowl Championship Series bids have been locked up in the Big Ten and Pac-10, and the Big East could be next with West Virginia in position to clinch the league title this weekend.

The 12th-ranked Mountaineers (8-1) play Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving night for the second straight year. Last season, Tyler Palko led the Panthers to a come-from-behind victory over West Virginia to steal the Big East's BCS bid from its archrival.

Penn State (Big Ten) and Southern California (Pac-10) earned their BCS spots last week.

The Mountaineers and Pitt were expected to chase Louisville in the new-look Big East this season, but the Panthers have struggled under new coach Dave Wannstedt while Rich Rodriguez has molded a young West Virginia team into one of his best.

A West Virginia win in the Backyard Brawl at Morgantown combined with a loss by South Florida on Saturday at Connecticut would put the Mountaineers in the BCS for the first time.

Pitt (5-5) is trying to avoid its first losing season since 1999.

"We know everything that's involved with the history of the game, and I think for both teams it's more than just who we're playing, too," Wannstedt said.

If both the Bulls and Mountaineers win, it sets up a

conference-deciding game Dec. 3, when West Virginia visits South Florida.

The Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference title games will be set this weekend.

No. 3 LSU needs to beat Arkansas in Baton Rouge, La., to lock up the SEC West and face Georgia in the conference title game next week. If the Tigers stumble, Auburn wins the West.

No. 5 Virginia Tech got some help last week when Georgia Tech upset Miami, so the Hokies can win the ACC's Coastal Division by beating North Carolina in Blacksburg, Va.

If the Hokies lose, Miami can slip back into the title game - to face Florida State on Dec. 3 in Jacksonville, Fla. - by beating Virginia in the Orange Bowl on Saturday.

Though in many ways no teams have more to play for this weekend than Texas and Notre Dame.

The Longhorns are two victories away from playing in the Rose Bowl for the national title. They face Texas A&M on Friday in College Station before heading to Houston to play the Big 12 championship Dec. 3.

And the Fighting Irish need to beat Stanford to reach the minimum nine victories they need to become BCS eligible.

At 9-2, Notre Dame would appear to be a lock to be picked by the Fiesta Bowl and earn a payout of more than $14 million.

This is the last season Notre Dame will pocket the entire share from a BCS game. Starting next season, the Irish will only make the equivalent of what a team that plays in a conference earns when it plays in the BCS. Teams in conferences split their bowl payouts among the membership.

Today

Pittsburgh (plus 13) at No. 12 West Virginia

Mountaineers have won nine of 13 against Pitt ... WEST VIRGINIA 28-13.

Friday

No. 2 Texas (minus 26) at Texas A&M

Longhorns have gained 1,868 yards in past three games ... TEXAS 42-20.

Arkansas (plus 17) at No. 3 LSU

LSU has won five straight against Razorbacks in Tiger Stadium ... LSU 37-14.

No. 24 Wisconsin (minus 61â2) at Hawaii

Badgers playing for bowl positioning ... WISCONSIN 44-28.

Saturday

North Carolina (plus 23) at No. 5 Virginia Tech

First meeting in Lane Stadium since 1930 ... VIRGINIA TECH 36-10.

No. 6 Notre Dame (minus 171â2) at Stanford

Irish have won three straight against Cardinal ... NOTRE DAME 40-20.

Virginia (plus 171â2) at No. 10 Miami

Hurricanes have won only two previous meetings ... MIAMI 27-13.

No. 13 Georgia (minus 31â2) at No. 20 Georgia Tech

Bulldogs have won four straight in series ... GEORGIA TECH 24-21.

No. 16 Fresno State (minus 141â2) at Nevada

Could be a USC hangover for Bulldogs ... FRESNO STATE 35-24.

Syracuse (plus 351â2) at No. 17 Louisville

Cardinals have scored at least 42 in six straight games ...

LOUISVILLE 58-10.

No. 23 Florida State (plus 5) at No. 19 Florida

Sunshine State rivals have split last four meetings ... FLORIDA 20-17.

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