GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 7 Georgia (9-1, 6-1 SEC) at No. 24 Auburn (7-3, 4-2)
WHERE: Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Ala.
WHEN: 3:30 p.m.
TV: CBS-Ch. 12
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: The Deep South's oldest rivalry is also its most evenly contested. Through 105 meetings, Auburn has outscored Georgia by just five points (1,567 to 1,562). Today's game figures to be just as tight; the Tigers have won three straight games, and the Bulldogs are a win away from their first SEC East title since the league split into two divisions in 1992.
WHAT YOU SHOULD WATCH: Auburn's offensive line. The unit entered the season with little depth or experience and was the biggest reason observers tabbed the Tigers for mediocrity. The line has more than held its own this season, paving the way for the nation's 20th-ranked rushing offense, but it faces its most formidable test of the season against a Bulldogs defensive line that has been dominant lately.
WHOM YOU SHOULD WATCH: Fred Gibson. Georgia's sophomore wide receiver made a dazzling return last week against Mississippi after missing two games with a thumb injury, and he'll need to duplicate that effort today to make up for the absence of wide receivers Terrence Edwards (shoulder) and Damien Gary (leg). If Gibson is shut down, the Bulldogs don't have many other proven options at receiver.
AT STAKE: A win would put the Bulldogs into the SEC title game; a loss could send their fans to the tops of tall buildings. If Georgia loses, the only way it can win the East is if South Carolina wins at Florida tonight. The Tigers have plenty to play for, too. A victory, coupled with an LSU loss to Alabama, puts them in the driver's seat for the SEC West title.
HE SAID IT: "Right now, it's just a matter of hooking it up and fighting your heart out for 60 minutes - and maybe more, because it could go into overtime." - Georgia coach Mark Richt
WE SAID IT: The signs aren't good for the Bulldogs. Auburn is hitting its stride under quarterback Jason Campbell, having won three straight games, and the Tigers had two weeks to prepare for today's matchup while barely breaking a sweat for last week's game against Louisiana-Monroe. To make matters worse for Georgia, the injury bug seems to take a daily bite out of the Bulldogs. The absence of Edwards and Gary will hurt Georgia's offense more than expected, and Auburn's offense will do just enough to beat Georgia for the fourth straight year.
AROUND THE ACC AND SEC
South Carolina (5-5, 3-4 SEC) at No. 20 Florida (7-3, 5-2)
WHERE: Florida Field, Gainesville, Fla.
WHEN: 6 p.m.
THE STORYLINES: South Carolina looks to break a three-game losing streak by playing a team it hasn't beaten since Nov. 4, 1939. Florida has won 11 straight games over the Gamecocks by an average of 26 points. ... South Carolina's offense, shut out in last week's loss to Arkansas, has scored 10 points in its past 10 quarters. ... Florida rushed for 223 yards in last week's win over Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks have given up more than 200 rushing yards in three straight games. ... Gators QB Rex Grossman has thrown two interceptions in the past three games after throwing 14 in his first seven. ... Last season, the Gators scored on nine of 10 possessions in a 54-17 win in Columbia. ... On its last visit to Gainesville, South Carolina took a 21-3 lead before Florida recovered and won 41-21 in 2000.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Florida will try to put up enough points and allow its defense to hold on. Against a team whose offense is the worst in the SEC, 10 points should be enough. Count on the Gators to put up more than that.
AT STAKE: The Gamecocks need one victory in their last two games - they play at Clemson next week - to have a chance at winning a bowl game for the third straight year. The Gators need a win and a Georgia loss to Auburn to wrap up their eighth trip to the SEC title game in 11 years.
No. 19 Maryland (8-2, 4-1 ACC) at Clemson (6-4, 4-3)
WHERE: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, S.C.
WHEN: 7:45 p.m.
THE STORYLINES: Maryland tries for its eighth straight win, which would be its longest winning streak since 1978. ... Clemson has won two straight games, both on the road, over North Carolina and Duke. ... Maryland hasn't won in Clemson since 1985, losing eight straight games at Death Valley. ... The Tigers are 2-9 under head coach Tommy Bowden in nationally televised night games. They're also 3-12 under the fourth-year coach against ranked teams, having lost their past seven. ... Clemson QB Charlie Whitehurst has thrown for eight touchdowns in two starts. ... The Tigers have scored 76 points and tallied 1,009 yards in the past two games after mustering 62 points and 921 yards in the previous three games.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Terrapins will try to use solid defense and superior special teams to hand the Tigers their second straight home loss. Clemson's offense moved the ball well against Duke and North Carolina, but Maryland's defense is much tougher.
AT STAKE: After starting 1-2, Maryland is in the hunt to win its second straight ACC title. Clemson is out of the league race, but the Tigers can set themselves up for an attractive bowl by upsetting the Terrapins tonight and winning next week against the Gamecocks.
Duke (2-8, 0-6 ACC) at Georgia Tech (6-4, 3-4)
WHERE: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta
WHEN: 1 p.m.
THE STORYLINES: Georgia Tech QB A.J. Suggs has thrown for 200 or more yards in four straight games. ... Duke has lost 23 straight ACC games. ... Yellow Jackets TB Gordon Clinkscale has averaged 8.6 yards per rush in the past four games. ... Duke leads the ACC in time of possession and is the second-least penalized team in the league. ... Georgia Tech has outscored its opponents 120-59 in the first quarter this season. ... The Blue Devils have 25 sacks this season after managing 16 all of last year. ... The Yellow Jackets lead the ACC in red-zone offense, having converted on 29 of 32 opportunities. ... Duke WR Khary Sharpe has touchdown receptions in the past seven games. ... Yellow Jackets PK Luke Manget has an ACC-record 154 straight PATs.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Yellow Jackets try to overcome last week's loss to Florida State. The Blue Devils are solid against the run, ranking atop the ACC in that category, so Suggs needs to be sharp through the air.
AT STAKE: Georgia Tech is eligible for a bowl invitation, but the Yellow Jackets might need another victory to assure they won't be home for the holidays. With the regular-season finale at Georgia remaining, beating the Blue Devils is imperative.
DIVISION I-AA Jacksonville (Ala.) State (5-5) at Georgia Southern (8-2)
WHERE: Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, Ga.
WHEN: 1 p.m.
THE STORYLINES: Georgia Southern wrapped up at least a share of its sixth straight Southern Conference title with last week's 42-21 trouncing of Furman. If Wofford loses to Furman today, the Eagles will win it outright. ... Georgia Southern has won seven straight games and has won 32 of its past 33 regular-season home games. ... The Eagles have won nine straight games against nonconference opponents. ... The Gamecocks are coached by Jack Crowe, a former Clemson assistant and Arkansas head coach. ... Jacksonville State is part of the Southland Football League. ... The teams' last meeting was in 1999. The Eagles won 51-14 in Jacksonville, Ala. ... The Gamecocks upset No. 3 Northwestern State last week.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Eagles should be on cruise control after last week's monumental win. Georgia Southern's option offense, which amassed 409 rushing yards at Furman, should overpower the Gamecocks.
AT STAKE: The Eagles can improve their playoff standing with a win today. The more games they're able to play at home, the better.
OTHER SEC GAMES
Tennessee (5-4) at Mississippi State (3-6) 12:30 p.m.-The injuries continue to pile up for the Volunteers.
Vanderbilt (2-8) at Kentucky (6-4) 1:30 p.m.-The Wildcats have led in the second half of all 10 of their games this season.
Louisiana-Lafayette (3-7) at Arkansas (6-3) 2 p.m.-Don't be surprised if the Razorbacks sneak into the SEC title game.
OTHER ACC GAMES
North Carolina State (9-2) at Virginia (6-4) Noon-The Wolfpack are banged up with tailback T.A. McLendon (shoulder) and receiver Jerricho Cotchery (ankle) doubtful.
North Carolina (2-8) at Florida State (7-3) 3:30 p.m.-The Tar Heels have been outscored 169-25 in the last four quarters, and that could be the score after four quarters today.
NATIONAL GAME OF THE WEEK Alabama (8-2) at Louisiana State (7-2) 9 p.m.-Tigers fans should be sufficiently imbibed for this late-night start.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS 10-Victories, in 12 tries, by Auburn over Georgia when both teams enter the game ranked
114-Points scored by Auburn in its past three games
92-Points scored by Florida in the past seven quarters against South Carolina
THE LAST WORD "If you win, you're in. If you lose, you're out." Georgia coach Mark Richt, on today's game at Auburn
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