TOM LUICCI'S COLLEGE FOOTBALL SELECTIONS

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TheGeneral+

Another Day, Another Dollar
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Before the debate begins over whether LSU or USC is a more worthy opponent for No. 1-ranked Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, the No. 3-ranked Tigers have to take care of some business first. It starts today for Nick Saban's team, which can secure a spot in the SEC championship game with a victory at home over Arkansas.

The Big East title, and the league's accompanying BCS bowl berth, is up for grabs as well when Miami visits Pittsburgh. The winner is likely Orange Bowl-bound.

The schedule is on the light side the next two days, but there's plenty at stake.

TODAY

NO. 25 NEBRASKA (8-3) AT COLORADO (5-6) The vitals: Noon, Ch. 7, Nebraska favored by 3

Nebraska leads the series, 43-16-2. Last meeting: Colorado 28-13, 2002

The skinny: Will this be Frank Solich's last game as the Cornhuskers' head coach? If it is, it will be at the same place where it all started to unravel for once-mighty Nebraska two years ago, during a 62-35 loss in Boulder. Huskers can wrap up a Cotton Bowl bid with a victory. Colorado can earn a Tangerine Bowl spot by winning.

The pick: Emotions will be running high for Nebraska's players, with a published report saying Solich is gone after this game, win or lose. Which Nebraska defense shows up? Who knows? Which Colorado team does? No. clue. But the Huskers are still good enough to win by more than this spread.


ARKANSAS (8-3) AT NO. 3 LSU (10-1) The vitals: 2:30, Ch. 2, LSU favored by 9 1/2

LSU leads the series, 29-17-2. Last meeting: Arkansas 21-20, 2002

The skinny: Tigers' BCS and SEC championship hopes hinge on a victory. Arkansas leads the SEC in scoring, but so did Ole Miss before LSU's defense put the clamps on Eli Manning & Co. last week. Tigers are third nationally in total defense and No. 1 in the country in scoring defense.

The pick: Arkansas' run-dominated offense is too one-dimensional to have success against this LSU defense. A lot of points to give, but the Tigers understand the stakes. And they're at home. So lay the points. LSU comfortably by double digits.

NO. 6 TEXAS (9-2) AT TEXAS A&M (4-7)

The vitals: 3:30, Ch. 7, Texas favored by 20

Texas leads the series, 70-34-5. Last meeting: Texas 50-20, 2002

The skinny: Longhorns need another victory to keep alive their hopes for a BCS at-large bid. Since shaking off their Oklahoma hangover, they've won five straight. The game won't be compelling, but it's another chance to see Vince Young, Texas' dazzling freshman QB. He's special.

The pick: Aggies have been outscored 122-22 in their last two and have given up 77 points to Oklahoma, 59 to Texas Tech and 48 Nebraska. Maybe emotion carries them early, but Texas will win this big. Very big. Lay the points.

TOMORROW NO. 9 FLORIDA STATE (9-2) AT NO. 11 FLORIDA (8-3) The vitals: 3:30, Ch. 2, Florida State favored by 1

Florida the series, 27-18-1. Last meeting: Florida State 31-14, 2002

The skinny: Seminoles have wrapped up the ACC title and a BCS berth already. Florida, still in the thick of the SEC East race, doesn't know its fate yet. What happens here is the difference between being a top 10 team and not. Youthful Gators have won five straight behind freshman QB Chris Leak, including victories over LSU and Georgia.

The pick: Again, it's mistake-prone Florida State QB Chris Rix in a big game. No thanks. Gators are home, they're playing well and their credentials are far more impressive than the overrated Seminoles. Take the points. Florida could win by double digits.

MARYLAND (8-3) AT WAKE FOREST (5-6) The vitals: 3:30, ESPN, Maryland favored by 8

Maryland leads the series, 37-13-1. Last meeting: Maryland 32-14, 2002

The skinny: Terps are already Gator Bowl-bound, but have their sights set on another 10-victory season. They've won eight of nine since opening 0-2, and are clearly the ACC's second-best team. There's no doubt they'd like another crack at Florida State, too, after losing to the Seminoles the second week of the season.

The pick: Deamon Deacons look like they've packed it in for the year, having lost to lowly North Carolina and then being routed at home by Connecticut the past two games. Terps continue their roll. Lay the points.

NO. 10 MIAMI (9-2) AT NO. 20 PITTSBURGH (8-3) The vitals: 8, Ch. 7, Miami favored by 3

Miami leads the series, 20-9-1. Miami 28-21, 2002

The skinny: The Big East title and a BCS bid are the stakes here -- even though West Virginia might be the league's best team right now. Hurricanes' offense continues to struggle, but Pittsburgh's defense is awful. Which one gets well here? Miami does have the secondary to contain Larry Fitzgerald, but can it account for QB Rod Rutherford as well?

The pick: It's tough to trust the Panthers after they threw in a clunker at home against Notre Dame, then bombed at West Virginia last week. But they have so many things going for them in this one. Big East officials can't contain their glee. Take the points. Pitt jolts Miami in its last Big East game.

Last Week: 4-2 Season Record: 47-53-2

http://www.nj.com/sports
 

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