College Football Picks

The Pac-10's best bet to play for a national title will likely be decided Saturday in Eugene, Ore. In Tuscaloosa, Ala., the Crimson Tide's new coach has a shot to ruin his old team's season.

The college football season begins its stretch drive this weekend, the first of November.

The game of the day will be in the Pacific Northwest, where No. 4 Oregon hosts No. 6 and unbeaten Arizona State.

Both are coming off big wins. The Ducks dispatched Southern California, the reigning Pac-10 champs, and the Sun Devils took care of California, which was expected to be Southern Cal's main competition in the conference.

While Oregon has the higher ranking, Arizona State is a spot ahead of the Ducks in the BCS standings. The Sun Devils moved up to fourth last week, and with their perfect record and challenging remaining schedule, they're chances of playing for a national title if they win out are excellent.

That's a big if. Just getting by Dennis Dixon, Jonathan Stewart and the high- powered Ducks in Autzen Stadium will be a huge challenge for coach Dennis Erickson's Sun Devils.

LSU has the best chance among teams with one-loss — such as Oregon and Oklahoma — to reach the national title game, but the Tigers can't slip up again.

Alabama and former LSU coach Nick Saban can not only eliminate the Tigers from national title contention, but they would take control of the SEC West with a victory.

The picks:

Today's Game

No. 11 Virginia Tech (+2 1/2) at Georgia Tech: Hokies control own destiny to reach ACC title game ... VIRGINIA TECH 19-16.

Saturday's Games

Wisconsin (+15 1/2) at No. 1 Ohio State: First of two home games for Buckeyes before finale at Big House ... OHIO STATE 35-14.

Florida State (+6 1/2) at No. 2 Boston College: BC's Matt Ryan leads ACC with 2,433 yards passing ... BOSTON COLLEGE 26-14.

No. 3 LSU (-7) at No. 17 Alabama: Tigers have won three straight in Tuscaloosa ... LSU 30-24.

No. 6 Arizona State (+7) at No. 4 Oregon: Road team has won four of last five ... OREGON 33-21.

Texas A&M (+21) at No. 5 Oklahoma: Sooners rush defense tops Big 12; A&M has No. 2 ground game in league... OKLAHOMA 38-14.

Nebraska (+18 1/2) at No. 8 Kansas: Another team Huskers used to dominate ... KANSAS 40-20.

No. 9 Missouri (-3 1/2) at Colorado: Tigers haven't won in Boulder in a decade ... MISSOURI 28-20.

Troy (+16 1/2) at No. 10 Georgia: Bulldogs have never lost a nonconference regular-season game under coach Mark Richt ... GEORGIA 36-16.

Oregon State (+15) at No. 13 Southern California: Southern Cal is 20-0 in November under coach Pete Carroll ... Southern Cal 28-17.

No. 14 Texas (-3) at Oklahoma State: Horns must win to have shot at Big 12 title game ... TEXAS 33-27.

No. 15 Michigan (-4) at Michigan State: Mike Hart and Chade Henne should be back for Wolverines ... MICHIGAN 30-23.

Rutgers (+2) at No. 16 Connecticut: Huskies have been great mudders, but no rain expected ... RUTGERS 27-24.

Vanderbilt (+15 1/2) at No. 18 Florida: Vandy needs win to become bowl eligible; Commodores last bowl was '82 ... FLORIDA 37-20.

Tennessee Tech (no line) at No. 19 Auburn: Tigers take a break from SEC grind ... AUBURN 44-3.

Cincinnati (+5) at No. 20 South Florida: Two fast starters on two-game losing streaks ... SOUTH FLORIDA 28-21.

San Jose State (+25 1/2) at No. 21 Boise State: Broncos are 26-0 in WAC homes games ... BOISE STATE 45-15.

No. 21 Wake Forest (pick 'em) at Virginia: Demon Deacons have won six straight overall ... WAKE FOREST 22-19.

No. 23 South Carolina (+4 1/2) at Arkansas: Razorbacks TB Darren McFadden averaged only 4.0 per carry in October ... SOUTH CAROLINA 26-24.

Louisiana-Lafayette (+28 1/2) at No. 24 Tennessee: Vols second in SEC in passing offense ... TENNESSEE 45-10.

No. 25 Clemson (-16) at Duke: Tigers QB Cullen Harper leads ACC with 21 TD passes ... CLEMSON 40-17.

Last week's record: 8-8 (straight); 7-8-1 (vs. points); Season: 143-38 (straight); 85-76-3 (vs. points).

Ralph D. Russo, Associated Press