Top 25 Preview Capsules
No. 1 Notre Dame (11-0) at USC (7-4), 8 p.m. (ABC)
Line: Notre Dame by 7.
Series Record: Notre Dame leads 43-35-5.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Notre Dame is on the brink of a trip to the BCS title game, needing only a win in the Coliseum to wrap up the spot. The Irish share one of college football's best intersectional rivalries with USC, which could only gain a measure of solace from a hugely disappointing season by ruining the Irish dream season.
USC WR Marqise Lee vs. Notre Dame CB Bennett Jackson. The Trojans will rely on their gifted skill-position players to take pressure off QB Max Wittek, and no defensive secondary all season has significantly slowed down Lee, who could improve his Biletnikoff Award hopes with one more monster game. Jackson is a converted receiver who will be tested all night.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Notre Dame: LB Manti Te'o. It's only fitting for the imposing middle linebacker to play his final regular-season game at the Coliseum. He came agonizingly close to choosing USC out of high school before flipping to Notre Dame, where he suffered through early disappointments before finally having a season worthy of his faith in the Irish.
USC: Wittek. The redshirt freshman makes his first career start in place of injured Matt Barkley, and his teammates are confident he'll excel. Wittek is bigger and throws harder than Barkley, with zip on his passes that hurts Lee's hands, but he has played only mop-up duty all season long.
FACTS & FIGURES
Barkley will watch his final regular-season game from the sideline with a sprained shoulder. The Pac-12's career leader in multiple passing statistics will never get to face Notre Dame at the Coliseum, also missing the game two years ago with an injury. ... USC has won nine of the schools' last 10 meetings, losing only in 2010 when Trojans WR Ronald Johnson dropped a sure TD pass in the final minutes of a 20-16 win for Notre Dame, led by QB Tommy Rees. ... Notre Dame has brought the No. 1 ranking to the Coliseum six times, with USC winning two of those matchups. The Irish haven't been No. 1 in this game since 1989. ... USC is 7-11 against all No. 1 opponents. ... Notre Dame has a higher ranking than USC in this matchup for the first time since 2000. ... USC AD Pat Haden spent 12 years as a color analyst on Notre Dame television broadcasts.
Auburn (3-8, 0-7 Southeastern Conference) at No. 2 Alabama (10-1, 6-1), 3:30 p.m. (CBS)
Line: Alabama by 31.5.
Series Record: Alabama leads 41-34-1
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Alabama can secure an SEC championship game matchup against No. 3 Georgia with a victory and remain in line to play for the Crimson Tide's third national title in four years. The Tigers could put a soothing salve on a horrible season, avoid going winless in the SEC and secure state bragging rights.
Auburn's freshman QB Jonathan Wallace against one of the nation's top defenses. This will be his fourth career start and first in a hostile environment. Wallace has mostly avoided big mistakes but hasn't reached 200 passing yards in a game. He will likely need to have success running and throwing for the Tigers to have a chance.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Auburn: RB Tre Mason. Mason has somehow managed to gain 920 yards in a sputtering offense and the Tigers need him to take some pressure off Wallace. He has averaged 7.5 yards per carry and 132 yards in nonconference games versus averages of 4.9 and 55.9 yards against SEC defenses. Tide opponents are gaining 2.3 yards per rush.
Alabama: RBs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. The punishing duo has combined for 1,679 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. They run behind one of the nation's best defensive lines and could pound away against the SEC's worst rushing defense. The Tigers are allowing 191.3 yards on the ground and have given up 20 rushing touchdowns.
FACTS & FIGURES: Auburn has won seven of the eight games played in Tuscaloosa and is 5-1 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, including a 28-27 win two years ago after rallying from a 24-0 deficit that marked the biggest comeback win in Iron Bowl history. Alabama holds a 98-97 edge in scoring in the rivalry at its home stadium. ... The Tide has won three of the last four meetings since a six-year losing streak. Alabama has already secured its fifth-straight 10-win season. ... The Tigers are 23-34 in the Iron Bowl when Alabama is ranked. ... The team that has rushed for the most yards is 38-7 in the game since 1967.
Georgia Tech (6-5) at No. 3 Georgia (10-1), Noon (ESPN)
Line: Georgia by 13.
Series Record: Georgia says it leads series 62-37-5. Georgia Tech says Georgia leads series 62-39-5, including two Georgia Tech wins during World War II (1943-44) when the Yellow Jackets used players from an on-campus naval officer's training program.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Georgia is playing to protect its hopes of playing for a national championship if it beats No. 2 Alabama in the Dec. 1 Southeastern Conference championship game. Georgia Tech is trying to end a three-game losing streak in the series since its last win in Athens in 2008, coach Paul Johnson's first season.
Georgia OLBs Jarvis Jones and Jordan Jenkins against Georgia Tech RBs Orwin Smith and Robert Godhigh. Smith and Godhigh are the A-backs who line up wide in the spread-option offense and are the usual targets of pitches, or faked pitches. Jones and Jenkins must be disciplined, maintain their assignments, instead of going for the quarterback with the ball. For Jenkins, a freshman, this will be his first exposure to Georgia Tech's version of the option offense.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Georgia Tech: LB Jeremiah Attaochu had two sacks in last week's 45-24 win over Duke. Georgia Tech's defense has struggled most of the season, but Attaochu, who has seven sacks, is capable of forcing bad throws and helping to contain Georgia freshman RBs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.
Georgia: QB Aaron Murray leads the nation in passing efficiency (157.11) and needs only 14 yards passing to become the first SEC quarterback to pass for 3,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. Murray has 11 touchdown passes with no interceptions in his last three games after throwing three interceptions against Florida.
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