Even if they decided to award a trophy, a bronze cup or a funny little jug to the winner, there could not be more riding on today's Bowling Green-Miami game. There is no more room on the prize table in this one.
The Falcons (5-2) are playing for their lives in the Mid-American Conference's East Division, where BG is 3-1 and trails Miami and Marshall, both 3-0. A loss essentially takes the Falcons out of the hunt. A loss by the RedHawks puts them in a desperate position, with four-time MAC defending champ Marshall coming to Oxford next week.
Besides keeping the Falcons in the MAC title picture for another week, a victory would also give them something they have not enjoyed since 1994 - a winning season. Six straight losing seasons have provided the longest such stretch in school history.
Miami coach Terry Hoeppner said the change at BG is evident in the game film he has watched, and is a source of great concern.
“They're playing with tremendous confidence and spirit. The talent was there, but sometimes a new face brings life to a team, and that appears to be exactly what has happened at Bowling Green under Urban Meyer,” Hoeppner said. “Right now I'm trying to do the same thing he's doing - looking at film and searching for weaknesses - and I don't see any. This is a great rivalry, and probably our toughest test of the season.”
- MATT MARKEY
Time: 2:30 p.m.
TV: Channels 24, 4
Records: Tennessee is 5-1, ND 3-4
Last week: Tennessee d. South Carolina 17-10; Notre Dame lost to Boston College 21-17
Favorite: Tennessee by 8
Key to the game: If QB Carlyle Holliday can stay in the game, the Irish might have a chance. Problem is, he's fighting injuries on several fronts - sprained ankle, sore shoulder, bruised kidney - so it won't take a lot to put him down. Also, the Vols are a November team - they're 29-2 in this month under Phil Fulmer.
Time: 3:30 p.m.
TV: Channels 13, 7
Radio: 760 AM
Records: Michigan is 6-1, 4-0 in Big Ten; Michigan State is 4-2, 2-2
Last week: Michigan d. Iowa 32-26; Michigan State d. Wisconsin 42-28
Favorite: Michigan by 6
Key to the game: If the teams match running games, Michigan State will probably win. The Spartans have a tough, talented TB in T.J. Duckett, who rushed for 186 yards last Saturday against Wisconsin. Michigan will counter with B.J. Askew, who leads the once-proud UM rushing attack with a paltry 80.3-yards-per-game average. Michigan should have the edge in passing and in defense, where it leads the nation in rushing defense, yielding just 54.4 yards per game.
Time: 4 p.m.
Radio: 96.7 FM, 1430 AM
Records: Bowling Green is 5-2, 3-1 in MAC East; Miami is 6-2, 3-0
Last game: Bowling Green d. Akron 16-11 on Oct. 20; Miami d. Western Michigan 25-11
Favorite: BG by 4
Key to the game: It is no secret that Miami rides the arm of redshirt freshman QB Ben Roethlisberger; given time the 6-5 slinger from Findlay High will tear defenses apart. So the critical point for the Falcons is to deny Roethlisberger that second or two to survey the field and select a receiver. BG wants to get a hand on him early or put a helmet in his chest, so each time Roethlisberger drops back he has that sudden impact in mind. Pressuring, harassing and sacking the quarterback will hold the key for BG, which has 17 sacks in seven games.
Time: 7:45 p.m.
Radio: 1470 AM will join in progress
Records: Ohio State is 4-3, 2-2 in Big Ten; Minnesota is 2-5, 1-3
Last week: Ohio State lost to Penn State 29-27; Minnesota d. Murray State 66-10
Favorite: Ohio State by 2
Key to the game: The Buckeyes need to touch up a couple of areas, namely offense, defense and the kicking game. Both coaches are trying to downplay the fact that Ohio State's Jim Tressel beat out Glen Mason of Minnesota for the OSU job this year. It will be a important factor tonight.