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Showdowns: Week 2 of college football season packed with mega-matchups of big-time programs

JoePa visits the Bear's house. The 'Canes blow into the Horseshoe for a rematch of the 2002 national championship game. Florida State's first big game post-Bowden takes place in Norman, Okla., a rematch of the 2000 national title game.

The second week of the college football season is so jammed pack with intriguing games that Brian Kelly's first foray into the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry can't even crack the top three.

Hey, neither the Fighting Irish nor the Wolverines is ranked.

Joe Paterno, who broke Bear Bryant's record on the way to becoming the winningest coach in the history of major college football, brings Penn State to Tuscaloosa to face No. 1 Alabama.

The Nittany Lions and Crimson Tide routinely squared off in the 1970s and early '80s, when Bear Bryant was stalking Alabama's sideline. The Bear is gone now, but the Tide's stadium is named after him. Meanwhile, the 83-year-old Paterno has 395 victories.

Even if Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram (knee) can't play Saturday, beating Nick Saban's defending national champions would rank as one of Paterno's most surprising victories.

The last time Ohio State played Miami, it was the Buckeyes pulling off the upset.

Ohio State's 31-24 double-overtime victory in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl kept the Hurricanes from repeating as national champions and made the Buckeyes champs for the first time in more than three decades. It was also the night official Terry Porter became famous for throwing a flag for pass interference on Miami that is debated to this day.

"It's like everyone is making sure that we remember what happened," said current Miami quarterback Jacory Harris, who are the underdogs this time to the second-ranked Buckeyes.

Since Bob Stoops took over at Oklahoma in 1999, the Sooners have been perennial contenders. But they haven't won a national championship since Stoops' second season, when the Sooners beat Bobby Bowden's Seminoles 13-2 in the 2001 Orange Bowl.

That turned out to be Bowden's last shot at a national title. Florida State had some good teams after that, but Bowden's long run of excellence ended that night in Miami.

Stoops is still cranking out wins in Norman, but Bowden's time at Florida State is over. It's now Jimbo Fisher's job to return the 17th-ranked Seminoles to elite status and beating No. 10 Oklahoma would be a giant step in the right direction.

The picks:

Thursday

No. 21 Auburn (minus 2) at Mississippi State.

Matchup of spread offenses and promising QBs ... MISSISSIPPI STATE 31-24.

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Friday

No. 23 West Virginia (minus 13) at Marshall.

Mountaineers 9-0 in Friends of the Coal Bowl ... WEST VIRGINIA 31-14.

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Saturday

No. 18 Penn State (plus 11½) at No. 1 Alabama.

Saban on one side, frosh QB playing first road game on the other ... ALABAMA 24-10.

No. 12 Miami (plus 9½) at No. 2 Ohio State.

Can Jacory Harris avoid the big mistake? ... OHIO STATE 20-14.

Tennessee Tech (no line) at No. 4 TCU.

Tennessee Tech goes from Razorbacks to Horned Frogs ... TCU 50-10.

Wyoming (plus 29) at No. 5 Texas.

These Cowboys won't fare well in Texas ... TEXAS 45-14.

Idaho (plus 28½) at No. 6 Nebraska.

Huskers redshirt freshman QB Taylor Martinez ran for 127 yards in debut ... NEBRASKA 42-10.

No. 7 Oregon (minus 13) at Tennessee.

After 72-point opener, Ducks get back star TB LaMichael James ... OREGON 35-20.

South Florida (plus 15½) at No. 8 Florida.

Gators problems should be a snap to fix ... FLORIDA 28-10.

Iowa State (plus 13½) at No. 9 Iowa.

Cyclones haven't scored TD vs. Hawkeyes in last 14 quarters ... IOWA 21-10.

No. 17 Florida State (plus 8½) at No. 10 Oklahoma.

Sooners need to fix secondary quick with Christian Ponder coming to town ... OKLAHOMA 37-21.

San Jose State (plus 38) at No. 11 Wisconsin.

Badgers have won 14 straight home openers ... WISCONSIN 45-14.

James Madison (no line) at No. 13 Virginia Tech.

Hokies dealing with annual early season disappointment ... VIRGINIA TECH 35-17.

Louisiana-Monroe (plus 34) vs. No. 14 Arkansas at Little Rock, Ark.

It's officially a ULM home game ... ARKANSAS 48-21.

No. 15 Georgia Tech (minus 13½) at Kansas.

It doesn't get any easier for Turner Gill at KU ... GEORGIA TECH 31-21.

Virginia (plus 19½) at No. 16 Southern California.

Trojans are 12-6 against ACC teams ... USC 38-17.

No. 19 LSU (minus 10) at Vanderbilt.

Tigers have won six straight vs. Commodores ... LSU 28-14.

UNLV (plus 23½) at No. 20 Utah.

Utes home winning streak is at 18 ... UTAH 45-16.

No. 22 Georgia (plus 2½) at No. 24 South Carolina.

Bulldogs have won seven of last eight and four in a row at USC ... GEORGIA 24-21.

No. 25 Stanford (minus 6½) at UCLA.

Bruins offense is a mess ... STANFORD 30-17.

Michigan (plus 3½) at Notre Dame.

Wolverines coach Rich Rodriguez needs it more than Kelly ... MICHIGAN 27-21.

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Last week: 21-1 (straight); 9-5-1 (vs. points).