College Football Corner: 'Bama vs. Dawgs

It's an SEC showdown 'between the hedges' Saturday night.
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Thirty-two years ago, Alabama coach Bear Bryant brought his 10th-ranked Crimson Tide to play "between the hedges" against Vince Dooley's No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs -- the last time these two met as top-10 teams.

Georgia didn't allow a point that early-October day, sending the Bear packing with a 21-0 defeat and propelling the Bulldogs toward an eventual Sugar Bowl date vs. top-ranked Pitt, which featured all-everything running back Tony Dorsett.

On Saturday night, No. 3 Georgia and No. 10 Alabama face off, and the winner will not only be 5-0, but will add a significant quality win to its case for a BCS Championship Game slot.

Do you Knowshon Moreno? Alabama does.

Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., expects 92,000-plus for the national TV (ESPN) contest at 7:45 p.m. EDT.

'Bama will have to contend with Georgia's star running back Knowshon Moreno and a swarming Dawgs defense that stifled Arizona State in an impressive victory last week. The Bulldogs also feature freshman flanker A.J. Green, who after only two starts leads the SEC in receiving yardage. He had eight catches for 159 yards in the victory over the Sun Devils.

Alabama answers with Glen Coffee, who broke off an 87-yard touchdown run and finished with 167 yards rushing in the Tide's 49-14 shellacking of Arkansas last week.

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"This is the kind of game you come to the University of Alabama to play in," Alabama coach Nick Saban told

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

earlier this week.

The two teams played an OT thriller last year, with Georgia prevailing 26-23 on quarterback Matthew Stafford's electrifying pass to Mikey Henderson in the left corner of the end zone.

Let's look at some other Top 25 teams in action this weekend:

Michigan State at Indiana, noon EDT (ESPN)

: The Spartans will likely be favored in their next three contests as they open Big Ten play, possibly setting up an important matchup vs. Ohio State at home on Oct. 18. The Heisman buzz is picking up around senior running back Javon Ringer, who has racked up 699 yards in four games, including 201 yards last Saturday vs. Notre Dame. The team has needed every yard too as quarterback Brian Hoyer hasn't looked great after throwing for 321 yards in a valiant opening-week loss at Cal. The defense may be improved, but it's too early to know how much: The Spartans were shredded by Cal for 467 yards and benefited from a downpour and a horribly inefficient Fighting Irish offense the past two weeks. Indiana has lost two of the past 11 in the battle for the Old Brass Spittoon, and its 42-20 defeat in Bloomington last Saturday to Ball State, in which the Hoosiers scored only one offensive touchdown after the first quarter, is a concern that the game wasn't merely a "looking-ahead" stumble. Junior quarterback Kellen Lewis has been as hard to catch as ever, running for 331 yards in the team's first 3 games, but the passing game is way off the pace of its 2007 total of more than 3,000 yards.

No. 8 Wisconsin at Michigan (ABC, 3:30 p.m. EDT)

: The Badgers have made a case for themselves as a Big Ten title contender along with Ohio State and Penn State. They'll head to the Big House, where they'll meet some wounded Wolverines (1-2), who will have a tough time extending their 22-game home winning streak in Big Ten openers. Michigan's only victory this season was eked out against Miami of Ohio, 16-6, two weeks ago. Wisconsin also was idle last week, its last game a gritty victory on the road at Fresno State. Michigan's offensive line is on the mend, and it's a concern for first-year Coach Rich Rodriguez. A key in the game could be whether Wisconsin can move the ball on the ground. The Wolverines are giving up only 65 rushign yards a game, but they'll be tested by Badger back P.J. Hill, who already has 379 yards rushing (5.4 yards a carry) and four touchdowns this season.

Tennessee at No. 16 Auburn, 3:30 p.m. EDT (CBS)

: Following a fourth straight loss to SEC rival Florida, the drums are beating louder in Knoxville for the end of Volunteers Coach Phil Fulmer's tenure. Despite a 149-46 record after 16 1/2 seasons, the reality is that Tennessee has seen two division rivals, Florida and Georgia, outperform during this decade -- the Vols have no SEC titles and just two top 10 finishes in the past nine years. It gets no easier this weekend as Tennessee travels to Jordan-Hare Stadium to face a team that is stinging after a home loss to LSU and that has beaten the Vols in their last three meetings. Tennessee was shut down against the Gators, and the jury is still out on whether junior quarterback Jonathan Crompton can get the offense to the high level of last year. Auburn will need to focus on finishing what it started -- against LSU, the team gave up 17 unanswered points to surrender a 14-3 lead, only to get it back in the fourth quarter before allowing the winning score with 1:11 left.

TCU at No. 2 Oklahoma (7 p.m. EDT)

: The Sooners have scored at least 50 points in each of their three games. Oklahoma also has a Heisman candidate, quarterback Sam Bradford, who threw for five TDs against Washington two weeks ago and a rock-solid running game featuring Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray, who combined for 200 yards on the ground. Surprising TCU (3-0) of the Mountain West Conference is coming of a 31-14 victory over Stanford. The Horned Frogs are led by quarterback Andy Dalton, who rushed for 91 yards and passed for 145 against the Cardinal.

No. 14 South Florida at North Carolina State (7:30 p.m. EDT)

: The Wolfpack will look for another big win, fresh off upsetting ranked East Carolina. In that game, N.C. State kept the game close, then took advantage of a turnover in overtime. On the ensuing possession, Wolfpack running back Andre Brown scored the game-winner on a 10-yard run. But N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Nate Irving are out with injuries this week. Bulls quarterback Matt Grothe didn't have his typical game in a 17-6 win over Florida International; it was only the second time in 30 games that he did not throw or run for a touchdown. The last time the two teams met, the Wolfpack won 14-0 in the 2005 Meineke Bowl.