By far this week's biggest game poses a coaching question, probably unanswerable. What's better for a fan? To have the free-wheeling, outspoken, risk-taker wearing the top man's headset? Or the canned, prickly, one-game-at-time robot?
LSU's Les Miles, of course, gambler of gamblers, represents the former head-coaching type. Alabama's Nick Saban -- disciple of Bill Belichick -- the latter.
Coach Les Miles and his LSU Tigers
Saturday afternoon's game, which brings two of the nation's best defenses into the same stadium, will not likely bring any fresh clarity to such imponderables.
Instead, the matchup's outcome will resolve certain highly practical questions: For instance, which of these two elite programs will play against already-crowned SEC East champion Florida for all the conference's marbles in late November -- and possibly gain entrance into the
-sponsored BCS title game in early January?
Alabama Coach Nick Saban
No. 9 LSU (7-1) at No. 2 Alabama (8-0), 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS:
One word for this one: defense. Further words for this one: Which offense will find any success at all in moving the chains against an opposing unit ranked fifth in terms of points allowed (Alabama) and seventh by the same measure (LSU).
Looking at the raw stats, Alabama has the edge on offense, led by tailback Mark Ingram. The Heisman contender paces a Crimson Tide ground game that has racked up nearly 218 yards per outing, good for 14th nationally. Both squads suffer from rather muted passing attacks, though this might be an SEC-wide condition, given the overall strength in the conference at the pass-disrupting positions of defensive back and defensive lineman.
Then again, maybe these passing attacks are just plain bad. LSU, though it's coming off a 42-0 whooping of an admittedly substandard
, could manage only 188 yards through the air against the Green Wave.
'Bama, on the other hand, spent its most-recent tilt kicking and blocking field goals in a 12-10 skull-clutcher against
. Were it not for Terrence Cody, the certain All-American nose guard known to all as "Mount," and his two blocked Volunteer field-goal attempts (the last one being the game-saver) this week's match against the Tigers would look much different.
one looks at it, though, this Saturday's afternoon of football in Tuscaloosa will likely include a gross number of punts, and probably a batch of turnovers as well. In the end, Mark Ingram and the Alabama running game will keep the Rammer Jammers' title hopes churning.
Corner's choice: Alabama 13, LSU 9
No. 16 Ohio State (7-2) at No. 11 Penn State (8-1) , 3:30 p.m. EST, ABC
: A game like this usually would be more important to the national championship picture than it is this season. But it's still vital to the Big Ten title picture. Both teams are 4-1 in the conference behind No. 4
(9-0), which is 5-0 in the league. Iowa travels to Ohio State next week. But BCS rankings aside, these two teams probably best display
What does Joe Paterno think about facing Ohio State?"They're a very, very good defensive football team," Paterno said at his news conference earlier this week. "We've got to be precise, we've got to mix up things. We can't have foolish penalties, all of the things you've got to do in order to be able to compete against a good football team."
Daryll Clark, Penn State
Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark keyed the Nittany Lions to a 34-13 victory over
last week. Clark threw for 266 yards and a score. Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor has bounced back strongly after a stunning loss to
three weeks ago, with strong outings in blowouts over
New Mexico State
Corner's choice: Penn State 20, Ohio State 17
-- William Hennelly
Central Florida (5-3) at No. 2 Texas (8-0), 12 p.m. EST:
The Longhorns return home after three straight weeks on the road. After getting through the heart of their schedule unscathed, the 'Horns now play an unusual, late-season conference game.
Central Florida will come calling in Austin after squeaking past
. Quarterback Brett Hodges, who threw a 1-yard, go-ahead touchdown pass with 23 seconds left in the game, finished with 342 yards passing on 45 attempts.
Central Florida quarterback Brett Hodges
While many have already tapped the 'Horns in for a spot in the BCS National Championship game, the Golden Knights have a feisty history working in their favor.
The last time Texas faced Central Florida in 2007, the Golden Knights scored with under 40 seconds left. Still ahead by three points, the Longhorns were forced to recover an onside kick to seal the victory.
In a 27-7 loss to Miami this season, Central Florida still managed to hold the Hurricanes to just 70 yards rushing on 46 attempts. Plus, the Golden Knights were only a touchdown away from tying or winning in its other two losses.
With a potential title game bid on the line, every game can look like a potential letdown for the Longhorns.
"This becomes a national game now," Texas Head Coach Mack Brown said at a press conference. "If it were at the first of the season, it would not have been talked about a lot, but if you look at it now, we are in the mix at the end where everything that we do is important. This game takes on a lot more importance than it would have if it were the third game of the year."
In light of the pressure to continue building momentum, Colt McCoy, Sergio Kindle, Lamar Houston and the rest of the Texas seniors appear to be saying the right things.
"I think it is hard for y'all not to think about it," McCoy said at a press conference. "For us, we understand that there is a lot of football left to play."
Yet, in recent years, the Longhorns have been known to drop a game in November that it just shouldn't.
Still, Texas has the nation's third-ranked defense, giving up only 241 yards a game. The Longhorns also rank first in the nation in scoring, averaging nearly 42 points a game. Oh, and UCF is 0-19 against ranked teams since it made the leap to Division I. Texas may have a letdown game in them. Just don't look for it to be this week.
Corner's choice: Texas 52, UCF 3
Written by Scott Eden, Sung Moss and William Hennelly in New York
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This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.