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Top 3 face ranked conference foes this week
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The Christmas shopping can wait. Instead of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving should be called BCS Friday.
The top three teams in the country — No. 1 Oregon, No. 2 Auburn and No. 3 Boise State — face ranked conference foes in a triple-header bursting with BCS implications.
Auburn starts the football feast when it takes on No. 9 Alabama in the biggest Iron Bowl in years. A rivalry that never lacks for intensity and is usually heavy on intrigue is loaded with high stakes and subplots this season.
On the field, it’s the first time since 1994 that the Iron Bowl features two top-10 teams.
The last two seasons, it was Alabama trying to stay undefeated and Auburn trying to play spoiler. Now, Auburn (11-0) is just a couple of wins away from playing in the BCS national championship game — and this Tide (9-2) team is still hoping to land a major bowl bid.
Then there’s Camgate.
The NCAA is looking into the recruitment of Auburn star quarterback Cam Newton after allegations by Mississippi State boosters that his father asked for money to send his son to play for that school.
As of now, Newton is expected to play. He’s the Southeastern Conference’s leading rusher, the nation’s second-most efficient passer and in just one year he’s made a case for being called the best quarterback in SEC history. Former Auburn coach Pat Dye, who coached Bo Jackson, has called Newton, “the best football player I ever saw.”
The Tide will provide his toughest test yet. Alabama has won 20 straight home games and leads the nation with 21 interceptions. Plus, coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart have some history of bottling up good running quarterbacks. Just ask Tim Tebow.
The SEC West race is already over. No matter what happens at Bryant-Denny Stadium, Auburn will play South Carolina in the league championship game the next week. A loss to Alabama, though, could open up a spot in the national championship game for another unbeaten team.
Not long after the Iron Bowl ends, Oregon (10-0) takes on No. 20 Arizona (7-3) in Eugene. The Ducks had a week off after their closest game of the season. Heisman contender LaMichael James and the high-scoring Ducks needed a little luck and some stellar defense to beat California 15-13.
The Wildcats’ defense looks just as good as the Bears’ on paper, and quarterback Nick Foles leads the top passing offense in the Pac-10.
By the time Boise State kicks off at No. 19 Nevada in the nightcap, the Broncos should know if they are still going to be stuck behind Oregon and Auburn in the BCS standings or if they have a real chance to put themselves in position to play for the national title on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz.
The Broncos are second in the nation in total defense and scoring defense and first against the run. Nevada, with versatile quarterback Colin Kaepernick, is third in total offense and fourth in scoring and rushing.
Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore also gets a chance to make one more high-profile push for the Heisman.
As for the presents, don’t worry, you can always shop online.

No. 17 Texas A&M (minus 3) at Texas —
The Aggies’ new Wrecking Crew keeps Longhorns home for holidays ... TEXAS A&M 24-13.
No. 20 Arizona (plus 19½) at No. 1 Oregon —
Cal was just a speed bump for Ducks ... OREGON 48-21.
No. 2 Auburn (plus 4½) at No. 9 Alabama — Only the NCAA can stop Cam ... AUBURN 31-27.
No. 3 Boise State (minus 14) at No. 19 Nevada — A victory will likely get Broncos past TCU in BCS standings ... BOISE STATE 45-24.
Colorado (plus 17) at No. 16 Nebraska — Deep breaths, Bo. Find your happy place ... NEBRASKA 35-14.
West Virginia (plus 2½) at Pittsburgh —
The Big East has to have a champion. It’s in the rules ... WEST VIRGINIA 20-16.
No. 4 TCU (minus 44) at New Mexico — Horned Frogs could win by 100 and it probably won’t matter ... TCU 62-10.
Northwestern (plus 23½) at No. 5 Wisconsin — Badgers running game powered by best offensive line in country ... WISCONSIN 48-21.
No. 6 LSU (plus 3½) at No. 12 Arkansas — Razorbacks still thinking BCS, too ... ARKANSAS 28-21.
Oregon State (plus 14) at No. 7 Stanford — Beavers have won seven of last nine meetings ... STANFORD 41-17.
Michigan (plus 17) at No. 8 Ohio State — Buckeyes go for seven straight against Wolverines ... OHIO STATE 45-21.
No. 14 Oklahoma (plus 2½) at No. 10 Oklahoma State — Sooners win plus A&M win causes three-way tie in Big 12 South; BCS standings break it ... OKLAHOMA STATE 35-30.
No. 11 Michigan State (minus 1) at Penn State — Spartans have been living on edge ... PENN STATE 23-17.
Virginia (plus 23½) at No. 13 Virginia Tech — Hokies have won six straight meetings ... VIRGINIA TECH 35-10.
No. 15 Missouri (minus 24½) vs. Kansas at Kansas City, Mo. — Tigers still alive in Big 12 North if Nebraska losses ... MISSOURI 48-10
No. 18 South Carolina (minus 3) at Clemson — Tigers have not lost two straight to Gamecocks since 1970 ... SOUTH CAROLINA 31-23.
No. 21 North Carolina State (minus 2½) at Maryland — Wolfpack are victory away from first ACC title game ... MARYLAND 28-21.
Florida (plus 2½) at No. 22 Florida State — Gators have never lost to ‘Noles under Urban Meyer ... FLORIDA STATE 28-17.
BYU (plus 9) at No. 23 Utah — The last Holy War as Mountain West Conference rivals ... UTAH 28-23.
No. 24 Iowa (plus 15½) at Minnesota — Floyd of Rosedale stays with Hawkeyes ... IOWA 42-14
No. 22 Mississippi State (plus 2½) at Mississippi —
Home team has won six straight and 10 of 11 Egg Bowls ... OLE MISS 28-24.
Notre Dame (no line) at Southern California —
QB Matt Barkley questionable; Trojans have won eight straight in series ... NOTRE DAME 31-24.

Last week — 13-4 (straight); 7-8-1 (vs. points).
Season — 167-52 (straight); 104-106-4 (vs. points).
Best bets — 4-4.
Upset specials — 4-4.