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WEEK THREE: There is One Game this week


There are plenty of good games in the third week of the season. Hatreds are renewed in some rivalries. Conference races could be altered. Massive amounts of quality football on.

Don't expect to hear about it.

Instead, you will hear about THE GAME OF THE CENTURY: PART DUEX as Ohio State travels to Los Angeles to face Southern Cal in THE BATTLE FOR NO. 1!!!! Never mind that contenders Georgia and Oklahoma are among those playing intriguing or intersectional games the same day; no, this week is about THE BEST GAME OF THE YEAR, and the caps must be broken out early and often.

The game that will blot out the Sun.

Expect to begin hearing the hype as early as 7:30 p.m. ET Thursday, when North Carolina at Rutgers airs on ESPN and very little attention will be paid by the announcers to what's actually happening on the field. You can see a darkhorse ACC contender take on an almost-ignored Big East contender while the sportscasters focus on THE GAME OF THE CENTURY, which they might casually mention will be on ABC Saturday Night Football.

To hear more about the impending BATTLE FOR NO. 1, just tune into Kansas at South Florida at 8 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN2. There, watch two of last year's Cinderellas batlle while the announcers continue to talk about whether the Buckeyes or the Trojans should be favored. The booth crew might make the off-handed mention of the fact that THE BEST GAME OF THE YEAR will be on ABC Saturday Night Football.

Grudge matches abound Saturday, including Iowa State's showdown with Iowa at 12 noon, slated for the Big Ten Network, which might actually draw better ratings than "McEnroe" this season now that the War with Comcast has been resolved.

The day's ABC slate begins with the renewal of the ages-old clash: Arkansas at Texas, airing 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC in some areas. Others get regional "treats" like Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech, Oregon at Purdue and Penn State at Syracuse, with mirror coverage of GT-VT and Oregon-Purdue on ESPN. In any case, watch any of these games to hear about THE GAME OF THE CENTURY, coming up NEXT on ABC. They might allude to what's going on the field if, for example, a player gets decapitated.

The avoid THE BATTLE FOR NO. 1 hype, simply flip over to CBS at 3:30 p.m. ET for a conference clash with national implications, as Georgia travels to South Carolina to face a familiar, visored foe. This will be Georgia's first test against a BCS foe and will set up the spelling-challenged Dawgs' trip to the desert the next week to face Arizona State.

Another annual grudge match airs at the same time on NBC, as Rich Rodriguez heads to South Bend for the first time for Michigan at Notre Dame. If this is not the toughest test yet for Michigan's new offense, it will have already shaped up as a long season for the Wolverine faithful.

And over on Versus at 3:30 p.m. ET, the BCS buster du jour takes welcomes a team that took a gamble on a coach with a checkered past when UCLA takes on BYU.

At 7:45 p.m. ET, Oklahoma goes to Washington for the prime-time ESPN game. Expect frequent updates from THE BEST GAME OF THE YEAR, followed by five minutes of discussion from the booth, after which the announcers might turn their attention back to the field.

And then, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, it arrives: THE GAME OF THE CENTURY, Ohio State at Southern Cal. And did I mention that it could be a BATTLE FOR NO. 1!!! The pregame fesitivies begin when Lee Corso slaughters a dove and burns it on an altar dedicated to Pete Carroll. Then, Kirk Herbstreit will join other past Ohio State greats to carry Jim Tressel onto the field in sedan chair. Brent Musberger will officially christen Mark Sanchez as the next Trojan quarterback before knighting Todd Boeckman as "Sir Todd of Columbus." These will actually be the least complimentary parts of the evening.

One other intriguing game begins at 9:30 p.m. ET, when ESPN2 airs Wisconsin at Fresno State. Fortunately, there will still be plenty of time to provide updates on the second half of THE MOST IMPORTANT GAME OF THE YEAR.