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SATURDAY SHOOTOUTS

No. 16 Duke at No. 9 Florida State

Records: Duke 7-0, 4-0 ACC; Florida State 5-1, 5-0.

When/where: Noon, Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee.

TV: Ch. 13.

Radio: WWJB-AM 1450 (Brooksville), WSPB-AM 1450 (Sarasota), WQYK-AM 1010 (Tampa), WBSB-FM 96.1 (Zephyrhills).

Line: FSU by 23.

This may be the most important game in the universe because ... : The winner will have the inside track to the ACC title and an automatic berth in the Orange, Cotton or Sugar Bowl. FSU's 21-game ACC winning streak is on the line, and the Blue Devils are 4-0 in the ACC for the first time since 1970.

FSU will win because ... : The Seminoles have too much speed and depth and an advantage at every position on both sides of the ball. Although the offense has struggled in the past two games, tailback Warrick Dunn and receivers Kez McCorvey, Andre Cooper and Wayne Messam are big threats and FSU is averaging 473 yards per game. And Duke has not seen the speed on defense that FSU flaunts, especially through its ability to play so many people.

On the other hand ... : Duke has not lost, and as FSU coach Bobby Bowden said, "Knowing so much about my son Terry at Auburn, I see a lot of similarities at Duke. They simply believe they will not lose." The Blue Devils do have a strong running game behind Robert Baldwin. And they have hope after seeing FSU's 34-20 loss to Miami. "It makes you feel better," Duke coach Fred Goldsmith said. "But we're not Miami. Maybe if we wore Miami uniforms that would help us. Or they could get mad at us. But if you see them against Miami, you realize they are mortal."

_ BOB HARIG

No. 2 Colorado at No. 3 Nebraska

Records: Colorado 7-0, 3-0 Big Eight; Nebraska 8-0, 3-0.

When/where: Noon, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.

TV: Ch. 10.

Radio: None.

Line: Nebraska by 1.

This may be the most important game in the universe because ... : It is looking more and more like the victor will win the Big Eight, finish the season undefeated and play in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1 with some claim to the national championship.

Colorado will win because ... : Any team with a Heisman contender in the backfield can be dangerous. The Buffs have two. Rashaan Salaam may be the best tailback in the nation and quarterback Kordell Stewart leads the Big Eight in passing and total offense. It was Salaam's fourth-quarter running that put away Texas and Stewart's clutch 60-yard run that beat Kansas State. A team would be hard-pressed to stop both.

On the other hand ... : Nebraska is not merely good at home, it is near unbeatable. The Cornhuskers have won 21 straight in Lincoln and have beaten the Buffs 11 of the past 12 times there, including 52-7 in 1992.

The experts say ... : Kansas State has played Nebraska and Colorado in the past two weeks and the Wildcats said there is no comparison: "Colorado is the best team, by far," wide receiver Mitch Running said. "I would vote them No. 1."

_ JOHN ROMANO

No. 21 Ohio State at No. 1 Penn State

Records: Ohio State 6-2, 3-1 Big Ten; Penn State 6-0, 3-0.

When/where: 3:30 p.m., Beaver Stadium, State College, Pa.

TV: Pay per view.

Radio: WNZE-AM 820, WFNS-AM 910 (in progress at 4:30).

Line: Penn State by 14.

This may be the most important game in the universe because ... : After its victory against Michigan two weeks ago, Penn State is set up to win the Big Ten championship _ the first conference title in school history _ and head to the Rose Bowl with a No. 1 goal.

Penn State will win because ... : Joe Paterno vs. John Cooper? Yeah, sure. Paterno has two national championships and 263 victories on his resume. Cooper is 7-14-3 against ranked teams since taking over Ohio State in 1988. Plus, Paterno had an off-week to prepare for the Buckeyes.

On the other hand ... : They have done it quietly, but the Buckeyes are 16-3-1 dating to the beginning of last year. That's Ohio State's finest 20-game stretch since 1979-80. The Buckeyes beat Penn State 24-6 last season, the worst regular-season loss for the Nittany Lions since 1988.

The expert says ... : Michigan coach Gary Moeller had watched enough videotapes of Penn State to know he was in trouble even before losing 31-24 to the Nittany Lions. "Every time I turned on the tape, the score was 35-0 and it was only the first quarter. I thought they kept shooting the same scoreboard."

_ JOHN ROMANO

No. 13 Virginia Tech at No. 6 Miami

Records: Virginia Tech 7-1, 4-1 Big East; Miami 5-1, 2-0.

When/where: 3:30 p.m., Orange Bowl, Miami.

TV: Chs. 10, 40.

Radio: WSUN-620 AM.

Line: UM by 14.

This may be the most important game in the universe because ... : It's the first of a two-game sequence that will decide the Big East championship. After Virginia Tech, Miami has Syracuse next week. Two wins and the 'Canes are alive for the national championship. A loss to Virginia Tech and Miami can kiss hopes of No.

1 goodbye. A loss to Syracuse and the 'Canes could blow the Big East title for the second straight season.

Miami will win because ... : The Hokies play good enough defense that an upset is a possibility _ especially if Miami is looking to Syracuse _ but history says forget it. The Hurricanes have won all 11 meetings between the teams.

On the other hand ... : Virginia Tech's Maurice DeShazo probably is the best quarterback the Hurricanes will face all season. DeShazo, rebounding after an ankle injury earlier this season, is mobile and could present problems with his scrambling.

The expert says ... : Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni declined to handicap the game, but you might read between the lines: "Let's just say I'm comfortable sitting this one out and letting Virginia Tech take a shot at them. Miami's a great football team, and I don't know if anybody can beat them. Washington beat them, and there were probably some miscues there, but I don't know if on any given night if anybody can beat those people."

_ RANDY CREMER

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