No. 16 Washington plays No. 5 Southern Cal Saturday, one of 11 games on the Huskies' schedule. But this is a game on which the Huskies can hang an entire season.
Top 25roundup "I haven't beaten 'SC since I've been here," Washington center Ed Cunningham said. "It's been tough not beating them. I'm really biting to play those guys."
Before a sellout crowd celebrating the 100th anniversary of Husky football, Washington will be looking to break a four-game losing streak to the Trojans. This is the Pacific-10 Conference opener for both teams. The Trojans are 19-0-1 in their last 20 conference games, and Washington is just one of six teams they will play currently ranked among the Top 25.
Coach Larry Smith said his Trojans can't dwell on such things as anniversaries.
"I'm aware of it, but we just need to worry about ourselves and keep improving game to game," he said. "The kind of game this is, it wouldn't make a difference whether it's 100 or 1. When you play in Husky Stadium, it's not an easy task. The crowd noise and all. I think we're up against a real, real challenge."
The outcome could hinge on the quarterbacks - both left-handed sophomores. USC's Todd Marinovich has completed 47 of 69 passes for 577 yards and four touchdowns. Washington's Mark Brunell has struggled in his two starts, completing 18 of 51 passes.
Washington Coach Don James admits his team doesn't "belong on the same field" with USC at this point. He's hoping the crowd will give the Huskies a push.
"It always helps when the crowd gets behind the home team," James said. "It really wouldn't bother me if Todd Marinovich didn't hear a cadence all day long."
In other top games, it's No. 1 Notre Dame at co-No. 23 Michigan State; UCLA at No. 10 Michigan; co-No. 23 Oregon at No. 14 Arizona; No. 18 Colorado at Texas; and Pitt at No. 25 Syracuse.
The Irish, who escaped with a 28-24 home victory over Michigan last week, will be playing in front of what could be the largest home crowd in Michigan State history.
"This is a team that we had to fight for our lives against last year at home, and it was the same situation both times we've taken teams to East Lansing," Notre Dame Coach Lou Holtz said. "So it doesn't get any easier. The stadium will be sold out and they will play with great emotion."
In neighboring Ann Arbor, the Wolverines will try to rebound from their heartbreaking loss to Notre Dame and give Coach Gary Moeller his first victory for Bo Schembechler.
However, Michigan will have to find a way to stop UCLA quarterback Tommy Maddox, who has completed 21 of 36 passes and led the Bruins over Stanford 32-31 last Saturday.
In the only other game featuring two ranked teams, Arizona must stop Oregon quarterback Bill Musgrave. He has completed 42 of 66 passes for 540 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
"Musgrave is the key," Arizona Coach Dick Tomey said. "We cannot let him get hot. He is so smart, he just doesn't make mistakes. They back that up with a real solid defense."
Alabama at Georgia doesn't feature ranked teams, but it's a critical game for both the 0-2 Crimson Tide and the 1-1 Bulldogs.
When Georgia coach Ray Goff looks at Alabama, he doesn't see 0-2.
"So far this year, Alabama has had some tough luck, but they do have the SEC Player of the Year returning in Gary Hollingsworth as well as a load of talented returning players from a year ago," Goff said.
"I can assure you that Alabama is an excellent football team."
Alabama meets Georgia at Athens, Ga., and is in danger losing three straight regular-season games for the first time since 1982, Bear Bryant's last with the Crimson Tide.
Gene Stallings would like to make sure that his first year as Alabama coach is not his last. The Tide are 2-point favorites.