Arizona State, an upset victim last week when quarterback Paul Justin got hurt, will find out how much the injury damages its hopes for the Pacific-10 Conference title today when the Sun Devils play No. 14 Washington.
Justin separated his shoulder in the third quarter of last week's 30-9 loss at Missouri and is out for at least a month. That leaves the position to sophomore Kurt Lasher, who has completed 7 of 15 passes for 82 yards and no touchdowns this season.Last season, Lasher completed only 14 of 40 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns. But Arizona State Coach Larry Marmie is optimistic for the game at Tempe, Ariz., saying Lasher is "very in tune with what's going on."
Washington Coach Don James refused to say the Huskies' chances were improved with Lasher in the lineup instead of Justin.
"I've seen backup quarterbacks come in and just tear people apart," James said.
The top matchup of the weekend has No. 2 Florida State at No. 8 Miami in a battle of the two most successful programs over the last three years.
The Hurricanes are 34-2 in the last three seasons, including two national championships. Florida State is next with a 32-4 mark.
This is Florida State's best opportunity during that period to make a run for the national championship. The Seminoles lost their first two games last year and the opener to Miami the year before.
The Seminoles, 4-0, own the nation's longest winning streak at 14 and are averaging 46 points a game. Coach Bobby Bowden credits the fast start to scheduling.
"We haven't played anybody who's ranked yet," he said.
The Hurricanes are favored on the basis of their home-field advantage in the Orange Bowl, where they have won 33 straight games, and their experience.
"We need to win this game to compete for the national championship," Miami Coach Dennis Erickson said. "You don't win it with two losses."
In other games involving the Top 10, it's Stanford at No. 1 Notre Dame, No. 3 Nebraska at Kansas State, No. 4 Michigan at Wisconsin, Louisiana Tech at No. 6 Auburn and No. 9 Colorado at Missouri. No. 5 Virginia, No. 7 Tennessee and No. 10 Brigham Young are idle.
Also, it's Washington State at No. 11 Southern Cal, Georgia at No. 13 Clemson, Texas Tech at No. 15 Texas A&M, Texas Christian at No. 16 Arkansas, Utah State at No. 17 Oregon, No. 18 Georgia Tech at Maryland, Iowa at No. 19 Michigan State, No. 20 Fresno State at Northern Illinois, No. 21 Arizona at UCLA, No. 22 Indiana at Northwestern, Kentucky at No. 23 Mississippi and San Diego State at No. 24 Wyoming.