Welcome to the first round of the Southeastern Conference survivor series.

Considering what Auburn and Georgia had to go through last week to stay undefeated, the Tigers and Bulldogs might beg to differ, but the fourth Saturday of the season is when the real paring down starts in college football's best conference.

In the West, LSU and Auburn renew what's been the best rivalry in the SEC in recent years. The two Tigers have split the last four games. Both have been ranked heading into those games, and all have been decided by a touchdown or less and won by the home team.

Last year, LSU beat Auburn on a touchdown pass from Matt Flynn to Demetrius Byrd in the final seconds.

In the East, Florida-Tennessee has lost some luster after UCLA beat the Volunteers on Labor Day. With Tennessee out of the AP Top 25, it's the first time since 1984 that only one of these rivals enters their September showdown ranked.

Other SEC teams in the spotlight Saturday:

• Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino starts his SEC career by hosting Alabama.

• Georgia steps out of conference for its longest regular-season road trip in almost 50 years. The Bulldogs visit Arizona State, another game that's lost some appeal. The Sun Devils are coming off an overtime loss at home to UNLV that dropped them out of the rankings.

The picks


No. 21 West Virginia (minus 3) at Colorado

Mountaineers try to bounce back from East Carolina loss ... WEST VIRGINIA 36-27.

Saturday, Sept. 20

No. 3 Georgia (minus 7) at Arizona State

Last time Bulldogs played nonconference game outside Georgia was 1995 ... GEORGIA 42-21.

No. 4 Florida at Tennessee

It'd be an especially good time for Phillip Fulmer to beat Urban Meyer for first time ... FLORIDA 38-24.

Buffalo (plus 34) at No. 5 Missouri

Bulls need another miracle ... MISSOURI 59-14.

No. 6 LSU (minus 2 1/2) at No. 10 Auburn

Struggling offenses and killer defenses; first to 13 wins ... AUBURN 13-10.

Rice (plus 30 1/2) at No. 7 Texas

Longhorns have scored 50 against Owls last three meetings ... TEXAS 55-21.

No. 9 Alabama (minus 9 1/2) at Arkansas

Bobby Petrino vs. Nick Saban. The loser MUST honor his current contract ... ALABAMA 28-21.

Massachusetts (no line) at No. 11 Texas Tech

When do Red Raiders start their season? ... TEXAS TECH 56-20.

No. 12 South Florida (minus 28) at Florida International

After two consecutive dramatic victories, Bulls have an easy outing ... SOUTH FLORIDA 48-14.

Troy (plus 21 1/2) at No. 13 Ohio State

Oh no!! More Trojans ... OHIO STATE 40-17.

Wyoming (plus 29) at No. 14 BYU

Cougars' nation's best winning streak at 13 ... BYU 36-13.

No. 15 East Carolina (minus 7 1/2) at N.C. State

Wolfpack has been outscored 61-9 by major college opponents ... EAST CAROLINA 21-10.

Temple (plus 28 1/2) at No. 16 Penn State

If Owls lose this one on last play, they'll celebrate ... PENN STATE 38-14.

Boise State (plus 10 1/2) at No. 17 Oregon

Ducks down to third- and fourth-string QBs, but running game is stellar ... OREGON 35-21.

No. 18 Wake Forest (plus 4) at No. 24 Florida State

Demon Deacons going for three in a row against 'Noles ... WAKE FOREST 27-24.

Sam Houston State (no line) at No. 19 Kansas

Rock Chalk ... KANSAS 57-10.

No. 20 Utah (minus 7 1/2) at Air Force

Falcons snapped four-game losing streak to Utes last year ... UTAH 33-28.

South Carolina State (no line) at No. 23 Clemson

First meeting ... CLEMSON 60-3.

No. 25 Fresno State (minus 7) at Toledo

Can Bulldogs rebound from tough loss to Wisconsin? ... FRESNO STATE 35-21.

Last week: 16-2 (straight); 6-12 (vs. points).

Season: 53-8 (straight); 27-22 (vs. points).