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Auburn, Ole Miss still recovering; who wins Illinois-NU?

The 10 things I’ll be looking for in Saturday’s Week 14 action:

1. Hopefully, many more of the kind of ultra-intense efforts from teams with lots to play that Missouri, Arizona and Arizona State demonstrated on Friday. Mizzou was off-the-charts physical and resilient as it rallied to beat Arkansas and claim the Southeastern Conference’s East Division crown. Arizona survived 42-35 in a Pac-12 South clash both it and ASU had to win.

And hopefully, we won’t have any imitations of UCLA’s sorry display against Stanford. The Bruins — 31-10 losers on their home field — sure didn’t look like the team that was going for a championship.

2. The odd thing about Auburn’s skin-of-its-teeth victory at Ole Miss on Nov. 1 is that it seems to have taken the wind out of the sails of both teams. Since then, the Tigers have lost to Texas A&M, gotten smoked at Georgia and snoozed through a silly game against Samford. They’ve lost their edge, and Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa — site of Saturday’s Iron Bowl matchup with No. 1 Alabama — is no place to find it. I just don’t see any real chance of the Crimson Tide going down.

3. Speaking of Ole Miss, its Egg Bowl matchup with Mississippi State seems over before it even starts to me. Even in Oxford, the Bulldogs should be able to handle the Rebels on both sides of the ball.

4. Jameis Winston’s awful ratio if touchdowns (19) to interceptions (13) has been the statistical surprise of the season. Against Florida — only 6-4 but extremely dangerous defensively — Winston might not be able to get away with another sloppy outing. Something along the lines of a defensive touchdown could propel the Gators to an upset.

5. Got an email from a reader who had the following short-and-sweet message: “A few years does not diminish more than 100 years of the greatest rivalry in sports: Ohio State and Michigan.” A few years? The Wolverines have lost 11 of 13 in the series. The highest they’ve been ranked in any of the last seven meetings was 17th. “The Game” is what it is — still a meaningful rivalry, but nothing resembling what it used to be. Not surprisingly at all, this one will end in a Buckeyes blowout.

6. Even more one-sided than OSU-Michigan has been Wisconsin-Minnesota; the Badgers have won 10 straight and 15 of 17 in the series and haven’t been beaten by the Gophers in Madison in 20 years. With all due respect to Jerry Kill and his fine program, it’ll be Wisconsin-Ohio State for the Big Ten title in Indianapolis.

7. I’m looking for a huge game from USC wideout Nelson Agholor against Notre Dame. The former Irish recruit is a major-league home-run threat who’s right up there with Alabama’s Amari Cooper in the talent department. The Trojans will have a lot of let-it-fly in their game plan.

8. Another year will pass, and still fewer than 10 percent of serious college football fans around the country will know the name of the trophy Notre Dame and USC play for.

9. Come on, pal, it’s the Jeweled Shillelagh.

10. Well, I’ve put it off long enough — time to hitch my wagon to either Northwestern (ugh) or Illinois (oy) in the big whatever-you-want-to-call-this-game. I was hoping the season wouldn’t come down to each team needing a sixth victory to qualify for bowl inclusion. No doubt, the Wildcats are playing a bit better. Also worth noting, though, that Illinois’ defense has performed quite respectably of late. How ’bout those Bulls and Blackhawks? But I’m stalling …

’Cats 24, Illini 23.


Twitter: @slgreenberg