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Bridgewater's Heisman relaunch, Mack's must-win

Teddy Bridgewater's Heisman Trophy campaign is ready for a relaunch.
/ Source: NBC Sports

Teddy Bridgewater's Heisman Trophy campaign is ready for a relaunch.

Bridgewater and No. 8 Louisville step into the spotlight when Rutgers (4-1) visits Thursday night. The Cardinals spent the first six weeks of the season pounding patsies. That's no way to win a Heisman. A big game on a national stage against a good opponent is just what the junior quarterback needs to energize his supporters and bolster his credentials.

Bridgewater started positioning himself for a 2013 Heisman run during last year's regular-season finale at Rutgers. Playing hurt, he led the Cardinals to a come-from-behind victory that locked up a spot in the BCS.

"I had a lot of respect for him before we played him last year and even more afterwards just by the way he performed with the injuries he had at the time," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said this week.

Teddy Ballgame has been brilliant so far this season, completing 72 percent of his passes for 1,562 yards, with 16 touchdowns and one interception, but the Cardinals (5-0) have played four FBS opponents that are a combined 6-14.

Jadeveon Clowney's Heisman hopes are long gone, but he hopes to return to action against Arkansas after he sat out with sore ribs last week. Clowney hasn't been the dominant force most expected, but one big game could help quiet all the chatter about whether he was overhyped coming into the season and whether he's saving himself for the NFL.

But no one has more riding on this weekend than Texas coach Mack Brown, who heads into the latest edition of the Red River Rivalry desperately needing a victory.

The Oklahoma game has so often been a barometer for Brown's career. He lost five straight against the Sooners and Bob Stoops from 2000-04. It drove Longhorns fans mad, but otherwise Brown's record was sterling.

Oklahoma's current three-game winning streak in the series, and the Longhorns' recent struggles, put far more pressure on Brown at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday. Another loss to the Sooners might be too much for Texas supporters to take - and for Brown to overcome.

The picks:


No. 2 Oregon (minus 13 1/2) at No. 16 Washington

Ducks have outscored Huskies 40-17 during nine-game streak ... OREGON 42-28.

No. 17 Florida (plus 7) at No. 10 LSU

Gators have best cornerbacks in SEC; Tigers have best receivers ... LSU 31-27.


Rutgers (plus 19) at No. 8 Louisville

Last meeting before Scarlet Knights head to Big Ten, Cardinals go ACC ... LOUISVILLE 38-27

No. 25 Missouri (plus 8 1/2) at No. 7 Georgia

Will injuries and tough games take toll on Bulldogs? ... GEORGIA 40-33.

No. 9 Texas A&M (minus 6) at Mississippi

Aggies had to rally in Oxford, Miss., to beat Rebels last year ... TEXAS A&M 48-38.

No. 18 Michigan (minus 2 1/2) at Penn State

Road games have been dicey for Wolverines ... PENN STATE 28-24.

No. 19 Northwestern (plus 10 1/2) at Wisconsin

Badgers had a week to rest after Ohio State; Wildcats get a road trip after Buckeyes ... WISCONSIN 31-23.


No. 12 Oklahoma (minus 14) vs. Texas at Dallas

Mack's last stand ... OKLAHOMA 35-14.


No. 14 South Carolina (minus 6) at Arkansas

Bret Bielema gets first SEC victory on homecoming ... ARKANSAS 28-21.


No. 5 Stanford (minus 9) at Utah ... STANFORD 30-14.

Pittsburgh (plus 9) at No. 24 Virginia Tech ... VIRGINIA TECH 17-9.

No. 15 Baylor (minus 17) at Kansas State ... BAYLOR 48-35

Iowa State (plus 14) at No. 20 Texas Tech ... TEXAS TECH 41-21.

Utes are improved with nothing to show for it in Pac-12 yet. Panthers beat Hokies last year. Trip to Manhattan, Kan., is Baylor's first road game of the season. Red Raiders dealing with QB injuries.


No. 1 Alabama (minus 27 1/2) at Kentucky ... ALABAMA 41-10.

Boston College (plus 27) at No. 3 Clemson ... CLEMSON 52-20.

California (plus 24 1/2) at No. 11 UCLA ... UCLA 56-24.

Akron (plus 22) at No. 23 Northern Illinois ... NORTHERN ILLINOIS 38-14.


Last week: Record straight: 21-0; vs. points 11-9.

Season: 103-13; 49-48-3.

Best bet: 3-2-1.

Upset special: 3-2.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at