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Boston College would clinch its first BCS bowl berth by beating Syracuse today (1 p.m., Ch. 7). The Orange has a more modest goal -- saving its coach's job.

In their last season before jumping to the Atlantic Coast Conference, the 17th-ranked Eagles need just a win to clinch the Big East title outright and play in the Fiesta Bowl or, less likely, the Sugar Bowl.

If BC loses, there would be a four-way tie for the title between BC, Syracuse, West Virginia and Pittsburgh, with Pittsburgh expected to get the BCS berth.

"We always thought that we'd be able to do this. Now that's right here and we can do it. It feels good," BC quarterback Paul Peterson said. "Everyone wants it real bad."

Peterson won't play, having broken his right (throwing) hand in last Saturday's 34-17 win at Temple. Freshman Matt Ryan, who relieved Peterson against Temple, will start against the Orange.

"It's a big game, but you've got to approach it as just one game," Ryan said. "That's the way we've approached every other game. Up to this point, it's the biggest game on our schedule."

Against Temple, Ryan went 8 for 15 for 121 yards and a touchdown, as BC went primarily with its usual offense.

"The guy had a terrific game," Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "They didn't cut back. They just kept doing what they do. I don't think we can change."

BC (8-2, 4-1) can go to its first major bowl game since it finished the 1984 season with a victory in the Cotton Bowl. The Eagles could earn a BCS berth even though the Big East was weakened by the departure this season of Miami and Virginia Tech to the ACC.

Syracuse (5-5, 3-2) would become bowl eligible by winning today but has lost 10 straight Big East road games since upsetting No. 5 Virginia Tech in October 2001.

Syracuse had last weekend off after losing at Temple, 34-24.

The Orange knows it has to downplay calls for letting Pasqualoni go with one year left on his contract. He is in his 14th season as the school's head coach and hasn't taken the team to a bowl game since 2001.

Running back Walter Reyes could give the Orange a big lift. He missed its last game with a shoulder injury but has 800 yards rushing and, as a senior, could be playing his last college game.

Pasqualoni, 15-19 the past three seasons, lost his strongest supporter when Athletics Director Jake Crouthamel announced his retirement, effective at the end of June, after 26 years on the job.

In other televised games today, Memphis is at South Florida (11 a.m., ESPN2); Wake Forest at Maryland (noon, ESPN); Bayou Classic: Grambling State versus Southern, from New Orleans (2 p.m., Ch. 2); Cincinnati at Louisville (2:30 p.m., ESPN2); Georgia Tech at Georgia (3:30 p.m., Ch. 4); Boise State at Nevada (7:45 p.m., ESPN); Notre Dame at No. 1 USC (8 p.m., Ch. 7).
In almost any other season, a loss to Kentucky would be disastrous for Tennessee.

This year, losing to the Wildcats would only hurt the Volunteers' self-esteem.

Tennessee has won 19 in a row against the Wildcats, and as humbling as it would be for the Vols to see that streak snapped today, it would not prevent them from playing in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

No. 15 Tennessee aims to go into its rematch with Auburn on Dec. 4 with its streak over the Wildcats (2-8, 1-6) alive and pride intact.

Tennessee (8-2, 6-1) clinched a berth in the title game by beating Vanderbilt last week for the 22nd time in a row. The Vols could lose today and still go to the SEC title game because they own a tiebreaker over Georgia.

But Tennessee is looking for momentum.

"We're excited about our chance to play in the SEC championship game versus Auburn, but certainly our first and foremost thoughts are right now on finishing the season out well against Kentucky," coach Phillip Fulmer said.

Vanderbilt made Tennessee fight for its 38-33 win last week, and Fulmer expects the same out of Kentucky in the 100th meeting between the teams.

"When we've had our best teams, often times it's been a tough battle," Fulmer said.

In other games involving teams ranked in the Associated Press' Top 25 poll, No. 16 Virginia is at No. 11 Virginia Tech; No. 23 Oklahoma State at Texas Tech; and No. 24 UTEP at Tulsa.

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