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Both teams have strong running games powered by backups. Both have used two quarterbacks, one a dropback passer, the other a runner. Both have opportunistic defenses.

Ninth-ranked Alabama and Auburn bring similar styles into today's Iron Bowl (3:30, Ch. 4) in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

"It's amazing how similar these two teams are," said Crimson Tide quarterback Tyler Watts.

There are differences, too, of course.

Alabama (9-2, 6-1 SEC) has won five straight games and drawn plenty of praise and attention to the league's top offense and the nation's No. 1 defense.

The Tigers (7-4, 4-3) haven't managed as many wins or compliments, losing three times in the final minutes. However, they're averaging nearly two more points and only 8 fewer yards per game than the league-leading Tide.

Meanwhile, pass-happy Kliff Kingsbury and No. 24 Texas Tech battles fourth-ranked Oklahoma tonight (7, TBS) for the Big 12 South Division title.

Only a month ago, after a loss to Colorado, Tech was 5-4 overall, 2-2 in the conference. Now the Red Raiders (8-4, 5-2) are within a victory of playing Colorado again for the conference championship.

"Yeah, it's been fun," Kingsbury said. "That's the way you want to go out. It's my last year, so I'm just enjoying it."

What's not to enjoy? He has thrown for 4,455 yards to move up to No. 4 on the NCAA Division I-A career passing list. He has 41 touchdown passes this season and just 10 interceptions. And his team is winning.

Kingsbury's performance so far has started talk of him as a Heisman Trophy contender. If he were to have another big game against Oklahoma and its defense tonight, that talk would increase.

But the Sooners (9-1, 5-1) have done well against Kingsbury the past two years. In 2000, Oklahoma won, 27-13, and Kingsbury threw for 295 yards. Last year, the Sooners won, 30-13, intercepting two of Kingsbury's passes and holding him to a season-low 234 yards.

In other televised games today, it's No. 12 Michigan at No. 2 Ohio State (noon, Ch. 7); Minnesota at Wisconsin (noon, ESPN); San Diego State at Air Force (noon, ESPN2); Toledo at Northern Illinois (noon, Empire); Rutgers at No. 8 Notre Dame (1 p.m., Ch. 2); Dartmouth at Princeton (1 p.m. YES); Michigan State at No. 15 Penn State (3:30 p.m., Ch. 7); Indiana at Purdue (3:30 p.m., ESPN); No. 18 Maryland at Virginia (5:30 p.m., ESPN2); South Carolina at Clemson (7:45 p.m., ESPN); Mississippi at No. 21 LSU (8:30 p.m., ESPN2).

Top 25

USC quarterback Carson Palmer is about to shake up the Pacific-10 conference record book again. Palmer needs just 76 yards against UCLA today to break the passer-friendly league's mark of 10,911 yards set by Stanford's Steve Stenstrom from 1991 to '94.

Palmer has led the No. 7 Trojans to five straight wins after a 3-2 start.

Palmer also ranks second on the Pac-10 career total offense list at 10,619 yards, behind Cade McNown (11,285), who played at UCLA from 1995 to '99.

It's also been a record-setting year for Washington's Cody Pickett, who last weekend set the Pac-10's single-season passing record with 3,818 yards. The previous mark, 3,637 yards, was set by Washington State's Ryan Leaf in 1997. Pickett, who set seven Huskies passing records this season, including career yards (6,243), career completions (475) and touchdowns (25), leads the Huskies (6-5) in the Apple Cup today at No. 3 Washington State (9-1).

Washington State's Jason Gesser is climbing up the Pac-10's list of career touchdown pass leaders. His 66 TDs tie him with McNown third. John Elway ranks first with 77 TD passes from 1979 to '82, followed by Stenstrom with 75.

The Cougars think they have a chance to go to the Fiesta Bowl and play for the national title if they can beat the Huskies and UCLA in Pasadena on Dec. 7.

In other games today involving teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, Washington is at No. 3 Washington State; No. 7 USC at No. 25 UCLA; No. 10 Kansas State at Missouri; No. 14 Florida State at North Carolina State; New Mexico at No. 20 Colorado; No. 22 TCU at East Carolina; No. 23 Boise State at Nevada.

Extra points

Top-ranked Miami will be without wide receiver Kevin Beard and backup defensive end Cornelius Green for the rest of the season. Both players tore anterior cruciate ligaments in their right knees, coach Larry Coker said Friday. Beard and Green were injured in Thursday night's 28-21 victory over No. 17 Pittsburgh.

Texas Tech freshman running back Taurean Henderson needs seven receptions against Oklahoma today to break Ricky Williams' school record of 92 set last season.

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