College Football opens Saturday

Aug. 30, 2003 at 7:05 AM
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COLUMBUS, Ohio, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- The first big Saturday of the college football season will feature a pair of marquee games in Ohio and Alabama

With Carson Palmer now in the NFL, No. 8 USC will give sophomore Matt Leinart the start at quarterback in a showdown at No. 6 Auburn.

The other top attraction is in Columbus, where No. 2 Ohio State begins defense of its national championship by hosting No. 19 Washington. But the Buckeyes will be without Maurice Clarett, who has been suspended and could miss the first six games of the season.

USC is making its first trip to the state of Alabama since beating top-ranked Alabama, 24-14, in Birmingham in 1978. The two schools shared the national title that year.

Ohio State hoped to bask in the glory of its dramatic Fiesta Bowl victory over Miami, but instead has been the center of controversy involving Clarett, who was suspended for violating NCAA rules and giving false statements to campus police regarding the theft of a borrowed vehicle.

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