Bowden could pass Paterno for career wins on Saturday

Updated: October 21, 2003, 2:52 PM ET

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey - For a man 73 years of age, Bobby Bowden still covers ground in a hurry.

With Florida State off to a fast start and Penn State enduring another tough season, it seemed inevitable that Bowden would pass Joe Paterno and become the all-time leader in wins among Division I-A college football coaches.

Bowden pulled even with Paterno last week, claiming career victory No. 338 when Florida State defeated Virginia.

Bowden has a chance to move ahead this week when the seventh-ranked Seminoles (6-1) oppose Wake Forest. Since joining the ACC in 1992, Florida State is 11-0 against the Demon Deacons and has been held below 30 points in only one of the 11 games.

Passing one of his closest friends in the coaching ranks will admittedly be awkward for Bowden, especially since Paterno has struggled of late.

"If I had my way, he would keep winning and I would too and in about six years he hangs it up and then I go one more year," Bowden joked a few weeks ago.

If Paterno is to keep pace this week, Penn State will have to get past No. 16 Iowa (5-2).

Penn State (2-5) has lost three games in a row and five and six. The Nittany Lions are just 22-25 since winning their first nine games of the 1999 season, which has enabled Bowden to gain ground.

Bowden was 25 wins behind Paterno when the teams met in the 1990 Blockbuster Bowl.

Iowa could be an angry squad after coming up short at Ohio State, 19-10. The Hawkeyes had a series of special-teams miscues in the defeat, allowing a punt return for a touchdown and having a punt blocked for a score.

While Paterno is a long way from another national title, Bowden's club remains in the mix and is fifth in the first Bowl Championship Series standings released Monday.

Bowden's chances at reaching the Sugar Bowl would be enhanced if third-ranked Virginia Tech (6-0) were to stumble at West Virginia on Wednesday night.

West Virginia nearly ruined Miami's season three weeks ago, losing, 20-19, on a last-second field goal. The Mountaineers upset then-No. 12 Virginia Tech, 21-18, last season, recording their first win over a ranked opponent since 1998.

No. 2 Miami (7-0), which is off this week, will visit Virginia Tech on November 1.

Top-ranked Oklahoma (7-0) should have little trouble when it meets struggling Colorado on Saturday night. The high-flying Sooners are averaging 45.7 points per game while the Buffaloes are allowing 40.1. Colorado has surrendered more than 40 points in five straight games.

College football's two other unbeatens are in action Saturday. No. 13 TCU (7-0) is at Houston and No. 14 Northern Illinois (7-0) is at Bowling Green in a battle for first place in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference.

Saturday's schedule also features important games in the Big Ten and outheastern Conference races.

No. 10 Purdue (6-1) tries to win at 15th-ranked Michigan (6-2) for the first time since 1966. The Boilermakers have lost 15 straight games in Ann Arbor since a 22-21 victory 27 years ago when Bob Griese led them to the Rose Bowl.

Purdue is one of two teams undefeated in Big Ten play, joining No. 17 Michigan State, which is idle this week before hosting Michigan on November 1.

No. 21 Auburn (5-2) tries to continue its revival when it visits No. 9 LSU (6-1). Auburn lost a pair of non-conference games to start the season, but leads the SEC West with a 4-0 record.

Leading the way for Auburn is Carnell Williams, who ran for a school record six touchdowns in a 45-13 rout over Mississippi State. Williams has run for 496 yards and eight touchdowns in his last three games.

"He got in a zone the past two weeks," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said after the Tigers win over Mississippi State. "If I was a defensive coordinator, I'd be worried to death. He just had a great day."

However, Williams will be facing an LSU team that leads the nation in rushing defense (53.1 ypg).

No. 5 Georgia (6-1), which controls its own destiny in the SEC East, hosts Alabama-Birmingham in a non-conference contest.

In the Pac-10, No. 4 Southern California (6-1) seeks its first win at Washington since 1993 when it plays the Huskies. The Trojans are 0-2-1 in their last three trips to Seattle.

Washington has endured an up-and-down season under first-year coach Keith Gilbertson but posted an impressive 38-17 win over Oregon State last week.

The Beavers fell from the rankings this week and try to bounce back this week when they host No. 6 Washington State (6-1). Running back Steven Jackson also looks to bounce back after being held to 49 yards on 22 carries against the Huskies.

In other games, No. 8 Ohio State (6-1) is at Indiana, No. 11 Nebraska (6-1) hosts Iowa State, No. 17 Wisconsin (6-2) visits Northwestern, No. 18 Texas (5-2) heads to Baylor and No. 19 Oklahoma State (6-1) plays at Texas A&M.

In other SEC games, surprising Missisippi, which is in contention for its first league title in 40 years, hosts No. 20 Arkansas (4-2) and No. 22 Tennessee looks to snap a two-game losing streak at Alabama.

No. 23 Utah (6-1), which has cracked the top 25 for the first time since 1996, entertains New Mexico, and No. 24 Minnesota (6-2), which also has dropped two in a row, heads to Illinois.

No. 25 Florida (5-3) also is off this week.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index