On paper, week-12 looks to be a bit of a downer. Next week all of the rivalry games go down, giving college football fans a fantastic season-ending week. We just need to get through this week first.
After last week’s beat down of Stanford, Oregon has one last hurdle before hosting the inaugural Pac 12 conference title game when they host Southern California. Elsewhere in the Pac 12…nothing is really going on. The Big Game is going down while Arizona and Arizona State engage in a slap fight.
The Big 12 seems to be waiting for Bedlam to go down. Texas hosts Kansas State while the game of the day in the conference sees Oklahoma traveling to Baylor. Meanwhile, in the ACC, with Clemson already locked into the title game, Virginia and Virginia Tech are still in play to face the Tigers. Florida State can play spoiler to UVAs hopes this week while North Carolina can knock Virginia Tech down a peg or two.
The SEC is craptastic this week. With Florida-FSU, UGA-GT, AUB-ALA and LSU-ARK next week, this one seems like a massive dud. The only game that matters is Georgia hosting lowly Kentucky. Should the Dawgs win, they’ll clinch a spot in the SEC championship game.
The Big East is…terrible as usual. Rutgers hosting Cincinnati is the only game worth paying attention to. Barely.
The Big 10 is where it’s at as far as multiple games of note. Ohio State hosts Penn State while Nebraska travels to Michigan in a battle of top-20 teams. Another game to watch out for is Illinois hosting Wisconsin. Should the Badgers win out, they’ll win the Leaders (or is it Legends?) division and play for the Big 10 title. Michigan State has lowly Indiana, so next week’s battle with Northwestern is all that stands in the way between Sparty and the Big 10 title game.
After yet another 2-2 week, I’m still just above .500 on the year. Would love a 4-0 week, dammit.
GAMES OF THE WEEK
#18* Southern California at #4 Oregon (-14.5), 8:00, ABC
While Andrew Luck has been the talk of the town in the Pac 12, Matt Barkley has been pretty damn good, too…and he’ll need to be every bit the star QB most think he is this week. USC will need to score 40+ this week to beat Oregon in Autzen. The Ducks are coming off of their best defensive performance of the season, turning Stanford over 5 times, including two picks off of Luck. They are playing at home, a place they almost never lose, and USC will need every bit of their top-10 rush defense in hopes of springing the upset.
The past two games in the series have been ugly affairs, with Oregon outscoring USC 100-52. Stanford held Oregon to 387 total yards (third lowest output of the year after the LSU and Washington games) so the 53-30 score was a bit misleading. The turnovers were killer for Stanford, so USC will need to keep hold of the football. Oregon is just average against the run, but USC isn’t exactly a run-based offense. The good news for USC is that Oregon is pretty bad defending the pass (78th) but the flip side of that is star wide receiver Robert Woods is questionable for the game with a banged up shoulder. Woods is 5th in the nation in receptions per game, ninth in yards per game and ninth in all-purpose yards.
If this game were played in Los Angeles I would think about taking the Trojans in the outright upset, but I can’t see Oregon losing at home. I will take the points, however, even though the recent history says not to. Oregon 41 – USC 28.
#16 Nebraska at #18 Michigan (-3.5), 12:00, ESPN
Nebraska is coming off of an emotional win over Penn State and now must travel to the Big House to take on Dennard Robinson and a solid Wolverine defense. However I feel some of those defensive stats are a bit skewed due to Michigan having not beaten a single team worth a damn outside of Notre Dame, and I’m not sure the Irish are all that impressive. In the two games against teams with equal talent in the Big 10, Michigan lost to Iowa and Michigan State, with both games seeing Robinson struggle mightily.
Nebraska, on the other hand, has beaten three of the four good-to-better-than-good teams they’ve faced (Washington, Michigan State and Penn State). They are the more battle tested team, though Michigan plays much (much) better at home than they do on the road. The only concern I have in this game as far as Nebraska goes is their issue defending running quarterbacks. The one saving grace is that Robinson is so bad throwing the ball, that they should be able to stack the box and contain Michigan.
A win for either team keeps them in the hunt for a Legends (or is it Leaders?) title, and it keeps both teams in the hunt for a BCS at-large bid. I like Nebraska outright, so the points are just a gift. Nebraska 24 – Michigan 21.
#5 Oklahoma (-15) at #22 Baylor, 8:00, ESPN
The last hurdle for the Sooners before taking on little brother is Baylor and RGIII. The good news for OU is there might not be a defense as bad as Baylor’s in major college football (110th). They can’t defend the pass (81st) or the run (112nd). Basically they’re your average Big 12 team: No defense and lots of offense.
The Sooners are without their leading rusher and their best offensive player (NCAA record holder Ryan Broyles) for the rest of the season, and while that may catch up with them against Oklahoma State, I can’t see how it will matter this week. Baylor will put up points on the Sooners average defense, but they aren’t scoring 50 or more, and that’s what it will take this week.
Landry Jones is getting 380 yards per game through the air, so I’d expect him to have another banner day. Look for Kenny Stills to light up Baylor’s secondary, too. While Broyle’s gets the pub, Stills is the better receiver in my opinion. I’d expect 150 yards and at least two touchdowns. Take the points and watch OU roll. Oklahoma 52 – Baylor 31.
#21 Penn State at Ohio State (-6.5), 3:30, ABC
Penn State has had two weeks to try and accept the crumbling nature of their once mighty program. Ohio State is coming off of one of the program’s worst losses in recent memory. This game should be deliciously terrible. Ohio State is 118th passing the ball, making Penn State (87th) look like Houston throwing the ball; both teams are neck and neck running the ball (27th and 28th, respectively).
The over/under in this game is 39.5. That seems insanely high to me, but I digress. Penn State rode a lousy schedule to 8-1, and after losing to Nebraska and playing Ohio State and Wisconsin back-to-back-to-back, I’d expect them to fall back to Earth.
Ohio State, meanwhile, would have been in line for a Big 10 title game birth had it not **** the bed against lowly Purdue. Now all they can do is spoil the hopes of rivals Penn State and Michigan. I like them to get off to a good start this week, though take the points, because as the old saying goes, defense travels. Ohio State 17 – Penn State 13.