BCS National Title Game '11

BCS National Title Game '11
BCS National Championship 1/10/11 Oregon vs Auburn

Friday, November 16, 2012

College Football: Week 12 matchups to watch

Both important games this weekend come from the Pac-12 Conference. The big one this weekend is #13 Stanford at #2 Oregon. The Cardinal knocked off Oregon State last week to eliminate them from the North Division title and the Ducks suffered from injuries on both sides of the ball, but were still able to beat Cal by 42 points. This game could get really interesting with Oregon's defensive line being banged up and Stanford being able to run up the gut with one of the best backs in the country Stepfan Taylor. The other Pac-12 matchup pits cross town rivals #18 USC and #17 UCLA. The winner of this game will be the winner of the Pac-12 South Division and most likely play in Eugene for the Pac-12 Championship against Oregon. This game is life or death for Matt Barkley and the Trojans. #1 Kansas State will travel to Baylor in their second to last game of the season and #12 Oklahoma will go on the road to play a West Virginia team that has lost their last four games.

This is going to be a crazy weekend of College Football for me. I will be arriving at ESPN College GameDay about six hours prior to when it begins. This will be my 13th College GameDay and fourth one I have attended in Eugene. It will be a long night on the University of Oregon campus. Oregon and Stanford will square off in Primetime on ABC in a game that will have huge implications for both teams. If the Ducks win, they will capture the Pac-12 North Division and clinch home field advantage for the Pac-12 Championship game. If the Cardinal were to pull the upset, the Cardinal would need to win next weekend at UCLA to clinch the North Division.

ESPN College GameDay will be live from Eugene, OR (Live at 10:00 AM ET)

#13 Stanford @ #2 Oregon  8:00 PM ET ABC

Wednesday, November 14th

1. Toledo @ Northern Illinois  ESPN2 9:00 PM ET

- This happens to be a huge matchup this week in College Football. Both teams are trying to clinch the West Division and have the chance to win the MAC Championship. If Northern Illinois had not let their first game of the season slip away against Iowa, they would be in the mix for a BCS at-large bid. The Huskies are led by a dynamic quarterback by the name of Jordan Lynch. Lynch is known for his ability to run the ball and has rushed for 1,342 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. The Huskies are currently averaging 250.9 rushing yards and 40.6 points per game. The defense has been solid this season as well, as they have held opponents to just 17.9 points per game. Toledo lost their opener on the road against Arizona in overtime, then were upset by MAC opponent Ball State at home last week 34-27. The Rockets defense must be able to contain Jordan Lynch, otherwise their chance of a MAC Championship will be over. The Rockets will also need to rely heavily on their rushing attack led by David Fluellen, who currently has 1,381 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season.

Prediction: Northern Illinois 37, Toledo 28
Result: Northern Illinois 31, Toledo 24

Saturday, November 17th

2. Iowa @ #21 Michigan  12:00 PM ET ESPN

- This is going to be a big game in "The Big House" for both teams. Michigan is still hoping that Nebraska loses one of their last two season games this season, so they can have the opportunity to play in the Big Ten Championship. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz needs this win for himself, as well as his team, who is one loss away from being eliminated from bowl eligibility. For the third straight week, everyone is wondering if Denard Robinson will be back at the quarterback position for the Wolverines. Devin Gardner is obviously more than capable of running the offense though. Gardner has led the Wolverines to two straight wins over Minnesota and Northwestern. The key to this game is going to be the Hawkeye defense being able to contain Robinson or Gardner. If the Wolverine offense starts putting points up, it is going to be hard for the Hawkeyes to keep up. The Hawkeye offense, who is currently ranked 113th in total offense, will be facing a Wolverine defense that is the 11th best in the country. The Wolverines should win this Saturday and snap their three game losing streak to the Hawkeyes. 

Prediction: Michigan 31, Iowa 13

3. #22 Rutgers @ Cincinnati  12:00 PM ET Big East Network

- This is a big conference game for both of these Big East teams. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights are currently undefeated in conference play. If the Scarlet Knights can win this game they would play Louisville for the right to play in a BCS Bowl game next week. The Cincinnati Bearcats have one conference loss to Louisville and are looking to turn this Big East title race into a 3-way tie. The Scarlett Knight defense is holding opponents to 329.5 yards per game and giving up just 15.1 points per game. The Bearcats are averaging 224.6 yards on ground this year and scoring 33.7 points per game. The Scarlett Knight defense, led by senior linebacker Khaseem Greene, is one of the best in the country and the Bearcats will need to win by putting the ball in the hands of running back George Winn, who has 980 yards and nine touchdowns on the season. This is going to be a very close game between two very evenly matched teams. 

Prediction: Rutgers 34, Cincinnati 27

4. #18 USC @ #17 UCLA  3:05 PM ET FOX

- We are going to have a real dandy in the Rose Bowl on Saturday. The USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins will battle it out for the Pac-12 South Division title. Both teams have been very dominant on offense this season. The Trojan offense, which is led by senior quarterback Matt Barkley and sophomore wide receiver Marqise Lee,  is averaging 36.9 points per game. Barkley has averaged almost 400 passing yards and 3.6 touchdowns in his last three games. Lee is putting up Heisman type numbers as he has averaged 221 reception yards and 1.6 touchdown receptions in his past three games. The Bruins offense is led by explosive running back and Doak Walker semifinalist Johnathan Franklin. Franklin has rushed for 1,270 yards this season with eight touchdowns. He has also turned into a threat in the passing game as well. The big question in this game will be if the defenses can stop one another's  offense. The Trojan and Bruin defenses are similar giving up between 23 to 25 points per game and 144 to 149 total rushing yards per game. There will be no lack of scoring between these two very bitter rivals. I am going to pick the upset and go with the Bruins to beat the Trojans for the first time since 2006.

Prediction: UCLA 38, USC 34

5. #23 Texas Tech @ #24 Oklahoma State  3:30 PM ET 

- The Red Raiders have been in the news this week with the whole Tommy Tuberville slapping the head phones and hat off of graduate assistant coach Kevin Oliver. The Red Raiders have bigger issues this week as they take on a tough Oklahoma State Cowboy team. The Red Raiders struggled last weekend at Kansas and had to win in overtime. The Cowboys have won four of their last five games and have been averaging 43.9 points per game this season. Both teams rely heavily on the passing game. The Red Raiders are first in the country in passing with 370.0 yards per game and the Cowboys are fourth with 348.8. This game appears to be a battle between Red Raider quarterback Seth Doege and whoever the Cowboys decide to start. The Cowboys have three different quarterbacks they could start between Wes Blunt, Clint Chelf, or J.W. Walsh. There should be a decent amount of points put up in this game, but don't assume it will turn into a shootout.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 35, Texas Tech 28

6. Ohio State @ Wisconsin  3:30 PM ET ABC/ESPN2

- This Big Ten matchup needed to be included after last year's game. Ohio State is two games away from going undefeated this season and not being able to play in a BCS Bowl game. The Badgers need a confidence booster before they travel to Penn State and then face most likely Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship. The Badgers are led by running back Montee Ball, who has had a fantastic second half of the season. Senior quarterback Curt Phillips will get the start this week and play in his first home game as a true starter. The Buckeyes come in with potential Heisman finalist sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller. The Buckeye offense has been dangerous on the ground this season and it will be up to the Badger linebacking core consisting of Chris Borland, Mike Taylor, and Ethan Armstrong to shut it down. It should be another close game between these two teams from the Big Ten Leaders Division.

Prediction: Ohio State 27, Wisconsin 20

7. #12 Oklahoma @ West Virginia  7:00 PM ET FOX

- The Oklahoma Sooners are in the hunt for an at-large BCS Bowl bid and the West Virginia Mountaineers are trying to snap a four game losing streak. The Sooners come in averaging 462.4 yards per game and putting up 36.1 points per game. The Mountaineers have averaged 36 points in their past two games, but have failed to win either game because of their defense. The Mountaineer defense  gives up an average of 41.4 points per game. The Mountaineers offense, which relies heavily on the passing game of Geno Smith, has to put up 40 or more points to win this game. The Sooner's offense looks good on paper with quarterback Landry Jones, running back Damien Williams, and wide receiver Kenny Stills, but sometime you just aren't sure what Sooner offense is going to show up. The main matchup in this game will be the Mountaineer offense and the Sooner defense. If the Sooner defense shuts down the passing game the Mountaineers will lose big. I feel with the Sooners being on the road that this game doesn't get to out of hand for the Mountaineers.  

Prediction: Oklahoma 41, West Virginia 27

8. Tennessee @ Vanderbilt  7:00 PM ET ESPN2

- Vanderbilt won in dramatic fashion last weekend at Ole Miss to become bowl eligible for the second straight season. Tennessee lost in four overtimes to Missouri at home this past weekend, and now could be in jeopardy of not making a bowl game this season. This game is so important for Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley. Dooley may already lose his job after this season, but he needs his Volunteers to win this game for him to have a chance of keeping his job. All the Vanderbilt Commodores have to do in this game is play solid defense and put a lot of pressure on quarterback Tyler Bray. Bray has thrown for 1,302 yards, 13 touchdowns, and just one interception in his past three games. It may be tough to stop him the entire game, but the Commodore offense led by quarterback Jordan Rodgers will have success as they will face a Volunteer defense that is ranked 118th in the country and giving up 504.4 yards per game.

Prediction: Tennessee 34, Vanderbilt 31 

9. #13 Stanford @ #2 Oregon  8:00 PM ET ABC

- This is the game that will most likely decide who wins the Pac-12 North and hosts the conference championship. The Ducks defense is the major concern going into Saturday. The defense is so beat up that explosive wide receiver De'Anthony Thomas and backup quarterback Bryan Bennett were taking reps at the cornerback position this week at practice. The Duck offense has proven the past two years that their speed and quickness has been to much for the physical Cardinal defense to defend. Marcus Mariota will provide new problems for the Cardinal defense that Darron Thomas did not. Mariota has tremendous speed and proved last weekend that he can be an elite passer as well. The Cardinal defense has to be able to defend the Duck running game led by potential Heisman running back Kenjon Barner like Cal did last weekend. Then focus on trying to stop the passing attack as well. If the Stanford can't do both it could be in for a long night in Eugene. The Cardinal offense is focused mostly on it's rushing attack led by running back Stepfan Taylor, who has 1,061 yards on the season. Taylor will try to run up the middle on a beat up Oregon defensive line to keep Stanford in the game. New Stanford starting quarterback Kevin Hogan will need to stay composed and not make mistakes in his first road game as a true starter. Look for the Ducks to once again pull away in the second half and win the Pac-12 North Division.

Prediction: Oregon 52, Stanford 28

10. #1 Kansas State @ Baylor  8:00 PM ET ESPN

- The top ranked Kansas State Wildcats have just two more games to win until they clinch a spot in the BCS title game in Miami. Collin Klein and company will continue their journey to the title game by playing on the road at Baylor this weekend. The Wildcats have played consistent every game this season on both sides of the ball and should be able to have success against a Baylor team that is primarily focused on offense. The Baylor Bears are ranked second in the country in passing yards per game with 367.7 and seventh in the country in scoring with 42.7 points per game. The Bears defense though has been the main problem this season. The Bears continue to be the worst defense in the country as they give up an astonishing 533.4 yards per game. Collin Klein should have a solid day running the football and passing to his main targets Chris Harper, Tyler Lockett, and Tramaine Thompson. We'll see how many turnovers the Wildcat defense can convert against a pass heavy Bear offense led by quarterback Nick Florence and wide receiver Terrance Williams. The Bears should be able to put up points, but not enough to upset Kansas State and ruin their undefeated season.

Prediction: Kansas State 45, Baylor 31

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