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.
3. #22 Rutgers @ Cincinnati 12:00 PM ET Big East Network
4. #18 USC @ #17 UCLA 3:05 PM ET FOX
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
Prediction: Kansas State 45, Baylor 31