The Big Ten Legends Division will be decided this weekend as #14 Nebraska plays at Iowa and #19 Michigan plays at undefeated Ohio State. A Nebraska win would guarantee them a birth in the Big Ten Championship game. An Iowa upset over Nebraska and a Michigan upset over Ohio State would result in Michigan playing Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game. Lastly, two in-state non-conference rival games have BCS at-large bids written all over them. #4 Florida will travel to #10 Florida State and #12 South Carolina will go into hostile Death Valley to battle it out for the Palmetto State with #11 Clemson.
This weekend, I will be at the Civil War game in Corvallis between #5 Oregon and #15 Oregon State. The Ducks are coming off of a heartbreaking loss against Stanford and Oregon State is coming off a blow out win against Cal that basically ended the coaching career of 11 year Cal head coach Jeff Tedford. The Ducks need to establish a running game against one of the best rushing defenses in the country. The Beaver defense may not have as many talented players on the defensive side as Stanford, but the Beavers have proven they can stop some of the best running backs in the country. It will be interesting to see if Oregon running back Kenjon Barner can get back on track this Saturday. The Oregon defense played tough this past weekend against a tough Stanford defense. We will see if the Oregon defensive backs can handle the speed of Beaver wide receivers Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks.
ESPN College GameDay will be live from Los Angeles, CA (Live at 10:00 AM ET)
Matchup: #1 Notre Dame @ USC
Thursday, November 22nd
1. TCU @ #16 Texas 7:30 PM ET ESPN
- The Thanksgiving game is no longer Texas A&M and Texas, but in fact TCU and Texas. With Kansas State losing this past weekend to Baylor, the Longhorns are suddenly back in the Big 12 title race. Since the Longhorns struggled and had to win in a shootout 56-50 over Baylor, the Longhorn defense has given up an average of only 15.3 points in their past three games. The Longhorn offense led by quarterback David Ash and running back Johnathan Gray have continued to improve since struggling against Oklahoma and Kansas. The Longhorn offense has averaged 39.6 points per game this season. The TCU Horned Frogs have lost three of their last four games in Big 12 play. TCU redshirt freshman quarterback Trevone Boykin was banged up against Kansas State two weeks ago and is looking to make big plays against the Texas defense. The Horned Frogs offense had averaged 35.6 points in their five games prior to playing Kansas State and were only able put up ten points against the Wildcat defense. We will see if TCU has what it takes to hang in with an improving Texas team in Austin.
Prediction: Texas 35, TCU 21
Result: TCU 20, Texas 13
Friday, November 23rd
2. #14 Nebraska @ Iowa 12:00 PM ET ABC
- The Nebraska Cornhuskers are looking to lock up the Big Ten Legends Division. The Iowa Hawkeyes have continued to struggle and will not be bowling this season. What better way for the Hawkeyes to finish the season than to upset the Huskers in their last game of the season. Last year, Nebraska won in a very defensive ball game over Iowa in Lincoln 20-7. We may see a game very similar to last season. The Huskers are led by quarterback Taylor Martinez, who has been clutch for his team this whole season. The Husker offense should be able to move the ball with the running ability of Taylor Martinez and through the passing game with wide receiver Kenny Bell. The Hawkeye defense is giving up 24.6 points per game and 165.1 rushing yards per game. The real question coming into this game will be if the Iowa ground game led by Mark Weisman can put up points on the Husker defense. The Hawkeyes have nothing to lose in this game and we will see if they can pull the upset.
Prediction: Nebraska 27, Iowa 12
Result: Nebraska 13, Iowa 7
Saturday, November 24th
3. #19 Michigan @ Ohio State 12:00 PM ET ABC
- The Ohio State Buckeyes are one game away from going undefeated this season. A great accomplishment that basically means nothing because they are ineligible to play in a bowl game this season. Buckeye nation has Jim Tressel and Terrell Pryor to thank for that. The Michigan Wolverines come into "The Horseshoe" with hopes of winning in Columbus for the first time since 2000. The Wolverines will use quarterback Devin Gardner who has won all three games a starter this season. Denard Robinson will likely come into play running back and also take snaps in the wildcat formation. The Buckeyes offense led by quarterback Braxton Miller has been lethal this season and looks to take advantage of a Michigan defense that is ranked 47th in the country in defending the rush. It will be interesting to see if the Wolverines can keep up in this one and be able to contain Braxton Miller the entire game. The Wolverines are the 11th best defense in the country, but playing at Ohio State and against an offense that is averaging 245.5 rushing yards per game could be rather challenging.
Prediction: Ohio State 34, Michigan 20
4. Georgia Tech @ #3 Georgia 12:00 PM ET ESPN
- The Georgia Bulldogs need to beat in-state rival Georgia Tech to stay in the race for the BCS National Championship game. The Bulldogs have already clinched a spot in the SEC Championship next win in Atlanta, but cannot afford to be upset. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets may be 6-5, but they have also clinched a spot in their championship game in the ACC. The Yellow Jackets have not defeated Georgia since 2008, but in their last three meetings the Yellow Jackets have only lost by an average of 9.3 points. The main matchup in this game will be between the Georgia Tech rushing attack, which averages 324.9 yards per game, and a tough Georgia defense that is only giving up 18.8 points per game and 135.9 rushing yards per game. Georgia Tech will have to be successful on the ground, otherwise this game will be over very quickly. Georgia Tech currently has the fifth worst passing game in the country. Without putting points on the board, the Georgia offense led by Aaron Murray will put the game out of reach on a Georgia Tech defense that has given up an average of almost 30 points per game. We'll see how long the Yellow Jackets can hang with the Dawgs in this one.
Prediction: Georgia 37, Georgia Tech 28
5. #5 Oregon @ #15 Oregon State 3:00 PM ET Pac-12 Network
- The Civil War means a lot more now than it did a week ago. The Ducks need to win this game to at least guarantee themselves an at-large BCS bowl game spot. The Beavers are out of the race with two conference losses, but still have a chance of winning ten games for the first time since 2006 as they try to knock the Ducks out of the BCS picture. The Beavers have not beaten the Ducks since 2007. Watch for the Ducks to come out focused. After last weekends tough loss to Stanford, I think Chip Kelly will have Mariota and company ready to go. What needs to improve is the Oregon run game. The Oregon offense cannot afford to get knocked around by the Oregon State defensive line the whole game, even though Oregon State is only giving up 108.7 rushing yards per game. If the Ducks cannot get the rushing attack going again it will be up to quarterback Marcus Mariota to open up the passing game. One key matchup to pay attention to is the Oregon secondary as they try to defend the quick and lethal wide receivers of Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks. Let's see if the Ducks can bounce back after a tough loss.
Prediction: Oregon 35, Oregon State 26
6. #4 Florida @ #10 Florida State 3:30 PM ET ABC
- The Florida Gators are back in the BCS mix after Kansas State and Oregon both went down last weekend. The Gators need to beat a tough Seminole team on the road and hope Notre Dame goes down at USC. The Florida State Seminoles have been a team that has been disrespected this season, due to the poor competition of the ACC Conference. Both Florida and Florida State have top five defenses. The Gators are giving up just 284.9 yards per game and the Seminoles are giving up 268.3 yards per game. The difference in this game will be if the Gators can put points on the board with the return of quarterback Jeff Driskel. The Gators struggled these past four weeks on offense as they only averaged 18.2 points per game against Georgia, Missouri, LA-Lafayette, and Jacksonville State. The Seminoles should be fine on offense with senior quarterback EJ Manuel at the helm. The Seminoles are currently averaging 42.9 points per game on offense. This is going to be a tough game for the Florida Gators to win and I'm not sure if they will make it out of Tallahassee alive.
Prediction: Florida State 28, Florida 13
7. #21 Oklahoma State @ #13 Oklahoma 3:30 PM ET ESPN
- The Bedlam game always means something. This year, the Oklahoma Sooners are aiming for a Big 12 Championship and/or a BCS at-large bid. The Oklahoma State Cowboys are hoping they can pull off the upset in Norman and have the opportunity to be co-champions of the Big 12 Conference. The Cowboys have not won in Norman since 2001. Both teams have been putting up big numbers this season and have explosive passing attacks. Sooner quarterback Landry Jones, who will play his last home game Saturday, has been the leader of an offense that has averaged 40.8 points per game and 334.0 passing yards per game. The Cowboys have been just as explosive on offense this season, but have had to rotate between three different quarterbacks. The Cowboys have decided to start junior quarterback Clint Chelf again for this game. The Cowboys score 45.4 points per game and have averaged 337.0 passing yards per game. The rushing attack for the Cowboys has been solid as well with Joseph Randle. I will be surprised if this game does not turn into a shootout like it did two years ago. There will be a lot of offense and it will be whichever defense can make a stop when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter.
Prediction: Oklahoma 45, Oklahoma State 37
8. #8 Stanford @ #17 UCLA 6:30 PM ET FOX
- This is a crucial game for the Stanford Cardinal. If the Cardinal win they will be the champions of the Pac-12 North Division and host UCLA next Friday for the Pac-12 Championship. Stanford and UCLA are both coming off of huge victories from last weekend. Earlier this season, Stanford upset #2 USC, then moved up to number eight in the polls and was upset in their next game on the road at Washington. Stanford pulled the upset against #2 Oregon, and will now travel on the road to #17 UCLA. Will history repeat itself? What I will point out is that Stanford is a much tougher team with Kevin Hogan at quarterback and this provides defenses nightmares between trying to contain him and stopping running back Stepfan Taylor. The Stanford defense also continues to be the second best defense against the rush. The UCLA Bruins have almost an identical situation on offense. Freshman quarterback Brett Hundley has proven to be a nightmare for defenses along with one of the best backs in the country Johnathan Franklin. What differentiates these teams is Stanford wins by playing tough defense and UCLA wins by putting points up on the scoreboard. We should have a real close game between these two teams in the Rose Bowl.
Prediction: UCLA 31, Stanford 27
9. #12 South Carolina @ #11 Clemson 7:00 PM ET ESPN
- It's the battle for the Palmetto State between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Clemson Tigers. The Gamecocks have won the last three meetings by an average of 20 points over the Tigers. This game should be a lot closer, such as the games from 2005 to 2007. Clemson is in a good position to receive a BCS at-large bid for a potential Sugar Bowl bid. The Gamecocks unfortunately will have to settle for a potential Gator Bowl bid because of how many teams are in front of them in the SEC. The most interesting matchup in this game will be the explosive Clemson offense against the tough and physical South Carolina defense. The Tiger offense is led by quarterback Tajh Boyd, running back Andre Ellington, and wide receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins. The South Carolina defense led by defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will have their hand's full with a Tiger offense that consists of multiple weapons. Let's see if the Gamecocks can come into Death Valley and stop a Clemson team that is averaging 44.6 points per game.
Prediction: South Carolina 31, Clemson 28
10. #1 Notre Dame @ USC 8:00 PM ET ABC
- This is the big one on Saturday. If Notre Dame can get the win, they will play for their first national championship since the 1988-1989 season. The USC Trojans though are looking to do the unthinkable and pull off the upset with redshirt freshman quarterback Max Wittek. A lot of people are counting the Trojans out of this game simply because of the absence of quarterback Matt Barkley. If you think about it though, the Irish have only played one really impressive game this season against a quality opponent and it was at Oklahoma. The Irish have played down to teams like Purdue, BYU, and Pittsburgh. These three games all happened to be in South Bend too. The Trojans have had a disappointing season and they have nothing to lose in this game against the Irish. The Trojans have speed that the Irish have not witnessed this season. The impact players in this game for the Trojans are going to be potential Heisman Trophy candidate wide receiver Marqise Lee and running back Silas Redd. The Trojans have to establish a running game with Redd, so that the passing game can open up for inexperienced quarterback Max Wittek. The Trojans will need to mix it up against an Irish defense that has given up no more than 26 points in one game this season. The Trojan line has to be able to contain a tough Irish defense led by Heisman candidate linebacker Monti Te'o. On the other hand, it will be interesting to see how the Irish offense does against a Trojan defense that has struggled this entire season. We will see how Irish quarterback Everett Golson handles the pressure of playing in his biggest game as a starting quarterback. Will number one go down again and cause complete chaos within the BCS? We'll find out on Saturday night at the Coliseum.
Prediction: USC 28, Notre Dame 24