With all that's transpired over the past few days, it's weird to think that there's still actual football to be played this weekend, and important football at that. It may not be something that Penn State fans have high on their priority list today, but take a couple minutes and distract yourself. Sports are supposed to be fun, right?
So what's at stake here? An Oregon win removes Stanford from national title contention, and would put Alabama right back in the on deck circle should Oklahoma State falter as well. A Stanford win gives them a fairly smooth run towards an undefeated season, and a potential BCS Championship Game berth.
One of the weaknesses that USC was able to exploit against Stanford was the Cardinal's difficulty defending speed at the edges. Unfortunately for Stanford, Oregon has even more speed and weapons than USC did, and Chip Kelly's offense specializes in getting them the ball in space. However, Stanford as the artillery to keep up with Oregon in a shootout, and also an offense that can grind out long possessions, thus keeping the potent Ducks offense off the field.
The wildcard in all of this is Darron Thomas. If he is sharp in his reads and doesn't make dumb throws, Oregon will win. However, if he continues his current run of sloppy play, the mistakes should be enough to give Stanford the edge.
Worthy Of Your Consideration
Wake Forest has been quite frisky this season, despite the appearance of their 5-4 record. However, they'll be at a significant talent disadvantage and a hostile environment, and I don't think they have enough to overcome that. The Wake DBs will be seeing Sammy Watkins in their nightmares after this game is over.
If Virginia Tech wins this game, they'll more than likely coast to a Coastal division title. If Georgia Tech wins, these two schools will be tied in the standings, with GT holding the tiebreaker.
VT is 7th in the nation in rushing defense, which should come in handy against GT's option offense. However, the Hokies can run the ball pretty well themselves, and GT's defense is ranked 69th against the run. In the end, I trust VT's defense more than I trust GT's.
Also, damn them for playing each other. It's really annoying to not be able to just write "Tech" when identifying which team I'm talking about.
It's hard to remember back that far, but Georgia was left for dead after they started the season 0-2, with one of their losses coming to SEC East rival South Carolina. Well, in the meantime, UGA has run off seven straight wins, and could potentially clinch the SEC East title with a win over Auburn and a South Carolina loss. The Bulldogs will have Isaiah Crowell back from suspension.
Auburn has really hit a wall offensively, mostly due to a crazy rash of injuries. They're going with Clint Moseley again at quarterback, who was effective in his prior start. However, it was against Ole Miss. Georgia should provide a much stiffer test than Ole Miss, and I expect the Dawgs to win this handily.
Two good defenses. Two punchless offenses. These teams are going to slowly gum each other to death, and I dearly hope that you don't watch any of this game. Since I care for you, dear readers, I decided to take a peek at both SC and UF's offensive gameplans, and you'll be shocked to find out that A) they're exactly the same, and B) it's just this:
Texas A&M Aggies @ (17) Kansas St. Wildcats (3:30 pm, Saturday)
Line: A&M -3.5
So Texas A&M is bad, right? They've lost two games in a row twice this season, and if they lose against K-State they'll bring their current streak to three. Their defense is a sieve in the second half, and not that much better in the first. They also just lost RB Christine Michael to a torn ACL, so their offense just got less potent.
I'm not sure if you can tell, but I'm not real high on A&M. However, Kansas State is coming off a heartbreaker against Oklahoma State, and if their heads aren't in it, A&M may be able to steal this one. I don't think they will, but the game has the makings of a letdown game for the Wildcats.
It was around this point last year when USC packed it in and folded. It's kind of understandable, really. With no hope for a bowl game, and only Kiffykins' leadership to keep them motivated, it almost seems natural that the players would take the foot off the gas during November. If the Trojans do that again this year, they will most assuredly lose to Washington, a team that's fully capable of beating them anyway.
The key is whether Washington will be able to cover Robert Woods. Considering that the Huskies pass defense is ranked 113th in the country, I remain skeptical.
Lost in the aftermath of Texas' shellacking at the hands of Oklahoma is that the Longhorns have finally figured out how to run the ball. After years of leaning on Vince Young and Colt McCoy, UT's inability to run the ball was a major contributor to their disastrous 2010 campaign. However, this year, the Horns are 11th in the country in rushing, averaging over 246 yards per game. Missouri's run defense? Pretty mediocre.
Except for their loss to Oklahoma State, every Missouri loss has been by 10 points or less. They're pretty much the definition of "close, but not cigar." In order to win this game, they'll have to keep the ball away from Texas' grinding offense. They have the tools to do it with Henry Josey and James Franklin, but they haven't shown the consistency yet.
The Big East! Another loss effectively ends West Virginia's shot at the conference title. A loss by the Bearcats would bring them back to the pack. Many bemoan the fact that the Big East has an AQ BCS berth, but that berth makes the inevitable mess of a race into compelling drama. In my eyes anyway.
Avert Your Eyes
Western Kentucky @ (1) LSU Tigers (7 pm, Saturday)
Line: LSU -one billionty (41.5 actually)
UCF Knights @ (25) Southern Miss. Golden Eagles (8 pm, Saturday)
On bye week: (7) Oklahoma