2011 NCAAF Week 12 Weekend Preview

November 18, 2011

We lost two more last weekend. Now, only LSU and Oklahoma State remain amongst the unbeaten teams that actually have a chance to play for the national title (sorry Houston). Nothing is settled yet, though. Big games are on the slate every weekend for the rest of the regular season, and there is always the potential for something unexpected to happen.

Here is a list of my top five games to watch this weekend, as well as five more games to keep an eye on.

5 Games to Pay Attention to This Weekend

#17 Nebraska at #20 Michigan (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

This game is very important as far as the Big Ten Legends Division race is concerned. If Michigan wins, then they are in good position to make it to Indianapolis if they win out and Michigan State slips up twice. If Nebraska wins, then the Spartans would only need to lose one game for the Cornhuskers to get the nod. Both teams have been up and down this year; this could be for a multitude of reasons. Nebraska’s defense has been hit or miss all season, and Michigan may have been a little overhyped entering Big Ten play. I expect that both teams will bring their best in this one, though.

Believe it or not, this game will come down to the battle between Michigan’s defense and Nebraska’s offense. We will see if the Wolverines improved defense is for real as they go up against the second best offense in the Big Ten. However, if Nebraska comes out flat on offense, there is the chance that this game could turn into a defensive struggle, where game changers such as Denard Robinson could make a play or two that turns the tide. If the Cornhuskers come out strong on offense, they should be able to win this game rather handily.

My Pick: 27-13 Nebraska

Southern Methodist at #11 Houston (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Boise State losing last weekend was probably the single greatest piece of news that the Houston Cougars could have received. With the loss, the Cougars are now in position to grab the one BCS bowl bid awarded to a team not in a conference with an automatic bid. However, it would make SMU’s season if they were able to knock off Case Keenum & Co. in Houston. Do not expect this game to be like Houston’s drubbing of Tulane last week. SMU did beat TCU earlier in the season, so they know what it takes to upset a good team.

Houston has been racking up points like nobody’s business, lately. Asking SMU’s defense to try to stop the Houston offense would not be a good game plan for the Mustangs. Instead, they will need to try to score a lot and contain Case Keenum as best they can (which, as of yet, no one has been able to do this season). If SMU can keep Houston in the 40s, then they have a chance. Otherwise, SMU will just be another tick mark in the “W” category for the Cougars.

My Pick: 49-34 Houston

Virginia at #23 Florida State (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

At this point, the Virginia Cavaliers have already exceeded the expectations of almost everyone. If the Cavaliers were to beat a ranked Florida State team in Tallahassee and set up a showdown with rival Virginia Tech to see who would represent the ACC Coastal Division, it would essentially be icing on the cake. Surely, that isn’t how the Virginia players see it, though.

Virginia’s rise has been thanks to two factors. One is their offensive line, which is one of the best in the nation and hasn’t allowed even one sack in three games. The other is their defense, which has been particularly strong in the first half. The Cavaliers need to come out strong and keep things close, especially in the first quarter. If they can limit Florida State’s scoring chances, there is a good chance that this game will be close in the fourth quarter. This will be a tough game, though. Virginia has never beaten the Seminoles in Tallahassee, and Florida State has reeled off five straight victories since dropping three in a row early in the season.

My Pick: 27-21 Florida State

#18 USC at #4 Oregon (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

Coming off their game against Stanford in which they soundly beat the Cardinal, Oregon is back in the national title conversation. However, in order to stay in that discussion, they will have to take care of business against USC, which took Stanford to three overtime sessions in Palo Alto before eventually losing. The Trojans have improved each week and it would not be surprising to see an offensive show in this game, either.

Without a bowl game to look forward to, games like this one are what USC’s coaching staff has to use to motivate their players. The Trojans have a shot to end Oregon’s national title aspirations for good, but it will not be easy. The reason that Oregon is able to make teams like Stanford look bad is because they are one of the best teams in the nation at capitalizing on other teams’ mistakes. Quite frankly, USC will have to be near mistake free to beat the Ducks in Eugene. This starts with Matt Barkley, who will have to back up his words that Oregon has been better in prior years by avoiding the costly turnovers. If USC does not give away the ball, they have the offense capable of keeping up with Oregon, and the game will be close.

My Pick: 44-35 Oregon

#5 Oklahoma at #25 Baylor (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

Similar to Oregon, Oklahoma has re-entered the national title discussion due to the losses by Boise State and Stanford. Oklahoma can really help their chances by beating Oklahoma State in a couple of weeks, but they shouldn’t be looking ahead to that game too soon. Baylor presents a stiff challenge that could knock Oklahoma out of the discussion as quickly as they got back in if the Sooners play the type of defense they did in their loss to Texas Tech earlier this season. The bad news for the Sooners is that they have not played an athlete as electric as Robert Griffin III this entire season.

Assuming that Oklahoma will play defense, it will be difficult for Baylor to win in a fashion similar to the way Texas Tech did. Baylor’s offense has been bad this season, giving up more than 45 points three times this season (granted, one of those games was a win against TCU). This is not good considering that Landry Jones seems to regularly put on a show against less than stellar Big 12 defenses. Considering that the stakes are high, Jones should be extremely focused and could give the Bears lots of trouble on Saturday night. If Jones throws for over 300 yards, expect the Sooners to win.

My Pick: 44-31 Oklahoma

5 More to Flip To

Cincinnati at Rutgers (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Both teams still have a chance to win the Big East and lock up the conference’s automatic BCS bid.

#21 Penn State at Ohio State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Will Penn State’s recent tragedy affect the team at all as they travel to Columbus?

Navy at San Jose State (Saturday, 4 PM ET)

Navy was 2-6 and on the brink of becoming ineligible for bowl play. If they can beat San Jose State and Army in early December, they will go to a bowl game for the ninth straight year.

Vanderbilt at Tennessee (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

Speaking of becoming bowl eligible, the Commodores will do just that if they can beat their in-state rivals (who have yet to win an SEC game) in Knoxville.

#10 Boise State at San Diego State (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

How will the Broncos respond after their season was ruined once again by a missed kick?

– K. Becks

2 Responses to 2011 NCAAF Week 12 Weekend Preview

  1. mancolepig on November 20, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    1 for 5 good job kyle, lol although i [robably wouldve picked the same teams

    • K. Becks on November 23, 2011 at 5:50 pm

      Considering the way the weekend went, I couldn’t be happier that I went 1 for 5.

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