Here are three college football games worth watching in Week 12.
Game of the week: No. 14 Stanford Cardinal (8-2, 6-1 Pac-12) at No. 1 Oregon Ducks (10-0, 7-0 Pac-12), Saturday, 8 p.m., WJET (ABC)
Pregame rant: The Ducks are No. 1 in both national polls and second in the BCS standings, but all that will mean nothing if they fall to Stanford.
They won’t, though. The Cardinal aren’t going into Eugene with a redshirt freshman quarterback and beating the Ducks in their final regular-season home game.
Don’t get me wrong. Kevin Hogan is good. Real good.
He was clutch in last week’s win against Oregon State in his first collegiate start. In addition, Stanford is first in the nation in rushing defense.
The Cardinal are allowing 58.60 yards on the ground. So they’re up to the challenge of stopping Heisman candidate Kenjon Barner, who is second in points with 120 (20 TDs) and fourth in rushing (136 ypg.).
Barner had what looked like a right hand or wrist injury against Cal. He’ll likely play Saturday, but if it keeps him from being the difference maker he is, the Ducks could be in the trouble.
The problem for Stanford is it will have the same problem every other team has had against the Ducks. You fall behind early and can’t go score for score with them.
Say Stanford trails 14-0 or 17-3 or 21-10 by the midway point in the second quarter. It will be down 42-20 going into the fourth.
No one can go score for score with the Ducks. No one.
No. 21 USC Trojans (7-3, 5-3 Pac-12) at No. 17 UCLA Bruins (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12), Saturday, 3:05 p.m., WFXP (FOX)
Pregame rant: Much more is on the line than earning a spot in the Pac-12 title game.
The Bruins have a chance to make a statement that they’re finally on the same playing field as their city rivals.
The Trojans have a chance to salvage a season that started with talk of winning a national title. If they can beat UCLA, upset Notre Dame and win the conference title game that will likely be against Oregon, that will show they were worthy of all the preseason hype.
One thing you can expect in this game is penalties.
USC is 115th out of 120 NCAA Division I FBS teams in penalty yards at 73.2 yards a game, but UCLA is worse. The Bruins are last at 89.90 yards a game.
Flags will fly. Often.
No. 13 Oklahoma Sooners (7-2, 5-1 Big 12) at West Virginia Mountaineers (5-4, 2-4 Big 12), Saturday, 7 p.m., WFXP (FOX)
Pregame rant: This is WVU’s last shot to make a real stand.
In their first year in the Big 12, the Mountaineers were once national title contenders with the leading Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Geno Smith.
They’ve since lost their last four games and had their defense exposed, but can make amends with a big home win against Oklahoma.
The Sooners’ two losses look more impressive than their seven wins. They’ve fallen to two unbeaten teams – No. 2 Kansas State and No. 3 Notre Dame.
The Wildcats are first in the BCS standings.
A loss to the slumping Mountaineers won’t look so good for the Sooners.
Snooze on these, though.
Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-4, 2-4) at No. 16 Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten), Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
Pregame rant: Minnesota’s not bad.
The Golden Gophers will just look like they are Saturday against the Cornhuskers.
Nebraska has been in some dogfights in its four-game winning streak. Won nail biters at Northwestern and Michigan State. Penn State played the Cornhuskers tough before losing 32-23 last week.
So Nebraska is due to blow the doors off someone.
Sorry Minnesota. Chalk it up as being at the wrong stadium at the wrong time.
No. 10 Florida State Seminoles (9-1, 6-1 ACC) at Maryland Terrapins (4-6, 2-4 ACC), Saturday, noon, ESPNU
Pregame rant: Seen this script before.
Better team should win in a rout, but go on the road and squeak out a win against an inspired opponent that isn’t as talented, but has a quality coach that keeps things interesting.
The problem for Maryland is Florida State just went through this last week at Virginia Tech.
The Seminoles had more talent than Frank Beamer’s Hokies, but escaped Blacksburg with a 28-22 win. They’ll play much better this week against Randy Edsall’s Terrapins.
Mississippi Rebels (5-5, 2-4 SEC) at No. 8 LSU Tigers (8-2, 4-2 SEC), Saturday, 3:30 p.m., WSEE (CBS)
Pregame rant: Mississippi’s first four losses were to Texas, Alabama, Texas A&M and Georgia. Those schools have a combined 34-6 record.
Then the Rebels lost to Vanderbilt last week.
I’ve said this before. I’ll say it again. When you lose to Vanderbilt in football, your season is over.
LSU will leave no doubt about that Saturday.