Let’s recap Week 12, shall we?
Game of the week: No. 14 Stanford at No. 1 Oregon
Final score: Cardinal 17, Ducks 14 (OT)
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.
Post-game commentary: The Cardinal’s D made sure it wasn’t a shootout.
Hogan did the rest.
His 1-yard TD run gave Stanford an early 7-0 lead. Then with the game on the line, Hogan found tight end Zach Ertz on a 10-yard TD pass with a minute, 35 left in regulation.
The latter play will always be in question.
Was Ertz’s shoulder in? Did he have possession? Did he lose possession?
One thing that can’t be questioned is Stanford knocked Oregon out of the national championship picture by limiting the Ducks to 14 points and 4-of-17 on third down conversions.
The Ducks didn’t have a lot of opportunity to score though. They had the ball for just 22 minutes, 55 seconds.
No. 21 USC at No. 17 UCLA
Final score: Bruins 38, Trojans 28
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.
Post-game commentary: Holding true to form, UCLA was penalized 12 times for 115 yards and still beat USC by double digits to earn a spot in the Pac-12 title game.
The Bruins led 24-0 before the Trojans could even blink and answered when they had to. USC had 513 yards, but turned the ball over three times and to add insult to injury, Matt Barkley went out with a shoulder injury.
USC started the season with high expectations. Now the Trojans are just trying to find a measure of respect and help their head coach, Lane Kiffin, keep his job.
Beating No. 1 Notre Dame on Saturday would do both for USC.
No. 13 Oklahoma at West Virginia
Final score: Sooners 50, Mountaineers 49
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.
Post-game commentary: WVU’s defense is just flat out awful.
That’s the only way to explain how that unit ruined one of the greatest offensive efforts in college football history.
The Mountaineers had a colossal 778 yards of total offense. Tavon Austin stopped, started, sprinted and sliced up Oklahoma’s defense for an scintillating 334 yards and two touchdowns.
But WVU allowed Landry Jones to throw for 554 yards and six touchdowns.
Jones’ final TD pass – a 5-yarder to Kenny Stills – with 24 seconds left was on fourth down.
Minnesota at No. 16 Nebraska
Final score: Cornhuskers 38, Golden Gophers 14
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.
Post-game commentary: After rolling it up big on Minnesota, Nebraska is a win or a Michigan loss away from playing in the Big Ten title game.
The Huskers were up 38-0 with a minute, 12 seconds left in the third quarter. Up next? Regular-season finale Friday at 4-7 Iowa.
As for Minnesota, it has a player – A.J. Barker – bashing Jerry Kill through tweets and blogs. Telling the world he’s quitting, wants to transfer and what he thinks of his former coach.
No. 10 Florida State at Maryland
Final score: Seminoles 41, Terrapins 14
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.
Post-game commentary: Hey Terrapins.
It won’t be any easier in the Big Ten. Plus you’re going to freeze your buns off playing in Madison or Ann Arbor in November.
As for Florida State, it must tangle with rival Florida this week. Haven’t been this much buzz around a Gators-Seminoles game since Bobby Bowden and Steve Spurrier were matching wits.
Mississippi at No. 8 LSU
Final score: Tigers 41, Rebels 35
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.
Post-game commentary: Got to give Mississippi credit. The Rebels stood up.
Had the game been in Oxford, they might have even won it. Then again, they allowed 21 fourth-quarter points in falling to the Tigers.
Mississippi hurt its cause with four turnovers and a missed 53-yard field goal that would have put it up nine points with 4:18 left.
LSU took advantage as Jeremy Hill capped a 9-play, 64-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run with 15 seconds left. The Tigers were 2-for-2 on third down conversions and benefited from a 15-yard penalty on the Rebels.