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.
Game of the week: No. 15 Texas A&M at No. 1 Alabama
Final score: Aggies 29, Tide 24
Pregame rant: Texas A&M has won seven of its last eight games since losing its opener. The Aggies’ two conference losses are to Florida and LSU.
Those defeats aside, Texas A&M has made a better adjustment to SEC football than Missouri has. So the Aggies will be ready Saturday. The question is will that matter against the Tide?
Alabama is No. 1 nationally in scoring defense (9.11 points allowed a game), but LSU exposed that D a little bit. The Aggies are fourth in the nation in scoring offense (44.67 points a game).
If freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel is on his game, the Tide will have their hands full. One of the most exciting players in college football, Manziel has 2,527 yards passing, 922 yards rushing and 31 total touchdowns (16 passing, 15 rushing).
Post-game commentary: Johnny Football was on his game as was his teammates.
As a result, No. 1 is no more for Alabama.
Manziel threw for 253 yards and two scores, ran for a game-high 92 yards more and was the difference Texas A&M stunning the defending national champions.
The Crimson Tide can still play for an SEC title if they take care of rival Auburn at home in two weeks. With the Tigers being 2-8 and coming off an embarrassing 38-0 home loss to rival Georgia, the Tide shoudn’t have a problem with them.
If somehow ‘Bama blows that game and Texas A&M gets in that conference championship game, the Dawgs will have their hands full.
Pregame rant: As good as this game will be, we don’t want to see the Tide and Tigers play in the national title game again.
Alabama hasn’t lost since it fell 9-6 in overtime at home to the Tigers. The Tide dominated LSU in the national title game, but the Tigers can avenge that loss and really put themselves in the national title picture.
The Tide are first in the nation in run defense. LSU is eighth. So the team that has the better quarterback should win Saturday.
A.J. McCarron has thrown 18 touchdowns, no interceptions and can make all the throws. If Zach Mettenberger is called upon to beat the Tide, it’s not going down.
Post-game commentary: McCarron wasn’t his best until it matter most.
With that Death Valley crowd roaring and ready to pounce on him for predicting the Tide would win, McCarron was 4-of-5 for 72 yards and a game-winning touchdown pass with 51 seconds left to beat the rival Tigers.
Mettenberger actually played well. Was 24-of-35 for 298 yards and a touchdown.
Truth be told, the Tigers had this game won. They had more yards, won the turnover and time ouf possession battle and limited Alabama to 1-of-9 on third-down conversions.
So why did they lose? Penalties and bad play calling.
The Tigers had seven penalties for 51 yards and LSU coach Les Miles called a fake field goal on a 4th-and-12 play down 7-3 in the first half. It failed miserably.
Game of the week: No. 9 South Carolina at No. 3 Florida
Final score: Gators 44, Gamecocks 11
Pregame rant: Despite losing to LSU, South Carolina can still find itself in the SEC title game, but must beat the Gators to do so. To see Steve Spurrier go back to the place he starred as a player and as a coach and knock off Florida would be one his biggest wins ever.
However, South Carolina better shore up that run defense if it plans to upend the Gators. The Gamecocks allowed LSU to bang ‘em for 258 yards on the ground.
Florida is averaging 233.33 yards rushing and will be content to win a low-scoring affair, as it did against LSU, rather than play score for score.
Post-game commentary: The Gamecocks fumbled away this one.
Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel threw three of his four touchdowns off South Carolina turnovers as the Gators put South Carolina’s championship dreams on arctic freeze.
The Gamecocks had four total turnovers with three being fumbles. When the going got tough for them, they got ran out of stadium.
As for the Gators, a win this week against Georgia in Jacksonville all but seals up a spot in the SEC title game. Their final conference game is Nov. 3 at home against Missouri, which is 0-4 in SEC play.
Game of the week: No. 17 Stanford at No. 7 Notre Dame
Final score: Irish 20, Cardinal 13 (OT)
Pregame rant: The Irish have an offensive-minded coach in Brian Kelly, but have relied on their defense to win games. Allowing 7.78 points a game, Notre Dame is second only to top-ranked Alabama in scoring defense.
The Irish are first in touchdowns allowed with three.
However, Stanford has the type of offense that can grind it out and impose its will on a defense. Stepfan Taylor is 15th in the nation in rushing with 560 yards and five touchdowns. If the Cardinal can consistently block Irish senior stud linebacker Manti Te’o, who has 48 stops, Taylor will have room to run.
If not, it will be business as usual for Te’o and the Irish defense.
Post-game commentary: The debate over whether Taylor scored or not from the 1-yard line in OT is a valid one, but someone explain how you run the same play, bad weather or not, on 3rd and 4th down out of a tight formation with everyone in the box to stop the run.
What this game tells me is if you’re playing Notre Dame, better put them away early. The Irish have won three games by seven points or less. They beat Purdue 20-17, Michigan 13-6 and Stanford in overtime.