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. 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.
Pregame rant: Sheldon Richardson set it off by describing Georgia as playing “old-man football” following the Bulldogs’ 45-23 win against Buffalo.
“I watched that game. I turned it off, too,” said Richardson in a story by the Columbia Tribune. “It’s like watching Big Ten football. It’s old-man football.”
That’s big words, big fella.
Post-game commentary: The ‘Dawgs welcomed the Tigers into the SEC with a harsh dose of “grown-man football” as Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray called it. Georgia forced three turnovers and scored the game’s last 24 points to prevail.
Pregame rant: This will be the first road game for the Mountaineers, but that’s not the major concern. New Maryland head coach Randy Edsall is not only one of the best coaches in the country, he’s had two weeks to prepare for WVU.
Postgame commentary: When a team has a 34-10 lead as WVU had and the opponent comes back and has a chance to win it in the end as Maryland had, games like that are bound to end with a turnover. Danny O’Brien had completed 14 straight passes for 94 yards before throwing an incomplete pass and an interception on his final two passes as WVU survived, 37-31. Got to give the Mountaineers credit for holding on, but when Edsall gets better players, Maryland will be a beast in the ACC.