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Oregon heads to L.A.; the Crimson Tide visits LSU
College football’s weekend slate is highlighted by key games in the SEC (Alabama at LSU) and Pac-12 (Oregon at USC). Here’s a look a every game.
No. 33 Washington at No. 67 California
Washington has defeated two ranked teams at home (Stanford and Oregon State) but has lost its three road games (LSU, Oregon and Arizona) by an average of 34.7 points.
No. 1 Alabama at No. 5 LSU
LSU is 7–1 overall and 3–1 in the SEC, but the three league wins have come by a total of nine points. The Tigers rely heavily on their rushing attack, which could be a problem on Saturday night. Alabama leads the nation in total defense and has been especially stout against the run, allowing an average of 57.3 yards per game and 1.9 yards per carry. The Crimson Tide will make it very difficult for LSU’s one-dimensional offense to put points on the board.
No. 2 Oregon at No. 18 USC
This game isn’t quite as big in November as it was back in August. Oregon has done its part, winning its first eight games by an average of 34 points. USC, however, has lost two games, at Stanford in Week 3 and at Arizona last Saturday.
No. 31 Oklahoma State at No. 3 Kansas State
Kansas State climbed to No. 2 in the BCS standings after Florida lost to Georgia and the Wildcats disposed of Texas Tech 55–24. The Wildcats don’t quite control their own destiny, but they are obviously on the short list of teams that are in position to play in the BCS national title game.
Kansas State 34–30
No. 64 Pittsburgh at No. 4 Notre Dame
The Notre Dame defense continues to amaze. The Fighting Irish held Oklahoma to a season-low 13 points last week in Norman and have now given up a total of six touchdowns in eight games. Pittsburgh is playing better than it was earlier this season, but Notre Dame is the far superior team.
Notre Dame 27–10
No. 97 Illinois at No. 6 Ohio State
Illinois has scored a total of five touchdowns in its four Big Ten games. Ohio State is averaging 5.4 touchdowns per game in league play. Advantage Ohio State.
Ohio State 44–7
No. 38 Ole Miss at No. 7 Georgia
Georgia seized control of the SEC East with a surprising 17–9 win over Florida in Jacksonville. The Bulldogs now must beat Ole Miss at home this weekend and Auburn on the road on Nov. 10 to make their second straight trip to the SEC title game.
No. 58 Missouri at No. 8 Florida
Florida’s passing attack has been among the least productive in the SEC all season. When the Gators were winning — which they did in their first seven games — it wasn’t too much of an issue. But now, after they were held to 266 yards in a 17–9 loss to Georgia, it’s fair to ask: Why is Florida’s passing game so anemic?
No. 11 Clemson at No. 48 Duke
Duke has given up an average of 39.7 points and 500 total yards over the last three weeks. Not good — especially with Clemson on deck. The Tigers rank second in the league in both total offense and scoring offense.
No. 12 Oklahoma at No. 34 Iowa State
Iowa State is one win away from becoming bowl-eligible for the third time in four seasons under Paul Rhoads. If the Clones fail to pick up their sixth win this week, they should be able to win at least one of the final three games — at Texas, at Kansas, West Virginia.
No. 37 Arizona State at No. 13 Oregon State
Oregon State hit its first speed bump last week, losing at Washington 20–17. This week, the Beavers return to Corvallis, where they have given up a total of 20 points in three games.
Oregon State 27–21
No. 14 Texas A&M at No. 16 Mississippi State
This will be a great barometer for both teams. Mississippi State is no longer undefeated, but the Bulldogs are eager to prove they should be considered among the top teams in the SEC. Texas A&M is 6–2 overall and has already won four road games.
Texas A&M 30–24
No. 76 Temple at No. 15 Louisville
Louisville is 8–0 overall and ranked No. 10 in the BCS standings. That’s too high when you consider that the schedule has been soft and each of the Cards’ last six wins has come by 10 points or fewer.
No. 17 Stanford at No. 102 Colorado
Colorado is one of three teams nationally that is giving up more than 500 yards per game and 7.0 yards per play. The other two are Idaho and Army.
No. 30 Texas at No. 18 Texas Tech
Here’s something that we didn’t expect to see back in the summer: Texas is a seven-point underdog to Texas Tech. Texas Tech has no doubt exceeded expectations, but the betting line is a strong statement on the state of Texas football.
Texas Tech 30–27
No. 23 Arizona at No. 20 UCLA
UCLA is 3–2 in the league after its upset at Arizona State. The Bruins have been one of the most entertaining teams in the Pac-12, ranking third in the league in total offense (502.9 ypg) and fifth in scoring offense (33.4 ppg). Redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley has made some mistakes — four picks in the loss at Cal — but there is no doubt that he has energized a fan base that needed something to get excited about.
No. 21 Nebraska at No. 36 Michigan State
Nebraska took a huge step toward winning the Legends Division title by beating Michigan in Lincoln last week. The Huskers got it done on the defensive end, holding Michigan to 188 total yards and no touchdowns. That’s not good news for Michigan State, which continues to struggle on offense.
No. 114 Texas-San Antonio at No. 22 Louisiana Tech
Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron has yet to throw an interception in 319 attempts. Two years ago, as a sophomore, he threw five picks in only 91 attempts.
Louisiana Tech 47–10
No. 70 San Diego State at No. 24 Boise State
San Diego State had two running backs top the 100-yard mark — Adam Muema (143) and Walter Kazee (105) — in its 24–13 win over UNLV. The Aztecs will need to control the line of scrimmage once again to give themselves a chance to win in Boise.
Boise State 30–17
No. 35 TCU at No. 25 West Virginia
TCU’s first season in the Big 12 has been a bit of a disappointment, but the Horned Frogs have had significant personnel issues. They lost starting linebacker Tanner Brock over the summer (drugs) and have dealt with other injury issues at linebacker. Offensively, they have been without tailbacks Ed Wesley (all season), Waymon James (all but two games) and quarterback Casey Pachall (all but four games). It would have been interesting to see this team with all of its pieces.
West Virginia 37–33
No. 26 Michigan at No. 61 Minnesota
Michigan’s offense stagnated after Denard Robinson went down with an elbow injury in Saturday’s loss at Nebraska. Backup Russell Bellomy completed only 3-of-16 for 38 yards after replacing Robinson in the first half. Robinson is expected to start this week.
No. 28 Penn State at No. 69 Purdue
At the end of September, Purdue was 3¬–1 with its only loss by three points at Notre Dame. Now, at the end of October, the Boilermakers are 3–5 and there are rumors that Danny Hope’s job is in jeopardy.
Penn State 31–24
No. 96 Troy at No. 41 Tennessee
Troy, which is 4–4 overall and 3–3 in the Sun Belt, has had its moments this season — the Trojans rolled up 572 yards in a 30–24 defeat at home to Mississippi State in September — but Larry Blakeney’s club is coming off a horrible loss to FAU last weekend.
No. 85 Virginia at No. 42 NC State
Could Virginia be headed toward its first winless ACC season since 1981? It’s possible. The Cavs are 0¬–4 and figure to be an underdog in their final four games — at NC State, Miami, North Carolina, at Virginia Tech.
NC State 35–14
No. 43 Tulsa at No. 56 Arkansas
Tulsa has won seven straight games, but it hasn’t necessarily been easy. Four of the Golden Hurricane’s last five wins have come by seven points or fewer, and the schedule has been far from difficult.
No. 63 Syracuse at No. 44 Cincinnati
After scoring a total of 39 points in a three-game stretch in early October, the Orange have scored 40 and 37 points in their last two games — wins over UConn (40–10) and at South Florida (37–36). Cincinnati returns home, where it is unbeaten, after losing two straight on the road.
No. 89 Kansas at No. 45 Baylor
Baylor has yet to win a Big 12 game in the post-RG3 era. The Bears are 0–4 in the league and are giving up an average of 52.5 points per game. Kansas, too, is winless, though the Jayhawks are coming off their best game of the season, a 21–17 loss at home to Texas.
No. 92 UL-Lafayette at No. 46 ULM
ULM has yet to lose to a non-AQ conference team in 2012. The Warhawks have wins over Tulane and four Sun Belt opponents. UL Lafayette opened its conference slate with wins over Troy and FIU but has lost two straight, at North Texas and vs. Arkansas State by a combined score of 80–50.
No. 49 Vanderbilt at No. 82 Kentucky
Last year, in a 38–8 win over Kentucky in Nashville, the Commodores threw for 207 yards and rushed for 203. The Wildcats, as a team, had 211 total yards. Kentucky is looking to avoid its first two-game losing streak to Vanderbilt since the mid-1990s.
No. 107 Texas State at No. 52 Utah State
Utah State ranks sixth nationally in scoring defense, and that includes two games vs. AQ conference opponents (Utah, Wisconsin) and a game with BYU. This team is legitimately good.
Utah State 37–14
No. 124 UMass at No. 53 Northern Illinois
After making Ohio sweat in a 37–34 loss in Foxboro, UMass has lost its last three games — to Western Michigan, Bowling Green and Vanderbilt — by a combined score of 125–21. This will get ugly early.
Northern Illinois 48–10
No. 111 Akron at No. 53 Kent State
Kent State is rolling. The Golden Flashes picked up their sixth straight win last weekend — and did so in impressive fashion, beating previously unbeaten Rutgers 35–23 on the road. Kent State leads the nation in turnover margin at plus-2.38 per game.
Kent State 41–7
No. 87 SMU at No. 59 UCF
UCF is a bit undervalued nationally. The Knights are 6–2 overall, with losses at Ohio State by 15 points and at home to Missouri by five points. They are 4–0 in Conference USA and have already defeated four of the other five teams in the East.
No. 60 Iowa at No. 74 Indiana
After flirting with victory in recent weeks — the Hoosiers lost three straight by a total of eight points — Indiana broke through and beat Illinois 31–17 on the road last Saturday. IU is 1–3 in the Big Ten but is still in the hunt to represent the Leaders Division in the league title game.
No. 103 Washington State at No. 62 Utah
Utah scored a season-high 49 points in a surprisingly easy 22-point win over Cal last week. Four of the touchdowns came on offense, two on special teams and one on defense.
No. 119 Hawaii at No. 65 Fresno State
Hawaii has lost all of its games vs. FBS opponents — and it hasn’t been close. The Warriors’ “best” loss was by 15 points last week to Colorado State, which is 2–6.
Fresno State 48–13
No. 121 FAU at No. 66 Navy
FAU hasn’t won a road game since beating Western Kentucky 17–16 in Bowling Green in November 2010. Won’t happen this week. Navy has won four straight.
No. 68 Georgia Tech at No. 71 Maryland
It’s tough enough to win games when you have an actual quarterback playing quarterback. It’s really hard when you are forced to play a linebacker at the game’s most important position. Maryland will send out Shawn Petty, an option quarterback in high school, against Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech 20–10
No. 73 San Jose State at No. 122 Idaho
San Jose State is very quietly having a really nice season. The Spartans are 6–2 overall and 2–1 in the WAC thanks to a passing attack that averages 328.6 yards per game.
San Jose State 48–0
No. 123 New Mexico State at No. 75 Auburn
Auburn’s struggles have been well-documented, but the Tigers should have little trouble with New Mexico State. The Aggies are 1–7 and have not won since defeating Sacramento State in Week 1. For Auburn, true freshman Jonathan Wallace will be making his first start at quarterback.
No. 84 Connecticut at No. 77 South Florida
Over the last two years, South Florida has been involved in six Big East games that have been decided by three points or less. The Bulls are 0–6 in those games. This won’t be decided by three points or less, and that’s good news for USF.
South Florida 27–14
No. 94 Boston College at No. 78 Wake Forest
Wake Forest is somehow 4–4 despite ranking 112th in the nation in total offense and 82nd in total defense. The Demon Deacons are really struggling to score in ACC games of late, with 14, 16 and 13 in their last three.
Wake Forest 21–20
No. 88 Houston at No. 79 East Carolina
One week after giving up 512 yards rushing in a 56–28 loss at home to Navy, East Carolina must solve a Houston offense that is averaging 340.1 yards passing. The Cougars got off to a rough start but have won four of their last five games.
No. 117 Memphis at No. 80 Marshall
Marshall ranks 119th nationally in scoring defense and has allowed 45 points or more in five of its eight games. Memphis, however, isn’t good enough to take advantage of the Herd’s porous defense. The Tigers have scored 17 points or fewer in five straight games.
No. 81 Arkansas State at No. 99 North Texas
Arkansas State has played its way into the Sun Belt race by winning three straight. The Red Wolves, one of three teams with a 3–1 record in the league, trail ULM by one full game. A-State hosts ULM next Thursday night. Big game.
Arkansas State 37–20
No. 83 Western Michigan at No. 108 Central Michigan
We picked Western Michigan to win the MAC West Division in our preseason magazine. Bad move on our part. The Broncos are 1–4 in the league, with the lone win coming against winless UMass.
Western Michigan 30–20
No. 90 Air Force at No. 115 Army
Air Force is probably ranked a bit too low. The Falcons are 5–3, including a loss in overtime to Navy and a six-point loss at Michigan. The other loss was bad — at UNLV — but that was in mid-September. AFA is 4–1 since that game, highlighted by last week’s 48–31 victory over Nevada.
Air Force 34–21
No. 95 Miami (Ohio) at No. 116 Buffalo
Miami picked up the biggest win of the Don Treadwell era last week, handing previously unbeaten Ohio its first loss of the season. A win this week at Buffalo would set up a huge game on Nov. 10 vs. surging Kent State.
No. 98 New Mexico at No. 106 UNLV
Since beating Air Force 38–35 on Sept. 22, UNLV is 0–5. There have been some close losses — by five to Nevada, by 11 a San Diego State — but Bobby Hauck is going to have to win some games to save his job.
New Mexico 34–30
No. 100 Rice at No. 104 Tulane
Tulane was one of the nation’s worst teams through the first half of the 2012 season, but Curtis Johnson’s club has won two of its last three games and is now 2–2 in C-USA. The Green Wave’s surge has coincided with the return of starting quarterback Ryan Griffin, who has 10 touchdowns and one interception in the last three games.
No. 105 UAB at No. 110 Southern Miss
This is Southern Miss’ best chance to avoid the unthinkable, an 0–12 record. The Golden Eagles have given up 38 points or more in all but two games — not what the school had in mind when it hired Ellis Johnson, a defensive guru, away from South Carolina.
No. 109 FIU at No. 120 South Alabama
FIU’s miserable 2012 season concludes with road games at South Alabama and FAU and a home date with ULM. The Golden Panthers have one win — over Akron in overtime in Week 2 — and are 0–5 in the Sun Belt. They are playing better of late, with three straight losses by eight points or less, but this season has been a colossal disappointment.
No. 118 Colorado State at No. 112 Wyoming
Wyoming coach Dave Christensen is back after serving a one-game suspension for his post-game tirade against Air Force’s Troy Calhoun. “Not being able to coach this football team was probably the most-difficult pill I have ever had to swallow,” Christensen said earlier this week.
Last week: 38–18