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Can Stanford shock the world and knock off Oregon?
College football's Week 12 schedule is highlighted by two huge battles in the Pac-12. Stanford visits Oregon in a game that likely will decide the South Division champion, while USC makes the short trip to UCLA for the game of the year in the South.
No. 109 FIU at No. 17 FAU
FAU is showing signs of life late in Carl Pelini’s first season as the head coach. The Owls have won two of three, highlighted by a 37–28 win at Western Kentucky last weekend. The offense, which scored 20 points or fewer in each of the first six games, has scored 34 or more in three of the past four.
No. 121 Hawaii at No. 95 Air Force
Five years ago, Hawaii played in a BCS bowl. Two years ago, the Warriors won 10 games. Now, under first-year coach Norm Chow, this is one of the worst teams in the nation.
Air Force 38–3
No. 14 Stanford at No. 1 Oregon
It’s a testament to Oregon’s dominance that the Ducks are favored by nearly three touchdowns against the second-best team in the Pac-12 North — and maybe the second-best team in the entire league.
No. 2 Kansas State at No. 42 Baylor
Kansas State has given up 16 touchdowns in seven Big 12 games. Baylor has given up 38 in six games. Go with the team that allows fewer touchdowns.
Kansas State 44–28
No. 84 Wake Forest at No. 3 Notre Dame
Wake Forest was held to 185 total yards in a 37–6 loss at NC State last week. That same NC State team gave up 446 yards to Virginia the previous week. The Notre Dame defense should dominate.
Notre Dame 24–6
No. 4 Ohio State at No. 25 Wisconsin
Ohio State has a two-game lead on Wisconsin in the Leaders Division but is not eligible for postseason play due to NCAA sanctions. The Badgers will go in their stead after clinching a spot with an emphatic 62–14 win at Indiana on Saturday.
Ohio State 24–20
Western Carolina at No. 5 Alabama
The biggest mismatch of the weekend has to be Western Carolina vs. Alabama. The Catamounts are 1–9 and are allowing 519.8 yards and 40.0 points per game. It’s a safe bet that Alabama will bounce back from its only loss of the season with a comfortable win.
Georgia Southern at No. 6 Georgia
Georgia true freshman Todd Gurley is closing in on 1,000 yards. He has 973 yards while sharing time with fellow rookie Keith Marshall, and is only 41 yards behind SEC leader Johnny Manziel.
Jacksonville State at No. 7 Florida
Jacksonville State is the last school from the FCS ranks to beat an SEC school. The Gamecocks defeated Ole Miss in Oxford 49–48 on the opening week of the 2010 season.
No. 38 Ole Miss at No. 8 LSU
Ole Miss has played well in recent trips to Baton Rouge: The Rebels are 4–4 in their last eight at Tiger Stadium with three of the losses coming by three points or fewer and the other by seven points.
Sam Houston State at No. 9 Texas A&M
This should be a fun game. Sam Houston State leads the FCS in scoring offense (46.2 ppg) and ranks sixth in total offense (490.3 ypg).
Texas A&M 48–20
Wofford at No. 10 South Carolina
South Carolina takes on a solid Wofford team that is 8–2 overall and 6–2 in the SoCon. The schools have met twice in the past seven years, with Carolina winning 27–20 in 2006 and 23–13 in ’08.
South Carolina 31–13
No. 11 Florida State at No. 83 Maryland
Maryland’s season has been derailed by injuries, most notably at the quarterback position. The Terps have averaged 14.5 points during their four-game losing streak.
Florida State 41–0
No. 56 NC State at No. 12 Clemson
In case you haven’t been paying attention, Clemson has been on quite a roll. Since losing at Florida State in late September, the Tigers have won six straight by an average margin of 25.2 points.
No. 13 Oklahoma at No. 35 West Virginia
This was expected to be one of the marquee games in the Big 12 this season. But that was before we knew just how bad West Virginia would be at preventing their opponents from gaining yards and scoring points. In league play, the Mountaineers are giving up an average of 517.8 yards and 51.0 points per game.
No. 80 California at No. 15 Oregon State
Cal’s season will come to an end this Saturday in Corvallis. The question is: Will this also be the end of the Jeff Tedford era?
Oregon State 31–17
No. 21 USC at No. 16 UCLA
USC has been arguably the most disappointing team in the nation in 2012. UCLA has been one of the biggest surprises. The result: UCLA is one-half game up on its cross-town rival in the Pac-12 South and controls its own destiny to play in the league title game.
No. 65 Minnesota at No. 17 Nebraska
Here’s an odd stat about Minnesota. The Gophers have scored either 13 points or 17 points in six of their last seven games. The exception was in a 44–28 win over Purdue three weeks ago.
No. 74 Iowa at No. 19 Michigan
Iowa is trying to avoid its first five-game losing streak since 2000, when Kirk Ferentz’s second Hawkeye team opened the season 0–5 en route to a 3–9 season.
No. 48 Utah State at No. 20 Louisiana Tech
It’s the game of the year in the WAC. Louisiana Tech has received more national pub, but Utah State is having an outstanding season as well. The Aggies are 8–2, with a two-point loss to Wisconsin and a three-point loss to BYU.
Utah State 31–27
No. 22 Texas Tech at No. 27 Oklahoma State
These two teams have something in common: They both struggled to beat Kansas. The Cowboys topped KU 20–14 in Lawrence in mid-October. Last week, Texas Tech needed double-overtime to beat Kansas 41–34 in Lubbock.
Oklahoma State 34–30
No. 23 Arizona at No. 63 Utah
This is a huge game for a Utah program that needs two wins to become bowl-eligible for a 10th-straight season. The Utes are 4–1 at home with the only loss coming by 10 points to USC. Arizona, however, has too much firepower.
No. 26 Rutgers at No. 37 Cincinnati
Rutgers coach Kyle Flood has to be a bit concerned about his team’s performance of late. The Knights lost at home to Kent State two weeks ago and then struggled with Army this past weekend. Rutgers was outgained 337-to-252 and didn’t hold its first lead until midway through the fourth quarter.
No. 46 Arkansas at No. 28 Mississippi State
There’s one stat that best illustrates Arkansas’ struggles in 2012. And it’s quite simple: The Razorbacks aren’t scoring enough touchdowns. Last year, with Bobby Petrino calling the plays, Arkansas scored 32 touchdowns in eight SEC games. This year, the Hogs have scored 16 touchdowns in six league games.
Mississippi State 31–24
No. 29 Washington at No. 100 Colorado
Colorado’s defense has been unbelievably bad over the past five games. The Buffs have given up 51, 50, 70, 48 and 56 points in consecutive weeks.
No. 71 Indiana at No. 31 Penn State
Indiana must bounce back from a sobering 62–14 loss at home to Wisconsin. The Hoosiers can still become bowl-eligible but must beat Penn State and Purdue on the road. That’s not likely to happen.
Penn State 37–27
No. 32 Northwestern at No. 33 Michigan State
Northwestern is 7–3 overall and has had double-digit leads in the second half of all three losses — at Penn State, vs. Nebraska and at Michigan. This team could easily be in the thick of the Legends Division race.
No. 52 Tennessee at No. 34 Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt, 4–3 in the SEC, has won more than two league games for only the third time since the league expanded to 12 teams in 1992. With a win on Saturday, the Commodores will have a winning SEC record for the first time since 1982.
No. 36 Iowa State at No. 87 Kansas
Kansas has yet to beat an FBS team in 2012, but the Jayhawks have been relatively competitive — at least for a bad team. They lost by 14 to TCU, by seven at Northern Illinois, by six to Oklahoma State, by four to Texas and by seven in double-overtime at Texas Tech.
No. 101 Washington State at 39 Arizona State
Arizona State was once 3–0 in the Pac-12. Now, the Sun Devils are 3–4. The problem? Defense. ASU gave up 17 points or fewer in its first three league games but has allowed 36 or more in each of its four losses.
Arizona State 34–17
No. 41 Syracuse at No. 51 Missouri
Missouri won its first SEC road game last week — 51–48 in four overtimes at Tennessee — despite giving up 432 passing yards. That has to be a concern for Gary Pinkel and his staff. Syracuse has been on a roll offensively.
No. 112 Colorado State at No. 43 Boise State
Boise State can secure no worse than a tie for the Mountain West title in its last season in the league by beating Colorado State this week and struggling Nevada in Reno the following week. For the Broncos to win the title outright, San Diego State will have to lose at Wyoming next week.
Boise State 38–10
No. 55 Duke at No. 60 Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets rushed for 380 yards and seven touchdowns and threw for 208 yards and one score (on only seven completions) in a 68–50 win at North Carolina on Saturday. This is not a good matchup for a Duke team that ranks 85th in the nation in rushing defense and has given up an average of 43.8 points in its last four games.
Georgia Tech 44–30
No. 77 South Florida at No. 45 Miami (Fla.)
South Florida snapped a six-game losing streak by beating UConn 13–6 last week at home. The Bulls need to win their final three games to become bowl eligible. Not going to happen.
No. 59 UCF at 47 Tulsa
These two teams likely will meet again in the Conference USA title game in a few weeks, with the winner serving as the host. Neither team has lost to a non-AQ conference opponent in 2012.
No. 50 Kent State at No. 76 Bowling Green
It’s a huge game in the MAC East between 6–0 Kent State and 5–1 Bowling Green. Kent will clinch a spot in the league title game with a win; Bowling Green would still need to beat Buffalo next week to secure a trip to Detroit.
Kent State 34–24
No. 54 Virginia Tech at No. 93 Boston College
This figures to be the final home game for Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani, who has been on the Eagles’ staff since 1997. BC is 2¬–8 overall and 1–5 in the ACC.
Virginia Tech 23–13
No. 57 BYU at No. 64 San Jose State
San Jose State is 8–2 overall and ranks second or third in the WAC in every key offensive and defensive statistic. It’s a bit of a surprise that the Spartans are a 3-point underdog at home.
San Jose State 28–21
No. 66 Arkansas State at No. 82 Troy
Things are clicking for Gus Malzahn’s offense in the latter half of the season. The Red Wolves have won five straight and are averaging 40.4 points during that span.
Arkansas State 47–30
No. 105 North Texas at No. 67 ULM
ULM played its way into the national spotlight in September by beating Arkansas and losing by three to Auburn and by five to Baylor. But the Warhawks have fallen on hard times, with consecutive losses to UL Lafayette and Arkansas State. The once-explosive offense has struggled since quarterback Kolton Browning went down with an injury against UL Lafayette.
No. 69 Middle Tennessee at No. 122 South Alabama
Middle Tennessee needs to win its next two games — at South Alabama and vs. Troy — to set up a winner-take-all Sun Belt showdown at Arkansas State on Dec. 1.
Middle Tennessee 37–10
No. 111 Texas State at No. 70 Navy
Texas State scored 55 points and rolled up 577 yards of offense last week in a seven-point loss to Louisiana Tech. Not bad for a team in its first season in the FBS ranks.
No. 72 Purdue at No. 99 Illinois
Illinois ranks last in the Big Ten in total offense in league play, averaging only 267.0 yards per game and 4.07 yards per play. Last week, the Fighting Illinois lost at home to Minnesota 17–3.
No. 85 Western Kentucky at No. 75 UL-Lafayette
Western Kentucky has played its way out of the Sun Belt race. After opening the conference slate with quality wins at Arkansas State and Troy, the Hilltoppers have lost three of four, including two at home (Middle Tennessee and FAU).
Alabama A&M at No. 78 Auburn
Alabama A&M is 7–3 overall but plays in one of the weakest FCS leagues (SWAC). Auburn should roll with ease.
No. 81 East Carolina at No. 115 Tulane
East Carolina still has an outside shot at the MAC East title. The Pirates must beat Tulane and Marshall and hope UCF loses at Tulsa (possible) and at home vs. UAB (not likely).
East Carolina 41–24
No. 86 Temple at No. 110 Army
Temple’s offensive woes continued last week at home vs. Cincinnati. The Owls recorded only 267 yards of offense in a 34–10 loss. They have failed to score more than 17 points in each of their last five games.
No. 88 SMU at No. 96 Rice
Garrett Gilbert, the former Texas Longhorn and one-time prep All-American, has thrown 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions
in his first season at SMU. He ranks 10th in C-USA in passing efficiency.
No. 89 Nevada at No. 108 New Mexico
Nevada’s slump continues. The Wolf Pack lost their third-straight game last weekend, dropping a 52–36 decision at home to Fresno State. The offense has done its part, scoring 31 points or more in all three losses. The defense, however, has not cooperated. The Pack rank 91st nationally in total defense and 101st in scoring defense.
No. 118 Eastern Michigan at No. 90 Western Michigan
After breaking through with a 4–4 record last fall, Eastern Michigan is staring at a winless MAC season. The Eagles are 0–6 with a trip to Western Michigan and a home date with Northern Illinois. Ron English could be in trouble.
Western Michigan 31–20
Samford at No. 91 Kentucky
Joker Phillips will coach his last game in Lexington on Saturday against Samford. It will be an emotional day for a man who has spent the majority of his adult life at the University of Kentucky. The Franklin, Ky., native played for the Cats from 1981-84 and served on the UK staff in some capacity for 19 of his 25 years in coaching.
No. 94 Houston at No. 92 Marshall
It’s safe to say that Tony Levine’s first season as a head coach has not gone well. Houston is 4–6 overall and 3–3 in C-USA — one season after winning 13 games.
No. 114 Memphis at No. 97 UAB
Neither team has won many games this season, but it’s clear that both UAB and Memphis have improved under the direction of their first-year coaches — Garrick McGee (UAB) and Justin Fuente (Memphis).
No. 102 Buffalo at No. 119 UMass
UMass broke through with its first victory of the season last week, holding on to beat Akron 22–14 on the road. With home games remaining against Buffalo and Central Michgan, the Minutemen have an opportunity to end the season on a three-game winning streak.
No. 98 Miami (Ohio) at No. 106 Central Michigan
Central Michigan tailback Zurlon Tipton has rushed for 100 yards or more in four straight games, highlighted by a 243-yard, three-touchdown effort against Akron three weeks ago.
Central Michigan 34–28
No. 103 Wyoming at No. 113 UNLV
Wyoming is 2–0 since Dave Christensen’s return from his one-game suspension for calling Air Force coach Troy Calhoun a “flyboy” — among (many) other things.
No. 104 UTEP at No. 117 Southern Miss
Southern Miss has two more opportunities to pick up its first win of the Ellis Johnson era. The Golden Eagles are a 3.5-point dog at home this week and then travel to Memphis for the finale next weekend.
No. 116 UTSA at No. 123 Idaho
Idaho is limping to the finish line under interim head coach Jason Gesser. The Vandals rank last in the nation in scoring offense (15.4 ppg) and 118th in scoring defense (43.0 ppg).
Last week: 41–12