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Games to Watch - Week 10
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Saturday's Winners - Season Package
Saturday - Alabama at LSU (CBS, 8:00 p.m. ET)
Matchup Skinny
Alabama at LSU
This was last year's "Game of the Century" and it was an exhilarating overtime game that saw no touchdowns and five field goals as LSU went into Tuscaloosa and beat Alabama 9-6. And since it wasn't boring enough the first time they made us suffer through the "Game of the Century II" for the National Championship. That one was actually an offensive explosion as Alabama beat The Tigers 21-0 in a game in which LSU looked amazingly under prepared, somehow seemed to lack focus and motivation, and couldn't even cross midfield, much less the goal line. With that being said these were clearly the two best teams in football last year and this year opened with them as the number 1 and 2 preseason ranked teams again. Alabama has held up their end of the ranking by dominating everyone they have lined up against; beating teams by an average of 32 points per game and trailing for a total of 15 seconds the entire year. They are the clear cut number one team in the country giving up an NCAA best 8.1 points per game, throwing zero interceptions this year on offense and to top it off have arguably the best coach in the country in Nick Saban. LSU meanwhile hasn't been quite as impressive in 2012. While there's no shame in their loss to Florida earlier this year, they just aren't as sharp on either side of the ball this season. They are ranked 9th in total defense and while that is obviously still impressive they have been almost non-existent at times on offense behind QB Zach Mettenberger. That will need to change in a hurry if they are to have any chance against 'Bama Saturday night. The one major advantage LSU will have is the fact that this game is being played in Death Valley…at night. Simply put, it's the hardest place to play in the country right now. LSU is riding a nation-leading 22-game home winning streak, having won 48 of its 54 home games under Les Miles, including a 24-21 home win over 'Bama in 2010. In fact Alabama is just 2-3 on LSU's home field in the past decade after winning 9 straight in Baton Rouge prior to that. With all that said, Alabama is still an early 8-point road favorite over LSU. These two teams aren't thinking about the point spread though because the winner in this game controls their own destiny in the SEC West. A 'Bama win all but assures them a spot in the SEC title game and most likely the National Championship game. An LSU win puts them in very good position to return the SEC title game and right back into the National Championship debate as well as arguably the best one loss team in the country at that point. Personally, I just want to see if they can combine to score more points than the World Series game.
Saturday - Oregon at USC (FOX, 7:00 p.m. ET)
Matchup Skinny
Oregon at USC
This was actually dubbed the "West Coast Game of the Century" before the season started and then USC went out and lost not once, but twice. It's still a very big game in the grand scheme of things, but definitely has lost a lot of its early season luster. Now this game is entirely about the Oregon Ducks and if they can keep their perfect season alive while playing a tough conference road game. If the 2000 St. Louis Rams team was "The Greatest Show on Turf" then the 2012 Oregon Ducks team is "The Greatest Show on College Turf." If you haven't watched the 2012 Oregon team play, man are you in for a treat. They aren't doing it with gimmicks, or flashy uniforms, or smoke and mirrors; they simply line up and beat the crap out of you with pure speed and talent. Some people believe they are the best team in the country (myself included). They are a three-headed rushing monster on offense with Kenjon Barner, De'Anthony Thomas and quarterback Marcus Mariota that literally scores at will averaging 53.4 points per game, which leads the country. And they do most of that in just over a half because their starters have rarely played more than 2.5 quarters this season. Like Alabama, they are beating bad teams, badly, and good ones too. Prior to the Colorado game Oregon had scored 234 points in the first half of their games this season. That 33.4 average is more than 86 FBS teams average for an entire game. And then all they did against Colorado was put up 56 by halftime before ending the game with 70. But here's the twist…they also play defense. No, they aren't the '85 Bears, or even the '12 Crimson Tide, but they have slowed down some very high profile offenses already this season. Allowing a mere 19.4 points per game, which is very impressive when you consider the late game trash touchdowns put up against them this year due to the lopsided scores late in games. However USC, while struggling this year with two losses, is by far the best team they have or will face all season. And despite all of the impressive numbers listed above about The Ducks and the two losses the Trojans have suffered, Oregon is still only a 6-point road favorite at the Coliseum this Saturday night. This is also the same USC team that went into Eugene and pulled out a 38-35 win over Oregon last year. The bottom line is that Matt Barkley and company aren't just going to roll over for Oregon; this is going to be a game that Oregon is going to have to play all four quarter if they want to stay undefeated. If the Ducks let up at all, they might find themselves out of the hunt for the National Championship; however if Oregon can somehow steamroll USC the way they have done everyone else in their path so far this season they may just assure themselves a spot in National Championship game and show the rest of the country they are in fact the most talented team in the country from top to bottom.
Saturday - Texas A&M at Mississippi State (12:00 p.m. ET)
Matchup Skinny
Texas A&M at Mississippi State
While this game will most likely become a new SEC West rivalry for each school (reasons of which I will get to shortly), these two schools have only met five times prior to this week with Mississippi State holding a 3-2 edge. The last time they met was in the 2001 Independence Bowl, a.k.a. the snow bowl, where The Bulldogs won 43-41 in overtime. Apparently someone at MSU thought people would not only remember that game but care about it as well, because they are dubbing this game the "Snow Bowl reunion" and from what I understand Mississippi State will wear white as they did back in 2001 to "commemorate" that victory. As for the future rivalry between these two teams? Well, these two schools are very similar on many levels; both schools were founded as Agriculture and Engineering as their prominent focus. Mississippi State's original name was The Agricultural and Mechanical College of the State of Mississippi. That's the same A&M that is used by Texas A&M today. Both schools have "military" ties; both schools have a dog as a mascot; and of course both schools sport the ever popular Maroon and White school colors. But more importantly, both teams are desperately trying to be taken seriously in the SEC. The point being that a rivalry between the two schools is almost inevitable. As far as this year's game goes, The Aggies are coming in off an absolute dismantling of Auburn; however they are 0-2 against the two ranked SEC teams they have faced this year in LSU and Florida, and both of those were at home, and they still have to travel to Alabama next week. Just ask Mississippi State how well that plays out. The Bulldogs went into Tuscaloosa 7-0 and got absolutely manhandled 38-7 by the Tide. That being said these are two good football teams with good head coaches and a solid future ahead of them, but like it or not they are still second tier SEC schools trying to make it to the big boy table with Bama, LSU, Florida and Georgia. The winner won't get invited anytime soon, but in order to take the next step in the SEC you have to be able to beat the teams on your level first. The Aggies apparently are getting a little more respect than the Bulldogs at this point though as A&M is a 3-point SEC road favorite in Starkville this weekend.
Saturday - Texas at Texas Tech (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Matchup Skinny
Texas at Texas Tech
If you're the sentimental type this might be a good game for you to watch as this very well may be the final nail in the Mack Brown era if they go into Lubbock and get embarrassed. Or maybe not? Mack's job is probably safe no matter what happens this weekend or even the rest of this season for that matter as he has built up quite a resume there and goodwill with the powers that be down in Texas. However after another beat down at the hands of OU and then looking all kinds of pathetic against an abysmal Kansas team this past weekend the fan base in Austin is getting very frustrated. The fact that Texas is still ranked in the coaches' poll just shows that coaches shouldn't have a poll in the first place. Texas Tech meanwhile is playing its 5th straight ranked opponent, losing badly to Kansas State and Oklahoma and beating West Virginia and TCU (in triple overtime). While the defense was the early story for The Red Raiders, that is no longer the case now that they have faced real competition the last month. The one thing that has remained constant though is the phenomenal play by QB Seth Doege who has put a staggering 2,540 passing yards and 30 touchdowns through seven games. And with a Texas defense coming to Lubbock on Saturday that simply can't stop the pass (or run for that matter), those numbers will only increase by the end of Saturday afternoon. Both teams are actually 5-2 and Texas Tech is perhaps surprisingly a small 3.5-point home favorite, but neither team plays defense very well so look for another high scoring Big 12 game.

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