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Games to Watch - Week 12

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Christian Alexander is coming off a scorching 7-0 Saturday! He is finishing the college football season strong (61%, +1612). Stop losing and start winning in Week 12 now!
Saturday's Winners - Season Package
Saturday - Stanford at Oregon (ABC, 8:00 p.m.)
Matchup Skinny
Stanford at Oregon
I've said in this space all year I think Oregon is the best team in the country and they are about to start on a three game stretch (if you count the PAC-12 Championship) that will test that theory. Everyone wants to talk about how good Texas A&M looked in the win at Alabama, and they did. Well guess what…Oregon is Texas A&M on steroids. Marcus Mariota is the West Coast version of Johnny Manziel with a better arm; only no one sees him play because their games start so late. Manziel's overall numbers are slightly better, but Mariota usually shuts it down by the 3rd quarter because Oregon blows out everyone they play. All he did against Cal was throw for 377 yards and six touchdowns. Obviously Cal is a far cry from Alabama but Manziel hasn't played Alabama every week either. One other major difference is that Manziel is doing almost everything himself; meanwhile Mariota shares the back field with two guys that have been mentioned in Heisman discussions all year. Both are obviously phenomenal, and ironically enough both were committed to Oregon originally before Manziel changed his mind and stayed closer to home in a move that has worked out great for both schools. With all that said Oregon still has to beat two, possibly three ranked teams the next three weeks to play for the National Championship. First up this week is Stanford at home. The Ducks have won nine of their last 10 games against the Cardinal, including a 53-30 win last year in Palo Alto. Stanford will be the best defense Oregon has faced all year with some of the best linebackers in the country, but the Cardinal defense hasn't seen anything like the Oregon offense either. The Ducks are averaging 55 points a game and have now scored 40+ points in 13 straight games, a new FBS record, previously held by Texas (2005-06). Stanford does come in off a big win against Oregon State where Kevin Hogan starting in his first ever game completed 22 of 29 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns and RB back Stepfan Taylor rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries for the Cardinal. Those numbers, while impressive and good enough to beat most teams simply won't get it done this week against Oregon. Bottom line…Stanford will have to play a perfect game on defense, offense and special teams to try and upset Oregon, especially in Autzen Stadium where they are huge 24-point road underdog to the mighty Ducks.
Saturday - USC at UCLA (FOX, 3:00 p.m.)
Matchup Skinny
USC at UCLA
This game will decide who wins the PAC-12 South and most likely face Oregon in the PAC-12 Championship. USC has won 12 of the last 13 in the series, including last year's 50-0 beat down at the Coliseum; but UCLA comes into the game ranked higher than USC for the first time in over a decade. UCLA has won four games in a row since a surprising loss at California and is first in the Pac-12 South under head coach Jim Mora. Meanwhile cross-town rival USC who came into the year as the preseason #1 team in the country has underachieved on the field and made headlines for all the wrong reasons off the field. The Trojans are still very talented on offense with QB Matt Barkley and perhaps the best WR in the country in Marqise Lee. If the Bruins are going to beat USC, win the PAC-12 South and keep their surprising season alive they are going to need to keep Lee in check defensively and pound the ball with their sensational freshman RB Johnathan Franklin against a Trojan defense that has shown signs of being vulnerable, especially against the run. Not surprising, but perhaps yet another slap in the face, UCLA is listed as a 3-point home underdog to their cross-town rivals.
Saturday - Kansas State at Baylor (FSN, 8:00 p.m.)
Matchup Skinny
Kansas State at Baylor
A win this weekend clinches the Big 12 title for the Wildcats, however they are thinking bigger picture. After Alabama lost over the weekend all conventional wisdom says that Kansas State controls their own destiny to play for the National Championship and without a Big 12 title game they only have two games remaining. This week they travel to Waco to take on Baylor and two weeks later they are at home against a Texas team that has shown dramatic improvements over the last few weeks. The bad news for Collin Klein and his Heisman hopes is that he only threw for 145 yards and ran for another 50 (including two scores) against TCU. The good news for Klein is that this week he goes up against arguably the worst defense in the country in Baylor. Kansas State should have no trouble putting up points this week, but as OU find out last week, Baylor is capable of hanging around with almost anyone in the country due to their explosive offense. Kansas State was actually outgained 274-260 against TCU, but the defense and special teams once again stepped up with turnovers and solid red zone defense. Kansas State isn't flashy like Oregon and they don't play defense quite as well as Notre Dame, but overall they may be the most "complete" team in the country. Bill Snyder has done more with less than any other coach in the country in my opinion and if they can pull off one more road win this Saturday as a 10-point favorite in Waco they will be one home game away from playing for a National Championship in Miami.
Other Games to Watch
Matchup Skinny
Toledo at Northern Illinois
Toledo at Northern Illinois - Basically if you don't have anything else to do on Wednesday night after you watch Modern Family then you might want to tune in for this one. This is the de facto MAC West semi-final for whatever that's worth. Oh, that doesn't do anything for you? Fair enough, how about this; these two teams combined for 123 points in last year's game, won by NIU 63-60. Look at it another way, come June you would kill to be able to watch this game. NIU opens as a 10.5-point favorite and you can be sure the scoreboard operator will get a good mid-week workout.
Ohio State at Wisconsin
Ohio State at Wisconsin - Last year OSU needed a late Hail Mary from freshman Braxton Miller to Devin Smith for a 33-29 win over the Badgers in Columbus. This year Wisconsin looks to not only get revenge at home but put an end to the Buckeyes perfect season. Wisconsin has already clinched the "Leaders" division due to the fact that half the division is ineligible (including Ohio St) and the other half is terrible. Basically all they had to do this year was show up and they were assured a spot in the Big 10 title game. Miller and the Buckeyes meanwhile still have their eye on a perfect season and if they can get by the Badgers this weekend the only team standing in their way is hated Michigan a week later. On a side note, Urban Meyer can coach…just thought I would throw that out there. Due to Wisconsin QB Joel Stave out for this game there is no early line as of post time.
Oklahoma at West Virginia
Oklahoma at West Virginia - These two teams last met in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl where WVU pulled off a surprising 48-28 upset. Pat White put on a performance for the ages and that game essentially won the late Bill Stewart the head coaching job in Morgantown. Fast forward four years and West Virginia is now just trying to stop a four game conference and overall losing streak after starting the season 5-0 and ranked as high as #5. Now they need to win one of their last three just to be bowl eligible. OU on the other hand still has a very outside shot of winning the Big 12 (with two KSU losses) and possibly even an at-large bid to a BCS game. OU will have no trouble scoring against a Mountaineers defense that allows over 41 points per game so this game will simply come down to whether the WVU offense can put up enough points to hang around. It would take another surprising upset on the Mountaineers part as OU opens as a 10-point road favorite in Morgantown.
Duke at Georgia Tech
Duke at Georgia Tech - Duke is 6-4 (3-3 ACC), Georgia Tech is 5-5 (4-3 ACC); so why is this game on the list? Because this game actually matters as far as which team will represent the ACC Coastal Division in the ACC Championship. Duke actually controls their own destiny at this point with a win Saturday and next week at home against Miami. Basically, welcome to the 2012 version of the ACC. Yes, the same ACC that automatically gets to send a team to a BCS game. Georgia Tech is coming off a 68 point game against North Carolina and Duke ranks 95th in the country in scoring defense, in other words, this game could be higher scoring than when these two teams meet on the hardwood later in the year. In that contest the Blue Devils will probably be favored, however Saturday night the Yellow Jackets are 11.5-point home favorites and may not stop scoring until sometime Sunday.

  
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