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Games to Watch - Week 13
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Saturday's Winners - Season Package
Notre Dame at Southern California (ABC, 8:00 p.m.)
Matchup Skinny
Notre Dame at Southern California
From South Bend to South Beach? Within about a thirty minute span late Saturday night this game got vaulted to the top of the list. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are officially the top-ranked team in the country for the first time since color TV was invented…or at least shortly thereafter. No more "eye ball" tests needed; a win over USC and the Irish are playing for the National Championship. That loud crash you heard on Saturday night was Rick Reilly's email server by the way. The biggest question in this game is the health of Trojans QB Matt Barkley. It appears he is out for not only this game but has thrown his last pass ever at USC due to an apparent separated shoulder he suffered at the end of the UCLA game. Truth be told, even with Barkley the Trojans weren't nearly what they were advertised this season and now it looks like they will have to go with freshman Max Wittek against the number one scoring defense in the country. Max Wittek, meet Manti Te'o…Good luck with that. This is the 83rd meeting between these two schools and Notre Dame leads the all-time series 43-35-5. While USC won last year and has claimed eight out of the past nine in the series, Notre Dame actually won the last the time they met in The Coliseum, 20-16 in 2010. If the Irish can replicate that outcome they are headed to Miami to face (insert SEC team here) for a chance at their first National Championship in 24 years. Due to the Barkley injury there is no line currently on this game but he Irish will be road favorites and if quarterback Everett Golson and running back Cierre Wood can put points on the board against a very bad USC defense, Manti Te'o and the stout Irish defense should have no trouble stopping a USC offense with Max Wittek at the helm. Then again, Irish fans may want to wait until the game is played before they start making hotel reservations in South Beach…just ask Oregon and Kansas State fans.
Oregon at Oregon State (FOX, 6:30 p.m.)
Matchup Skinny
Oregon at Oregon State
I've said all year I thought Oregon was the best team in the country. Let's just say I'm not quite so convinced anymore. Saturday night was by far the worst Oregon has looked not only this year, but in the past 4 years. With that said I'm not completely convinced they were exposed as some are suggesting. I think it had more to do with the QB Mariota being a true freshman, playing in primetime, a national championship game in their sights and they simply choked under the pressure. They're 18/19/20 year old kids, it happens. And of course playing a very good team in Stanford didn't help. This week they play another quality team with a solid defense in Oregon State, and this one is on the road. If the Ducks offense gets shut down again then they were simply a flashy show for 10 weeks. If they roll through OSU then the Stanford game was simply a fluke. Again, it happens. Either way, this is still a big game for Oregon as they try to keep their now faint National Championship hopes alive as a 10-point road favorite against The Beavers.
South Carolina at Clemson (ESPN, 7:00 p.m.)
Matchup Skinny
South Carolina at Clemson
The Palmetto state rivalry game has always been one of the more underrated nationally. Clemson has the all-time edge at 65-40-4; however The Gamecocks have won the last three, including 34-13 last year in Columbia and none of the games have been close as South Carolina has outscored its rival 97-37. This year they meet with a combined 19-3 record and a possible BCS at-large berth on the line. While both teams have had successful years, you talk about a clash of two different styles of football; this could be the most entertaining game of the entire weekend. Clemson throws for over 330 yards per game and averages 45 points a game, while South Carolina gives up a very stingy 17 points per game. However with the 'Ole Ball Coach on the sideline South Carolina is perfectly capable of keeping up with the Clemson offense if they need to. As a 4-point home favorite Clemson looks to regain interstate supremacy in a rivalry they owned for the better part of 20 years.
Florida at Florida State (ESPN2, 3:30 p.m.)
Matchup Skinny
Florida at Florida State
I know some of you are thinking this game should be higher up on the list and the fact that these two teams are both 10-1 and have a very outside shot at the National Championship would normally make it. However the Florida offense is literally unwatchable and with quarterback Jeff Driskel questionable going up against a Seminole defense that allows 13 points per game this one could be almost unwatchable. Throw in the fact that the Florida defense allows even fewer points per game (12) and the first one to score a touchdown may automatically win. Florida leads the all-time series 33-21-2 but has dropped the last two by scores of 31-7 and 21-7 after winning six in a row. Due to the Driskell injury there is currently no line on the game.
Other Games to Watch
Matchup Skinny
TCU at Texas
TCU at Texas (Thursday) - Despite being blown out of Cotton Bowl stadium by OU earlier in the year and Texas fans calling for Mack Brown's head as little as three weeks ago, Texas still has an outside shot at finishing 10-2 and an at-large BCS bowl berth with a win Thursday night over TCU and an upset over Kansas St the following Saturday. This is a rivalry renewed from the old SWC days although TCU in Austin was just 1-28 all-time with 15 straight losses. Texas is an 8-point Thanksgiving night favorite.
Georgia Tech at Georgia
Georgia Tech at Georgia - Don't look now but all of the sudden the Georgia Bulldogs are two wins away from playing for the National Championship. Granted one of those is against Alabama in the SEC championship game in two weeks but they have to get by their interstate rivals first. As a 14-point home favorite The Dawgs shouldn't have much trouble on paper, but if they sleep on the Yellow Jackets offense for one second that game against Bama may not mean quite as much. UGA leads this Peach State rivalry 62-39-5 all-time, including 10 of the last 11.
Michigan at Ohio State
Michigan at Ohio State - Last year, Michigan, behind first-year coach Brady Hoke, snapped a seven-game losing streak in the series with a 40-34 win in Ann Arbor. This year Urban Meyer gets his first taste of "The Game" as it's known in the Midwest. Ohio State has won the last five meetings in Columbus and come into to this game with a perfect season on the line as well. With no post season allowed for the Buckeye's this is their last game of the season and beating hated Michigan would be the perfect way to cap off a 12-0 start to the Urban Meyer era. And on the flip side, nothing would give the Wolverine faithful greater pleasure than upsetting the hated Buckeyes and wrecking their perfect season. Ohio State opens as a small 6-point home favorite.
Stanford at UCLA
Stanford at UCLA - After pulling off an improbable road win in Eugene over the weekend, The Cardinal now travel to the Rose Bowl with a chance to win the PAC-12 North. Stanford just shut down the prominent Oregon running attack, now they face Jonathan Franklin and a UCLA offense that rushes for over 200 yards per game. This game means much more to Stanford than it does UCLA as UCLA has already wrapped up the PAC-12 South with an impressive victory over USC over the weekend but a Cardinal victory would wrap up the PAC-12 North. A Stanford victory would actually pit these two against each other 6 days later in the PAC-12 Championship with a spot in the Rose Bowl on the line. Stanford is a small 1-point favorite and would love nothing more than to face them in back to back games.
Auburn at Alabama
Auburn at Alabama - The winner of this game has gone on to win the BCS National Championship in each of the last three seasons, and this year that streak may extend to four in a row. Bottom line, Alabama will win this game and win this game with ease as a 31-point favorite, but after what happened last weekend to Kansas State and Oregon this year's Iron Bowl all of the sudden matters again in the big picture.

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