By Stewart Mandel
November 20, 2009
College Football Week 12
Saturday, November 21
Noon ET (ABC) No. 9 Ohio State (9-2) at Michigan (5-6)
Hard to believe these ancient rivals met as the No. 1 and 2 teams in the country just three years ago. Remember the ABC/ESPN countdown clock? I heard there's going to be another one this year. It's sitting in the Michigan locker room and it's counting down the minutes until the merciful moment when another dreadful Rich Rodriguez season ends. Unofficially, I figure that end will come sometime around the middle of the second quarter.
3:30 p.m. ET (CBS) No. 10 LSU (8-2) at Ole Miss (7-3)
The Rebels' offense has heated up in recent weeks thanks to an increased role for RB/WR Dexter McCluster. He's had at least 26 touches in each of Ole Miss' last three SEC games and averaged a staggering 262.0 all-purpose yards. He'll run into tougher resistance against the Tigers' 21st-ranked defense; however, LSU's injury-depleted offense, even with QB Jordan Jefferson back at the helm, will likely struggle to keep pace.
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 11 Oregon (8-2) at Arizona (6-3)
Both teams still control their own Rose Bowl destinies. After a torrid start, first-year Wildcats QB Nick Foles has cooled off considerably the past few weeks, averaging less than 200 yards passing and tossing four interceptions. He could struggle against Oregon's 12th-ranked pass efficiency defense. Ducks RB LaMichael James, on the other hand, has shown no sign of slowing down, with five straight games of at least 125 yards.
7:30 p.m. ET (Versus) Cal (7-3) at No. 14 Stanford (7-3)
Following lopsided losses to Oregon, USC and Oregon State, the Bears showed signs of life in last week's 24-16 upset of Arizona. In particular, their defense played one of its best games of the season. But the Cardinal are coming off consecutive 50-point outbursts against ranked Pac-10 foes. They should have a much better shot of slowing down Cal's inconsistent offense than the Bears do of containing Andrew Luck and Toby Gerhart.
3:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network) No. 17 Wisconsin (8-2) at Northwestern (7-4)
Wisconsin sophomore John Clay (1,124 yards, 12 TDs) isn't being mentioned alongside elite running backs like Mark Ingram and Toby Gerhart, but here's guessing he will be by this time next year. Clay has quietly averaged 136 yards and scored a combined five touchdowns during the Badgers' three-game winning streak. He gives Wisconsin an advantage against Northwestern, which has struggled to run the ball consistently.
3:30 p.m. ET (CBS College Sports) Air Force (7-4) at No. 19 BYU (8-2)
The Falcons, whose four losses have all come by a touchdown or less and against teams (Minnesota, Navy, TCU and Utah) with a combined 32-10 record -- are probably underrated. The Cougars, with two lopsided losses and a narrow win at 0-10 New Mexico last weekend, are vastly overrated. If the game were at Air Force, this would be a no-brainer Falcons pick, but it's tough to go against BYU at home.
7:45 p.m. ET (ESPN) Kansas State (6-5) at Nebraska (7-3)
Back in the late '90s and early 2000s, the winner of this game often advanced to the Big 12 title game -- and remarkably, that will be the case again this season even with the Wildcats barely hovering above .500. The Huskers' 10th-ranked defense has been suffocating foes all season, and K-State, with its 75th-ranked offense, figures to be the next victim. As long as the Huskers don't turn it over five times (entirely possible), they should be OK.
12:30 p.m. ET (FSN) Oklahoma (6-4) at Texas Tech (6-4)
The last time the Sooners had a "down" season, in 2005, they lost in Lubbock when replay officials declined to overturn a controversial last-second touchdown. (Yes, these things happened prior to 2009.) Oklahoma QB Landry Jones has not fared well in most games played outside of Norman, but the Sooners' sixth-ranked defense seems capable of slowing down a Tech offense that managed just 17 points last week against Oklahoma State.
2:30 p.m. ET (NBC) Connecticut (4-5) at Notre Dame (6-4)
The sharks are circling around Charlie Weis, and a loss here will almost certainly seal his fate. The Huskies' improved offense -- led by former Irish QB Zach Fraser -- has proven capable of exploiting Notre Dame's 83rd-ranked defense. But Jimmy Clausen, Golden Tate and Co. are more likely to rack up yardage against UConn's own mediocre defense (No. 68), even if they wait until the fourth quarter to do it.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 13 Penn State (9-2) at Michigan State (6-5)
Upset Special: The Spartans have a penchant for staging home upsets in the season-ending duel for the Land Grant Trophy. They've won four of the past six meetings in East Lansing, most recently a 35-31 win over the 22nd-ranked Nittany Lions in 2007. Mark Dantonio's team has been inconsistent, but he has a knack for getting the Spartans up for their rivalry games. Look for a big game from QB Kirk Cousins, who's thrown 10 TDs and just one pick in his last five contests.
Record Last Week: 7-3               Overall: 63-47

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