By Stewart Mandel
November 19, 2010
College Football Pickoff: Week 12
Friday, Nov. 19
9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2) Fresno State (6-3) at No. 3 Boise State (9-0)
The Bulldogs are coming off a heartbreaking 35-34 home loss to Nevada and must now go on the road six nights later to face another ranked foe. And while coach Chris Petersen would never say it, Boise knows what could be at stake in a couple of weeks and that every style point helps. This feels like a 300-yard, four-touchdown kind of game for Broncos quarterback Kellen Moore.
Saturday, Nov. 20
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 8 Ohio State (9-1) at No. 21 Iowa (7-3)
Forget Iowa's near-miss at Indiana and loss at Northwestern the past two weeks. We've seen what the Hawkeyes are capable of at home (a 37-6 rout of then-8-0 Michigan State, for example). The single biggest question going into this game: Do you trust Terrelle Pryor to deliver in a big game on the road? Sadly, nearly three years into Pryor's Ohio State career, my answer is still no.
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 9 Nebraska (9-1) at No. 18 Texas A&M (7-3)
Aggies quarterback Ryan Tannehill would rank among the top 20 nationally in pass efficiency if he had enough attempts to qualify. Saturday, however, he runs into the nation's top pass efficiency defense, led by shutdown corner Prince Amukamara, who's allowed 11 completions in 10 games. The more productive passer at Kyle Field might be healthy Huskers freshman Taylor Martinez.
7 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 13 Arkansas (8-2) at No. 22 Mississippi State (7-3)
The Razorbacks have rolled off four straight wins, scoring at least 38 points in each. Their offense hasn't missed a beat despite losing top receiver Greg Childs. Mississippi State is a decent defensive team, but not good enough to slow down Ryan Mallett, and the Bulldogs' offense can't keep pace. It should be another big road win for Arkansas.
3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 14 Virginia Tech (8-2) at No. 24 Miami (7-3)
The 'Canes offense has been clicking ever since freshman quarterback Stephen Morris took over. And this is not your typically stingy Virginia Tech defense. The Hokies will look to run the ball and turn this into a low-scoring game, but Miami's defense is good enough to keep Tyrod Taylor from exploding. Expect 'Canes wideout Leonard Hankerson to make some decisive plays.
Noon (ESPN) No. 6 Wisconsin (9-1) at Michigan (7-3)
The Badgers have been as impressive as anyone over the past month, including flexing their muscles in last week's 83-20 demolition of Indiana. Their defense is not so dominant that Michigan star Denard Robinson won't do some damage -- but the Wolverines are hopeless on defense, and Badgers quarterback Scott Tolzien figures to pick them apart in the red zone.
3:30 ET (FSN) No. 7 Stanford (9-1) at Cal (5-5)
We're coming off a week in which Cal very nearly knocked off No. 1 Oregon and Stanford barely escaped against 4-6 Arizona State. So certainly the upset potential is there. But the Bears have been so wildly inconsistent this season, it's hard to imagine their defense giving another dominant performance. Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck will have another solid game to take back the Axe.
8 p.m. ET (ESPN2) No. 16 Oklahoma (8-2) at Baylor (7-4)
The Sooners' recent road struggles -- in particular those of quarterback Landry Jones (1-5 since last season) -- have become such a pervasive story in Oklahoma that I have to think Jones is due for a breakout performance. Going up against the nation's 108th-ranked pass defense should help. Baylor's Robert Griffin III (a.k.a. RG3) will have a decent day, too, but the Bears have hit their ceiling.
8 p.m. ET (ABC) Florida Sate (7-3) at Maryland (7-3)
The Terps have put themselves in contention for a division title with a 4-2 ACC record, and they finish the season with consecutive home games against fellow contenders FSU and N.C. State. That they've gotten this far with an extremely inexperienced offense is impressive. They'll rely on their defense to keep them in this one, with quarterback Danny O'Brien making some plays at the end.
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 20 USC (7-3) at Oregon State (4-5)
UPSET SPECIAL: Call me naïve, but I refuse to believe the Beavers, even without James Rodgers, have packed it up for the season despite what consecutive losses to UCLA and Washington State would indicate. The defense is kind of hopeless, but expect a more inspired effort from Ryan Katz and Jacquizz Rodgers against the Trojans, who had undefeated records ruined in their last two trips to Corvallis.
Record Last Week: 7-3               Record This Season: 79-31

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