By Stewart Mandel
December 04, 2009
College Football Week 14
Saturday, Dec. 5
4 p.m. ET (CBS) No. 1 Florida (12-0) vs. No. 2 Alabama (12-0)
With two teams that allow an average of 20.6 points per game -- combined -- it's hard to imagine this being anything but a defensive stalemate. And in a close, low-scoring game, turnovers and costly sacks can make all the difference. For those reasons, I give a slight edge to Alabama, which has allowed half as many sacks (14) as Florida (28) while ranking third nationally in turnovers lost (10, five fewer than the Gators).
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 3 Texas (12-0) vs. No. 21 Nebraska (9-3)
Some interesting nuggets from Texas' p.r. machine: Colt McCoy has registered six higher passing-yard games than Tim Tebow's best, as well as four higher total offense games. Mark Ingram, meanwhile, has only delivered one higher rushing game than McCoy's 175-yard night against Texas A&M. (Toby Gerhart has notched four.) If the Texas star manages another 300-plus yard night against Ndamukong Suh and the Huskers' 11th-ranked defense, get ready to engrave the statue.
Noon ET (ABC) No. 5 Cincinnati (11-0) at No. 14 Pittsburgh (9-2)
In what could be Brian Kelly's swan song at Cincinnati, look for the Bearcats to attempt a more balanced attack than usual to keep the Panthers' disruptive pass-rushers at bay. The bigger key, however, will be whether Cincy's oft-exposed defense can handle a physical runner like Pittsburgh's Dion Lewis (131.4 yards per game). If the Bearcats can limit Lewis to short runs and force punts, Cincy quarterback Tony Pike will have more chances to deliver scores.
8 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 12 Georgia Tech (10-2) vs. No. 25 Clemson (8-4)
With both teams coming off losses to SEC rivals, the only certainty is that neither defense is qualified to slow down the other's offense. The last time these squads met (a dramatic 30-27 Yellow Jackets victory on Sept. 10) quarterback Josh Nesbitt had an awful passing night before completing a 39-yarder to set up the winning kick. Expect Nesbitt to come out clicking this time. Clemson's C.J. Spiller may have a big game too, but Tech simply has more weapons.
Noon ET (ESPN2) No. 18 Houston (10-2) at East Carolina (8-4)
Cougars, beware. East Carolina comes in on a three-game winning streak, and the Pirates' only home loss this season came against Virginia Tech. Houston puts up points on everyone, but its defense has allowed 35 or more in four of its six road games. Fortunately for the Cougars, ECU is not an offensively prolific team, and the only way anyone's been able to handle Houston is by scoring a boatload of points. Expect one last belated Heisman effort from Case Keenum.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC) Arizona (7-4) at No. 20 USC (8-3)
If the Trojans are done practicing their garbage-time touchdown bombs, they'll want to turn their attention to slowing down Wildcats quarterback Nick Foles, who could cause problems for USC's surprisingly suspect secondary. But Arizona has averaged just 18 points in its past two road games (at Cal and Arizona State), and its pass defense is no better off than USC's. As long as Trojans freshman Matt Barkely doesn't throw picks, USC should be OK.
Noon ET (ESPN) No. 24 West Virginia (8-3) at Rutgers (8-3)
In order to wrap up that anticipated Gator Bowl date with Florida State, the Mountaineers need to handle Rutgers ... and that's no sure thing. It will be hard for West Virginia to avoid a letdown coming off last week's Backyard Brawl upset of Pittsburgh, while the Scarlet Knights must win to avoid spending New Year's in Canada. Look for a big game from Rutgers' freshman quarterback Tom Savage and a defensive effort just good enough to slow down Noel Devine.
8 p.m. ET (ESPN2) USF (7-4) at Connecticut (6-5)
USF coach Jim Leavitt made clear how he feels about the ACC Championship Game taking over his team's Tampa home stadium the past two seasons. "There's no way we would have gone to West Virginia and UConn the last game, probably," he lamented. Sorry you might have to shiver a little bit, coach. But would it really matter when these games were played? The Bulls are 1-5 in Big East road games since last season.
11:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2) Wisconsin (9-3) at Hawaii (6-6)
This game has huge bowl implications for the Badgers (to assure an Outback Bowl berth), the Warriors (to go bowling, period) .. and for Notre Dame (which needs a Hawaii loss to create an available at-large spot for a 6-6 team). Hawaii has rolled off an impressive four-game win streak following a 2-6 start, but its only previous BCS-conference foe was Washington State. John Clay and the Badgers should run over the Warriors' defense.
Saturday, Dec. 12
2:30 p.m. ET (CBS) Navy (8-4) vs. Army (5-6)
One of the sport's great rivalries gets a day to itself next week, which should allow more viewers to enjoy the intensity, pageantry and emotion of a game where, no matter who wins, the two teams stand together in unity afterward while the bands play their respective alma maters. The Black Knights have improved under first-year coach Rich Ellerson, but they're not yet ready to end Navy's seven-game winning streak in the series.
Record Last Week: 8-2               Overall: 76-54

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