By Stewart Mandel
November 29, 2012
College Football Pickoff: Week 14
Thursday, Nov. 29
7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) Louisville (9-2) at Rutgers (9-2)
Welcome to the de facto Big East championship game -- or, as it will be known in 2014, an ACC-Big Ten matchup. On one sideline, there's Louisville's Charlie Strong, one of the hottest coaches in the country. On the other, there's Rutgers' Kyle Flood, the school's $750,000-a-year, 11th-hour hire last January. Watch Flood do what Greg Schiano could not and lead the Scarlet Knights to the BCS.
Friday, Nov. 30
7 p.m. ET (ESPN2) No. 18 Kent State (11-1) vs. No. 19 Northern Illinois (11-1)
#MACtion has never had stakes quite like this. Kent State could be heading to the BCS with a win. Both teams boast explosive offenses, but NIU is far more competent on defense, ranking 16th nationally (4.7 yards per play), compared with 72nd for the Golden Flashes (5.7). Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch, the Johnny Football of the MAC, will bust Kent State's BCS dreams.
8 p.m. ET (FOX) No. 17 UCLA (9-3) at No. 8 Stanford (10-2)
Though the teams just played six days ago, don't expect a carbon copy of last week's 35-17 Stanford win. Both teams will make adjustments. In particular, expect UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone to have some wrinkles in store to attack Stanford's defense. But the Bruins' defense simply isn't good enough to slow down Kevin Hogan and Stepfan Taylor.
Saturday, Dec. 1
4 p.m. ET (CBS) No. 2 Alabama (11-1) vs. No. 3 Georgia (11-1)
Georgia has the more talented, seasoned defense and the more explosive skill players. Quarterback Aaron Murray is the nation's leading passer. And Alabama has certainly looked mortal lately. But with Georgia, I can't get the memory of that 35-7 (very nearly 35-0) result at South Carolina on Oct. 6 out of my head. It keeps me from pulling the trigger on the upset pick.
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 23 Texas (8-3) at No. 7 Kansas State (10-1)
While Texas could really use this one to salvage its season, it's tough to be the team that runs into Bill Snyder and Collin Klein when they've had two weeks to stew over their inexplicable Nov. 17 blowout loss at Baylor. 'Horns quarterback Case McCoy has been solid in spurts, but he may be in over his head against a top-10 foe. Klein could make one last Heisman push.
Noon ET (ESPN) No. 12 Oklahoma (9-2) at TCU (7-4)
The Sooners are playing for a BCS berth (unless Kent State screws it up for them) and at least a share of the Big 12 championship. Quarterback Landry Jones has been on fire, throwing for more than 1,000 yards in the past two weeks alone. He won't put up those kinds of numbers against the Horned Frogs' stout defense, but TCU doesn't have enough offense to keep up.
8:17 p.m. ET (FOX) No. 14 Nebraska (10-2) vs. Wisconsin (7-5)
The first game between these two, a 30-27 Huskers win on Sept. 29, featured two seemingly evenly matched teams. Then Nebraska got blown out by Ohio State the following week. But the Huskers have won six straight since, with quarterback Taylor Martinez playing the best ball of his career, while the Badgers' offense continues to struggle. Nebraska will leave Indy with roses.
8 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 13 Florida State (10-2) vs. Georgia Tech (6-6)
Poor Georgia Tech. It didn't ask for this. It could have taken its mediocre season straight to the Belk Bowl, but no, Miami had to self-impose sanctions two weeks before the ACC title game and leave the Jackets to deal with Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel. The Jackets' best hope is that a deflated FSU team doesn't properly prepare for the triple-option, but realistically, the 'Noles should cruise.
Noon ET (ESPN2) UCF (9-3) at Tulsa (9-3)
Strange things are afoot at Tulsa. First, the Golden Hurricane's unbeaten conference mark was snapped with a thumping at the hands of 5-6 SMU. Then came the news that Tulsa's athletic director, Ross Parmley, has been linked to a criminal gambling investigation. (He has been placed on leave.) The Knights came up just short, 23-21, in their Nov. 17 visit to Tulsa. They'll get it done this time.
Saturday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2) Pittsburgh (5-6) at South Florida (3-8)
It's been the ultimate roller-coaster season for Pitt, from its opening week loss to Youngstown State to its near-upset at Notre Dame. And the Panthers followed up their loss at 3-6 UConn two weeks ago with a 27-6 rout of 9-1 Rutgers. All things considered, it seems morbidly fitting that such a season would end with Pitt turning around and losing on the road to a three-win team using a third-string quarterback.
Record Last Week: 6-4               Record This Season: 77-53

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