GAMES OF THE WEEK

Here are the teams and the themes to follow this week
December 05, 2011

UCLA at NO. 8 OREGON

What we've learned about the Bruins

When the D is bad, it's really bad. In a 50--0 drubbing at USC last Saturday (UCLA's worst loss in the series in 81 years), the Bruins gave up 572 yards. In their six losses they've allowed an average of 472.5 yards.

What we've learned about the Ducks

Darron Thomas is peaking at the right time. He has passed for 570 yards over the last two games (including 305 in a 49--21 win on Saturday against Oregon State) and hasn't thrown a pick since Oct. 29.

What it will mean on Friday

This could get ugly. The only conference team to beat Oregon (USC) is banned from the inaugural Pac-12 title game; the Ducks will meet little resistance from UCLA and will earn a third straight BCS berth.

NO. 1 LSU vs. NO. 12 GEORGIA (in Atlanta)

What we've learned about the Tigers

They don't panic. LSU easily erased a 14-point deficit to Arkansas (the Tigers' largest previous hole had been four points) in a 24-point win. Only a championship-caliber team playing its best will beat LSU.

What we've learned about the Bulldogs

There may not be a hotter team—aside from LSU. Aaron Murray has thrown at least four TDs in three of the last four weeks, and the D has allowed 246.8 yards a game during a 10-game winning streak.

What it will mean on Saturday

A Georgia win would allow the SEC to put three teams in the BCS, with Alabama and LSU in the title game and Georgia in the Sugar. But the way the Tigers are playing, that seems unlikely. LSU wins by double digits.

NO. 13 OKLAHOMA at NO. 3 OKLAHOMA STATE

What we've learned about the Sooners

This isn't the same offense without All-America receiver Ryan Broyles. In nine-plus quarters since Broyles's season-ending knee injury on Nov. 5, QB Landry Jones has thrown one TD and three picks.

What we've learned about the Cowboys

The defense gets criticized for giving up yards in bunches, but it makes up for it by being opportunistic. The unit has recovered 16 fumbles and ranks second in the country in interceptions with 21.

What it will mean on Saturday

Barring some strange occurrences, the BCS title game is not in the cards for Oklahoma State, but look for Brandon Weeden & Co. to end an eight-game losing streak to OU and go to the program's first BCS bowl.

NO. 5 VIRGINIA TECH vs. NO. 21 CLEMSON (in Charlotte)

What we've learned about the Hokies

David Wilson may be the nation's most underappreciated star. Only two runners have more rushing yards than Wilson's 1,595, which is 60 shy of the Hokies' single-season record.

What we've learned about the Tigers

They've come unhinged at the wrong time. After starting 8--0, Clemson has lost three of its last four, and the offense that fueled the fast start has averaged 18.5 points a game in that stretch.

What it will mean on Saturday

The Hokies haven't lost since Oct. 1 (to Clemson), rattling off seven straight wins behind Wilson and QB Logan Thomas. Expect them to feast on the Tigers and give Virginia Tech its fifth ACC title in eight years.

NO. 11 MICHIGAN STATE vs. NO. 15 WISCONSIN (in Indianapolis)

What we've learned about the Spartans

The defense has the ability to bottle up the Badgers' running game. Led by Jerel Worthy, the unit ranks first in the Big Ten against the run and hasn't allowed a back to hit the century mark in five weeks.

What we've learned about the Badgers

Montee Ball (left) has thrust himself into the Heisman conversation. The junior back has averaged 192.2 rushing yards over the last four games and scored 34 touchdowns on the season.

What it will mean on Saturday

Wisconsin is looking for redemption after losing to Michigan State on Oct. 22 on a Hail Mary. Behind Ball, who ran for 115 yards in that loss, the Badgers will get their revenge—and win the first Big Ten title game.

PHOTOJOHN BIEVER

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