Week Twelve: Thursday
Which games should you watch this weekend? What games should you be keeping your eyes on during each time period? We've got it all worked out for you.
The day is divided into five parts. Some are more unequal than others due to the start time of the games. All times are Eastern. The time periods are early games (start time before 2:00), afternoon (start time from 2:15-5:00), late afternoon (start time from 5:15-7:15), evening (start time from 7:30-9:45), and late night (start time after 10:00). The games are ranked by time period and give you a couple of reasons to watch each game, whether it is questions that need to be answered or something else altogether. The games are the games listed on CollegeFootballNews.com as the television games for this weekend. Only Saturday games are included.
Let's get it started!
1. Ohio State at Michigan (1:00 ABC)- 1) This might just be the top rivalry in all of college football. 2) Jim Tressell has gone 3-1 in his four years against Michigan. Given that the reason John Cooper left was because he could never beat Michigan, this is a good sign for him. 3) If Michigan State beats Penn State later on in the day, the winner of this game will get a BCS bid. Ohio State still has a shot to get an at-large bid to the BCS, but the Wolverines must win and hope for a Penn State loss.
2. Oklahoma at Texas Tech (12:00 FSN)- 1) The winner of this game will finish second in the Big Twelve South and help themselves dramatically in the bowl pecking order. 2) Adrian Peterson is back and he's healthy, and the Texas Tech defense is anything but stellar. Throw in Rhett Bomar and his continued development and we might see Oklahoma lay some big points on Texas Tech. Of course, the Red Raiders know how to keep up on the scoreboard themselves with Cody Hodges. 3) Texas Tech needs to beat Oklahoma to prove that they are for real and not a team that beat up on a bunch of teams with bad records. Mike Leach has always struggled against Oklahoma, but this is not the same Sooners of years past. Can they rebound from their bad loss to Oklahoma State?
3. Kentucky at Georgia (12:30 JP/Gameplan)- 1) Georgia wins, they win the SEC East. Georgia loses, South Carolina wins the SEC East. Doesn't get much more important than that. 2) Rafael Little is the nation's leader in All-Purpose yards. Bet you didn't know that. Can he throw a scare into the Georgia defense and special teams? 3) Georgia has lost two in a row. Where is there confidence? Kentucky has won two out of three. Where is there confidence? There is reason to believe that Kentucky will be sky high and Georgia will not be. Georgia should win this game in a romp, but if Kentucky can get off to a good start, they have a chance to keep the good vibes going.
4. Minnesota at Iowa (12:00 ESPN2)- 1) The Floyd of Rosedale Trophy is about to be awarded. Don't you want to see that? 2) Iowa has been playing much better down the stretch. They always seem to catch a few breaks at home. They certainly would like Drew Tate and the offense to catch fire as they try to help their bowl destination be a little sunnier. 3) Laurence Maroney is one of the best running backs in the country. Coming back from the ankle injury, he hopes to have a monster effort against the Hawkeyes defense.
5. Virginia Tech at Virginia (12:00 ESPN)- 1) It is a very bitter rivalry and Virginia is holding out hope that they can still win the ACC Coastal. They must win out (Virginia Tech and Miami) and hope that Miami loses to Georgia Tech and that North Carolina beats Virginia Tech. It's a longshot. Virginia Tech wins the Coastal by winning out and hoping that someone beats Miami. 2) Marcus Vick and Marques Hagans are two of the more exciting quarterbacks in college football when they are playing well. 3) Where will Virginia Tech's head be after their twenty point loss to Miami just two weeks ago?
6. Boston College at Maryland (12:00 JP/Gameplan)- 1) Maryland needs one more win to become bowl eligible. Next week's game at North Carolina State will be anything but an easy place to get a sixth win. 2) Mathias Kiwanuka is one of the best defensive players in the country when he is healthy. He hasn't been healthy much this year. This is the last chance to see him play before a bowl game. 3) Sam Hollenbach has been a solid quarterback for the Terps this season. He has gotten the job done.
7. Vanderbilt at Tennessee (12:30 JP/Gameplan)- 1) The Vols have to win their last two games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky to become bowl eligible. Not exactly what the Vols had in mind when they started this season. 2) This is your last chance to see Jay Cutler in college. He has been a tremendous quarterback that has often gone overlooked at Vanderbilt. 3) The Vols haven't lost to the 'Dores since 1982. This may be one of Vanderbilt's best chances to end that streak.
8. Northwestern at Illinois (12:00 Gameplan)- 1) Illinois would love to get their first conference win. Northwestern needs a win to help them in the bowl pecking order of the Big Ten. 2) Tyrell Sutton and Brett Basanez are explosive on offense for the Wildcats. The Illini haven't been great on defense. 3) Pierre Thomas Jr. is a very good running back for the Illini.
9. Cincinnati at South Florida (12:00 Gameplan)- 1) The Bulls are three wins away from winning the Big East. Cincinnati must win out to be bowl eligible. 2) Dustin Grutza is the quarterback for the Bearcats. Can he spark the upset of the Bulls? He has been a little inconsistent this year, but he is a pretty good quarterback. 3) Andre Hall is one of the more exciting players in the country that nobody knows about. He leads the offense for the Bulls.
10. Arkansas State at Army (12:00 ESPNU)- 1) Could it be? The Black Knights are riding a three game winning streak and look to have won four in a row heading into their showdown with Navy. 2) Zac Dahman is an excellent quarterback for Bobby Ross' team. 3) The Indians need one more win to become bowl eligible, although they probably need to win the Sun Belt to get to a bowl game. This is one of the best running games in the country. Can the Black Knights slow them down?
11. Temple at Navy (1:30 CSTV)- 1) The Midshipmen need this win to become bowl eligible. If they do not win, they will need a win over Army to get to a bowl game. You never want to have to count on winning your rivalry game against a rising opponent to get to a bowl game. 2) Temple has been downright bad for most of this season. Of course their schedule has been brutal. Is this the week they put a scare into a far better foe? 3) Lamar Owens runs the offense very well for Navy. He does a very good job.
1. Alabama at Auburn (3:30 CBS)- 1) If LSU loses to either Ole Miss or Arkansas, the winner of this game wins the SEC West. 2) Come on. It's the Iron Bowl. You just have to watch this rivalry. 3) Brodie Croyle, Ken Darby and the Alabama offense is mostly inept. The defense is a brick wall. Auburn's Brandon Cox, Kenny Irons, and the Auburn offense has become far better as the season has progressed. The defense is not as tough. This is an interesting match-up of strength vs. strength and weakness vs. weakness. It is well worth watching.
2. Penn State at Michigan State (4:00 ESPN)- 1) If Penn State wins, they win the Big Ten and earn the first bid to the BCS. Michigan State must win to get to a bowl game. 2) Michael Robinson might be worthy of some Heisman consideration. He has really been playing well lately. 3) The Spartans have gone 1-5 since their 4-0 start. Is this the day that Drew Stanton rediscovers how good he was at the beginning of the year?
3. Syracuse at Notre Dame (2:30 NBC)- 1) If the Irish win out, they are likely going to the Fiesta Bowl. It all has to begin here. 2) Brady Quinn is still hoping to make a late push at the Heisman Trophy. 3) While Syracuse is suffering through a brutal 1-8 season, Damien Rhodes continues to be a very good running back. Against an average Notre Dame defense, the Orange best chance is to hope that Rhodes has a monster game.
4. Utah at BYU (3:00 Gameplan)- 1) This is one of the most underrated rivalries in the business. This is one great rivalry. 2) Utah needs a win to become bowl eligible. BYU needs a win to lock up second in the Mountain West. 3) John Beck has put up big numbers for the Cougars this year. He is a very good quarterback.
5. Washington State at Washington (3:15 FSN)- 1) The Apple Cup tends to be one of the more exciting games of the year each and every year. 2) Jerome Harrison is the Pac Ten's leading rusher and has been doing an excellent job for the Cougars this year. 3) Washington won for the first time in Pac Ten play last week. Washington State still hasn't won a Pac Ten game. The Cougars have been close in every game (except USC) but haven't been able to pull it off yet. Can they finally win one?
6. Nevada at Utah State (3:05 Gameplan)- 1) A win in this game would put Nevada in a position to be able to beat Fresno State and tie for the WAC title. They also need a win to help themselves in bowl positioning. 2) B.J. Mitchell has already run for over 1000 yards this season through nine games. 3) Leon Jackson III does it all for the Aggies. He is the team's quarterback and the team's leading rusher.
7. Idaho at Boise State (3:05 Gameplan)- 1) Boise State needs a win to keep their slim WAC title hopes alive. They also need to win put themselves in a better position for a bowl bid. 2) Jared Zabransky and the Broncos offense looks to get back on track after not scoring in the final 59 minutes against Fresno State last week. 3) Steven Wichman is a pretty good quarterback for the Vandals.
1.Clemson at South Carolina (7:00 Gameplan/ESPN2)- 1) The Tigers and the Gamecocks both won in huge upsets over Florida teams last week. Now, they both look to validate that win with a win in this game. 2) Clemson has owned South Carolina in recent years, including last year's romp that ended in a fight that wound up keeping both teams out of bowl games. 3) Blake Mitchell has played well this year, and last week was a crowning moment for him. For Clemson, Charlie Whitehurst played a great game last week. It is a very interesting quarterback match-up.
2. Oregon State at Oregon (6:45 FSN)- 1) It is an absolutely critical Civil War. Oregon State needs a win to be bowl eligible. Oregon needs a win to keep alive their hopes for a BCS at-large berth. 2) How long can Oregon keep on surviving? The last two weeks without Kellen Clemens and with Dennis Dixon and Grady Leaf have been two thrilling games that came down to the very end. 3) This is your last chance to see Mike Haas at Oregon State. He may be the best receiver in the country.
3. California at Stanford (7:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) It's the Big Game. Cal is looking to improve their bowl stock, while Stanford is looking to get bowl eligible. (If only they could take back that loss to UC-Davis.) 2) Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett are excellent running backs capable of putting up big numbers on the Cardinal defense. 3) Trent Edwards is a very good quarterback and will be looking to expose the Bears secondary.
4. UAB at UTEP (6:00 i/PAX)- 1) Darrell Hackney is a very talented quarterback for the Blazers. They must win their next two games to be bowl eligible. 2) Jordan Palmer is a very good quarterback for the Miners. They must win one of their next two games to win the CUSA West. 3) UTEP is clinging to their national ranking and their 8-1 record. Every win helps keep them ranked.
5. New Mexico State at San Jose State (6:00 Gameplan)- 1) The loser of this game will finish last in the WAC. New Mexico State has zero wins on the season, while San Jose State has one. That means that the two teams are a combined 1-18 on the season. 2) Hal Mumme's offense has produced their three highest point outputs of the season in their last four games. Maybe the offense is starting to come around a bit. 3) Adam Tafralis has been slowly improving, bit by bit. The Spartans quarterback isn't too bad, but he would love to have a huge game against the Aggies defense.
1. Georgia Tech at Miami, FL (7:45 ESPN)- 1) Miami needs to win to keep on track to win the ACC Coastal. 2) Kyle Wright has really come of age lately. He has developed into a top notch quarterback in the ACC. 3) So which Georgia Tech shows up? The one that beat Auburn? Or the one who lost to North Carolina State?
2. LSU at Ole Miss (7:45 ESPN2)- 1) LSU needs to win to stay on track to win the SEC West. 2) Both LSU and Ole Miss have excellent defenses. Ole Miss has struggled to find any offense this year, while LSU has been inconsistent on offense. JaMarcus Russell is a good quarterback, but just not great...yet. 3) This is a great rivalry, even though Ole Miss' primary rival is Mississippi State. These two teams have played a lot of classics over the years.
3. Memphis at Southern Miss (8:30 CSTV)- 1) DeAngelo Williams is a very talented running back. This may be one of your last chances to see them. The Tigers need to win out to become bowl eligible. 2) Southern Miss needs one more win to become bowl eligible. If they win out and UCF loses a game, they win the CUSA East. 3) This will be Southern Miss' third game in twelve days. They played last Tuesday and last Sunday and now again this Saturday. Will fatigue start to set in?
4. Wyoming at San Diego State (8:00 Gameplan)- 1) Corey Bramlet has been a very good quarterback for the Cowboys. This is his final game. 2) Kevin O'Connell has really come around for the Aztecs as the season has progressed. After starting the year 0-3, the Aztecs have won 4 of their last seven games. They have two games remaining, so they can still finish at .500 for the year. 3) Five straight losses by the Cowboys have quieted the fans cry for more respect. They certainly would like to get back on a winning track and get to 5-6.
1. Fresno State at USC (10:15 FSN)- 1) Watch those Trojans! With three more wins, they will become the first team ever to win three straight AP national titles. Of course, they would still need to win three straight BCS championships, which could come next year. 2) Does Fresno State have a chance to get to a BCS bowl game? If they can win out, they are still in the hunt to get into it. 3) Paul Pinegar, Wendell Mathis, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, and LenDale White. This might be the most offensive talent that has been on the field in any game so far this season. Sure, Oregon, Washington State, and Notre Dame all have some claim to that when they played USC. But this is a solid Fresno team.