Week 12 Preview...Rivalry Week
10. San Diego St. @ Air Force: 2:06 PM EST
The Aztecs and Falcons get together in a game that will go a long way in sorting out the mess behind BYU in the Mountain West. These are two of four teams with two conference losses, and a win in their finale would most likely sew up second place for the Falcons, while the Aztecs are holding out hope for bowl eligibility. No one expected either of these teams to have a shot at second place this late in the year, but here they are. It's also the home finale for Air Force QB Shaun Carney, who seems to have been around since the mid-90s.
9. Purdue @ Indiana: 3:30 PM EST, Big Ten Network
It was the goal of late Indiana football coach Terry Hoeppner to "play 13", and the Hoosiers have to this point clinched bowl eligibility. But with nine other teams in the Big Ten able to make the same claim, winning the Od Oaken Bucket would be a good way to cement travel plans this winter. Two of the better quarterbacks in the conference (Kellen Lewis of IU and Curtis Painter of Purdue) will be on display, and both will be back next season. The Hoosiers haven't had possession of the Bucket since 2001. The quarterback for Indiana then? Big Ten Player of the Year Antwaan Randle El.
8. Northwestern @ #19 Illinois: Noon EST, ESPN
One week after their upset of Ohio State further muddled the national title picture, Illinois hosts rival Northwestern for the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk. The Wildcats could use the seventh win to bolster their bowl hopes, while Illinois could finish tied for second place with a win. Besides a ninth win and sending their senior class out in style, a win would get the tomahawk back in Champaign for the first time since 2002. NU has won the last four meetings.
7. #4 Oklahoma @ Texas Tech: 8 PM EST, ABC
With Oregon's loss, the Sooners find themselves in position to move up at least one spot. But going into Jones SBC Stadium and leaving with a win is no easy task. The last time these two met in Lubbock, a controversial touchdown gave the Red Raiders the win. Head coach Mike Leach had an eventful postgame in Austin last week, and found himself a little lighter in the pocket as a result. Leach and Oklahoma co-defensive coordinators Brent Venables and Bobby Jack Wright wil engage in one of the better coaching chess matches this season. But if Tech can't slow down Sam Bradford and the OU offense, the result could be the same as last week's whipping at the hands of Texas.
6. #1 LSU @ Mississippi: 3:30 PM EST, CBS
The University of Mississippi has one of the prime tailgating spots in all of sports, The Grove right in the middle of campus. But when the Rebel players make their "Walk of Champions" through the fans on the way to the stadium, there should be a little more excitement in the air. Top-ranked LSU comes to town, and as this season has taught us, anything can happen at any time. Despite being 0-6 in SEC play, the Rebels do have one of the conference's better running backs in Benjarvus Green-Ellis. How he fares against LSU's defense will decide just how close this game is.
5. Harvard @ Yale: Noon EST, HDNet
For the first time since 1960, Yale is 9-0, and they're looking to get to 10-0 for the first time since 1909. The NCAA was less than five years old at the time. Harvard, although 7-2 overall, is also 6-0 in Ivy League play, adding an outright conference title to the stakes that already ride on "The Game". Handsome Dan(he's the mascot) and the rest of the Bulldogs haven't held outright possession of the Ivy crown in 26 years...the Crimson would like nothing more than to make it 27.
4. #23 Kentucky @ #9 Georgia: 12:30 PM EST, Lincoln Financial (ESPN GamePlan)
Georgia is atop the SEC East right now, but they'll need some help if they want to get to Atlanta. But with no one setting themselves apart in the Heisman race (and Dennis Dixon going down for the year), maybe Andre Woodson can throw his hat back into the ring. Big Blue has struggled of late, going 2-3 in their last five since starting out 5-0. This game and next weekend against Tennessee offer prime chances for the Wildcats to play spoiler, but the defense needs to show up to make a win a reality.
3. #17 Boston College @ #15 Clemson: 7:45 PM EST, ESPN2
From national title contender to hanging on by a thread to the ACC Atlantic. Such is life for Boston College, who heads to Death Valley to deal with a young yet hungry Clemson bunch who's apparently decided that next year is now. The Eagles, while they've put up some impressive yardage stats the past couple of weeks, has been done in by turnovers and a suddenly porous defensive unit. How they deal with backs James Davis and C.J. Spiller, along with a hot Cullen Harper, will determine if they get a shot at earning that BCS spot that seemed destined to end up in Boston just a few weeks ago.
2. #6 West Virginia @ #22 Cincinnati: 7:45 PM EST, ESPN
Last week the Bearcats fired the first shot in the race for the Big East, beating UConn soundly (27-3) at home. Now they get West Virginia at home, who all of a sudden finds themselves in the midst of the national title race. Cincinnati has been one of the nation's best at turnover margin all year, and at times the Mountaineers can put the ball on the ground. While they don't beat themselves, UC has Ben Mauk leading an offense that can put some points on the board. This one should be entertaining, with a WVU win possibly setting up next week's game with UConn as the one that decides who gets the BCS bid.
1. #7 Ohio St. @ #21 Michigan: Noon EST, ABC
There isn't all the hoopla (and unfortunate passing of a coaching icon in Bo Schembechler) that surrounded last year's meeting, but it's still Ohio State-Michigan, and once again the winner goes to Pasadena. One of the few rivalries where what happens here affects the other 364 days of the year, the game has tended to work in streaks. In his first six against Ohio State, Lloyd Carr went 5-1. Then Jim Tressel shows up...1-5 since. With rumors of his retirement floating around all week, wouldn't it be great for Carr to beat the Buckeyes? And how about seniors such as Hart, Henne, Long and Crable who are 0-3 against OSU? But a defense that has struggled at times this season will have its hands full with the two Wells (Chris and Maurice), Todd Boeckman and receivers Robiskie and Hartline. They hit hard every play, but you never have to worry about a cheap shot in this one. Enjoy.