The College Football Weekend Report
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKEND REPORT
LET'S CALL THIS A "NASTY NOVEMBER" WEEKEND BECAUSE ONLY THE STRONG WILL SURVIVE IN THE GAMES STARRING THE NATION'S SIX UNBEATEN TEAMS
Did somebody out there say crunch time?
The 2012 College Football Season -- one that's brought the likes of USC and Oklahoma to their knees twice each -- has been a real wonderland of fun-and-games for teams such as Kansas State and Notre Dame who weren't expected to be part of the BCS landscape at season's start and yet they are battling for the No. 2 slot behind Alabama and let's not forget the incredible journies of Louisville and Ohio State as neither of these power conference clubs really could have thought they would be without an "L" at this rather late stage of the season.
In honor of the six unbeaten teams that are playing ball on this "nasty November" weekend, we take quick-hitter looks at all half-dozen teams that have yet to lose and we tell you the odds of 'em staying undefeated after this weekend's games have been played.
Roll it! Note all rankings below pertain to the current BCS Standings:
#1 ALABAMA (8-0, 5-0 SEC) at #5 LSU (7-1, 3-1 SEC) -- 8 p.m. ET, CBS
The folks in Baton Rouge this week have been busy discussing the "scars" left from last year's 21-0 Alabama win in the BCS Championship Game -- one that we all know never should have happened in the first place!
So, you're left to wonder if a big-time case of revenge plus a hearty Bengals defense that ranks third nationally (fourth against the pass and 11th versus the run) can knock off the Crimson Tide from its number one perch or are we all headed to another 'Bama coronation game this January against -- pick one -- Oregon or Kansas State or Notre Dame.
There will be no more "do-overs" and so LSU fans better forget any/all hope of playing in the BCS Championship Game if it loses here and let's just say Les Miles' squad needs the following three things to happen:
The Tigers need to score points on defense and/or special teams; LSU needs frosh RB Jeremy Hill (322 yards rushing with a 6.7 ypc average with 5 TDs) to bust a few "chunk plays" of 20-or-more yards 'cause this QB Zach Mettenberger-led offense doesn't seem capable of marching down the field with big pass plays;
And, finally, the aforementioned Miles must take some real calculated risks here -- a fake punt, fake FG or maybe even an onside kick or two when least expected. The Tigers must win the "hidden yardage" battle or there's no hope of beating a 'Bama bunch that is second in the country is pass defense (allowing 146 ypg) and #1 in rush defense (yielding 57.3 ypg) and we haven't even said word one about Alabama QB AJ McCarron who's s tossed 16 TDs and 0 INTs this year.
Odds that Alabama gets beaten on Saturday -- 3.5-to-1
#24 OKLAHOMA STATE (5-2, 3-1 Big 12) at #2 KANSAS STATE (8-0, 5-0 Big 12) -- 8 p.m. ET, ABC
When folks think about Big 12 football, they automatically think offense... right? While on this 2012 K-State Wildcats team that has taken the country by storm, the defense for this Manhattan-based team deserves major kudos when you consider KSU's allowed 19, 16, 21, 14 and 24 points in its conference games.
But, hey, let's not "bury the lead" and that's QB Collin Klein who remains number one in our Jim Sez hearts for this year's Heisman Trophy as the senior star but here Klein must challenge an underrated Oklahoma State defense that's allowed less than 20 points against its last three consecutive conference foes (that's versus Kansas, Iowa State and TCU) and so maybe that 9 1/2-point Las Vegas pointspread appears a bit too tall at further review.
Odds that Kansas State gets beaten on Saturday -- 15-to-1
PITTSBURGH (4-4) at #3 NOTRE DAME (8-0) -- 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Maybe the best thing you can say about this year's edition of the ND Fighting Irish is no task has been too tough for third-year head coach Brian Kelly's club.
Last week's venture into Oklahoma -- where the Sooners were a hefty 11- or 12-point betting favorite (depending on when you played it) -- was proof positive as Notre Dame's lack of offensive pop (among other things) was supposed to keep the Irish down but instead freshman QB Everett Golson rose to the occasion and helped the Irish outscore OU 20-7 in the final frame while LB Manti Te'o was everywhere at all times.
Now, folks in/around South Bend are wondering if the Irish are gonna suffer some sort of emotional letdown here against a so-so Pittsburgh team that ranks in the top 30 nationally both passing the ball and defending the pass ... so Golson may not have a real walk-in-the-park game here even though the oddsmakers have it as Notre Dame favored by 16.5 points.
Odds that Notre Dame gets beaten on Saturday -- 30-to-1
#4 OREGON (8-0, 5-0 Pac-12) at #17 USC (6-2, 4-2 Pac-12) -- 7 p.m. ET, Fox
Just to put things in proper perspective, the Oregon Ducks have beaten teams this year by 23, 17, 49, 49, 25, 31, 22 and 56 points -- not a real challenge in the mix and so exactly how will Chip Kelly's team respond here should the Ducks find themselves in a close-fitting affair?
Well, one thing that bodes well for the road favorites here is that nobody's yet stopped this potent ground attack that averages a whopping 331 yards a game but expect the SC defensive game plan here to include an extra man (or two) in the box while daring kid QB Marcus Mariota to chuck it.
Chucking it won't be an issue with USC slinger Matt Barkley who may have fallen off everyone's Heisman Trophy list this year faster than you can say Lane Kiffin but following last week's 345-yard receiving game by WR Marqise Lee you gotta believe it'll be an old-fashioned air raid by the Troy Boys here -- but will all that aerial magic be enough to win this high-profile tilt? Hmmm. Probably not!
Odds that Oregon gets beaten on Saturday -- 5-to-1
ILLINOIS (2-6, 0-4 Big 10) at OHIO STATE (9-0, 5-0 Big 10) -- 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Las Vegas oddsmakers don't give the visiting Illini a chance to KO the big, bad Buckeyes here but the $64,000 question is will Urban Meyer's team do enough silly/dumb things to keep Illinois in the heat of battle here?
No doubt the 'Eyes -- ineligible to play in either the Big 10 Championship Game or any post-season bowl game -- absolutely have willed their way into the winner's circle in games against California (see 35-28 win back in mid-September) and that wildly exciting 29-22 overtime triumph over Purdue two weeks ago and here soph QB Braxton Miller (a Big 10-best 121.4 yards per game rushing) will look to weave his way in-and-out of an Illini defense that surrenders more than 365 yards a game.
Odds that Ohio State gets beaten on Saturday ... 150-to-1
TEMPLE (3-4, 2-2 Big East) at #10 LOUISVILLE (8-0, 3-0 Big East) -- 12p.m. ET, ABC regional
Maybe the biggest unknown unbeaten bunch of 'em all -- the Louisville Cardinals -- have the best shot to run the table this year when you stop to consider Charlie Strong's squad only has road games at Syracuse and Rutgers to concern themselves with (yes, the latter is gonna be a whole lot tougher to win than the former!) but will the Cards still be on Cloud Nine here following that emotionally-charged 34-31 OT win against Cincinnati last Friday night?
Sophomore QB Teddy Bridgewater played a major starring role in that OT tilt as he threw for a career-high 416 yards with two TDs and no doubt the Redbirds went to school in the film room this week after Temple surrendered 25 and 49 points the past two weekends.
Hey, here's something to watch for with the 'Ville: Will they slam-dunk Temple RB Montel Harris who is averaging a sub-par 77 yards a game this year. Didn't the Owls expect more from him in 2012?
Odds that Louisville gets beaten on Saturday -- 25-to-1
NOTE: There's NFL Week 9 Sunday afternoon previews straight ahead in the next edition of Jim Sez!
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