Week 12 PREVIEW: What to Watch this Weekend

Less than .03 separates the top three teams in the BCS standings.  As a result, this weekend Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame not only need to remain undefeated, but also must try to impress upon voters and computers exactly where they should fall within that small margin of differentiation.

8:00 pm on ESPN:#1 Kansas State (10-0, 7-0 Big 12) at Baylor (4-5, 1-5 Big 12)

Somehow without Robert Griffin III, Baylor has the #2 passing offense in the nation, #2 total offense and #7 scoring offense.  That “somehow” in this case is Nick Florence, the starting quarterback who replaced RGIII and the #1 player in the nation in total offense.  Baylor receiver Terrance Williams has the most receiving yards per game in the nation.  But despite the positives, the reason behind all of the losses this year is that Baylor’s defense is one of the worst in the country. As for Kansas State, much has been said about quarterback Collin Klein (who was on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week), but he only comprises a component of the team’s success.  They happen to be #1 in the country in one of the key factors in determining success: turnover margin.

8:00 pm on ABC:#13 Stanford (8-2. 6-1 Pac-12) at #2 Oregon (10-0, 7-0 Pac-12)

Oregon has the #1 scoring offense in the nation, putting up almost 55 points per game.  A large part of how they get into the end zone so often has to do with their running game, with the #3 rushing offense in the nation led by #24 Kenjon Barner.   And while they only come across as average in their passing game, freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota leads the nation in passing efficiency.  On the other hand, Stanford is still looking for a trip to the Rose Bowl, and a win over Oregon as well as UCLA next week would put them into the Pac-12 championship game and one step closer to representing in Pasadena.  Stanford is better known this year as the team that no longer has any Luck (Andrew).  But they do have quarterback Zach Ertz and running back Stepfan Taylor.  And most important to Stanford’s success is their defense: #1 in sacks, #1 in tackles for loss, #1 in rushing defense.  When you put a top rushing defense against a top rushing offense, something’s got to give.

3:41 pm on NBC:Wake Forest (5-5, 3-5 ACC) at #3 Notre Dame (10-0)

The talk this week about Notre Dame has been all about the fact that it is senior linebacker Manti Te’o’s last game at Notre Dame stadium.  The teams met for the first time ever last year and Notre Dame won 24-17.  This year the spread is 24 points and the Irish need to make a strong showing in order to continue to make their case for a chance at the national championship.  Notre Dame is tied with Alabama for the #1 scoring defense in the nation.  Meanwhile, Wake has only beaten one top-5 team in its 32 tries and that was in 1946 against #4 Tennessee. A full CFBGirl preview can be found here.

3:30 pm on ABC:Ohio State (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) at Wisconsin (7-3, 4-2 Big Ten)

Ohio State would be part of the national title conversation, of course, except for the fact that they aren’t eligible for post-season play due to sanctions from the fall out of the tattoo-for-cash scandal.  But the Buckeyes can clench the Leaders division with a win.  However, regardless of the outcome, Wisconsin will be playing in the Big Ten Championship (Penn State is also out of it due to sanctions from the Sandusky scandal and the other teams, Indiana, Iowa and Purdue are all completely inadequate).  Both teams have great rushing offenses, great defenses (with the exception of OSU’s passing defense) and terrible passing offenses.  On Saturday we will see who plays their game better.

As for the SEC, which could possibly be out of national title contention for the first time since 2005, they don’t have any relevant/exciting match ups this weekend; Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Texas A&M all play FCS schools.

3:05 pm on Fox:#18 USC (7-3, 5-3 Pac-12) at #17 UCLA (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12)

The 82nd meeting between these teams will determine who represents the Pac-12 South in the Pac-12 Championship game.  For more details on this match up and its history, read our preview here.

3:30 pm on CBS: Ole Miss (5-5, 2-4 SEC) at LSU (8-2, 4-2 SEC)

LSU is an 18.5 point favorite.

12:21 on ESPN3/SEC:Arkansas (4-6, 2-4 SEC) at Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3)

While irrelevant to the national picture, Miss State is favored by 5.5 points and this could be a decent game.  Arkansas has a great passing offense, but is unbalanced on has been terrible when it comes to winning the turnover battle.  Mississippi State is about average, but has more balance.

3:00 pm on Pac-12: Washington State (2-8. 0-7 Pac-12) at ASU (5-5, 3-4 Pac-12)

ASU’s last home game.  Arizona State is still struggling to make a bowl game.  And quarterback Taylor Kelly is coming off a game where he threw three interceptions (against USC). ASU will certainly be relying on the play of their defense, led by Will Sutton and Carl Bradford, who plays Devilbacker.  On the other side of the field they will face WSU quarterbak Connor Halliday.  The big story with the Cougars is that they lost their star receiver Marquess Wilson last week after he alleged abuse by head coach Mike Leach and left the team.  They have the 6th ranked passing game, but their rushing offense is one of the absolute worst in the nation.  A more detailed preview from ASU CFB Rep Sara Ann can be found here.