Games of the Week: Week 12

Several conference games may clear up which team will be represented in a particular conference's Championship game. Of course, those same games could also have outcomes that make things more of a mess. Here are the games that are the most intriguing and why.

SEC: Arkansas v Mississippi State and Georgia v Kentucky

There aren't a lot of great games to pick from in the SEC this week—SEC opponents include Furman, The Citadel, Samford and Georgia Southern. There are, however, two key games to watch: Georgia v Kentucky and Arkansas v Mississippi State. The Georgia game will determine who represents the East in the SEC Championship—if the heavily favored Bulldogs beat the 4-6 Wildcats—then Georgia will win the East since the Bulldogs will have had only have one conference loss compared to South Carolina's two. If the Bulldogs lose, then the Gamecocks will represent the East.

Arkansas has a shot at the SEC Championship—but they need help— and it all starts in Little Rock this Saturday and ends in Baton Rouge next Friday when the Razorbacks play LSU. The key to this game is how Mississippi State's No. 14 ranked pass defense can stop Arkansas' passing offense (averaging 311.3 yards)—Razorbacks quarterback Tyler Wilson is one of the most productive quarterbacks in the country averaging 285 yards a game. This game, however, isn't all about Arkansas—Mississippi State (5-5) needs one more win to get bowl eligible.

Pac-12: Oregon v USC

This game should worry Ducks fans simply because we've seen numerous games where a team comes out flat after a big win. Oregon rolled Stanford on the road last week and this week hosts the USC Trojans. USC will not be flat—there is nothing the Trojans would love more than to throw a wrench into the Pac-12 North by handing the Ducks a loss in Autzen Stadium, a place that's difficult for opponents to win in. The Trojans haven't won in Autzen Stadium since 2005 and are riding a two-game losing streak to the Ducks.

If USC beats the Ducks, both Stanford and Oregon will be tied for first place in the North with one conference loss each, but Oregon holds the tie-breaker card after their win over Stanford. Stanford only has one conference game remaining with Cal (this Saturday) while the Ducks have the Trojans and the Oregon State Beavers.

Big Ten: Michigan v Nebraska and Ohio State v Penn State

Michigan State is currently the leader in the Legends division with a 5-1 record but Michigan and Nebraska are right behind the Spartans with identical 4-2 records. The winner of this contest may not be able to catch the Spartans whose last two games are against Indiana and Northwestern, but consider this—if Michigan State splits its last two games and Nebraska beats Michigan and Iowa next week, Nebraska will win the Legends division since Nebraska beat Michigan State earlier in the year.

Penn State at Ohio State could make things very interesting in the Leaders division if Penn State loses. Right now, the Nittany Lions (5-1) lead Wisconsin (4-2) by one game in the Leaders—Wisconsin hosts Penn State next week. If Penn State loses to Ohio State and Wisconsin beats Illinois this Saturday, then the winner of Wisconsin v Penn State will win the Leaders and go on to the Big Ten Championship.

Big 12: Baylor v Oklahoma

Sure we all can't wait until the Bedlam game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, but the Sooners will get an early taste of what awaits in Stillwater (on December 3) when they face Baylor this Saturday in Waco, Texas. Remember, Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege torched the Sooners' secondary for 441 passing yards and four touchdowns in their 41-38 upset in October. Now they will face Robert Griffin III, currently the sixth most prolific quarterback in FBS football and a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. The fun never ends in the Big 12.

How Oklahoma counters the devastating losses of running back Dominique Whaley (fractured ankle on October 29) and Ryan Broyles (torn ACL on November 5) against a team that demands you score more than 40 points on them will be interesting. Likewise, Baylor must score more than their average of 40.3 points a game since the Sooners average over 45 points a game. Grab some popcorn and enjoy the show.

Big East: Rutgers v Cincinnati

Cincinnati (3-1) can take a commanding lead in the Big East with a win over Rutgers—the Bearcats are the only team in the Big East with one conference loss. Rutgers (3-2) can throw the Big East into complete turmoil by beating Cincinnati—both West Virginia (3-2) and Pittsburgh (3-2) are on byes while Louisville (3-2) faces UConn (2-2).

If Rutgers wins out, the worst case scenario for the Scarlet Knights is finishing in a tie for first place in the Big East. The Scarlet Knights do have an outstanding weapon in wide receiver Mohamed Sanu but they will have to get their running game going—the Bearcats will undoubtedly will try and keep Sanu covered like a blanket for most of the game. On the flip side, the Bearcats have to play without Zach Collaros—the quarterback fractured his ankle in last week's game against West Virginia and is out for the regular season. Munchie Legaux is reportedly taking over as quarterback for the Bearcats' last three games.

ACC: Florida State v Virginia and Boston College at Notre Dame

Florida State and Virginia are both in second place in their respective divisions but this game is much more important to Virginia than Florida State in terms of short-term goals—Clemson has locked up the Atlantic but winning the Coastal is still in play for Virginia. The Cavaliers (4-2) control their own destiny, as does Virginia Tech (5-1), but the Cavaliers have to win both of their last two games while the Hokies only need to win their last game against Virginia.

Boston College will not be bowl-eligible this season. Like so many other teams in the same situation, the next best thing to not playing in the post season is to playing the spoiler role against other teams. Beating Notre Dame would seriously diminish the Irish's bowl options since they still have to contend with Stanford next week. This rivalry game will undoubtedly favor the Irish at home, but the Eagles have won two of their last three games. Can the Eagles put a damper on the Irish's bowl aspirations? Will the Irish keep on winning and climb back up to a very respectable 9-3 season?

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