Who could crash a team's party this Saturday?
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish may overlook the Boston College Eagles since the Irish play Stanford the following week—the Eagles (3-7) are a three-plus touchdown underdog to the Irish (7-3). The Eagles can't get bowl eligible but they can ruin some teams' bowl plans in the next two weeks. The Eagles beat N.C. State last week, so there's finally a little positive energy going on with the team as well—the rivalry aspect of this game should get them even more pumped up.
A loss to Boston College would certainly be shocking to Irish fans but some sloppy play by Notre Dame and some big plays by one of the best linebackers in the country (Luke Kuechly) could keep the Eagles in the upset hunt if the Irish are caught looking ahead to their date with Stanford.
South Florida (v Miami)
The South Florida Bulls (5-4) opened as a one point favorite over Miami (5-5)—what's going on here? The Hurricanes have struggled on offense but their defense is still pretty stingy. Last year the Bulls did beat the 'Canes 23-20 (OT), so maybe there's a bit of concern on Vegas' mind over this game. Miami can get bowl eligible if they win this game, but so can South Florida—both teams currently have five wins and need one more.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, they still have two more games (Louisville and West Virginia) after their date with Miami and neither one is easy—South Florida needs this win more than Miami, who hosts Boston College next Friday. Being kept out of a bowl this year could also be devastating for Miami for another reason—with all of the question marks surrounding the program after the Nevin Shapiro scandal made headlines, it may be a while before Miami is even allowed to play in any post season games.
Minnesota (at Northwestern)
The Minnesota Golden Gophers (2-8) won't be bowling this year but the Northwestern Wildcats (5-5) can if they win more game—with Michigan State looming next week, this game holds the one realistic chance for the Wildcats to go bowling for a fourth straight year. But let's not overlook Minnesota pulling a great upset—remember, this team gave USC everything it could handle, beat Iowa three weeks ago and didn't roll over to Michigan State, finally losing 31-24. If Minnesota pulls the big upset, Northwestern's bowl plans will probably be ditched for fishing in December instead.
USC (at Oregon)
USC (8-2) rolls into Eugene plenty dinged up—wide receiver Robert Woods has sat out two consecutive practices nursing (shoulder and ankle) injuries while center Matt Kalil and defensive tackles DaJohn Harris and Christian Tupou have been limited in practice. If those players aren't available to play in the deafeningly-loud Autzen Stadium, Oregon (9-1) will have an even bigger advantage. USC played Stanford tough and eventually lost in triple overtime while the Ducks gave the Cardinal a beat-down on the road at Palo Alto last week. So USC has no shot, right?
The Trojans can change the national landscape of football with a win over the Ducks—No. 4 Oregon, No. 2 Oklahoma State and No. 5 Oklahoma are three of five teams fighting to get into the BCS Championship and play (probably) the SEC champion. No. 1 LSU and No. 3 Alabama are the other two teams in the fight. If the Trojans knock off Oregon, all that remains is Oklahoma beating Oklahoma State to help boost Alabama to the No. 2 spot and a probable BCS Championship bowl berth playing LSU, if the Tigers win out. A rematch? Why yes, it could happen, and the Trojans will be the Ducks' biggest party crasher.
Kentucky (at Georgia)
Remember last year's game between Kentucky and No. 10 South Carolina? The Wildcats won. Granted, this isn't the same 6-7 team from last year but Kentucky (4-6) needs a win over Georgia (8-2) to keep their bowl hopes alive. It's going to be rough playing between the hedges at Sanford Stadium, especially since this is a must-win for Georgia as well—the Bulldogs will clinch the SEC East with a win and face the West's champ in the SEC Championship. If the Bulldogs lose, South Carolina wins the East due to head-to-head competition with Georgia back in September.
Can the Wildcats crash the Bulldogs' party? Probably not, but they have been known to throw wrinkles into teams' post-season plans.
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