There are plenty of noteworthy things going on this week, including the final week of Big Ten action. While no one knows what Florida's bowl fate will be, there's a good chance this will be your last chance to get a look at their eventual opponent in either the Capital One or Outback Bowl.
Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon's knee injury on Thursday night was painful to watch and may have major impact on the bowl picture and the Heisman Trophy race. This week's categories are named for other cringe inducing sports injuries through the years. As always, all times are Eastern.
NAPOLEON MCCALLUM'S LEG FACING THE WRONG WAY ON MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Ohio State @ Michigan (Noon, ABC) - Both teams come into this game off a loss for the first time since the Eisenhower administration, but the stakes are still enormous and the story lines plentiful. There will be a Big Ten championship and almost certainly a trip to the Rose Bowl for the winner (although Ohio State holds out hope for a giant string of upsets getting them back into the BCS title game). This is likely to be Lloyd Carr's last home game as Michigan's head coach, and is definitely the final one for quarterback Chad Henne and tailback Mike Hart. How healthy those last two are will likely determine Michigan's fate, while the Buckeyes have to quickly regroup from a stunning loss in their final home game last week.
West Virginia @ Cincinnati (7:45, ESPN) - West Virginia's BCS title game chances picked up an enormous boost from Oregon's Thursday night loss. With three Big 12 teams in a cluster above them, they're much closer to a possible title game berth than their current number six spot would indicate. The Mountaineers have averaged 40 points against Cincinnati the past two seasons, but the Bearcats can score well themselves this year and also have a shot at the Big East's BCS berth after crushing UConn last week.
ALABAMA'S TYRONE PROTHRO BREAKS HIS LEG AGAINST UF
Kentucky @ Georgia (12:30, Lincoln Financial) - All the focus on Mark Richt's motivational gimmicks the last three weeks has taken attention away from the actual reason Georgia is winning, running back Knowshown Moreno. The freshman has run for 485 yards and scored eight touchdowns in Georgia's past three games. Kentucky's run defense is ranked ninety-seventh, so the chances are good Moreno's in for another big day this week. Richt is not commenting on the possibility of Georgia players killing a live wildcat and drinking its blood on the sideline right before the game to "fire them up a little". With a Kentucky loss, Florida would be officially eliminated from the SEC East race.
Boston College @ Clemson (7:45, ESPN2) - Ever since Matt Ryan "won" the Heisman Trophy, BC's struggled. They've lost two in a row and now face a night game in the alleged "Death Valley". If Tommy Bowden can't win this one and make it to the ACC title game, it's hard to imagine when it's ever going to happen. Clemson always expected to have a strong running game, but QB Cullen Harper has quietly put together a very good season.
LT BREAKS JOE THEISMANN'S LEG
Maryland @ FSU (Noon, Lincoln Financial) - Maryland has major injury issues throughout the offensive line and skill positions. They're using their third string quarterback coming out of camp as a starter as well. They've won two of the last three against FSU, but have never won at Doak Campbell. FSU has had some injury problems of their own, but are expecting starting QB Drew Weatherford and RB Antone Smith to both be able to play. A win might help them avoid Boise as a postseason destination in favor of Orlando for the Champs Sports Bowl.
LSU @ Ole Miss (3:30, CBS) - Two of the last three games in this series have been decided by a field goal, including last year's overtime game in Baton Rouge. LSU knows they control their own fate, but how will they handle the pressure of being in the top spot again? Ole Miss is the only SEC team sure to miss a bowl, but the Rebels have scared some good teams this year.
Penn State @ Michigan State (3:30, ABC/ESPN) - Stay out of Detroit. It's a good rule for all of us to live by, but more importantly it's Michigan State's stated goal this week. With a win, they get to seven and avoid being selected by the Motor City Bowl for the mediocre Big Ten's final bowl slot from the pool of 6-6 teams. Penn State probably secures a New Year's Day bowl berth with a win. The schools are also battling for the Land Grant Trophy, which may not seem like a big deal to you because it isn't.
Oklahoma @ Texas Tech (8, ABC) - Sooners likely control their own fate for the national title game but have two tricky games remaining prior to the Big 12 title game. Texas Tech isn't likely to get many breaks from referees anytime soon thanks to Mike Leach's rant about them after last week's Texas loss.
Louisville @ USF (8, ESPNU) - Once upon a time, this was supposed to be a really important game. Now Louisville's just trying to get bowl eligible and USF is wondering if they'll need to get passports for a trip to Toronto for the International Bowl. The actual game should be reasonably watchable, with some star players on both sides.
MIAMI'S WILLIS MCGAHEE IN THE FIESTA BOWL
Hawaii @ Nevada (Friday 11, ESPN2) - Colt Brennan's not going to win the Heisman, but this gives him a chance to pick off some West region votes that may have been going to Dennis Dixon pre-injury. For Hawaii, winning is mandatory as they continue to attempt to make the BCS.
Northwestern @ Illinois (Noon, ESPN) - Ron Zook's never beaten Northwestern, and lots of people will be looking to see if Illinois will mentally regroup and avoid being flat coming off of their giant win against Ohio State. A win probably guarantees Illinois no worse bowl spot than a trip to Tampa for the Outback Bowl.
Missouri @ Kansas State (12:30, FSN) - Chase Daniel gets a chance to show his stuff for voters still looking for a Heisman bandwagon to jump on. K State's reeling from a thrashing at the hands of Nebraska last week, but the Tigers can't get caught looking past them to the big showdown with the Jayhawks.
Duke @ Notre Dame (2:30, NBC) - Duke's offensive coordinator Peter Vaas was fired by Charlie Weis as quarterbacks coach after last season. Clearly the move has helped ND's QBs a great deal. There's actually a website called www.dukesuperbowl.com hyping this game. With stories including "Willingham found responsible for Global Warming", the website will probably be more entertaining to watch.
Miami, Fla. @ Virginia Tech (3:30, ABC) - After the abject humiliation of a 48-0 drubbing in the final game in the Orange Bowl, the Hurricanes hit the road with a chance to redeem themselves by getting bowl eligible. Given the disastrous performance of their offense no matter who's at quarterback, don't bet on it. VT has to avoid looking ahead to division championship showdown with UVA next week.
Iowa State @ Kansas (3:30, ABC) - Cyclones have discovered an offense in the last three weeks, making this a dangerous spot for Kansas. The Jayhawks now know they're number two courtesy of Oregon's loss. How will they hold up under that pressure?
California @ Washington (3:30, ABC) - Cal's fallen apart the last few weeks, and a team which was once number two now looks headed for the Sun Bowl. They're still better than the Huskies, but will they care enough to show that?
N.C. State @ Wake Forest (4, ESPNU) - The Wolfpack still have a chance to go to a bowl, which shows both how much momentum they've built up in the second half of the year under Tom O'Brien and also what a crappy league the ACC is this year.
STEPHON MARBURY'S SEVERELY BRUISED EGO
UConn @ Syracuse (Noon, ESPN2) - UConn has to win to preserve their chances at the Big East BCS slot. Syracuse has to make sure the coaches office is stocked with change of address forms.
Tulsa @ Army (Noon, ESPN Classic) - Tennessee against Vandy isn't on anywhere this week and this is?
North Carolina @ Georgia Tech (Noon, Lincoln Financial) - Every year no matter who's on the schedule, Chan Gailey's team wins seven games. They're 6-4 and have UGA next. UNC's in trouble.
Northern Illinois @ Navy (3:30, CSTV) - Navy's heading to the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, but is contractually obligated to show up and knock off the Huskies first.
Oregon State @ Washington State (6:30, FSN Regional) - This is likely Bill Doba's last home game as head coach of the Cougars. Odds are you didn't watch any of the other ones either.
Oklahoma State @ Baylor (7, FSN) - Mike Gundy postgame after the inevitable beatdown of Baylor High: "I'm bowl eligible! I'm .500!"
Southern Miss @ UTEP (7:30, CSTV) - A Conference USA battle featuring two teams with a combined 9-11 record, with all of the drama that implies
Weekend Viewer's Guide - Week 12
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