Scoreboard Watching

NORMAN, Okla. — The team has an off week, but it's not an off week for Sooner Nation with a full slate of crucial games on the docket. Sooners Illustrated breaks down the top games you should keep an eye on this weekend and why.

1. No. 7 Oregon @ No. 4 Stanford, 7 p.m.

The rundown: The one-loss Oregon Ducks head to Palo Alto for a heavyweight clash against Heisman hopeful quarterback Andrew Luck and the undefeated Stanford Cardinal. The Ducks have won eight of the last nine contests in the series, but trail 44-29-1 all-time.

Why OU should care: It's pretty cut and dry here. For OU to have any chance at getting to the National Championship, Stanford must lose, and this is their best shot. A Cardinal win would be devastating for the Sooners' hopes in still making it to New Orleans. An Oregon victory, however, potentially starts all the controversy between the one-loss teams and Boise State, should the Sooners take care of business later in the season against OSU in Stillwater.

2. TCU @ No. 5 Boise State, 2:30 p.m.

The rundown: Another Heisman hopeful, quarterback Kellen Moore leads the way for the 8-0 Boise State Broncos, but the 7-2 TCU Horned Frogs are on their way to spoil the party. The two have played twice in their history, with a victory apiece.

Why OU should care: Another part of the Sooners' title argument down the stretch will come down to if the voters will possibly put the Broncos ahead of a one-loss Sooner squad if they run the table. Most figure OU would jump the Broncos with relative ease, but a loss here would eliminate any of that doubt.

3. No. 19 Nebraska @ No. 12 Penn State, 11 a.m.

The rundown: The Nittany Lions are on a roll, winners of seven straight after falling to Alabama on the second week of the season, but things aren't so happy in Happy Valley right now with the scandal. Meanwhile, the Cornhuskers are coming off a devastating 28-25 home loss to Northwestern last week. Penn State leads the all-time series 7-6, with a 5-1 mark at home.

Why OU should care: Not many have probably thought about this, but one of the reasons Alabama's computer ranking is so high still even with a loss is not just because of their SEC schedule, but rather it's because of the Nittany Lions' success since dropping that game to them in early September. A loss here to Nebraska, and Penn State can start their descent, which ultimately will be a factor in Alabama's computer ranking descent. Sooner fans should be rooting for their former big time conference rival.

3. No. 3 Alabama @ Mississippi State, 6:45 p.m.

The rundown: The Crimson Tide head to Starkville for the first of two out of their last three games on the road when they take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Tide have won the last three games in this series, including the last contest in Starkville 31-3 back in 2009. They lead the "90 Mile Drive" 73-18 all-time.

Why OU should care: Could the Crimson Tide somehow slip up? It's possible. Sooner fans should stay tuned because if they lose, that will wipe out a huge hurdle for OU's chances to get No. 8. Many would like to see the LSU-Alabama rematch, and if they should somehow, some way lay an egg, that'll be the end to that conversation.

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