NCAA Football: Last Minute Thoughts On Gameday

By Zach Pugh

– Much of the discussion this week has been about the first BCS Championship without the SEC since 2006, but don’t even think about counting the conference out yet. While there’s three undefeated teams ahead the top teams in the SEC, suppose just for a minute two out of those three lose. It’s not crazy, its college football. The Oregon Ducks have the most difficult road with potentially three ranked teams on their schedule, including the Pac-12 Championship assuming they beat the Stanford Cardinal today, and the defense gets more banged up every week. The Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs both have one loss and can still sneak into the national title and don’t worry SEC nation, suppose the extremely unthinkable happens and the Tide and Bulldogs both lose, with two of the top three losing, there’s still nothing but Southeastern Conference teams ranked 4-9 in the BCS standings.

– The Stanford Cardinal go into Eugene today as 21 point underdogs. Its understandable, the Ducks have been almost impossible to beat at home and the last two meetings have gone horrible for Stanford, but the Ducks are by no means safe in this match-up. The Cardinal front seven could make it tough for Oregon’s rushing attack. They lead the nation in tackles for a loss, run defense and quarterback sacks. Marcus Mariota proved he could take control of a game when the Ducks’ ground game faltered with an esthetic 377 yards and six touchdowns last week. For Stanford to have any shot, they will not only need to win the battle at the line of scrimmage, but they must put tons pressure on Mariota. If the front seven fails, Mariota will have a field day against a secondary that struggled against the Duke Blue Devils and Arizona Wildcats.

– The mid-November match-up between the Oklahoma Sooners and West Virginia Mountaineers was a game many, like myself, thought would decide the Big 12 champion, but now its the Sooners trying to get an at-large BCS berth and the Mountaineers trying to save themselves from the pit of despair. What the Sooner defense has been able to do against the pass in the conference has been astounding. They’ve only allowed two passing touchdowns, but have caused eight interceptions, while holding quarterbacks to just 187.8 yards a game. When you read over that again, keep in mind that has come against some of the most efficient offenses in the country.

– The debate about who is more important to their team has intensified this week between the nation. Johnny Manziel or Collin Klein? Both of these QBs have been remarkable in so many ways for their team. The Kansas State Wildcatsoffense would not be averaging over 40 points without the Heisman Trophy favorite, but the same can be said about Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggiesvictory over the Tide last week. Some may think its ludicrous to even put Manziel, a freshman, in the same Heisman discussion of the senior Klein, but why shouldn’t he be? You can point to the Aggies’ two losses and the fact that Klein has helped K-State to more quality wins, but without Manziel they don’t beat Alabama. Klein is leading the nation in yards per pass attempt and held the No.1 spot in passer rating until last week. Klein should be the Heisman favorite above Manziel, but to say Johnny Football doesn’t belong in the same breath is absurd.

– The battle for the Victory Bell has relevance again! The UCLA Bruins have been a surprise in the Pac-12 South this season and the argument can made they are now the better team in the rivalry. Let’s wait until the end of today to make the final case. The Bruins’ secondary could be in for a long day going up against the nation’s leading receiver, Marqise Lee. UCLA’s passing defense ranks 103rd nationally and while the USC Trojans‘ offense hasn’t been what many fans hoped for, there’s still Matt Barkley to consider. This game might come down to the Bruin’s running game. The Trojans failed to stop the run in their three losses this season. Can Brett Hundley outplay Barkley and show why he’s underrated?


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