It's a football feast!
The football season might be coming to an end, but you couldn't ask for a better finish. Matchups like Michigan vs. Ohio State, Florida vs. Florida State, South Carolina vs. Clemson, and Notre Dame vs. USC barely missed out due to this week's elite matchups that could decide who gets a BCS/ National Championship berth.
The #1 matchup this week, Auburn at Alabama, could either knock Auburn out of the National Championship picture or make them the favorite to win it all. The Arizona-Oregon matchup also has plenty of implications; a win would clinch the Pac-10 and a ticket to Glendale, Arizona for the National Championship. A loss for Boise State would be devastating, but with a win and some luck on their side, you could see the first non-BCS team playing in the National Championship Game.
As you can see, there are plenty of scenarios that will pan out after this week. Therefore, after a long day of shopping on Black Friday, what more could you ask for but to relax on the couch watching some of the best football this season.
Don't forget to tune in on Monday to see where your favorite team ranks in Xtra Point Football's NCAA Top 25 Rankings.
Auburn Tigers at Alabama Crimson Tide
The Xtra Point Football Game of the Week. The 75th Iron Bowl is once again important to the team hunting for a National Championship berth. Around this time last year, Alabama pulled out a close win over Auburn, leading to a Conference and National Championship. This year the tables have turned, with Auburn looking for a win and a National Championship berth. In order for Auburn to win this matchup, quarterback Cameron Newton will have to produce. Newton producing big numbers has obviously become common, but this week he goes up against an Alabama defense that is one of the best in the nation. But Newton is also one of the best quarterbacks in the nation; he can beat you on the ground or through the air. His talent alters anyone's game plan, with opposing defense hoping to contain, not being able to stop him completely. Newton has been through a lot the past couple of weeks, as he has had to deal with the allegations of receiving money to play for a certain team. After this week, we will see if Newton is worth the $180,000 he sought from Mississippi State. On defense, Auburn has not been able to stop opposing offenses from scoring, ranking 60th overall with an average of 24.9 points per game. In order to change their struggles so far this season on defense, they will have to focus on stopping the run.
Alabama is surprisingly playing this year's game as the possible spoiler. A win this week would knock out Auburn from making it to the National Championship. In order to "upset" Auburn, the offense will have to score often, which could be easy since Auburn allows 24.9 points per game. They will have to establish the running game, and more importantly get starting running back Mark Ingram involved in the offense. Ingram has struggled most of this season, only rushing over 100 yards twice. Last year, Ingram rushed over 100 yards 9 times, even reaching 246 yards in a game against South Carolina. They will also need for quarterback Greg McElroy to remain mistake-free. Any type of turnover for the Alabama offense will mean that the ball is in the hands of Cameron Newton, something that Alabama definitely does not want to do. For defense, the game plan is simple, stop Newton. It won't be easy, since the previous 11 teams could not contain the star quarterback. If Alabama is able to stop Auburn's offense on certain drives, then Alabama could be sitting well. If Alabama wins, should it be considered an upset? Vegas doesn't think so, since this week's spread is in favor of Alabama by 5.
Arizona Wildcats at Oregon Ducks
Arizona has had a rough past couple of weeks. They've gone on a two game losing streak that knocked them out of the Conference Championship. A third loss this week would mean falling out of the top 25. Arizona couldn't face Oregon at any worse of a time. Not only has Arizona lost those two straight games, but also during those games they gave up 426 rushing yards in total. They cannot continue this trend if they are going to win, since Oregon could rush for those yards or more in one game. The defense has the assignment of trying to stop running back LaMichael James and quarterback Darron Thomas. Even though the Oregon offense has had some struggles recently, opposing defenses have not been able to solve the blur offense. Most have looked confused and stupid resulting in a blowout early. This could happen to Arizona too if their struggles of stopping the run continue. On offense, Arizona boasts the number one passing offense in the Pac-10, averaging 300.6 yards per game. Quarterback Nick Foles has thrown for 601 yards and four touchdowns in his last two games. Foles and the offense will have to put up enough points to offset how bad their defense will be, an almost impossible feat.
As Oregon continues to win, they get closer to the National Championship Game. But they cannot overlook their next two opponents, because Arizona and Oregon State both have the talent to upset Oregon if they are not focused. On offense, they've struggled recently, only scoring 15 points against California. Last week, running back LaMichael James had plenty of touches, but was just not able to perform to the same extent as other weeks. Don't look for the same performance out of James this week, as he goes on to face an Arizona defense that has looked terrible stopping the run. Another weapon on the Oregon offense is quarterback Darron Thomas. He not only can cause problems for the opposing defenses through the air, but also this dual quarterback causes problems on the ground. Watch for Thomas and James running the ball easily and often. On defense, all Oregon has to do is stop the passing attack. Nick Foles and the offense could cause some problems for Oregon's defense, but in the end Oregon will still pull out with a win. Vegas agrees, as the spread for this game 20 points in favor of Oregon
Boise State Broncos at Nevada Wolfpack
A win this week would lead them to another BCS Bowl and possibly their first National Championship. Boise State would probably jump TCU in the polls also, leaving their chances for a national title in the hands of Arizona and Alabama. Boise State has the perfect counter to the pistol offense of Nevada, a defense that ranks second in the country in total defense (229.2) and points per game (11.5). Boise State might have held the number one passing attack of Hawaii to 240 yards, but in this week's matchup they will face a team that has one of the best rushing attacks in the nation. Boise State has yet to see a scheme like Nevada's, therefore we will have to wait and see how the defense responds. The Boise State offense is also highly ranked, second in scoring (47.9 points per game) and fourth in offense (528.8 yards). Most of their success on offense has come from quarterback Kellen Moore, who has looked unstoppable this month. Moore has thrown for 1,056 yards with 10 touchdowns, helping outscore his opponents 145-21 this month.
For Nevada, the pistol offense better not misfire. The offense has only stalled once this season, resulting in their only loss. In order to prevent that from happening again, Nevada will need quarterback Colin Kaepernick to score early and often, something that he has been able to do at ease all season. Kaepernick for the season has thrown for 2,412 yards with 19 touchdowns and has rushed for 984 yards with 16 touchdowns. The key to the offense's success this week is not Kaepernick, it will be running back Vai Taua. Taua will need to get his fair share of touches, not only has he been able to find the end zone easily all season (16 touchdowns), he will also open up the offense for Kaepernick. Nevada is simply outmatched on defense. They will need to stop Kellen Moore, but also contain the other weapons on Boise State's offense. Nevada just doesn't have enough talent on defense to upset Boise State.
LSU Tigers at Arkansas Razorbacks
This game basically comes down to Arkansas's offense versus LSU's defense. LSU's defense is the sole reason why their record is 10-1 and in the hunt for a BCS berth. Their secondary has allowed only 151.8 yards per game, that's the fourth fewest in FBS football. The defense has been able to stop high-powered offenses in previous games this season, holding Auburn to 24 points in a loss and holding Alabama to 21 points in a win. If LSU's defense can do something similar to those games this week, then LSU should be sitting well with the pressure put back on LSU's offense to produce. Last week was very surprising for the offense. They gained a season best 470 yards with quarterback Jordan Jefferson throwing for a career high 254 yards and a touchdown. Running back Stevan Ridley should have a big game and lead his team on offense. He could take advantage of an Arkansas defense that allows 162.6 yards per game. Look for him to have a big game.
While LSU's defense has carried the team all season, Arkansas's offense has done the same. With a win this week, quarterback Ryan Mallett could lead his team to their first 10-win season since 2006. Mallett ranks eighth in the FBS with 297.5 passing yards per game and also boasts a 160.4 passer rating in SEC play. His play has garnered nationwide attention and most likely will have a seat at the Heisman award ceremony. Besides Mallett on offense, Arkansas does have an explosive running back in Knile Davis. He could take the focus and pressure of Mallett, something Arkansas will need facing a great LSU defense. If Davis can produce like he did last week, gaining a career high 187 yards and the game winning touchdown catch, then they should come out with a win. It will be an interesting game to see, watch the matchup between LSU's defense and Arkansas's offense.
Oklahoma Sooners at Oklahoma State Cowboys
Should Oklahoma State be considered the underdog this week? In previous matchups they would be considered underdogs and take on the role of the spoiler. But this year, a win would get them a spot to play for the Big 12 Championship. Their success this season is due to their high-powered offense. They have weapons in just about all major positions on offense: quarterback Brandon Weeden, running back Kendall Hunter, and wide receiver Justin Blackmon. Those three have led the offense to being ranked 3rd nationally with 45.3 points per game. The Oklahoma State offense is one of the best in the nation, if they are able to move the ball on Oklahoma, then it should be a high scoring affair.
Usually around this time it's Oklahoma that's competing for a Big 12 Championship. They still have a chance, but they will have to beat Oklahoma State and their high-powered offense. If they can stall or stop the offense in any way, then Oklahoma should pull out with an "upset." If not, Oklahoma can score plenty of points themselves, making this an interesting and high scoring game. Quarterback Landry Jones needs to lead the offense, and do it turnover free. The past two games against Texas Tech and Baylor, Jones has been very impressive throwing 642 yards with eight touchdowns. He should be able to continue his success this week against a very weak Oklahoma State defense. If Oklahoma's defense falters, which I don't believe they will, Jones will have to step up and lead his team to victory. This is another interesting game; keep an eye on the score.
Player to keep your eye on: Vai Taua, RB, Nevada. Its "upset city" (in the words of Dick Vitale) if Taua can produce against a great Boise State defense. There's also a possibility he could be a bust this week. However, since his play could change a games result, he garners a spot on this week's edition.
Tailgate item of the week: Philly Cheesesteaks. Enough with the quick and easy eats. It's time for a more complicated dish that goes with a more complicated/interesting week. Go to your local butcher and ask for their top sirloin and grab some peppers, onions and cheese as well. Melt the cheese beforehand and drizzle it on the beef once the beef is cooked. Once everything is put together you won't be disappointed. You could be the talk of the town after this one. Enjoy. - Jared Levine
Jared is a Journalism and Sports Administration major at the University of Miami providing introspective, insight, information and opinion on the world of College Football.
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