Texas A&M shook up the college football landscape last week by knocking off Alabama. The Aggies opened the door for other teams to compete for a top spot that many people thought would remain in the hands of the Crimson Tide.
The upset was yet another example of the importance each game holds. No matter what happened in the first 11 weeks, a loss on Saturday will have a major impact on the teams hoping to land in a BCS bowl. That's a lot of pressure for players to deal with.
Knowing that, let's take a look at some of the most important matchups on the schedule for Week 12 and make predictions for which team will come out on top.
No. 1 Kansas State vs. Baylor
Kansas State must be careful against Baylor. It would be extremely easy for the Wildcats to lose focus heading into a game against an unranked team after taking over the top spot. Defending the No. 1 ranking is often tougher than attaining it.
Luckily, Collin Klein emerged from the victory against TCU no worse for wear after an injury scare the previous week. He should be ready for the shootout that awaits him against the seventh-ranked scoring offense of the Bears.
Baylor's combination of Nick Florence and Terrance Williams is going to cause some major issues for the Kansas State secondary, ultimately keeping the game closer than most people probably expect. The Wildcats should have enough firepower to squeak out a win, though.
Prediction: Kansas State
No. 13 Stanford vs. No. 2 Oregon
Oregon's offense is simply amazing. The Ducks are averaging 55 points per game, and it isn't a product of running up the score against weak opponents, either. In three matchups with ranked foes, the Ducks' scoring average is almost identical.
It will be interesting to see how they perform against a Stanford defense that held the star-studded USC offense to just 14 points. Kenjon Barner will find sledding particularly tough facing the Cardinal, who are allowing just 59 yards per game on the ground to lead the Pac-12.
Aside from stopping the run, the other key for Stanford to keep it close is controlling the pace. It knows that the Ducks can rack up points at an eye-popping rate if you let them get on a roll. The Cardinal have to slow down the game, but even that probably won't be enough.
No. 18 USC vs. No. 17 UCLA
Among teams outside the Top Five, no matchup is more intriguing than USC and UCLA going to battle for the Pac-12 South division title. Both teams have had some hiccups along the way, but both are coming off wins last week.
What the Trojans have to be most happy about from their victory over Arizona State is how the defense stepped up in the second half. After well-documented struggles throughout the season, the unit gave up just three points in the final two quarters to earn a big win.
They are going to need a similar performance this week against Brett Hundley, Johnathan Franklin and company. Whichever defense is able to manufacture more second-half stops will lead its team to victory. Give the slight edge to the Trojans.