It may be the final week of the regular season for the majority of teams, but nothing is over yet—there is still plenty of time for things to go wrong for some of the squads that find themselves at the top of the standings.
Pressure is not something to be underrated, and pressure doesn't get more intense than what is currently facing some of the nation's top-ranked teams this week. They know there is no margin for error right now, and because of that—or perhaps who they're playing—the pressure could be too much to combat.
Here are some of the teams that should be on upset alert this week.
No. 19 Michigan at Ohio State
OK, so this is technically an upset, but it isn't really. If Ohio State could be ranked in the BCS, it would be at the top of the standings (lucky for you, Notre Dame). But since those NCAA violations are keeping the Buckeyes out of the postseason hunt and out of the BCS rankings, No. 19 Michigan finds itself in a position where it can somehow be upset by an undefeated Big Ten team.
The Buckeyes' road to this point hasn't been easy the whole way, and they've had to pull through in some character wins, including last week's 21-14 overtime win over Wisconsin, in order to survive without a blemish on their record.
And this game on Saturday might as well be their personal bowl game, since they won't be playing in one. Since they have nothing else to look forward to, the Buckeyes will take immense pleasure in beating their rivals on their home turf to conclude the most meaningless undefeated season in school history.
And Michigan looks ripe for the picking. Whenever this team has faced big challenges in 2012—against Alabama, Notre Dame and randomly against Nebraska—it has fallen. Ohio State bodes to be one of the toughest teams the Wolverines have faced all season, and they could very well find themselves with a fourth loss by day's end.
Pick: Ohio State
No. 13 Oklahoma vs. No. 21 Oklahoma State
We've learned two things this year where these two teams are concerned: That one of them is very capable of pulling off a big win or two, and one of them is very capable of choking when it really needs to survive.
The Sooners may boast one of the strongest offenses in the NCAA, but we saw that offense shockingly stymied at the hands of Notre Dame a few weeks ago—on their home turf, no less. Since that loss, it's been uphill for Oklahoma, but in truth they haven't really played anybody.
Oklahoma State is somebody, and it's a team that has knocked off a couple of ranked opponents in 2012. The first was Iowa State in October; the second was Texas Tech last week. And like Oklahoma, the Cowboys boast an excellent offense and an OK defense, which makes this one seem like it's going to be a shootout.
The Sooners are going to be the toughest challenge the Cowboys have faced since taking on Kansas State in early November and losing 44-30, but they've been able to conquer challenges thus far this season. And despite its own No. 13 ranking, Oklahoma has had considerable trouble fending off ranked opponents this year.
Pick: Oklahoma State
No. 1 Notre Dame at USC
It's hard to believe how far USC has fallen throughout the course of this season. The Trojans were seemingly deflated after suffering a pretty massive upset loss to Arizona at the end of October; from there, things spiraled out of control.
Now, they have one last shot at glory, and it will come against one of their biggest rivals—and a rival they have had tremendous success against in the past. USC has won eight of the last nine between these two (or nine of the last 10, if you count the 2005 win that was later vacated).
The odds should be heavily in Notre Dame's favor in this matchup. The Irish are, for one, undefeated. They have one of the best defenses in the nation. They are playing against a team that lost its starting quarterback last week.
But you just never know what's going to happen when these two teams face each other. Anything could happen, and USC—which knows it must win this game in order to reestablish itself as a threat—is desperate. That could be dangerous.
There's also the incessant chatter that Notre Dame hasn't really had to play anyone this year. At one point, the Irish's schedule looked intimidating; looking back on the way things have gone this season, it looks anything but.
Michigan State ended up being a bust, and Michigan ended up being far weaker than we anticipated. Of ND's 11 games, thus far, six of them came against weak ACC opponents, weak Big East opponents and weak Independents.
It's not to say that Notre Dame is bad, but just don't be all that surprised if USC ends up coming up with a big win this weekend.