There isn't a lot of potential for upsets to shake the foundation of the BCS rankings heading in Week 12, but there are some games amongst the top 25 teams in the country that should prove to be thrillers.
The only two ranked matchups on the upcoming schedule offer their own intrigue, featuring two powerful conference clashes in which the underdogs could disrupt their opponents' quest for a BCS bowl.
Let's take a look at how the standings stack up at the moment, along with a closer look at the best showdowns on tap, with predictions as to how they'll shake out.
Note: All team statistics are courtesy of NCAA.com.
|2||Florida State (9-0)||.962|
|3||Ohio State (9-0)||.893|
|10||South Carolina (7-2)||.558|
|11||Texas A&M (8-2)||.547|
|12||Oklahoma State (8-1)||.467|
|14||Fresno State (9-0)||.432|
|15||Northern Illinois (9-0)||.351|
|16||Michigan State (8-1)||.342|
|19||Arizona State (7-2)||.283|
|23||Miami (Fla.) (7-2)||.147|
No. 12 Oklahoma State vs. No. 24 Texas
Longtime Longhorns head coach Mack Brown has certainly dismissed many of his detractors. After starting the 2013 campaign 1-2, Brown has led Texas on a six-game winning streak.
The most recent triumph for the Longhorns came over another Big 12 foe in West Virginia.
Quarterback Case McCoy drove the team to a tying field goal with 13 seconds left in regulation, then capped off the winning drive in overtime by hitting Alex De La Torre on a two-yard touchdown toss to win 47-40.
TEXAS WINS A WILD ONE! Case McCoy finds Alex De La Torre for game-winning TD as Longhorns beat Mountaineers, 47-40.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 10, 2013
McCoy has been clutch late in games in the midst of this winning stretch in notching four fourth-quarter comebacks on the road. However, he will face his stiffest challenge this week at home since Oct. 12 when the Longhorns beat Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry.
The Cowboys lost to the Mountaineers earlier this year, but that is the only blemish on their record. A win in Austin would provide a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Longhorns in the Big 12 standings.
However, QB Clint Chelf completes barely over half of his passes, and Oklahoma State doesn't run the ball well enough to exploit the Longhorns' 84th-ranked rush defense.
It should be close, but look for McCoy to pull off some more late-game heroics and boost the Longhorns to 7-0 in the conference in a tight victory.
Prediction: Texas 31, Oklahoma State 24
No. 25 Georgia vs. No. 7 Auburn
After weathering a tough early-season schedule rather well, the Bulldogs have been depleted by injuries.
At least senior signal-caller Aaron Murray is still running the offense, but he's doing so without dynamic receiver Justin Scott-Wesley and running back Keith Marshall.
Thankfully, Todd Gurley has returned to the backfield for the past two games after being out for three contests, and the Bulldogs have kept fighting in the meantime. Head coach Mark Richt has been impressed with how Gurley has gutted it out:
Richt on Todd Gurley: "I think it's fairly obvious he's not 100 percent. ... I'm impressed with his toughness."— Seth Emerson (@SethEmerson) November 9, 2013
As David Ching of ESPN.com points out, too, starting tight end Arthur Lynch and receiver Chris Conley should be back this week to face the Tigers.
Although Auburn is a juggernaut that averages 320 rushing yards per contest, Georgia is yielding just 3.45 yards per carry.
With the increased weapons at his side, Murray should flourish and keep the Bulldogs within striking distance. Gurley's presence will be what puts the underdogs over the top to pull the upset in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Prediction: Georgia 27, Auburn 21
No. 16 Michigan State vs. Nebraska
The Spartans defense has been incredible, ranking third in the nation in scoring defense (11.6 PPG), third in passing yards allowed per game (166.8 YPG) and tops in rush defense.
Which underdog has the best chance of winning?
Savvy middle linebacker Max Bullough runs the show, while speedy weak-side linebacker Denicos Allen flies to the football and makes plays. Defensive end Shilique Calhoun is a load as a pass-rusher, and before the team's bye, he racked up 2.5 sacks in the 29-6 win over Michigan.
Sophomore QB Connor Cook has been solid but not spectacular, though, and this game has a lot at stake for Sparty. If Michigan State loses in Lincoln, it will fall into a tie with the Cornhuskers for first in the Big Ten's Legends Division.
However, Nebraska will have beaten them head-to-head and thus would have an inside track to the conference championship game.
This should be an old-fashioned, three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust Big Ten showdown, but as long as the Spartans shut down Cornhuskers running back Ameer Abdullah—who's run for 1,213 yards and seven touchdowns this season—they should come out on top.
Prediction: Michigan State 17, Nebraska 13