Oregon vs. Stanford and 9 Games Left in the Season with BCS Implications
With only three weeks left in the college football season, the BCS picture is not nearly as murky as it was a month ago. Once-mighty teams like Wisconsin and Kansas State have stumbled out of the national championship picture, while Stanford, LSU and Oklahoma State have continued rolling through their conference schedules.
After their statement win at Alabama, LSU solidified itself as the best team in college football, winning a defensive-minded 9-6 game in overtime. However, with a few weeks left in the regular season, the Tigers could easily stumble, along with other top-five teams like Oklahoma State, Stanford and Boise State.
This article discusses the top 10 remaining college football games that have BCS implications for both teams.
Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech (Nov. 10)
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The winner of this game will likely control its own destiny in the Coastal Division with a chance to play the Atlantic winner in the ACC Championship Game for a spot in a BCS bowl. Both teams are entering this game on a positive note.
Since its loss to Clemson earlier in the year, Virginia Tech has won four straight conference games due to the solid and efficient play of RB David Wilson, who already has 1,185 yards rushing on the year.
After losing two road games to Virginia and Miami, Georgia Tech handed Clemson its first loss of the season and stifled Tajh Boyd. Look for this game to go down to the wire as both teams possess dynamic offenses.
West Virginia at Cincinnati (Nov. 12)
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Cincinnati can put itself in the driver's seat in the Big East with a win against a tough West Virginia squad, which has struggled against mediocre foes like Connecticut and Syracuse. Cincinnati has a solid 7-1 record on the year, with its only loss at Tennessee.
Geno Smith and company have the talent to be the creme of the crop in the Big East and the Mountaineers can re-enter the conference title race with a big win at Cincinnati. However, they will have to stop Isaiah Pead and Zach Collaros' 11th-ranked offense (in terms of average points scored), and Smith needs to continue to play efficiently. On the year, Smith has thrown only five interceptions to 23 touchdowns.
Michigan State at Iowa (Nov. 12)
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Michigan State and Iowa are two teams that have battled back from early losses in the season by beating several tough conference foes. If Iowa wins this game, a four-team logjam could be created in the Legends Division, and the Hawkeyes would control their own destiny for the rest of the season.
Michigan State's defense has been stingy all year, giving up only 16.0 points per game, while Kirk Cousins has been a solid game-manager and QB once again. B.J. Cunningham has also been a big-play receiver, averaging 16.2 yards per reception.
On the other side, QB James Vandenberg is having a career year, throwing 18 touchdowns to four interceptions with more than 2,000 yards passing. This game is surely going to be close considering the Hawkeyes are playing at home.
TCU at Boise State (Nov. 12)
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A rematch of the 2010 Fiesta Bowl and 2008 Poinsettia Bowl, Boise State and TCU clash for the third time in the past five years. However, this time, TCU does not have a team that is as good as Boise State on paper. This is the Broncos' last real test of the season, as they finish out against two mediocre teams in Wyoming and San Diego State and winless New Mexico.
Kellen Moore is having another big year for the Broncos and this team has been rolling all year, including a 35-21 romp over current SEC East favorite Georgia. This is Boise's first legitimate test in more than two months, and look for TCU's balanced rushing and passing attack of Casey Pachall and Waymon James to keep the Horned Frogs in this game.
Oregon at Stanford (Nov. 12)
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Stanford has looked like a top-five team all year long, dismantling its foes with its potent offensive attack led by Heisman hopeful Andrew Luck, while the defensive has been stingy, allowing only 16.6 points per game. However, Oregon will be Stanford's best opponent based on the BCS rankings this year and has looked elite since LSU throttled the Ducks in the first week of the season. The winner of this game takes control of the Pac-12 North Division and becomes the likely favorite to win the conference.
While Luck and Stepfan Taylor will likely be the focus of this game, Oregon's running game could cause problems for Stanford. Against USC, Stanford's defense struggled against the quick Curtis McNeal, and LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas are probably the fastest trio of backs in the country. Look for this game to remain close late into the second half if Oregon's offense gets going early.
Nebraska at Michigan (Nov. 19)
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This is another game that has huge implications in the wide-open Legends Division. After losing to putrid Northwestern, Nebraska gave up its advantage in the division, falling one game behind first-place Michigan State. On the other hand, turnovers proved to be costly for Michigan against a surging Iowa team.
Denard Robinson has not been as dynamic and dominant as he was last year, running for only 834 yards compared to his 1,704-yard performance last year. In addition, he has thrown 12 interceptions, costing his team key wins due to these turnovers.
Nebraska's defense has struggled and looked out of place without senior leader Jared Crick. The loser of this game will likely be eliminated from Big Ten championship contention.
Arkansas at LSU (Nov. 25)
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After a huge statement win at Alabama, LSU has proven it is the best team in the country. Eric Reid and Tyrann Mathieu shut down Alabama's offense, culminating in Reid's sensational interception late in the fourth quarter.
Arkansas has flown under the radar after being beat down by Alabama, winning five in a row and reaching eighth in the latest BCS rankings.
The Arkansas offense relies greatly on its solid passing game led by QB Tyler Wilson, while it has not been able to establish a solid rushing attack after Knile Davis suffered a season-ending ankle injury before the season.
Meanwhile, LSU may have a QB controversy on its hands after head coach Les Miles benched Jarrett Lee for the second half of Alabama game.
If Arkansas wins this game, the Razorbacks could cause a three-way tie in the SEC West.
Clemson at South Carolina (Nov. 26)
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While this matchup is the only non-conference game on the list, this game could improve both teams' at-large BCS bids. Both Clemson and South Carolina control their own destinies in their divisions, having the chance of reaching the ACC and SEC championship games respectively.
Tajh Boyd has been sensational all year, throwing 26 touchdowns and more than 2,600 yards. In addition, Andre Ellington has proved to be an All-ACC running back and has looked like C.J. Spiller at times.
Despite losing both Stephen Garcia and Marcus Lattimore, QB Connor Shaw has been a steady starter, while Jadeveon Clowney and Melvin Ingram have been rushing the passer extremely effectively. The game will be closer than most think because it is being played in Columbia, S.C.
Penn State at Wisconsin (Nov. 26)
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The only Leaders Division game on the list, Wisconsin and Penn State are the two best teams in their division. If Wisconsin can beat Penn State and get some help from the rest of the division, it could see a rematch against Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game.
On the other side, Penn State looks to continue its magical season in the midst of a sexual abuse scandal, which threatens the job security of Joe Paterno.
Russell Wilson has been better than expected, throwing 21 touchdowns, while Montee Ball has a nose for the end zone, scoring 21 rushing touchdowns this year. Wisconsin lost two straight road games against Michigan State and Ohio State on last-second drives and is talented enough to make a BCS bowl.
Penn State now reaches the tough part of its schedule, playing Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin in consecutive weeks. We will see what the Nittany Lions are made of.
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (Dec. 3)
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This game will have the greatest BCS implications of any game on this list. Oklahoma State has risen to second in the BCS rankings, beating Kansas State, Texas A&M, Texas and Baylor along the way.
Oklahoma, the preseason No. 1 team, won an early-round test at Florida State before being upset by Texas Tech in its worst performance of the year. However, Oklahoma still has a chance to climb back into the national title picture with a little help from the rest of the country.
The Pokes are led by 28-year-old QB Brandon Weeden and a top receiver-running back combination in Joseph Randle and Justin Blackmon. Randle has proven to be a superb replacement to Kendall Hunter, rushing for 18 touchdowns.
Oklahoma has suffered two debilitating losses on the offensive side of the ball, losing top RB Dominique Whaley and WR Ryan Broyles to season-ending injuries. Even with these setbacks, the Sooners have beaten the Cowboys eight straight times and may succeed again.