Games to Watch: Week 12

Chris Hummer

No. 8 Houston at Tulsa

Houston is only one win away from a perfect regular season, a Conference USA title game birth and a possible BCS bowl. However, there is one obstacle left for the Cougars to accomplish that goal: Tulsa University. This Tulsa team can score. Its offense has not scored less than 24 points in a game all season long. The Hurricanes move the ball with a balanced attack with the running game and the passing game putting up just more than 200 yards a game apiece. On top of all of that, they are hot — winning seven games straight — with a perfect conference record. This means they are fighting for a title game birth as well. But Houston is just as motivated if not more with all they have on the line, and have the explosive offense to back that up. The Cougars have the highest scoring average in all of college football at 54.7 points a game. Most of which comes from the golden arm of their Heisman-contending quarterback Case Keenum, who leads the top-ranked passing attack in the country. The game has a ton at stake, but it will be hard for Tulsa to slow down Houston, no one has done it yet.

No. 3 Arkansas at No. 1 LSU

LSU has done everything right this season going into its final game of the regular season. It tackled one of the toughest schedules in the country which included two top-five opponents. The Tigers will have to face one more of those top-five teams this season — Arkansas — in order to reach the SEC title game, which is crazy considering what they have already gone through this season. But an LSU loss to Arkansas would create a three way tie atop the SEC West, between LSU, Alabama and Arkansas. So it is imperative that the Tigers come out on top once again because if they lose they will put their SEC title chances on the line and, even more importantly, their national title game aspirations. LSU is certainly not short on talent to take care of Arkansas; the Tigers have the one of the most stifling defenses in the nation, allowing only 10.7 points a game. Although the Razorbacks will pose about as tough as a challenge to that defense as they have seen all season. Arkansas averages 38.8 points a game, and quarterback Tyler Wilson has been one of the best in the country this year slinging the ball around the pitch for more than 300 yards a game. With these talented teams on the field and stakes as high as these, this game is a must watch.

No. 19 Penn State at No. 16 Wisconsin

The Big 10 is in its first season in which it will have a conference championship game, where the winners of the Legends and Leaders divisions will play. The champion of the Legends conference is already decided, with Michigan State clinching next week. The winner of the Leaders division will be decided this weekend, when Wisconsin hosts Penn State. This is a matchup of the most talented team in the Big 10 — Wisconsin — and perhaps the most motivated team in the country — Penn State — who is playing for much more than just a championship appearance. The Nittany Lions have been wrapped up in what is college football’s biggest scandal since the SMU death penalty days, and their legendary head coach Joe Paterno is no longer on the sidelines because of it. Now there is news that he has cancer, so not only will State college be playing for a championship, but for the whole community, the children affected by the scandal and of course for Joe Pa. However, this Wisconsin team is very good, with their only two losses of the season coming on last-second heaves by Ohio State and Michigan State. Both teams rank in the top seven in the country in defense, so it will be a traditional smash mouth Big Ten game to decide who moves on.

No. 2 Alabama at No. 24 Auburn

The “Iron Bowl” is one of the best rivalries in sports, and no matter how good the Tigers and the Crimson Tide are when the clash, it is always a bloody battle on the gridiron. Last year’s game was one of the best battles in the storied rivalry’s history. When a No. 1 Auburn squad led by Cam Newton went in to Tuscaloosa and kept its national title hopes alive by beating the Crimson Tide 28-27, despite being down 21-0 after the first quarter. This year’s game has a chance to be just as important and maybe as great as last season’s, as both schools are ranked coming into the matchup and if Alabama wins, it most likely clinches a spot in the national title game, so the showdown has huge implications on the national stage. But for the state of Alabama, this game is huge either way because you either grow up an Alabama fan or an Auburn fan there, with no middle ground. The talent on the field this season is significantly skewed in favor of the Crimson Tide, and while Auburn is good, they are a very young squad that are struggling to stay in the top 25, while Alabama is a consensus top-five team and a likely national title game participant. So the squads might not be as close as they have been in years past, but it is the “Iron Bowl” and anything can happen.