Five To Watch
No. 2 Texas Tech at No. 5 Oklahoma, 8 p.m., ABC
In this week's episode of "Game of the Year," we have Texas Tech returning for its third appearance in four weeks and Oklahoma returning to a stage it has become quite familiar with since Bob Stoops arrived in Norman. While Tech has shot up to No. 2 in the rankings behind two big home wins against Texas and Oklahoma State, the Sooners have only suffered two losses at home in the past decade with Stoops manning the sidelines. That number should remain intact after Saturday, as Oklahoma has averaged more than 57 points and 590 yards of total offense in its four wins since losing to Texas. If the Red Raiders, however, can outscore the Sooners in this aerial attack featuring two of the top five passing teams in the nation, they'll win the Big 12 South and have a direct path to the BCS National Championship Game. If Tech loses, it will likely set up a BCS headache -- Oklahoma would probably leapfrog Texas in the BCS standing and earn a trip to the Big 12 Title game despite losing to the Longhorns by 10 points on a neutral field. What, another controversy in the BCS? You, don't say ...
No. 16 BYU at No. 8 Utah, 6:00 p.m., The Mtn.
I'm all for conferences having their own networks, especially one that gets as little coverage nationally as the Mountain West, but a game like this, with major BCS ramifications should have really found its way to a bigger outlet than The Mtn. For those that will actually be able to watch it, though, this year's "Holy War" will have more on the line than bragging rights. A win for Utah will not only give the the Utes the MWC title but also lock up a spot in the BCS. The teams have split the past 12 meetings, and 10 of the past 11 have been decided by a touchdown or less. Utah should win another close one to get to a $9 million BCS game and prevent a free fall all the way to the $750,000 Poinsettia Bowl.
No. 17 Michigan State at No. 7 Penn State, 3:30 p.m., ABC
In what could be JoePa's last game in Happy Valley, Penn State can wrap up the Big Ten title and a trip to its first Rose Bowl since 1995 with a win over Michigan State. (By the way, how crazy is it that neither Ohio State nor Penn State has played in the Rose Bowl in the past 12 years?) The 81-year-old Paterno, whose contract expires at the end of the year, will need hip-replacement surgery after the season and has coached the team from the press box since October. Michigan State has never won in Happy Valley and the Spartans have lost their last 10 games to ranked opponents. It will be 11 after Paterno's very happy finale on Saturday.
No. 20 Pittsburgh at No. 19 Cincinnati, 7:15 p.m., ESPN2
The winner of this Big East battle will control its destiny in the conference race. Pitt has won all seven of its games against Cincinnati, but this one is at Nippert Stadium. The Bearcats should finally notch their first victory over the Panthers. Cincinnati, which is expected to have Tony Pike at the helm, will be able to move the ball on Pittsburgh's weak secondary. If Pitt tailback LeSean McCoy can't improve upon the career-low 39 rushing yards he had last week, it could be a long day for Pitt.
Michigan at No. 10 Ohio State, 12:00 p.m., ABC
Remember when this game used to mean something nationally? Well, it still does for the Buckeyes, who can clinch at least a share of a fourth consecutive Big Ten title with an unprecedented fifth straight win over Michigan. If Michigan State can also upset Penn State later in the day, the Buckeyes will be headed to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1997. Meanwhile, Michigan is simply hoping to finish its season on a high note after losing six of its last seven games (clinching the Wolverines' first eight-loss season in school history). How many times do you think Wolverines coach Rich Rodriguez will daydream about what could have been as he watches Terrelle Pryor, who spurned Michigan for Ohio State last year, dominate the game on the ground and through the air?
Two To Remember
No. 21 Oregon State at Arizona, 7 p.m., Versus
What was once thought of as a pipe dream for the 2-3 Beavers a month ago is two games away from being a reality. If Oregon State can win this week at Arizona and next week against Oregon at home, the Beavers will be headed to their first Rose Bowl since 1965. Before they look ahead to next week's "Civil War," Oregon State must take care of business against the Wildcats, which hasn't been a problem in recent years. The Beavers have gotten the better of the Wildcats in eight of their last nine meetings, including the last three. It will be four in a row after Saturday for Oregon State, which will move one step closer to Pasadena. Don't feel bad for Arizona, though -- the Wildcats have already saved Mike Stoops' job by clinching their first bowl berth since 1998.
Florida State at No. 22 Maryland, 7:45 p.m. ESPN
It doesn't seem like any team particularly wants the ACC Atlantic Division crown, but with a win against the Seminoles and another against Boston College next week, Maryland will take it and advance to the ACC title game with a chance to win the conference for the first time since 2001. The Terps should probably imagine they are playing Florida State from a few years ago; Maryland is the only team in the country with four wins against ranked opponents, but the Terps have played down to inferior competition many times this season. Maryland is 3-3 against non-ranked teams and 0-3 in night games, but the Terps are 6-0 at home this season and this one's in College Park.
One To Forget
Washington at Washington State, 3:00 p.m., FSN
There will be plenty of "Rotten Apple Cup" headlines leading up to this game between the two worst teams in Pac-10 history. While Washington is the only FBS team without a win, Washington State's lone victory came against Portland State back in September, which must feel like a lifetime ago to the Cougars, who have been shut out three times and given up at least 58 points to six conference opponents. Both teams have only scored 139 points this season, but Washington State has given up a staggering 533 points to Washington's 399. That will be the difference on Saturday; Washington will narrowly win its first game of the season.