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Here are 10 things I'm buzzing about at the outset of Week 14:
1. Just because Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers is doubtful doesn't mean the Civil War is void of talented running backs. Far from it. Just look over at the visiting sideline. I've already used this space to profess my love for LeGarrette Blount and his explosive running style, but I haven't mentioned Jeremiah Johnson, whose burner speed also tickles my fancy. With a Rose Bowl berth on the line, Reser Stadium will be lively, but I'm taking the Ducks in this one, hedging my bet on the assumption that Blount and Johnson will make more big plays than James Rodgers and Sammie Stroughter.
2. What are the chances that Oklahoma State and Baylor knock off Oklahoma and Texas Tech, respectively, thus sending one-loss Texas to the Big 12 title game without any controversy whatsoever? Well, probably not as remote as you think. It's not that hard to imagine Oklahoma State upsetting Oklahoma. The Pokes always play the Sooners tough in Stillwater, and any time you're rollin' with Zac Robinson, Kendall Hunter and Dez Bryant, there's a chance. But 4-7 Baylor beating 10-1 Texas Tech in Lubbock ... that's a little tougher to envision. (And technically speaking, that's the one that really matters for Texas, as the 'Horns already hold the tiebreaker over Oklahoma.) There's just no way the Bears can shut down the Red Raiders' high-flying offense, right? Wait a second -- wasn't it exactly one year ago that 4-7 Pittsburgh traveled to Morgantown and shocked 10-1 West Virginia, holding the Mountaineers' electric offense to nine points? That Panthers team was a 28-point underdog. Baylor's only getting 21.5.
Like most of you, I expect OU and Tech to take care of business. But let's not forget the chaotic nature of this sport. Every time it feels like we have it all figured out, the college football gods remind us that we know nothing.
3. Six thousand, three hundred miles from Rome, Charlie Weis enters the L.A. Coliseum as an overmatched gladiator being thrown to the lions. Will blood be shed? Almost certainly. Will Weis live to fight another season? That depends on two things: A) how much blood is shed; and B) the actual price of his buyout (there have been conflicting reports).
4. Paul Johnson has far exceeded all expectations in Year 1 at Georgia Tech, racking up eight wins with his throwback offense. And for this, he deserves a warm round of applause. Now, if he can march into Sanford Stadium and beat Mark Richt in his first taste of Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate, a warm round of applause will no longer cut it. How 'bout some hardware?
5. Prior to last year's Florida-Florida State game, Seminoles LB Geno Hayes declared, "Tim Tebow's going down." The Gators went on to win that game 45-12 with Tebow accumulating 351 yards of total offense and five touchdowns. Hayes had one tackle. So it's no surprise that we haven't heard any Florida State players mouthing off this week. But don't take their silence as trepidation. This year's D has a far better chance at slowing down Tebow and Co., ranking seventh in the nation in total defense. Then again, South Carolina entered the Florida game boasting the nation's No. 3 defense. And we all know how that turned out ...
6. No. 20 Boston College can secure a spot in the ACC title game today. All the Eagles need to do is beat unranked Maryland, which is fresh off an embarrassing 37-3 loss to Florida State. Of course, this is the ACC, and what's up is down. So I'll place an imaginary bet on the Terps. Straight up. Who needs the 6.5-point spread? As you've all heard by now, unranked teams are 13-4 against ranked teams in this kooky conference.
7. Two days after Thanksgiving, Chase Daniel's feast really begins -- on the Kansas secondary. In his last two games combined against the Jayhawks, Daniel has completed 66 of 87 passes for 717 yards, seven TDs and zero interceptions. Who wants thirds?
8. With West Virginia's loss in the Backyard Brawl on Friday, Cincinnati clinched the Big East title and the accompanying BCS bid. So today's home game against Syracuse will serve as one big celebration in Nippert Stadium. Cincy fans, don't forget that sack of oranges. I prefer Valencia for hurling purposes.
9. Auburn has won six straight Iron Bowls over Alabama and the Tigers are a perfect 6-0 in Tuscaloosa. Anybody really think Saban's squad might get caught looking ahead to Florida?
10. As if Vegas is trying to lure gamblers into that final wager of the day -- the "recovery bet" -- Hawaii is only a 28.5-point favorite over Washington State in the 11 p.m. nightcap. Do the oddsmakers know something I don't? I understand this 6-5 Warriors squad is a far cry from last year's edition, but Wazzu lost 58-0 to Stanford.