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November 17, 2011

Primer: Most powers facing weak opponents

WEEK 12 PREVIEWS: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | MWC | Pac-12 | SEC

After the massive shakeup in the BCS standings last week - so long, Boise State and Stanford - this week looks as if it will be the last "calm" week of the season.

No. 1 LSU plays a horrible Ole Miss team. No. 3 Alabama meets an FCS opponent. No. 5 Oklahoma meets a Baylor team that doesn't know you have to field a defense. And No. 2 Oklahoma State is a 27-point favorite at Iowa State on Friday night.

No. 4 Oregon, though, has a second consecutive big game, as the Ducks play host to USC (8-2). While the Trojans are ineligible for the postseason, they sure can put a crimp in Oregon's bowl hopes with an upset.

There's also unbeaten Houston (10-0), which suddenly is in the spotlight because of Boise State's loss. The Cougars play host to June Jones' SMU team as part of a tough closing stretch.

Here's a look at each game involving a FBS team this weekend.


North Carolina (6-4) at Virginia Tech (9-1), 8 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: The visiting team has won each of the past three games in the series. Hokies TB David Wilson has rushed for 100 yards in seven consecutive games, and he is the main reason Tech is in first place in the ACC Coastal Division. If Tech wins this and Virginia loses to Florida State, the Hokies are the division champ.
THE LINE: Virginia Tech by 10.5 THE PICK: Virginia Tech 34-20

Southern Miss (9-1) at UAB (2-8), 8 p.m., CBS Sports Network
THE BUZZ: Southern Miss wins the Conference USA East Division title with a victory. The Golden Eagles lead this series 9-2, but one of UAB's victories came last season.
THE LINE: Southern Miss by 23 THE PICK: Southern Miss 44-24

Marshall (4-6) at Memphis (2-8), 8 p.m., Fox Sports Houston/SportSouth/Fox Sports Southwest/MSG network/ROOT Sports Northwest
THE BUZZ: Marshall still has a shot at bowl eligibility; the Herd has to win this and next week's regular-season finale against East Carolina to become bowl-eligible.
THE LINE: Marshall by 11.5 THE PICK: Marshall 30-17


Oklahoma State (10-0) at Iowa State (5-4), 8 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: Oklahoma State knows that if it wins out, it will be in New Orleans for the national title game. Iowa State still needs one more win for bowl eligibility. Oklahoma State has won 10 in a row on the road.
THE LINE: Oklahoma State by 27 THE PICK: Oklahoma State 54-24

Toledo (6-4) at Central Michigan (3-8), 8 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: This will be the third consecutive game Toledo has had televised on an ESPN network; the Rockets averaged 63 points per game in the first two. Given Central's shaky defense, is a third consecutive 60-point outing in the offing? This is the final game of the season for the Chippewas, who didn't have an off-week.
THE LINE: Toledo by 14.5 THE PICK: Toledo 54-34


Nebraska (8-2) at Michigan (8-2), noon, ESPN
THE BUZZ: The Huskers make their first visit to Ann Arbor since 1962. Both still technically are in the running for the Big Ten Legends Division title, but Nebraska's hopes are more legitimate. Two of the nation's best running quarterbacks will be on view.
THE LINE: Michigan by 3.5 THE PICK: Nebraska 24-20

Wisconsin (8-2) at Illinois (6-4), noon, ESPN2
THE BUZZ: Wisconsin needs to win to stay in the hunt for the Big Ten Leaders Division title. Illinois comes in having lost four in a row, and the Illini have scored just 42 points in those four games. Illinois is second in the Big Ten in rush defense; can the Illini stifle Wisconsin's powerful rushing attack?
THE LINE: Wisconsin by 14.5 THE PICK: Wisconsin 34-17

Cincinnati (7-2) at Rutgers (6-3), noon, ESPNU
THE BUZZ: OK, raise your hand if, before the season, you thought this would be a hugely important game in the Big East title chase. Cincy begins life without starting QB Zach Collaros and instead will go with Munchie Legaux. (And come on, admit it: You want a guy who goes by "Munchie" to succeed.) The Bearcats have won five in a row in the series. This is the last home game of the season for Rutgers.
THE LINE: Cincinnati by 3 THE PICK: Rutgers 24-21

Kansas (2-8) at Texas A&M (5-5), noon, Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: A&M still needs one more win for bowl eligibility and should get that victory against the Jayhawks. A&M has given up at least 404 yards in seven of its past eight games; KU has surrendered at least 420 yards in each game this season.
THE LINE: Texas A&M by 30.5 THE PICK: Texas A&M 55-28

Iowa (6-4) at Purdue (5-5), noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: Purdue stunned Ohio State last week, and needs one more win to become bowl-eligible (the Boilermakers finish the regular season against Indiana next week). Iowa is worried about bowl positioning. The home team has won nine of the past 10 in the series.
THE LINE: Iowa by 2.5 THE PICK: Iowa 27-21

Indiana (1-9) at Michigan State (8-2), noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: Michigan State clinches at least a tie for the Big Ten Legends Division title with a win over the Hoosiers, whose only victory is over a FCS team. Indiana is giving up 42.3 points per game in Big Ten action.
THE LINE: Michigan State by 28 THE PICK: Michigan State 42-17

Minnesota (2-8) at Northwestern (5-5), noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: Northwestern needs one more victory for bowl eligibility. Other than a shocking upset of Iowa, Minnesota has surrendered an average of 43.4 points per game in Big Ten play.
THE LINE: Northwestern by 15.5 THE PICK: Northwestern 43-24

Louisville (5-5) at Connecticut (4-5), noon, Big East syndication/Sportsnet New York/MASN/Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast/ESPN Game Plan
THE BUZZ: Neither of these teams is all that good. But because the Big East as a whole isn't that good, either, both remain in the running for the league title. Both play good defense, and neither is all that effective offensively. (What that means, of course, is that this is going to be some wild shootout.)
THE LINE: UConn by 1 THE PICK: Louisville 17-13

The Citadel (4-6) at South Carolina (8-2), noon, ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This is the 50th meeting between the in-state schools, and the Gamecocks lead the series 39-7-3. But the Bulldogs won in the most recent meeting, in 1990.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: South Carolina 41-6

Akron (1-9) at Buffalo (2-8), noon
THE BUZZ: The hounds head north, as this is the dog of the week. These teams have combined for one win over a FBS program (and that was a one-pointer by Buffalo).
THE LINE: Buffalo by 11.5 THE PICK: Buffalo 27-17

Kentucky (4-6) at Georgia (8-2), 12:20 p.m., SEC syndication/MSG network/Comcast Sports Net California/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Georgia clinches the SEC East title with a victory. The Bulldogs lead the series 50-12-2, including 24-4-2 in Athens. But UK did win in its most recent trip to Sanford Stadium.
THE LINE: Georgia by 30.5 THE PICK: Georgia 49-17

Georgia Tech (7-3) at Duke (3-7), 12:30 p.m., ACC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Georgia Tech has won 15 of the past 16 in the series. The Yellow Jackets have lost three of their past four overall, with the one win in that span coming against Clemson. Duke has lost five in a row overall.
THE LINE: Georgia Tech by 11 THE PICK: Georgia Tech 42-27

Furman (6-4) at Florida (5-5), 1 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: The Gators need one more win for bowl eligibility, and this should be it. Furman's first-year coach is Bruce Fowler, who spent the previous nine seasons as Vanderbilt's defensive coordinator.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Florida 41-14

Samford (6-4) at Auburn (6-4), 1 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This is the 27th meeting between these in-state schools, and Auburn is 25-0-1. Samford is coached by Pat Sullivan, a former Auburn quarterback who won the Heisman in 1971.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Auburn 44-10

Army (3-7) at Temple (6-4), 1 p.m.
THE BUZZ: While Temple is bowl-eligible for the third consecutive season, the Owls still need to win out to make themselves as attractive as possible to bowl organizers. Temple is 14th nationally in rush defense, and the Owls have held six opponents under 100 rushing yards, including Penn State.
THE LINE: Temple by 13.5 THE PICK: Temple 37-21

Eastern Michigan (6-4) at Kent State (4-6), 1 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Because it has two wins over FCS opponents, Eastern Michigan needs one more win to become bowl-eligible. EMU is seeking its first seven-win season since 1989. Kent State carries a three-game winning streak into this contest.
THE LINE: Kent State by 3 THE PICK: Kent State 23-21

New Mexico (1-9) at Wyoming (6-3), 2 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: Because it has two wins over FCS teams, Wyoming needs one more victory to become bowl-eligible. The Cowboys should get it in this one, though the Lobos are coming off their first win of the season (over UNLV). New Mexico has won nine of the past 11 in the series.
THE LINE: Wyoming by 24 THE PICK: Wyoming 44-17

Georgia Southern (9-1) at Alabama (9-1), 2 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This is one of four games this week where an SEC team takes on an FCS opponent. But Georgia Southern is the only one of those four FCS teams who will be in the FCS playoffs. Georgia Southern runs a triple-option attack.
THE LINE: None THE PICK: Alabama 38-3

Tulsa (7-3) at UTEP (5-5), 3 p.m., CBS Sports Network
THE BUZZ: Tulsa is unbeaten in Conference USA action and plays Houston next week. UTEP, meanwhile, needs one more win to become bowl-eligible. The home team has won seven in a row in the series.
THE LINE: Tulsa by 13.5 THE PICK: Tulsa 45-28

Maryland (2-8) at Wake Forest (5-5), 3 p.m., Fox Sports South/Fox Sports Florida/NESN/Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Wake still needs one more win to become bowl-eligible. The Terps pounded Wake 62-14 last season, and they lead this series 42-16-1.
THE LINE: Wake Forest by 10.5 THE PICK: Wake Forest 38-24

Arkansas State (8-2) at Middle Tennessee (2-7), 3 p.m.
THE BUZZ: An Arkansas State win clinches at least a tie for the Sun Belt Conference regular-season title for the Red Wolves. Arkansas State has won seven in a row, its longest winning streak since 1986.
THE LINE: Arkansas State by 11 THE PICK: Arkansas State 41-23

SMU (6-4) at Houston (10-0), 3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: Boise State's loss last week means Houston now is the school proudly waving the non-AQ banner when it comes to the BCS. SMU's defense will come to play, but what about the Mustangs' shaky offense? Cougars QB Case Keenum will become the NCAA career leader in completions in this one.
THE LINE: Houston by 19.5 THE PICK: Houston 49-35

Penn State (8-2) at Ohio State (6-4), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN
THE BUZZ: Penn State, which plays at Wisconsin next week, remains in the running for the Big Ten Leaders Division title. Neither team throws it effectively, and both have been solid against the run - Penn State is allowing 119.5 rushing yards per game, while Ohio State is giving up 119.3 rushing yards per game.
THE LINE: Ohio State by 7 THE PICK: Ohio State 17-14

Mississippi State (5-5) vs. Arkansas (9-1) in Little Rock, 3:30 p.m., CBS
THE BUZZ: Mississippi State needs one more win for bowl eligibility. Arkansas, meanwhile, remains in the hunt for the SEC West title. The Hogs have won 14 of the past 16 in the series.
THE LINE: Arkansas by 13 THE PICK: Arkansas 35-20

Clemson (9-1) at N.C. State (5-5), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Clemson already has won the ACC's Atlantic Division title. N.C. State must win out to become bowl-eligible because it has two wins over FCS opponents. NCSU followed up a win over North Carolina by losing to Boston College last week. Clemson has won seven in a row in this series.
THE LINE: Clemson by 7.5 THE PICK: Clemson 38-28

Texas Tech (5-5) at Missouri (5-5), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Both need one more win for bowl eligibility. Since stunning Oklahoma 41-38 in Norman on Oct. 22, Texas Tech has lost three in a row - and the Red Raiders have been manhandled in those three games, losing by a combined 159-33 and surrendering 1,744 yards in the process.
THE LINE: Missouri by 18 THE PICK: Missouri 45-30

Miami (5-5) at USF (5-4), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: Both need one more win to become bowl-eligible. This is the fourth meeting in the series, and USF's lone win came last season, in what ended up being Randy Shannon's last game as Miami's coach. This is the fifth of Miami's six consecutive games in the state of Florida.
THE LINE: Miami by 1 THE PICK: Miami 27-23

Colorado State (3-6) at TCU (8-2), 3:30 p.m., Versus
THE BUZZ: TCU ruined Boise State's long-shot national title hopes last week, and the Horned Frogs clinch a tie for the Mountain West regular-season title with a win in this one. TCU has won seven in a row in this series, by an average of 22 points per game.

Washington (6-4) at Oregon State (2-8), 3:30 p.m., ROOT Sports Northwest/Fox College Sports Pacific
THE BUZZ: Washington is coming off back-to-back beatings at the hands of Oregon and USC, and the Huskies need a win in terms of bowl positioning. This has been a lost season for the Beavers, who have lost three in a row and four of five. They've scored just 27 total points in their past three games.
THE LINE: Washington by 2.5 THE PICK: Washington 34-24

Florida Atlantic (0-9) at Troy (2-7), 3:30 p.m., Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast
THE BUZZ: Troy carries a five-game losing streak into the game - its longest since 1982. There's a reason FAU is winless: The Owls are last in the Sun Belt in scoring offense (12.2 ppg) and scoring defense (35.7 ppg).
THE LINE: Troy by 11 THE PICK: Troy 34-20

Tulane (2-9) at Rice (3-7), 3:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Sometimes, there are good games that aren't televised. And, sometimes, there are bad games that are televised. This is one of those everything-is-right-in-the-world instances where a bad game is not televised.
THE LINE: Rice by 14 THE PICK: Rice 38-21

Boston College (3-7) at Notre Dame (7-3), 4 p.m., NBC
THE BUZZ: This is the third consecutive week the Irish have played an ACC opponent, and Notre Dame looks like a lock to play an ACC team in a bowl, too. The Irish have won the past two meetings, but that streak comes on the heels of BC winning six in a row in the series.
THE LINE: Notre Dame by 24.5 THE PICK: Notre Dame 38-10

Louisiana Tech (6-4) at Nevada (6-3), 4 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Nevada clinches at least a share of the WAC title with a victory, while any realistic chance Tech has at the crown depends on the Bulldogs winning this. Nevada has won 16 in a row at home, which is tied for the nation's second-longest home winning streak.
THE LINE: Nevada by 7 THE PICK: Nevada 28-24

Navy (4-6) at San Jose State (3-7), 4 p.m.
THE BUZZ: The Midshipmen must win out to become bowl-eligible; they have San Jose State this week, then finish up against Army - on Dec. 10. That's right: Navy has three weeks between Game 11 and Game 12. Navy is the least-penalized team in the nation, while SJSU is the second-least-penalized team.
THE LINE: Navy by 4.5 THE PICK: Navy 37-28

Utah (6-4) at Washington State (4-6), 5 p.m., Fox College Sports Atlantic
THE BUZZ: Washington State upset Arizona State last week and must win out over Utah and Washington to become bowl-eligible. Utah has won three in a row and four of its past five, and has a legit shot at an 8-4 finish with a game against Colorado next week.
THE LINE: Utah by 3.5 THE PICK: Utah 35-27

Utah State (4-5) at Idaho (2-8), 5 p.m., Altitude/MASN/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Utah State still has a legitimate shot at gaining bowl eligibility, if the Aggies win this one. Utah State has won two in a row, but it hasn't won three in a row since 2001. In addition, the Aggies haven't won as many as five games in a season since 2000.
THE LINE: Utah State by 10 THE PICK: Utah State 41-27

Florida International (6-4) at Louisiana-Monroe (3-7), 5 p.m.
THE BUZZ: It's the Golden Panthers at the Warhawks. No one else in the FBS ranks is nicknamed "Golden Panthers" or "Warhawks." (Hey, that's all we got for this one, though if this was televised, tuning in to see FIU WR T.Y. Hilton would be worthwhile.)
THE LINE: ULM by 1.5 THE PICK: FIU 30-24

UNLV (2-7) at Air Force (5-5), 6 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: Air Force has been a mild disappointment this season, and because the Falcons have two wins over FCS opponents, they need two more wins to become bowl-eligible. UNLV has lost 14 in a row on the road.
THE LINE: Air Force by 23.5 THE PICK: Air Force 41-16

LSU (10-0) at Ole Miss (2-8), 7 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: This is the last home game for Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt, who already has announced his "resignation." LSU has won seven of the past nine in the series.
THE LINE: LSU by 29.5 THE PICK: LSU 38-7

UCF (4-6) at East Carolina (4-6), 7 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: Both must win out to become bowl-eligible. ECU leads the series 8-2.

Vanderbilt (5-5) at Tennessee (4-6), 7 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: Vandy needs one more win to become bowl-eligible, while the Vols - who are 0-6 in SEC play for the first time in school history - must beat the Commodores this week and Kentucky next week to go bowling. Tennessee has won 27 of the past 28 and 33 of the past 35 against its in-state foe.
THE LINE: Vandy by 1.5 THE PICK: Tennessee 27-21

Western Kentucky (5-5) at North Texas (4-6), 7 p.m., Sun Belt syndication/Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast
THE BUZZ: Western remains alive for at least a share of the Sun Belt title but obviously needs a win, which also would make the Hilltoppers bowl-eligible. North Texas assures itself of at least a .500 league finish with a victory.
THE LINE: Western Kentucky by 3 THE PICK: Western Kentucky 31-24

Virginia (7-3) at Florida State (7-3), 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: This is a must-win game for the Cavaliers if they want to stay alive in the ACC's Coastal Division race. FSU is 14-2 all-time against Virginia, which is 0-8 in Tallahassee.

Colorado (2-9) at UCLA (5-5), 7:30 p.m., Versus
THE BUZZ: UCLA becomes bowl-eligible with a victory; in addition, a win keeps the Bruins alive in the Pac-12 South race, as they are the only team in the division that controls its own fate. Colorado snapped its seven-game losing streak by pounding Arizona last week.

USC (8-2) at Oregon (9-1), 8 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Oregon picked up a huge road win last week against Stanford, and now returns to what should be a raucous Autzen Stadium to take on the Trojans. Oregon has won 19 consecutive league games and 21 in a row overall at home. The Ducks need one more win the clinch the Pac-12 North's spot in the league title game. Oregon has scored 100 points in its past two games against USC.
THE LINE: Oregon by 15 THE PICK: Oregon 44-31

Oklahoma (8-1) at Baylor (6-3), 8 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Losses by Boise State and Stanford gave Oklahoma renewed hope in the national title picture (though you can argue that the Sooners' loss to Texas Tech gets uglier by the minute). Oklahoma is 20-0 all-time against Baylor.
THE LINE: Oklahoma by 15 THE PICK: Oklahoma 48-35

Kansas State (8-2) at Texas (6-3), 8 p.m., FX
THE BUZZ: K-State has a great shot at a Cotton Bowl bid if it can beat Texas. K-State won by 25 over the Longhorns last season and has won three in a row in the series. Stopping the run is vital for both teams, as neither offense is all that good if it is forced to the air.
THE LINE: Texas by 9 THE PICK: K-State 27-24

Boise State (8-1) at San Diego State (6-3), 8 p.m., CBS Sports Network
THE BUZZ: This is the first meeting between these programs. Boise State is coming off its first loss of the season; will there be any hangover? San Diego State sure could raise its national profile with a victory over the Broncos.
THE LINE: Boise State by 18 THE PICK: Boise State 42-21

Arizona (2-8) at Arizona State (6-4), 9:30 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona/Prime Ticket/Fox College Sports Central
THE BUZZ: One of two rivalry games in the Pac-12 this week (Cal-Stanford's "Big Game" is the other). Arizona State has lost two in a row and three of its past four, and needs to win this to keep its Pac-12 South title hopes alive.
THE LINE: Arizona State by 10.5 THE PICK: Arizona State 40-28

California (6-4) at Stanford (9-1), 10:15 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: This is one of the nation's fiercest rivalries, and wouldn't Cal love to extend Stanford's misery after the Cardinal suffered its first loss last week? Stanford has scored at least 30 points in 13 consecutive games, and has scored at least 40 in nine of those. Cal has won in three of its past four trips to Palo Alto.
THE LINE: Stanford by 18.5 THE PICK: Stanford 42-20

New Mexico State (4-6) at BYU (7-3), 10:15 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: This is the fourth of five WAC opponents for BYU this season; the Cougars are 3-0 so far. This is the first time these programs ever have met.
THE LINE: BYU by 22.5 THE PICK: BYU 42-16

Fresno State (3-7) at Hawaii (5-5), 11:59 p.m., WAC syndication/Altitude2/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Hawaii lost starting QB Bryant Moniz for the rest of the season with a leg injury last week. Because Hawaii plays 13 games, it must get to seven wins to become bowl-eligible.
THE LINE: Hawaii by 5.5 THE PICK: Hawaii 34-30


Miami of Ohio at Ohio, 7 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: This is the fourth consecutive non-Saturday game to close out the regular season for Miami, which has played on Wednesday in each of the past two weeks. Meanwhile, it's also the fourth consecutive non-Saturday game to close out the regular season for Ohio.


38-17 straight up, 25-28-1 against the spread.


475-163 straight up, 255-285-3 against the spread (no spread on games involving FCS schools)

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

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