By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
College Football Games to Watch
Game 1: No. 19 Michigan (8-3, 6-1 in Big Ten) at Ohio State (11-0, 7-0), 11 a.m. (Ch. 8)
Todd’s take: As I think back to my childhood, which started some time in the 1970s, I realize some rivalries aren’t the same. Michigan-Ohio State falls into that category. For one thing, it’s a Big Ten game. I haven’t watched more than five minutes of a Big Ten game in four or five years. It’s like watching the grass grow. Plus there’s no Bo and Woody. Or Archie Griffin. Or Desmond Howard. Or even Brian Griese for crying out loud. We’re stuck with Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer. Granted, Meyer’s a great coach, but again, it’s the Big Ten. The Wolverines and Buckeyes are trying to get exciting. The exciting Denard Robinson is healthy enough to play but Devin Gardner is Michigan’s best quarterback. I’ve heard Ohio State’s Braxton Miller is a good quarterback and a Heisman Trophy candidate, but again, I haven’t seen him play. So I’ll take Kirk Herbstreit’s word for it.
Game 2: Baylor (5-5, 2-5 in Big 12) vs. Texas Tech (7-4, 4-4), 1:30 p.m. (Ch. 4)
Todd’s take: Baylor salvaged its season with the year’s biggest upset, a 52-24 thrashing of No. 1 Kansas State in Waco last Saturday. I was there. It wasn’t a close game. The Bears’ defense played lights out and ruined Collin Klein’s Heisman hopes, handing the award to Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel. Ironic, huh? Didn’t Baylor sue A&M recently? Baylor also has this running back from Temple named Lache Seastrunk who transferred from the Oregon football/track team and he lit up Kansas State for an 80-yard TD run. The Bears need a win to get bowl eligible. Texas Tech is already bowl eligible, which is a good thing because the Red Raiders are pulling another second-half-of-the-season nose dive. Tech does have QB Seth Doege and something says with the Red Raiders suddenly the underdog, they will come out and play a great game against surging Baylor.
Game 3: No. 21 Oklahoma State (7-3, 5-2 in Big 12) at No. 13 Oklahoma (8-2, 6-1), 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Todd’s take: Tough game to pick. Apparently Oklahoma State could play T. Boone Pickens at quarterback and he’d throw for 300 yards and four TDs. The Cowboys’ quarterback situation is true “Bedlam” with three guys who can play and win. Clint Clelf will take the first snap Saturday. But don’t surprised to see J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt out there too. Oklahoma State is a rebuilt team after winning the mythical national championship last year when they didn’t get to play for the BCS title even though they had the best team. The knee jerk is to pick OU here because the Sooners are at home, except they’ve already lost to Kansas State and Notre Dame, No. 1s past and present, in Norman so it’s certainly not an automatic. The Cowboys haven’t won at OU since 2001. Is this the year? Not if Sooners QB Landry Jones and WR Kenny Stills have anything to say about it. They rescued a win at West Virginia last week.
Game 4: Missouri (5-6, 2-5 in SEC) at No. 9 Texas A&M (9-2, 5-2), 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
Todd’s take: It would appear that if Aggies freshman QB Johnny Manziel plays well Saturday he’ll win the Heisman (though look below, Notre Dame is involved), becoming the first freshman to win the prestigious award. Manziel has passed for 3,047 yards and 21 TDs and has a signature win at then-No. 1 Alabama. Apparently he has a cool nickname. The Aggies also can get to double digit in wins for the first time since they went 11-3 in 1998 and reached the Sugar Bowl. Kevin Sumlin has had a great first season in Aggieland. For Mizzou’s Gary Pinkel, Year 1 in the SEC hasn’t gone as well. But the Tigers did beat the Aggies last year, winning 38-31 in overtime behind QB James Franklin. The question here is will Franklin play after suffering a concussion in last week’s loss to Syracuse. Mizzou needs a win to get bowl eligible. The Aggies just need to keep winning.
Game 5: No. 1 Notre Dame (11-0) at USC (7-4, 5-4), 7 p.m. (Ch. 8)
Todd’s take: Johnny Manziel must have a great game Saturday because the Heisman race changes weekly and if Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o has a huge effort in an Irish win over rival USC, things could change in a hurry. Don’t forget — Notre Dame players have won seven Heismans and the voters always have been easily swayed by the Fighting Irish mystique. Not to mention Te’o is a great player whose team is going on the road in a huge TV market with a chance to clinch a spot in the BCS title game. It should be an interesting Saturday night. Making it even more interesting? IN this college football fan’s opinion, USC has the country’s best player, wide receiver Marqise Lee. He has 924 receiving yards and seven TDs in his last five games. Lee’s problem Saturday is he won’t have All-American QB Matt Barkley throwing to him. He’s injured. So it will be freshman Max Wittek instead.
Other games of note:
No. 4 Florida (10-1, 7-1) at No. 10 Florida State (10-1, 7-1), 2:30 p.m. (Ch. 8) — The Gators suddenly find themselves in the national title picture while the Seminoles habe a longshot chance of working their way back into the Top 2 teams in the BCS rankings.
Auburn (3-8, 0-7 in SEC) at No. 1 Alabama (10-1, 6-1), 2:30 p.m., (Ch. 11) — The coach with no consequences, Alabama’s Nick Saban, is back in the national title hunt even though the Crimson Tide blew a big game in the regular season again. Two years ago, Auburn won a national title with Cam Newton. Now Tigers coach Gene Chizik is on the way out.
No. 8 Stanford (9-2, 7-1 in Pac 12) at UCLA (9-2, 6-2), 5:30 p.m. (Ch. 4) — Stanford is fresh off its massive upset win at Oregon. UCLA just took apart crosstown rival USC. Which team will have momentum? Which one will have a letdown? The guess is both will be ready to play. Should be another great game in the Rose Bowl.
NFL Games to Watch
Minnesota (6-4) at Chicago (7-3), Noon, Ch. 4 — It’s a Cowboys-free Sunday with Tony Romo and the boys having played on Turkey Day. We know by now if this was a good or a bad thing. With the Cowboys, it’s a roll of the ... well, you know. I’m sure Bears fans are in a good mood. Chicago has lost two straight as Jay Cutler’s concussion has put the Bears in a free fall. So you see Bears and Cowboys fans, you hate on Romo and Cutler, but when faced with the alternative — like Jason Campbell — it shuts you up fast. Doesn’t it? The Bears’ slide has brought the Vikings back into the NFC North race along with 7-3 Green Bay. Should be a fight to the finish. Great to see Palestine’s Adrian Peterson back healthy and running over and through people again.
San Francisco (7-2-1) at New Orleans (5-5), 3:25 p.m., Ch. 4 — The 49ers have a quarterback quandary — not a media-driven controversy — with Colin Kaepernick playing so well in Monday’s win over the Bears and Alex Smith, out with a concussion, having a great season. To me, you have a controversy when both QBs are playing poorly. Two QBs playing well? That’s a luxury. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said he may go with the hot hand which means he’ll start Kaepernick and let Smith sit another week. The Saints don’t have two hot QBs, but they have one, and that’s enough when it’s Drew Brees. New Orleans started the year 0-4 but has worked its way back into the NFC Wildcard hunt. Even without head coach Sean Payton.
Green Bay (7-3) at NY Giants (6-4), 7:20, Ch. 5 — Depending on how the Cowboys did Thursday against Washington, a Green Bay win over the G-Men could vault Dallas back into a first-place tie in the NFC East with New York. I mean, it seems impossible, doesn’t it? Not in your 4-year-old’s NFL, where you can go 9-7 and win the Lombardi Trophy. Just look at the Giants, who have a slumping QB, an over-hyped received corps and an average secondary. And this is the same team that got hot and won it all last year? That’s only because the Packers had a bad playoff game last season, because here come Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay very much a part of the Super Bowl discussion. A win here puts the Packers back on track to win the title they gave away last year.