Last Week: 16 - 7
Overall: 219 - 64
(15) Navy (9 - 1) 24 @ Houston (10 - 1) 30: The winner takes on Temple or South Florida in the American Conference championship next week. For Houston, the season ends either today or after the championship game. However, Navy will still have a showdown with Army on Dec. 12 regardless of what happens in the meantime, in an effort to maintain the top ranking among Group of Five teams. The Midshipmen, led by Heisman Trophy darkhorse Keenan Reynolds, average almost 250 yards a game on the ground. Houston is ranked 12th in the nation against the run, so this is clearly a strength against strength situation. I like what Navy does, but this isn’t a good matchup for them.
Western Michigan (6 - 5) 27 @ (24) Toledo (9 - 1) 31: Toledo, given a certain set of circumstances, is still in contention for the Group of Five New Year’s Day bowl invitation. A win keeps them on track. The Broncos will give the Rockets a stern test.
Miami (7 - 4) 27 @ Pittsburgh (8 - 3) 31: The Pittsburgh Panthers have had a good season and can end it on a high note with a win over the Hurricanes, who are 3 - 1 since the firing of coach Al Golden. Pitt’s defense is stellar, but the question is whether Miami can generate enough offense to win the game against a team that has finally found the ability to put points on the board.
(20) Washington State (8 - 3) 30 @ Washington (6 - 5) 23: After an early loss to Portland State, the Cougars were pretty much taken off the radar. But other than close losses to Cal and Stanford, Mike Leach has led his team to a top 20 ranking and a big game at Washington for the Apple Cup and a lot of momentum going into next season. But don’t be surprised if the Huskies make this one very close.
(4) Iowa (11 - 0) 27 @ Nebraska (5 - 6) 28: Nebraska has suffered some heartbreaking losses and celebrated a big upset over Michigan State. This isn’t a particularly good match-up for the Hawkeyes either, especially with Nebraska’s ability to stop the run. Of course, no one really has to focus on the ground game against the ‘Huskers 125th ranked pass defense. But Iowa would prefer to run the ball, so even though I’ve been a big Iowa proponent since early in the season, I think their run ends today.
Missouri (5 - 6) 19 @ Arkansas (6 - 5) 27: Even though Missouri possesses a top ten ranked defense, the last time I checked a team still has to score points to win games, something the Tigers have a lot of problems doing. Add the bad weather in Fayetteville, and I’ll stick with the home team in an ugly one.
Oregon State (2 - 9) 27 @ (17) Oregon (8 - 3) 47: I’m not sure how Oregon State can keep this one close, considering the weak point of the Oregon defense is the passing game. Unfortunately, the Beavers can’t move the ball through the air. Add to that that Oregon will be running the ball against one of the worst rushing defenses in the country. This one might get out of hand early.
(7) Baylor (9 - 1) 37 @ (19) TCU (9 - 2) 41: I have a feeling about this one and the questionable pass defense of Baylor. Trevone Boykin is back and should be able to shred the Bears. In addition, I think the TCU defense will show up to thwart a Baylor attack that won’t be as productive behind a third string quarterback. It will be another shootout in Fort Worth with the Horned Frogs coming out on top, giving the winner of the Bedlam game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State the Big 12 crown.