Game of the week
Oregon State at Stanford
The first in the round-robin series that will likely decide the Pac-12 North championship. Oregon, the third team in the fray, meets both teams after this weekend. Oregon State and Stanford have made changes at quarterback with the Beavers going with Cody Vaz and the Cardinal starting Kevin Hogan. Vaz had subbed for starter Sean Mannion, who went down because of a knee injury. When Mannion returned, he threw four interceptions in Oregon State’s loss to Washington and Vaz replaced him for last week’s game against Arizona State. At Stanford, Hogan replaced John Nunes during last week’s victory over Colorado and will get his first career start on Saturday. If Oregon runs the table and reaches the BCS National Championship Game, the Rose Bowl is the likely destination for the winner of this game.
Syracuse over Louisville
The Cardinals’ perfect season ends in the Carrier Dome, where the Orange is 3-1 this season. Syracuse has a veteran quarterback, Ryan Nassib, who will have his finest moment in this one.
Others to watch
Texas A at Alabama
Plenty of defensive greatness for the Crimson Tide in this game, but there’s a guy in the maroon making a major impact on that side of the ball. Aggies defense end Damontre Moore is having a monster season. He’s tied for first nationally in sacks with 11 1/2 and his 19 tackles for loss tops the nation. Moore is a former linebacker now playing end. If that sounds familiar it should. Former A stud Von Miller, who led the nation with 17 sacks in 2009, was used in much the same way. Moore had 8 1/2 sacks last season but has taken his game to a new level in 2012.
Wisconsin at Indiana
That’s right, the Hoosiers are playing an important game this weekend and it doesn’t involve the school’s top-ranked basketball team. The winner of this game will have the inside track on the Big Ten Leaders Division title. The Badgers stand 3-2, the Hoosiers 2-3 and plenty more football will remain. But this is big doings in Bloomington. Indiana won a total of three Big Ten games in the previous four years heading into 2012, but coach Kevin Wilson has the Hoosiers playing well. They’re coming off consecutive victories over Illinois and Iowa, and in the 24-21 victory over the Hawkeyes, quarterback Cameron Coffman, who played at Raymore-Peculiar, threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns.
Penn State at Nebraska
The Cornhuskers can take another big step toward the Big Ten Legends Division title with a victory over the Nittany Lions. Nebraska has won three straight, two by overcoming fourth-quarter deficits in double digits. Quarterback Taylor Martinez is playing his best ball of the season and is coming off a 205-yard rushing day in the victory at Michigan State.
On the horizon
Toledo at Northern Illinois (Wednesday)
Next in a series of Mid-American Conference showdowns.
Stanford at Oregon
Ducks’ speed vs. Cardinal’s physicality.
Southern California at UCLA
Bruins are higher ranked. This could decide Pac-12 South.