Tony's Top 10: OU, Oregon look to avoid the upset bug


The schedule looks a little thin this Saturday as Rivalry Week is coming up. That is when strange things happen. Maybe there is an upset looming inside of Tony's Top 10:

1. Can RG III make some history against Oklahoma? No. 5 Oklahoma (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) believes it can get into the BCS championship if it can run the table and finish with a win at No. 2 Oklahoma State on Dec. 3. History says the Sooners are a lock to beat Baylor (6-3, 3-3) on Saturday in Waco. In their long football histories Oklahoma and Baylor have met 20 times. Oklahoma has won all 20 games in the series by an average of 23.9 ppg. Oklahoma is 10-0 in Waco, winning by an average of 26.6 ppg. Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III always gives the Bears a puncher's chance. He leads the Big 12 in total offense with 396 yards per game. Pregame: Oklahoma-Baylor

More on Week 12
Expert Picks

Related links

2. The Ducks are back in the hunt, but will they have a letdown against the Trojans? Oregon coach Chip Kelly knows his team fell off the radar after losing to LSU 40-27 on Sept. 3. "We lost to a very good team that night and they've only gotten better," Kelly said. "But we knew we had a chance to have a good team too." Kelly has been proven right. Last week's 53-30 win over Stanford vaulted Oregon all the way to No. 4 and back in the BCS championship race. If the Ducks want another shot at LSU they have to extend their 21-game home winning streak on Saturday against Southern California (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12). The game will feature the nation's No. 5 rushing offense (291.8 ypg) and the nation's leading rusher in LaMichael James (150.88 ypg) against Monte Kiffin's run defense that is No. 8 in the nation (100.48 ypg). A hint: See how much defensive pressure Oregon can put on USC quarterback Matt Barkley. Pregame: USC-Oregon

3. Houston Nutt. Is this a great country or what? Four years ago Houston Nutt and his agent, Jimmy Sexton, pulled off one of the greatest coups ever. Nutt was in the process of being forced out at Arkansas and got a buyout of over $3.5 million to walk away. Just hours after his dismissal at Arkansas was announced Nutt was hired by Mississippi at a salary of about $2.5 million. This Saturday, after back to back losing seasons, Nutt will coach his last home game for Ole Miss against No. 1 LSU. The price tag for his departure this time will be another $6 million. Nutt, who just turned 54, could retire in style but says he wants to coach again: "I still think I've got one more good run left in me," he said. Pregame: LSU-Ole Miss

4. Derek Dooley faces a quality of life game against Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt has most certainly won at Tennessee before. In fact, as recently as 2005 the Commodores and Jay Cutler marched into Neyland Stadium and won, 28-24. What is different about Vanderbilt's visit on Saturday is that the Commodores (5-5) are actually a slight (2.5 points) favorite to win and drop Tennessee's record to an unprecedented 0-7 in the SEC. Derek Dooley, son of Hall of Fame coach Vince Dooley, has had a tough second year in Knoxville, losing both his top wide receiver (Justin Hunter) and quarterback (Tyler Bray) to injury. Bray, who broke his right thumb against a Georgia helmet on Oct. 8, had his cast removed this week and returned to practice. He could see action against the Commodores in a game that Dooley needs to win to keep Tennessee's chances for a bowl alive. Dooley is not going to get fired after only two seasons. But he does need a win to calm down the fan base.

5. Andrew Luck can still lock down the Heisman Trophy: Yes, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck did miss out on a chance to secure the Heisman Trophy when he threw a couple of picks in the loss to Oregon last week. But he is still the most complete player out there and will have another chance to impress at home against California (5-4) in The Big Game. Luck needs four touchdown passes against the Bears to pass John Elway's 77 career touchdown passes and become Stanford's all-time leader. He also needs 277 yards to become the school's all-time leader in total offense. But keep this in mind: California has won seven of its past nine meetings with Stanford. Pregame: Cal-Stanford

6. Does Texas have an answer for Kansas State's Collin Klein? Texas (6-3, 3-3 Big 12) started 4-0 this season but since then it has been one long stretch of bad road for the Longhorns. Mack Brown's team has lost three of its past five heading into Saturday's showdown with Kansas State (8-2, 5-2). A very young team and a tougher schedule have been a big part of the recent struggles. So has a ridiculous string of injuries. It is not going to be easy for Texas to get well against the fighting Bill Snyders. Did we mention that Texas has lost its past three meetings with Kansas State? And did we mention that K-State quarterback Collin Klein was responsible for six touchdowns (five rushing, one passing) in a four-OT win against Texas A&M last week? This is a very dangerous game for Texas. Pregame: Kansas State-Texas

7. A historic week for Georgia Southern: The FCS school, located in Statesboro, Ga., won its ninth Southern Conference championship last Saturday with a dominating win over Wofford. The Eagles will be among the favorites to win their seventh national championship when the pairings for the FCS playoffs are announced Sunday morning. But on Saturday the Eagles have a little task to perform as they go to No. 3 Alabamato serve as the Crimson Tide's non-conference opponent before next week's Iron Bowl game opposite Auburn. "This is a tremendous opportunity for our kids to play in a place like Bryant-Denny Stadium," Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken said. "I think you can make the case that this is the best football team Georgia Southern has ever played." Georgia Southern is 0-18 all time against FBS opponents, but the Eagles have scared a few. In 1991 Georgia Southern jumped to a 17-0 lead on Auburn before losing 32-17. In 1999 Georgia Southern, coached by Paul Johnson, ran up 497 yards against Oregon State, coached by Dennis Erickson, before losing 48-41. Georgia Southern will get a check for $400,000 to play Alabama.

8. The Cornhuskers can still get to Indy: Despite a 28-25 loss at home to Northwestern on Nov. 5, Nebraska (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten) is still alive in the Legends Division as the Cornhuskers go to Michigan (8-2, 4-2). Nebraska, which won at Penn State last week, needs to win in Ann Arbor and Michigan State (8-2, 5-1) needs to drop one of its final two games against Indiana or Northwestern. If Nebraska finishes in a tie with Michigan State it owns the tiebreaker, as it beat the Spartans 24-3 on Oct. 29. Nebraska's last trip to the Big House, a 25-13 victory in 1962, was the last time these two football powerhouses met in a regular-season game. Michigan has lost five straight home games to ranked opponents. Pregame: Nebraska-Michigan

9. Ditto for the Badgers: A lot of us wondered if Wisconsin could bounce back after losing consecutive games to Michigan State (37-31) and Ohio State (33-29) on Hail Mary passes. We shouldn't have doubted the Badgers. Wisconsin has won its past two games over Purdue and Minnesota by a combined score of 104-30. Beat struggling Illinois (6-4) on the road this week and shell-shocked Penn State next week in Madison and the Badgers can punch their ticket to the first Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis. "I'm under the philosophy: Whatever happens you have to embrace it. It has to make you stronger," coach Bret Bielema said. "I know we're a stronger team than we were four weeks ago." The same cannot be said for Illinois, which has lost four straight after a 6-0 start. After questions about his future as coach, Ron Zook walked out of his weekly press conference. Zook also had three players involved in an altercation where starting linebacker Trulon Henry was shot in the hand.

10. Houston, Keenum have a clear path to the BCS; Will they stumble? Due to a medical hardship, Houston quarterback Case Keenum was given a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA last January. It is fair to say that he's made the most of it. Keenum already has passed Hawaii's Timmy Chang to become the NCAA's all-time passer with 17,537 yards. He may also get a trip to New York and the Heisman presentation in December. But Keenum now has a chance to go out in style if the No. 11 Cougars (10-0) can finish 13-0 and win the Conference USA championship game. Houston plays its last home game against Southern Methodist on Saturday and then closes out the regular season at Tulsa (7-3, 6-0 C-USA) in a game that will decide the C-USA West. Then Houston will play Southern Mississippi team (9-2 after losing to UAB on Thursday night). Win all of those and Houston will go to BCS Bowl, its most lofty achievement since the salad days of Bill Yeoman.

Watch The Tony Barnhart Show Wednesday at 8 p.m. on The CBS Sports Network.

Tony Barnhart is in his fifth season as a contributor to He is a college football analyst for CBS Sports and The CBS Sports Network. Prior to joining CBS he was the national college football writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 24 years. He has written five books on college football.

Biggest Stories

CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
Conversation powered by Livefyre


Most Popular Shop