It really amazes me how quickly this 2011 college football season has gone. While there are still several weeks to go and an entire bowl season, this regular season has flown by. I say that because it only recently hit me how close we are to the Big Game between Stanford and Cal next week. Time really does fly during football season.
There are a variety of big games today, but the biggest of them all features the Stanford Cardinal hosting the Oregon Ducks. The battle of No. 4 versus No. 7 in the BCS rankings will go a long way towards determining the winner of the Pac-12 as the winner of this game more or less locks up the Pac-12 North. For both teams, and Stanford in particular, a national championship appearance remains a possibility, so a win is essential to keep those hopes alive. Both teams need losses in front of them, but they still have to win their own games.
Even if you are just looking at this from the NFL Draft perspective, this game features some impressive talent, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Andrew Luck is the big name, but Oregon will look to ride the impressive talent of LaMichael James in this game. The Ducks average 7.0 yards per carry and 298.4 rushing yards per game. The Ducks bring significant athleticism, but the ground game is where it happens for the Ducks.
Stanford brings their own brand of rushing behind workhorse back Stepfan Taylor. While Luck gets all the press, Taylor has been pivotal to this team's success. However, the Stanford rushing attack extends beyond that with the likes of Tyler Gaffney, Anthony Wilkerson and Jeremy Stewart. Oh, and Andrew Luck is spry enough to pick up some yards on the ground as needed.
For west coast sports fans, this is the biggest game of the regular season. After a Friday night of rain, I wouldn't be surprised if the Stanford Stadium groundskeepers closed up the drains a bit and let the field get nice and muddy. The Ducks want to turn this game into a track meet, so a muddy field might slow them down just enough. Either way it should be an incredibly fun game.
The other significant ranked game is unfortunately a big deal for reasons that have less to do with football. Penn State and Nebraska square off in a game with significant Big Ten implications, but most of the focus will be on the scandal at Penn State. If you feel the need to discuss this scandal, please take it to THIS FANPOST. This college football thread is about the on-field action.
Auburn and Georgia is the only other matchup of ranked opponents as the rest of the big names are facing unranked teams this week. Of course, given how recent weeks have gone in college football, that does not guarantee we won't see any upsets today. The last three weeks have been crazy and we still have several weeks to go.
Here is a rundown of the day's slate of games:
* - game played at a neutral location