The Big XII Conference has been a breeding ground for Heisman campaigns this season.
First there was West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith who really gained momentum after beating Baylor by the Nintendo-esque score of 70-63.
But once it was revealed that the biggest reason Smith was putting up such huge numbers was because the defenses he faced were so poor, he's no longer a Heisman front-runner.
Smith has been replaced by Kansas State quarterback Colin Klein, and perhaps the passing of the torch became official this past weekend when the Wildcasts destroyed the Mountaineers handily in Morgantown.
Klein deserves the hype as he's been effective and efficient with both his arm and his feet his season. But there's a chance for him to perhaps be supplanted by yet another Big XII quarterback this weekend when Kansas State hosts Texas Tech.
Red Raiders quarterback Seth Doege has put up big-time numbers this season, completing over 70 percent of his passes for 2209 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
A win over Klein combined with a good performance would catapult Doege right onto the Heisman leader board, which might carry a lot of meaning for the current Green Bay Packers backup quarterback, according to Pete Fiutak of CollegeFootballNews.com:
Seth Doege, this game in Manhattan on Saturday isn’t for you. This isn’t for Texas Tech and this isn’t for Tommy Tuberville. This is for Sonny Cumbie. This is for Kliff Kingsbury. This is for Graham Harrell, Cody Hodges, B.J. Symons and Taylor Potts. This is for all the moderately-talented Texas Tech system quarterbacks who put up ungodly numbers without ever getting a sniff of the Heisman under Mike Leach.
This Saturday's game between Texas Tech and Kansas State is shaping up to be one of the weekend's best as arguably the Wildcasts' most difficult game left on their schedule and an opportunity for Doege and company to make a statement.
Where College Gameday Is At
The ESPN College Gameday crew will be in Norman, Okla. for Saturday's game between Notre Dame and Oklahoma.
Ever since reaching the BCS Championship game in 2008, it seems like every year Oklahoma loses a game or two it shouldn't.
In 2009, it was to BYU and Miami. In 2010, it was to Missouri and Texas A&M. Last year it was to Texas Tech and Baylor. And this year's loss to Kansas State doesn't look so bad now, but at the time, it was an upset.
Since that defeat at the hands of Colin Klein and the Wildcats, Oklahoma has been blowing out opponents. And the way they're playing, the Sooners are going to win out and land in a BCS bowl game.
This week they get Notre Dame, and despite being undefeated, the Irish are double-digit underdogs. Oklahoma will face the toughest defense they've faced all year, but quarterback Landry Jones and company aren't going to be stopped cold.
The Sooners are fifth in the nation in scoring offense, and they'll put up more points on linebacker Manti Te'o and the rest of the Notre Dame defense than any other team has all season.
Prediction: Sooners win 32-14. Game time is at 7 p.m. Central time on ABC.
The Wisconsin Connection
Wisconsin has done a masterful job turning around their season after early season losses to Oregon State and Nebraska and is setting themselves up for a potential third consecutive trip to the Rose Bowl if they can take care of business in the Big Ten championship game.
Qualifying for the conference championship isn't a given yet, but their odds of doing so would be bolstered by a win Saturday against Michigan State.
The Badgers have done a great job of building momentum with consecutive victories over Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota, but Michigan State represents an step up in competetion over the three previous opponents.
A step up, however, doesn't mean mean the Spartans are a great team by any means. This isn't the 2011 version of Michigan State, a team that lost a lot of talent to the NFL, including current Packers defensive lineman Jerel Worthy.
But the Spartans still do have a couple aces up their sleeve. They'll be matching strength-for-strength with the Badgers rushing offense against the nation's 12th-ranked rushing defense that allows an average of 100.25 yards on the ground per game. Junior defensive end William Gholston, all 6-7, 278 lbs. of him, is a future NFL prospect.
The Spartans also have an answer for Montee Ball at running back in Le'Veon Bell. Bell and Ball are the nation's leaders in broken tackles (14 and 13) and yards after contact (517 and 501) respectively, according to STATS.
Prediction: Fueled by a raucous Camp Randall crowd, Wisconsin will keep their winning streak going. It'll be their toughest game in a month, but they'll pull out a second-half win thanks in part due to the play of quarterback Joel Stave and the Badgers passing game that will take advantage of a comparatively weaker Spartans pass defense. Badgers win 28-24. Game time is at 2:30 p.m. CT on the ABC/ESPN2 reverse window.
What Happened Before Saturday
Clemson blew out Wake Forest 42-13 on Thursday evening to improve to 7-1 on the season and 4-1 in the ACC.
It would another loss by Florida State in order for Clemson to qualify for the ACC championship game and perhaps a BCS bowl game, but no matter what happens, it's difficult seeing Clemson losing another conference game this season the way the offense has been operating. After all, the Tigers have put up a minimum of every game since the season opener.
They're led by one of the best collections of skill position players in the country. Between quarterback Tajh Boyd, running back Andre Ellington and wide receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins, there's a lot of NFL talent on the roster.
All that being said, this is Clemson. Just when it seems they've got everything working in their favor, they usually find a way to trip up and underachieve.
The offense is going to score points, that much is certain. So Clemson will probably go as far as their defense will allow them.
The goal will be to be remain undefeated until facing South Carolina in the season finale. If the Tigers can do that, they'll be heading in the right direction under head coach Dabo Swinney.
Brian Carriveau is the author of “It’s Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America,” a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and an editor at Cheesehead TV. To contact Brian, email [email protected].
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