Prove It - Week 10 Football; Showdowns in the SEC and Pac-12

LSU vs. Alabama College Football Barkevious Mingo

Prove It - Week 10

Alabama at LSU, Saturday, 8pm

PROVE IT SEC FAVORITE:  Which team becomes the front runner to win the conference?

In recent years, the LSU-Alabama game has been the marquee game each season.  They have both been the most consistent winners of late and are constantly ranked in the top five.  Both coaches have national titles (Nick Saban has two).  Both teams have playmakers.  So why should it be any different this year that this game has a lot riding on it?

If LSU beats Alabama, they will own the head-to-head tie break.  As it stands right now, Alabama has played more conference games, and therefore they have more SEC wins.  An LSU victory would mean that both teams are 8-1 moving into the final three games of the season.  It would set up a serious SEC West race.  LSU’s remaining opponents are Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Arkansas.  All of those are very winnable games.  Alabama’s remaining schedule is Texas A&M, Western Carolina (for some reason), and Auburn.  Those are teams that Alabama should annihilate without a problem.  Everything really comes down to this matchup.  In all likelihood if the winner of this game goes undefeated the rest of the way, then they will be favored in the SEC championship game no matter who the opponent is.

This game is going to come down to defense, as usual, and whether or not LSU’s Zach Mettenberger can perform at a high level.  He has not been stellar in a lot of games this season.  His team has not had to rely on him because of a strong rushing attack and a good defense.  He has only thrown seven touchdowns through eight games this season.  The quarterback on the other side, A.J. McCarron, has exceeded many expectations going into 2012.  He has thrown 18 touchdowns and no interceptions.  That is an eye-popping statistic.  He is backed by the best defense in the land.  When McCarron builds a lead, it is protected very well.  Mettenberger will have to find a way to outshine McCarron for LSU to win this ball game.  This weekend would be the perfect time to play the game of his life.


Oregon at USC, Saturday, 7pm ET


Normally, USC’s loss to Arizona on Saturday would have been a nail in the coffin of their season.  Two loss teams are not considered to be a threat to any sort of BCS race.  While the Trojans may not be in the hunt to play for the national title, they still remain alive for a shot at winning the Pac-12 and playing in the Rose Bowl.  The quest continues with a big game against an undefeated Oregon Ducks team this weekend.

It is arguable who this game is more important to.  Oregon certainly needs to win this game to remain in the national championship conversation.  They already look like they are not a strong consideration in the BCS race since Notre Dame has jumped them in the standings.  Beating a ranked opponent on the road would certainly gain some more national exposure.  The issue is that USC now has two losses, so a victory over the Trojans would not look as strong as it would have when USC was mowing down opponents at the beginning of the year. 

In a lot of ways this game is more important for USC.  Not simply because they would stay atop the Pac-12 South, but also to see how much resolve the team has after losing a heartbreaker to Arizona.  The Trojans have a ton a veteran leadership to go along with their talent.  Matt Barkley is having a very good senior season and was considered a pre-season Heisman candidate.  He is surrounded by one of the best receiving tandems in the country in Marquis Lee and Robert Woods.  Penn State transfer Silas Redd paces the running game.  The Trojans are solid in most offensive categories, but even with the addition of Redd, USC has some issues running the ball (154 yards per game).  If they are forced to be one dimensional, they have a tougher time finding their offense. 

It would be nearly impossible for USC not to get up for this game.  Playing an undefeated opponent on your home field on national TV is enough for any team to get excited.  How they play will be another story.  Their defense gets pressure on the quarterback, but they have not seen an offense this fast all season.  Oregon boasts a strong defense of their own, but they have not seen a quarterback like Barkley yet this year.  USC went into Eugene and dismantled the Ducks title hopes last season.  Will the Ducks march into the Coliseum and do the same?  With one victory USC could change the complexion of the BCS race.  Their mettle will be tested Saturday night.


Week 10 Football – What to Watch For