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Games to watch on the gridiron

DE'ANTHONY THOMAS, Running back/receiver/punt returner, Oregon Spectacular freshman

DE'ANTHONY THOMAS, Running back/receiver/punt returner, Oregon
Spectacular freshman debut capped by 314 all-purpose yards in Rose Bowl, including 2 carries for 155 yards, 2 TDs. Averaged 159.6 all-purpose yards with 18 TDs. Credit: AP

No. 13 Stanford (8-2, 6-1 PAC-12) @ No. 2 Oregon (10-0, 7-0)
8:00 p.m. ABC

What this game means: It means everything for Oregon. A loss knocks the Ducks out of the national championship picture (assuming the other undefeated teams and Alabama wins). A loss could also knock Oregon out of the PAC-12 title race. But the Ducks, who lead the nation in scoring (54.8 ppg) just might be too much for Stanford. Kenjon Barner (1360 yards, 19 TDs) leads an Oregon rushing attach that has at least three other runners who have 417 or more yards on the ground. Sufficed to say Stanford has a lot of work to do. If the Ducks win convincingly they could conceivably jump Kansas State in the polls, depending on how the human polls shake out within the BCS computer. Kansas State plays against a struggling Baylor team on Saturday night. Baylor has dropped five of its last six.

No. 1 Kansas State (10-0, 7-0 Big 12) @ Baylor (4-5, 1-5)
8:00 p.m. ESPN

What this game means: Much like Oregon, Kansas State needs this game in the worst way. A loss knocks it out of the national championship picture. The Wildcats could still earn a BCS bid by virtue of the Big 12 tie breaker system, but no one in Kansas State country wants to fall short of a national championship after winning 10 straight games. At first glance, this looks like a cakewalk for Kansas State. Upon further examination, the Wildcats need to be focused. Baylor, losers of five of its last six games, can score with just about any team. They scored 63 in a loss at West Virginia, 50 in a loss at Texas and 34 at Oklahoma last week. On the other hand, Kansas State is 14th in scoring defense (17.7 ppg) and limited Oklahoma to 19 points and the high scoring offense of West Virginia to 14 points.  

No. 22 Rutgers (8-1, 4-0 Big East) @ Cincinnati (7-2, 3-1)
Noon. Big East Network/ESPN3

What this game means: It’s pretty simple for Rutgers. Win and the Scarlet Knights stay in control of their own destiny. Lose and the Scarlet Knights will need help, including a win over Louisville in their regular season finale. What is there to like about Rutgers? The Scarlet Knights play great defense and are fifth in the country in points allow (13.4). Only Arkansas and Kent State scored more than 20 points against Rutgers. One concern is Jawan Jamison. He started the season with five straight 100-plus yard games. But he’s only reached the 100-yard plateau once in his last four games, although he had 90 yards on 22 carries against Army last week. Cincinnati is 21st in the country in scoring defense (18.8). This is likely to put more pressure on Rutgers QB Gary Nova. Nova has tossed eight interceptions in his last three games, including six in a 35-23 loss to Kent State. If Nova’s penchant for turnovers the last three games is an aberration, Rutgers doesn’t need to worry. If it wasn’t, we could be looking at another disappointing late-season letdown.    

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