College Football 2011 Week 12: The Home Stretch

By Cabrone D. Brewer
And so it begins.
With only three weeks left to go in the regular season, the race for college football’s elite to claim division supremacy and secure post-season appearances in a variety of conference championship games has drastically started to heat up — just as the temperatures outside have begun to rapidly cool down.
The pressure continues to swell for No. 17 Nebraska and No. 20 Michigan, as both schools prepare to face each other in a matchup of serve importance for complete ownership of the lead in the Big Ten’s Legends Division.
Both teams enter the game at 8-2 overall with identical 4-2 records in the conference. A Michigan State loss to Indiana would put the winner of Saturday’s game at the Big House into a tie for the chance to play in the inaugural Big Ten Championship. The Cornhuskers hold the tiebreaker advantage over the Spartans, with Michigan needing to win out in order to make a solid case for a conference championship game appearance.
Michigan’s quarterback Denard Robinson will play Saturday despite a right wrist injury suffered in the third quarter of the Wolverines’ victory at Illinois last weekend. This news comes as an excellent surprise for a Michigan program that has dropped five straight home games to ranked opponents.
Two of college football’s more recently troubled programs will meet on the field this weekend, as No. 21 Penn State visits Ohio State in the second game of the post-Paterno era.
Both schools have been forced to search for new identities this season, with the Penn State community still in agony over the child sex-abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and the Ohio State program still feeling the effects of a NCAA investigation that found Buckeye players traded memorabilia for cash and discounted tattoos, leading to the departure of coach Jim Tressel.
Another NCAA investigation darling, USC, will have its hands full this weekend when the Trojans visit the No. 4 Oregon Ducks.
Coming off a 53-30 rout of then-No. 3 Stanford, the Ducks can clinch the Pac-12 North Division title with a victory over a USC team that leads the Pac-12’s South Division, but is ineligible to compete in the conference title game because of a two-year postseason ban.
Oregon is shooting for third consecutive win against USC and its 22nd straight victory at home.
We’ll return Monday with the weekend’s highs and lows.
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