Around the Nation Week 12

Are the chickens hatching?

Perhaps they are for Texas Tech and Alabama, but beware of lurking chicken hawks.

We all know that axiom “don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” Crimson Tide and Red Raider fans should remember that wise old saying as we move toward the close of the college football season.

Alabama and Texas Tech survived huge obstacles last week, but Penn State got caught by the hawk in Iowa.

As the only remaining unbeaten teams from BCS conferences, Bama and Tech have clear, but dangerous, paths to the national championship game.

Alabama must win home games with Mississippi State and Auburn, then the SEC championship game against Florida.

Texas Tech has a bye week before finishing the regular season with a huge road game at Oklahoma and a home finale with Baylor. The Big 12 championship opponent would likely be Missouri.

Should either of those teams falter, the annual BCS anxiety attacks will commence.

A host of potential one-loss teams would have valid arguments for reaching the championship game.

Unfortunately for the great Joe Paterno, Penn State is not likely to be among them. While the loss was tough for Joe Pa, most of the nation is thankful to be spared another Big Ten team in the BCS title game.

Here is our latest handicapping of the BCS Conference races.

ACC: Atlantic Division is a tossup between FSU, Wake Forest, and Maryland with the edge to Florida State; in the Coastal Division North Carolina has the easiest path, but Virginia Tech must lose. Early favorite: Virginia Tech.

Big East: Pitt and Cincinnati are the front-runners, with West Virginia lurking. Slight favorite: Cincinnati.

Big Ten: Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan State are atop the conference. Edge to Penn State.

Big 12: North should be Missouri. Texas Tech controls South, but still must beat Oklahoma.

PAC 10: Oregon State now controls the league, but probably needs to win out to hold off USC.

SEC: Alabama and Florida have clinched the divisions and meet for the conference title on Dec. 6. The winner of that game (if the team does not lose before then) should be in the BCS title game.

BCS Busters: Utah and Boise State might both merit bids, with BYU and Ball State as longshots.

If a guess had to be made right now as to the two teams that will meet in Miami?

Try Oklahoma and Florida.

Around the Nation

Out West, USC looks great (especially on defense) and seeks revenge on the road at Stanford. The Cal at Oregon State game has big conference implications too.

The Big East features league leading Cincinnati at unpredictable Louisville on Friday night.

Texas at Kansas is the top Big 12 game of the week.

In Big Ten country, Ohio State visits Illinois and Minnesota takes on Wisconsin at Camp Randall.

Around the South

Steve Spurrier takes his hot South Carolina Gamecocks to Gainesville for a game with Florida. Bowl positioning is on the mind of SC, but the Gators are thinking national title.

Top-ranked Alabama welcomes the Mississippi State Bulldogs to T-Town. The Bullies are rested, but the Tide is still rolling toward a national title shot.

Auburn and Georgia renew the South’s oldest rivalry in a game on the Plains. The Tigers need a win to be bowl eligible.

In the ACC, Virginia Tech and Miami will try to sort out the Coastal Division on Thursday night in south Florida.

C-USA features a top game in Hattiesburg between East-Division leading East Carolina and suddenly improving Southern Miss.

See you at kickoff!

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