Week 12 Most Meaningful Matchups
Week 12 is a bit more “top heavy” as far as officially ranked matchups but there’s solid and intriguing games all up and down the slate…games that are – yes – meaningful. Here we go with the ranking>>>>>
10. UAB @ #22 UTSA - 3:30 PM on ESPN+: The undefeated Roadrunners get a key conference test against a tough UAB squad. Win this and an undefeated regular season seems more in the bag. UTSA probably has no shot at NY6 bowl but it’s still a possibility.
9. Virginia @ #18 Pittsburgh - 3:30 PM on ESPN2: Believe it or not, this is the game that will probably (finally) decide the ACC Coastal division. Pitt will be favored but if Virginia has a healthy QB they will put up points. A win for the Cavs would put them in drivers seat for trip to Charlotte and be another disappointing loss in a key spot for Pitt. Lots of pressure on Narduzzi and the Panthers in this one.
8. Iowa State @ #13 Oklahoma - Noon on FOX: The Sooners upset loss to Baylor and the Cyclones late loss to Texas Tech took some of the luster off this game but it’s still going to be a good one I think. Oklahoma has not overpowered anyone this year but winning here gives them a great shot at being one of the two Big 12 Title game participants and if they win this one and next week against Oklahoma State, anything could happen with regard to playoff. They need this one though.
7. #11 Baylor @ Kansas State - 5:30 PM on FS1: Well this game jumped up the list after the Bears trucked the Sooners last week. Meanwhile, K State has been mostly solid this year and this is a letdown spot on road - can Aranda and co keep the Bears focused?
6. #9 Oklahoma State @ Texas Tech - 8:00 PM on FOX: The big upset win last week by the Red Raiders makes this game look a lot more difficult for the Cowboys. It’s a tough road game at night. Oklahoma State, however, is in great position to go to the Big 12 title game if they can win this one and stay on the outskirts of the Playoff race.
5. #10 Wake Forest @ Clemson - Noon on ESPN: Don’t scoff at the idea of this BWI a big game. Clemson has obviously been disappointing this season but in the last few weeks have played hard and won some tough games. Wake Forest has less overall “talent” and will have to play very well to win on the road. If they do, they are still on outskirts of Playoff race even though they would need a lot of help.
4. SMU @ #5 Cincinnati - 3:30 PM on ESPN: The G5 game of the weekend for sure, this is the first of three tough games for the Bearcats that could help elevate them to the top 4 depending on what happens in front or drop them if they lose. SMU should probably be ranked also (like I said about Houston) and even though they have lost 2 of 3 is still very dangerous.
3. #3 Oregon @ #23 Utah - 7:30 PM on ABC: This is the first of 2 games in 3 weeks between these two, with Utah heading to the PAC 12 Title game along with the Ducks. Utah plays tough and physical, especially at home and has won three in a row to get to 7-3. Ironically if the Utes win this one and then lose the title game they would end up out of the Rose Bowl…but I digress. Should be a great game Saturday evening.
2. #21 Arkansas @ #2 Alabama - 3:30 PM on CBS: Alabama has not exactly looked like…Alabama this year, last week’s blowout of overmatched New Mexico State notwithstanding. Arkansas is a tough matchup for teams because of the style of defense they play - and their offense is quite good too. I think Alabama wins the game but they really need to show they can run the football consistently because if they can’t on the Razorbacks, they won’t be able to against Georgia in Atlanta. A win, however, does clinch the SEC West no matter what happens in Auburn next week. Meanwhile, a win for Arkansas would be a huge program-making victory for Pittman and the Hogs.
1. #7 Michigan State @ #4 Ohio State - Noon on ABC: The game of the week for sure - two top 10 teams and the winner will be in drivers seat to get to B1G title game, but Michigan looks for the Buckeyes the next week (Penn State for the Spartans). Ohio State exploded against Purdue last week and looked as good as anyone in the country - can they sustain that with consistency? Michigan State’s defense has generally been good all year up front but the pass defense is suspect and though the offense has done pretty well and has a dynamic run game with Kenneth Walker, they can’t afford to get into a shootout. If this game is close at half I believe it’ll be close throughout…but prediction is that the. Buckeyes win relatively comfortably - 37-21 or thereabouts. Still - it’ll be a fun game and classic matchup.
#6 Michigan @ Maryland - 3:30 PM - BTN: Key match up for Michigan to keep pace in the Big 10 and set up a huge showdown with Ohio State for Big 10 East Title (depending on Ohio State - Mich. St. outcome). Meanwhile, Maryland and Mike Locksley are looking for a signature win and bowl eligibility. Locksley could really use a close game against a big time opponent at home.
UCLA @ USC - 4:00 PM on FOX: The greatest uniform rivalry game in the sport - both teams will wear their magnificent home jerseys. Game has little luster but it’s an important game for Chip to get to 7 wins and beat a wounded crosstown rival.
Memphis @ #24 Houston - 9:00 PM (Fri) on ESPN2: Houston should probably be rated higher and Memphis is a step back from their best but still a solid team. Right now Houston is on collision course with Cincinnati - and the Bearcats could use a highly ranked Houston team to burnish their resume.
It’s going to be another great Saturday, some very high profile matchups and lots of…meaning…enjoy! Be sure to follow me on Twitter @readycfb for pithy and insightful commentary!