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Week 12 Football: What to Watch

A look at games that might pique your interest

NCAA Football: Louisville at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

First things first, as you look through the list of games this week, it’s pretty incredible how closely aligned SP+ and Sagarin are on a number of teams. Twenty-four teams listed below have a difference in ranking of only three spots or fewer between the two systems. Kinda cool.

Alright, so on to the games.

Thursday night has the best midweek game with SMU taking on Tulane. The Green Wave lost their first conference game last week to drop them into a three-way tie for 1st place in the AAC. SMU is in a tie with Houston for 4th place, just one game behind the 1st place teams.

The Tuesday MACtion games are the next best, and apologies for being late on getting this out in time for you to be aware there. Both are cross-division games, and although Toledo has already wrapped up the West division title, Ohio and Bowling Green are two of three teams in contention for the East title.

Unfortunately, Ball State’s running back, Carson Steele (probably the best college running back you haven’t heard of), just left with a concussion and Ohio’s quarter back, Kurtis Rourke (who’s having an excellent year) just left with a leg injury. In the other game, Bowling Green jumped out to 21-0 lead, but has cut it to 21-14 just before the half.

You really shouldn’t care about the Wednesday or Friday games unless you’re really just jonesing for some football to occupy your evening.

We get an early kickoff on Saturday with Navy taking on UCF. The Knights are another of those five teams in contention for the AAC title. Navy is a bad team, but they did push Notre Dame to the final whistle last week.

Illinois has lost their last two in a row, but remains in a four-way tie for 1st place in the Big Ten West. They have to win out to make the title game and hope for a Purdue loss along the way.

TCU and Baylor should be a great game. I’m rooting for TCU from here on out just because I don’t want the CFP to be all Big Ten and SEC teams.

UConn is bowl eligible. That’s a heck of a season for the Huskies, and even more impressive when you think back to how bad they were in Raleigh back in September. Great coaching job by Jim Mora.

Virginia Tech is a 9.5-point underdog at the best team in the Commonwealth this year. Ha.

Duke and Pitt will battle it out for 2nd place in the Coastal. A win keeps alive the hopes of a 10-win season in Mike Elko’s first year in Durham, which is impressive even considering he got a Coastal division schedule to help.

East Carolina takes on their fourth consecutive Big XII bound team as they host Houston. The Cougars have woefully underperformed against expectations this year, but they have been possibly the most entertaining football team in the country this year.

If you look at those Boston College rankings and get the heart rate back jumping up again, then... good. You should. That loss sucked. Notre Dame will likely take the Eagles to the woodshed this weekend.

As for the Wolfpack, they hit the road to take on Louisville in a test for both teams. We’ll see what State has.


Coastal Carolina is still, as of my writing this, scheduled to play at Virginia on Saturday afternoon. That game is completely insignificant at this point compared to the tragic violence that took the lives of three Virginia student-athletes this week. If football helps to heal the wounds and bring the community and university together, then I hope the game is played. If not, then I hope they cancel it. Regardless, I hope for peace in Charlottesville.


Minnesota needs to come through with a victory because I don’t think anyone wants to see that Iowa offense in a Big Ten title game. I’d rather hear four hours of “row the boat” about P.J. Fleck, as horrible as that would be.

North Carolina continues their completely grueling schedule by hosting Georgia Tech. However do they do it?

I know Matt Campbell has done an incredible job in his seven seasons at Iowa State, but it’s still humorous to see him listed as a legitimate candidate for open jobs when his team has lost six of their last seven games (granted, five of those losses have been by one score).

Boise State and Wyoming will be playing for 1st place in the MWC Mountain division, and in Boise’s case, the Broncos will be playing for the outright division title. Quite an accomplishment for where that team was after Week 4.

Oklahoma State versus Oklahoma looks good in name, advanced metrics rankings, and the TV spot they’re getting for this game, but neither team passes the eye test. Hey, maybe it’ll be a good game, but I doubt it.

Now USC-UCLA... that’s one to get excited about! USC looks like an actual USC team for the first time since Pete Carroll was there, and Chip Kelly has UCLA playing their best football since the early Jim Mora years almost a decade ago. If you squint, the Bruins almost look like one of Kelly’s old Oregon teams.

Remember when Syracuse started 6-0? Yeah, they’re 6-4 now, although they’ve been playing without QB Garrett Shrader. He’ll be back this week and they’re playing Wake Forest’s defense, so you can probably count on the Orange scoring as much in this one as they had in the previous three games combined.

The nightcap is a great one with Utah taking on Oregon. Both teams are a half-game behind USC for first in the conference, and the Utes only have Colorado left to play after this one, so a win here pretty much guarantees a Pac 12 title game berth. Oregon still has Oregon State to play next week.

Maybe it’s not the best week of football, but we’re running out of them for this year, so enjoy! Huck it, chuck it, football!

Rankings for SP+ Ratings and Sagarin Ratings listed, respectively, ahead of each team’s name.


121/142 Bowling Green @ 65/70 Toledo - 7:00pm - ESPNU

89/83 Ohio @ 106/112 Ball State - 7:00pm - ESPN2


97/117 Eastern Michigan @ 105/102 Kent State - 6:00pm - ESPN2

113/119 Miami (OH) @ 114/115 Northern Illinois - 7:00pm - CBSSN

122/123 Western Michigan @ 99/109 Central Michigan - 8:00pm - ESPNU


48/49 SMU @ 34/47 Tulane - 7:30pm - ESPN


120/134 South Florida @ 87/108 Tulsa - 9:00pm - ESPN2

86/85 San Diego State @ 128/164 New Mexico - 8:00pm - FS1


94/87 Navy @ 21/27 UCF - 11:00am - ESPN2

26/37 Illinois @ 3/5 Michigan - 12:00pm - ABC

6/9 TCU @ 25/18 Baylor - 12:00pm - FOX

68/81 Louisiana @ 19/16 Florida State - 12:00pm - ESPN3

117/124 UConn @ 90/93 Army - 12:00pm - CBSSN

98/104 Virginia Tech @ 73/78 Liberty - 12:00pm - ESPN

61/53 Duke @ 49/42 Pittsburgh - 12:00pm - ACCN

59/71 Houston @ 54/54 East Carolina - 2:00pm - ESPN+

104/106 Boston College @ 36/15 Notre Dame - 2:30pm - NBC

42/45 NC State @ 38/29 Louisville - 3:30pm - ACCN

1/1 Georgia @ 30/43 Kentucky - 3:30pm - CBS

2/2 Ohio State @ 41/52 Maryland - 3:30pm - ABC

72/74 Miami @ 14/14 Clemson - 3:30pm - ESPN

60/82 Coastal Carolina @ 93/92 Virginia - 3:30pm - ESPN3

20/24 Iowa @ 16/26 Minnesota - 4:00pm - FOX

110/110 Georgia Tech @ 31/36 North Carolina - 5:30pm - ESPN2

50/34 Texas Tech @ 40/28 Iowa State - 7:00pm - FS1

51/35 Boise State @ 95/105 Wyoming - 7:00pm - CBSSN

22/23 Oklahoma State @ 18/22 Oklahoma - 7:30pm - ABC

11/13 USC @ 15/25 UCLA - 8:00pm - FOX

67/58 Syracuse @ 39/38 Wake Forest - 8:00pm - ACCN

82/90 San Jose State @ 111/114 Utah State - 9:45pm - FS1

9/6 Utah @ 10/8 Oregon - 10:30pm - ESPN