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Non-TCU Games of the Week

Week 12 will test Playoff teams and G5 elites, plus Big 12 championship spots up for grabs

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 13 Utah at Arizona
Can Cam Rising rise to the occasion and take down #3 ranked Oregon?
Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Headliner

#3 Oregon at #23 Utah (-3) - November 20, 6:30 PM, ABC

In what is very likely to be a preview of the Pac-12 championship game, the Ducks put their teetering Playoff spot on the line in Salt Lake City. Rice-Eccles will be rowdy and rocking for the night game and an opportunity to take down the conference’s lone Playoff hope. Oregon has perhaps the nation’s best win (at Ohio State) and the nation’s best player (DE Kayvon Thibodeaux), but also has lost to a terrible Stanford team and barely escaped against UCLA. Utah meanwhile absolutely smashed both the Cardinal and Bruins over the last few weeks and has the offense into full throttle under QB Cam Rising. Anthony Brown on the other side seems to get stuck with bad decisions at bad times to hurt his team, even though he’s mostly done what’s needed to win games. That said, I see the Ducks controlling this game on the ground with Brown and Travis Dye and Freshman Byron Cardwell, while Noah Sewell and Thibodeaux shut down the Utah offense. Oregon wins big and makes a statement that they deserve their spot in the Playoff.

My pick: Oregon wins (+135); Oregon covers (+3); Total Under 59.5

The Undercard

#7 Michigan State at #4 Ohio State (-19) - November 20, 11:00 AM, ABC

Congrats to Mel Tucker on securing a massive raise and contract extension, congrats to Kenneth Walker for being the Heisman front-runner with dominating performances, and congrats to the Spartans for an incredible season. However, their Cinderella run strikes midnight at Noon EST in Columbus. I hate it, because I truly enjoy this MSU team and their dogfight mentality, but now they have to scale Everest nude and blindfolded. The feat is possible, sure, but it will not be enjoyable and it is extremely unlikely. OSU has the scariest offense in the country right now with CJ Stroud at peak performance, three 1st-round caliber WRs, and a stable of RBs led by super Frosh TreVeyon Henderson. They are a juggernaut smashing everything in its path until a date with Georgia or Alabama. Unfortunately, that includes Michigan State this week, Buckeyes by three TDs

My pick: Ohio St. wins (-1300); Ohio St. covers (-19); Total Over 68.5

Upset Watch

UAB at #22 UTSA (-4.5) - November 20, 2:30 PM, ESPN+

The Roadrunners of San Antonio have hit the big time and have people Meep Meep-ing across the nation, including the CFP Committee. The Dragons of Birmingham have suffered three losses, but only one in conference (a stunner to Rice) and are coming off a hard-fought win at Marshall. With a win here UAB would not only knock UTSA off their high national perch, but also leapfrog them in the C-USA West standings. As high as Jeff Traylor’s squad has climbed, it would be a tragic long fall from the top. UTSA has been able to sneak out away wins at Memphis, Illinois, and WKU, but UAB may present the toughest test, with a defense capable of slowing the dynamic playmakers of UTSA.

My pick: UAB wins (+175); UAB covers (+4.5); Total Under 53.5

G5 Showcase

SMU at #5 Cincinnati (-11.5) – November 20, 2:30 PM, ESPN

SMU bounced back last week by smashing UCF after taking two losses; now Sonny Dykes will take the Mustangs into Nippert Stadium for a showdown with massive implications. Cinci will defend its home turf with a top-10 EPA/Play defense against the Ponies’ top-10 EPA/play offense. Not sure the Bearcats would get much credit nationally for winning this game, but if they do shut down and blow out SMU, it should be considered a real statement of strength headed into the final weeks. On the other side, pulling an upset of this magnitude would be another feather in Dykes’ cap as he looks to leap to another opportunity, whether here in Fort Worth or elsewhere. Cinci has looked beatable the last two weeks, but perhaps it was with an eye towards this stretch run – I believe this is the game where Cinci plays with renewed focus and executes in all phases to run SMU off the field

My pick: Cincinnati wins (-460); Cincinnati covers (-11.5); Total Under 65.5

Others Receiving Votes

  • Memphis at #24 Houston (-8.5) – Friday night features some great G5 showdowns, and the headliner is this battle in the American. Although Memphis has had a down season, they are more than capable of taking down top-25 caliber teams. With a spot in the conference championship game already secured, have the Cougars already shifted their eyes towards that showdown with Cinci?
  • #10 Wake Forest at Clemson (-4.5) – Clemson has been trash relative to expectations, while Wake has exploded to a top-10 season and potential ACC championship. Can the Tigers’ elite defensive playmakers slow down the highest scoring offense in the conference, or will the Deacons claw back into Playoff contention?
  • Iowa State at #13 Oklahoma (-3.5) – Can the Sooners bounce back and save their season to stay alive on the fringe of Playoff hope or does this season spiral out of control, culminating with a loss in Bedlam as Lincoln Riley announces he’ll be taking his talents to Baton Rouge?
  • Georgia Tech at #8 Notre Dame (-17) – The Irish keep lurking in the Playoff rankings and only has two games left, both against bottom-tier P5 squads, and won’t play a conference championship game. It’s highly likely they are in the top 4 on Selection Sunday. Can the Yellowjackets end the national nightmare?
  • #21 Arkansas at #2 Alabama (-21) – I’m already ready to watch Treylon Burks catching passes in the NFL (unless the Colts or Ravens draft him), but this is as close as we’ll get until NFL preseason, as he tries to get open against this Crimson Tide defense. There’s some chatter of “oh look out, this one could be tricky for Bama, looking ahead to the Iron Bowl” which I don’t believe at all, at least not the tricky part. Bama should roll, but maybe Burks can have another monster game to keep this one interesting.
  • Louisiana at Liberty (-4.5) – Potential future TCU Head Coach Billy Napier brings his Ragin’ Cajuns to Lynchburg, VA looking to shut down presumptive first round draft pick, Liberty QB Malik Willis. Louisiana’s only loss was way back in Week 1 to Texas (who albeit turned out to not be back), and a road win here should put the Cajuns into the rankings over the list of useless 4-loss teams.
  • #11 Baylor at Kansas State (-1) – The Bears have been involved in a field storming for two weeks in a row, last week seeing their own fans take the field and draw the hypocritical ire of Lincoln Riley. The emotional roller coaster of getting bumped off by your rival to bouncing back and slaying the Sooner giant as to take a toll. And now Baylor travels to the Little Apple and take on a very tricky K-State squad that has looked incredibly strong since dropping its first three games of conference play.