College football Week 12 preview
9 Indiana @ 3 Ohio State
This has become a de facto "Big Ten East Championship Game" as both teams are in the top ten and have separated themselves from the rest of their division. This is the biggest game for Indiana in decades. Normally, I wouldn't be surprised if they started slow because of the nerves and what's at stake, but Tom Allen doesn't strike me as that kind of coach. I expect the Hoosiers to be ready and play their best football. It will be difficult for them against the Buckeye defense, but the Hoosier receivers could exploit some holes in the OSU secondary. Ohio State should be able to score at will, so Indiana will have to keep up. If that doesn't happen, this could get out of hand.
Appalachian State @ 15 Coastal Carolina
Coastal Carolina has been a great story, and the Chanticleers will have a tough game this weekend. Appalachian State has won three straight Sun Belt titles and comes in at 6-1 on the season--only losing a non-conference game to Marshall, which has the nation's second best scoring defense. These teams are both top 15 scoring defenses, so it should be a great battle. Both teams have solid offenses, so it will be up to those defenses to make a play late in the game. Winner takes over the Sun Belt East.
10 Wisconsin @ 19 Northwestern
Surprising matchup of ranked teams. This could also be considered a "Big Ten West Championship Game," but it may be just a bit early to say that. Northwestern has been playing great football and gets a big test against the Badgers. Wisconsin has only played twice, but won both games in dominating fashion. This will be the first good team they play, so I'm excited to see which team is able to prove themselves.
14 Oklahoma State @ 18 Oklahoma
Bedlam 2020. Oklahoma State is trying to stay atop the Big 12 and keep slim playoff hopes alive. Oklahoma is trying to climb back into the hunt in the Big 12 after an early skid. If Oklahoma State has all of its weapons on offense back, they should be able to score on the Sooners' defense. The Cowboys' defense is one of the best in the conference and could make life hard on freshman QB Spencer Rattler. He'll have to prove he's up to the task. Oklahoma has the ability to score as well, so if Rattler plays well, expect a classic Big 12 shootout.
20 USC @ Utah
This will be Utah's first game of the season. USC is 2-0, but both games came down to the wire. They needed an onside kick and a last second TD to beat Arizona State, and they were tied going into the fourth quarter against Arizona last week. Utah could be a challenge just because of how the program has been built. They lose several players--especially on defense-- yet always seem to reload. I don't expect Utah to have another season like last year, but I want to see what they have.
7 Cincinnati @ UCF
UCF may be unranked right now, but they have been one of the best teams in the AAC for years. So far this season, the Knights have dominated most of their opponents, only losing to Memphis and Tulsa. They are currently tied for 2nd place in the conference behind Cincinnati and Tulsa, and a win here would be huge for the rest of the season. Cincinnati may be the best team in this conference and has most of the advantages, but anyone can slip up at any point. While the Bearcats are favored in the spread, ESPN's predictor model actually favors the Knights. UCF has a good team and is a tough place to play. Since fans are allowed, they may have a slight homefield advantage, which will keep them in this one. Still think Cincinnati pulls it out.
Kansas State @ 17 Iowa State
At one point earlier in the season, Kansas State was at the top of the Big 12, but the Wildcats are now 1-2 since the season-ending injury to QB Skylar Thompson. Will Howard has been alright in his place, but he doesn't have the experience against these top defenses. Iowa State, meanwhile, is battling it out for the conference title with Oklahoma State. The Cyclones own the tiebreaker over the Cowboys at the moment because of conference winning percentage (They've played one more game). A win for Iowa State keeps them in first place, while an upset would shake things up a bit. KSU and OU wins would cause a three way tie between Iowa State, Kansas State, and Oklahoma for first, with Oklahoma State right behind.