- For Oklahoma, Colorado and Clemson, this week could make or break their chances at reaching the College Football Playoff.
A week full of upsets has given a number of teams a better shot at making the College Football Playoff than previously thought possible. One of those teams, Louisville, lost to Houston last night and fell out of the playoff race.
Below we'll outline three teams that have the most to gain in Week 12.
No. 9 Oklahoma: at No. 14 West Virginia, 8:00 p.m. (ABC)
The Sooners have risen to No. 9 in the College Football Playoff rankings, and they still have games against two ranked teams to close out the season. This game is also monumental for West Virginia. The Mountaineers don't have any wins over a ranked team and this is a huge opportunity to prove they aren't a fluke to doubters.
Oklahoma, however, is the team with a more likely path to the playoff despite also not having any ranked wins. This is because the Sooners could still finish with two top 25 wins, while West Virginia can only have one, and are still the leading candidate to win the Big 12. Oklahoma also has a better strength of schedule. A Big 12 team will only make it into the playoff with more chaos inside the top eight, and a win in this game would put Oklahoma in the best position to capitalize on that.
No. 10 Colorado: vs. No. 22 Washington State, 3:30 p.m. (FOX)
Colorado is a team that seems to have snuck up on everyone this year. Now at No. 10, the Buffaloes cannot be ignored. This game is important to several other teams in the playoff race as well, as No. 6 Washington plays Washington State next week, and would like the Cougars to jump in the rankings. No. 3 Michigan, however, beat the Buffaloes early in the year and has benefited from their rise.
Both Colorado and Washington State have a lot to prove. Each has one ranked win against Stanford. Colorado has a 21-spot advantage in strength of schedule, and plays No. 12 Utah next week. Another separator between the two teams is the strength of losses, as Colorado's road losses to Michigan and No. 13 USC are better than WSU's losses to Eastern Washington at home and at No. 20 Boise State. Winning out would send Colorado to the Pac 12 championship game where a trip to either the playoff or Rose Bowl will be on the line. A potential Pac 12 champion Colorado with wins over Washington, Utah, Washington State and Stanford would be enticing and would certainly shake up the playoff discussion. This game is the starting point for that dream run.
No. 4 Clemson: at Wake Forest, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Clemson has to make sure it doesn't let one loss turn into two. Another loss would kill the Tigers' playoff dreams, as Louisville would play for the ACC title instead, and there would be other teams with much better two-loss resumes. Wake Forest (6–4) was leading Louisville last week after three quarters, and has demonstrated the ability to cause worry for opponents. There are very few occasions where going on the road in a Power 5 conference can be counted on as a sure win. Rutgers may be the exception.
Clemson has shown at times this season it is prone to playing down to its opponents and it cannot allow that to happen Saturday. We all learned last week that anything can happen in college football. The No. 4 team in the College Football Playoff rankings has also lost two weeks in a row, if you're into curses.