College Football Games To Watch: Week 12

A look at the games I will be watching during the 12th week of the college football season
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There is no Notre Dame this weekend, but that just means I can sit back, relax and enjoy a lot more college football. Despite some cancelations, there are still plenty of games that I’ll have my eye on.

Some are games that could impact Notre Dame’s postseason berth, and others are just really good football games.

#9 INDIANA HOOSIERS (4-0) at #3 OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (3-0)

Time: 12:00 PM ET
Network: FOX
Spread: Ohio State -20.5

The Irish Breakdown staff made predictions for this game, which you can read HERE.

If Notre Dame runs the table it is in the College Football Playoff, that’s a no brainer. Should the Irish drop a game, even a close ACC title game contest, it will need some help.

A second SEC team and the Big Ten champ are arguably the two biggest Power 5 threats to the ACC getting two teams into the CFP. Ohio State is clearly the class of the Big Ten this year, and if they run the table the Buckeyes are going to get a strong CFP look, even with just eight games. A loss and they are out of contention.

Following this matchup against the Hoosiers, the Buckeyes play Illinois, Michigan State and Michigan, three teams with a combined 3-9 record. Odds are good that if Ohio State beats Indiana it will go into the Big Ten title game with an unblemished record. The odds are slim that Indiana can win this game, but I’ll be watching just in case.

#7 CINCINNATI BEARCATS (7-0) at UCF GOLDEN KNIGHTS (5-2)

Time: 3:30 PM ET
Network: ESPN
Spread: Cincinnati -5.5

There is going to be a big media push for a Group of Five team to get a playoff berth this season. Should it go undefeated, Cincinnati would have the strongest resume to earn a spot. Obviously that angle is worth watching, but there is another reason I’ll be locked into this game.

Should Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea get a head coaching job this offseason (something he’s certainly earned), Cincinnati defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman is a guy who will be at or near the top of my list for possible replacements.

Four of Cincinnati’s six FBS opponents average over 30 points per game, but those four teams averaged just 10.8 points against the Bearcats, and none scored more than 13 points. Cincinnati ranks in the Top 10 nationally in scoring defense, total defense, turnovers gained and red zone touchdown defense, and in the Top 20 in rushing defense, pass defense, sacks, tackles for loss and third-down defense.

Freeman is a rising star in the coaching ranks, and I want to see how his defense can do in a road contest against an explosive offense like UCF’s.

#10 WISCONSIN BADGERS (2-0) at #19 NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS (4-0)

Time: 3:30 PM ET
Network: ABC
Spread: Wisconsin -7.5

This is a battle of the two best teams from the Big Ten West. Wisconsin looked great in its first two victories, which were dominant wins over Illinois (45-7) and Michigan (49-11). Northwestern is also off to a great start and is coming off a 27-20 road win over Purdue.

I don’t view either of these team’s as legit threats for a playoff berth. Northwestern just isn’t good enough and Wisconsin can only play seven games this season, at most, and I don’t see a 7-0 squad getting a playoff berth.

I’ll watch this game for two reasons. One is to watch two well-coached football teams that play physical football, and the two is to see if a Big Ten West squad can win enough games to remain in the Top 10, which would give Ohio State a much-needed quality win to end the season.

#14 OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS (5-1) at #18 OKLAHOMA SOONERS (5-2)

Time: 7:30 PM ET
Network: ABC
Spread: OU -7.0

The Irish Breakdown staff made predictions for this game, which you can read HERE.

This game will be on the television because I expect it to be an exciting game, and I love this rivalry. I watch it every chance I get, and it rarely lets me down from an entertainment standpoint.

Part of me thinks there’s a chance this could be one of the lower scoring games the series has given us in recent seasons since the Big 12 saw an offensive explosion. Oklahoma State has played excellent defense for much of the season, and the Sooners have showed improvement on that side of the ball in the last three games.

Oklahoma State’s offense has yet to get going this offseason, and while the Sooners are still quite good on offense, they aren’t the elite unit of previous seasons. Does Oklahoma State have enough offense to win this game? Will the Sooners defense continue building on recent success? Is this the coming-out party for OU QB Spencer Rattler?

I know the answer to none of those questions, but I can’t wait to find them out. I also think there’s an outside chance that Oklahoma State could sneak into a playoff spot, so that will also be in the back of my mind.

#21 LIBERTY FLAMES (8-0) at NC STATE WOLFPACK (5-3)

Time: 7:30 PM ET
Network: ESPN3
Spread: NC State -4.5

BYU keeps being mentioned as a possible playoff team if it keeps winning, but I have no idea why Liberty doesn’t get the same love. I also have no idea why BYU is ranked 8th in the polls and Liberty is ranked 21st.

BYU’s best win is what, Boise State? Troy?

Liberty, on the other hand, has a road win over Virginia Tech and a 38-21 road victory over Syracuse. Beating NC State would give Liberty a third Power 5 win, which means the Flames have a very good chance of winning as many Power 5 games as Michigan and Penn State.

If the Flames win this game they should absolutely leap BYU in the polls, and it should be behind only Cincinnati in consideration for a Group of Five team earning a playoff bid.

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