Two critical matchups in the Pac-12 (USC-UCLA, Utah-Oregon) highlight Week 12 in CFB. It’s hard to believe that it’s week 12 in the college football season and there is still the potential for extreme chaos for the CFP committee if USC can win outright.
The Pac-12 championship game could be determined this weekend if the results fall in favor of USC, Utah or Oregon. Here is a recap of the scenarios:
USC clinches a spot in the Pac-12 championship game with a win at UCLA. According to ESPN Analytics, there’s a 61% chance the Trojans clinch a spot in the championship game this week.
Utah clinches a spot in the Pac-12 championship game with a win and UCLA loss. According to ESPN Analytics, there’s a 32% chance the Utes clinch a spot in the championship game this week.
Oregon clinches a spot in the Pac-12 championship game with a win vs Utah and a Washington loss to Colorado. According to ESPN Analytics, there’s a 2% chance the Ducks clinch a spot in the championship game this week.
With no two-loss team ever reaching the College Football Playoff, that likely means USC is the last remaining hope for the Pac-12. The Trojans have a 7.7% chance to make the CFP. If they win out, their percentage jumps to 38% but that is independent of other results.
Lets Get To The Games
#7 USC at #16 UCLA, 8 ET Fox
For the first time since 2005, USC and UCLA will square off with both teams entering with a win percentage of .800 or better. The Bruins scored 62 points in their meeting last year vs USC, their most points against the Trojans all-time.
But this year, UCLA will have to slow down transfer QB Caleb Williams, who has 31 passing touchdowns and just two interceptions this season. Williams is the 2nd quarterback since 2000 to record 30 passing touchdowns and two or fewer interceptions through their team’s first 10 games of a season, joining Justin Fields in 2019.
USC enters this game averaging 42.4 points, 3rd-most in the FBS, trailing Tennessee and Ohio State. In terms of total points, the Trojans have scored 424 this season, their 2nd-most through the first 10 games of a season in program history. USC had 484 in its first 10 games in 2005.
However, USC lost its running back Travis Dye this past weekend due to a leg injury. Dye has averaged 88.4 rushing yards this season, 3rd-most in the Pac-12.
#10 Utah at #12 Oregon, 10:30 ET on ESPN
Bo Nix has had success through the air and on the ground this season, recording 24 passing touchdowns and 14 rushing touchdowns. Including his one receiving touchdown, Nix has been responsible for 39 touchdowns this season, tied with Drake Maye for most in FBS.
Nix has recorded two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown in each of his last three games, tied for the longest streak in the FBS this season. If he does that again on Saturday, Nix would join Marcus Mariota in 2014 as the only Pac-12 players over the last 25 seasons with 25 passing touchdowns and 15 rushing touchdowns in a season. Mariota won the Heisman Trophy that season.
Utah’s Tavion Thomas is coming off a 180-yard rushing performance this past weekend vs Stanford, the most in a game in his career.
Illinois at #3 Michigan, Noon ET on ABC and #2 Ohio State at Maryland, 3:30 ET on ABC
Michigan and Ohio State are each one game away from setting up a massive showdown on November 26. Illinois will have to figure out a way to score in the 2nd half vs Michigan, who has just three points in the 3rd and 4th quarters in its last five games.
Ohio State has scored 416 points in its last seven games vs Maryland. That is the most over a seven-game span by one team against another in the AP Poll Era (since 1936).
But if Illinois or Maryland cannot pull off the upset, it sets up the first undefeated matchup between Michigan and Ohio State since 2006. That year, No. 1 Ohio State defeated No. 2 Michigan 42-39.
I will have my “best of the rest” games breakdown tomorrow!