Before we bask in the gloriousness that is rivalry week, the Pac-12 will have much of the spotlight of Week 12.
USC is the conference’s lone team remaining in the College Football Playoff race, and its challenging final stretch begins with a crosstown trip to UCLA on Saturday night.
There’s also another excellent matchup out in Eugene as Oregon hosts Utah with significant Pac-12 title implications at stake. And before the Pac-12 takes center stage late into Saturday night, there a few tricky spots for some highly ranked teams. That includes No. 3 Michigan hosting Illinois and No. 4 TCU’s trip to Waco to face Baylor, the defending Big 12 champion.
(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
Time: Noon | TV: ABC | Line: UM -17.5 | Total: 41.5
The Wolverines are 10-0 with their highly anticipated showdown with Ohio State looming next week. But before the trip to Columbus, Michigan will host an Illinois team that would love to play the role of spoiler. Illinois was 7-1 and ranked No. 16 a few weeks ago but has since lost back-to-back games to Michigan State and Purdue. The big question will be the health of Illini running back Chase Brown, the nation’s leading rusher. He could go head-to-head with Michigan star RB Blake Corum.
Time: Noon | TV: Fox | Line: TCU -2.5 | Total: 58
TCU just keeps finding ways to win and it needs to keep doing so to assure its place in the four-team playoff. Seemingly on a weekly basis, TCU finds itself in tight games against Big 12 foes and comes out on the other side with a win. Could the Horned Frogs do it again Saturday in Waco? Baylor won the Big 12 last year but is now a longshot to get back to the conference title game. This may be more about Baylor trying to wreck the TCU party.
Time: 7:30 p.m. | TV: SECN | Line: Ole Miss -2.5 | Total: 64
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin was so close to getting a win over his former boss, Alabama’s Nick Saban, but the Rebels fell 30-24 in heartbreaking fashion. Now the 8-2 Rebels are eliminated from SEC West contention and have to go take a trip to face Arkansas. A night game in Fayetteville is never easy, and Ole Miss will likely try to lean heavily on its running game like it has all year. Arkansas, meanwhile, is just 5-5 on the year and will need to pull off the upset and clinch bowl eligibility.
Time: 8 p.m. | TV: Fox | Line: USC -2.5 | Total: 75.5
It’s a huge weekend in the Pac-12 as USC is the conference’s last remaining contender for the playoff. USC’s offense, led by quarterback Caleb Williams, has been playing at a high level. Its defense has not. Things have played out similarly for UCLA. The Bruins, who are still fighting to reach the Pac-12 title game, have a stellar running game led by QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson and RB Zach Charbonnet. Those two need to have big nights for UCLA to pull off the upset, especially with the way the defense has been struggling in recent weeks.
Time: 10:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN | Line: Utah -1.5 | Total: 61.5
Like the USC-UCLA game, this matchup is massive for the Pac-12 title race. Both Utah and Oregon are 6-1 in conference play, a half-game behind 7-1 USC and a game in front of UCLA and Washington, both of whom are 5-2.
QB injuries will factor heavily into this one. While Utah QB Cam Rising seems to be back after missing a game a few weeks back, Oregon’s Bo Nix is much more of a question mark. He seemed to hurt his foot or ankle late in last week’s heartbreaking loss to Washington. The coaching staff has remained quiet about Nix’s status, but the fact that Oregon went from a 3-point favorite to a 1.5-point underdog on Wednesday night says a lot. If Nix can’t go, Ty Thompson will get the nod in this crucial matchup.