After a weekend that saw half of the top 25 teams sidelined due to cancellations and postponements, we (currently) have a full slate of college football games for Week 12. Those games include three matchups between ranked teams, including one matchup of top 10 teams.
In other words, as things stand, next week’s schedule looks to be a lot more interesting than the one we just concluded. Plus, there’s a lot more on the line, though not every big game is expected to be close.
Let’s start with the biggest one on the board. All lines are via the William Hill Sportsbook.
No. 9 Indiana at No. 3 Ohio State (-20): When the Big Ten season started a month ago, nobody was telling you that this would be a top-10 battle that could end up deciding the Big Ten East. In our preseason Big Ten expert picks, I said Indiana was the most underrated team in the Big Ten, but not even I had this in mind. This is where we stand, though, as the Hoosiers are 4-0 and have become something of a Cinderella story this season. The Buckeyes will be their biggest test by far, however, and they’ll be well-rested after having their game against Maryland called off.
No. 14 Oklahoma State at No. 18 Oklahoma (-9.5): Bedlam always feels important, and this year’s version has a lot more at stake than bragging rights. The Cowboys are one of only two one-loss teams remaining in the Big 12 right now, but they’re nearly 10-point underdogs to the rival Sooners, who need this win to stay alive in the Big 12 title race. On the other hand, Oklahoma State could almost guarantee a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game with a win in this spot.
No. 10 Wisconsin (-7) at No. 19 Northwestern: While the two best teams in the Big Ten East battle, those at the top of the Big Ten West will do the same. Along with Indiana, Northwestern is one of two 4-0 teams in the Big Ten right now. Wisconsin is 2-0 after having two games canceled, but it can be argued that, aside from Ohio State, the Badgers have been the most impressive team in the conference thus far. Still, while both teams are off to great starts, this will be the toughest test either has faced to this point.
Kentucky at No. 1 Alabama (-29.5): While you can never overlook the Iron Bowl, the rest of the regular season seems like something of a foregone conclusion for Alabama. Last week’s game against LSU was postponed, and it has already beaten Texas A&M, so Auburn is the biggest obstacle between the Crimson Tide and an undefeated regular season. Given that they’re 29.5-point favorites against Kentucky in this spot, it’s hard to imagine the Wildcats pull off a shocker. I mean, the 29.5 points per game the oddsmakers are spotting Kentucky here are a full six points more than they’re averaging per game on the season (23.3 points).
No. 4 Clemson (-33) at Florida State: There was once a time when this game was the biggest one on the ACC schedule. Now we’re looking at a 33-point spread, and it’s not easy to justify taking Florida State given all the problems the Seminoles are having. Of course, this game’s primary storyline will be the return of Trevor Lawrence, who has missed Clemson’s last two games after testing positive for COVID-19. Even if Lawrence was unable to play, I don’t know how much impact it would have on this spread.
No. 7 Cincinnati (-3.5) at UCF: The game of the season in the AAC. The Bearcats are the current favorite to claim the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six spot, but they’ve got their eyes on a College Football Playoff berth. I don’t know how realistic a goal that may be, but a win over UCF would undoubtedly help. As for UCF, while the Knights are 5-2 on the season, they’re not out of the hunt in the AAC. A win over Cincinnati would increase their chances.
Ole Miss at No. 5 Texas A&M (-12): The Aggies are the playoff contender nobody seems to realize exists. They’re 5-1 on the season with a win over No. 6 Florida, and their lone loss came to No. 1 Alabama. This weekend they’ll face one of the more difficult tasks in the SEC West: trying to stop the Ole Miss offense. The Rebels cannot stop scoring points, and given the way the Aggies offense has played, this could easily be the most entertaining game of the weekend.
Best of the rest
Tulane at No. 25 Tulsa (-4.5) – Thursday
No. 6 Florida (-31) at Vanderbilt
Appalachian State at No. 15 Coastal Carolina (-4.5)
Charlotte at No. 15 Marshall (-21.5)
No. 22 Texas (-29) at Kansas
Kansas State at No. 17 Iowa State (-10.5)
Tennessee at No. 23 Auburn (-10)
Mississippi State at No. 13 Georgia (-23.5)
No. 21 Liberty at NC State (-3)