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All the stakes from Week 12's College Football Playoff impact games, quickly summarized

November 19,2017 13:11

Week 12 was always going to be more of a table-setter than a huge weekend of college football, but we still moved toward Rivalry Week with a better lay of the land. Ohio State and Oklahoma clinched spots in Power 5 conference title games, Wisconsin won ...


Four top 10 teams lost in Week 11, including Georgia and Notre Dame, which were both ranked in the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings at the time. Let's take a look around the country and see which games in Week 12 could impact the Playoff picture.
RELATED: How each of the top 11 teams can make the College Football Playoff
*Can Michigan redshirt freshman quarterback Brandon Peters and the Wolverines hand the Badgers their first loss? (No. 24 Michigan at No. 5 Wisconsin, 12 p.m. ET, FOX)
Wisconsin is one of just four undefeated teams left in the country, and as a result, the fifth-ranked Badgers are knocking on the door of a top-four spot in the College Football Playoff rankings. They shut down then-No. 20 Iowa in Week 11, just a week after the Hawkeyes throttled Ohio State, and Wisconsin will now have the opportuntiy to pick up its second win over a ranked opponent in as many weeks. Michigan will travel to Madison, Wisc., in Week 12 looking to extend its three-game winning streak.
The Wolverines are on their third quarterback of the season as redshirt freshman Brandon Peters has started the last two games – a 33-10 win over Minnesota and a 35-10 win against Maryland. Peters has a higher completion percentage than John O'Korn and Wilton Speight in his albeit limited game action, but he has already thrown for as many touchdowns (four) as the other two combined, while not throwing any interceptions compared to the seven tossed by O'Korn and Speight. Michigan's potent three-headed rushing attack of Karan Higdon, Chris Evans and Ty Isaac has combined for 1,971 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns this season, meaning Peters won't be expected to carry Michigan's offense single-handedly.
Wisconsin held Iowa to just 66 yards of total offense in Week 11, so is Michigan's offense dynamic enough with an inexperienced quarterback under center to go into a hostile road environment and beat a Badgers team that ranks second nationally in scoring defense at 13.4 points allowed per game? 
*Can TCU stay in the Big 12 Championship hunt on the road without its starting quarterback? (No. 12 TCU at Texas Tech, 12 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1)
After starting the season 7-0, TCU has dropped two of its last three games on the road at Iowa State and at Oklahoma. Now, the Horned Frogs will be back on the road taking on Texas Tech, which has the fourth-highest scoring offense in the conference. TCU is currently in second place in the conference thanks to head-to-head wins over Oklahoma State and West Virginia, but one more loss could potentially knock them out of contention for the Big 12 Championship.
The Horned Frogs will be without starting quarterback Kenny Hill, meaning true freshman Shawn Robinson will start for the first time in his career. Texas Tech is in eighth place in the Big 12 but the Red Raiders have shown they can compete with the best teams in the conference. Their issue is finishing games.
Assuming Oklahoma claims one of the two spots in the Big 12 Championship, this game will help determine which team the Sooners play in the conference title game.
*Can Kentucky replicate Auburn's game plan against Georgia and catch the Bulldogs looking ahead? (Kentucky at No. 7 Georgia, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)
Dominate both lines of scrimmage. Pound the ball on the ground. Make Georgia freshman quarterback Jake Fromm beat you through the air. That was Auburn's recipe for success against then-No. 1 Georgia in the Tigers' 40-17 win against the Bulldogs in Week 11. Is it possible Kentucky can learn from Auburn's game plan and repeat it this weekend in a possible look-ahead spot for Georgia, which has a rivalry game against Georgia Tech next week, followed by the SEC Championship?
The Dawgs are undefeated at home this season, but the Wildcats have won three of their four road games. If Kentucky can follow the formula it used against Southern Miss and South Carolina, which was stopping the run and forcing turnovers in relatively low-scoring games, it may have a chance in Athens. After dropping six spots in the College Football Playoff rankings, Georgia's margin for error in the next three weeks is very small if the Bulldogs hope to climb back into the playoff picture.
*Can Notre Dame climb back into the top four? (Navy at No. 8 Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m ET, NBC)
After losing to Miami in Week 11, Notre Dame is on the outside of the Playoff picture, looking in, but there's a scenario where the Irish can finish in the top four. If Georgia and Miami both win out, Notre Dame will have arguably two of the "best" losses among teams in Playoff contention. If the Irish win their two remaining games against Navy and Stanford in convincing fashion, maybe they could play their way into the Playoff if enough teams ranked ahead of them lose.
Both the Irish and Midshipmen are run-first teams, but Notre Dame has the added dimension of a passing game that Navy's triple option lacks. If Notre Dame wins and moves up in the rankings next week, it has a shot at finishing in the committee's top four.
*Can Josh Rosen outperform Sam Darnold and end USC's Playoff hopes? (UCLA at No. 11 USC, 8 p.m. ET, ABC)
There aren't a lot of games in Week 12 with obvious Playoff implications. No. 1 Alabama plays Mercer (5-5), No. 2 Clemson plays The Citadel (5-5), No. 3 Miami hosts Virginia (6-4), and No. 4 Oklahoma plays Kansas (1-9). Barring a massive upset, there's a good chance the top four teams will stay the same next week. UCLA at USC, however, is a game with sneaky potential Playoff implications for the Pac-12.
The Trojans are the highest-ranked team in the conference and having suffered two losses already, they probably have to win out to have a chance of making the CFP. The Bruins and Trojans play for the Victory Bell, and you know what they say about rivalry games: Throw out the records. If anything can be learned from UCLA's schedule through the first 11 weeks, it's that the Bruins struggle on the road. They've lost all five of their road games, while winning their five home games. However, UCLA is usually a safe bet to score a lot of points, even in a losing effort, thanks to quarterback Josh Rosen, so this game should at the very least be entertaining to watch with USC quarterback Sam Darnold on the other sideline.

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