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College football games, matchups for Week 12: Don't overlook these showdowns

November 17,2017 10:20

This is the time of year championships -- or chances for championships -- are won. It's possible for seven teams to clinch division titles in Week 12. Nothing is assured in this age of divisions, but it's nice to say you got to play for one even if you ...


College Football Playoff or bust? Hardly.
This is the time of year championships -- or chances for championships -- are won. It's possible for seven teams to clinch division titles in Week 12. Nothing is assured in this age of divisions, but it's nice to say you got to play for one even if you didn't win.  
UCF and Memphis can set up the AAC Championship Game with victories. That game might as well be a send-off for coaches Scott Frost and Mike Norvell.
Oklahoma just needs to beat Kansas (who hasn't?) to get in the Big 12 Championship Game. Lincoln Riley's first Big 12 title would be OU's 11th in 19 years.
Ohio State sets up the Big Ten Championship Game with a win over Illinois. Wisconsin already has won the Big Ten West. The Badgers will have played in five of the seven Big Ten title games.
FAU can win its seventh in a row and get in the Conference USA Championship Game with a win over FIU. Yes, Lane Kiffin is a national coach of the year candidate.
Finally, Boise State and Fresno State finalize the Mountain West Championship Game with wins.
OK, onto the rest of the Week 12 storylines … 
1. Badgering Michigan: A Jim Harbaugh confidant texted me this week, asking, "Do you think we have a chance?" Well, of course you, er, Michigan have a chance. Wisconsin is a Midwest Georgia. You just have to find the right place to attack. For Auburn last week, it was putting the game on the shoulders of freshman Jake Fromm.
Easier said than done, though, to put the game on Wisconsin's Alex Hornibrook. Only Illinois in the Big Ten has turned the ball over more times (22) than Wisconsin (19). Hornibrook has thrown the second-most picks in the Big Ten (12) despite averaging only 21 throws per game.
Michigan's defense will keep it in the game. The question is how Brandin Peters moves it against the nation's No. 1 defense. A Wisconsin loss could eliminate the Big Ten or allow a two-loss Ohio State -- that has been blown out twice by a combined 46 points -- to get in. This is getting interesting.
2. Miami angst: It would be so Miami of the Canes if they failed to back up the Notre Dame win against Virginia. That's how Miami got in this situation in the first place over the last 15 years -- continually raising hopes only to crash in the end. This current success seems sustainable. Virginia lost any shot at the Coastal last week with a loss to Louisville. The Canes have clinched the Coastal for the first time. Any letdown will not be excused at a Hard Rock Stadium that -- at last check -- was close to being sold out again.
3. Happy trails Jeff Long … and bye-bye Bret: It's not too hard to read between the lines in the press release. Bret Bielema is gone. Why else would Arkansas fire its athletic director? Either Long refused to fire Bielema himself or he wasn't needed to hire the next guy. Maybe both. It just seems a matter of time with the Hogs hosting Mississippi State and Missouri the next two weeks. Norvell seems to be the logical replacement.
4. How'd we get here? It's anybody's guess as to how Nick Saban juggles playing time in what is essentially an elaborate scrimmage against Mercer. We do know he's relaxed -- or maybe relaxed fit. Jeans? Really?
5. In the interim … Brady Hoke can compare notes with Ed Orgeron when LSU and Tennessee meet. Hoke obviously is taking over for the fired Butch Jones at Tennessee. Orgeron, though, is the veteran of 16 games as an interim coach at USC and LSU. In fact, his interim winning percentage (.750) is better than his full-time coaching record (.475).
"I've been there," Coach O said.  Yes, he has. The ultimate Michigan Man, Hoke is now the Vols' (4-6) best hope to go to a bowl. Hoke's last was the Buffalo Wild Wings with Michigan in 2013. Beer, wings, interim.
6. Upset of the week: UAB over Florida almost seems too easy, one of the most likely hidden upsets of the week. The Gators didn't show up against Missouri. They can't move the ball with any consistency. A bowl is impossible. Oh yeah, and UAB is a legit 7-3 in its first year back from a two-year hiatus. The Blazers are essentially an expansion team that is averaging 32 points a game and in the top 20 nationally in interceptions -- all while enjoying its best season in history. They will be motivated. You'll thank me later. Take the Blazers straight up.
7. Butch vs. Lane: Maybe they name it the Gold Coast Cup or something, but FIU at FAU is real. The winner between two Group of Five afterthoughts revived by famous former Power Five coaches could win 10 games this season. Kiffin and the Owls can clinch the Conference USA East. Butch Davis can lead FIU to seven wins for the first time in six years. The school record is eight.  
8. Quick kicks: Wonder how the CFP Selection Committee is going to spin No. 2 Clemson's loss to Syracuse if, as expected, the Orange lose at Louisville. That would drop the Cuse to 4-7 … USC (vs. UCLA) has already clinched the Pac-12 South. In two weeks, it will be playing for its first Pac-12 title since 2008 (when it was the Pac-10) … Boston College freshman tailback A.J Dillon (vs. UConn this week) has rushed for the most yards this season against FBS schools with a winning record, 890 … If there was ever a year the Big 12 didn't need a title game, it's this one. Likely runner-up TCU may be without quarterback Kenny Hill, who is questionable against Texas Tech. How quality a win is that going to be for the Sooners in a rematch? … Is there an SEC East team hotter than Missouri (at Vanderbilt). During a four-game winning streak, the Tigers have sliced 110 yards off their yards allowed average. They are among the top 10 in sacks allowed (only one in November). Drew Lock is No 1 in SEC passing yards, yards per pass, touchdown passes (No. 1 nationally) and rating. 

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