What To Expect On Saturday: CFB Week 12 Preview

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What To Expect On Saturday: CFB Week 12 Preview

Joey Goodsir, Staff Writer

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So, here we are. A week away from the big regular season finale Saturday, featuring the biggest rivalries in the game.

Until then, we have the quite odd Saturday that precedes it. And due to the cupcakes that the SEC traditionally schedules this week, the schedule is quite sad to be honest.

Let’s hope that this week brings some unexpectedly exciting play to get us excited for what will be football-magedon in a week.

No need for further ado, let’s get into the Week 11 Review!

About Last Week…

I went 8-2 (80%) this week, with a current overall record of 81-31 (72.3%).

Action at the top remains pretty solidified, with Alabama beating Mississippi State, Clemson  and probably the biggest headline of the weekend was 4-loss Northwestern’s surprisingly quick clinching of the Big Ten West Division, with games and potential losses still left to spare. Congratulations to the Wildcats on an exciting accomplishment.

College Football Playoff Rankings

for Nov. 13

  1. Alabama (10-0)
  2. Clemson (10-0)
  3. Notre Dame (10-0)
  4. Michigan (9-1)
  5. Georgia (9-1)
  6. Oklahoma (9-1)
  7. LSU (8-2)
  8. Washington State (9-1)
  9. West Virginia (8-1)
  10. Ohio State (9-1)
  11. UCF (9-0)
  12. Syracuse (8-2)
  13. Florida (7-3)
  14. Penn State (7-3)
  15. Texas (7-3)
  16. Iowa State (6-3)
  17. Kentucky (7-3)
  18. Washington (7-3)
  19. Utah (7-3)
  20. Boston College (7-3)
  21. Mississippi State (6-4)
  22. Northwestern (6-4)
  23. Utah State (9-1)
  24. Cincinnati (9-1)
  25. Boise State (8-2)

The College Football Playoff Committee kept the top of the rankings deservedly solid through the week, but made some changes below. They moved UCF up a spot, most obviously and entirely due to my mini-rant about the fact that they had been immediately dismissed (/s).

Northwestern has penetrated the rankings as a result of their B1G West stakeholding, Cincinnati has penetrated just in time for their matchup with UCF (see preview of that game below), and Utah State and Boise State join that ranked Group of 5 club.

An overall outlook from this one week is the committee’s clear diversion away from head to head importance in the lower regions of the rankings, with ranking surges from teams such as Northwestern and Florida contradicting that head to head value. We will see how this evolves going into the very crucial ranking announcements from this coming Tuesday on.

On to the College Football scene for Week 12…..

Noon Game of The Week:

#12 Syracuse vs. #3 Notre Dame

Quick Essentials

When: 1:30 CT


Rain (Above 40%)? No.

Where: Yankee Stadium (New York, NY)

Series History: ND 50-33 in 2016 (ND leads 5-3 all-time)

Maybe it’s because I’m not a Notre Dame fan, but I cannot for the life of me understand the reasoning behind these games existing.

“These games” I am referring to are the Shamrock Series, a “home-away-from-home” game that has been taking place yearly since 2009. The Fighting Irish tries to recreate the home game experience elsewhere, attracting their large fanbase in other regions of the country (a combination their large base of core alumni, and unrelated NBC-watching Jesus-lovers), while showing off their tradition, yet showing off glorious-to-ugly alternate uniforms (including the polarizing Yankees-inspired ones this year, featuring helmets that are not gold) that do anything but that.

While fun once or twice in a blue moon, I personally don’t understand sacrificing a home game at the incredibly historic and classic Notre Dame Stadium every year in exchange for this gimmick, but to each their own. I guess playing football at Yankee Stadium can be cool.

As far as the actual game itself, the Irish will face Syracuse, who has made some serious noise in the rankings on the shoulders of a close loss to Clemson, and a win over a positively-viewed NC State team.

The Orange feature an experienced group featuring Eric Dungey (scrambling QB) and an overall speedy offense that can give the defense some headaches when it comes to endurance and coverage.

The biggest question when it comes to this game is Notre Dame quarterback and team-superhero Ian Book’s current health, which remains shakey. The Irish still took care of business last week without him against a week Florida State squad, early-season starter Brandon Wimbush captaining the ship.

Book is set to return for this week, but it will be interesting to see how the upper body injury will affect his play.

This game will have some fireworks from a fast Syracuse offense early, but Notre Dame’s defense remains an underappreciated force and will manage the storm, locking down by the fourth quarter to secure the Irish’s undefeated record for yet another week. This game will be the simple defensive statement for Notre Dame.

Notre Dame Wins, 38-17

Other Noon Games of Note:

11:00 CT:

The Citadel @ #1 Alabama (SEC Network)

#14 Penn State @ Rutgers (BTN)


Afternoon Game of The Week:

#9 West Virginia @ Oklahoma State

Quick Essentials

When: 2:30 CT


Rain (Above 40%)? Nope.

Where: Boone Pickens Stadium (Stillwater, OK)

Series History: OkSt 50-39 in 2017 (OkSt leads 5-4 all-time)

The Big XII is likely to be the most exciting conference in the game currently, with the forces of Oklahoma, West Virginia, Iowa State, and Texas battling for their shares of power.

This game has legitimate impact on this power struggle, with the Mountaineers heading into a hostile Stillwater environment, where Oklahoma State awaits an opportunity at a second major upset on the season.

Unfortunately, the Cowboys had that same opportunity last week against their in-state rivals, and fell as closely short as you possibly can, with a one point loss to the mighty Oklahoma Sooners. Now, Oklahoma State’s record has shrunk to a depressing 5-5, with an atrocious conference record.

Visiting them this week will be a West Virginia team that is not shying away from a big Top 10 placement, maintaining their status for yet another week in a dominant win over TCU and extending a win streak to three.

These teams both feature powerful offenses, with West Virginia efficiently gaining first downs and Oklahoma State putting up notable yardage. For this reason, defensive performances to mitigate these strengths will be crucial.

The Mountaineers have maintained a better defensive resume this season, with both a lower points allowed average, as well as yards allowed. The superiority in this factor will give the edge to them.

West Virginia Wins, 41-21

Other Afternoon Games of Note:

2:30 CT:

#20 Boston College @ Florida State (ESPN2)


Night Game of The Week:

#24 Cincinnati @ #11 UCF

Quick Essentials

When: 7:00 CT


Rain (Above 40%)? Nope Nope.

Where: Spectrum Stadium (Orlando, FL)

Series History: UCF 51-23 in 2017 (UCF leads 2-1 all-time)

They were dismissed last year, but still self-proclaimed a National Championship with an undefeated record and wins over both teams that topped Alabama.

This year, the undefeated streak remains (longest active in CFB), and College GameDay is finally coming to Orlando. The occasion may be worthy considering that the “Bounce House” will host a ranked opponent in the Cincinnati Bearcats in primetime.

Cincinnati has had a great season for themselves, as Luke Fickell (Ohio State 2011 Interim Head Coach) has led them to a one-loss record, at the expense of the Temple Owls. They have a chance at the American Conference title, currently sitting right behind the Knights in conference Standings, a win pushing them to the top.

These teams both feature flashy offenses, and Cincinnati’s remains hard to notice but still very notable in their recent numbers, out gaining opponents on a consistent basis.

This game is going to be a wild ride of successive point-scoring drives, and the ability to keep up with all of it will be essential. This is when the more experienced and systematic team will take over, and the Knights will do so, especially considering their home advantage. This game will not be a blowout UCF fans may hope for, but still a solid win in front of a national audience.

UCF Wins, 37-16

Other Night Games of Note:

7:00 CT:

#16 Iowa State @ #15 Texas (Longhorn Network/WatchESPN)


Late Game of The Week:

Arizona @ #8 Washington State

Quick Essentials

When: 9:30 CT


Rain (Above 40%)? Nope Nope Nope!

Where: Martin Stadium (Pullman, WA)

Series History: Arizona 58-37 in 2017 (Arizona leads 27-16 all-time)

“PAC 12 After Dark” has recently been taken over by the Washington State Cougars, who have practically taken all control of a quite odd football season out west.

This week, the Cougs face a struggling Arizona team. The Wildcats have a 5-5 record, and are on a bowl-eligibility hunt with this game and Arizona State next week. Although these depressing season storylines are quite accurate, Arizona has seen some improvement in the past couple of weeks, and may be more optimistic going into this game.

With an opportunity to boost their resume as much as possible with an eye-opening score, Washington State is going to find value in head coach Mike Leach’s air raid offense, paired up with a struggling Arizona passing defense. Although Arizona will have their moments offensively and should not go completely unnoticed, Wazzu will maintain a handle on this game in the end.

Washington State Wins, 43-20

Enjoy your Saturday, everyone!

Photo Courtesy: AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack