The Pac-12’s big weekend turned out to be not quite as big as it could have been after some upsets last week.
Still, the conference’s marquee matchups are the highlights of this weekend’s schedule, with four top-16 teams that could determine who plays in the league championship game.
No. 7 USC is at No. 16 UCLA, which was upset by Arizona last week. No. 10 Utah is at No. 12 Oregon, which was upset at home by Washington.
Those loses left the Trojans as the Pac-12’s last hope to get a team in the College Football Playoff. The self-described Conference of Champions has not had a CFP team since 2016.
The five most intriguing games of Week 12:
No. 7 Southern California at No. 16 UCLA
The future Big Ten rivals haven’t played with both ranked since 2014. The last time they were both ranked anywhere near this high was 2005, when the top-ranked Trojans hammered the No. 11 Bruins, 66-19. UCLA dropped 62 on USC last season and Bruins QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson was talking about getting to 60 again this week. Considering the way these two teams play defense, it’s very possible. If USC wins, it’s in the Pac-12 title game. If UCLA wins, it would still have work to do.
LINE: USC by 1 1/2. PICK: UCLA, 52-49.
No. 4 TCU at Baylor
The Horned Frogs (10-0) keep rolling along, winning close games and staying unbeaten. The Bears are coming off their worst performance of the season against Kansas State. Still, Baylor (6-4) has shown it can at times play at a high level and the rivalry between the Horned Frogs and Bears is sneaky intense.
LINE: TCU by 2 1/2. PICK: TCU, 31-24.
No. 10 Utah at No. 12 Oregon
The Ducks’ playoff hopes went out the window last week, but they still control their path to the Pac-12 title game. The Utes would be in great shape to defend their Pac-12 title in Las Vegas with a victory. These two met twice last season, with Utah pounding the Ducks each time to the tune of 76-17.
LINE: Oregon by 3. PICK: Utah, 38-35.
Iowa at Minnesota
The Hawkeyes’ offense has come to life – relatively speaking – and just like that they are well-positioned to defend their Big Ten West title and return to Indianapolis for the conference title game. But who isn’t still alive in the Big Ten West race? Stylistically and aesthetically, this game should be the antithesis of USC-UCLA.
LINE: Minnesota by 2 1/2. PICK: Iowa, 20-17.
No. 24 Oklahoma State at Oklahoma
Not much at stake for Bedlam this year with the Sooners (5-4) still working toward bowl eligibility. But in some ways that makes it even more intriguing. OU has dominated this rivalry (82-19-7). The Cowboys have a chance to win two straight for the first time since 2001-02.
LINE: Oklahoma by 7 1/2. PICK: Oklahoma, 27-24.
Here is the rest of the Top 25, with lines from FanDuel Sportsbook:
SMU (plus 3 1/2) at No. 21 Tulane
Mustangs have won seven straight meetings since both joined the AAC … TULANE 31-28.
No. 1 Georgia (minus 22 1/2) at Kentucky
Over their last 25 games, the Bulldogs are 24-1 with 22 double-digit victories … GEORGIA 38-13.
No. 2 Ohio State (minus 27 1/2) at Maryland
Aside from one OT game in 2018, the Buckeyes’ average margin of victory in six other games against the Terps is 44 points … OHIO STATE 58-14.
Illinois at No. 3 Michigan (minus 17 1/2)
Wolverines are 10-0 for the first time since 2006, the last time both them and Ohio State went into The Game unbeaten … MICHIGAN 34-14.
No. 5 Tennessee (minus 21 1/2) at South Carolina
Vols WR Jalin Hyatt has more 40-yard receptions this season (10) than 12 SEC teams … TENNESSEE 49-24.
UAB at No. 6 LSU (minus 14 1/2)
Blazers feature the nation’s leading rusher in DeWayne McBride, averaging 156 yards per game … LSU 35-17.
Miami at No. 9 Clemson (minus 19 1/2)
Last three meetings: Tigers 138, Miami 20 … CLEMSON 31-10.
No. 11 Penn State at Rutgers (plus 19 1/2)
In eight meetings since the Scarlet Knights joined the Big Ten, Rutgers has failed to break 10 points and is 0-8 … PENN STATE 24-7.
Georgia Tech at No. 13 North Carolina (minus 21 1/2)
Late Heisman push by Tar Heels QB Drake Maye continues … NORTH CAROLINA 48-24.
No. 14 Mississippi at Arkansas (plus 2 1/2)
SEC’s two leading rushers square off in Rebels’ Quinshon Judkins and Razorbacks’ Rocket Sanders … ARKANSAS 28-27.
Colorado at No. 15 Washington (minus 30 1/2)
Buffs are last in the nation in points allowed at 41.7 per game … WASHINGTON 49-16.
Navy (plus 16 1/2) at No. 17 UCF
Knights need to win out against Midshipmen and USF to host AAC title game … UCF 31-17.
Boston College (plus 20 1/2) at No. 18 Notre Dame
Irish have won eight straight against the Eagles since snapping a six-game skid in the series in 2009 … NOTRE DAME 30-14.
No. 19 Kansas State (minus 7 1/2) at West Virginia
Do the Mountaineers have another upset in them to help save coach Neal Brown’s job? … KANSAS STATE 31-17.
Louisiana-Lafayette (plus 24 1/2) at No. 20 Florida State
QB Jordan Travis and the Seminoles are looking to roll into rivalry game with Florida off a fourth straight blowout victory … FLORIDA STATE 34-14.
No. 22 Cincinnati (minus 16 1/2) at Temple
Bearcats LB Ivan Pace leads the nation in tackles for loss with 19.5 … CINCINNATI 38-17.
Arizona State at No. 25 Oregon State (minus 7 1/2)
Last time the Beavers won a game as a ranked team was 2012 … OREGON STATE 35-21.
Washington State at Arizona (plus 3 1/2) – (at)m1ssionarykj. Wildcats QB Jayden de Laura against his former team … ARIZONA 33-31.
UConn (plus 10 1/2) at Army – (at)SteveWildzNB. Huskies are bowl eligible; Army needs to win out to get there … ARMY 24-20.
Boise State at Wyoming (plus 13)- (at)MDWDFW. First-place on the line, Broncos can clinch a spot in the Mountain West title game … BOISE STATE 27-17.
Texas Tech (plus 3 1/2) at Iowa State – (at)chadstray. Five of the Cyclones’ six Big 12 losses are by seven points of fewer; they are due to win a close one … IOWA STATE 23-21.
Last week: Straight-up – 18-8; Against spread – 15-10-1.
Season: 176-68; 126-125-2.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com
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