Week 12 is essentially the penultimate week of the college football regular season — if you don’t count conference championship weekend as part of the regular season, and most don’t even though there are a few other games as well.
For that reason, there are a lot of cupcake matchups on the schedule, especially in the SEC, as teams take a mini-breather before huge rivalry games in Week 13. But there are a handful of important games, and here’s a look at five of them and their Sports Interaction NCAA football odds. Matchups on Saturday unless noted and rankings from the most recent College Football Playoff Top 25.
No. 6 Louisville at Houston
When: Thursday, 8 p.m. ET
Point spread: TBA
NCAAF ATS Pick: Cardinals
Louisville is going to move up in Tuesday’s new CFP rankings after the Nos. 2-4 teams were upset on Saturday. A little over a month ago, this non-conference game looked huge for Louisville’s playoff chances because Houston was No. 6 in the nation and unbeaten. Alas, the wheels have fallen off a bit for Coach Tom Herman’s club in what likely will be his final home game as the Cougars’ head coach with Herman expected to land a Power 5 job this offseason.
UH, which has the nation’s second-longest home winning streak at 14 in a row, certainly could improve its bowl stock with an upset, while Louisville QB Lamar Jackson can sew up the Heisman Trophy, if he hasn’t already, with a big game. These schools met early last season in Louisville and Houston won 34-31. Cougars QB Greg Ward Jr., who is a very similar player to Jackson and still putting up big numbers this year, threw for three scores and rushed for 98 yards.
There was no opening line for this game because Ward was hurt Saturday, but it would be a surprise if he doesn’t play. Jackson was still an unknown last year when the Cardinals played Houston and not even the anointed starter yet. He threw for 168 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions while running for a score.
No. 5 Ohio State at Michigan State
When: Noon ET
Point spread: Ohio State -21.5
NCAAF ATS Pick: Spartans
Ohio State should be in the new CFP Top 4 on Tuesday night, but in a way Saturday was a bad day for the Buckeyes as now they don’t control their own destiny to win the Big Ten East Division. Penn State could steal that crown. MSU is just playing out the string in a highly disappointing season.
This is both a payback and potential trap game for the Buckeyes. It’s the first because Michigan State stunned unbeaten OSU 17-14 in Columbus last November. That ended the Buckeyes’ 23-game winning streak and basically ended their chances of defending their national championship in the College Football Playoff. This MSU team is nowhere close to that one, but Ohio State also could be looking ahead to next week’s mega-showdown with No. 3 Michigan.
Florida at No. 24 LSU
When: 1 p.m. ET
Point spread: LSU -14
NCAAF ATS Pick: Gators
This game was scheduled in Gainesville on Oct. 8 but was postponed because of Hurricane Matthew. The two schools were bickering over when to play the game and finally UF relented and agreed to move it to this date — both schools bought out FCS opponents scheduled for Nov. 19 — and in Baton Rouge because LSU didn’t want to lose a home date.
However, now LSU will play next year in Gainesville as repayment. The Gators lost at LSU last year, 35-28. Leonard Fournette ran for 180 yards and two touchdowns. A fake field goal for a TD broke a 28-28 tie. A win here for the Gators would clinch the SEC East Division and an SEC Championship Game rematch with Alabama. UF was missing a handful of injured starters, including QB Luke Del Rio, in Saturday’s win over South Carolina.
No. 23 Washington State at No. 12 Colorado
When: 3:30 p.m. ET
Point spread: Colorado -3.5
NCAAF ATS Pick: Buffaloes
Potential preview of the Pac-12 Championship game as Washington State leads the North Division and is the only team without a conference loss, while Cal is atop the South. Both could lose this game and still win their respective division. The Cougars routed Cal on Saturday, while Colorado blew out Arizona. Washington State beat Colorado 27-3 in Pullman last year but both schools are much better this season, especially CU.
Cougars star QB Luke Falk threw for 199 yard and a TD before leaving in the third quarter with an injury. Current Buffaloes starting QB Sefo Liufau was out injured for the game. The three points were the fewest allowed by Washington State to a Pac-10/12 opponent since 1996.
No. 11 Oklahoma at No. 16 West Virginia
When: 8 p.m. ET
Point spread: Oklahoma -3
NCAAF ATS Pick: Sooners
OU remains the only Big 12 team without a conference loss, with both West Virginia and OSU one game back in the loss column. It’s not impossible that the Sooners, who have won 14 straight Big 12 games, or Mountaineers could backdoor themselves into the College Football Playoff when all is said and done if one of them wins out.
Oklahoma has won all four meetings since West Virginia joined the Big 12 and the margin of victory has gone up in each. Last year it was 44-24 in Norman. The OU defense forced five turnovers and had seven sacks. Baker Mayfield passed for 320 yards and three touchdowns. WVU quarterback Skyler Howard threw three interceptions and lost two fumbles.