Before we bask in the glory that is rivalry week, the Pac-12 will have much of the Week 12 spotlight.
USC is the conference’s only team remaining in the College Football Playoff race, and the challenging final stretch begins with a crosstown trip to UCLA on Saturday night.
There’s also another great matchup in Eugene as Oregon hosts Utah with major Pac-12 title implications at stake. And before the Pac-12 takes center stage late Saturday night, there are some tough spots for some highly ranked teams. That includes No. 3 Michigan hosting Illinois and No. 4 TCU traveling to Waco to face Baylor, the defending Big 12 champion.
(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
Illinois at No. 3 Michigan
Time: Noon | TV: ABC | Line: UM -17.5 | Total: 41.5
The Wolverines are 10-0 with their highly anticipated matchup with Ohio State looming next week. But before the trip to Columbus, Michigan will host an Illinois team that would love to play the role of spoiler. Illinois was 7-1 and ranked No. 16 a few weeks ago, but has since lost back-to-back games to Michigan State and Purdue. The big question will be the health of Illini running back Chase Brown, the nation’s leading rusher. He could face Michigan star RB Blake Corum.
No. 4 TCU at Baylor
Time: Noon | TV: Fox | Line: TCU -2.5 | Total: 58
TCU continues to find ways to win and must continue to do so to secure a spot in the four-team playoff. Seemingly on a weekly basis, TCU finds itself in tight games against Big 12 foes and comes out the other side with a win. Could the Horned Frogs do it again Saturday in Waco? Baylor won the Big 12 last year, but now it’s a big shot to get back to the conference title game. This might be more about Baylor trying to crash TCU’s party.
No. 14 Ole Miss at Arkansas
Time: 19:30 | TV: SECN | Line: Ole Miss -2.5 | Total: 64
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin came so close to beating his former boss, Alabama’s Nick Saban, but the Rebels fell 30-24 in heartbreaking fashion. Now the 8-2 Rebels are out of SEC West contention and must make a trip to face Arkansas. A night game in Fayetteville is never easy, and Ole Miss will likely look to lean heavily on its running game like it has all year. Arkansas, meanwhile, is just 5-5 on the year and will need to pull off bowl eligibility for the upset and clinch.
No. 7 USC at No. 16 UCLA
Time: 8 p.m. | TV: Fox | Line: USC -2.5 | Total: 75.5
It’s a huge weekend in the Pac-12, as USC is the conference’s final playoff contender. USC’s offense, led by quarterback Caleb Williams, is playing at a high level. His defense has none. Things turned out similarly for UCLA. The Bruins, still in contention to reach the Pac-12 title game, have a stellar running game led by QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson and RB Zach Charbonnet. Those two will need to have big nights to get past UCLA, especially with the way the defense has struggled in recent weeks.
No. 10 Utah at No. 12 Oregon
Time: 22:30 | Television: ESPN | Line: Utah -1.5 | Total: 61.5
Like the USC-UCLA game, this matchup is huge for the Pac-12 title race. Both Utah and Oregon are 6-1 in conference play, a half game behind 7-1 USC and a game ahead of UCLA and Washington, who are both 5-2.
QB injuries will factor heavily into this one. While Utah QB Cam Rising looks to be back after missing a game a few weeks ago, Oregon’s Bo Nix is much more of a question mark. He appeared to hurt his foot or ankle late in last week’s blowout loss to Washington. The coaching staff has remained tight-lipped about Nix’s status, but the fact that Oregon went from a 3-point favorite to a 1.5-point underdog Wednesday night speaks volumes. If Nix can’t go, Ty Thompson will get the nod in this crucial matchup.