It’s Week 12 and it’s one of the single most important weeks in college football. Conference championship games hang in the balance with just two weeks remaining, and teams like the Michigan Wolverines need a little help. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest matchups a week before Rivalry Week.
No. 7 Michigan State Spartans at No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes
- Date & Time: Saturday, Nov. 20, noon ET
- Channel: ABC
- Location: Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio
- Weather: 48 degrees and overcast
- Betting Line: OSU -19 O/U: 69
Go Buckeyes! That may be the first and last time that I will ever write or say those words. I need to go wash my hands and dust my keyboard after that one.
Michigan State is about to ink Mel Tucker to a 10-year megadeal to keep him as head coach. Being the first Spartan head coach to ever go 2-0 against Michigan certainly helped that. But while the 37-33 Spartan win earlier this season may have knocked the Wolverines down, they aren’t out of this thing yet. A win for Ryan Day and the Buckeyes on Saturday would keep Michigan’s Big Ten Championship hopes alive. And as you can tell by the spread on this game, Ohio State is heavily favored.
The early season woes with young quarterback play and poor defensive play have mostly been resolved. C.J. Stroud’s name is right in the middle of the Heisman conversation and their defense continues to do enough to ensure the Buckeyes’ victory. They have had plenty of close calls this year, but are playing their best football of the season at the right time (like they always seem to do).
Meanwhile, the Spartans have two of the toughest opponents on their schedule to wrap up the season. A win over Ohio State gives them the tie-breaker over both Michigan and OSU, but they still have a matchup with Penn State knocking at the door. There is plenty to playout for the Big Ten over the next two weeks.
No. 6 Michigan Wolverines @ Maryland Terrapins
- Date & Time: Saturday, Nov. 20, 3:30 p.m. ET
- Channel: Big Ten Network
- Location: Maryland Stadium in College Park, Maryland
- Weather: 50 degrees and partly cloudy
- Betting Line: Michigan -15 O/U: 56.5
The game prior to this clearly has massive implications on Michigan’s remaining schedule. In all likelihood, next week’s matchup with Ohio State could be the most important game in the Jim Harbaugh era. And what has happened so many times in the past before The Game? A game that not too many people feel good about ahead of that contest.
In 2018, it was an 11-point win over a bad Indiana team. The year prior, a loss to Wisconsin. And before that, a 10-point win over yet another mediocre Indiana squad. If Michigan isn’t careful, it could find itself in a similar situation against Maryland this week.
Taulia Tagovailoa is the best quarterback Maryland has had in quite some time. He currently ranks ninth in the country with 3,105 passing yards and is coming off three consecutive 350-plus yard games. If he has a special day while the Michigan offense struggles, this one can be closer than it should be.
Luckily, the Maryland defense is rather putrid, allowing 40.4 points per game in Big Ten play this season. The Terps allow 258.2 passing yards and 157.5 rushing yards per game for a total of 415.7 yards given up per game. Michigan’s offense needs to take advantage of that early and often.
A dominant performance on the road before what could be a championship game before the championship game against their archrival would be huge for the program. Next week means nothing if the Wolverines don’t make it through College Park.
Other top games in the afternoon slate: SMU vs No. 5 Cincinnati, No. 11 Baylor vs Kansas State
No. 3 Oregon Ducks vs No. 23 Utah Utes
- Date & Time: Saturday, Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Channel: ABC
- Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
- Weather: 52 degrees with scattered showers
- Betting Line: Utah -3 O/U: 59
This game could be the Pac-12 championship game before the Pac-12 championship game. Oregon is still riding high after the massive win over Ohio State this season, which is why the Ducks are ranked as high as they are. However, they did fall to Stanford, and this game against Utah is only their second game against a ranked opponent this year. A loss would all but mean Oregon is eliminated from the College Football Playoff.
Meanwhile, the Utes are fighting for their lives as they sit atop the Pac-12 south. A loss would tie them with Arizona State and put their Pac-12 title hopes in jeopardy. But a win would seal the deal and give them momentum into a nearly inevitable rematch with the Ducks in the title game.
It’s crazy how close these two teams match up statistically. Oregon averages 35.3 points per game to Utah’s 35.7. The Ducks allow 22.6 pointers per game to the Utes’ 23.8. Utah averages 3.2 fewer yards per contest than Oregon on offense and allows 21 fewer yards on defense. So some people view this as a wash with the Utes having home-field advantage. And they’re 4-0 at home this season. Thus, Utah is three-point favorites at home against the No. 3 team in the country. The country’s eyes should be glued to this one.