We are five games away from crowning a National Champion and the Michigan Wolverines are still in the hunt. A tough road lies ahead as the maize and blue welcome the Illinois Fighting Illini before heading to Columbus for The Game.
There is some looking ahead that could impact some teams, and a huge game in the Pac-12 that highlight some of the biggest games in Week 12. Let’s take a deep dive into the action of the penultimate week of the college football regular season.
No. 3 Michigan Wolverines vs. Illinois Fighting Illini
- TV: ABC
- Stream: Sling TV
- Time: Noon
- Location: Ann Arbor, Mich.
- Weather: 40 degrees, cloudy
- DraftKings Odds: MICH -18, O/U: 42, ML: MICH -975, NEB +675
- Best Bet (13-16): MICH -18
Two weeks ago, this might have been the second-biggest game on the schedule for the Wolverines. But, back-to-back losses from Illinois makes the vigor of this game disappear.
The problem is, Illinois is still a darn good football team. They are now in a four-way tie for first place in the Big Ten West and are fighting for their lives for a Big Ten Championship appearance that was all but theirs two weeks ago.
That’s no problem for the Michigan Wolverines, though. They are out to prove that this skid is no fluke for Illinois. On Senior Day, the Wolverines should be as focused as ever to succeed in what will be some of the players last games in the Big House.
This game boasts two No. 1 units. Illinois running back Chase Brown leads the country in rushing yards. However, he faces a Michigan defense that is first in rushing yards allowed and total defense. Just a few weeks ago, Illinois boasted both of those metrics, and Michigan has a Heisman hopeful in running back Blake Corum.
Illinois vs. Michigan screams old school Big Ten matchup. Both teams are going to try and go on long, beat it down their throat drives, and it will likely be rather low scoring. But I trust the Wolverines offense to get ahead early and keep a lead against an Illinois team that doesn’t like to play from behind. Give me Michigan and the points on Saturday.
No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes vs Maryland Terrapins
- TV: ABC
- Stream: Sling TV
- Time: 3:30 p.m.
- Location: College Park, Mary.
- Weather: 46 degrees, sunny
- DraftKings Odds: OSU -27.5, O/U: 65, ML: OSU -6000, MARY +1800
- Best Bet (13-16): MARY +27.5
Maryland is much better at home than on the road. They’re 6-4 overall, but three of its four losses came on the road against Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin. The later of those two are the last two performance where it has been outscored 53-10.
Despite all that, a few things factor into why I believe this game will be a lot closer than the 27.5-point spread. First off, Ohio State has not been very good on the road this season and haven’t done it very often. This will be the Buckeyes’ fourth and final road game of the season. Their previous two they struggled at Northwestern (arguably the worst team in the conference) and at Penn State.
Secondly, we don’t know what this Ohio State backfield is going to look like yet. TreVeyon Henderson missed last week. Miyan Williams went down with an injury a week ago. While Ryan Day said he would be “shocked” if both couldn’t go, none of them are going to be 100%. It’s definitely something worth watching as they prep for a matchup with Michigan next week.
Lastly, there is a history of close games in College Park between these two. The last time they met at Maryland was in 2018 where it took overtime for the Buckeyes to prevail, 52-51. Both head coaches have changed at the individual programs, but Maryland continue to be better at home this season. At College Park, the Terps are 4-1 and their only loss came to Purdue by two points.
If the Buckeyes are caught looking ahead, they could be in trouble this weekend (the same can be said for Michigan). Either way, I like Maryland to keep it closer than the blowout that Vegas wants you to think it will be.
No. 7 USC Trojans vs No. 16 UCLA Bruins
- TV: FOX
- Stream: Sling TV
- Time: 8:00 p.m.
- Location: Pasadena, Calif.
- Weather: 74 degrees, partly cloudy
- DraftKings Odds: USC -1.5, O/U: 75, ML: USC -125, UCLA +105
- Best Bet (13-16): UCLA +1.5
There is one last hope for the Pac-12 to make the College Football Playoff and that is Lincoln Riley and the USC Trojans. The problem? USC has been BAD outside of the Coliseum this season. The Trojans barely hung on against a mediocre Oregon State squad, lost to a good Utah program, and played a bad Arizona team tightly for three quarters in Tucson. The irony here is that it is a home game for the Bruins, but USC’s campus is actually CLOSER to the Rose Bowl, where UCLA plays its home games.
While USC has had inconsistency on the road, UCLA has just had a rollercoaster of a season. The Bruins actually did lose to that Arizona squad last week at home, and they dropped a big one to Oregon a couple of weeks back. Combine that with a narrow 32-31 win over South Alabama at home, and they have had their fair share of stinkers this season. Yet, they beat both Washington and Utah at home this year as well, two of the better programs in the Pac-12.
I don’t know what to make of this game, and the over/under of 75 seams too high, but at the same time, just right for these two offenses. I lean UCLA in this game at home because this is the Bruins’ biggest game of the season. USC has a matchup in rivalry week against Notre Dame who continues to impress down the stretch, and that is their white whale. Give me UCLA to at least cover at home in what should be the best game of the weekend.