Before we bask in the glorious rivalry week, the Pac-12 will be in the spotlight a lot from Week 12.
USC is the only team from the conference remaining in the College Football Playoff race, and the challenging final stretch begins with a trip across town to UCLA on Saturday night.
There is also another excellent game in Eugene as Oregon hosts Utah with significant Pac-12 title implications on the line. And before the Pac-12 takes center stage late into Saturday night, there are some tricky spots for some high-ranking teams. That includes No. 3 Michigan hosting Illinois and No. 4 TCU’s trip to Waco to face Baylor, the defending Big 12 champion.
(Note: all times ET, odds from BetMGM)
Time: noon | TV: ABC | Line: UM -17.5 | Total: 41.5
The Wolverines are 10-0 with their highly anticipated showdown with Ohio State looming next week. But for the trip to Columbus, Michigan will host an Illinois team eager to play the spoiler role. Illinois was 7-1 and ranked No. 16 a few weeks ago, but has since lost consecutive games to Michigan State and Purdue. The big question is the health of Illini running after Chase Brown, the nation’s leading rusher. He could face star player RB Blake Corum of Michigan.
Time: noon | TV: Fox | Line: TCU -2.5 | Total: 58
TCU just keeps finding ways to win and it must continue to do so to secure its place in the four-team playoffs. Seemingly on a weekly basis, TCU find themselves in tight matches against Big 12 foes and come out on the other side with a win. Could the Horned Frogs do it again in Waco on Saturday? Baylor won the Big 12 last year, but it’s now a chance to get back to the conference title game. This might be more about Baylor trying to smash the TCU party.
Time: 7:30 pm | TV: SECN| Rule: Ole Miss -2.5 | Total: 64
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin was so close to a win over his former boss, Alabama’s Nick Saban, but the Rebels fell 30-24 in heartbreaking fashion. Now the 8-2 Rebels have been eliminated from the SEC West contention and must embark on a journey to take on Arkansas. A night game in Fayetteville is never easy, and Ole Miss will probably try to lean heavily on his running game like he has all year. Arkansas, meanwhile, is only 5-5 a year and will have to pass the upset and qualify for the clinch bowl.
Time: 8pm | TV: Fox | Line: USC -2.5 | Total: 75.5
It’s a huge weekend in the Pac-12 as USC is the last remaining conference contender for the playoffs. USC’s offense, led by quarterback Caleb Williams, plays at a high level. Not his defense. Things have gone the same way for UCLA. Still fighting to reach the Pac-12 title game, the Bruins have a great running game led by QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson and RB Zach Charbonnet. Those two need big nights for UCLA to get upset, especially with the way the defense has struggled in recent weeks.
Time: 10:30 pm | TV: 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, half a game behind 7-1 USC and a game ahead of UCLA and Washington, who are both 5-2.
QB injuries will play a big part in this. While Utah QB Cam Rising seems 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 have foot or ankle pain during last week’s heartbreaking loss to Washington. The coaching staff has remained quiet on Nix’s status, but the fact that Oregon went from a 3-point favorite to a 1.5-point underdog on Wednesday night says a lot. If Nix can’t go, Ty Thompson gets the credit in this crucial game.