College football is 11 weeks into what is shaping up to be a great season. Now that more is known about all teams involved, fans can know what to watch for in the coming weeks. This list will narrow it down to five things to watch for in week 12.
1. Syracuse vs. Notre Dame in Yankee Stadium
People would have never thought that Syracuse playing Notre Dame in Yankee Stadium would be the best game of the weekend when the season started. Now, Notre Dame is in the hunt for the College Football Playoff and Syracuse has just two losses.
Notre Dame still hasn’t lost this season. They have had to play two different quarterbacks in Ian Book and Brandon Wimbush, but have found a way to win games. Wimbush started against Florida State last game and played well, while Book was out with an injury. Their defense has been tough with playmakers on every level, with the offense trying to find their way.
Syracuse is the second best team in the ACC, with Clemson being head and shoulders above the rest. The Orange are led by quarterback Eric Dungey who is one of the best to ever suit up for Syracuse. Dungey has helped Syracuse average 44.4 points per game, which is seventh in the country. They will provide a good test and possible resume-boosting win for Notre Dame.
2. Cincinnati Bearcats at UCF Knights
The American Athletic Conference will have a game in prime time this week when Cincinnati travels to Orlando to play UCF. The Knights will hope to keep their undefeated record and New Year’s Six Bowl Game hopes alive.
Cincinnati is 9-1 with a loss to Temple in overtime as their only blemish. They sport the seventh-best scoring defense in the NFL, allowing 14.9 points per game. Their offense is able to grind out wins and put up a decent amount of points themselves. Michael Warren II helps the Bearcats keep the ball on the ground with his 1,048 rushing yards on the year. If they control the clock, they can win the game.
UCF is undefeated, but still hasn’t gained the love from the CFP Committee. The Knights have a high-powered offense with quarterback McKenzie Milton at the helm. They average 44.2 points per game and haven’t scored less than 31 points in a game. Their defense leaves a lot to be desired, but it hasn’t burned them yet. They’ll need to bring their best against Cincinnati or the Bearcats could spoil their perfect season.
3. Will Oklahoma State and West Virginia stop scoring?
The 13th and 11th best scoring offenses will square off this weekend when Oklahoma State and West Virginia face off. There won’t be much defense in this game. With that, can Oklahoma State outscore West Virginia?
In their game against Oklahoma, the Cowboys scored 47 points, but came up just short in winning the game. Quarterback Taylor Cornelius threw for over 500 yards against Oklahoma’s defense in a game where the most yardage was gained in the FBS this season. He’ll have a tougher test against West Virginia, who only allow 20.9 points per game. They have been able to beat solid teams including Texas and Boise State, despite their 5-5 record.
West Virginia has a lot to play for these last few weeks with the possibility to make the College Football Playoff still there. Quarterback Will Grier has lived up to his preseason hype and led the Mountaineers to a dramatic win over Texas two weeks ago. He’ll likely be in a few shootouts down the stretch and will have to continue playing well for the Mountaineers to come out on top.
4. Who stays alive in the Big XII race between Iowa State and Texas?
The Big XII race is down to four teams. Two of the teams play each other this week in Iowa State and Texas. Both teams are 5-2 in conference and will be hoping that Oklahoma and/or West Virginia fall off in the final weeks.
Texas will be looking to get back to their winning ways and that starts with a Big XII Championship. They have been banged up over the last several weeks and have lost two of their last three outings. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger has taken care of the ball well this season and needs to move the chains. The defense has some talent, but has not played like it all the time. They’ll have to step up if they want to win the Big XII.
Iowa State has won five straight games since starting 1-3. They have plenty of talent including running back David Montgomery and wide receiver Hakeem Butler. Montgomery will be suspended for the first half of this game for throwing a punch against Baylor. The Cyclones have already beaten West Virginia and can compete with the top of the Big XII.
5. MACtion to decide each division
Both divisions of the MAC will be decided on Wednesday. Northern Illinois will take on Miami (OH) with a chance to clinch the West, while Buffalo has a chance to clinch the East with a win over Ohio.
Northern Illinois is 7-3 this season, but 6-0 in the MAC. Their three losses are to Iowa, Florida State and Utah. They rely on their defense to win them games because they don’t score a lot of points. The Redhawks will pose an interesting threat, as they are 4-2 in conference, but 4-6 overall and will need to win out to make a bowl game.
Buffalo has a 9-1 record with their one loss coming to Army. They sport a solid team all-around with the 24th ranked scoring offense and the 38th ranked scoring defense. Against Ohio, they will need to stop an offense that is ranked 12th in the country at 39.3 points per game.
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