College football is entering the back part of the season. Storylines are forming and teams are making their pushes for the postseason. Here are five things to watch for in college football week 12.
1. A Clash in the Big 12
Baylor was able to stay undefeated by beating TCU in overtime. It was a game that was familiar to Baylor, as they have had to win close games before this season. They are now undefeated with just three games left in the season. The Bears have a solid offense, which averages 35.3 points per game and a defense which allows 19.0 points per game. Both units will have to show up when Baylor plays Oklahoma.
The Sooners had to hang on to beat Iowa State last week. The game before that they dropped to Kansas State. With one loss, the Sooners have to win out to make the College Football Playoff. Jalen Hurts has been operating the offense well, as they average 48.4 points per game. The defense has been allowing a lot of points, which could come back to bite them. Getting through Baylor this week would put Oklahoma on the fast track back to the CFP.
2. The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry
One of the rivalries that has two good teams in it is the deep south’s oldest rivalry between Auburn and Georgia. What makes it bigger is that Georgia is fighting for a spot in the CFP. They have just one loss, which came at the hands of South Carolina. The Bulldogs have a great defense that allows 10.1 points per game, but the offense has been inconsistent. For them to win this game, and for them to go back to the CFP, Jake Fromm must operate the offense efficiently.
Auburn has two losses, but they both came to good teams, in LSU and Florida. They too have a good defense, as they allow 17.4 points per game. Their offense is even more inconsistent than Georgia’s, so their defense is really going to have to shut down the Bulldogs to win the game. A win would likely put Auburn in great position to make a New Year’s Six Bowl. A loss could put that in jeopardy.
3. Can Minnesota Win Back to Back Big Games?
Last week, Minnesota got their first big test of the season. They showed that they could play with the best as they beat Penn State. The Golden Gophers looked good in the game, as the offense operated efficiently and the defense was able to force turnovers. If they can keep doing that, they could win some of the big games coming up on their schedule.
Now, Minnesota has to prep for Iowa. The Hawkeyes are a tough team who are coming off of a loss to Wisconsin by two points. They thrive by winning in the trenches. For Minnesota to keep their unbeaten streak alive, they will have to earn every yard against Iowa. They answered the bell once, but can Minnesota do it again?
4. The Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Trophy
Michigan has had a decent season, with a 7-2 record. Head coach Jim Harbaugh has received flack in the past though for not being able to beat rivals. This season though, Harbaugh already has a dominating win over Notre Dame. He has struggled with Michigan State in the past, but the Wolverines are much more talented this season.
The Spartans love playing the underdog card, and they are going to need to this season, as they are 4-5 coming off of a loss to Illinois. The defense isn’t as good as most years, as they allow 23.6 points per game. On offense, they aren’t lighting up the scoreboard. They do give Michigan fits though and anything can happen in a rivalry game.
5. Clemson’s Big Test
Clemson had a chip on their shoulder after being ranked fifth in the initial CFP rankings. They haven’t really beaten anyone this season, as the ACC is down and Texas A&M isn’t exactly a great win. Clemson shouldn’t be punished for being a lot better than their competition, but they have to beat somebody. The Tigers will get their toughest game in ACC play against Wake Forest this week.
The game against Wake Forest lost a lot of its luster, as the Demon Deacons lost to Virginia Tech last week. They are still having a great season at 7-2 and could give Clemson a test. The Tigers will have to find a way to stop Jamie Newman, who has had a great year, but struggled last week. If Clemson can shut him down, they should be able to win by a decent margin.