After a few good weeks of quality football games, week 12 in college football looks pretty mundane. That doesn’t mean that good games won’t happen, it just means that it will be a surprise. Here are five things to watch for in week 12 of college football:
1. Jonathan Taylor against Michigan’s run defense
Jonathan Taylor has had a great freshman season for Wisconsin. He, like the rest of the Badgers, haven’t really been tested yet, but will be this week when they play Michigan. The Wolverines aren’t a great football team, they don’t have a win over a team above .500, but they will still challenge Wisconsin. As bad as it may sound, this might be the toughest challenge of Wisconsin’s regular season.
Taylor has 1,525 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns already this season. With a strong finish, he can eclipse the 2,000 yard mark on the season. Not only can he be one of the best players in Wisconsin’s history, he is currently on pace to be the college football’s all-time leading rusher. Taylor will be getting a lot more Heisman recognition if the Badgers are able to win out, but he has already surpassed all expectations this season.
Michigan may not be the best team this season, but that is mostly because of their offense. Their defense ranks ninth in the country in points allowed per game. The Wolverines also have allowed the ninth fewest rushing yards in the country this season, making it a difficult matchup for Taylor. Can Taylor continue to produce against a solid defense.
2. Josh Rosen vs. Sam Darnold
UCLA and USC meet in their annual game, although it likely won’t be too competitive. USC is playing good football again, while UCLA is struggling to make a bowl game. The best thing to watch in this game is the quarterback play.
Josh Rosen has had a solid season that has helped him stay in the running to be one of the top draft picks this year. He has thrown for 3,094 yards, 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions. His team isn’t very good, but the competitive juices will be flowing for Rosen and the Bruins.
USC is playing good football, even though Sam Darnold is having a rough season. He has turned the ball over a lot with plenty of fumbles and 11 interceptions thrown. Darnold has actually played his way out of being the first quarterback selected in the 2018 draft, but will want to prove new doubters wrong against another top level prospect.
3. Bret Bielema’s last game (or two)
Arkansas is 4-6 this season and another loss takes them out of bowl eligibility. Bret Bielema has not been great as the head man of the Razorbacks, with a terrible SEC record and a losing record overall. With a loss this weekend, Bielema is likely going to have to find a new job.
Mississippi State comes to town to take on the Razorbacks. The Bulldogs have a lot to play for still, as they can still make a New Year’s Six bowl game. Arknasas, on the other hand, almost lost to FBS bottom feeders, Coastal Carolina at home, so it should be a relatively easy win for Mississippi State.
Without a win, resulting in no bowl game, Arkansas will likely move on from Bielema after the game, or at season’s end. The Arkansas administration has already gotten rid of athletic director Jeff Long, so the next athletic director will likely want their own people. The only question is: How many SEC jobs are going to be open by the end of the season?
4. Mike Riley’s last few games at Nebraska
Nebraska’s athletic director has had to answer question about Mike Riley’s status as coach, which isn’t a good sign. What is worse is that all he can say is that Riley deserves to finish the season. That means he is likely gone after the season and Nebraska is yet another big program that will be looking for a new head coach.
If Riley has any thoughts about saving his job, he needs to win the last two games of the season. The problem is that those two games are going to be tough. This week they play at Penn State, while next week they get to take on Iowa at home. Both of these will likely be losses for the Cornhuskers.
It was a short tenure at Nebraska for Riley, but since they fired Bo Pelini after continually getting eight wins, firing Riley is the right call.
This week is filled with games designed to be blowouts with rivalry week coming up. While blowouts usually aren’t great to watch, some of the games could result in a broken scoreboard due to how many points are scored. Can anyone break 70 this week?
Oklahoma plays Kansas in a game that is pretty self-explanatory. Baker Mayfield will get a chance to pad his Heisman campaign with some explosive plays. Ohio State plays one of the worst power 5 teams, Illinois. It should be a good way to get the offense clicking before the game against Michigan.
Throw in a lot of teams playing FCS competition and the week will have plenty of blowouts. Try to tune into the limited amount of good games this weekend and prepare for rivalry week.
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