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MC&J: Week 12’s national action headlined by Oregon-Utah and SMU-Cincinnati

A couple CFP hopefuls face tough tests that they’ll have to navigate on Saturday if they want to be part of the playoff.

Utah v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Last week ATS: 8-5 (4-3 National, 4-2 B1G)

Season ATS: 89-64-3 (43-32 National, 46-32-3 B1G)

How close were some of those lines last week? Luckily we got by with Nevada late Saturday night, but we also just barely missed on Penn State, Tennessee, and Oregon. Even though it could have been another big week had those three hit, there’s no shame in adding three more wins to the plus side.

National games:

(All lines courtesy of Draftkings sportsbook.)

Iowa State v. No. 13 Oklahoma (-4) - 12:00 PM EST - FOX

What could have been the Big 12 Game of the Year has turned into a pretty big mess. The Sooners suffered their first loss of the year last week to Baylor, while the Cyclones have lost two of their last three games. Oklahoma still has a pretty good shot to play in the Big 12 Championship Game, but Iowa State is going to need a lot of help to make it to Dallas early next month.

For most of the season I have hated on Oklahoma. Now that the Sooners have suffered their first loss, I’m ready to jump on the Oklahoma bandwagon. Caleb Williams left last week’s game after being ineffective and getting his hand stepped on, which led to him having issues gripping the football. Williams should be able to return to the field this weekend, and even if he isn’t able to play, the Sooners still have Spencer Rattler.

Oklahoma hasn’t had the best luck against Iowa State lately, losing twice to the Cyclones in the last five years. A few weeks ago I probably would have taken the Cyclones. Now I’m not so high on Iowa State since I feel their season slipping away after a couple tough losses. The Sooners rebound and win by at least a touchdown to setup a massive showdown with rival Oklahoma State next week.

Oklahoma 37, Iowa State 27

No. 10 Wake Forest v. Clemson (-4.5) - 12:00 PM EST - ESPN

Nothing has gone right for Clemson this year, so it makes sense that they’ll pour everything into this game to try and hand Wake Forest their first ACC loss of the season, since their loss a few weeks ago was actually a non-conference game. If Clemson wins, they’ll still have an outside shot at winning the ACC Atlantic, provided the Demon Deacons lose to Boston College next week.

Even though Clemson has been a joke for most of the season, they have at least righted the ship a bit recently, winning their last three games. The defense of the Tigers will also be the best that the Demon Deacons have had to face this year. Clemson will need their defense to show up since they can’t afford to get into a shootout with Wake Forest, or else they won’t be able to keep pace. I think Clemson puts up a complete performance on senior day.

Clemson 31, Wake Forest 24

SMU v. No. 5 Cincinnati (-10.5) - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN

This is a game I have had circled as one that the Bearcats could lose. If only SMU hadn’t lost to Houston and Memphis by a combined 10 points, or else the hype for this game would have been crazy. Tanner Mordecai has thrown for over 3,200 yards and 37 touchdowns, leading a SMU offense that is averaging 41 points per game.

Cincinnati hasn’t been all that impressive lately, but they have been winning, and that’s really all that matters. After playing three of their last four games on the road, the Bearcats have to be happy to be home this weekend. Desmond Ridder will put up some big numbers against the suspect defense of the Mustangs.

I think we are going to get a wild game that comes down to the wire. SMU finds some holes in the Cincinnati defense that some of the recent opponents of the Bearcats weren’t able to exploit. Mordecai’s efforts won’t be quite enough though, as Cincinnati earns another close win to stay undefeated.

Cincinnati 41, SMU 37

UAB v. No. 22 UTSA (-4.5) - 3:30 PM EST - ESPN+

Last week UTSA almost saw their dream season ruined by Southern Miss, who came into the game with a 1-8 record. The Roadrunners found their way when they needed it the most, scoring 10 points in the fourth quarter to secure a 27-17 win to run their record this year to 10-0.

Upon looking at which games to include in this week’s picks, I was thinking at first glance that I’d take UAB in this spot. The more I look at it, the more UTSA makes sense. Even though the Blazers have proven to be a tough opponent over the last few years, I just don’t see anyone left of UTSA’s schedule stopping them. The Roadrunners know what they have at stake, and they’ll bring the heat in their final regular season home game of the season, although they’ll likely host the Conference USA title game.

UTSA 34, UAB 21

No. 11 Baylor v. Kansas State (-1) - 5:30 PM EST - FS1

It feels pretty easy to bank on Baylor having a letdown game after their big win against Oklahoma last week. The Bears know they can’t afford to lose their final two regular season games, since they sit behind the Sooners and Oklahoma State in the Big 12 standings. Kansas State has been strong against the rush all season, but they’ll have their hands full trying to slow down Abram Smith and Gerry Bohanon.

Aside from a three-game losing streak in the middle of the season, Kansas State has been quietly very good this year. The Wildcats don’t have any stars, just a bunch of guys working together to create a solid team. It just seems though that a lot of their recent wins have come against either teams in turmoil, or a team like Kansas that isn’t that good.

I think we’ll see the talent difference between Baylor and Kansas State show up here. While it’s not a huge gap, it’ll be just enough to give Baylor the win.

Baylor 30, Kansas State 20

No. 3 Oregon v. No. 23 Utah (-3) - 7:30 PM EST - ABC

Utah looked like a mess to start the season, losing two of their first three games. Then Charlie Brewer quit and Cameron Rising took over a quarterback, which led to the Utes turning things around. Since then, Utah has won six of their last seven games, with all but one of those victories coming by at least 10 points.

Oregon really wants to run the football. Even though the Ducks lost CJ Verdell for the season in the Stanford game, Oregon is still averaging 227 yards per game on the ground. Without Verdell, quarterback Anthony Brown has been more active in the running game, registering a season-high 17 carries and 123 yards last week against Washington State.

I can’t say I’m exactly thrilled about backing a relatively new starter at quarterback against a team with Kayvon Thibodeaux on defense. I still do like the Utes in this spot, though. Salt Lake City is a tough place to leave with a win. Utah is just as good on both sides of the football as Oregon is. In a season full of CHAOS, why not root for a little more? Who knows, we might even see these teams match up again in a couple weeks in the PAC-12 title game.

Utah 34, Oregon 27

No. 9 Oklahoma State (-10) v. Texas Tech - 8:00 PM EST - FOX

As much as I can’t stand Oklahoma State and Mike Gundy, they are undoubtedly the better team here. Even though Texas Tech won a wild game against Iowa State with a 62-yard field goal last week, they are still a pretty big mess. Baylor assistant Joey McGuire took the Texas Tech head coaching job after Matt Wells was a few weeks ago, but Sonny Cumbie will finish out the season as the interim head coach.

Oklahoma State already smashed a team that has an interim coach last week, so there’s no reason they can’t do the same this week. Before the field goal heroics at the end of the game last week, Texas Tech had dropped three of their last four games. This isn’t quite the same high-powered Texas Tech offense that we have become used to, and the Red Raiders will have an even tougher time this week against an Oklahoma State defense that has allowed just 23 total points in the last three games. A big win by the Cowboys on Saturday will add even more juice to Bedlam next week.

Oklahoma State 38, Texas Tech 21

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.