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MC&J: Two Pac-12 showdowns close out Week 12’s national action

We’ll have a better idea of who will be playing for the conference title in a couple weeks after USC-UCLA and Utah-Oregon.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Last week ATS: 7-7 (3-4 B1G, 4-3 National)

Season ATS: 82-82-3 (38-43-1 B1G, 44-38-2 National)

Things looked pretty bleak early on last week, but we closed Saturday with some clutch wins, allowing us to even up our record for the week. This week’s schedule is a little light, but all that will change next week as the holiday weekend will bring an expanded slate.

National games:

(All lines courtesy of Draftkings Sportsbook.)

No. 4 TCU (-2.5) v. Baylor - 12:00 p.m. - FOX

Whether it be on the road or at home, TCU has passed every test put in front of them. Last week a lot of people were calling for Texas to beat the Horned Frogs. TCU had other ideas, outlasting the Longhorns 17-10 in Austin. Keandre Miller scored on a 75-yard run in the middle of the third quarter. The TCU running back finished with 138 yards in the game.

Baylor entered last week’s game riding a three-game winning streak before being blown out by Kansas State 31-3. Blake Shapen had a game to forget, tossing two interceptions. The Baylor quarterback now has five interceptions and just two touchdown passes over the last four games. Along with Shapen’s recent struggles, running back Richard Reese has disappeared. In wins over Kansas and Texas Tech, Reese carried the football 67 times, rolling up 354 yards and five scores. In the last two games, Reese has just 13 carries for 61 yards.

TCU can see the finish line, and they know they can’t let their foot off the gas. All the Horned Frogs need to do to make the CFP is beat Baylor, Iowa State, and win the Big 12 Championship Game. While Baylor will be ready to pull an upset at home, it’s not like TCU hasn’t been through this scenario numerous times this year. The Horned Frogs have more firepower and win by at least a touchdown.

TCU 38, Baylor 28

No. 15 Kansas State (-7.5) v. West Virginia - 2:00 p.m. - ESPN+

It has been a rough season for West Virginia, who feels like they are on the verge of moving on from head coach Neal Brown. The Mountaineers did get a little bit of a spark last week when they replaced quarterback JT Daniels with Garrett Greene, who engineered a comeback victory against Oklahoma.

Kansas State is in the driver’s seat for the spot opposite of TCU in the Big 12 Championship Game. The Wildcats still have a lot of work to do, though. Adrian Martinez will miss this game, and is likely out the rest of the regular season, leaving Will Howard to take the snaps. Howard threw for three touchdowns last week, while Deuce Vaughn cracked 100 yards on the ground.

The trip to Morgantown is never an easy one. TCU barely survived, while Oklahoma and Baylor lost to the Mountaineers. Kansas State is better than the Sooners and Bears, but they haven’t been great on the road this year. I could see West Virginia giving an inspired effort on Saturday in their final home game of the season.

West Virginia 27, Kansas State 24

No. 1 Georgia (-22.5) v. Kentucky - 3:30 p.m. - CBS

Normally I wouldn’t pick a non-Big Ten game with such a big spread. That should tell you just how weak this week’s schedule is. Georgia comes into this game rolling. The Bulldogs just went to Starkville and beat Mississippi State 45-19. Now Georgia will close out their SEC regular season schedule with a trip to Kentucky. The Bulldogs haven’t really been tested since the Missouri game, and it’s hard to see that changing the next two weeks before the SEC Championship Game against LSU.

After a nice start to the season, Kentucky has fallen on hard times, losing at home to Vanderbilt last week. If the Wildcats can’t beat the Commodores at home, they have no shot to stay within three touchdowns of the defending national champions. It is going to be a long day for Will Levis on Saturday.

Georgia 41, Kentucky 14

No. 14 Ole Miss (-2.5) v. Arkansas - 7:30 p.m. - SEC Network

Following a promising start to the season, Arkansas has seen their season go sideways, losing their last two games to Liberty and LSU. Last week KJ Jefferson didn’t play because of injury, but he is expected to play this week against the Rebels. No matter who starts at quarterback, they can lean on Raheim Sanders, who has rushed for 1,147 yards and seven touchdowns this year.

Ole Miss did just about everything but beat Alabama last week. The Rebels rushed for nearly 200 yards against the Tide. Quinshon Judkins has been one of the most exciting freshmen in the country this year, racking up 1,171 yards and 15 scores on the ground this year. While Jaxson Dart isn’t Matt Corral, he has been a good game manager, making plays when necessary.

Even though Ole Miss has lost two of three those losses have come to teams in the top 10. Arkansas is a fun team when they are hitting on all cylinders, but Ole Miss is a better team on both sides of the football. It is tough to win in Fayetteville, but Ole Miss will be up to the task.

Ole Miss 35, Arkansas 27

No. 22 Oklahoma State v. Oklahoma (-7) - 7:30 p.m. - ABC

This isn’t the Oklahoma team we have become accustomed to. The Sooners are struggling to become bowl eligible in head coach Brent Venables’ first year in Norman. Dillon Gabriel is back after missing a few games earlier in the year but he isn’t playing at quite the same level as we saw from the UCF transfer in the first couple games of the season.

The Cowboys had a rough stretch over the last month, losing three of four games before beating Iowa State las week. Oklahoma State got a boost last week when Spencer Sanders gutted out a shoulder injury when he replaced Gunnar Gundy. Sanders will start this week at quarterback in the rivalry battle.

Both teams have issues on defense, allowing over 430 yards per game. I’m not willing to trust Oklahoma to win by more than a touchdown. Mike Gundy has a better handle on Bedlam games, and has to be giddy at possibly helping deny Oklahoma bowl eligibility.

Oklahoma State 37, Oklahoma 30

No. 7 USC (-2) v. No. 16 UCLA - 8:00 p.m. - FOX

Could USC be on their way to the CFP? A lot still has to happen for the Trojans to make the playoff, but Lincoln Riley’s team sits seventh in the rankings this week. USC suffered a big loss last week when running back Travis Dye suffered a leg injury in the 55-17 win over Colorado. The Trojans are already dealing with wide receivers Jordan Addison and Mario Williams working through injuries, which makes the loss of Dye sting even more.

Imagine the hype for this game if UCLA hadn’t lost to Arizona last week. The Bruins have the ability to match the Trojans on offense. When Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Zach Charbonnet are on, UCLA is one of the toughest offenses to slow down in the country. Chip Kelly’s team still could find a way to get into the Pac-12 Championship Game, but to make it happen, a win over USC is required.

It almost feels like the first team to get a defensive stop in this game is going to win. I like UCLA just a little more in this game, since they are just as good as the Trojans offensively, and they don’t have as many key players dealing with injuries. The Pac-12 continues to cannibalize themselves, as the Bruins ruin the conference’s last possible shot at making the CFP.

UCLA 45, USC 38

No. 10 Utah v. No. 12 Oregon (-3) - 10:30 p.m. - ESPN

Last year Utah used a couple wins over Oregon to propel themselves to a Pac-12 title and a spot in the Rose Bowl. After a loss to UCLA in early October, the Utes have rebounded to win their last four games. Last week, Utah ran over Stanford 42-7, with Tavion Thomas rushing for 180 yards and two scores.

Oregon enters this game in a foul mood after losing 37-34 at home to hated rival Washington. The Ducks played well, they just didn’t have an answer for quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who threw for over 400 yards. Even though they lost, Oregon still has a great offense, led by Bo Nix. The next touchdown by the Auburn transfer will be his 40th of the season.

You know Oregon has had this game circled after losing twice to the Utes last year. Add in last week’s loss, and the Ducks are going to be even more amped up on Saturday night. Oregon may be out of the CFP race, but they still are in the Pac-12 title mix. The Ducks get some revenge for last year.

Oregon 34, Utah 24

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