Week 12 of the college football season has started and we’ve already seen one outcome create a situational spot for a future game. That will be the case over the next couple of weeks. Certain results will alter the future for teams that haven’t played yet and that will turn that game into a much different handicap.
The game in question is Western Michigan’s loss to Ball State. With that loss, Northern Illinois clinched the MAC West Division title. Now the next two games don’t matter in the standings. We’ll see those types of situations on Saturday, when early results create opportunities or disappointments for teams who are later on the schedule. You want to be vigilant and look to take advantage of those things when they pop up.
We’ll sound like a broken record with some games this week, but there are also a lot of situational spots based on the teams that have four or five wins and need to get to a bowl game. You can read about those here.
We’ve got a lot of CFB situational spots to get to, so let’s dive in.
Here are the situational spots to consider for Week 12:
Tulane at Houston – Tulane and Houston are tied for the lead in the AAC West Division with SMU. Both Houston and Tulane lost to SMU, but SMU has a very difficult game this week against Memphis. That could very well put the winner of this game in the driver’s seat to appear in the conference championship game. This is a big game for both teams and the Cougars head into it without star Ed Oliver once again.
Florida Atlantic at North Texas – Thursday night’s Conference USA clash in Denton features FAU and North Texas. The Mean Green were embarrassed not once, but twice by FAU last season. The Owls won 69-31 in the regular season and 41-17 in the C-USA Title Game. You can bet that UNT remembers those two games. We’ve seen this line move up from 2.5 to 3.5, with the spot as a big factor.
Memphis at SMU – As mentioned, SMU controls the two key tiebreakers in the AAC West, but a loss here will make things interesting. The winner of Tulane/Houston will have a one-game lead, with Memphis, SMU, and the loser all tied at 4-3 in conference. Memphis lost to Tulane, but would have the tiebreaker over SMU with a win here. Memphis plays Houston next week. There are a lot of moving parts in this division.
Boise State at New Mexico – The weeknight games are just chock full of things to consider this week. Boise State is off of that huge win over Fresno State and has Utah State on deck for the Mountain Division crown. This game is a true sandwich spot for the Broncos. The line is coming down as a result. The Broncos aren’t going to expel any more energy than they need to in order to win this game and the line is pretty big at 19.5 or 20.
Indiana at Michigan; Ohio State at Maryland – This one is pretty obvious. The Game is next week in Columbus. For both Michigan and Ohio State, who is on the road at Maryland, this is a tough week to focus, especially in a big favorite role. Indiana was badly outplayed by Maryland in last week’s win, but the misleading box score has people siding with the Wolverines. The market is betting heavily against Ohio State, as the Buckeyes are down from -17 to -14.5.
Pitt at Wake Forest – The Pitt Panthers can secure a trip to Charlotte to face Clemson in the ACC Title Game with a win this week. Pat Narduzzi’s team is mauling opponents at the line of scrimmage, which is a reason why this line is moving up, but backing a highly motivated team isn’t a bad idea at any time. Wake Forest is plenty motivated as well with Pitt and Duke left to try and get a sixth win.
Northwestern at Minnesota – Northwestern has already locked up a spot in Indianapolis to take on the Big Ten East champ. Minnesota needs a sixth win for a bowl berth. As a result, this line opened 3.5 and has come down to 2. It is always important to factor situations into the mix and this line move is partially about that and also about how Northwestern just hasn’t really passed the eye test lately.
Texas Tech at Kansas State – Kliff Kingsbury may have had his job saved by making it to a bowl game last season with a win over Texas. The Red Raiders were 5-2 and have dropped three straight, so they’re running out of chances to get that elusive sixth win. Kansas State represents a good chance to do that. Be careful, though, because there is a decent chance that this is the last home game coached by the legendary Bill Snyder. If news gets out about that, this becomes Kansas State’s Super Bowl. Snyder’s players are not available to the media this week, so it sounds like something may be up.
UMass at Georgia – There are a lot of SEC teams playing non-conference games this week. Georgia hosts UMass as more than a 40-point favorite. This is a pretty clear situational spot.
Georgia Southern at Coastal Carolina – With head coach Joe Moglia’s guidance, the Chanticleers are one win away from their first-ever bowl berth. South Alabama is on the docket for next week and that represents a good chance at a win, but teams usually don’t want to wait to get to that magic number. Georgia Southern is already bowling and can’t move up at all in the East, so this isn’t a great spot for them against a motivated team on the teal turf.
Middle Tennessee at Kentucky – Maybe the third time is a charm for the Blue Raiders. This will be their third road game in an SEC venue this season. They’ve lost the first two in lopsided fashion. Kentucky continued a downward spiral last week by getting shut down by Tennessee immediately after a bubble-bursting loss against Georgia. Maybe this is a circle the wagons spot for the Wildcats, but they’ll have to earn it against a team dying to get one of these SEC wins.
NC State at Louisville – How will the Cardinals respond with Bobby Petrino on the unemployment line? The interim head coach is Lorenzo Ward and he has zero chance at the job. Can he get them to play hard in what is clearly a lost season? NC State can’t really go anywhere in the conference standings, but has lost three of four and blew a big lead last week, so we’d like to think that they show up to play. This could be another trip to Blowout City for the Cardinals.
Cincinnati at UCF – This is a big one. UCF will host College Gameday, which always creates some more excitement, especially for the reigning National Champs*. This is a huge test for Cincinnati, who really has played a weak schedule this season, but has done a very good job of beating inferior foes. To borrow an analogy from horse racing, this like is running Grade 2 stakes races and then stepping up for a Grade 1. We’ll see how the Bearcats do.
FIU at Charlotte – FIU needs a win this week at Charlotte and a win next week at home against Marshall to lock up the Conference USA East Division. The only loss in conference play for Middle Tennessee is to FIU. That means that FIU has a lot to play for this week and next. Charlotte is two wins away from bowl eligibility, but that seems like an uphill climb, so the spot would appear to favor FIU.
Utah at Colorado – So, Mike MacIntyre will probably be fired. Boulder is a really difficult place to recruit and he’s done his best, but his best may not be enough. He hasn’t been canned yet. Maybe a win this week will save his job. Utah no longer controls its own destiny in the Pac-12 South, but Arizona State has two extremely tough games to navigate before locking up the division crown. The Buffaloes also need just one win for bowl eligibility, so they do have something to play for, but you have to wonder if MacIntyre has the room and if the players even want more practices and a bowl game.
Syracuse at Notre Dame – Is this the last big hurdle for Notre Dame? That’s what some believe. This is a neutral-site game in the Bronx at Yankee Stadium, so it will be a unique atmosphere for football. Syracuse played in the Pinstripe Bowl in 2010 and 2012, but none of the players and none of the coaches were there for that. Notre Dame last played there in 2013. It will be a strange venue for a big game for Notre Dame.
West Virginia at Oklahoma State – Things in the Big 12 are insane. West Virginia is tied atop the conference with Oklahoma. Texas and Iowa State are tied for second. WVU lost to ISU and Oklahoma lost to Texas. Iowa State and Texas play this week. Oklahoma and West Virginia play next week. None of it may matter if the Mountaineers fail to hold serve here against the Cowboys. This isn’t a great spot for either team. Stillwater is a tough place to play. Oklahoma State went for two in Bedlam last week and lost to Oklahoma. Will the Cowboys get back up to play spoiler? WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen was the OC way back when (2010) for Gundy at Oklahoma State. There’s a lot happening here.
Bowling Green at Akron – Bowling Green won a conference game for the first time this season last week against Central Michigan. Akron got a horrendous offensive performance from redshirt freshman Alex Ramart. The Zips played for the MAC Title last year. They are a long shot to make a bowl this year with Ohio and South Carolina left after this and two wins needed to make it happen. Bowling Green has an interim that won’t be named the head coach. This is one of the more confounding games of the week.
Boston College at Florida State – Florida State’s 36-year bowl streak is on the line. Wins over Boston College and Florida are required for it to stay alive. Do the Seminoles really want more practices and a trip to another lame-ass bowl game? Judging by the fact that they have allowed 59, 47, and 42 points the last three weeks, it’s really hard to tell.
UTEP at Western Kentucky – One team is trying its hardest. The other team is not and this is another potential coaching vacancy. The UTEP Miners are playing hard as hell for Dana Dimel. A second win this season would be enormous for this program. Western Kentucky has a lame-duck head coach in Mike Sanford Jr. and has fallen apart as far as a program can fall in a two-year span. Maybe from a power ratings standpoint, WKU deserves to be a touchdown favorite, but one team is likely to play a lot harder than the other one.
Iowa State at Texas – As mentioned in the breakdown of West Virginia/Oklahoma State, there are a lot of factors to consider this week. These two teams are tied for second. Depending on how things shake out between Oklahoma and West Virginia next week, there are backdoors into the title game with a win here. Expect a big effort from both ballclubs.
UNLV at Hawaii – UNLV will not be going to a bowl game, despite last week’s win over San Diego State. It’s also fair to wonder if Tony Sanchez will be retained. Doesn’t this week’s trip to Hawaii feel more like a vacation than anything else? The season is now defined by what happens next week against Nevada in that annual rivalry game between Las Vegas and Reno. Because Hawaii plays a 13-game schedule, the Rainbow Warriors need a win here to make the Hawaii Bowl.
Let’s also consider this: Hawaii has lost 49-23, 40-22, 50-20, and 56-17 over the last four weeks and is a touchdown favorite. Hmmm.