Week 12 was always going to be more of a table-setter than a huge weekend of college football, but we still moved toward Rivalry Week with a better lay of the land. Ohio State and Oklahoma clinched spots in Power 5 conference title games, Wisconsin won the day’s biggest game, and the AAC probably locked up the mid-major New Year’s Six autobid.
Below, let’s keep track of Week 12’s ranked games from the Playoff committee’s perspective, which means it’s not only about who you beat, but how it relates to the full picture. Win projections are via S&P+. Final scores are in bold.
(All anyone's really gonna talk about, though: Baker Mayfield and Kansas University having a heated war for the entirety of their game, complete with cheap shots, handshake snubs, and a crotch grab, and Tennessee's Jon Gruden obsession finding whole new levels of weirdness amid ghastly weather.)
Games between teams that could finish in the committee’s final top 25, regardless of Week 12 result, meaning the winner gains a significant quality W.
- No. 5 Wisconsin (11-0) 24, No. 24 Michigan (8-3) 10: Yep, we might have only one game all week that really matters! Bet you wish you paid more attention to last week’s very busy Saturday, huh! UW’s a Playoff win-and-in, but adding a dominant win over a solid team and shoring up the strength of schedule numbers on a week when everybody else is cruising will feel nice.
Should have some impact
Games between teams likely to finish .500-plus, regardless of Week 12 result, meaning the winner gains a solid W (or games with conference championship implications).
- No. 4 Oklahoma (10-1) 41, Kansas (1-10) 3: Sooners clinch a spot in the Big 12’s very unwise conference championship.
- No. 3 Miami (10-0) 44, Virginia (6-5) 28: Respectable win despite an early deficit, but the Canes’ Playoff chances remain win-and-in. Might be able to afford a loss to Pitt, too.
- No. 7 Georgia (10-1) 42, Kentucky (7-4) 13: Georgia can’t afford another loss, but remains win-and-in.
- No. 8 Notre Dame (9-2) 24, Navy (6-4) 17: The Irish are playing for a New Year’s Six bowl. A win at Stanford should do it.
- No. 9 Ohio State (9-2) 52, Illinois (2-9) 14: Big Ten East title clinched. On to Michigan and then Wisconsin.
- No. 11 USC (10-2) 28, UCLA (5-6) 23: I think the Bruins get to a bowl, meaning an OK win for USC. Next: Pac-12 Championship after an extremely merited bye.
- No. 12 TCU (9-2) 27, Texas Tech (5-6) 3: One win away from a Big 12 Championship revenge shot at Oklahoma.
- Kansas State (6-5) 45, No. 13 Oklahoma State (8-3) 40: OSU’s NY6 chances are basically done.
- No. 18 Washington (9-2) 33, Utah (5-6) 30: UW’s out of the Pac-12 race, due to Stanford’s win.
- Wake Forest (7-4) 30, No. 19 NC State (7-4) 24: Not much actual impact for anybody (Clemson and Notre Dame beat both these teams anyway), but I hope this game improves your personal strength of schedule.
- No. 22 Stanford (8-3) 17, Cal (5-6) 14: Stanford needs a Washington win over Washington State next week to take the Pac-12 North.
The non-power New Year’s Six race
The top mid-major champ earns an automatic NY6 bowl bid. A Playoff trip from this group ain’t happening.
- No. 15 UCF (10-0) 45, Temple (5-6) 19: The Owls have turned it around after looking like one of the worst teams in the country and could end up being a quality road W, for whatever that’s worth. Beating USF and winning the AAC is all that really matters.
- No. 21 Memphis (9-1) 66, SMU (6-5) 45: With this W, a conference besides the AAC making the NY6 is just about off the table. Tigers clinch the AAC West.
- No. 25 Boise State (9-2) 44, Air Force (4-7) 19: Broncos clinch the MWC Mountain Division. Despite losing to two good teams and needing a 25-point comeback to beat Colorado State, their resume is solid.
- USF (9-1) 27, Tulsa (2-9) 20: UCF next week.
Better not lose!
- No. 1 Alabama (11-0) 56, FCS Mercer 0
- No. 2 Clemson (10-1) 61, FCS The Citadel 3
- No. 6 Auburn (9-2) 42, ULM (4-6) 14
- No. 10 Penn State (9-2) 56, Nebraska (4-7) 44
- No. 16 Mississippi State (8-3) 28, Arkansas (4-7) 21
- No. 20 LSU (8-3) 30, Tennessee (4-7) 10
- No. 17 Michigan State (8-3) 17, Maryland (4-7) 7
- No. 23 Northwestern (8-3) 39, Minnesota (5-6) 0