CFB: 3 Games to Watch in Week 12
By Rory Daniels
While Week 12 might not offer the biggest test to those pursuing the College Football Playoffs, there is plenty of intrigue. There will be jostling for bowl spots in the early games and a final flourish when two top-10 Pac-12 teams faceoff in Corvallis.
Early Game - Louisville @ Miami
Louisville moved to 10 in the College Football rankings this week, extending their record to 9-1. It’s well-deserved for Jeff Brohm, who has brought the team back to life in his first year as head coach. The Cardinals are a victory over Miami away from clinching an ACC Championship game berth. With it, the opportunity to potentially knock Florida State out of a playoff spot.
It makes this the perfect game to watch in our early slot. Rather than watch Michigan run over Maryland, focus on the ACC. The Miami Hurricanes themselves took Florida State close last week, even after benching quarterback Tyler Van Dyke. Van Dyke returned late in the game due to an injury to Emory Williams and will continue on Saturday.
Regarding draft prospects, the Hurricanes receiving corps is worthy of special attention. Jacolby George, Xavier Restrepo and Colbie Young all bring something different to the table, but if Van Dyke is in form, it is a formidable trio. Defensively, it would be nice to see more from Leonard Taylor at defensive tackle. He has the traits for the next level, but his production has been lacking.
For Louisville, QB Jack Plummer has had a solid campaign finding deep threat Jamari Thrash for six touchdowns this year, but turnovers have been an issue. He has nine on the year, including one last week. That will be encouraging for Kam Kinchens who is an elite playmaker in Miami’s secondary.
With plenty of NFL talent on show and a chance for Miami to play party-pooper to the Cardinals’ ACC title hopes, it should be a tasty watch.
Prime Time - North Carolina @ Clemson
I hope you all bought shares in Clemson when Dabo Swinney told you to. After a season where the media has lambasted Swinney’s rigid approach to the transfer portal and lack of receiving talent, a late-season upturn in form has helped him regain some plaudits. Even enough to get his name mentioned around the big gig down in College Station.
A large part of their rejuvenation has been the defense. Middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter continues to make big plays in vital spots. While scouts may view him as a two-down player, he continues to buck the narrative. Trotter is a ‘football guy’. His play intelligence gives him opportunities to change the game regularly. He could be the type of guy who outperforms his draft position.
Cornerback Nate Wiggins is another player with first-round talent. Those two and the rest of this talented group will be the ultimate test for Tar Heel quarterback Drake Maye. Maye has overtaken Caleb Williams in many draft rankings, and despite some up-and-down play, it’s clear he has the potential to be the face of an NFL franchise.
When Clemson has the ball, expect them to lean on the run game, which has come to life in recent weeks. Will Shipley showed his five-star ability vs Georgia Tech last week, and backup Phil Mafeh single-handedly destroyed Notre Dame in week 10. Their battle with North Carolina linebacker Cedric Gray will be a great matchup.
Although there are no playoff implications to the game, it’s still a star-studded affair where both teams will be eager to come out on top.
Late Night - Washington @ Oregon State
Finally, the late game is arguably the headline event of the week. A grudge match which will directly affect the College Football playoffs – must watch is an understatement.
Oregon State can rightly feel aggrieved at their treatment in the Pac-12. Abandoned as the conference crumbled to the Pac-2. They will be eager to take a shot at one of the big boys whose departure was pivotal to the breakup. And, if they land a knockout blow, it’s more than pride at stake. A defeat for Washington would end their hopes for a National Championship.
The Huskies’ offense is not the problem. They are high-octane, led by the gunslinger Michael Penix. His receiving group is one of the best in the country, and more often than not, Rome Odunze is unguardable. That said, I was ultra impressed by his partner, Ja’Lynn Polk. He has 943 receiving yards and eight touchdowns this season and is arguably a top-50 draft prospect.
Oregon State’s season has been excellent once again. Clemson transfer DJ Uiagalelei has been an unprecedented success. He would love nothing more than to show the nation the strides he has made in a prime matchup like this. In front of him, Taliese Fuaga has been a revelation at left tackle. He has vaulted himself into the top-ten conversation.
Can Oregon State and Jonathan Smith be the team to end the Huskies’ dreams? It would be quite the story.
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com.