WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S WEEK 12
College football has plenty to live up to following Week 11. LSU downing Alabama in Tuscaloosa and Minnesota surprising Penn State made for great viewing. Week 12 may not appear to have as much pizzazz, but we know better than to judge the games on paper. Here are the storylines to watch for.
Tough test for Andrew Thomas and co.
Andrew Thomas entered 2019 as the consensus no.1 offensive tackle in the country. He was announced as the Outland Trophy Player of the Month this week and is a big reason why Georgia is in the top 10 of teams for yards per rush attempt. However, there remains doubts over his ability to handle true speed off the edge. Thomas is a behemoth who is difficult to shift off his spot, his long arms make him tough to evade. The question mark is his athleticism.
Auburn will be a stiff test for him. Their talented defensive line features Derrick Brown but it will be the edge threats I will be looking at on Saturday. Marlon Davidson has accounted for 4.5 sacks this year and will be paired with junior Big Cat Bryant. Bryant may have racked up less impressive sack stats but is equally as disruptive in the pass game. If Brown can help slow down D’Andre Swift and the run game there could be a chance for the Tigers to put pressure on Fromm and force him to win the game.
Pac-12 must avoid slip ups to remain in playoff contention
Utah and Oregon remain in the college football playoff conversation. They also remain on a collision course for the Pac-12 championship game. That matchup could see the winner confirm their spot in the final four. In order for this to be reality, they both need to avoid any potential banana skins the rest of the way.
This week, the Ducks host Arizona and firebrand QB Khalil Tate. Tate might not be a QB at the next level but someone will likely take a shot on his athletic ability. Combining with him will be running back J.J. Taylor, who is averaging over five yards a carry. Facing them down will be Oregon senior linebacker Troy Dye. Having battled through a thumb injury he will be pivotal in slowing down this Wildcats offense.
Elsewhere, the Utes should face a relatively straightforward game against UCLA. But the Pac-12 is the Pac-12. Chip Kelly’s offense has lost its sheen somewhat during his time back in college football and Utah have a stellar defense. In terms of prospects, the Utes have a duo up front and two in the backend of their defense. Bradlee Anae and Leki Fotu will be tasked with getting to Dorian Thompson-Robinson while Jaylon Johnson and Julian Blackmon have impressed in the secondary.
Can ranked Navy cause an upset against the Fighting Irish?
Brian Kelly could be on his way out of South Bend after this year. The Fighting Irish are without a divisional home and as such find it difficult to make the playoffs unless they can go unbeaten. Having lost to Georgia early in the season and being obliterated by Michigan, who themselves had early season struggles, means Notre Dame are set to miss out on the big dance.
To add to the woes, edge rusher Julian Okwara has been ruled out for the season, ending his college career. This all coincides with Navy coming to town on Saturday. Kelly has prepared for the battle, Notre Dame have a scout team QB, who can run the triple option, especially for this annual meeting. Despite being 11 point underdogs, the ranked Midshipmen could be the ones to put Kelly well and truly on the hotseat.
Battle of California to be won in the air
USC have been somewhat of a surprise considering they lost starting QB JT Daniels so early into the year. Stand-ins Kedon Slovis and, when needed, Matt Fink have done an admirable job. A lot of the credit can go to what has become an elite wide receiver group. Saturday will see them come up against a couple of talented defenders from California.
Michael Pittman Jr is a strong, big-bodied receiver who has caused problems for a host of quality cornerbacks this year. His 232 yard performance against one of the nations stronger defenses in Utah grabbed a lot of attention. This week he faces Camryn Bynum and Ashtyn Davis. Davis has turned his solid year into a Senior Bowl berth, while Bynum has impressed in flashes. The Bears are now on a four match losing skid and need their secondary to be at their best if they are to control the Trojans passing offense.
Will Baylor’s unbeaten record come to an end versus Lincoln Riley’s offense?
Baylor’s unbeaten record is living a seemingly charmed life. They survived a scare last week in overtime against TCU, something they needed to get past Texas Tech, while they were taken close by West Virginia and Iowa State. Their opposition this week, Oklahoma, can’t afford another loss this year and Lincoln Riley will be looking to add the Bears scalp to bolster their resume.
The Sooners defense has appeared to regress through the year. They will be tested by explosive receiver Denzel Mims and QB Charlie Brewer. Who have formed a successful partnership. On the other side of the ball CeeDee Lamb will look to get the better of Jameson Houston. Houston was strong against TCU receiver Jaelen Raegor last week but faces a tougher task in Lamb. He will be helped by linebacker Terrell Bernard who was a force last week at middle linebacker.
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.