Look, Week 12 of the college football season is not a doozy on paper. Y'all can see the obvious. There's no need for anyone to fake it. All signs are pointing towards the next two weeks as the critical junctures in the noteworthy races. But when things look dull, think of it this way: there are always enough games for there to be at least something for everyone. And, who knows? Despite what has been a season of mostly chalk outcomes, maybe Saturday is the day when all hell breaks loose.
If you think this season has been lacking in big upsets, you would be correct. Last year, Top 5 teams went 38-5 vs unranked teams. In 2016, 35-6. But this season, Top 5 teams are 36-1 vs unranked teams. The only loss – Ohio State at Purdue.— Chris Fallica (@chrisfallica) November 16, 2018
So while Saturday doesn't have a boatload of intriguing games -- there are only three matchups between top-25 teams -- there are still divisional races that need to be decided and possible playoff teams that need victories. So get your TVs, tablets, phones and computer ready, because there's always at least a few games whose outcomes matter to someone.
All times Eastern
The biggest games
No. 12 Syracuse vs. No. 3 Notre Dame, NBC, stream on FuboTV (Try for free), at 2:30 p.m.: Your game of the week takes place in Yankee Stadium at a staggered kickoff time. The Fighting Irish have handled their business week in and week out, but this will be their toughest test since the Week 1 win over Michigan. Syracuse is upset-minded with a potent passing attack and a relentless defensive front. Can the Orange pull the upset and deliver a huge shakeup in the playoff race?
No. 24 Cincinnati at No. 11 UCF, ABC, at 8 p.m: Two things are on the line in Orlando: UCF's 22-game winning streak and the AAC East lead. Win and the Knights clinch the division. Lose and Cincinnati will hold the head-to-head with Temple's noon game vs. South Florida holding some weight as well. A Cincinnati upset -- the Bearcats are about a touchdown underdog -- could also have a ripple effect in the Group of Five race for a major bowl berth.
No. 16 Iowa State at No. 15 Texas, Longhorn Network, at 8 p.m.: Chances are if you're reading this you aren't getting the Longhorn Network, and thus your chances of seeing this game slim. Still, this is a huge game in the race for the Big 12 Championship Game as the loser will be eliminated. Iowa State is the Big 12's hottest team and on a five-game winning streak. Texas has played in six straight games decided by a touchdown or less with an average point differential of +2.8 (the line is Texas -3.5).
Arizona at No. 8 Washington State, ESPN, at 10:30 p.m.: Any gave involving Washington State coach Mike Leach and Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate is almost guaranteed to have some #Pac12AfterDark sass to it. Washington State has won six straight and next week's Apple Cup vs. Washington will likely be for the Pac-12 North title again. However, Tate is finally healthy and playing more like the real-life video game cheat code he was a season ago. Pour a cup of coffee and stay up late for this one.
Other big games
Pitt at Wake Forest, ACC Network Extra, at noon: The Panthers -- yes, the Panthers! -- can clinch the ACC Coastal to finalize the conference championship game vs. Clemson. Wake's offense has plenty of capable wideouts to stretch the field and make things interesting, but Pitt has won four of its last five games and played Notre Dame close.
No. 19 Utah at Colorado, Pac-12 Networks, 1:30 p.m.: Though Arizona State controls its path to the Pac-12 Championship Game out of the South division, Utah remains a half-game ahead and needs to finish conference play with a win to even have a chance to clinch. Colorado, meanwhile, has been the subject of rumors that it'll move on from coach Mike MacIntyre after losing five straight games.
No. 9 West Virginia at Oklahoma State, ABC, at 3:30 p.m.: West Virginia needs one more win to set up a monster home game on Black Friday vs. Oklahoma. Oklahoma State needs one more win for bowl eligibility and is 2-1 in upset bids this season (and was a failed two-point conversion away vs. Oklahoma from likely being 3-0). The line (WVU -4.5) is small enough that Mountaineers' fans.
USC at UCLA, FOX, at 3:30 p.m.: It may not have its usual implications, but at least you'll never find a more aesthetically pleasing game than when the Trojans and Bruins face off in their annual burst of color. Still, you may want to watch this one for the hot seat chatter surrounding USC coach Clay Helton. If the Trojans lose to their cross-town rival, bowl eligibility will be very much in doubt with Notre Dame coming to town next week.
Arizona State at Oregon, Pac-12 Networks, at 10:30 p.m. ET: The other critical game for the Pac-12 South race. Arizona State, as mentioned above, is in the driver's seat to claim the division -- but Oregon is the first of two road games for the Sun Devils to end November. First-year ASU coach Herm Edwardsgetting his team to this point, but he'll need to close hard to get that 13th game.
Keep an eye on ...
- No. 10 Ohio State at Maryland, ABC, at noon
- South Florida at Temple, ESPNNews, at noon
- No. 20 Boston College at Florida State, ESPN2, at 3:30 p.m.
- Missouri at Tennessee, CBS, at 3:30 p.m.
- Indiana at No. 4 Michigan, FS1, at 4 p.m.
- UAB at Texas A&M, ESPN2, at 7 p.m.
- Duke at No. 2 Clemson, ESPN, at 7 p.m.
- Stanford at Cal, Pac-12 Networks, at 7:30 p.m.
- San Diego State at Fresno State, CBS Sports Network, at 10:30 p.m.