No. 4 Ohio State's matchup against No. 7 Michigan State was one of the most anticipated matchups of the season, at least until the Buckeyes play against No. 6 Michigan next week. But like every matchup the Buckeyes have had against teams from the Great Lakes State since 2017, it ultimately ended with decimation. 

The Buckeyes put together one of the most dominant halves in recent memory, going up 49-0 at the half behind six touchdown passes from quarterback C.J. Stroud. The Spartans mustered just 224 yards of total offense in the game, including just 66 on the ground. It was the sixth straight win for Ohio State against MSU with three coming by more than 40 points. Between Michigan State, Penn State and Michigan, the usual contenders in the Big Ten East are a combined 2-20 against the Buckeyes in the College Football Playoff era with the losses coming by nearly 17 points per game. 

The Big Ten is a solid conference, and several of its teams likely rank among the 25 best in the nation. But while the ACC and Big 12 get dinged for being one-team leagues, the Big Ten is right there with them. This year is no different. 

If Ohio State was at least a national dynasty, it would ease the pain a little bit. Alabama has won five SEC titles in the past seven years, but the Crimson Tide have three national titles to show for it. Ohio State has one title of any kind since 2002. Texas, Florida State and Auburn have won the same number over that time period. LSU has three. 

Regardless, the brands of the conference having back-loaded schedules was enough to get five Big Ten squads into the top 10 early on in the rankings. When the rankings are released on Tuesday, only two will be left. 

Who knows, maybe Michigan can finally turn the tide for the Big Ten's second tier. The Wolverines blasted mediocre Maryland 59-18 to move to 10-1 with the lone loss coming against the Spartans. Their defense is undeniably solid, even if their offense is awfully run-dependent. Prove me wrong, Michigan! Until then, it's hard to see the Big Ten as more than a paper tiger propped up by one stud at the top. 

Elsewhere in Week 12, No. 3 Oregon suffered a 38-7 loss to No. 23 Utah, one of the most embarrassing losses of the season. No. 2 Alabama needed some late magic from quarterback Bryce Young to beat No. 21 Arkansas 42-35. No. 11 Baylor survived a road test from Kansas State, while No. 10 Wake Forest suffered its second loss in a 48-27 decision against Clemson that could knock it out of the rankings. 

Here are more winners, losers and overreactions from Week 12 of college football. 


Cincinnati: If you don't think Cincinnati has another gear or can play a complete game, watch its total 48-14 evisceration of SMU front to back. The Bearcats held SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai to 66 yards passing and 2.5 yards per pass attempt. On the other side, QB Desmond Ridder and running back Jerome Ford combined for 274 yards passing, 128 yards rushing and five total touchdowns. 

The frustrations about Cincy rarely reaching that gear are well-founded, but remember, the Bearcats don't have 50 blue-chips to reload anytime a star gets worn down. Head coach Luke Fickell is playing to win. With Oregon now out of the mix after a loss to Utah, his quiet consistency might pay off. The Bearcats are 11-0. 

South Carolina: Many clowned the Gamecocks for hiring an apparent pure recruiter who hadn't been a front-facing coach as head coach -- most of all me. But just 11 games into Shane Beamer's tenure, I'm already eating crow. Beamer took what once appeared as one of the worst situations in the SEC and pushed all the right buttons to reach a bowl game in his first season. He managed a 21-17 win over Auburn perfectly and kept everyone on the same page in what should have been a loss to Vanderbilt. Beamer has rolled with the punches, and his program has followed. He deserves all the credit in the world. 

Ohio State: Buckeyes, my goodness. If you want to be in the College Football Playoff, just say it. Quarterback C.J. Stroud threw for 432 yards and six touchdowns on 32-of-35 passing as three different receivers exploded for 100 yards and a score in a 56-7 evisceration of No. 7 Michigan State. Top to bottom, it was one of the most impressive wins of the college football season. Heisman hopeful running back Kenneth Walker III rushed for just 25 yards in the Buckeyes win; his previous low was 57 yards in limited carries against Youngstown State. Ohio State looked every bit the part of the No. 2 team in the nation. The committee should reward them with that spot on Tuesday. 

UTSA: The Roadrunners' magical season lived on another day after one of the craziest game-winning sequences you'll ever see. UTSA turned it over on downs with fewer than two minutes remaining, but the defense stood up and forced a punt. A series of big passes set up a goal-line stand, where QB Frank Harris tipped a pass off a UAB defender to Oscar Cardenas. If UTSA lost, the Roadrunners would have ceded their spot in the C-USA title game, despite their undefeated season to that point. Instead, the title game is headed to San Antonio. 


Oregon: The Ducks have been playing with fire virtually all season long, including games within 10 points against Cal, Washington, Stanford and UCLA. Finally, everything came to a head as the Ducks were blasted 38-7 in the program's biggest loss since 2017. The loss officially eliminates the Pac-12 from the College Football Playoff picture and ruins the Ducks' best shot at winning a national title since 2014. Even worse, Oregon may have to play this Utah team all over again in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Not even winning a conference championship at the end of this breakout season would be a disaster. 

Georgia Tech: Geoff Collins is doing a lot of things right since taking over for option aficionado Paul Johnson. His recruiting message about staying home in Atlanta seems to be hitting. His players appear to buy in. Beating North Carolina and playing every opponent but Pitt within 6.6 points per game showed progress. And then Saturday happened. The Yellow Jackets lost 55-0 against No. 8 Notre Dame in one of the most embarrassing games of Collins' tenure. Georgia Tech was more than doubled in total yardage and turned the ball over through the air and on the ground. Collins will get another year, but these are the moments a young program can't withstand when trying to change the culture. 

Stanford: The first sign that Oregon might be fraudulent probably should have come from the 31-24 loss to Stanford on Oct. 2. After a 41-11 loss to Cal, it's the only Stanford win since the calendar turned to October. The Cardinal's last three losses have come by a combined 128-32, an astonishing number for a program that used to run the Pac-12. Stanford has not won 10 games since 2016. If this is where the program is heading, the Cardinal may not get back there soon. 

Ohio State wins big, Utah blows out Oregon and more in this week's Instant Reaction by the Cover 3 crew recapping Week 12 scores and results in college football.

Defensive Heisman hopes are on life support

There has not been a defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy since Charles Woodson in 1997. Despite our best efforts to get players like Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis, Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson or Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner in the discussion, Saturday put a huge dent in that trend. 

Every Ohio State offensive player showed out in the big win over Michigan State, but Stroud's six touchdowns put him at the top of people's Heisman list. Alabama quarterback Bryce Young followed Stroud with an insane game of his own featuring a program-record 559 yards and five touchdowns in a tight win over Arkansas. 

Davis rushed for the first touchdown of his career on Senior Day, but it's hard to see his performance pushing him ahead of the star quarterbacks. While plenty can change in the final two weeks of the season, it appears that the Heisman will default to yet another quarterback. 

There's a right way to use the transfer portal

All offseason long, there was consternation about the transfer portal. But in a tight 42-35 win for No. 2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide showed exactly how transfers should be used to build a sustainable program. 

Nick Saban took just four transfers in a year where Alabama lost eight players to the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. Every one of them was targeted, but none has been bigger than Ohio State wide receiver transfer Jameson Williams. In a 42-35 win over No. 23 Arkansas, Williams caught eight passes for 190 yards with three touchdowns to keep his hold on the Alabama receiving leaderboard. 

Across the country, No. 4 Ohio State didn't even notice Williams was gone. The Buckeyes had three receivers that cleared 100 receiving yards and a touchdown in a 56-7 decimation of No. 7 Michigan State. Win-win. Some programs try to build through the transfer portal. It's not sustainable. But when teams are smart about being selective, magic can strike.