Saturday Superlatives: Your alternative Week 12 viewing guide
Saturday college football games of varying degrees of interest, grouped in highly subjective categories. For more preview content, visit Andy Staples’ Walkthrough.
• Biggest game with nothing riding on it: No. 6 Ohio State at Wisconsin, 3:30 p.m. ET. The Badgers already know they’re headed to Indianapolis, as the only other teams with fewer than three conference losses in the Leaders Division (the Buckeyes and Penn State) are ineligible for postseason play. But a win here would be the biggest [screw]-you moment for Urban Meyer since the 2008 Florida-Georgia game. And if you think Urban Meyer doesn’t live for [screw]-you moments, please see the 2008 Florida-Georgia game.
What is actually at stake: The NCAA all-time career touchdowns record, currently sitting at 78 and held by former Miami RedHawk Travis Prentice. Monteé Ball is one score away from tying and two away from breaking this record, and he has a chance to do both at home. He recorded 198 rushing yards and three scores last week against Indiana; if Ball does break the record, expect to hear the hollering in Madison as far away as Kentucky, and expect little bits of glitter to spew from this page. (Please protect your eyes accordingly.)
• Biggest game we feel like we couldn’t predict if our lives depended on it: No. 21 USC at No. 17 UCLA, 3:05 p.m. We have well established at this point in the season that even when relying on math and the best available logic, picking games is tricky work. It’s much more fun, and equally ineffective, to rely on factors like spite and cussedness and probably-imaginary-but-maybe-not-surefire jinxes to decide, particularly in rivalry matchups, which is why this weekend’s clash in the Rose Bowl scares the hell out of us. Some factors to consider: Whose coach to dislike (or grudgingly admire) more? Is it cosmically dangerous to even bring up that “football monopoly” talk at this point? Can we straight-up call this game for USC because keeping an opposing team’s costumed representative from poking one’s field with a sword is the furthest possible thing from a power move imaginable?
• Locavore ball: If you prefer to keep your football tax dollars in-state, you’re in luck in Week 12, particularly in our part of the country, where half of the SEC takes its traditional pre-Thanksgiving nap against local FCS teams. In-state games featuring all-FBS lineups include Eastern Michigan at Western Michigan (2:00 p.m.), USF at Miami (3:00 p.m.), SMU at Rice (3:30 p.m.) and Tennessee at Vanderbilt (7:00 p.m.).
• Best memorial: Mississippi State will honor the memory of Nick Bell in enormous fashion during Saturday’s home stand against Arkansas (12:21 p.m.), which would have been Bell’s Senior Day.
• Best rivalry trophy: We’re talking best of all-time here, seeing as it’s Battle for the Bones week. Memphis and UAB will tussle over a bronzed rack of ribs in Birmingham at 2:00 p.m.
• Grisliest potential blowout: Of all the teams taking breathers before season-ending rivalry games, none will take in quite so much fresh air as No. 4 Alabama, which hosts Western Carolina at 12:21 p.m. The Catamounts are 1-9 overall and winless in Southern Conference play.
• Pointiest potential pointsplosion: We very much like the prospect of watching Baylor’s Nick Florence square off against a well-regarded Kansas State defense, and Collin Klein playing against a team that probably does not intend to defend him at all. (At Baylor, 3:30 p.m.)
• Smaller stakes: Among potential movements in non-AQ races this weekend: UCF at Tulsa will decide the last undefeated team in C-USA league play (noon); Kent State at Bowling Green features the top two teams in the MAC East (noon) and could Arkansas State be knocked off the top of the Sun Belt standings by a tricksy Troy team (3:30 p.m.)?
• Most promising undercard matchup: Utah State at No. 19 Louisiana Tech, 4:00 p.m., to decide the last undefeated team in WAC play.
• Best nightcap: We’ll take BYU at San Jose State (10:30 p.m.) and see what the Spartans’ prolific passing offense can do against the Cougars’ shutdown defense.