Week 12 preview: Power 5 league title matchups taking shape

Mel Tucker Michigan State
Posted at 12:04 PM, Nov 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-19 12:04:49-05

With two weeks left in the regular season, top-ranked Georgia is the only Power Five team to have clinched a spot in its conference championship game.

More tickets to title games should be punched this weekend.

Second-ranked Alabama (9-1, 5-1, No. 2 CFP), with a victory over No. 21 Arkansas (7-3, 3-3, No. 21 CFP) on Saturday, would lock up the SEC West and a matchup with No. 1 Georgia (10-0, 8-0, No. 1 CFP) in Atlanta in two weeks.

In the ACC, Atlantic Division leader Wake Forest (9-1, 6-0, No. 10 CFP) and Coastal leader Pittsburgh (8-2, 5-1, No. 18 CFP) would square off in the title game in Charlotte on Dec. 4 if each wins one more game. The 13th-ranked Demon Deacons are at Clemson (7-3, 5-2) and No. 20 Pitt hosts Virginia (6-4, 4-2) this week in matchups of the top two teams in each division.

In the Pac-12, fourth-ranked North leader Oregon (9-1, 6-1, No. 3 CFP) and 24th-ranked South leader Utah (7-3, 6-1, No. 23 CFP) meet in Salt Lake City, and the winner will move on to the title game in Las Vegas on Dec. 3. The loser could still win its division this week if the team behind it in the standings — Oregon State (6-4, 4-3) in Oregon’s case and Arizona State (7-3, 5-2) in Utah’s — also loses.

What’s certain is the Big Ten and Big 12 won’t be decided until next week.


No. 7 Michigan State at No. 5 Ohio State

Michigan State (9-1, 6-1, No. 7 CFP) can take control of the Big Ten East race with a win at the Horseshoe. That would give the Spartans head-to-head tiebreakers against Michigan and Ohio State.

If the favored Buckeyes (9-1, 7-0, No. 4 CFP) beat Michigan State, it would set up an Ohio State-Michigan showdown at the Big House next week for a berth in the Big Ten championship game — assuming No. 8 Michigan (9-1, 6-1, No. 6 CFP) wins at Maryland (5-5, 2-5) this week.


C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

It’s a tight race among Stroud, Alabama’s Bryce Young, Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III and Mississippi’s Matt Coral, and voters would be wise to wait until after the conference championship games to turn in their ballots.

Of the four, Stroud has the best remaining regular-season games with top-10 opponents in Michigan State and Michigan.

Stroud created some momentum with his 361 yards passing and five touchdowns against Purdue last week, and he has a chance to put up more big numbers against a Michigan State defense that’s given up 350 yards or more through the air in each of its last three games.


8 — Nation-leading number of Northern Illinois games decided by one score.

10 — Interceptions by Western Kentucky’s defense the last two games.

12 — FBS coaching vacancies after Virginia Tech fired Justin Fuente on Tuesday.

1956 — The last season Texas lost five straight games. The Longhorns’ current skid hit five games with last week’s 57-56 overtime loss to Kansas.


2008 — The last year Kansas won back-to-back Big 12 games. The Jayhawks visit TCU looking for their second straight “W.”


Virginia Tech at Miami

Yes, it’s a matchup of .500 teams. But it also is a snapshot of the state of college football with decisions on coaches coming fast and furious.

The Hokies announced Tuesday they would move on without Fuente, and Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz is in limbo following the Monday firing of athletic director Blake James.

Defensive line coach J.C. Price will serve as Virginia Tech’s interim coach for the last two regular-season games. Diaz is set to coach Miami’s next two games before his future is announced.


Steve Sarkisian, Texas

That loss to lowly Kansas didn’t sit well in Austin, and neither does the Longhorns’ current five-game losing streak. The noise got so loud that athletic director Chris Del Conte was moved to issue a statement of support for Sarkisian on Tuesday.

Texas just paid $24 million to buy out Tom Herman and his assistants last year, and it would cost $42 million right now if the Longhorns called it quits with Sarkisian and his staff.

Not to say money is no object, but Texas isn’t a place known for patience, and Sark’s seat will be on fire if he doesn’t win out and get to a bowl.