Week 12 saw a number of major upsets and surprises, with Clemson losing to Pitt (6-7) and Ohio State falling to Illinois. Meanwhile, the playoff picture is beginning to emerge as we head into conference championship week. Who will make it? Keep up on all the highlights from Saturday’s games here!
College football is a sport that has been around for over a century. In the 2018 season, there are 12 games left in the regular season. The college football week 12 is this Saturday and will feature some of the best matchups of the year. Read more in detail here: college football week 13.
18 November 2021
Each game strategy starts with Michigan State defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton evaluating the opposition offense’s explosive plays.
“This week required a little more time,” Hazelton told ESPN.
On Saturday, Hazelton’s defense will face an Ohio State offense that is first in the country in yards per play (8.03), scoring (46.3 points per game), and total yards (48.3 yards per game) (550.4 yards per game). The Buckeyes have 93 plays of 20 yards or longer, with four players — wide receivers Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Garrett Wilson, and Emeka Egbuka, as well as running back TreVeyon Henderson — having 13 or more. They are coming off probably their finest offensive performance of the season, scoring 59 points, 624 yards, and eight touchdowns on their first ten drives against Purdue, the only club to defeat No. 7 Michigan State this season.
The Michigan State-Ohio State game boils down to whether the Spartans can contain the Buckeyes’ offensive long enough for their own offense, headed by Heisman Trophy contender Kenneth Walker III, to produce.
The initial target of Hazelton’s strategy is against Ohio State’s ground attack, which has shredded defenders with stretch runs. The next phase is to avoid over-the-top throws while not putting too much emphasis on a single Buckeyes receiver.
“You don’t want the safeties to go too close in there,” Hazelton said. “How do you plan on playing single-high [safety]?” What are your plans for your corners? What can you do to put an end to the chase? We’ll attempt to do it with fewer folks in the box if we can, and stick with the shell. So, the first step is to come to a halt. Two is making your umbrella over the top, and when do you have the option to bail? When are you allowed to be a little more loose?
“Three, once they do toss the ball below, you have to do a terrific job of using your leverage, rallying, and tackling so you can restrict those in front of you.”
MSU’s defensive injury issue is worth keeping an eye on, as starter linebacker Quavaris Crouch and reserve cornerback Chuck Brantley both missed the game against Maryland last week. The secondary is “getting healthier,” according to Hazelton, who cited cornerback Marqui Lowery’s greater contributions against Maryland. Xavier Henderson, a senior safety who leads MSU in total tackles (82) and tackles for loss (10) while ranking third in sacks behind ends Jacub Panasiuk and Jeff Pietrowski, will be a key player for Hazelton.
“We have certain checks off of various formations where you say, ‘X, you have to get us in the appropriate thing,’” says the narrator. Henderson, according to Hazelton. “He’s one of our brightest members. He’s done that all year and has been able to get our defense to work more often than not.”
MSU’s defense struggled against Purdue, giving up a season-high in points (40) and passing yards (536). According to Hazelton, the setback prompted players to pay greater attention to minutiae.
The Spartans continue to place a premium on takeaways, with at least one in each of their last nine games. Eight players had interceptions and nine have forced fumbles, with Pietrowski leading the way with three.
“Our players put forth a lot of work on the field,” Hazelton added. “They may appear in groups. Some players get picks, while others knock the ball out, but the ball is distributed evenly across the squad, which is a positive thing.” Adam Rittenberg’s remark
Clemson vs. No. 10 Wake Forest (noon ET, ESPN/ESPN app): As he spoke about Clemson’s must-win game against Wake Forest this week, Brent Venables kept being asked the same question.
In most cases, it is Clemson’s offense that instills terror in the hearts of opponents. Wake Forest is the winner this year. As a result, everyone turned to Venables, the Tigers’ defensive coordinator, for an explanation of how the Demon Deacons were able to totally reverse the script.
Venables’ response was short and sweet. He remarked that if this comes as a surprise to anybody, they haven’t been paying attention.
“They’ve done a fantastic job,” Venables added. “Sam Hartman has been outstanding. He’s grown and matured, and he’s got grit and instincts. He’s also making a lot of solid choices. But it’s the same old story. That’s exactly what Sam has been doing.”
Venables isn’t simply sprucing up an opponent before of a big game. Indeed, Dave Clawson’s Wake Forest offense has progressed from a talent-depleted shambles in the early years of his career to a fast-paced attack. Wake Forest is 36-22 overall this season (second in the ACC behind Clemson), averaging 35.7 points per game (second only to Clemson), and running 78.2 plays per game, the most of any team in the nation. Wake Forest has scored at least 35 points in every game this season, making them the first FBS team to accomplish so.
Wake’s offensive pyrotechnics did not appear out of nowhere.
However, even if the Deacons are an unstoppable force in 2021, Venables’ defense remains immovable. The Tigers have almost twice as many anticipated points added on defense as Pitt, which is in second place in the ACC. They’ve only given up 58 explosive plays entire season, which is the most in the ACC. In 2021, Clemson has allowed just 0.87 points per drive in regulation. Only Georgia outperforms it. While the Demon Deacons have scored 35 points in ten consecutive games, Clemson hasn’t allowed more than 27 all year (and that came in double overtime).
“On defense, they’re still pretty excellent,” Clawson said. “They’re the ACC’s best defense, and they’ll be a formidable opponent. They’re still Clemson, still males, still Brent Venables, and they’re still terrific pass rushers, tacklers, and coverage players.”
Wake, of course, has two potential trump cards. Clemson’s offense is the first. This season, the Tigers have failed to score more than 30 points on offense against a Power 5 opponent. Coach Dabo Swinney has bemoaned the fact that the Tigers would be without a single senior starter on offense against the Demon Deacons due to the absence of wide receiver Justyn Ross. True, Wake Forest has given up 97 points in its last two games, but Clemson’s offensive miscues have been mostly self-inflicted.
The pace of Wake might also be a plus. The high-speed offense is similar to what Ohio State and a few other teams have utilized in previous years to shock Clemson’s defense. Even so, it hasn’t fazed the Tigers in past meetings with Wake. Wake Forest has never scored more than 20 points against Clemson since Venables came in 2012.
However, Hartman has this year’s offense performing at a better level, and Clawson has faith in his quarterback. Avoiding catastrophic blunders might be the key. In his last two games, Hartman has five interceptions, all of which have come in shootouts. However, on Hartman’s last drive, he converted third-and-seven, third-and-nine, and third-and-13 before Justice Ellison scored the game-winning touchdown.
Clawson attributed part of the early troubles to too much energy in such a huge game, and he was delighted that his quarterback was able to regain his footing late in the game.
“Adversity and wealth are always the challenges,” Clawson remarked. “After losing to North Carolina, we handled adversity admirably. Now we must deal with the success of defeating NC State. If looking at Clemson and what they’ve meant to the league doesn’t pique your interest, we don’t stand a chance.”
Clawson said he wouldn’t be shocked if Saturday’s game ends in a 45-42 tie, but Wake Forest has had its share of 45-42 games this season.
But, as Venables pointed out, this one may not be as unlike to previous showdowns as everyone assumes. ‘David Hale’
No. 5 Cincinnati at SMU (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN app): The most important concern confronting Cincinnati isn’t about its 10 victories or No. 5 CFP rating; it’s about why, oh why, aren’t the Bearcats racking up the “style points?” The Bearcats have had to scrape and claw (pun intended) their way to victories in four consecutive games against opponents who aren’t exactly at the top of their league.
They have the opportunity to shift that narrative with a strong victory against one of the finest teams in the league in their next contest against SMU. Cincinnati would also become 11-0 for the second time in school history with a victory.
But if a convincing victory against a strong opponent is enough to sway the CFP selection committee is another question completely. Coach Luke Fickell of Cincinnati is aware of the alleged lack of style points, but he isn’t buying it.
“You have to give credit to other teams as well,” Fickell added. “At some point, I look back to the Jim Kelly era, when you’re up three touchdowns and the coach says, ‘Hey, let’s get out of this thing and run the football,’ but that’s not the way the world works now. Guys are tossing it and firing away when they’re down three or four scores. I believe we recognize this and recognize that we must do a better job of being sound in our actions. I think it’s always been a bit of our Achilles’ heel defensively, which is that you get upset when huge things happen, and then it compounds. I believe there are a few little things we can do a better job of closing out.”
Focusing too much on the eventual product detracts from what has already been done. Cincinnati didn’t start 10-0 by accident. The four-year seniors have a better chance than any other group in school history of winning more games. The four-year seniors are 41-6 heading into the game, tying for the most wins in a four-year span in school history (2006-09).
Desmond Ridder, a fifth-year senior quarterback, is 24-0 all-time at Nippert Stadium and will be recognized on Saturday among the other seniors.
“Coming out here for our final guaranteed chance to play on Nippert is going to be a really meaningful experience,” Ridder said. “I could attempt to predict the sequence of my feelings, but I don’t believe I’ll know for sure until I walk out onto that field and hear my name called.” Andrea Adelson’s remark
(7:30 p.m. ET, ABC): No. 3 Oregon takes on No. 23 Utah. Both Oregon and Utah have a chance to clinch their respective divisions in Saturday’s game, which will likely serve as a preview of the Pac-12 championship game on Dec. 3.
The stakes are considerably greater for Oregon, which is on track to return to the College Football Playoff for the first time since the format’s inception in 2014. Given that the Ducks are currently rated higher than Cincinnati and have a tougher schedule ahead of them, it’s difficult to see a scenario in which they are left out of the four-team field if they win out. In that sense, this is effectively a playoff game for Oregon, since a defeat would almost certainly eliminate the Ducks from contention.
Utah is in a peculiar predicament because of Oregon’s status: if the Utes lose this game, they may have a greater chance of playing in the Rose Bowl. This is why: As previously said, if Oregon wins out, it will advance to the playoffs, which means the Pac-12’s Rose Bowl spot will likely be given to the next highest-ranked Pac-12 club… Utah (probably). The Ducks, on the other hand, would be the team heading to Pasadena if they lose to Utah this week and then win the Pac-12 championship game rematch. Utah would obviously like to win the remaining of its games, win the conference championship, and go to Pasadena that way, but a defeat wouldn’t be so horrible.
Oregon (6-1) and Utah (6-1) have comparable records after seven league games. Utah (38.4 points per game) is slightly ahead of Oregon (34.2) in scoring and has allowed just five fewer points (162 to 167). Both teams are outgunning their opponents by 99.0 yards per game (693 total), and their turnover margins are practically equal (Utah +3; Oregon +2).
They have the conference’s two most efficient scoring offenses (Utah at 3.33 points per drive; Oregon at 2.91). Utah also has a minor advantage on defense, allowing only 1.96 points per drive compared to Oregon’s 2.04 and committing just 4.29 penalties per game compared to Oregon’s 7.86. Kyle Bonagura (Kyle Bonagura)
Texas Tech at No. 9 Oklahoma State (8 p.m. ET, Fox): The Oklahoma State Cowboys have a vast, broad route to a Big 12 championship waiting for them all of a sudden.
The first opponent is a Texas Tech team that is coming off a 41-38 win over Iowa State under interim coach Sonny Cumbie, making the Red Raiders bowl eligible despite firing coach Matt Wells three weeks ago, and with the Red Raiders’ third-string quarterback seeing significant playing time for the first time.
Coach Mike Gundy seemed to be confident in Oklahoma State’s direction after the Cowboys’ most complete game of the season, a 63-17 thrashing of TCU.
“Yeah, I mean, we just — in all three stages, we have a pretty decent notion of who we are now,” Gundy said on Monday. “So, don’t attempt to achieve something we’re not capable of, but also make sure we’re focusing on the critical areas so that we can improve each game. I mean, a hallmark of a good football team and a well-coached football team is a team that improves week after week, and I believe we’ve progressed each week. I’m pleased with that aspect of our program this year, and we simply need to keep going in the same direction.”
Spencer Sanders of the Cowboys threw three interceptions against Baylor, but just three in the previous eight games this season. In the previous two games, against West Virginia and TCU, he has progressively improved, completing 68 percent of his passes.
“Quarterbacks need to understand that we don’t have to call a good play every time,” Gundy said. “So, as the year progresses, he’s developing a better sense of it, in my perspective, but we’re also safeguarding better. In the past four weeks, we’ve done a better job of protecting him than we did in the first four weeks. That’s why he’s improving his game.”
The Cowboys have a 78 percent probability of beating Texas Tech, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index. The Cowboys have a 32 percent chance of making the playoffs, which is the fifth best among all teams, according to ESPN’s Allstate Playoff Predictor. If the Cowboys win out, Oklahoma State has an 88 percent probability of making the playoffs. A victory paired with either an Oklahoma win over Iowa State or a Baylor defeat at Kansas State could put Oklahoma State in the Big 12 championship game as early as this week. Dave Wilson is an author.
The “college football week 12 tv schedule” is a list of games that are scheduled for the upcoming week. The list includes the game time, network that will be airing the game, and whether or not there is an online stream available.
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