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College football Week 12 preview: Michael Penix Jr, Washington travel to Oregon State in Pac-12 clash

College football Week 12 preview: Michael Penix Jr, Washington travel to Oregon State in Pac-12 clash

With just two weeks left of the 2023 college football season, there is still potential for absolute chaos in the College Football Playoff (CFP). 

With each of the Power Five conferences having one team – and some two – that can make a case for the CFP this late in the year, the potential for hard feelings is a real possibility. 

In the Pac-12, Oregon and Washington both have paths to the CFP, while the SEC still has undefeated Georgia and a one-loss Alabama looking better with each week. The Big 12 has one-loss Texas, which has the advantage of beating the Crimson Tide in Week 2, and Florida State remains the ACC’s only hope of a playoff team as they look to finish the year undefeated.

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The Big Ten has undefeated Michigan and Ohio State, which will square off in Week 13 with the Big Ten East title on the line. 

Chaos could be coming to college football, but the Week 12 slate may not be the one to create it. 

Let’s take a look at a few games to be aware of on Saturday. The CFP rankings are reflected below.

While the matchup in Tucson, Arizona, will have no impact on the CFP, it is still a game worth tuning into. 

The Wildcats have won four games in a row – including three straight wins over top-25 teams – after defeating Deion Sanders and the Colorado Buffaloes in Week 11. 

Head coach Jedd Fisch has quickly turned around a program that won just one game in his first season and now has his Wildcats ranked for the first time since 2017.

Arizona is getting it done with quarterback Noah Fifita, who has now thrown for 16 touchdowns and four interceptions on the year. 

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Utah enters Saturday’s contest losers of two of their last three games after battling Washington down to the wire in Week 11. 

Despite allowing 457 total yards to the Huskies, the Utes defense is still second in the Pac-12 in yards allowed (299.8) and third in points allowed per game (17.8). 

Last season, the game between Georgia and Tennessee was for all the marbles as both teams entered the game undefeated. 

The 2023 matchup does not carry the same weight, but Tennessee does have a chance to play spoiler. 

The Vols are coming off a bad loss to Missouri, losing 36-7, as the Vols turned the ball over three times. Josh Heupel’s team, one of the best rushing attacks in the country, rushed for just 83 yards against Missouri. 

They now welcome the second-best rushing defense in the SEC to Neyland Stadium. 

The Bulldogs are again at the top of the CFP rankings after back-to-back wins over top-15 opponents. 

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Against No. 9 Ole Miss on Saturday, Georgia racked up 611 yards – 300 on the ground and 311 through the air. Their win vaulted them over Ohio State in the College Football Playoff rankings and is the 27th straight victory for Kirby Smart’s team

The Bulldogs have won six straight against Tennessee and the last three games at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.

“The setup of the stadium is unique. It’s really vertical,” Smart said Wednesday on the SEC coaches teleconference, according to Knoxville News Sentinel. “It feels like they’re right on top of you. It’s right there on you. A lot of fans, very passionate fans. And that makes it tough.”

The marquee matchup of the weekend takes place in Corvallis, Oregon. 

Washington can secure a berth in the Pac-12 title game with a win, while Oregon State needs to win out and have Arizona lose one of its final two games in order to play in Las Vegas. 

It is a matchup between two very good quarterbacks in Michael Penix Jr. and DJ Uiagalelei. 

Penix has the second-best odds of winning the Heisman, while Uiagalelei has thrown for 20 touchdowns and just four interceptions in his first season with Oregon State. 

Washington’s explosive offense will be on display against an Oregon State defense that allowed 40 points to Cal and 38 points to Washington State earlier in the year. The Huskies average 503.9 yards and 378 yards per game through the air, which is the best in the country. The Beavers defense allows 331.1 yards per game, fourth-best in the Pac-12. 

For the Beavers, running back Damien Martinez has rushed for 1,024 yards and seven touchdowns on the year, and scored a school-record four touchdowns against Stanford in Week 11. 

“Oregon State still has an opportunity, if they win out, to get in the way I see it, knowing that they are going to bring everything they got,” Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer said, according to CBS Sports. “They are playing at home and they are playing well and they have good momentum and we are realizing we are going to get their best shot.”

Saturday will be the 107th meeting between the two schools.

Texas is set to depart the Big 12 after the season as they take their athletic programs to the SEC. 

The move has obviously caused the remaining Big 12 teams to circle their calendars for when they play the Longhorns, and the 6-4 Cyclones are no different. 

On Tuesday, Iowa State offensive lineman Jarrod Hufford kicked off Texas week by pouring some gas on the fire. 

“It’s going to be one heck of a farewell present,” Hofford noted, according to Outkick. “They are going to come in here on senior night in the dark. I don’t think they really know what is going to be coming for them. We’ve beaten them four out of the last five times at home. They don’t have a good record here. We have a very diss-taste in our mouth for them, definitely want to send them off to the SEC with a loss on our end.

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“Ever since I got here, it’s Iowa and Texas. That program, much like Oklahoma, they get all the 5-star recruits and have all the nicest stuff in the world and they just think they don’t stink. Just humans and that’s how I see them. They’re just people that have such a high ego that needs to be checked.”

Hofford was almost correct in his assessment. Iowa State has beaten Texas three of the last four times they have played at Jack Trice Stadium. 

However, this is the best Texas team under head coach Steve Sarkisian, who has his Longhorns in the CFP mix. 

Texas is second in the Big 12 in yards allowed per game (337.1) behind only Iowa State, who will be looking to slow down Quinn Ewers and the Texas offense. Ewers returned last week from a shoulder injury as Texas held off TCU on the road. 

“It’s getting better every day,” said Ewers. “I’m just going to keep getting treatment and keep rolling.”

While Texas escaped Fort Worth with a win, it did not get the victory without taking a major hit. 

Star running back Jonathon Brooks tore his ACL and is out for the season. Brooks led Texas with 1,139 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns and was seventh in the country in yards per game (113.9). 

  

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