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College Football Watch Guide - Week 12

The Big Ten West isn’t the only division that’s a mess right now, but it’s in a class of its own

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 12 Arizona at UCLA Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Have you ever stopped and pondered some of the really big questions in life? From the earliest Greek philosophers to today, mankind has searched for answers like “what is the true meaning of life”, or “are humans unique and alone in an uncaring universe”, and “is there another life after death”. But throughout history one question has stumped even the keenest of minds.

“Just who the hell is going to win the Big Ten West?”

By now you’re likely well aware of the four team tie atop the division, with Illinois, Iowa, Purdue, and Minnesota all holding a 4-3 conference record. How we ended up in this position is brain melting enough, but looking at the tiebreaker scenarios for each team might just make your head explode.

Way back in my week 3 guide I lauded the Sun Belt as the bringers of chaos to the college football world due to their three upsets the previous week. But in terms of pure anarchy nothing comes close to the Big Ten West this year.

It’s just astounding to have a situation in which four teams have a shot to come out on top but none of them can do it simply by winning the remainder of their games. Each of the four need some form of help along the way. How is something like that possible? At this point, I’m starting to suspect that each team’s coach is now in on the act and actively trying to muddy the waters further. It’s like some reverse Rube Goldberg machine of cascading chain reactions that only makes the situation worse. The question is no longer “who will win the Big Ten West”, but “does anybody even want to?”

Thursday, November 17

Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
SMU @ #21 Tulane 6:30 PM ESPN WatchESPN

Friday, November 18

Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
South Florida @ Tulsa 8:00 PM ESPN 2 WatchESPN
San Diego State @ New Mexico 8:45 PM FS1

Saturday, November 19

Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Matchup Time (CT) TV Streaming
Navy @ #20 UCF 10:00 AM ESPN 2 WatchESPN
Illinois @ #3 Michigan 11:00 AM ABC WatchESPN
#4 TCU @ Baylor 11:00 AM FOX
Austin Peay @ #8 Alabama 11:00 AM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Louisiana @ #19 Florida State 11:00 AM ESPN 3 WatchESPN
East Tennessee State @ Mississippi State 11:00 AM ESPN+ WatchESPN
UMass @ Texas A&M 11:00 AM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Florida @ Vanderbilt 11:00 AM SEC Network WatchESPN
UConn @ Army 11:00 AM CBSSN
Virginia Tech @ Liberty 11:00 AM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Wisconsin @ Nebraska 11:00 AM ESPN WatchESPN
Northwestern @ Purdue 11:00 AM FS1
Indiana @ Michigan State 11:00 AM BTN
Duke @ Pittsburgh 11:00 AM ACC Network WatchESPN
UTSA @ Rice 12:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
#15 Kansas State @ West Virginia 1:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Washington State @ Arizona 1:00 PM PAC-12 Network
Houston @ East Carolina 1:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
North Alabama @ Memphis 1:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Georgia State @ James Madison 1:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
#23 Oregon State @ Arizona State 1:15 PM ESPN 2 WatchESPN
Boston College @ #18 Notre Dame 1:30 PM NBC Peacock
Old Dominion @ Appalachian State 1:30 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
#1 Georgia @ Kentucky 2:30 PM CBS
#2 Ohio State @ Maryland 2:30 PM ABC WatchESPN
Miami @ #09 Clemson 2:30 PM ESPN WatchESPN
#11 Penn State @ Rutgers 2:30 PM BTN
#24 NC State @ Louisville 2:30 PM ACC Network WatchESPN
Texas @ Kansas 2:30 PM FS1
Akron @ Buffalo 2:30 PM CBSSN
Utah Tech @ BYU 2:30 PM ESPN 3 WatchESPN
South Alabama @ Southern Miss 2:30 PM NFL Network
UL Monroe @ Troy 2:30 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Louisiana Tech @ Charlotte 2:30 PM ESPN 3 WatchESPN
Florida Atlantic @ Middle Tennessee 2:30 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Iowa @ Minnesota 3:00 PM FOX
#25 Cincinnati @ Temple 3:00 PM ESPN U WatchESPN
Florida International @ UTEP 3:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Western Kentucky @ Auburn 3:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
Arkansas State @ Texas State 4:00 PM ESPN 3 WatchESPN
Georgia Tech @ #13 North Carolina 4:30 PM ESPN 2 WatchESPN
Stanford @ Cal 4:30 PM PAC-12 Network
Marshall @ Georgia Southern 5:00 PM ESPN+ WatchESPN
#5 Tennessee @ South Carolina 6:00 PM ESPN WatchESPN
Texas Tech @ Iowa State 6:00 PM FS1
Boise State @ Wyoming 6:00 PM CBSSN
#14 Ole Miss @ Arkansas 6:30 PM SEC Network WatchESPN
New Mexico State @ Missouri 6:30 PM ESPN U WatchESPN
#22 Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma 6:30 PM ABC WatchESPN
#7 USC @ #16 UCLA 7:00 PM FOX
Syracuse @ Wake Forest 7:00 PM ACC Network WatchESPN
UAB @ #6 LSU 8:00 PM ESPN 2 WatchESPN
Colorado @ #17 Washington 8:00 PM PAC-12 Network
Colorado State @ Air Force 8:00 PM FS2
San Jose State @ Utah State 8:45 PM FS1
#10 Utah @ #12 Oregon 9:30 PM ESPN WatchESPN
Fresno State @ Nevada 9:30 PM CBSSN
UNLV @ Hawai'i 10:00 PM N/A N/A

#4 TCU @ Baylor - How ‘bout them Horned Frogs? It seems each week people expect the Cinderella season to crash down around them but each week the Hypnotoads refuse to quit. Last week TCU shut down Quinn Ewers and the Texas Longhorns and now sit at #4 nationally. With Tennessee knocking on the door to the CFP top four, the Frogs need to keep their eye on the ball and not have a letdown against Baylor.

Northwestern @ Purdue - Purdue has arguably the easiest path route to a divisional championship out of the four, as their remaining schedule consists of Northwestern and Indiana. Never say never in this division, but if Iowa falls to the rodents it’s hard to see anyone else but the Boilers making the trip to Indy. It’s hard to stomach it as well.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve also now entered the SEC Takes a Vacation phase of the season with half of the conference’s games involving Group of 5 competition or lower. I’m not going to argue whether or not the SEC is the nation’s best conference, but it’s kind of a disappointment to get this deep into the season only to see games like Austin Peay @ #8 Alabama, East Tennessee State @ Mississippi State, or UAB @ #6 LSU. I’d throw UMass @ Texas A&M and New Mexico State @ Missouri into that group as well but, to be honest, upsets there wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

It just means more.

Speaking of the SEC, they’re one of the two conferences, the other being the ACC, to have already wrapped up their conference championship games. Therefore, unless you’re a team within spitting distance of the CFP you’re not playing for much more than bowl position and pride. Miami @ #9 Clemson has an outside chance of being on upset watch, but with the way the Hurricanes have fizzled this season I don’t hold out much hope, and Syracuse @ Wake Forest Saturday night features two ACC teams who have both fallen out of the top 25. It’s not a pretty picture for the ACC right now.

Northwestern v Minnesota Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Naturally, my attention will be on Iowa @ Minnesota come Saturday afternoon. The Hawkeyes are faced with two winnable games, but the Gophers look to be the tougher of the two. Like Iowa, Minnesota boasts a stingy defense, so we may not be seeing many fireworks, but whenever Floyd is on the line anything goes.

As wild as the Big Ten West is, it has a kindred spirit in the entire Pac-12. As soon as one team emerges as the favorite to carry the banner of west coast football they fall flat on their face. At first it was Utah, then Oregon, then UCLA, and now USC seems to be the conference’s last hope for playoff contention. However, with Pac-12 championship slots up for grabs it should make for some great fun. #7 USC @ #16 UCLA has the history and tradition behind it and the Trojans needing to not stub their toe to stay in the playoff hunt adds intrigue. #10 Utah @ #12 Oregon ought to be an offensive spectacle and both teams need a win to keep their championship hopes alive. Lots of fun will be had after dark it seems.

And just like that we’ve got one regular season week left. Start training your stomachs for Thanksgiving and let’s ride out the rest of this weird, wonderful, memorable year of college football.