The Week 12 college football schedule features an underrated Sun Belt tilt as well as one of the Pac-12’s fabled rivalries.
Nah, the Big 12 lead won’t be on the line, like it will when Oklahoma travels to Morgantown to face West Virginia. And there are no skirmishes of divisional leaders, such as the Pac-12 showdown between Colorado and Washington State. Still, the following beneath-the-radar gems are packed with juicy storylines and compelling subplots, and they warrant your time and attention in Week 12.
6. Tulsa (7-3) at UCF (6-4)
Two of this year’s upstarts in the American meet in Orlando, both looking to improve their postseason outlook.
The Knights and the Golden Hurricane have already exceeded preseason expectations out of the East and West Divisions, respectively. But especially the Knights, which lost every game in 2015, yet are shockingly bowl-eligible under first-year head coach Scott Frost. On one side of this study in contrasts is a Tulsa offense averaging 42 points per game and featuring a pair of 1,000-yard rushers, James Flanders and D’Angelo Brewer. On the other is UCF, which leads the league in sacks and takeaways, and has not allowed a touchdown in more than seven quarters.
5. Miami (6-4) at NC State (5-5)
No impact on the ACC standings. But a very big game for both coaching staffs.
Now that Mark Richt has ridden out the choppy waters of his first season at Miami, he really wants to carry momentum into the bowl game. The Canes have battled back from a four-game losing streak to easily handle Pitt and Virginia behind a balanced offense and an opportunistic D. Week 12 is even more important to NC State coach Dave Doeren, who can ill-afford a bowl-less December. The Pack got to 5-5 at Syracuse last Saturday, but with a trip to Chapel Hill still left Doeren must hold serve this week or else a losing season is likely.
4. Arkansas State (5-4) at Troy (8-1)
Earlier this week, Troy became the first Sun Belt team to ever enter the Top 25. On Thursday, the Trojans have a chance to move another giant step closer to a league championship.
Neal Brown’s Trojans cleared an enormous hurdle a week ago, beating Appalachian State in the final minute. However, they’ll have to get right back up this week, while tuning out the Top 25 noise, because Arkansas State has come out of nowhere to join the race. The Red Wolves were once 0-4, including a loss to FCS Central Arkansas. But they’ve won five straight, with linemen Chris Odom and Ja’Von Rolland-Jones wreaking havoc off the edge. If Troy takes ASU lightly this week, it’ll be at its own peril.