US College Football: Race at the top heats up

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It's week 12 in the NCAAF as the college football campaign begins to draw to a close and there's several big match-ups this weekend.

Mike Gundy MB

We are reaching the business end of the college football season as Week 12 gets underway. The script got flipped two weeks ago when red-hot favourites Clemson were beaten 47-40 by Notre Dame to drop down to fourth spot in the rankings. However, that came without star quarterback Trevor Lawrence, and the Tigers are expected to bounce back in style this week when they take on Florida State.

Notre Dame’s famous victory pushed them up to number two in the college football rankings, and after beating Boston College last week the Fighting Irish now have the week off.

The Alabama Crimson Tide are ranked number one, having got off to a perfect 6-0 start, and should add another win when they face the Kentucky Wildcats.

Ohio Host Hoosiers in Standout Clash

Without question, the biggest game on Saturday emanates from Columbus when the third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes host the ninth-ranked Indiana Hoosiers.

It would not be an overstatement to say that this is the biggest game in decades for Indiana. They are now a top ten team against all odds, and many don’t believe they deserve to be there. It is now put up or shut up time, and their one chance to prove their hot start isn’t a fluke.

The Hoosiers are three-score underdogs, but young quarterback Michael Penix Jnr has shown plenty of promise and should take confidence from Rutgers putting 27 on the Buckeyes’ defence. This one could wind up being a lot closer than people realise, defying the match odds which have the Hoosiers as a 15/2 chance and Ohio 2/25 to win.

Bearcats have Much to Prove Still

Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bearcats are currently ranked number seven, the highest of any non-power conference team. However, much like Indiana, a lot of people are sceptical about this Cincinnati team and oddsmakers have them as a favourite of less than a touchdown against the UCF Knights.

The Bearcats are 1/2 to win, while the Knights are 33/20 to prevail.

The Bearcats have not faced the toughest schedule, while the Knights have just put up three dominant victories after a poor start to the season. UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel has been phenomenal with 23 touchdowns and just two interceptions so far, and could propel the Knights to their fourth straight win.

Oklhahoma Scrap a Fitting Saturday Finale

Saturday’s great slate of games comes to a close with a truly mouthwatering rivalry clash between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Oklahoma Sooners.

The Cowboys, who are 11/5 in the Money Line, are currently ranked 14th and boast one of the best defences their conference (the Big 12) has seen in years. The Sooners, meanwhile, are in a bit of a transitional period after being red-hot contenders for the past few years.

Despite this, Oklahoma are still favourites of about a touchdown (4/11 – Money Line) for this game and it’s tricky to understand why that is. Sure, they have home-field advantage, but Oklahoma State’s sole loss this season was a close, unfortunate one to Texas, and you’ve got to think the Cowboys will be fired up here.

This clash also has huge consequences for who will wind up in the Big 12 Championship game at the end of the season. History might not be on Oklahoma State’s side, having won this annual matchup just two times since 2002, but they won’t get a better shot to put one over their fierce rivals than right here.

*All odds correct at time of writing

Chris is broadcast and written journalist with a wealth of experience, across a number of different sports. As well covering football on the radio, he is a regular online and print contributor on the likes of rugby union, American Football and Formula One.

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