With rivalry week on the horizon next week, college football’s undefeated teams were perhaps looking ahead.
No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 TCU all had to survive some close calls on Saturday.
Ohio State held off a furious late rally from Maryland to win 43-30, Michigan beat Illinois 19-17 on a field goal with 9 seconds to play, and TCU prevailed 29-28 over Baylor on their own last-second field goal.
Even No. 1 Georgia had a less-than-convincing 16-6 victory over Kentucky. In the end, everyone got the job done to get up a high-stakes final weekend of the regular season.
But tonight the spotlight moves to the Pac-12.
USC is the conference’s lone team remaining in the College Football Playoff race, and its challenging final stretch begins with a crosstown trip to UCLA on Saturday night.
There’s also another excellent matchup out in Eugene as Oregon hosts Utah with significant Pac-12 title implications at stake.
(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
Time: 7:30 p.m. | TV: SECN | Line: Ole Miss -2.5 | Total: 64
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin was so close to getting a win over his former boss, Alabama’s Nick Saban, but the Rebels fell 30-24 in heartbreaking fashion. Now the 8-2 Rebels are eliminated from SEC West contention and have to go take a trip to face Arkansas. A night game in Fayetteville is never easy, and Ole Miss will likely try to lean heavily on its running game like it has all year. Arkansas, meanwhile, is just 5-5 on the year and will need to pull off the upset and clinch bowl eligibility.
Time: 8 p.m. | TV: Fox | Line: USC -2.5 | Total: 75.5
It’s a huge weekend in the Pac-12 as USC is the conference’s last remaining contender for the playoff. USC’s offense, led by quarterback Caleb Williams, has been playing at a high level. Its defense has not. Things have played out similarly for UCLA. The Bruins, who are still fighting to reach the Pac-12 title game, have a stellar running game led by QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson and RB Zach Charbonnet. Those two need to have big nights for UCLA to pull off the upset, especially with the way the defense has been struggling in recent weeks.
Time: 10:30 p.m. | TV: EuroJournal | Line: Utah -1.5 | Total: 61.5
Like the USC-UCLA game, this matchup is massive for the Pac-12 title race. Both Utah and Oregon are 6-1 in conference play, a half-game behind 7-1 USC and a game in front of UCLA and Washington, both of whom are 5-2.
QB injuries will factor heavily into this one. While Utah QB Cam Rising seems to be back after missing a game a few weeks back, Oregon’s Bo Nix is much more of a question mark. He seemed to hurt his foot or ankle late in last week’s heartbreaking loss to Washington. The coaching staff has remained quiet about Nix’s status, but the fact that Oregon went from a 3-point favorite to a 1.5-point underdog on Wednesday night says a lot. If Nix can’t go, Ty Thompson will get the nod in this crucial matchup.