Mandatory Credit: Photo by Charles Baus/CSM/Shutterstock (13615568j) USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams #13 throws a pass during the NCAA football game between the USC Trojans and the California Golden Bears at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. Mandatory Photo Credit : Charles Baus/CSM NCAA Football California vs USC, Los Angeles, USA – 05 Nov 2022
We have hit Week 12 of the college football season, and the fight for the playoff and major bowl games is ramping up. Many programs outside of the great state of Texas are trying to prove themselves worthy of a primetime spot at the end of the year. Here, we cover the best matchups from outside the region.
No. 7 USC @ No. 16 UCLA
Game Time: 7 p.m. CT
TV/Radio: FOX/Sirius XM 83 & 84
If it were not for a one-point loss to Utah in mid-October, USC would likely be a favorite for the college football playoff in Lincoln Riley’s first year. Instead, they need a bunch of help to get in. With that said, the final two games on their schedule will be against quality opponents bolstering their resume should they prevail in those matchups. Their last road test of the season is a tough one at UCLA, which has been giving everyone in the PAC-12 fits all season. However, nobody can deny the explosiveness of the Trojans’ offense. QB Caleb Williams has been shredding teams all season and has put up video-game-like numbers as a result. Williams has thrown for over 3,000 yards for 31 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He has also contributed six touchdowns as a runner. The combination of Williams and star WR Jordan Addison has been something to watch all year. The Trojans tout third-ranked scoring offense and seventh-ranked total offense doing it from all facets. Lincoln Riley’s offenses are always explosive, but the impact he has had and how quickly he has had it is impressive. This defense needs work. They are beating teams by outscoring them, not by stopping them. The Trojans are giving up over 400 yards of offense per game and are amongst the bottom of FBS in points allowed. This could prove to be an issue against a fast-paced Chip Kelly offense on the road. If USC can control the ball and force UCLA to play at their pace by converting on third down and running the ball effectively, USC could easily maintain their one-loss record.
The Bruins are coming off a bad loss to Arizona at home and need to regroup. We all know what this offense can do on a good day. They play fast, and they play physical. With that said, they have the same issue as USC. They do not stop anybody from scoring. UCLA ranks outside of the top 100 in points per game allowed and gives up just under 400 yards per game. It has been a tough season defensively for them, but the high-powered offense is still something to be feared. QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson is a huge playmaker with both his legs and his arm and has shown it consistently over the course of the year. DTR is completing 71% of his passes for 20 touchdowns and only four picks. The advantage for UCLA lies in the hands of RB Zach Charbonnet, who can take over a game at any given moment. He has been one of the most impactful tailbacks in the country and has put the Bruins in positions to win with his ability to break out for chunk yards. UCLA can control the clock running the offense through Charbonnet and make it difficult for USC to gain momentum. Expect this game to be a shootout with two high-flying offenses against defenses that leave much to be desired.
No. 10 Utah @ No. 12 Oregon
Game Time: 9:30 p.m. CT
TV/Radio: ESPN/Sirius XM 81 & 197
Utah is riding a four-game winning streak coming into what will be one of its toughest matchups of the season. Winning in Eugene is never easy, but Utah has the formula to get it done. The Utes run an offense that focuses on running the football effectively with both RB Tavion Thomas and QB Cameron Rising. This is a team that ranks in the top 35 nationally in rushing yards per game. Rising has been a reliable QB all season, which has shown how dynamic he can be in big games. He has led the Utes to a top-four PAC-12 offense and the 12th-rankedth ranked scoring offense in the country. The key to this game for Utah is if they can take advantage of Oregon’s secondary, which ranks last in the conference. This Ducks defense gives up almost 300 yards through the air, and Rising has the arm to exploit that. He has thrown for over 2,200 yards at a 66.3% clip, with 19 touchdowns and four interceptions on the season. Defensively, Utah has held up well with a solid front and a formidable run defense. However, against top-tier offenses, they have struggled, giving up over 500 yards to UCLA and USC and surrendering 450 yards to Florida earlier in the year. Oregon has an extremely explosive offense, and though Utah’s defense plays with great toughness, evidence has shown they can be vulnerable.
Oregon’s offense is nasty. Plain and simple. They are ranked fourth in the country in both total offense and scoring offense. They are one of the best teams nationally on third down, they hit you from all angles, and they have done it to everyone they have played. QB Bo Nix has put together a phenomenal season completing over 73% of his throws for 24 touchdowns and five picks. WR Troy Franklin has been magnificent as the Ducks’ top target. The RB duo of Mar’Keise Irving and Noah Whittington are averaging around 6.5 yards per carry. Not to mention Nix running for an astonishing 14 touchdowns this year. Outside of the Week 1 blowout loss to Georgia, this team has blown out almost everybody. However, they are coming off a tough loss to Washington last week and need to rebound. This offense will play with a chip on their shoulder, but will this defense continue to get smacked in the mouth? This Oregon secondary has been a problem all season, and Utah can expose it quickly. Oregon needs to take advantage of the home crowd and control the tempo of the game. Let the backs run and allow Nix to work behind the run game. If Oregon can continue to score at will while also limiting Utah’s offensive opportunities by keeping them off the field, it could be a fun day for the Ducks.