Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:56 AM
Saturday's Essentials - Week 12
Here’s a look at what must be considered before wagering on Saturday's slate in select FBS vs. FBS matchups:
Georgia (-3/42) at Auburn, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS: The Tigers hope Jordan-Hare can help produce victories over the Dawgs and Crimson Tide this month, but need to get more out of freshman Bo Nix, who has had an uneven first season at the controls. If Gus Malzahn’s impressive streak of regular-season wins coming off a bye reaches 12, he’ll need to find a way to solve a Georgia defense that has blanked two of their last three opponents and should be ready for its toughest remaining challenge until a potential SEC Championship matchup with LSU. The week off gave RB JaTarvious “Boobee” Whitlow time to heal up from arthroscopic knee surgery so he’s expected close to 100 percent. DE Marlon Davidson and safety Jeremiah Dinson will also be available, so the Tigers are as healthy as they’ve been all season. Georgia is pretty healthy too, and has kept QB Jake Fromm from being sacked more effectively than any team in the country with the exception of Air Force.
Texas at Iowa State (-7/65), 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS: The Cyclones have lost four games by a combined margin of 11 points and are heavily favored over the Longhorns despite back-to-back losses. This spread is definitely a bit of an eyebrow raiser when you consider the athletes Tom Herman has recruited to Austin and the fact they’re still firmly in the mix for a Big 12 Championship game berth. The Longhorns will have to overcome Jalen Green’s suspension for targeting in the first half and are hoping Chris Brown can return from an arm injury to help offset that absence. Brock Purdy has been terrific after a slow start and has now thrown 20 touchdowns on the season and should eclipse 3,000 yards for the season here. Texas QB Sam Ehlinger helped beat K-State 27-24 with a 13-play game-winning drive last week and should be a handful for a Cyclones defense that just had to deal with Jalen Hurts for four quarters.
Minnesota at Iowa (-3/44.5), 4 p.m. ET, ABC: The Hawkeyes have come up 0-for-3 against ranked opponents but have mate late pushes in games against Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin, so they haven’t worn down physically. They’re favored over the Gophers despite losing 51-14 in Minneapolis last season. The Gophers are looking to avoid a fifth straight loss in the series and haven’t won since in Iowa City since 1999, dropping eight consecutive matchups there. Coming off an upset of Penn State in which QB Tanner Morgan completed 90 percent of his passes in a national coming out party, Minnesota will need to run the football effectively against Iowa to win back the Floyd of Rosedale in one of the day’s biggest games.
LSU (-21.5/66) at Ole Miss, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN: The Tigers hit the road again looking to avoid a letdown after last week’s immense conquest of Alabama. The home team has won five of six in the series, but LSU has won the last three matchups by a combined margin of 123-61. Ed Orgeron has dominated against his former employer and has the best offense he’s had by a wide margin with Heisman frontrunner Joe Burrow dominating and separating himself as the nation’s top quarterback after 457 yards and three scores in Tuscaloosa. After being treated like heroes upon their return to Baton Rouge, it will be interesting to see how the Tigers handle a trip to Oxford. Ole Miss snapped a three-game losing streak with a 41-3 rout of New Mexico State and will be playing their final home game of the season. In order to reach a bowl, the Rebs have to pull off this upset and win the Egg Bowl in Starkville on Thanksgiving night. Freshman John Rhys Plumlee took most of the snaps at QB last week and appears to have moved far ahead enough of redshirt freshman Matt Corral that most anticipate he’ll wind up transferring..
Oklahoma (-10.5/68) at Baylor, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC: The Sooners and Bears may meet again in the Big 12 Championship, but it’s Oklahoma that most needs this win. Despite a loss at Kansas State to close out October, Oklahoma remains ahead of unbeaten Baylor in the CFP rankings and will look to get back into the national title race despite their hiccup. Last week’s 42-41 win over Iowa State saw the Sooners outscored 20-0 in the fourth quarter so there is no chance they’ll arrive in Waco overconfident. More offensive line changes are likely to be necessary since tackle Adrian Ealy is uncertain to play. Safety Robert Barnes is questionable and standout tight end Grant Calcaterra remains out. Baylor QB Charlie Brewer is fun to watch and competes hard, so hopefully he’s able to hold up physically through this one. In senior WR Denzel Sims, he’ll have one of the nation’s most dynamic receivers to try and do damage. Oklahoma scored 66 points in last year’s win, doubling up the Bears. Baylor’s last win in the series came in 2014.
UCLA at Utah (-21/52), 8 p.m. ET, FOX: With a visit to Arizona and a home game against Colorado on tap after this one, the Utes look like a good bet to finish as Pac-12 South Division champs if they can get past the Bruins here. That means USC is stuck pulling for its rival since it owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with Utah and would therefore control its own destiny in next week’s matchup. UCLA has won three straight games and can get back to .500 after opening 0-3 and dropping five of their first six. The Bruins are 2-1 against ranked opponents and coming in off a bye week but haven’t beaten a Top-10 team since 2010. Dorian Thompson-Robinson has thrown multiple touchdown passes in each of his team’s last three wins but will need to make plays with his legs to keep drives alive against the stingy Utes. UCLA WR Kyle Phillips is expected to play but Theo Howard has been lost for the season, so we’ll see if the Bruins have enough depth at the skill positions to flirt with an upset. Bruins RB Joshua Kelley leads the Pac-12 in rushing yards per game (107.6). Utah leads the country in rushing defense (56.0) and has allowed just 12.2 points per contest. Temperatures are supposed to be in the 40s throughout this one.
Late Night Snacks
Arizona at Oregon (-27.5/68), 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN: The Ducks can only take care of the business in front of them and hope it ends up rewarded with a CFP invite since they close against the ‘Cats, Sun Devils and Beavers. They’ll be heavy favorites in all three games and will get either Utah or USC in the Pac-12 Championship, so style points would serve them well. The Wildcats are nearly a four-touchdown underdog despite winning last year’s meeting 44-15 in Tucson. Khalil Tate has only finished one of his last four starts and has thrown eight interceptions, which is one reason Kevin Sumlin has given freshman Grant Gunnell more time. The Ducks are preparing to see both and will have RBs CJ Verdell and Cyrus Habibi-Likio in the lineup behind Justin Herbert. Oregon has averaged over 44 points per game over its last four games. The ‘over’ has connected in their last three contests.
USC (-4.5/47.5) at California, 11 p.m. ET, FS1: The big news here is the Bears getting QB Chase Garbers after being sidelined for the past month-plus due to an upper body injury. Cal’s offense has been difficult to watch without Garbers, who had thrown for nearly 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns prior to being injured against Arizona State. Garbers was at the helm for last season’s 15-14 upset of the Trojans that ended a 14-game losing streak for the Bears in the series. USC won in Berkeley 30-20 in 2017 and will lean on freshman QB Kedon Slovis, who threw for 297 yards and four touchdowns in a quarter against Arizona State last week and has really gotten great chemistry going with his talented receiving corps. Senior Tyler Vaughns is listed as questionable. Cal is playing its final home game of the season. Last year’s team lost their finale at Memorial Stadium to Stanford.
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA