Games to Watch: Week 12

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No. 1 Mississippi State at No. 5 Alabama

Bryant-Denny Stadium

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

CBS

The wild West division of the SEC, which has been incredibly unpredictable this season, has arguably its biggest game of the season this weekend, with what might end up being the de facto division championship game. Mississippi State has had a dream season so far, going 9-0 and posting three straight wins against then-ranked opponents, the biggest being a 38-23 win over then-No. 2 Auburn. Junior Heisman hopeful Dak Prescott has led the way for the Bulldogs with 2,231 passing yards, 18 passing touchdowns and another 11 on the ground. But Alabama, despite not being the same as the team that won back-to-back titles, has managed to hang around in the top ten in the rankings. Senior quarterback Blake Sims has been steady overall with 2,243 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and just three interceptions. The winner will have the inside track to get into the SEC title game and be the conference’s representative in the playoffs.

No. 16 Nebraska at No. 20 Wisconsin

Camp Randall Stadium

Madison, Wisconsin

Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

ABC

To say the Big Ten has flown under the radar this season would be an understatement. The conference has had only one real showcase game, which came last week when Ohio State dismantled Michigan State and possibly cost the conference a spot in the playoffs. But Nebraska and Wisconsin have quietly worked their way into the middle of the rankings and will square off in the most underrated game of the weekend. Nebraska has put together a pretty solid season, aside from a five-point loss to Michigan State. Wisconsin has had a similar year, with a loss to LSU to start the season and a bad loss at Northwestern. This should be an interesting game, pitting the Cornhuskers’ 10th-ranked scoring offense against the Badgers’ third-ranked
scoring defense.

No. 9 Auburn at No. 15 Georgia

Sanford Stadium

Athens, Georgia

Saturday, 6:15 p.m.

ESPN

At one point, this appeared to be a preview of the SEC title game. Auburn was poised to find a way to survive the brutal West division, and Georgia was head and shoulders above the rest of the East. But, after a couple tough losses, there’s a very real chance neither team will make it into the conference championship game. The Tigers could not hang on to the ball to save their playoff lives late last week against Texas A&M, in another cataclysmic upset in the SEC West. Georgia, without suspended junior running back Todd Gurley, has struggled, most notably falling to Florida two weeks ago. The Bulldogs need to win this game to have a shot at making the SEC title game, and, although both teams are out of the national championship hunt, there’s still a lot to play for in this one.

No. 23 Utah at Stanford

Stanford Stadium

Stanford, California

Saturday, 5:00 p.m.

Pac-12 Network

When Utah joined the Pac-12, there was wonder as to whether the “mid-major” could hang with the top teams in a “big-boy conference,” but, while they’re not at the summit of the Pac-12, they are surviving and have found themselves with a respectable ranking. The Utes have only one bad loss — a one-point defeat to Washington State — and one has to wonder how they would have fared against Oregon had senior receiver Kaelin Clay not dropped the ball en route to a touchdown, letting Oregon score instead. Stanford, on the other hand, has had a down year by its standards, dropping to a 5-4 record a year after getting to the Rose Bowl. Although it’s far from a “sexy” matchup — this game doesn’t have any major playoff or conference championship ramification — the game should be close all the way to the end.