Okay, remind me never to do that again. Never.
We took part in one of our annual “Whammy Weeks” last week, going around to some of the games that won’t get predicted on Gameday. It didn’t really go well for anyone involved. Let’s just show the standings, pretend that never happened, and move on to this week’s slate of games.
The Sixer Trivia, Week 12 (answer at the end of the column): Ohio State has a 23-game winning streak entering this week’s action, the longest among FBS teams. When was the Buckeyes’ last losing streak?
Keyword Search (all times Eastern and rankings AP)
Memphis (8-2, 4-2 AAC) at Temple (8-2, 5-1 AAC)
Noon | ESPNU
- Holding on: Though Temple fell 44-23 to South Florida last week, the Owls are still by themselves in first place in the Eastern Division. The Bulls are a game behind, but would hold the tiebreaker, due to their head-to-head win. Temple wraps their season by welcoming UConn next week, while USF hosts Cincinnati and travels to winless UCF.
- Snapping streaks: Two Memphis streaks have gone by the boards in the last two weeks. Navy’s defeat of the Tigers two weeks ago broke up Memphis’ 15-game winning streak, while Houston held Paxton Lynch to 278 passing yards in a 35-34 Cougar victory. That was the first game under 300 yards for Lynch since the season-opener against non-FBS Southwest Missouri State.
- A classic battle: This game presents the classic “offense versus defense” matchup. Temple ranks ninth among American teams in total offense, totaling just 363.2 yards per game. Memphis is 178 yards better per game, good for second in the league. The Tigers also lead the circuit in scoring offense (43.7 points per game), while Temple is just sixth at 32.9. Conversely, Temple is second in total defense per game (357.1 yards) and fourth in scoring defense (21 points), while Memphis is ninth and eighth, respectively, in those statistics.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: It will be key for Temple to get early stops and build a lead. Memphis is better equipped for a comeback than are the Owls.
#9 Michigan State (9-1, 5-1 Big Ten) at #2 Ohio State (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten)
3:30pm | ABC
- Everything’s so blurry: The Buckeyes maintain a one-game lead over the Spartans entering this game. Michigan is also technically tied for second, but this is where things get rather convoluted. If Michigan State loses this week, Ohio State-Michigan next week would be for the Eastern Division title. If Michigan State wins, along with a Michigan win at Penn State, there would be a three-way tie atop the division. Michigan State would have a tiebreaker over both Michigan and Ohio State in that scenario, based on head-to-head wins. Therefore, Michigan State would have to lose to Penn State to allow either Ohio State or Michigan to play for a conference championship. Alternately, we could go to this tiebreaking option.
- What have you done for me lately?: Ohio State is enjoying quite the run of success, both against Michigan State and in general. The Buckeyes are enjoying the longest active win streak in FBS football, having won 23 consecutive games (see the trivia question). OSU has also beaten the Spartans nine of 11 times since 2000; the only two losses to Michigan State were a 10-7 defeat in 2011 and a 34-24 loss in the 2013 Big Ten Championship.
- Starting all over again: The Spartans have a shot to restart a streak of their own. Their 12-game road winning streak was snapped in a controversial decision at Nebraska last week. Prior to that game, the Spartans’ last road loss came in a 17-13 decision at Notre Dame on September 21, 2013.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: The Buckeyes can likely lock up a spot in the College Football Playoff with a win. An OSU loss causes chaos on multiple fronts.
#20 Northwestern (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten) at #21 Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten)
3:30pm | BTN
- On a roll: After Wisconsin struggled out of the gate against Alabama to begin the year, the Badgers have been on fire. Paul Chryst’s club has won eight of nine games, with just a 10-6 defeat to Iowa on the wrong side of the ledger. Opponents have averaged just fewer than 10 points per game against Wisconsin since that opening loss to the Crimson Tide.
- Giving opponents the Fitz: With a win, Northwestern could start 9-2 for the first time in nearly 20 years. Pat Fitzgerald was a player on the 1996 team that pulled off that accomplishment, taking home multiple national awards in the process. Junior running back Darnell Autry ran for 1452 yards and 17 touchdowns that season, eventually going on to a very brief pro career with the Bears and Eagles.
- Dropping 40: Wisconsin’s sports information department produces what is, quite possibly, the most unusual stat of the week. The Badgers have won 147 of 149 all-time games in which they scored 40 points. The only two defeats both came at the hands of Northwestern (47-44 in three overtimes in 2000, and 56-41 in 2005).
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Wisconsin’s defense is as stout as any group anywhere. Northwestern will need to be as efficient as possible to avoid being another victim.
Louisville (6-4, 5-2 ACC) at Pitt (7-3, 5-1 ACC)
3:45pm | ESPNews
See this week’s ACC edition of Clear Your Schedule for additional detail on this game.
#10 Baylor (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) at #4 Oklahoma State (10-0, 7-0 Big 12)
7:30pm | FOX
- Back to another quarterback?: Baylor freshman Jarrett Stidham is still uncertain to play this weekend, because of concerns with a recent back injury. Sophomore Chris Johnson is listed on the two-deep as the next passer up; however, Johnson has caught three passes (throwing none) for 37 yards. Johnson went 4-for-4 for 45 yards last year in games against SMU and Northwestern State.
- Sack race: The quarterback situation for Baylor presents an interesting problem. The Bears have allowed the fewest sacks in the Big 12 (11), surrendering only 60 yards on those sacks in their quick-strike offense. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State’s Emmanuel Ogbah is the active NCAA leader in sacks, with 26. 11 of those sacks have come this year. Ogbah also has 15.5 tackles for loss, which leads the Big 12.
- Dodging consecutives: A Baylor loss would provide the first back-to-back losses for the Bears in three years. Baylor actually lost four consecutive games in 2012 (at West Virginia, TCU, at Texas and at Iowa State), with a loss at Oklahoma two weeks later giving the Bears five losses in six games.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Oklahoma State has to get past Baylor and Bedlam to get to the Playoff. If they can pull that off, they deserve it.
#11 TCU (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) at #7 Oklahoma (9-1, 6-1 Big 12)
8:00pm | ABC
- Taking down the Top 25: An Oklahoma victory in this one would represent their fourth win over an AP Top 25 team this season. The remainder of the conference has two combined wins against Top 25 teams (Oklahoma State and Texas have each accomplished the feat).
- Here’s the kicker: TCU kicker Jaden Oberkrom is just two successful field goals away from being the all-time Big 12 record-holder for number of converted kicks. Interestingly, he could collect the record of 76 made kicks against the former team of the current record-holder, Oklahoma’s Michael Hunnicutt. Oberkrom currently leads the Big 12 in conversions (16) and attempts (20).
- Successful slingers: Oklahoma’s sports information department notes that both Baker Mayfield of the Sooners and TCU’s Trevone Boykin have accounted for four or more total touchdowns seven times this season, a figure that leads all FBS passers this year. Mayfield is tied with Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes atop the Big 12 in passing touchdowns, having thrown for 31 scores. Boykin is tied with Baylor’s Seth Russell for second with 29. Boykin has thrown for just one score in the last two games, though, against four interceptions. Mayfield has thrown for fewer than two scores in a game just once, finding the end zone one time in the Sooners’ 24-17 loss to Texas.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: TCU has won four of the seven games in the series in Norman. However, without Josh Doctson, this is a tough battle for the Horned Frogs.
Trivia answer: I asked earlier: Ohio State has a 23-game winning streak entering this week’s action, the longest among FBS teams. When was the Buckeyes’ last losing streak?
Ohio State last endured a losing streak over the final two games of the 2013 season. Michigan State defeated the Buckeyes 34-24 in the Big Ten Championship, and Clemson defeated Ohio State 40-35 in the Orange Bowl.