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Week 12 OFD Viewer's Guide: All Eyes on Oklahoma

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A nation of football fans turns it eyes to the Sooner State which hosts two huge games with major playoff implications Saturday night.

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday Night

Favorite Underdog Venue Time (ET) Network Line
Central Michigan Chippewas Kent State Golden Flashes Dix Stadium (KSU) 8:00 ESPNU -11
Northern Illinois Huskies Western Michigan Broncos Huskie Stadium 8:00 ESPN2 -3

More MACtion highlights the weeknight slate again this week. Of the two games on Wednesday, the NIU-WMU matchup is probably the better look. The Huskies and Broncos are tied with Toledo in a three-way tie atop the West division. A win wouldn't clinch the division, but a loss could all but eliminate the loser. In the other game, CMU is a heavy road favorite, and can reach bowl eligibility with a win over a struggling Kent State team.

Thursday Night

Favorite Underdog Venue Time (ET) Network Line
East Carolina Pirates UCF Knights Bright House Networks Stadium (UCF) 7:30 ESPN -15
Texas State Bobcats Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks Bobcat Stadium 7:30 ESPNU -6.5

The Thursday slate is devoid of P5 games this week, and the small conference matchups look less than satisfying. ECU-UCF looked to be much bigger in the offseason, but after winning a BCS Bowl two seasons ago with Blake Bortles at QB, the Knights have completely cratered. An 0-8 start led to George O'Leary retiring as UCF's head coach at the end of October. They've yet to win a game since, and the Knights will be hard pressed to do so against ECU. The Pirates have also had a disappointing year in 2015, and sit a 4-6. They'll need wins in their last two games in order to make a bowl game. The other Thursday night game features the two teams at the cellar of Sun Belt. Louisiana-Monroe fired their coach after their blowout loss to Arkansas State a few days ago. This will be former defensive coordinator and interim head coach John Mumford's (no relation) debut.

Friday Night

Favorite Underdog Venue Time (ET) Network Line
Cincinnati Bearcats South Florida Bulls Raymond James Stadium (USF) 8:00 CBSSN -2.5
Boise State Broncos Air Force Falcons Albertsons Stadium (BSU) 9:30 ESPN2 -12

Like Thursday, Friday night doesn't contain any P5 matchups. The small school games on Friday are much more intriguing, however. USF, fresh off their win over Temple hosts Cincinnati. Willie Taggart has the Bulls bowl eligible for the first time since 2010. They have a win over a P5 opponent (Syracuse), and their only loss in the past six games was to a ranked Navy squad. Gunner Kiel has had an injury plagued season for the 6-4 Bearcats, but he's put up huge numbers when healthy. This could be a nice strength vs. strength game as USF has won games with its defense and Cincy has tried to outscore opponents. Out west, Boise hosts Air Force in a game with Mountain West - Mountain Division implications. Boise sits at 4-2 in the conference while Air Force is 5-1. Boise is coming off a tough home loss to Bob Davie's New Mexico last week, and will need to stop another tough ground attack. The Falcons feature one of the top running games in the nation having gained over 3000 yards on the ground this season. Instead of keying on just one player, the Broncos front seven will have their hands full with a variety of ball carriers. Six different Air Force players have at least 300 rushing yards this season.

Noon Shift

Favorite Underdog Venue Time (ET) Network Line
Michigan Wolverines Penn State Nittany Lions Beaver Stadium (PSU) Noon ABC -4
North Carolina Tar Heels Virginia Tech Hokies Lane Stadium (VT) Noon ESPN -6.5
Memphis Tigers Temple Owls Century Link Field (TU) Noon ESPNU -1.5

If you had Memphis vs. Temple as one of the most important games of November before the season started, start booking a flight to Vegas. Both squads are looking to bounce back from tough losses last week. Irish fans will undoubtedly be pulling for the Owls, and they could do the Irish strength of schedule a solid by knocking off Paxton Lynch's Tigers team. Sudden playoff darkhorse North Carolina faces Virginia Tech in Frank Beamer's final game at Lane Stadium. The atmosphere should be electric, and the Hokies defense will need all the help they can get to slow down Marquise Williams and the Heels' offense. VT QB Michael Brewer has been solid since his return from injury, but he'll need to have a huge game if he's hoping to keep pace with Williams. Rounding out the early games is Michigan's trip to Happy Valley. The Wolverines defense gave up over 300 yards on the ground to Indiana last week, but the PSU offensive line and running backs have shown no indications of being able replicate that kind of feat. Jake Rudock had his best game ever for the Mazie and Blue against the Hoosiers, and went from potential liability to a huge reason why they won. Ideally, things return to normal this week, and this is a traditional, low scoring, early Big Ten game.

Afternoon Shift

Favorite Underdog Venue Time (ET) Network Line
Ohio State Buckeyes Michigan State Spartans Ohio Stadium 3:30 ABC -13
Ole Miss Rebels LSU Tigers Vaught Hemmingway Staidum (OM) 3:30 CBS -4
Oregon Ducks Southern Cal Trojans Autzen Stadium (UO) 3:30 ESPN -4.5
Utah Utes UCLA Bruins Rice-Eccles Stadium (UU) 3:30 FOX -2

Michigan State's visit to Ohio State highlights the afternoon game. JT Barrett is back at QB for the Bucks, and will put the struggling Spartan secondary to the test. The normally vaunted SPARTYFENSE hasn't been the same this year after the departure of Pat Narduzzi to Pitt. This is Ohio State's toughest test to date, and a loss to MSU would give the Spartans control of the Big Ten West, and potentially eliminate the Bucks from Playoff consideration. Ole Miss hosting LSU looked to be much more important a few weeks ago. Now, it has been relegated to secondary status. Leonard Fournette has fallen back in the Heisman race after getting bottled up by the Tide and Arkansas the last two weeks. The Ole Miss "land sharks" have been deservedly mocked in recent weeks, but shutting down Fournette would go a long way toward reestablishing their reputation as a top defense. Irish fans will hope Oregon doesn't hurt the Irish strength of schedule for a second week in a row. Southern Cal is undefeated since their trip to South Bend, and a win would keep them in control of the PAC 12 South race. The struggling Oregon defense will have their hands full with Kessler and Smith-Schuster, but if there's any offense that can keep pace in a shootout, it's Oregon's. Another PAC 12 matchup will also be worth watching in the afternoon slate. Utah's loss last week probably eliminated them from playoff consideration. They're still alive in the PAC 12 race, but will need some help. UCLA can take the division with wins the next two weeks, but both Utah and Southern Cal will provide a tough test. Bruins QB Josh Rosen has had a fantastic freshman season, and the Utes defense will give him one of his toughest tests yet.

Primetime

Favorite Underdog Venue Time (ET) Network Line
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Boston College Eagles Fenway Park 7:30 NBCSN -17
Oklahoma State Cowboys Baylor Bears Boone Pickens Stadium (OSU) 7:30 FOX PICK
Oklahoma Sooners TCU Horned Frogs Gaylord Memorial Stadium (OU) 8:00 ABC N/A
Stanford Cardinal California Golden Bears Stanford Stadium 10:30 ESPN -11

The state of Oklahoma takes centerstage opposite the Irish Shamrock Series game Saturday night. After rooting for a Baylor loss last week, Irish fans will be pulling for the Bears to end the Cowboys undefeated season. Jarrett Stidham had an up and down game in his second start behind center for Baylor last week. His counterpart Mason Rudolph has flown under the radar as the OSU signal caller, and he'll need a big game if the Cowboys' offense is going to outscore the Baylor. In Norman, TCU faces off against the Sooners. There's no line in this one due to the questionable status of Trevone Boykin. If he's unable to go, the Sooners should have much less trouble with the Frogs. Should both Oklahoma schools win, it would set up a Bedlam Game with huge stakes next week. To complete the day, Stanford will hope to bounce back against Cal in The Big Game. Christian McCaffery will be a huge challenge for for the Cal defense, but Stanford's defense is uniquely suited to slow down Jared Goff as they've been better against the pass than the run recently. Hopefully for the Irish playoff hopes, the Cardinal wins big, and jumps back into the CFP Ranking Top Ten in time for a potentially huge game next weekend.