College soccer Week 12 – A information to the most important video games

It is the penultimate week of faculty soccer’s common season and the Pac-12 takes heart stage.

The Battle for L.A. between USC and UCLA has been anticipated all season. If the convention desires to have any College Soccer Playoff hope, the Trojans must beat the Bruins on Saturday, then defeat Notre Dame and win the convention title sport. Regardless of a UCLA loss to Arizona final week, the Bruins would love nothing greater than preserving their crosstown rival out of the playoff.

Oregon and Utah can even meet with Pac-12 championship sport hopes on the road. After the Geese and Utes performed in final season’s convention title sport, a loss for both workforce will remove them from this yr’s championship.

Elsewhere, three of the highest 4 groups within the CFP rankings have assessments that might shake up the playoff image forward of the final week of the common season. Georgia heads to Kentucky seeking to defend its No. 1 rating whereas TCU travels to Baylor in one of many Huge 12’s fiercest rivalries. And Michigan hosts upstart Illinois, which regardless of a loss final week is experiencing certainly one of its greatest seasons in latest reminiscence.

These are the highest storylines head into Week 12.

No. 7 USC (9-1) at No. 16 UCLA (8-2) (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, Fox)

What might have been the primary top-10 matchup between USC and UCLA since Troy Aikman and Rodney Peete had been underneath heart in 1988 will now should accept one thing rather less flashy: a battle between the No. 7 Trojans and No. 16 Bruins after Arizona upset UCLA final week.

With two of the highest offenses within the nation attending to tee off towards two defenses which were inconsistent, at greatest, there shall be loads of factors and lots nonetheless on the road for each groups. A win will get USC into the Pac-12 championship and retains the Trojans’ College Soccer Playoff hopes alive; a win for UCLA means it nonetheless has a shot on the Pac-12 title.

“When both teams are good and there are a lot of opportunities ahead for both teams, it makes it way, way better,” USC coach Lincoln Riley, who will make his first look within the rivalry, mentioned this week.

On Tuesday, he added: “We’re not doing anything honestly too specific with this rivalry and that’s not to discount it in any way. I think we’ve acknowledged that this game in some ways is going to feel different.”

If the Trojans, with over 40 transfers who have not had a style of the crosstown matchup, are taking a extra simple strategy to Saturday’s sport, then UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson — who Riley remembers going through at Oklahoma when Kyler Murray was his quarterback — is doing the other and never mincing any phrases in terms of USC.

“Obviously we hate those guys across town,” he mentioned on Monday.

This shall be DTR’s fifth rivalry sport towards USC since arriving in Westwood, the fourth one he has starred in.

Although the Bruins’ practice has slowed a bit previously few weeks, Thompson-Robinson’s rampant goodbye tour by way of the Pac-12 hasn’t misplaced steam. He has been vocal about what groups he wished to beat in his final season with the Bruins and has mentioned he remembers when USC final beat UCLA on the Rose Bowl and gamers “cursed” at them and “flipped them off.” It is a part of why, as he put it, he desires to attain 60 once more like he did final season in a blinding, six-touchdown efficiency.

Most USC gamers mentioned Tuesday they hadn’t seen Thompson-Robinson’s feedback, or given them any thought. However when knowledgeable of the quarterback’s purpose to attain 60 factors once more on the Trojans, defensive again Calen Bullock chuckled and mentioned. “I know that’s not gonna happen.”

Whether or not it is a fifth-year senior who grew up watching the L.A. rivalry and is now taking part in it for the final time, or a brand-new coach or switch who’s attempting to deal with the matchup like simply one other sport, come Saturday, the motivation to win would be the similar. — Paolo Uggetti

No. 10 Utah (8-2) at No. 12 Oregon (8-2) (Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN app)

Every week after squandering its playoff hopes following a heartbreaking loss to rival Washington at dwelling, Oregon will attempt to recuperate with an arguably harder matchup. The No. 12 Geese welcome the No. 10 Utes, who’ve two losses (by a mixed 13 factors) however are taking part in a few of their greatest soccer the previous few weeks.

A lot was mentioned about Dan Lanning’s determination to go for a fourth down late within the sport with Bo Nix on the sideline (even Lanning mentioned this week he needs he would have known as a timeout), however the actual Achilles’ heel for the Geese’ final sport was their struggling protection, which has given up a median of 34 factors to ranked opponents this season. In opposition to the Utes — whose offense may not be as explosive as Washington’s however has been lots efficient — that may as soon as once more be the problem.

The X issue of that Utes offense will possible be tight finish Dalton Kincaid, who torched the inconsistent USC protection however missed the sport towards Arizona two weeks in the past after struggling a shoulder damage towards Washington State. Kincaid (who’s averaging 13 yards per catch) performed a restricted quantity of snaps towards Stanford final week and his standing for this week’s matchup continues to be in flux.

“He’s still not 100 percent, there’s some soreness,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham mentioned. “But he’s a lot further ahead today than he was last Monday.”

Whittingham additionally heaped reward on Nix, who, regardless of the loss final Saturday, nonetheless had three touchdowns and accomplished 70% of his move makes an attempt. Nix nonetheless has a shot at maybe leaping again into the Heisman dialog with one other massive sport, particularly if Oregon wins out. And the Geese must.

Very similar to each L.A. faculties taking part in on an enormous Saturday for the Pac-12, each Oregon and Utah are nonetheless in rivalry for the Pac-12 championship and subsequently, the Rose Bowl. The workforce on the dropping finish must wave goodbye to each. — Uggetti

No. 1 Georgia (10-0) at Kentucky (6-4) (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

It wasn’t too way back that this sport seemed prefer it might be certainly one of Georgia’s most daunting challenges in getting by way of the common season unbeaten.

That was earlier than Kentucky quarterback Will Levis was injured, earlier than it grew to become obvious that Kentucky merely could not defend Levis and earlier than Levis noticed his struggles go from dangerous to worse.

Georgia, 10-0 and ranked No. 1 within the College Soccer Playoff rankings, is second nationally in scoring protection, permitting 11.6 factors per sport. The Dawgs have allowed simply 9 touchdowns on protection, and three of these got here within the fourth quarter when the end result was all however determined. Kentucky, in the meantime, has scored greater than 21 factors on offense towards an SEC opponent solely as soon as — a 27-17 win over Mississippi State. Within the Wildcats’ previous three video games, they’ve managed a complete of 5 touchdowns.

In different phrases, this one appears to be like like a mismatch, not less than on paper, particularly with Kentucky limping into the sport having misplaced to Vanderbilt 24-21 final week at dwelling. The Commodores had misplaced 26 straight SEC video games earlier than knocking off the Wildcats.

“Not enough hype. Not enough juice. We talked about it among us all week, and we did not buy into it,” Levis mentioned following the Vanderbilt loss.

Kentucky was ranked No. 20 within the AP preseason ballot, and expectations had been hovering after the Wildcats received 10 video games a yr in the past. And whereas the protection has performed properly sufficient in most video games to offer them an opportunity to win, the offense has been significantly sloppy within the crimson zone (ranked 99th nationally) and stopped itself repeatedly with sacks, penalties and turnovers.

“We’re moving the ball and doing good things, but we’re not getting into the end zone,” Kentucky offensive coordinator Wealthy Scangarello mentioned. “One of the downsides is that we’ve had explosive [plays], but they’re not scoring all the time. Chunk plays are great, but when chunk plays get tackled on the 25 instead of scoring, it’s hard.”

The Wildcats’ crimson zone woes determine to get tougher towards a Georgia protection that has given up an FBS-best six touchdowns within the crimson zone all season.

A lot has been made from the Georgia protection, and with good cause. However misplaced in what the Dawgs have achieved in successful 25 consecutive regular-season video games vs. Kentucky going again to the tip of the 2000 season is how environment friendly they have been on offense. They’re tied for sixth nationally in scoring offense (40.6 factors per sport) and are third nationally in complete offense (509.6 yards per sport). — Chris Low



Kirby Good explains how the No. 1 Bulldogs stay hungry after working their technique to the highest and breaks down Kentucky QB Will Levis’ unaffected play fashion.

Illinois (7-3) at No. 3 Michigan (10-0) (Saturday, midday ET, ABC/ESPN app)

Illinois received off to a sizzling begin, going 7-1 earlier than dropping its previous two video games towards Michigan State and Purdue. An enormous a part of the workforce’s success has come from working again Chase Brown, who leads all FBS working backs with 1,442 yards.

He’s averaging 5.15 yards per carry and has seven dashing touchdowns on the season. Sadly for Illinois, Brown went down with an damage within the final sport towards Purdue. He hasn’t been dominated out towards Michigan, however his standing continues to be unsure.

“Josh McCray, Chase Brown … both those guys are trending in the right direction,” coach Bret Bielema mentioned. “Very positive and excited, but don’t know where we’ll be by Friday for the trip and Saturday for the game.”

Michigan’s protection already ranks No. 1 in rush yards allowed per sport, giving up solely 72.7 yards. The workforce is No. 3 in yards allowed per rush and No. 3 in dashing touchdowns allowed, giving up solely three touchdowns on the bottom.

That may make the problem of taking part in 10-0 Michigan, ranked No. 3 within the College Soccer Playoff rankings, much more tough if Brown is not in a position to play.

“Our run wall has been very good, it’s going to be tested this week probably like none other up to this point,” Jim Harbaugh mentioned. “So, Illinois is very strong at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Outstanding, outstanding run scheme, outstanding running back. So, it’ll be a real challenge and a task for our team this year.”

This is a vital sport for the Wolverines to stay undefeated and provides the workforce an opportunity to tackle Ohio State to complete out the season for one more berth within the Huge Ten championship sport and the playoff.

Michigan is not with out accidents, both, as defensive finish Mike Morris was injured in the latest sport towards Nebraska. Morris went on the Inside Michigan Soccer radio present and mentioned he is feeling nice and that he tweaked his leg within the sport.

“I feel like I’ll be all right,” Morris mentioned. “Our trainers are working very hard. I was in there getting treatment for like four hours this morning, so I’ll be fine. I’m in great hands, it’s all in God’s plan.” — Tom VanHaaren

No. 4 TCU (10-0) at Baylor (6-4) (Saturday, midday ET, Fox)

TCU had established itself as a second-half protection, remodeling from leaky to lockdown in a number of Huge 12 wins. But it surely wasn’t sufficient.

Two weeks in the past, defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie instructed the group that in the event that they wished to attain their greatest targets, they wanted to ship “a full 60.”

“I knew we had the potential,” Gillespie instructed ESPN. “I just didn’t know where it was going to happen, or if it was going to happen. That was as complete a four-quarter defensive [performance] that we’ve played up until this point. And it’s good timing.

“Now the deal is, you have to preserve doing it. You have received an enormous goal in your chest, and that is a superb factor.”

Gillespie referred to TCU’s defensive masterpiece in last week’s win at Texas, which didn’t score an offensive touchdown and finished with only 28 net rush yards, while averaging 3.3 yards per offensive play. TCU’s defensive stars shined: cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, linebacker Johnny Hodges, safety Mark Perry and others.

The Frogs silenced Texas and any remaining doubters about their College Football Playoff candidacy. But their quest continues, again on the road, this time against the defending Big 12 champions in Baylor.

Gillespie has seen significant growth from TCU’s defensive line, which entered the season as his biggest concern. The front three will be stressed by a Baylor offense that, until last week against Kansas State, had run the ball well with freshman Richard Reese and others.

“You are speaking about three fingers within the grass, and that is it,” said Gillespie, who uses the increasingly popular 3-3-5 alignment. “We’re asking them to tackle roles and do some issues that are not so fairly generally. It is simpler to fall in love with it if you see manufacturing, however simply the best way they’ve embraced the strategy, it is a very selfless perspective.

“And those guys make a lot of dadgum plays.”

Baylor comes off of its worst offensive efficiency since 2020, recording season lows in factors (3) and dashing yards (103). Coach Dave Aranda stays totally assured in quarterback Blake Shapen, who had two interceptions towards Kansas State, whereas “pressing” and struggling together with his footwork.

“He can be a dual threat, there’s a lot of scramble stuff,” Gillespie mentioned of Shapen. “They’ve got three running backs, they’re going to keep fresh legs, they’re going to hit you on the perimeter, and then you’ve got an entire offensive line that has been playing together for a minute. This is a unit that works very well together, they understand each other.”

Gillespie entered the season probably not figuring out what TCU’s protection might turn out to be. The Frogs had been implementing a brand new scheme and feeling out how offenses would assault them. After stringing collectively quarters, halves and eventually a full sport, TCU is primed to proceed its quest for an unbelievable CFP spot.

“You’ve seen just about every blocking scheme, we’ve had just about every adjustment,” Gillespie mentioned. “So they’ve gotten mature. There was some patience in knowing, ‘If we could put both [halves] together, we could be a pretty good squad.’ Fortunately, it started happening the other night. Certainly that’s got to be something we build off of.” — Adam Rittenberg

Clinching eventualities for Week 12

Energy 5


• Clemson and North Carolina have each clinched spots within the ACC championship sport.

Huge 12

• TCU has clinched a spot within the Huge 12 championship sport. The Horned Frogs are making their second look within the Huge 12 title sport. They misplaced in 2017 to Oklahoma.

• Kansas State clinches a spot within the Huge 12 championship sport with a win at West Virginia and a Texas loss at Kansas. In response to ESPN Analytics, there is a 17% likelihood the Wildcats clinch a spot within the championship sport this week.


• USC clinches a spot within the Pac-12 championship sport with a win at UCLA. In response to ESPN Analytics, there is a 61% likelihood the Trojans clinch a spot within the championship sport this week.

• Utah clinches a spot within the Pac-12 championship sport with a win and UCLA loss. In response to ESPN Analytics, there is a 32% likelihood the Utes clinch a spot within the championship sport this week.

• Oregon clinches a spot within the Pac-12 championship sport with a win vs. Utah and a Washington loss to Colorado. In response to ESPN Analytics, there is a 2% likelihood the Geese clinch a spot within the championship sport this week.


• Georgia and LSU have each clinched spots within the SEC championship sport. They’re assembly within the SEC championship sport for a fifth time, the second most by any pair of groups in any convention championship in FBS historical past. Alabama and Florida have met 10 instances within the SEC title sport.

Georgia has an 84% likelihood to win the SEC championship sport in response to ESPN Analytics.

Group of 5


• UCF clinches a spot within the American championship sport with a win vs. Navy and loss by Houston at East Carolina. In response to ESPN Analytics, there is a 61% likelihood the Knights clinch a spot within the championship sport this week.

• The second spot within the championship sport cannot be clinched till Week 13.

Convention USA

• UTSA clinches with a win at Rice or Florida Atlantic loss at Center Tennessee. In response to ESPN Analytics, there is a 90% likelihood the Roadrunners clinch a spot within the championship sport this week.

• The second spot within the championship sport cannot be clinched till Week 13.


• Toledo has clinched the West, its seventh look within the MAC championship sport. That’s the second-most by any workforce, trailing solely Northern Illinois (9).

• Ohio clinches the East with a win at Ball State and Bowling Inexperienced loss at Toledo. In response to ESPN Analytics, there is a 52% likelihood the Bobcats clinch a spot within the championship sport this week.

Mountain West

• Fresno State clinches the West Division with a win at Nevada or losses by San Jose State (at Utah State) and San Diego State (at New Mexico). In response to ESPN Analytics, there’s an 84% likelihood the Bulldogs clinch a spot within the championship sport this week.

• Boise State clinches the Mountain Division with a win at Wyoming. In response to ESPN Analytics, there is a 79% likelihood the Broncos clinch a spot within the championship sport this week.

Solar Belt

• Coastal Carolina has clinched the East. That is Coastal Carolina’s first look within the Solar Belt championship sport.

• Troy clinches the West with a win vs. UL Monroe and South Alabama loss at Southern Miss. In response to ESPN Analytics, there is a 32% likelihood the Trojans clinch a spot within the championship sport this week.