Big 12 hopes for playoff push

Thanksgiving weekend is filled with the rivalries and season-ending drama. The first weekend in December will determine just about every conference championship.

This weekend in college football looks like it has limited potential to shake up the rankings and College Football Playoff chase. But thats also what last weekend looked like and we all know how that turned out.

For once, the Big 12 is in the spotlight. The conference’s best hopes for making a late push to the College Football Playoff will meet in Morgantown, West Virginia, when the No. 10 Mountaineers face No. 8 Oklahoma.

The Sooners (8-2) have the higher ranking but West Virginia, with its 8-1 record, probably has a better path to the playoff. Both teams will need some help as the College Football Playoff committee has not shown itself to be particularly impressed with the conference’s best teams.

Another game to watch in the Big 12 this week is in Fort Worth, Texas, when No. 13 Oklahoma State faces TCU. The Cowboys are the longest of playoff long shots, weighed down by a loss to Central Michigan that was aided by a blown call by officials. Oklahoma State has already beaten West Virginia and finishes the season against rival Oklahoma.

The picks:

THURSDAY NIGHT

THROWDOWNS

No. 3 Louisville (minus 14) at Houston

Likely the last big-stage game for Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals to show off their stuff to Heisman voters and the selection committee … HOUSTON 35-28, UPSET SPECIAL.

Arkansas State

(plus 8½) at No. 25 Troy

The newly ranked Trojans are looking to make it two straight victories in games for first-place in the Sun Belt … TROY 35-21.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

UNLV (plus 28½) at

No. 22 Boise State

The Rebels helped the Broncos a bunch last week by beating Wyoming … BOISE STATE 45-28.

MARQUEE MATCHUPS

No. 8 Oklahoma

(minus 2½) at No. 10 West Virginia

The Mountaineers’ defense has been solid, but with one major concern: Not much pass rush (17 sacks) … OKLAHOMA 40-34.

No. 20 Washington State (plus 4½) at

No. 12 Colorado

Maybe the most unlikely game of the season with playoff implications … COLORADO 28-27.

No. 21 Florida

(plus 13½) at No. 16 LSU

The Gators can clinch the SEC East by winning this hurricane-postponed game. The Tigers can give Tennessee the inside track to the division with a win … LSU 28-12.

PLAYOFF IMPLICATIONS

No. 2 Ohio State (minus 22½) at Michigan State

It has been such a horrible season for the Spartans, but they have Ohio State and Penn State in the next two weeks with a chance to pull a season-salvaging upset. OHIO STATE 35-17.

Indiana (plus 23)

at No. 4 Michigan

The Wolverines are not built to be quarterback-dependent, which should serve them well against the Hoosiers … MICHIGAN 42-17.

No. 5 Clemson (minus 22½) at

Wake Forest

The Demon Deacons’ defense mucked up both Louisville and Florida State, so the Tigers take Wake seriously … CLEMSON 28-10.

No. 6 Wisconsin (minus 28) at Purdue

The Badgers can win the Big Ten West by winning out … WISCONSIN 35-13.

Arizona State (plus 27) at No. 7 Washington

The ideal way for QB Jake Browning and the Huskies to bounce back from their worst game of the season? A home game against the worst pass defense in the Pac-12 … WASHINGTON 50-21.

CONFERENCE CALLS

No. 9 Penn State (minus 28) at Rutgers

Nittany Lions RB Saquon Barkley against the worst rushing defense in the Big Ten … PENN STATE 45-14.

Oregon (plus 14) at

No. 11 Utah

Two more games for Mark Helfrich to show he should remain the Ducks’ coach … UTAH 46-30.

No. 13 Oklahoma State (plus 4) at TCU

The Cowboys have had consecutive great-escape victories to keep their Big 12 title hopes alive … TCU 35-28.

No. 15 Southern California (minus 11) at UCLA

The Trojans are rolling into the rivalry game while the Bruins are just trying to salvage a season … USC 42-21, BEST BET.

No. 17 Florida State (minus 21) at Syracuse

If Clemson and Louisville can make the playoff, Florida State could end up in the Orange Bowl … FLORIDA STATE 38-24.

Maryland (plus 14) at No. 19 Nebraska

The Terps are still looking for win No. 6 for bowl eligibility. Probably not this week, though the Cornhuskers could be without QB Tommy Armstrong … NEBRASKA 33-17.

No. 24 San Diego State (minus 10) at Wyoming

A victory by Donnel Pumphrey and the Aztecs would help set up a San Diego State-Boise State Mountain West title game, which would help the conference’s chances to get a New Year’s Six bowl bid … SAN DIEGO STATE 28-17.

LATE-SEASON

NONCONFERENCE

UTSA (plus 27½) at

No. 23 Texas A&M

The Aggies look to build a little confidence before a Thanksgiving night game against LSU … TEXAS A&M 49-21.

——

Record: Last week 14-12 straight; 12-14 vs. points.

Season: 163-69; 105-122-3.

Upset specials: 3-8.

Best bets: 2-9.

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