If Ohio State is going to go a perfect 9-0 in Big Ten play and win the conference championship, it will need to run the gauntlet of the Big Ten's other top teams. The No. 4 Buckeyes close the regular season with matchups against No. 7 Michigan State and No. 6 Michigan, then could face the first-place team from the Big Ten West for the conference title.
On Saturday, Ohio State will play its final home game of 2021, and it could be an exciting one. The Buckeyes host Michigan State, which likely needs a win to remain in the College Football Playoff picture.
With a pair of Top-10 teams facing off in a matchup with CFP implications, ESPN's College GameDay is heading to Columbus and will air outside Ohio Stadium beginning at 9 a.m. ET on Saturday. It's the first time the popular college football kickoff show will be at Ohio State since Nov. 23, 2019.
Here's everything else you need to know heading into Week 12 of the college football season.
Week 12 Top 25 Schedule, Predictions
Friday, Nov. 19
Memphis at No. 24 Houston, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN2
No. 19 San Diego State at UNLV, 11:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
Saturday, Nov. 20
Charleston Southern at No. 1 Georgia, noon ET, ESPN+
No. 7 Michigan State at No. 4 Ohio State, noon ET, ABC
No. 10 Wake Forest at Clemson, noon ET, ESPN
Iowa State at No. 13 Oklahoma, noon ET, Fox
Prairie View A&M at No. 16 Texas A&M, noon ET, ESPN+
Tennessee State at No. 25 Mississippi State, noon ET, ESPN+
Illinois at No. 17 Iowa, 2 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
Georgia Tech at No. 8 Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC
No. 21 Arkansas at No. 2 Alabama, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
SMU at No. 5 Cincinnati, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
No. 6 Michigan at Maryland, 3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
Nebraska at No. 15 Wisconsin, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Virginia at No. 18 Pittsburgh, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
UAB at No. 22 UTSA, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
No. 14 BYU at Georgia Southern, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Syracuse at No. 20 NC State, 4 p.m. ET, ACC Network
No. 11 Baylor at Kansas State, 5:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
No. 3 Oregon at No. 23 Utah, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Vanderbilt at No. 12 Ole Miss, 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network
No. 9 Oklahoma State at Texas Tech, 8 p.m. ET, Fox
Picks in bold
Week 12 Preview
Of the four teams that would be in the College Football Playoff field, three are facing ranked opponents on Saturday. So there's a chance for some upsets that could shake up the CFP landscape.
No. 1 Georgia is unlikely to get upset, considering it's the only Playoff team that will be playing an unranked opponent. The Bulldogs' undefeated season should continue against Charleston Southern in a matchup that is likely to be very one-sided.
No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Oregon and No. 4 Ohio State are facing much greater tests against solid opponents.
The Crimson Tide are hosting No. 21 Arkansas in the best matchup in the SEC this week. The Razorbacks may have three losses this season, but they've won their past three games, a stretch that included victories over Mississippi State and LSU.
Still, Arkansas has lost its past 13 meetings with Alabama. The last time the Razorbacks defeated the Crimson Tide was in 2006, and they haven't won in Tuscaloosa, Ala., since 2003. It would be a surprise if Alabama can't hold off Arkansas in a home contest, so it should stay at No. 2 in the CFP rankings.
Oregon may be the most vulnerable Top Four team this week. The Ducks are going on the road to face No. 23 Utah, which has won six of its past seven games and is 4-0 at home this season. It could also be a preview of the Pac-12 Championship Game, as both teams are 6-1 in conference play.
Either Oregon or Utah will secure a spot in the conference title game on Saturday, as the winner of the matchup will clinch a first-place finish in its respective division.
"This will be obviously, on paper, be our biggest test of the year," Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham said, per Pat Graham of the Associated Press.
The most exciting game of the week could be the matchup between No. 4 Ohio State and No. 7 Michigan State. Both of these teams are 9-1 this season, as is No. 6 Michigan. So there's still a lot up for grabs in the Big Ten East.
The Buckeyes have mostly dominated in conference matchups, and they've won eight straight games since their early loss to Oregon. Meanwhile, the Spartans had been in position to make the CFP until they lost to Purdue two weeks ago, but they can still get in with a strong finish.
No matter what happens down the stretch, the Big Ten is going to have an exciting conclusion to the regular season, with only one of Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan able to get into the conference championship game.
"I feel we're in the best conference in college football right now. It shows," Ohio State defensive end Zach Harrison said, per Mitch Stacy of the Associated Press. "We got three teams in the Top 10. That's not by accident."
The College Football Playoff projected field could look the same after Week 12, or there could be some movement if any of Alabama, Oregon or Ohio State loses. So it will be exciting to watch these matchups and see how things shake out here in late November.