Hartman and the Fighting Irish will play host Saturday to Wake Forest — for which the quarterback set school and ACC records before transferring to Notre Dame in January — as part of a Week 12 lineup featuring familiar opponents, in-state rivals and a little bad blood.
Oregon State would like nothing more than to upset unbeaten Washington, which the Beavers already defeated in court this week. And Oregon State has the running back to do it, quietly starring in a conference known this season for its Heisman Trophy contenders at quarterback.
Our writers preview those games and more, while also focusing on other running backs you might not have heard of (but should have by now), notable quotes from the week and conference championship game scenarios in Week 12.
Week 12: Frenemies, rivals and somewhere in between
(3:30 p.m. ET, NBC)
This one was circled immediately after Sam Hartman, perhaps the most decorated quarterback in Wake Forest history, made the decision in January to leave Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and play his sixth and final season in South Bend, Indiana. Hartman, second all time in the ACC in passing yards (12,967) after starting four years for the Demon Deacons, gets to face his former teammates while also needing to get back on track. After going through Notre Dame’s first six games without an interception, he has thrown seven picks in the past four games — two of them ending in losses, to Louisville and Clemson. A bye week after tossing two picks during the 31-23 defeat in Death Valley might be the best medicine for putting his worst passing day of the campaign (43.3% completion rate) in the rearview mirror. Hartman (2,272 passing yards and 18 TDs in 2023) began the season with four multiple-touchdown passing games. And with the ACC’s 10th-ranked pass defense (224.9 yards per game) coming to town, Saturday might be as good a time as any for Wake Forest’s all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns to reestablish the rhythm that made Hartman a captivating early-season storyline. — Blake Baumgartner
(3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Considering these teams played in the ACC championship game last season, there could have been way more on the line in this matchup. But now, it feels as if they are playing for pride, not prize, as the old saying goes….