The word for the day is … quantity. College football is offering plenty of it in the final stages of the 2023 season.
A whopping eight teams still have at least an 18% chance of reaching the College Football Playoff, per my SP+ ratings. Somewhere between about eight and 11 power conference teams still have designs on a New Year’s Six bowl bid. And while the leader in the battle for the Group of 5’s NY6 bid seems obvious at the moment — No. 24 Tulane is the only ranked G5 team — the Green Wave have big tests coming up, and a loss could bring quite a few other teams into the race.
We still have some potentially messy conference races, too. Four teams still have at least a 7% chance of winning the Big 12. Four still have a 10% chance in the AAC, and five still have a 6% chance in the Mountain West. And Oregon State could completely flip the Pac-12 race upside down over the next two Saturdays.
(Speaking of quantity, the coaching carousel started slowly this year but made up for lost time this week. Sunday is probably going to be another wild day in that regard, depending on who loses on Saturday.)
There’s a lot going on, in other words. Week 12 has only a couple of definitive focal points — Georgia at Tennessee and Washington at Oregon State — but an infinite number of plots to follow and questions to answer. Here’s your guide for following all of it.
Georgia-Tennessee and a 38-year drought
Sept. 28, 1985. Auburn visited Knoxville 2-0 and No. 1 in the country. Running back Bo Jackson was just beginning an eventual Heisman campaign, having rushed for 495 yards against Louisiana and Southern Miss, but he managed only 80 yards in 17 carries against Johnny Majors’ Vols, who bolted to a 24-0 lead and cruised 38-20.
That’s the last time the Vols beat a No. 1 team. Opportunities to end 38-year droughts don’t come around too often, but that’s what awaits the Vols on Saturday.
It’s probably good that this game pops up on the schedule when it does. Tennessee has no time to mope following last week’s 36-7 blowout loss at Missouri. There probably isn’t a top-10 finish in the cards this year, but wins over top-ranked teams…