Week Twelve Predictions
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As we creep near to the end of the regular season, the Pick'em Contest is heating up! DanceswithBeers2010 and MPG96 lead the way at 77% for the season. But close behind is Wadefake16 at 76%, and then Woody26, BeatWesAss, DarkCornerDawg and Scooby10672 at 75%. Another 14 players are sittiing at 73% or better and within striking distance with three weekends of picking to go (http://fans25.com/pick_standings.cfm). Folks, this year's version is going to go down to the wire once again! As for me, well, I went 11-4 a week ago, but my 68% score for the season so far is not something I really want to talk about! Here are my picks for the games of week twelve...
*All rankings BCS, all times EST
Northwestern at Michigan State - 12:00 - ESPN2 - The Wildcats had their hearts ripped out in an OT loss at Michigan a week ago. At 7-3, they are in for a very nice bowl if they can get another win or two. A trip to Michigan State this weekend will not be an easy way to get that eighth win, though. The Spartans have had a season of misfortune (four of their losses were by 1 point, 2 points, 3 points and 4 points and came to quality teams such as Nebraska, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan) and would love nothing better than to grab a big win at home to become bowl-eligible...Man, this is a super tough game to pick. And when I cannot decide, I choose the home team. I will stick with that plan. Michigan State, 20-17.
#22 Rutgers at Cincinnati - 12:00 - Big East Network - Two of the top teams in the Big East square off here as crunch-time is among us in the Northeast. A Rugters win would set up a showdown for the Big East crown in the season finale against Louisville, but the Bearcats have different plans for all that. They already lost to Louisville (in OT), so the Big East crown is a stretch. But the home team knows they can rock the conference boat and make a sweet bowl if they win out. This team is tough at home, and runs the ball like mad, and so I think they get it done. Cincinnati, 34-18.
Wofford at #9 South Carolina - 1:00 - ESPN3.com - I know Gamecock fans might laugh when I say this, but they need to take caution this weekend. Not only can Wofford play good football, but after a grueling SEC slate, and a trip to rival Clemson looming in eight days, some guys on the USC roster might be overlooking the Terriers. If they do, the results could be catastrophic...I think USC wins, and in fact, I think they win by two or more scores, but I stand by my point that Wofford is a solid program and a turnover or two could see the Gamecocks in big trouble. South Carolina, 33-17.
#18 USC at #17 UCLA - 3:05 - FOX - Is there a changing of the guard in LA? For years now, USC has dominated this series (12-1 in last 13 meetings). But now, the coaches of the two programs seem to be giving me opposite vibes. While USC will always recruit well because they are USC, the Trojans might be struggling with leadership. Lane Kiffin just plain rubs me wrong and I think Trojan insiders may feel the same way. Meanwhile, in Jim Mora's first year as Bruin coach, he seems to have made some serious strides. Now, I know it is way too early to say UCLA is the new sherriff in town for the future, but I do think USC has their hands full at this point. In fact, I am going to go as far as to predict a UCLA win in this one. UCLA, 35-29.
Ole Miss at #7 LSU - 3:30 - CBS - In the slimmest of outside possibilities, LSU is trying their best to hang on to BCS possibilities. To stay in that mix, they will next need to dispose of Ole Miss. The Rebels are 5-5 (2-4 SEC) in Hugh Freeze's first season, playing equally mediocre offense and defense (59th in points for at 29.5 ppg and 62nd in points allowed at 27.8 points allowed). The Tiger D is a top ten unit and I expect them to close the door on Mississippi. LSU, 24-10.
Wake Forest at #3 Notre Dame - 3:30 - NBC - Great. Here is another chance for the ACC to get put on the chopping block on national TV. Sorta, kinda, somewhat future ACC member Notre Dame gets a chance to whip the Deacons before they enter into their odd agreement with the league next season. WFU is usually quite respectable on the grid-iron under long-time coach Jim Grobe, but 2012 has been a different story (5-5 so far, 3-5 in the league). On the other side, we all know ND is having a return-to-glory type of year and are playing focused ball. I think Wake hangs in there early, but the Irish pull away. Notre Dame, 38-17.
Minnesota at #14 Nebraska - 3:30 - Big 10 Network - Here is a chance for NU to pick up style points, improve their record, improve their ranking, improve players' numbers, etc...You get the point. The Huskers are very much alive for the Big Ten Legends Division crown and a trip to the BCS if they can win the league. A loss to Minnesota - at home - just does not fall into the itinerary. In college football, anything can happen, but I would expect my dog to go out and bring me back a pizza before I would expect a Minnesota win in Memorial Stadium this Saturday. Nebraska, 37-17.
Ohio State at Wisconsin - 3:30 - ABC regional - Like 'em or not, with Braxton Miller running the show at QB and Urban Meyer calling the shots as HC, the Buckeyes might be one of the best teams in America. Lucky for the BCS system, undefeated Ohio State is not eligible for the national crown this year, thus simplifying things even if just a bit....All that said, they are in for a war to stay unbeaten. All three of Wisconsin's losses came by exactly three points (at Oregon State, at Nebraska, Michigan State) and they can play the hell out of some defense. They can play a little O, too, putting 62 on Indiana's scoreboad last week. That formula leads me to think OSU is in for their first loss of the season and first loss under Meyer. This should be a brutal, hard-fought game that I will give to the home team. Wisconsin, 27-26.
#23 Texas Tech at #24 Oklahoma State - 3:30 - TV tba - Every time I write about a Big 12 game, it's like trying to figure out which team will outscore the other team that weekend. It is a crapshoot to be honest! This game here is another case of two highly explosive offenses squaring off against two so-so defenses. The two teams are third (OSU) and 18th (TTU) in points scored. Defensively, they are 60th (OSU) and 62nd (TTU) in points allowed. Get ready for another Big 12 shootout, folks! Oklahoma State, 45-42.
Indiana at Penn State - 12:00 - Big 10 Network - PSU is surprising people this season by winning games when many thought a terrible season was in store. The Lions can move to 7-4 with a win here at home over Indiana, and I predict that to in fact be the case. Penn State rides the defense, which ranks in the nation's top 20 units at just 18 ppg. Indiana - as usual - is bad at both offense and defense. The defense is especially bad, giving up over 32 ppg. Penn State cannot go bowling, but a growing win total is impressive after the turmoil that rocked that school. Penn State, 30-13.
NC State at #11 Clemson - 3:30 - ABC regional - NCSU is one of the most unpredictable football teams in America. One weekend they upset then #4 Florida State, another weekend they get toasted (at home) by a very average Virginia team. If you can figure them out, please let me know. As for Clemson, I do know the Tigers seem to have broken out of their "play to the level of your competition" mode - at least so far in 2012. Games that used to be nail-biters are now blowouts, and the Tigers haven't lost at home since 2010 (to South Carolina, next week's foe). So in this one, you have to go with CU. I know it is college football and hearts can be broken at any second, but I see the Tigers reaching ten wins and moving on to their rivalry game next week. Clemson, 38-24.
#12 Oklahoma at West Virginia - 7:00 - FOX - If you are WVU fan, this is why you are glad your team joined the Big 12. Teams such as Oklahoma coming into your place is a real treat compared to some opponents of year's gone by. The Mountaineers have taken a few on the chin this season, but a win here would bounce them back into the Top 25 and up a bowl tier or two. OU is pretty good, but have also shown they can go down hard (K-State and Notre Dame). I am going to pick WVU to play one of their better games of the season and get on track with a big win. West Virginia, 50-40.
Tennessee at Vanderbilt - 7:00 - ESPN2 - The Commodores can put Derek Dooley out of his misery with a win in this one at home. Dooley - hanging on by a thread, if that - had been rumored all week to be ousted at UT. But, somehow, he is still the HC, much to the demise of half of the UT fan base. The other half still supports him and will be singing Rocky Top loudly in Nashville. But I think Vandy is pretty good at home, and the Vols are split down the middle and lost in a haze. The Rocky Top anthem will be kept to a minimum if this prediction is correct. Vanderbilt, 28-24.
#1 Kansas State at Baylor - 8:00 - ESPN - The nation's new top-ranked team will hit the airwaves on prime-time ESPN national TV to show off their lofty ranking and the Heisman bid of QB Collin Klein. The Wildcats better be ready and not get caught up in the hype, though, as Baylor is a decent squad. No, they are not the team of a year ago with RGIII running things, but they are still pretty tough, scoring a nation's seventh best 43 points per game. KSU HC Bill Snyder is one of the very best in the biz, and I don't see him letting his team do anything except focusing on football. In this one, I think Baylor comes out hot, but K-State pulls away eventually. Kansas State, 39-28.
#13 Stanford at #2 Oregon - 8:00 - ABC - Here is the marquee game of the weekend. If Oregon is to lose in the regular season, this game right here offers as good of a chance as any (yes, Beavers, I know you're still out there). The Cardinal have been about as disciplined and hard-nosed as any team in the nation since Jim Harbaugh brought that attitude in a few years back. Current coach David Shaw has carried that mentality on, and I wouldn't be surprised in the least if Stanford gives Oregon all they want and then some. It would be crazy to pick against the Ducks at home, so I won't, but I guarantee that the Cardinal will make this game a nail-biter for fans of the quack before it is over with. Oregon, 38-31.
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