NCAA Football Week 12 Picks and Preview
There are not a lot of good games this weekend, but as always when we see bad weekends, the games always turn out to be great. The most interesting games off the bat are USC at Oregon, Nebraska at Michigan, Penn State at Ohio State, and Oklahoma at Baylor. This weekend will most likely consist of me putting as many games up on my screen as possible and then hoping a few of them get really close.
USC at Oregon (-15)
The key to this game is Oregon’s defensive secondary trying to slow down Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. This game is not a great matchup for the Ducks while Stanford was a great matchup. Stanford lacked speed at receiver and Oregon was able to gang up on the run. Stanford is one of the best teams in the country at the receiver position. Oregon corners have struggled to stick tight to their receivers in man coverage and the Ducks are probably going to have to run a cover 2 or 3 most of the game to keep the USC receivers in front of them. Matt Barkley is playing as well as anybody in the country and is making very few mistakes every game. He’s identifying pressure, sliding protection, calling audibles, and hitting the open receivers. This phase of the game really has me worried. If the passing attack is dynamite then the USC running game could take hold with Marc Tyler back to 100%. If USC is able to stay balanced, then this one will be close.
Oregon has an advantage on offense with the edge at experience. Trojan safety TJ McDonald is a smaller version of Taylor Mays but they have a freshman at MIKE backer. Against Oregon teams have to stay disciplined, and inexperienced teams tend to lose their heads on defense. Mix the tempo in to the confusion Oregon’s plays cause and the Trojans could be out of position a lot. Another thing the Trojans struggle with is tackling, and against players like LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner, De’Anthony Thomas, and Josh Huff, if you miss a tackle it is a touchdown. I don’t think the Trojans can slow down Oregon and I would give the Duck defense good odds of getting multiple turnovers which will push Oregon over fifteen points.
Nebraska at Michigan (-3)
The battle between Taylor Martinez and Denard Robinson, two quarterbacks that can run like hell but struggle throwing the football. Robinson is stuck in a pro-style set and Martinez is in a spread offense focused on the running game. The defense for Michigan has been rock solid while the defense for Nebraska has been less than impressive. Once you factor in that the game is in the Big House and that Michigan is looking at a ten win season with two more wins I like the Wolverines to win.
Penn State (+7) at Ohio State
Who would’ve thought at the end of last season that neither Paterno nor Tressel would be coaching this game? Both teams have been rocked by problems off the field, with the Nittany Lions dealing with a much more recent problem involving a lackadaisical approach to handling the raping of children.
This is going to be a classic BIG-10 game as neither team has an effective passing attack. Braxton Miller holds the ball way too long even though the Buckeye line is protecting well and has troubles hitting receivers who are in tight windows. Matt McGloin is still quarterbacking for Penn State, and now that Joe Paterno isn’t head coach anymore, McGloin has taken every snap and doesn’t seem threatened at all to lose his starting spot to Bolden. The receivers though need to get open for McGloin and that could be a huge problem with the skill of the Ohio State secondary.
The team that is able to run the ball the best will win. The passing attacks are equally poor, both quarterbacks are struggling, both offensive lines are good. The division crown is on the line in this game and the Buckeyes have the home advantage. I like Ohio State to win but Penn State to cover.
Mississippi State at Arkansas (-13.5)
Arkansas’ only loss of the season is a 38-14 doozy against Alabama on the road. This team is notorious for getting off to slow starts and letting teams keep it close, but this Mississippi State team has really underperformed this season. The Bulldogs have had a good defense averaging 19.2 points against this season, but their offense has been nothing special, averaging only 25.8 points a game. The game is at Arkansas and that will probably be the difference in covering this game. Really I wanted to pick an even number of games to pick the spread against and this was the eighth most appealing.
Utah at Washington State (+3.5)
The Cougars got a monumental win last week and are still in the hunt for bowl eligibility. This is a must win for Washington State and quarterback Connor Halliday was amazing last week, lets see if he can keep it up this week. Utah has conference wins over UCLA, at Arizona, and Colorado. UCLA is awful out of Los Angeles, Arizona died three weeks ago, and Colorado hasn’t won a game on the road since 2007. All those teams also are in the south division. Utah leaves their place to take on a team from the northern division of the conference, I like the Cougars in that scenario.
Oklahoma at Baylor (+16)
Oklahoma is a good team and the Ducks last chance for the Oklahoma State Cowboys to lose. The Sooners travel to Waco, Texas to take on Robert Griffin III led Bears. Baylor is awful on defense, allowing 36 points a game, ranking them at 108th in the nation. However, they are 11th in the country in scoring averaging 40.3 points a game. Oklahoma has been plagued by injuries on defense but they will score often. I think the Sooners win, but Baylor is able to score enough against the weakened Sooner defense to cover the spread.
Colorado at UCLA (-11)
Colorado has lost 25 games in a row on the road and got their first conference win last week against Arizona. UCLA is only good in the friendly confines of the Rose Bowl with all 30,000 of their fans in attendance. Colorado has struggled stopping the run and that is all the UCLA does. If UCLA doesn’t have to rely on their quarterback they will have a good chance at covering.
California at Stanford (-18)
California is bipolar and Stanford is looking for a comeback win after getting handled by Oregon last week. Stanford was really a victim of matchups last week, they just didn’t have the speed to hang with Oregon and they were made one-dimensional when Oregon continually put a ton of guys in the box to stop the run. Cal doesn’t have the same speed advantage and they can’t hope for Maynard to pass the lights out of Stanford.
The Stanford defense will be able to stop the Cal running game. Stanford will be able to run the ball at will and get a one to two possession lead early. Cal will have to start passing and Stanford will cause bad things to happen when Cal passes the football. Mistakes will compound themselves and Cal will get crushed in The Big Game again.