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November 16, 2012

College Football Report - Saturday Picks - Week 12

#18 USC (7-3) @ #17 UCLA (8-2)

Vs.
3:05 ET, FOX, Sat. Nov. 17, Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
Jim Mora was supposed to be UCLA’s savior to the program. A long, storied past, brought back to the forefront of college football. He’s done just that, but nobody, probably not even Mora, figured it would be this soon. He can thank redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley for that. Hundley has stepped into the starting role this season, throwing for over 2,700 yards and 24 touchdowns. He’s also added 272 yards and six scores on the ground. He may be the big reason “little brother” sits ahead of “big brother” in the rankings. The Trojans, with Matt Barkley, still own one of the nation’s best offenses, though. They proved their offensive firepower last year, by dropping the Bruins in a 50-0 contest. This is far from last year’s UCLA team, though. They’ve got it working on defense, as well, where linebacker Anthony Barr leads the Pac-12 in sacks with 11. The Bruins rank fourth in the country with 37 total sacks, a big reason why the Bruins will win in a squeaker. Pick: UCLA 37 – USC 34
 (Game of the week…)
#13 Stanford (8-2) @ #2 Oregon (10-0)
Vs.
8:00 ET, ABC, Sat. Nov. 17, Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR
Although the Ducks never trailed against the Cardinal last year, their 22-16 score was still too close for comfort. But, then again, that was just the first half. Oregon exploded after halftime, lying 31 second half points on Stanford. The Ducks come into this year’s game with nine defensive players, including five starters, either questionable or ruled out. Their lack of depth defensively has led to scares against USC and last week, in the first half at least, against Cal. The Ducks offense has been its best defense, though. A relentless group, conditioned better than anyone, quarterback Marcus Mariota is leading his group better than anyone in the country at this point in the season. The Cardinal are seasoned vets, but bring in an inexperienced quarterback in Kevin Hogan. It’ll be too much at Autzen Stadium. Pick: Oregon 47 – Stanford 27
#23 Texas Tech (7-3) @ #24 Oklahoma State (6-3)
Vs.
3:30 ET, Sat. Nov. 17, Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK
The popular saying in football goes “defense wins championships.” The lesser known, and even lesser said, however, is “offensive line’s stop defenses from winning championships.” OK, so the latter isn’t a saying at all, but it is true. Thanks much in part to its offensive line, Oklahoma State has been able to win with freshman quarterbacks and stay in games this season. They’ve given up just six sacks all season, good for third nationally. They’ve also given up just 46 stops behind the line, good for No. 11 nationally. As a team, the ground game averages 5.3 yards a rush. Running Back Joseph Randall, over 1000 yards on the season, will get his carries and yards, while junior quarterback Clint Chelf gets his second start of the year, a week after tossing four touchdowns against West Virginia. The better offensive line wins this one, which goes to Lane Taylor and OK State. Pick: Oklahoma State 34 – Texas Tech 24
Iowa (4-6) @ #21 Michigan (7-3)
Vs.
12:00 ET, ESPN, Sat. Nov. 17, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
Luck always seems to be on Michigan’s side when it comes to late game heroics and last second heaves. Last week was no different. Filling in for the injured Denard Robinson once again, Devin Gardner connected with wideout Roy Roundtree on a 53 yard toss, setting up a field goal to push the Wolverines and Wildcats into overtime. Michigan later walked out with the narrow victory. Gardner has completed 60 percent of his passes since taking over for Robinson, and added 286 yards through the air, 47 on the ground and three total touchdowns last week. It remains to be seen if Robinson will sit again this week, but Michigan fans don’t seem worried if he does. Iowa has lost four straight and have little offensive production. Finding room against a Michigan defense allowing just 302 total yards a game won’t be easy, or a challenge the Hawkeyes will walk away from. Pick: Michigan 26 – Iowa 17
 (Upset pick…)
Ohio State (10-0) @ Wisconsin (7-3)
Vs.
3:30 ET, ABC, Sat. Nov. 17, Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI
The last time the Buckeyes visited Camp Randall Stadium, OSU walked in with an undefeated mark and No.1 rank in the country. They left that game, and that season, with a lone one marked in the loss column. This year, they’re not ranked No. 1, but the Bucks are unbeaten. The Badgers have won two of their last three games played against the Buckeyes at home in Madison. With Ohio State ineligible for the Big Ten Championship, the Badgers already sit with the Leaders division wrapped up, but would love to top their season off by ruining the Bucks clean streak. The Badgers running game will need to be working at full strength, much like last week against Indiana when Montee Ball and James White combined for 359 yards and five touchdowns. Ranking No. 15 nationally in total defense, Wisconsin has what it takes to slow down Braxton Miller and the Bucks offensive push, as well. Camp Randall strikes again. Pick: Wisconsin 23 – Ohio State 20
(Give me a ticket to see…)
Utah State (8-2) @ #20 Louisiana Tech (9-1)
Vs.
4:00 ET, ESPN3, Sat. Nov. 17, Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston, LA
Louisiana Tech ranks No. 1 in the country in scoring offense and No. 1 in the country in total offense, but they give up just 71 fewer yards a game than they bring in. That’s too close for comfort from week-to-week. Tech holds the No. 119 (of 120 team) total defense while playing in the WAC. They’ve given up 49 points to Houston, 37 points to rice and just last week 55 points to Texas State. Utah State is two field goals away from an undefeated season, losing by two to Wisconsin and three to BYU. Other than those games, the Aggies, who hold the No. 12 total defense, have rolled through the rest of their schedule. Utah State will take half the Bulldog offense away, as they give up just 94 yards a game on the ground, at 2.9 a rush. Meanwhile, quarterback Chuckie Keeton proves to Tech just how much of a liability their defense really is. Pick: Utah State 48 – Louisiana Tech 41
#22 Rutgers (8-1) @ Cincinnati (7-2)
Vs.
12:00 ET, BEN, Sat. Nov. 17, Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
If not for a total team collapse against Kent State, the Scarlet Knights would hold a clean slate, making their November 29 meeting between No. 19 Louisville all the more special. They’ll have to settle instead for a one loss, Big East Championship season. However, they’ll need to get past another Ohio team first. Senior quarterback Brendon Kay took the starting job from Munchie Legaux last week, completing 62 percent of his passes for 244 yards and two scores. He also added 71 yards on the ground. Rutgers has seldom beaten themselves this season, however. Quarterback Gary Nova will need to limit mistakes, as he threw six interceptions against Kent State. The key will be to get running back Jawan Jamison going. He’s just 47 yards away from 1000 on the season. The Knights No. 5 ranked scoring defense will do the rest of the work from there. Pick: Rutgers 34 – Cincinnati 20
Northwestern (7-3) @ Michigan State (5-5)
Vs.
12:00 ET, ESPN2, Sat. Nov. 17, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI
The Wildcats have been trading wins and losses throughout their Big Ten schedule, at 3-3 in conference play. Their schedule would suggest they’re in line for a win against the Spartans, but Michigan State, who enters the game off a bye, has had an extra week to prepare for the Wildcats and for fans sake, an extra week to add in new offensive sets. Quarterback Andrew Maxwell hasn’t played bad this season, but he’s done little more than manage the game. Twice this season (both losses) Maxwell has thrown for below a 40 percent completion percentage. Luckily, for Maxwell’s sake, the Wildcats hold the nation’s No. 105 ranked pass defense and gave up 286 yards last week to a former wide receiver. Defense is still the Spartans strong point, but they’ll need to contain Kain Colter far better than they did Taylor Martinez (205 rush yards) in their last game. Pick: Michigan State 24 – Northwestern 23
Tennessee (4-6) @ Vanderbilt (6-4)
Vs.
7:00 ET, ESPN2, Sat. Nov. 17, Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, TN
Vol’s head coach Derrick Dooley is most likely far beyond fighting for his job this week. Tennessee faithful have already let him know it no longer exists. As far as he’s concerned, however, he’s still the head coach of the football program and fighting to become bowl eligible. Tennessee, 0-6 in SEC play, has not been winless in conference play since 1924. They’ve never finished winless in SEC play, though. The defense has been horrendous, giving up an SEC record 38 points in six straight games. Not even Vanderbilt has been that bad defensively. The Commodores, who will be going to a bowl for the second straight season, will be looking to put together their first eight win season since 1982 and possible first nine win season since 1915. It took a last minute score to get past Ole Miss last week, and they’ll be without leading rusher Zac Stacy. Quarterback Jordan Rodgers will be able to find plenty of open receivers on the nation’s No. 111 total defense, though. Pick: Vanderbilt 34 – Tennessee 31
Last Week: 4-6 – Overall: 46-31

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