Wow. Just wow. One week after going 10-0 straight up, the harsh reality of regression to the mean smacked us in the face. Last week we went 2-8 straight up and 2-7-1 against the spread. We also did not hit on the Upset of the Week even though the entire weekend was nothing but upsets. We accurately predicted that Clemson would score 42 points, but we missed a little bit on Pitt's point total. We even got the pick 'em game for the Sun Belt lead wrong. Auburn lost to Georgia and the Bulldogs didn't even score an offensive touchdown. All this probably means that this week we will be decidedly average since the previous 2 weeks were the 2 extremes.
On to the Week 12 guesses.
Teams on bye: Louisiana Tech, Western Kentucky, Akron, Miami (OH), Idaho, South Alabama (Canceled)
This game has lost some luster since Houston has lost a couple games this year after upsetting Oklahoma in week 1. The biggest story line for Houston has been where will Tom Herman coach next year. The biggest storylines for Louisville are how can they get past Clemson in the Playoff rankings, and how big a voting margin will Lamar Jackson win the Heisman by? On the field, Houston has been struggling. They have had narrow wins against UCF and Tulane. Not what we were expecting from them. Louisville has also had some narrow wins against Duke and Virginia, and struggled against Wake Forest. Despite that, Lamar Jackson has continued to put up bonkers numbers. Even in that game against Oklahoma, Houston gave up a pretty big stat line to Baker Mayfield. Look for Jackson to put up big numbers in a win. PICK: Louisville 38, Houston 24
Baylor is completely collapsing. They have lost 3 in a row. The entire coaching staff is going behind the head coach's back in support of the former head coach. Seth Russell is lost for the year with a gruesome ankle injury. Now they get to go against solid-but-not-spectacular Kansas State. And I just saw a stat that Kansas State is 8-0 against the spread coming off a bye since Bill Snyder's latest return to K-State. Who am I to go against current trends and history? PICK: Kansas State 28, Baylor 23
#11 Oklahoma St.
Oklahoma State has had the weirdest lines this year. Despite being highly ranked with a fluke loss against Central Michigan, they were underdogs on the road to K-State (won the game) and underdogs at home to West Virginia (won the game). Every time I see them and read a line that makes me go, "Oh, really?", I am inclined to go with the Pokes. They get to go against a TCU team that beat a sinking ship in Baylor, lost to Texas Tech, got creamed by West Virginia, and barely squeaked by Kansas. Am I looking at the same match up as Vegas here? This feels like a no-brainer which means it will probably be wrong. PICK: Oklahoma State 42, TCU 34
#22 Washington St.
#10 Colorado (-4.5)
Washington State is the lone undefeated team in conference play in the PAC 12. They get to go against PAC-12 south leader, Colorado, this week. I didn't think I'd be writing that sentence in Week 12. This is a classic match up of a high powered offense going against a stingy defense. Wazzu likes to pass, pass, and then pass some more. Colorado is #10 in the nation in stopping the pass. So that's strength on strength. Colorado averages over 200 ypg on the ground and Washington State actually has a solid run defense this year. So it seems like another deadlock. Colorado needs to control the clock to limit the Cougars' offensive possessions. They can't score if they don't have the ball. If they can do that, they can win at home and continue their magical season, while at the same time making the PAC 12 even more muddled. PICK: Colorado 28, Washington State 27
San Diego State
Wyoming blew a golden opportunity last week against UNLV. They lost a crazy game 69-66 in triple OT. That one hurt because they were a game up on Boise State in the division with the tie breaker over them. Now they drop into a tie for the division lead with Boise and New Mexico. If they win out, they will still win their division and play for the conference championship. That will be tough to do with San Diego State coming to town. The Aztecs have already clinched the Mountain West West and are undefeated in conference. (I still love the fact that the Mountain West named its two divisions the Mountain and the West.) SDSU has one of the top players in the nation in Donnel Pumphrey. He is 2nd in the nation in rushing and 3rd in the nation in all purpose yards. He will be tough to contain. San Diego State also has a top 5 defense. It all adds up to Wyoming missing out on a golden opportunity to play for the conference title. PICK: San Diego State 27, Wyoming 20
Notre Dame (Pk)
Virginia Tech lost last week to Georgia Tech, but they remain on track to make it to the ACC championship game because North Carolina had a terrible loss to Duke. Now they get to take on a terrible Notre Dame team this week. Notre Dame has to win their last 2 games just to get to be bowl eligible. Quite the fall for a preseason top 10 team. These are two mediocre teams and one is heading for a chance to play for a conference championship. It is going to be funny that Notre Dame won't even be bowl eligible this year. PICK: Virginia Tech 31, Notre Dame 17
#3 Michigan (-24)
So last week I blew it on the Michigan vs Iowa game. I still don't know how the hell Iowa won that game. Michigan has lost their starting QB Speight for the rest of the year, and that's going to hurt their chances at the Playoff, to say the least. Although QB in waiting is the once infamous John O'Korn who was damn good for Houston a few years back, and then fell on his face the next year only to transfer to the Big House hoping for the QB whisper to bring him back to his sophomore season. This one will be a tough matchup for the Wolverines, and it all hinges on the D and how well O'Korn can adjust to starting again. I loved me some sophomore O'Korn, hated me some Junior yr O'Korn.....which O'Korn will show up? You better believe that Michigan will lean on the D and the run game to get the job done. On the other hand, Indiana isn't all that great against the pass and average against the run. The Hoosiers have kept games close against the big dogs in the Big 10, and Indiana will make a bowl this year but I don't see their 6th win coming against this Michigan team. This game will be huge for Michigan and their fans. If O'Korn tears it up then OSU better watch out. If not then this season will be a disappointment. I don't see Michigan covering here unless we see sophomore O'Korn. PICK: Michigan 41, Indiana 24
Cal started out looking like the surprise of the PAC 12, but then the schedule kicked in the last month and the routs have been a plenty. Stanford looked like dog crap for a while, but lately they've turned it around with great red zone defense, second only behind Alabama. It's obvious that Cal will be throwing all day long, so Stanford will be more than ready for that crap. Unfortunately for Stanford the game is on the road, which means that McCaffrey will not score a TD (that is the craziest stat ever, he gets locked up on the road). All of that doesn't matter anymore. Stanford can now score more than 6 pts a game and the defense has turned a a corner. They can play with anyone at this point.....just way too little too late. Stanford won't have much of a problem taking this one away from Cal. Spread is -11 for Stanford....no problem here. PICK: Stanford 41, Cal 20
USC has turned their season around and UCLA looks real terrible. Not much to this game. UCLA was supposed to have Rosen dominate the PAC 12 along side a solid D to make a run at the PAC 12 Championship....neither one of those happened. I'm not sold on Rosen whatsoever. He's a guy that was highly touted, looked great in scrimmage, but sucks something fierce in the real deal. This game is going to be boring as hell. USC has found their QB for now and the future. Sam Darnold is the real deal. The Trojans are sky rocketing up the rankings with all of their quality wins.....much deserved. USC is far and away the better team, this one will not be close, so don't waste your time tuning into this one unless you like being tortured. USC all the way. PICK: USC 35, UCLA 17
#16 LSU (-14.5)
Here is a bonus pick. This game was cancelled back in October. Here's a copy and paste from that preview. Let's stick with it even though the stats aren't correct anymore.
After one game of Les Miles being gone, LSU set the all time school record for yards in an SEC game. And that's against a team that has a pretty decent defense. So all is right in the world and now they get to be a road favorite against the #2 defense (in terms of yards against) in the nation. Florida is no offensive juggernaut, but that defense is definitely nasty. They are holding opponents to 11.6 points per game and 3.86 yards per play. LSU is no slouch on defense either. They only give up 14.8 points per game and 4.78 yards per play. This game could be an offensive struggle. Who knows if that offensive outburst for LSU was an aberration or a sign of things to come under Coach O. Let's think positive and predict that LSU has figured something out on offense and they are able to hold down Florida's pop gun offense. Especially if Luke Del Rio is still on the shelf. PICK: LSU 18, Florida 16
#14 West Virginia (+3.5)
Biggest game of the year for the Big 12.....which isn't saying much. What a crappy conference this has been this year with the whole expansion/non-expansion thing and no one winning an important out of conference game, plus Baylor as the cherry on top (one big freaking gigantic cherry that needs to be blown up). Anyways, OU has looked better and better each week. Somehow the CFP committee thinks that OU should be in the conversation for the Playoff - I don't see it at all. They haven't beaten a ranked team. Even worse is that WVU only has 1 loss and is ranked 14th. That's simply because they haven't played anyone of merit and lost big time to Oklahoma St. WVU still shouldn't be ranked any worse than OU....but here we are. All of that is out the window and we have ourselves a barn burner. OU is the favorite on the road. I think that WVU is pissed off big time. They have everything to play for here. Remember 2 years when they took down TCU at home in a shocker? We're looking at the same scenario. I'm taking WVU in a close game that comes down to a missed or made FG by one of these teams. Home dog and playing with a chip on their shoulder? Upset of the Week! PICK: West Virginia 34, Oklahoma 33
Season Record - Straight Up: 65-44
Season Record - Versus Spread: 47-61-1
Upset of the Week: 4-7