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College Football Picks: Predicting Every Game in Week 12

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The Week 12 edition of picking every game on the college football schedule is highlighted by the first wave of rivalry games. USC hosts UCLA in a battle of elite Southern California quarterbacks, and Stanford hosts Cal in the latest edition of the Big Game. Here is every game on the Week 12 slate.

Stanford RB Bryce Love

Thursday, Nov. 16

Buffalo at Ball State

Buffalo’s record (4–6) might not be impressive, but the Bulls are making progress under Lance Leipold. All six of the losses have come by 10 points or fewer, including four by four or fewer. Ball State, on the other hand, is regressing. It’s a young roster hit by a ton of injuries, but the Cardinals have lost seven straight games, all but one by at least 28 points. Buffalo 38, Ball State 10

Tulsa at South Florida

South Florida slipped in the national rankings after losing at home to Houston in late October, but the Bulls are still in solid position to earn a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game. The path isn’t complicated — beat Tulsa, UCF and Memphis (in the AAC title game) — but it will be difficult. South Florida 41, Tulsa 18

Friday, Nov. 17

Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky

These regional rivals have been two of the top programs in Conference USA East in recent years. This season, however, both are 3–3 in the league and scrambling to reach bowl eligibility. Go with the home team. Western Kentucky 37, Middle Tennessee 28

UNLV at New Mexico

New Mexico has taken several steps back from its nine-win 2016 campaign. The Lobos are 3–7 overall and likely headed toward a last-place finish in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West. UNLV needs to win at New Mexico and Nevada to get to six wins. UNLV 28, New Mexico 27

Saturday, Nov. 18

Cincinnati at East Carolina

Cincinnati won at least nine games seven times in an eight-year span from 2007-14. That seems like a long time ago. The Bearcats are 3–7 overall and headed toward a second-straight losing season. East Carolina is another proud program in rough shape. Cincinnati 24, East Carolina 20

Delaware State at Florida State

Delaware State is 2–7 overall and lost to West Virginia 59–16 in its only game against an FBS opponent. This will not be close. Florida State 49, Delaware State 0

ULM at Auburn

It’s a tune-up weekend for several of the top programs in the SEC. Auburn, unlike its friends from Tuscaloosa, is playing a school from the FBS ranks. Auburn 48, ULM 13

Mercer at Alabama

Mercer is the only team not in the SEC West that will play both Auburn and Alabama in the 2017 regular season. The Bears lost at Auburn 28–10 in Week 2 — and the 18-point margin is the closest of any of the Tigers’ eight wins this season. Alabama 49, Mercer 7

Michigan at Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s College Football Playoff candidacy is gaining momentum each week. The Badgers improved to 10–0 with a 38–14 win over Iowa and limited the Hawkeyes to 66 yards of offense. Only one team, Nebraska, has gained over 300 yards against the UW defense since Week 1. Wisconsin 24, Michigan 14

Minnesota at Northwestern

Northwestern has won five straight and secured no worse than a tie for second place in the Big Ten West. Minnesota last week recorded its best win of the season, pounding Nebraska 54–21 at home. The Golden Gophers need to win at Northwestern or beat Wisconsin at home to become bowl eligible in P.J. Fleck’s first season. Northwestern 24, Minnesota 21

Mississippi State at Arkansas

Mississippi State finally played a game decided by single digits — and it was against the No. 1 team in the nation. After losing to Georgia and Auburn by a combined 67 points in two early season tests, the Bulldogs battled Alabama to the wire before losing by seven in Starkville. Mississippi State 34, Arkansas 21

Rutgers at Indiana

It’s no surprise that one of these teams is fighting to get out of the Big Ten East basement. The surprise is that it’s Indiana and not Rutgers. The Hoosiers finally won a league game last weekend, beating Illinois by 10 points, but stand at 1–6 in the Big Ten and 4–6 overall. Both teams need to win their final two games to reach bowl eligibility. Indiana 30, Rutgers 21

SMU at Memphis

Memphis can secure a spot in the AAC Championship Game with a win over SMU on Saturday. The Tigers are one game up on Houston (who they beat) and two games up on Navy (who they beat) and SMU. SMU has played well in recent weeks but lost to both UCF (by seven) and Navy (by three). Memphis 41, SMU 34

TCU at Texas Tech

With Oklahoma in the driver’s seat to capture the Big 12 regular-season title, TCU’s focus is now securing a spot in the league championship game. To do so, the Horned Frogs only need to beat Texas Tech in Lubbock and Baylor in Waco — since they already have wins over Oklahoma State and West Virginia, the other two teams with two league losses. TCU 41, Texas Tech 30

Texas at West Virginia

This is a huge game for first-year Texas coach Tom Herman. It hasn’t been the smoothest of rides, but the Longhorns could finish the Big 12 season with a 6–3 record with wins over West Virginia and Texas Tech in the next two weeks. Winning in Morgantown, however, is never easy. West Virginia 30, Texas 20

UCF at Temple

With wins over Navy and at Cincinnati the last two weeks, Temple is showing signs of progress last in Geoff Collins’ first season. UCF continues to roll; the Knights are now 9–0 after a 49–24 win over UConn. They will soon be 10–0. UCF 38, Temple 13

Virginia at Miami (Fla.)

Miami’s dream season now includes a 41–8 victory over hated Notre Dame, a win that vaulted the Hurricanes into the top four in the College Football Playoff ranking. Virginia is good enough to make the Canes sweat; the Cavs have wins at Boise State and at home vs. Georgia Tech on their résumé. Miami 27, Virginia 17

The Citadel at Clemson

Clemson steps into the FCS ranks this weekend for a date with The Citadel, which is 5–5 overall and 3–5 in the Southern Conference. Clemson 51, The Citadel 7

Pittsburgh at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech followed up its disappointing loss at Miami two weeks ago with a 28–22 defeat at Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets completed only two passes — but those two passes went for a total of 140 yards. Pitt is coming off a loss at home to North Carolina. Not good. Virginia Tech 30, Pittsburgh 17

Fresno State at Wyoming

Wyoming has won three straight to improve to 5–1 in the Mountain West. The Cowboys, however, are a longshot to win the Mountain Division title; they are one game behind Boise State with two games to play, and they lost the head-to-head battle with the Broncos. Wyoming 24, Fresno State 14

Rice at Old Dominion

Rice showed some signs of life last week, losing to Southern Miss by only 11 points. But it was still a loss, the eighth straight for the Owls. Old Dominion, on the other hand, has won two in a row after losing six straight. Last week, the Monarchs beat FIU 37–30 on the road. Old Dominion 33, Rice 20

Iowa State at Baylor

It’s been an eventful season at Iowa State. The Cyclones have four losses, all by 10 points or fewer, and have wins over Oklahoma and TCU. This is a fun team. Baylor is good enough offensively to challenge Iowa State, but the Bears are really struggling on defense. Iowa State 34, Baylor 27

Arizona State at Oregon State

Arizona State needs to beat either Oregon State or Arizona to finish with a winning record in the Pac-12 for the first time since 2014. Oregon State, on the other hand, is two losses away from its first winless Pac-12 season since 1995. Arizona State 41, Oregon State 17

Charlotte at Southern Miss

Charlotte has one win this season. That win is over a 7–3 UAB team. Sometimes college football doesn’t make sense. Southern Miss 34, Charlotte 14

Hawaii at Utah State

Utah is 2–3 over its last five games, with both wins coming on the road and all three losses coming at home. That unlikely trend will end this weekend. Utah State 30, Hawaii 24

Louisiana Tech at UTEP

UTEP needs to beat either Louisiana Tech or UAB — neither of which is likely to happen — to avoid the program’s first winless season since 1973. Louisiana Tech 27, UTEP 19

Massachusetts at BYU

Both of these FBS Independents are playing their best football in the season’s final stretch. BYU followed up a 1–7 start with wins over San Jose State and UNLV sandwiched around a close loss to Fresno State. UMass has won three out of four after losing its first six games (all by 10 points or fewer). UMass 24, BYU 21

South Alabama at Georgia Southern

Georgia Southern has three more opportunities to break into the win column in 2017. This week is the Eagles’ last chance at home. Won’t happen. South Alabama 27, Georgia Southern 23

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Texas State at Arkansas State

Arkansas State, which doesn’t play Appalachian State, had a clear path to an outright Sun Belt title … until the Red Wolves lost at South Alabama on Saturday. Now, they are one of four teams with one loss in the league. Arkansas State 37, Texas State 25

Western Carolina at North Carolina

The Tar Heels, who upset Pittsburgh last Thursday night, are seeking their first two-game winning streak of the season. North Carolina 37, Western Carolina 13

Syracuse at Louisville

Baker Mayfieldis the favorite at this point to win the Heisman — and rightfully so — but Lamar Jackson should be one of the finalists invited to New York. Louisville’s junior quarterback ranks 11th nationally with 300.3 passing yards per game and 17th nationally in rushing with 117.6 yards per game. Louisville 48, Syracuse 40

Georgia Tech at Duke

Duke’s season continues to spiral out of control. The Blue Devils lost their sixth straight game, falling to Army 21–16 at West Point. This team scored 20 touchdowns in its first four games, all wins, but has seven TDs in its six-game slide. Georgia Tech 34, Duke 17

Illinois at Ohio State

Ohio State responded quite nicely from its shocking loss at Iowa by dismantling Michigan State last weekend in Columbus. The Buckeyes rolled up 524 yards en route to a 48–3 win. This visit from Illinois will be a tune-up for the big trip to Ann Arbor in two weeks. Ohio State 41, Illinois 6

Kansas State at Oklahoma State

Kansas State has had its share of injuries, but there’s no denying that the Wildcats have underachieved in 2017. With 13 starters back from a team that won six of its final seven games, K-State was regarded by some as a potential contender in the Big 12. Hasn’t happened. The Cats are 5–5 with two tough games remaining — this trip to Stillwater and a home date with Iowa State. Oklahoma State 41, Kansas State 24

With starting quarterback Zach Abey sidelined with an injury, Navy relied on the ground game even more than usual. The Midshipmen attempted only one pass (it was incomplete) in a 43–40 win over SMU. Notre Dame must rebound from a disheartening loss at Miami. The Irish are still in the hunt for a spot in the College Football Playoff, but they obviously cannot afford another loss. NotreDame 37, Navy 27

Oklahoma at Kansas

Oklahoma is one of the best teams in the nation. Kansas is arguably the worst Power 5 team. Advantage Oklahoma. Oklahoma 48, Kansas 13

Purdue at Iowa

After a 31–17 win over Minnesota in early October, Purdue was 3–2 and looked like a team capable of contending in the Big Ten West. The Boilermakers are 1–4 since, with the only win coming over Illinois. Iowa has lost four games, but each of the four has come against a team currently ranked. Iowa 28, Purdue 20

San Jose State at Colorado State

Colorado State has played its way out of the Mountain Division race by losing three straight, including last week’s 59–52 setback in overtime to Boise State in a game in which the Rams once led 28–3. Colorado State 48, San Jose State 10

Kentucky at Georgia

Georgia dropped its first game of the season — in decisive fashion at Auburn — but the Bulldogs still control their own destiny. Close out the regular season with wins over Kentucky and Georgia Tech and somehow find a way to beat Alabama (or Auburn) in the SEC Championship Game, and Kirby Smart’s team will be in position to play for a national title. First things first: Beating Kentucky is not a sure thing. The Cats are 7–3 overall and playing very well on offense. Georgia 37, Kentucky 24

Houston at Tulane

Tulane snapped a four-game skid with an overtime win at East Carolina on Saturday and kept its bowl hopes alive in the second year of the Willie Fritz era. The task will not be easy: The Wave have to beat both Houston and SMU (road) to get to six wins. Houston 24, Tulane 20

Maryland at Michigan State

Michigan State has experienced the entire range of emotions in the past three games: crushing overtime loss at Northwestern followed by a thrilling win at the buzzer against Penn State followed by a 45-point beatdown at Ohio State. This week’s game figures to be more normal. Michigan State 30, Maryland 14

Nebraska at Penn State

Nebraska made a splash in the offseason by hiring Bob Diaco to improve a defense that was actually not too bad (sixth in the Big Ten in both scoring and total D). The results have not been good. The Huskers rank 10th in the league in scoring defense (25.1 ppg) and 13th in total defense (412.0 ypg) and have given up at least 31 points in five of the past six games. Penn State 38, Nebraska 13

UAB at Florida

Florida’s losing streak reached five games on Saturday with a 28–20 loss at South Carolina. The Gators were held to 301 total yards and have had 350 or fewer in four of their last five games. UAB continues to roll in its first year back playing football after a two-year hiatus. The Blazers are 7–3 overall, with two of the three losses coming by three points or fewer. They will be at a major talent disadvantage on Saturday, but don’t rule out the upset. Florida 20, UAB 13

Wofford at South Carolina

South Carolina is one of the few teams nationally that has wrapped up its conference schedule. The Gamecocks, 5–3, will finish all alone in second place in the SEC East if Georgia defeats Kentucky on Saturday. Not a bad second season for Will Muschamp. South Carolina 34, Wofford 14

Coastal Carolina at Idaho

Idaho must win its final three games to reach bowl eligibility in its final season in the FBS ranks. Getting a win this week shouldn’t be too difficult. Winning at both New Mexico State and Georgia State is possible but not likely. Idaho 34, Coastal Carolina 14

New Mexico State at Louisiana

These two teams are bunched in the middle of the Sun Belt standings and are both in search of two more wins to become bowl eligible. Louisiana has had more success of late, with wins in three of its last four league games. Louisiana 31, New Mexico 27

Army at North Texas

Army has completed a total of 13 passes during its six-game winning streak, and eight were in one game (vs. Temple). In the last two games, the Black Knights have attempted one pass, and it was completed for 42 yards. This week’s opponent is formidable; North Texas has won three straight and is 7–3 overall. North Texas 28, Army 24

Arizona at Oregon

Over the last 10 years (at least) no player who has rushed for at least 1,000 yards in a season has averaged at least 10.0 yards per carry. Khalil Tate, Arizona’s quarterback, currently has 1,293 rushing yards on an 11.7-yard average. Arizona 37, Oregon 35

Boston College at Connecticut

Boston College’s three-game winning streak was snapped, but there is no shame in losing by three points at home to NC State. The Eagles, however, lost the services of starting quarterback Anthony Brown  and will have to go with Darius Wade for the final two regular-season games and a likely bowl game. Boston College 30, UConn 13


This was developing into a winner-take-all battle for the C-USA East Division title … until FIU inexplicably lost at home to Old Dominion last week. Now, FAU has a two-game lead on both FIU and Marshall with only two to play. FAU 34, FIU 24

LSU at Tennessee

Tennessee’s losing streak in SEC action is now seven games after last week’s 50–17 loss at Missouri. The most alarming aspect of the loss: Missouri rushed for 433 yards on an 8.2-yard average. Expect a huge game from Derrius Guice and the LSU rushing attack. LSU 34, Tennessee 14

Marshall at UTSA

UTSA has lost four of six to drop out of the C-USA West race, but all four losses have been by seven points or fewer and all four are to teams with a winning record in league play. UTSA 27, Marshall 24

Texas A&M at Ole Miss

Since stepping in for the injured Shea Patterson against LSU last month, Jordan Ta’ama has thrown for 1,246 yards while completing 73.5 percent of his attempts with seven touchdowns and two interceptions. This is still a very formidable offense. Ole Miss 37, Texas A&M 30

Missouri at Vanderbilt

No team has changed its fortunes in the past month more than Missouri. After losing 53–28 at Georgia on Oct. 14, the Tigers were 1–5 overall with the only win coming over an FCS foe. They are 4–0 since that trip to Athens with a 47-point win over Idaho, a 40-point win over UConn, a 29-point win over Florida and a 33-point win over Tennessee. Not elite competition, but those are some decisive margins. Missouri 38, Vanderbilt 28

NC State at Wake Forest

Wake Forest has scored a total of 106 points in its last two ACC games, wins over Louisville and Syracuse — not bad for a team that ranked last in the league in scoring in 2012, ’13, ’14 and ’16 and next to last in 2015. With a win over NC State, the Deacons can secure a non-losing ACC record for the first time since 2011. Wake Forest 30, NC State 27

California at Stanford

Justin Wilcox makes his Big Game debut as Cal’s head coach — he was a linebackers coach at Cal from 2003-05 — with a team that needs to win one of its final two games to reach bowl eligibility. Stanford is tied with Washington State and Washington in the loss column atop the Pac-12 North standings. The Cardinal need to beat Cal and hope for a Washington win in the Apple Cup. Stanford 30, California 21


USC has clinched a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game for the second time in three years. UCLA, 5–5 overall, is in danger of missing out on a bowl game for the second time in the Josh Rosen era. Not good. USC 41, UCLA 24

Air Force at Boise State

Air Force has scored a total of 14 points in consecutive losses to Army and Wyoming after averaging 41.4 points in its previous five games. After slipping up twice in non-conference action, against Washington State and Virginia, Boise is 6–0 in the league and headed to a likely spot in the Mountain West title game. Boise State 40, Air Force 20

Nevada at San Diego State

Nevada has won only two games in Jay Norvell’s first season, but the Wolf Pack have been entertaining. They have scored at least 40 points in three games and given up at least 40 points in five games. San Diego State 40, Nevada 24

Utah at Washington

Washington’s hopes for a return to the CFB Playoff ended with a 30–22 loss at Stanford last Friday. The Huskies don’t even control their own destiny in the Pac-12 North; Stanford needs to lose to Cal, UW needs to beat Utah and Washington State. Washington 30, Utah 17