College Football Week 12 Predictions: Last-Second Breakdowns for Top 25 Clashes

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College Football Week 12 Predictions: Last-Second Breakdowns for Top 25 Clashes
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Whether you are in the mood for a shootout or want to see a defensive powerhouse pitted against an explosive offense, Week 12's Top 25 matchups offer a little something for everyone.

No. 17 UCLA hosts No. 18 USC in Pasadena, No. 23 Texas Tech storms into Stillwater to face No. 24 Oklahoma State, and No. 13 Stanford attempts to control No. 2 Oregon's high-octane offensive attack.

But what will ultimately determine each matchup?

Here is the "key to the game" for each contest on Saturday, complete with my predictions.

 

No. 18 USC at No. 17 UCLA

Key to the Game: USC Pass Defense vs. UCLA Passing Attack

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

Both of the these teams have similar run defenses, so I don't see either one gaining a lot of ground on the other in that department.

But UCLA is one of those teams that can challenge USC for the most dynamic passing attack. Bruins freshman quarterback Brett Hundley has averaged 8.3 yards per pass attempt this season (tied for 19th, via CFBStats.com) while tossing 24 touchdowns to nine interceptions. He has also completed 69 percent of his passes, 10th in the nation.

I'm giving the edge to USC in this matchup because I like the Trojans' pass defense more than UCLA's, but Hundley and the Bruins certainly have the ability to make this another thrilling, close-knit shootout.

Prediction: USC 45, UCLA 37


No. 23 Texas Tech at No. 24 Oklahoma State

Key to the Game: Oklahoma State Pass Defense vs. Texas Tech Passing Attack

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

In a similar vein, the better of the two pass defenses will likely decide the outcome in this matchup.

While Texas Tech has statistically edged Oklahoma State in pass defense this season (6.0 yards per attempt allowed, tied for 19th in the country), the Red Raiders have struggled lately while the Cowboys have played better in that department.

Oklahoma State held TCU to 14 points in Week 9 and West Virginia to 34 points last week (believe it or not, that's a success for the Cowboys).

Oklahoma State has the offense to beat Texas Tech if it can simply limit the Red Raiders through the air and not get blasted like it did in its three losses to Kansas State, Texas and Arizona this season.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 40, Texas Tech 34

 

No. 13 Stanford at No. 2 Oregon

Key to the Game: Stanford Passing Game vs. Oregon Pass Defense

Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

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Oregon is going to score its fair share of points, it's that simple. The Ducks are averaging 54.8 points per game this season (best in the nation) and haven't scored fewer than 42 points in any game. The Cardinal have the defense to somewhat limit the Ducks, which I expect them to do, but Stanford is still going to have to put up some points to come away with this one in Eugene.

Freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan makes the second start of his career on Saturday after a surprising performance in Stanford's 27-23 victory over Oregon State last week. 

But as efficient as he was against the Beavers (22-of-29, 8.76 yards per attempt, three touchdowns), he also tossed two interceptions, which I could see coming into play against Oregon.

Oregon has notched 18 interceptions this season, tied for second in the country, and that could be the difference. You give this Ducks team more possessions, and you are asking for trouble, no matter how good you are on defense or offense.

Prediction: Oregon 38, Stanford 27

 

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