College Football Week 12: Previews and Predictions for the Top 10 Games
More conference title race matchups will take place in Week 12.
After a big win over Oregon, Stanford will head to Los Angeles hoping to keep its lead in the Pac-12 North Division, but will a surging USC squad pull off the upset to keep itself in the Pac-12 South Division discussion?
The Pac-12 also consists of contests between Washington and UCLA, as well as Oregon State at Arizona State.
The Big Ten will have its showdown between Big Ten Legends Division contenders Michigan State and Nebraska, while the Big 12 will feature a ranked matchup between conference contenders Oklahoma State and Texas.
Lastly, the SEC key matchup this week will be the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry between Georgia and Auburn, while the ACC will be headlined by up-and-coming Duke trying to upset Miami (Fla.).
With conference title races heating up, here are the top 10 games to watch...
No. 25 Georgia at No. 7 Auburn
No. 25 Georgia at No. 7 Auburn, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry will be a conference elimination game for the Dawgs and Tigers.
Another loss for a banged up Georgia squad would cost it a chance of winning the SEC East Division.
Quarterback Aaron Murray, who broke the SEC career passing touchdown record (115) this past Saturday against Appalachian State, will look to expose an Auburn defense that has struggled against the pass this season.
While Murray tries to give the Tigers problems with his arm, explosive running back Todd Gurley (625 yards and eight total touchdowns) will use his legs to hopefully cause his fair share of problems as well.
Auburn’s wild and unexpected ride would need to continue against Georgia, if it would want any chance of playing in-state hated rival Alabama for a birth in the SEC Championship game.
Georgia’s defense, which has only surrendered 126.0 rushing yards per game this season, must shutdown the run if it wants any chance of knocking off Auburn for a third straight season.
There is no doubt there will be lot of scoring in this matchup, but will Georgia’s offense be able to keep up once the fourth quarter hits?
Prediction: Auburn 38, Georgia 28
No. 12 Oklahoma State at No. 24 Texas
No. 12 Oklahoma State at No. 24 Texas, 3:30 p.m. ET, FOX
Mike Gundy’s Cowboys have averaged 52.0 points in its past three games and will be looking to take down a beat up Texas team that has yet to lose a conference game.
Not only has the offense been playing well with quarterback Clint Chelf under center, but the defense could pose a threat to the Longhorn offense.
Texas suffered a major blow to its offense at West Virginia when starting running back Johnathan Gray tore his Achilles tendon, causing him to miss the remainder of the season.
The Longhorn defense led by defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat is giving up an average of just 208.3 passing yards per game. It also may not have to worry about Oklahoma State wide receiver Josh Stewart, who is currently battling a foot injury and could miss Saturday’s contest. Stewart’s injury would likely affect the Cowboy offense’s passing game production.
The Horns broke the Pokes’ heart last season in Stillwater, now it’s revenge in Austin for an Oklahoma State team that has its eyes on a Big 12 Conference title.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 40, Texas 32
No. 16 Michigan State at Nebraska
No. 16 Michigan State at Nebraska, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2
The Michigan State defense led by linebacker Denicos Allen continues to be the best overall defense in the country. The Spartans rank first in total yards per game (214.5) and rushing yards per game (42.0). It also ranks second in points per game (10.9) and fourth in passing yards per game (172.5).
The offense, led by quarterback Connor Cook and running back Jeremy Langford, will look to do its best against a Husker defense that's held its last two opponents to an average of 18.5 points per game.
The Husker offense will have its toughest test of the year, as it faces a physical defense that can beat up an offensive line and get sacks.
Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. will get his sixth start of the season and may need to rely more on his arm if the running game struggles. The Husker backfield is led by workhorse running back Ameer Abdullah, who has 1,213 rushing yards and eight total touchdowns this season.
The main aspect to pay attention to in this matchup will be how the Nebraska offense holds up against the Michigan State defense.
Mark Dantonio’s Spartans have looked solid this season and are more than ready to seek revenge after its last two consecutive losses to the Huskers. The offense has managed to put enough points up on the scoreboard to win games and the defense has contained every offense its faced this season.
Nebraska will hang in a close low-scoring game, but it will be Michigan State that comes out on top.
Prediction: Michigan State 23, Nebraska 20
No. 23 Miami (Fla.) at Duke
No. 23 Miami (Fla.) at Duke, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
After two straight losses, the Canes will be trying to bounce back and get themselves back in the ACC title picture.
Unfortunately, Miami travels to Durham to face a surging Duke squad that’s on a five-game winning streak and ready to make a statement in the ACC.
The Miami rushing attack struggled against Virginia Tech without Duke Johnson, as it only recorded 28 total yards. It will be up to quarterback Stephen Morris to get the ball to wide receivers Allen Hurns and Stacy Coley.
The Cane defense has also struggled by giving up 41.5 points in its last two losses, and could be in for another rough outing if it can’t stop Duke’s offense.
The Blue Devils will likely use both Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette at quarterback again. The main threat to Miami's defense will be junior wide receiver Jamison Crowder. Crowder has already reached 903 receiving yards and scored four touchdowns this season.
The Duke defense has been led by linebacker David Helton, who's recorded 32 tackles in his past two games, and held its opponents to just 14.8 points per game since Oct. 12 when it defeated Navy.
Miami seems to be in trouble at this point offensively, while the Blue Devils have scored 35 points or more in five of its past six games.
Duke will pull off the upset and keep itself in contention to win the ACC Coastal Division.
Prediction: Duke 30, Miami (Fla.) 24
No. 4 Stanford at USC
No. 4 Stanford at USC, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
The Cardinal physically manhandled division rival Oregon a week ago on both sides of the ball and will look to do so again against the Trojans.
The Stanford offense is not scared to slow the game down and establish a three down rushing attack.
Quarterback Kevin Hogan has the ability to slip away from defenders to pick up yards on the ground, and running back Tyler Gaffney can pound it out on the ground by relying on the line to block for him up front.
Gaffney has rushed for over 100 yards and scored seven touchdowns in his past four games. If Hogan opts to throw the ball, he has a dangerous threat in wide receiver Ty Montgomery to go to.
The Stanford defense, which is loaded with talent, has held opponents to only 99.3 yards per game.
If the USC ground attack led by Javorius Allen and Tre Madden, who is listed as probable for Saturday, gets shutdown by Stanford's defense, it will put a lot of pressure on quarterback Cody Kessler to make plays with his arm. Fortunately, he has talented playmakers in wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Marqise Lee.
The Trojan defense, which has held opponents to only 112.5 rushing yards per game, must control the line of scrimmage if it wants to stop the Cardinal running game from being successful.
While it’s likely this will be Stanford’s final challenge before taking its second consecutive Pac-12 Championship against Cal on Nov. 23, USC has gone 4-0 in conference play with Ed Orgeron at the helm and is in the running to take the Pac-12 South Division.
There is a lot on the line for both programs in this game, and it will likely be another close contest. USC will give Stanford its best shot, but come up just short in the end.
Prediction: Stanford 31, USC 26
The Other Five
Fri: Washington at No. 13 UCLA, 9:00 p.m., ET, ESPN2
After UCLA lost two straight games to Stanford and Oregon, it has since gotten back on track and currently is in the Pac-12 South Division race.
Brett Hundley and the Bruins though, will have the task of taking down a Husky team that’s on its own two game winning streak.
Expect both teams to put points up, but for UCLA to eventually make a big stop on defense in the fourth quarter to get the win. A win keeps the Bruins in the division race with Arizona State and USC, who it has yet to face this season.
Prediction: UCLA 35, Washington 28
Texas Tech vs No. 5 Baylor (Arlington), 7 p.m. ET, FOX
Baylor proved to the nation that it will be a force to be reckoned with going forward after its beat down on then-No. 10 Oklahoma 41-12.
Quarterback Bryce Petty (2,657 passing yards and 29 total touchdowns) leads the best offense in the country, but he may not have star running back Lache Seastrunk in the backfield, who is probable with a groin injury.
One of Petty’s main targets in the passing game, wide receiver Tevin Reese, is also out for the remainder of the regular season after suffering a wrist injury.
These injuries could have an impact on an offense averaging an astounding 61.0 points per game, but Texas Tech is on a downward spiral after losing its last three games in a row.
Both teams rank in the top three in passing yards per game this season, meaning we could be in for a shootout in Jerry World.
Baylor, though, is to fast and explosive on offense, meaning it will easily keep its undefeated season intact.
Prediction: Baylor 45, Texas Tech 24
Florida at No. 10 South Carolina, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Since South Carolina’s upset loss to Tennessee on Oct. 19, it has answered back with wins over SEC East Division leader Missouri and Mississippi State. Steve Spurrier’s bunch is very much in the race for the division title and a BCS At-large bid right now.
The Gators have been possibly the most disappointing team in college football this season. A win either here or against No. 2 Florida State is a must, otherwise it will miss its first bowl game since 1990.
An offense that is already struggling to score points could be without starting quarterback Tyler Murphy, who is a game-time decision with a sore shoulder.
Florida has lost its last four games, in part to it only averaging 15.0 points in those losses.
Prediction: South Carolina 35, Florida 17
Houston at No. 20 Louisville, 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU
This will be an elimination game for the AAC title, even though, it appears UCF will win the conference with head-to-head wins over both teams and no AAC losses up to this point.
The Cougar offense is averaging 310.9 passing yards per game and scoring 38.1 points per game with its lethal pass-catch tandem consisting of quarterback John O’Korn and wide receiver Deontay Greenberry.
Teddy Bridgewater’s Heisman stock has taken a hit since dropping its critical game to UCF, but it doesn’t mean his performance has plummeted.
Bridgwater (2,845 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, 3 interceptions) continues to lead a passing attack averaging 328.6 yards per game. While the offense has had success, the Louisville defense continues to keep opponents off the scoreboard by surrendering just 10.6 points per game (first in the country).
It should be an even game for the most part, but having home-field advantage and Bridgewater will be the difference in Louisville keeping itself in the AAC title race.
Louisville 31, Houston 20
Oregon State at No. 19 Arizona State, 9:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
Arizona State survived last week’s scare at Utah by scoring a game-winning touchdown with 2:37 left in the fourth quarter to win 20-19. The Sun Devils still control their destiny of winning the Pac-12 South Division and advancing to the Pac-12 Championship game for the first time.
The Beavers head into the desert on a two-game losing streak and a win would at least get them back on the right path, but the Sun Devils have been tough at home this season with a 5-0 home-field record.
Prediction: Arizona State 38, Oregon State 27