College Football Picks Week 12: How Top-Ranked Contenders Will Fare Saturday

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVNovember 15, 2013

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 09:  AJ McCarron #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates a touchdown rush by T.J. Yeldon #4 in the third quarter against the LSU Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 9, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After a mammoth of a college football slate last weekend that involved national title contenders both falling and making statement wins, things begin to slow down in Week 12.

Unlike last week, there are no games with severe national championship implications. There are also only two contests between Associated Press Top-25 foes. But despite the shortage, a handful of interesting games will unfold.

A quick glance at history will tell you that nothing is impossible in college football and anything can happen from week to week. 

Without further ado, here are the picks for Week 12's biggest matchups.

College Football Week 12 Picks (For Top 25)
Away TeamHome TeamPick
No. 1 AlabamaMississippi StateAlabama
SyracuseNo. 2 Florida StateFlorida State
No. 3 Ohio StateIllinoisOhio State
No. 4 StanfordUSCStanford
Texas TechNo. 5 BaylorBaylor
UtahNo. 6 OregonOregon
No. 25 GeorgiaNo. 7 AuburnAuburn
Georgia Tech (L 55-31)No. 8 Clemson-
FloridaNo. 10 South CarolinaSouth Carolina
No. 12 Oklahoma StateNo. 24 TexasOklahoma State
No. 16 Michigan StateNebraskaMichigan State
No. 17 UCFTempleUCF
Iowa StateNo. 18 OklahomaOklahoma
Oregon StateNo. 19 Arizona StateArizona State
HoustonNo. 22 WisconsinWisconsin
No. 23 Miami (Fla.)DukeDuke
ESPN.com

Title Contenders in Action

No. 1 Alabama at Mississippi State

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 09:  T.J. Yeldon #4 of the Alabama Crimson Tide scores a touchdown in the third quarter against the LSU Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 9, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Top-ranked Alabama struggled the previous time it played a near-elite team, topping Texas A&M 49-42 back in September. After two months of decisive wins, a tough test against then-13th-ranked LSU stood in the way last weekend. 

And unlike in previous seasons, the Tide made fools of the opposing Tigers and made it a snoozer by early in the fourth quarter, winning 38-17. 

Alabama's SEC slate continues on Saturday with a road contest against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs put up 41 points against Texas A&M last week, but were walloped at home against LSU and on the road at South Carolina en route to a 4-5 record. 

The Tide are certainly looking past the Bulldogs and ahead to the Iron Bowl and beyond. But you can afford to do that when you rank atop the NCAA in points against per game and feature 5-star recruits on your third-string offense. 

Alabama 48, Mississippi State 7

No. 25 Georgia at No. 7 Auburn

Nov 9, 2013; Knoxville, TN, USA; Auburn Tigers running back Cameron Artis-Payne (44) runs the ball against Tennessee Volunteers defensive back Max Arnold (46) during the second half at Neyland Stadium. Auburn won 55 to 23. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-U
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

There are very few games this weekend that beg for the national eye, but this is one of them. 

This season has been filled with surprise for both of these schools. On one hand, Georgia went from a top-five team to an afterthought in just two weeks after injuries decimated the Bulldogs. 

On the other, Auburn fans entered the year hoping for an upset win or two and something to put their faith in for the Gus Malzahn era. The Tigers are 9-1 and control their fate for not only an SEC but potentially a BCS championship appearance. 

Nick Marshall and Tre Mason are unstoppable right now on the ground—they surpassed 400 yards rushing against Tennessee while throwing the ball seven times. Just as well, Georgia's young defense is still figuring things out. 

The Bulldogs will stack the box to stop Auburn's rushing attack, but it won't matter. Marshall and Mason have been finding space all season, and that will continue as the Tigers roll at home.

Auburn 41, Georgia 24

No. 4 Stanford at USC

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 07:  Kevin Hogan #8 of the Stanford Cardinal celebrates after they beat the Oregon Ducks at Stanford Stadium on November 7, 2013 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Stanford picked up a huge win Saturday by knocking off then-No. 2 Oregon, and the game was much more lopsided than the 26-20 final score indicates.  

The Cardinal clawed their way out to a 17-0 lead early and ran the ball down the Ducks' throats with the Power-I formation. Tyler Gaffney proved he's the definition of reliable at running back, carrying the ball an incredible 45 times for 157 yards and a score. 

After losing to Utah, Stanford has disposed of three consecutive ranked teams. Next up is USC, which has won four of five since firing Lane Kiffin

David Shaw's squad has got to be one of the most confident bunches in the country at the moment. With no ranked teams left on the regular-season schedule, they'll be looking to embarrass everybody they play. 

Look for Gaffney to carry the ball early and often again en route to another powerful Stanford victory.

Stanford 38, USC 10