Oregon-USC and More College Football Picks and Previews for Week 12
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Alabama took care of business at Mississippi State last weekend, but Auburn and Troy fell to Georgia and North Texas, respectively. This week, the Tide and Tigers both face teams from the FCS as they prepare for the Iron Bowl next Saturday in Auburn.
Troy plays the winless Florida Atlantic Owls as the Trojans look to put win No. 3 up on the board for the 2011 season.
Here goes Week 12:
College Picks (8-4 last week; 95-24 this season)
ALL RANKINGS REFLECT LATEST BCS POLL, AND ALL TIMES ARE LISTED IN CST.
Kentucky (4-6, 1-5) at No. 14 Georgia (8-2, 6-1)
Saturday, Nov. 19 at 11 a.m.: SEC NETWORK
The struggling Wildcats travel south to play the 'Dawgs between the hedges Saturday, and a victory by the home team will capture the SEC East Division Championship for Georgia. The Bulldogs have either won or shared five East Division titles since the league started its current divisional format in 1992, but they haven't been to the SEC Championship Game since 2007.
It has turned into such a charming 2011 season for Mark Richt, head coach of the 'Dawgs, who started out this season on the hot seat:
Georgia 38, Kentucky 12.
No. 16 Nebraska (8-2, 4-2) at No. 18 Michigan (8-2, 4-2)
Saturday, Nov. 19 at 11 a.m.: ESPN
Nebraska travels to Ann Arbor Saturday for the first time since 1962, but the Cornhuskers have met Michigan's Wolverines seven times in this rivalry's history. The "Black Shirts," as Nebraska's defensive unit is infamously known, face stiff competition for this meeting; they'll be up against Denard Robinson and the fast-paced Wolverine offense in this Big Ten Conference Legends Division showdown.
But Michigan's defense isn't bad, either. The Wolverines allow just 15.5 points per game, good for second in the Big Ten and fifth in the nation.
Michigan 27, Nebraska 24.
Samford (6-4, 4-4) at No. 24 Auburn (6-4, 4-3)
Saturday, Nov. 19 at noon: PPV/ESPN3.COM
Former Auburn Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Pat Sullivan returns to the Plains for Homecoming Saturday, but he'll be on the opposite sideline from the one he stood on between 1969-1971—as head coach.
Sullivan, who took over at the small Birmingham college in 2006, will be honored for his collegiate achievements before kickoff along with several of his teammates from his Heisman season at Auburn.
It'll be a bittersweet homecoming for the 61-year-old coach; in 26 games against the Tigers, Samford is 0-25-1:
Auburn 43, Samford 13.
Georgia Southern (9-1, 7-1) at No. 3 Alabama (9-1, 6-1)
Saturday, Nov. 19 at 1 p.m.: PPV/ESPN3.COM
Alabama hosts the FCS's No. 3 team Saturday for the last home game of the 2011 season, looking for a big win to set up next Saturday's Iron Bowl in Auburn. The Georgia Southern Eagles spent six weeks atop the FCS polls earlier this season before suffering their only loss of the year at Appalachian State. Yes, that's the same App State that knocked off Michigan a few years ago in the "Big House." Do you smell upset?
Alabama 45, Georgia Southern 6.
Southern Methodist (6-4, 4-2) at No. 11 Houston (10-0, 6-0)
Saturday, Nov. 19 at 2:30 p.m.: FSN, **ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY**
ESPN's College Gameday makes its first trip to the University of Houston campus Saturday to showcase one of the nation's three remaining undefeated teams, the Houston Cougars. The 'Cougs have one of the best passing attacks in the nation, led by senior Case Keenum.
The quarterback has broken several records during his long tenure at the Texas school, and this season he has the Cougars averaging 54.7 points per game (first in the nation).
Houston coach Kevin Sumlin is 3-0 all-time against SMU, including a 38-15 win over the Mustangs last season:
Houston 44, SMU 27.
Mississippi State (5-5, 1-5) at No. 6 Arkansas (9-1, 5-1)
Saturday, Nov. 19 at 2:30 p.m.: CBS
Arkansas leaves its Fayetteville campus to play host to Mississippi State in Little Rock Saturday, with the 'Hogs still "technically" alive for a shot at the BCS National Championship Game. Arkansas is looking to complete its first undefeated season at home since the 1999 season, but Mississippi State will hope to play spoiler in this one.
I foresee a struggle for the Razorbacks, but they're not ranked No. 6 for no reason. Bobby Petrino, believe it or not, boasts the highest career November winning percentage among SEC coaches (.793):
Arkansas 33, Mississippi State 21.
No. 7 Clemson (9-1, 6-1) at North Carolina State (5-5, 2-4)
Saturday, Nov. 19 at 2:30 p.m.: ABC
This series dates all the way back to 1899, when the Clemson Tigers, playing in just the 16th game in the school's history, shut out the Wolfpack 24-0 in a game played in Rock Hill, S.C. This Saturday's game should be a lot closer, however, if recent history means anything.
Nine of the last 14 meetings between the Tigers and the Wolfpack have been decided by eight points or less, including last year's 14-13 Clemson win in Death Valley:
Clemson 31, North Carolina State 24.
No. 21 Penn State (8-2, 5-1) at Ohio State (6-4, 3-3)
Saturday, Nov. 19 at 2:30 p.m.: ESPN/ABC
The Penn State child abuse sex scandal continues to evolve this week, and the school's football program has undoubtedly had its focus stripped as the Nittany Lions travel west to Columbus to face the Buckeyes.
Ohio State has struggled with off-the-field issues of its own all season, but no illegal jersey sales or any other actions the university has been accused of could measure up to what went down in Happy Valley during Jerry Sandusky's time as a coach there.
A season that started out promising for Penn State has been turned upside down:
Ohio State 20, Penn State 15.
Florida Atlantic (0-9, 0-6) at Troy (2-7, 1-4)
Saturday, Nov. 19 at 2:30 p.m.: TROY ISP SPORTS NETWORK
The Trojans dropped their homecoming game to North Texas last week 38-33, but they stay home this Saturday to host winless FAU within the confines of Veterans' Memorial Stadium. The only time FAU beat the Trojans was at Troy in the final game of the 2007 regular season, when the Owls knocked off the Trojans 38-32 to earn a berth in the New Orleans Bowl as the Sun Belt Champ.
Not this time:
Troy 31, Florida Atlantic 20.
No. 1 LSU (10-0, 6-0) at Ole Miss (2-8, 0-6)
Saturday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m.: ESPN
The Bengal Tigers travel to Oxford Saturday for what has recently become known as "The Magnolia Bowl." It's the fourth straight year the two schools will play for The Magnolia Bowl, which was a joint creation by the two schools' student governments.
Ole Miss was already hurting on offense this season, and it doesn't help that the Rebels' starting quarterback and leading rusher will be suspended for Saturday's contest:
LSU 41, Ole Miss 8.
Vanderbilt (5-5, 2-5) at Tennessee (4-6, 0-6)
Saturday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m.: ESPNU
Vanderbilt has looked impressive this season under first-year head coach James Franklin, but Saturday the Commodores travel to Knoxville to face the Tennessee Volunteers, who are looking for their first SEC win this season.
If they're going to beat anyone, it should be Vandy. The Vols have won 27 of their last 28 games against the Commodores, and they've won 16 of their last 17 over the 'Dores in Knoxville since 1977.
I'm counting on UT coach Derek Dooley to get the job done at home under the lights:
Tennessee 24, Vanderbilt 21.
Virginia (7-3, 4-2) at No. 25 Florida State (7-3, 5-2)
Saturday, Nov. 19 at 6:30 p.m.: ESPN2
The Jefferson-Eppes Trophy links Virginia and Florida State through Virginia's founding father and U.S. President Thomas Jefferson and his grandson, Francis Eppes VII.
Eppes was the three-time mayor of Tallahassee and longtime president of the Board of Education of the Seminary West of the Suwanee —the institutional forerunner of Florida State University. The trophy was first presented in 1995, when the Cavaliers handed FSU's Seminoles—who were ranked No. 2 at the time—their first ACC defeat (33-28), but the 'Noles have hoisted the trophy after 11 of the 12 meetings since then.
To add to that, FSU has never lost to Virginia in Tallahassee (8-0):
Florida State 31, Virginia 17.
***TUCKER'S PICK 'EM GAME OF THE WEEK***
USC (8-2, 5-2) at No. 4 Oregon (9-1, 7-0)
Saturday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.: ABC
The USC Trojans, led by coach Lane Kiffin, aren't eligible for postseason play this season because of NCAA disciplinary actions, but none of those rulings has anything to do with their game Saturday night at Oregon. LaMichael James leads the Ducks' fast, high-scoring offense, but Kiffin told Scout.com's Whitney Blaine that his Trojans won't focus only on James.
"It's about their scheme," said the USC coach. "If you start worrying about the players and who is where and everything, you'll have no chance of lining up because they play so fast. You've got to get lined up based off their scheme and where they're at and then play your assignments regardless of who has the ball."
USC will provide an exciting matchup early, but I don't see the Trojans derailing the Duck Train.
As a result of Boise State's loss to TCU last week, Oregon now owns the longest home-winning streak in the FBS at 21 games:
Oregon 43, USC 26.
Tucker Sargent is a senior at Troy University in his home state of Alabama. "Tucker's Pick 'Em" started in 2009 on Facebook, with 10 games of interest being picked each week. Opinions are not meant to offend anyone. Visit Tucker's blog or follow him on Twitter here.
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