College Football Picks: Week 12 Predictions for Every Game

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2016

College Football Picks: Week 12 Predictions for Every Game

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    Ohio State, which moved up to No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings, visits Michigan State.
    Ohio State, which moved up to No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings, visits Michigan State.Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    And last week was supposed to be a boring slate of college football games.

    The sport is still hungover from last Saturday, when three unbeaten teams lost within a few hours of each other and threw everything we thought we knew about the College Football Playoff out the door. Now it's time to regroup, collect ourselves and prepare for the second-to-last full week of the regular season.

    And on paper it doesn't look like a stellar one, but neither did last week's.

    There are three matchups of ranked schools, and nine other ranked teams are playing on the road, so there's plenty of potential for more chaos. There are also opportunities for several schools to lock up division titles, and another handful of teams can become bowl-eligible by winning that sixth game.

    We've made predictions for every contest on the schedule, and as they go final we'll update those scores so you can see how our picks turned out. Make sure to add your projections in the comments section and keep the dialogue going all weekend.


    Last week: 39-20 (.667)

    Season: 509-183 (.736)

    NOTE: All team rankings are from College Football Playoff standings.

Thursday Night Games

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    Louisville QB Lamar Jackson had a season-low 145 passing yards in last week's win over Wake Forest.
    Louisville QB Lamar Jackson had a season-low 145 passing yards in last week's win over Wake Forest.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    No. 5 Louisville (9-1) at Houston (8-2), 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Houston won 34-31 at Louisville in September 2015.

    This is a game with major CFP implications but only for Louisville, since Houston's not going to win the AAC West and thus is out of contention for the Group of Five major bowl bid. The Cardinals went 7-1 in ACC play and can only win the Atlantic with another Clemson loss, but their clearer path to the semifinals is through a few more blowout victories.

    Preferably not the kind that requires scoring 34 fourth-quarter points to win by 32 at home, like Louisville did last week against Wake Forest, though. It's facing a much tougher defense this time, as Houston ranks ninth in the FBS and has allowed only three opponents to rush for 100 yards.

    Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. hasn't had as great a year running as in 2015 but is still dangerous. He won't be able to do enough to match Cardinals QB Lamar Jackson's play, though, and the Cougars' FBS-best 14-game home win streak will fall.

    Prediction: Louisville 29, Houston 23

    FINAL: Houston 36, Louisville 10


    Arkansas State (5-4, 5-0 Sun Belt) at Troy (8-1, 5-0), 9:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Arkansas State beat Troy 41-34 in September 2013.

    The unofficial Sun Belt title game marks the second straight time Troy is facing a team that's unbeaten in league play. It narrowly edged Appalachian State at home Saturday, 28-24, and now takes on the defending champs, who have won 14 consecutive Sun Belt games.

    Oklahoma transfer Justice Hansen, who has averaged 257.3 passing yards and had six touchdowns and one interception in his last three games, faces a Troy pass defense that gives up a lot of yards but also has 16 interceptions. Jordan Chunn, whose 114.2 rushing yards per game and 10 TDs lead the conference, paces Troy's offense.

    Troy, ranked in the Associated Press poll for the first time in school history (No. 25), will match its most wins in a season since moving up to the FBS level in 2001.

    Prediction: Troy 27, Arkansas State 21

    FINAL: Arkansas State 35, Troy 3

Friday Night Games

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    Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville is 29-20 with the Bearcats overall but 6-9 in his last 15 games.
    Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville is 29-20 with the Bearcats overall but 6-9 in his last 15 games.Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

    Memphis (6-4, 3-3 AAC) at Cincinnati (4-6, 1-5), 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Memphis beat Cincinnati 53-46 in September 2015.

    What could be Tommy Tuberville's final home game at Cincinnati can't go much worse than the previous one, a 20-3 loss to BYU followed by Tuberville's telling a fan to "get a job." The Bearcats have scored 19 points during a three-game skid and don't have the horses to hang with a Memphis team averaging 34.8 points in league play.

    Prediction: Memphis 38, Cincinnati 20

    FINAL: Memphis 34, Cincinnati 7


    UNLV (4-6, 3-3 MWC) at No. 20 Boise State (9-1, 5-1), 9 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Boise State won 55-27 at UNLV in October 2015.

    UNLV's high of knocking off Mountain Division co-leader Wyoming 69-66 in triple overtime won't last forever, likely ending early in this visit to another team tied atop that division. Boise is alive for the Group of Five bowl spot thanks to the Runnin' Rebels, and the Broncos will show their appreciation by unleashing FBS touchdown leader Jeremy McNichols (22 TD) on their soft defense.

    Prediction: Boise State 49, UNLV 20

    FINAL: Boise State 42, UNLV 25

Top Saturday Early Games

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    No. 2 Ohio State (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten) at Michigan State (3-7, 1-6), noon ET

    Last meeting: Michigan State won 17-14 at Ohio State last November.

    A playoff quarterfinal of sorts looms next week against rival Michigan, but Ohio State can't look ahead and assume a down Michigan State team will roll over. The Spartans were a tough out for Michigan a few weeks back but didn't have the the offense to win. This time it'll be defensive deficiencies that will do them in, as standout defensive lineman Malik McDowell may not play.

    Prediction: Ohio State 38, Michigan State 17

    FINAL: Ohio State 17, Michigan State 16


    No. 7 Wisconsin (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) at Purdue (3-7, 1-6), noon ET

    Last meeting: Wisconsin beat Purdue 24-7 in October 2015.

    Wisconsin keeps hanging around on the fringe of the playoff discussion, and its shot at getting in will increase with a Big Ten title. The first point of order is locking up the West Division, which probably won't happen this week. Purdue looks done with the season, losing five straight and giving up 151 points the last three games. The Badgers' run game will eat.

    Prediction: Wisconsin 35, Purdue 14

    FINAL: Wisconsin 49, Purdue 20


    No. 11 Oklahoma State (8-2, 6-1 Big 12) at TCU (5-4, 3-3), noon ET

    Last meeting: Oklahoma State beat TCU 49-29 last November.

    The Big 12 title could come down to the Bedlam Series on Dec. 3 against Oklahoma, assuming Oklahoma State gets out of its recent near-miss funk. The Cowboys beat Texas Tech because of a missed PAT, and they had to score late to beat Kansas State the week before. TCU is most effective when not turning it over, but OK State has a league-best 21 takeaways.

    Prediction: Oklahoma State 38, TCU 30

    FINAL: Oklahoma State 31, TCU 6


    Maryland (5-5, 2-5 Big Ten) at No. 18 Nebraska (8-2, 5-2), noon ET

    Last meeting: None

    Maryland has dropped five of six, with the last two losses absolute bloodbaths against Michigan and Ohio State. Nebraska isn't as hell-bent on running up the score to impress the committee and has a hobbled quarterback in senior Tommy Armstrong Jr. The last six Big Ten teams have averaged 301.8 rushing yards with 23 touchdowns against the Terrapins, an approach the Cornhuskers should stick to.

    Prediction: Nebraska 35, Maryland 17

    FINAL: Nebraska 28, Maryland 7


    UTSA (5-5) at No. 25 Texas A&M (7-3), noon ET

    Last meeting: None

    Texas A&M's annual late-season slide doesn't apply to non-SEC opponents, but the problem has been the Aggies' run production. All 19 losses under head coach Kevin Sumlin have come when A&M doesn't run for at least 200 yards, and while UTSA hasn't allowed 200 in a game since Sept. 24, there aren't any Conference USA teams averaging that much on the ground.

    Prediction: Texas A&M 38, UTSA 17

    FINAL: Texas A&M 23, UTSA 10


    Kansas State (5-4, 3-3 Big 12) at Baylor (6-3, 3-3), noon ET

    Last meeting: Baylor won 31-24 at Kansas State last November.

    Baylor is in a free fall both on and off the field, the latest ding being a season-ending ankle injury to quarterback Seth Russell. Kansas State is a good team for Zach Smith to make his first start against, though, as the Wildcats allow 281.9 yards per game through the air and a 66.3 percent completion rate.

    Prediction: Baylor 34, Kansas State 20

    FINAL: Kansas State 42, Baylor 21


    Iowa (6-4, 4-3 Big Ten) at Illinois (3-7, 2-5), noon ET

    Last meeting: Iowa beat Illinois 29-20 in October 2015.

    Knocking off a highly ranked team is hard to do, but it's even harder to avoid letting the euphoria of beating Michigan linger and impact preparation for the next game. The Hawkeyes just won their Super Bowl, and their visit to Illinois is like when the Pro Bowl came immediately after. The Fighting Illini, though quite bad overall, can be competitive when not turning it over.

    Prediction: Illinois 22, Iowa 19

    FINAL: Iowa 28, Illinois 0


    Virginia (2-8, 1-5 ACC) at Georgia Tech (6-4, 3-4), 12:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Virginia beat Georgia Tech 27-21 in October 2015.

    Head coach Bronco Mendenhall's first year at Virginia has produced positives, namely in the Cavaliers' ability to hang close before still losing. Georgia Tech is not as good as its record indicates, and its win at Virginia Tech last week is hard to explain. What's easier to break down is the Yellow Jackets' run game is poised to thrive against Virginia's soft run defense.

    Prediction: Georgia Tech 34, Virginia 20

    FINAL: Georgia Tech 31, Virginia 17


    Miami, Florida (6-4, 3-3 ACC) at North Carolina State (5-5, 2-4), 12:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Miami beat NC State 44-37 in September 2012.

    Eight or nine wins looks doable for Miami after it got out of its midseason funk and found the right mix on offense. Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya is most effective throwing the ball when the run game complements him, but NC State has the ACC's top rushing defense.

    Prediction: NC State 27, Miami 23

    FINAL: Miami 27, NC State 13


    No. 23 Florida (7-2, 5-2 SEC) at No. 16 LSU (6-3, 4-2), 1 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: LSU beat Florida 35-28 in October 2015.

    LSU is out of the West Division race, but it can help determine the East winner since Florida will clinch with a victory, while a loss opens the door for Tennessee. The Gators defense disappeared in their last road game, at Arkansas, and the Tigers have a better running attack that's no longer just about Leonard Fournette.

    Prediction: LSU 23, Florida 14

    FINAL: Florida 16, LSU 10


    Oregon (3-7, 1-6 Pac-12) at No. 12 Utah (8-2, 5-2), 2 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Utah won 62-20 at Oregon in September 2015.

    Utah will take the South Division if it wins out, since it's beaten USC and gets Colorado next week. That doesn't mean the Utes can overlook Oregon despite its defensive issues. The Ducks can move the ball but have shown no ability to stop it, meaning Utah rusher Joe Williams should have another big game.

    Prediction: Utah 44, Oregon 24

    FINAL: Oregon 30, Utah 28

Other Saturday Early Games

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    Army is a win away from being bowl-eligible for the first time since 2010.
    Army is a win away from being bowl-eligible for the first time since 2010.Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

    UTEP (3-7, 1-5 C-USA) at Rice (2-8, 1-6), noon ET

    Last meeting: UTEP beat Rice 24-21 last November.

    Neither team is going bowling, but each could finish strong by continuing its recent play. Both have won twice since Oct. 22 as their best players (UTEP rusher Aaron Jones, Rice QB Tyler Stehling) have picked up steam. Jones should run all over a Rice defense that has allowed 300-plus rushing yards three times, though.

    Prediction: UTEP 28, Rice 24

    FINAL: Rice 44, UTEP 24


    Louisiana-Lafayette (4-5) at Georgia (6-4), noon ET

    Last meeting: Georgia beat Louisiana-Lafayette 55-7 in September 2010.

    Lafayette has won its last two road games but is 1-62 all-time against current SEC teams, its last victory against a power-conference team coming in 2009 (Kansas State). Georgia is 20-0 against the Sun Belt and is starting to find that proper offensive balance after struggling with that all season.

    Prediction: Georgia 39, Louisiana-Lafayette 16

    FINAL: Georgia 35, Louisiana-Lafayette 21


    Morgan State (2-7) at Army (5-5), noon ET

    Last meeting: Army beat Morgan State 28-12 in August 2013.

    Army didn't prearrange a bowl bid for this season, but a potential lack of six-win teams means there should be plenty of spots to fill if the Black Knights can get their offense fixed after being outscored 75-18 the last two games. Morgan State lost 62-0 at a 3-7 Marshall team in September and has never beaten an FBS school.

    Prediction: Army 43, Morgan State 21

    FINAL: Army 60, Morgan State 3


    Connecticut (3-7) at Boston College (4-6), 1 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: BC beat Connecticut 27-7 in September 2004.

    BC is retiring former quarterback Matt Ryan's jersey at halftime. If only he had some eligibility left and could fill in for Patrick Towles, who is completing 49.8 percent of his passes for only 132.2 yards per game. The Eagles won't need much offense, though, since UConn is the lowest-scoring team in the country (16.5 PPG).

    Prediction: Boston College 20, Connecticut 14

    FINAL: Boston College 30, Connecticut 0


    Middle Tennessee (6-4, 3-3 C-USA) at Charlotte (4-6, 3-3), 2 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Middle Tennessee beat Charlotte 73-14 in September 2015.

    John Urzua has thrown five interceptions since replacing injured MTSU quarterback Brent Stockstill two weeks ago, and the Blue Raiders have had two of their lowest-scoring games this season in that span. Charlotte has picked off 10 passes in C-USA play.

    Prediction: Charlotte 34, Middle Tennessee 24

    FINAL: Middle Tennessee 38, Charlotte 31


    Georgia Southern (4-6, 3-3 Sun Belt) at Georgia State (2-8, 1-5), 2 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Georgia State won 34-7 at Georgia Southern last December.

    Georgia Southern has dropped six of seven as injuries have devastated its potent run game and turned the Eagles into a spread passing team. Georgia State, which canned head coach Trent Miles not long after Saturday's home loss to Louisiana-Monroe, has only allowed five passing touchdowns, but that's because teams have been able to run at will on the Panthers.

    Prediction: Georgia Southern 28, Georgia State 20

    FINAL: Georgia State 30, Georgia Southern 24


    Massachusetts (2-8) at BYU (6-4), 2 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    UMass' first independent season will end with three distant road games. The Minutemen last played at Troy and go to Hawaii next week, and in between, BYU's Taysom Hill will pick apart their shoddy pass defense. He's coming off his first 300-yard passing game since August 2014.

    Prediction: BYU 45, Massachusetts 17

    FINAL: BYU 51, Massachusetts 9


    Louisiana-Monroe (4-6, 3-3 Sun Belt) at Appalachian State (7-3, 5-1), 2:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Appalachian State won 59-14 at Louisiana-Monroe in October 2015.

    ULM has averaged 39.3 points in its wins, scoring 79 combined the last two weeks and 17.2 in its losses. Appalachian has allowed 70 points in Sun Belt play, and 28 of those came from league-leading Troy.

    Prediction: Appalachian State 31, Louisiana-Monroe 17

    FINAL: Appalachian State 42, Louisiana-Monroe 17

Top Saturday Midafternoon Games

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    John O'Korn will be making his first start for Michigan against Indiana.
    John O'Korn will be making his first start for Michigan against Indiana.Matthew Holst/Getty Images

    Indiana (5-5, 3-4 Big Ten) at No. 3 Michigan (9-1, 6-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Michigan won 48-41 at Indiana last November.

    Now that the dust has cleared, that loss at Iowa didn't matter, since the Wolverines have the same ranking and can still claim the East Division if they win out. The big one is against Ohio State next week, but first comes the tuneup, with John O'Korn at quarterback because of Wilton Speight's shoulder injury. The Hoosiers turn it over too much to have a shot at pulling a shocker.

    Prediction: Michigan 45, Indiana 17

    FINAL: Michigan 20, Indiana 10


    No. 22 Washington State (8-2, 7-0 Pac-12) at No. 10 Colorado (8-2, 6-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Washington State beat Colorado 27-3 last November.

    This could be a preview of next month's conference title game, since each team leads its division. WSU has lost No. 2 wideout River Cracraft to a torn ACL, but if any team can overcome such a hit, it's the Cougars and their deep receiving group. Colorado has the Pac-12's top pass defense and will force WSU to run more than it wants, though.

    Prediction: Colorado 31, Washington State 27

    FINAL: Colorado 38, Washington State 24


    No. 17 Florida State (7-3, 4-3 ACC) at Syracuse (4-6, 2-4), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Florida State beat Syracuse 45-21 in October 2015.

    Syracuse was making progress on offense behind quarterback Eric Dungey, but an injury to his head and shoulder area two weeks ago against Clemson has knocked him out and shut down the Orange attack. FSU may not be the ACC's most potent offense, but even Boston College scored 20 against Syracuse's ACC-worst defense.

    Prediction: Florida State 37, Syracuse 19

    FINAL: Florida State 45, Syracuse 14


    Missouri (3-7, 1-5 SEC) at No. 19 Tennessee (7-3, 3-3), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Tennessee won 19-8 at Missouri last November.

    Tennessee will find out by halftime whether it's still alive for the SEC East title, depending on how Florida does earlier in the day at LSU. Ideally, the Volunteers will be up a few scores by then if they stick to the ground and let Alvin Kamara and John Kelly pick on Mizzou's shoddy run defense.

    Prediction: Tennessee 42, Missouri 20

    FINAL: Tennessee 63, Missouri 37


    Buffalo (2-8, 1-5 MAC) at No. 21 Western Michigan (10-0, 6-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Buffalo won 33-0 at Western Michigan in October 2013.

    Western Michigan has achieved full-on rock-star status, hosting ESPN's College GameDay this week for what's possibly its easiest contest of the season. The Broncos have scored at least 37 points in seven straight games, and if they keep winning they'll end up in the Cotton Bowl. Buffalo, which has lost six of seven, has been outscored 151-34 on the road.

    Prediction: Western Michigan 47, Buffalo 17

    FINAL: Western Michigan 38, Buffalo 0

    San Diego State (9-1, 6-0 MWC) at Wyoming (7-3, 5-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: San Diego State beat Wyoming 38-3 last November.

    SDSU has already clinched its division, and now it can help determine who it will play in the conference final. Wyoming would fall behind Boise State, which it beat, with a loss, and after it gave up 69 points at UNLV, there are questions about the Cowboys defense. Stopping the Aztecs' Donnel Pumphrey is the key, but few have been able to stymie the sixth player in FBS history with 6,000 rushing yards.

    Prediction: San Diego State 30, Wyoming 20

    FINAL: Wyoming 34, San Diego State 33


    Virginia Tech (7-3) at Notre Dame (4-6), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has deflected talk of whether the Fighting Irish would accept a bowl bid if offered one with a 5-7 record, per Laken Litman of the Indianapolis Star. That scenario assumes the Irish can win another game, either here or next week at red-hot USC. Virginia Tech would be the better option, since the Hokies just stunk it up against Georgia Tech, but they also have the kind of weapons Notre Dame struggles to stop.

    Prediction: Virginia Tech 34, Notre Dame 31

    FINAL: Virginia Tech 34, Notre Dame 31

Other Saturday Midafternoon Games

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    Texas, which has never lost to Kansas in Big 12 play, needs one win to be bowl-eligible.
    Texas, which has never lost to Kansas in Big 12 play, needs one win to be bowl-eligible.Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

    Duke (4-6, 1-5 ACC) at Pittsburgh (6-4, 3-3), 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Pittsburgh won 31-13 at Duke last November.

    Duke's last five games have been decided by 10 or fewer points, with the last three by only seven total. Pittsburgh, despite a historically bad defense, has wins over two Top 10 teams in Penn State and last week's upset at Clemson. The Panthers do well against the run and will contain Duke's ground game.

    Prediction: Pittsburgh 38, Duke 28

    FINAL: Pittsburgh 56, Duke 14


    Texas (5-5, 3-4 Big 12) at Kansas (1-9, 0-7), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Texas beat Kansas 59-20 last November.

    Charlie Strong's chances of lasting as Texas' head coach beyond 2016 seem to ebb and flow, depending on the recent result. And things are trending down after the Longhorns' loss to West Virginia. Falling to woeful Kansas, which has a 19-game Big 12 losing streak, would be cause for immediate termination. FBS rushing leader D'Onta Foreman won't let that happen, though.

    Prediction: Texas 37, Kansas 20

    FINAL: Kansas 24, Texas 21


    Texas Tech (4-6, 2-5 Big 12) at Iowa State (2-8, 1-6), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Texas Tech beat Iowa State 66-31 in October 2015.

    It would be a shame if Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes didn't get a 13th game to go for the single-season passing record of 5,833. His 424.7 yards per game put him on pace for 5,521 if the Red Raiders can make a bowl game, but he's capable of much more. Iowa State and its paltry 15 sacks mean Mahomes should have all day to throw.

    Prediction: Texas Tech 50, Iowa State 44

    FINAL: Iowa State 66, Texas Tech 10


    Northwestern (5-5, 4-3 Big Ten) at Minnesota (7-3, 4-3), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Northwestern beat Minnesota 27-0 in October 2015.

    Northwestern has won three of four Big Ten road games; the other was a four-point loss at Ohio State. Minnesota allowed 63 points in its last two home games to league doormats Purdue and Rutgers and has been susceptible to the pass all season. Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson has thrown three touchdown passes in each of the Wildcats' wins and should have success here.

    Prediction: Northwestern 27, Minnesota 24

    FINAL: Minnesota 29, Northwestern 12


    Temple (7-3, 5-1 AAC) at Tulane (3-7, 0-6), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Temple beat Tulane 49-10 in October 2015.

    All that stands between Temple and a second straight AAC East title are foes who have a combined 1-11 league record. The Owls have won four straight, with rushers Ryquell Armstead and Jahad Thomas leading the charge. Tulane has struggled with run-heavy teams and has allowed 35.2 points per game during a five-game skid.

    Prediction: Temple 33, Tulane 16

    FINAL: Temple 31, Tulane 0


    The Citadel (10-0) at North Carolina (7-3), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: North Carolina beat The Citadel 40-6 in September 2009.

    This is the second year in a row UNC is playing two FCS teams, but The Citadel isn't your normal lower-level school. The Bulldogs are ranked sixth in FCS and average 359.9 rushing yards per game. The Tar Heels are vulnerable to the run, though their own complement of offensive weapons—most notably quarterback Mitch Trubisky—will keep them in control.

    Prediction: North Carolina 34, The Citadel 20

    FINAL: North Carolina 41, The Citadel 7


    Navy (7-2, 5-1 AAC) at East Carolina (3-7, 1-5), 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Navy beat East Carolina 45-21 in September 2015.

    Navy has moved to fourth in FBS in rushing after a fifth straight 300-yard performance against Tulsa, putting the Midshipmen a victory away from clinching the AAC West title. East Carolina has allowed 100 points and 582 rushing yards in its last two games.

    Prediction: Navy 40, East Carolina 24

    FINAL: Navy 66, East Carolina 31


    Utah State (3-7, 1-6 MWC) at Nevada (3-7, 1-5), 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Utah State beat Nevada 31-27 last November.

    Utah State's five-year bowl streak has ended, while Nevada will be missing out on a bowl for just the second time in 12 seasons. Inconsistent offense and leaky defense have plagued each team, as they've combined to beat Fresno State twice and go winless against everyone else in the league. Nevada quarterback Ty Gangi, if he stops throwing picks (he has six in the last three games), can have a big game.

    Prediction: Nevada 30, Utah State 23

    FINAL: Nevada 38, Utah State 37


    Texas State (2-7, 0-5 Sun Belt) at New Mexico State (2-7, 1-4), 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: NMSU won 31-21 at Texas State last November.

    The Sun Belt stinker of the year will have a winner, but only on the scoreboard. Texas State has lost five straight, scored 14 or fewer five times in 2016 and allows 40.8 points per game. NMSU, on a four-game skid, has given up at least 50 on four occasions. The Aggies can at least score with some frequency.

    Prediction: New Mexico State 37, Texas State 24

    FINAL: New Mexico State 50, Texas State 10


    Western Carolina (2-8) at South Carolina (5-5), 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: South Carolina beat Western Carolina 24-3 in October 1989.

    Western Carolina is the ultimate FCS cupcake, going winless in 51 tries against FBS competition, including a 52-7 loss at East Carolina in September. South Carolina, which has won three straight at home, wisely scheduled a weaker foe in the pre-Clemson slot after losing to The Citadel last season.

    Prediction: South Carolina 40, Western Carolina 13

    FINAL: South Carolina 44, Western Carolina 31


    Austin Peay (0-10) at Kentucky (5-5), 4:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    If Kentucky can't clinch its first bowl bid since 2010 against an FCS school that is riding a 26-game losing streak, then it's never going to happen. The Wildcats have become a rushing juggernaut, averaging 305.2 yards with 13 touchdowns over the last five games, and Austin Peay has the fifth-worst run defense at its level.

    Prediction: Kentucky 58, Austin Peay 21

    FINAL: Kentucky 49, Austin Peay 13

Top Saturday Evening Games

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    Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey has run for 503 yards and six touchdowns in his last three games.
    Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey has run for 503 yards and six touchdowns in his last three games.Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

    No. 24 Stanford (7-3, 5-3 Pac-12) at California (4-6, 2-5), 5:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Stanford beat California 35-22 last November.

    The Big Game is always included in "best rivalry" lists, and that famous kickoff return/band play keeps getting hits on YouTube. But the matchup hasn't been that interesting the last few years. Maybe that will change this time with Stanford on a three-game win streak fueled by Christian McCaffrey's rediscovered mojo. Cal's No. 3 pass offense is capable of preying on the Cardinal's suspect secondary, which will be the difference here.

    Prediction: California 30, Stanford 28

    FINAL: Stanford 45, California 31


    Chattanooga (8-2) at No. 1 Alabama (10-0), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Alabama beat Chattanooga 49-0 in November 2013.

    Chattanooga is ranked 11th in FCS, and Alabama head coach Nick Saban will treat the Mocs as though they're ranked that high in the playoff standings instead of a lower-level opponent with no chance to compete. These pre-Auburn games have been decided by an average of 43.9 points the previous seven years, and only total complacency will keep this game from being decided by halftime.

    Prediction: Alabama 51, Chattanooga 13

    FINAL: Alabama 31, Chattanooga 3


    No. 4 Clemson (9-1, 6-1 ACC) at Wake Forest (6-4, 3-3), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Clemson beat Wake Forest 33-13 last November.

    Clemson's loss to Pitt didn't change its playoff path: win out and get in as the ACC champion. There's that detail about clinching first, though, which now has to come against a pesky Wake team that held Louisville to 10 points until the fourth quarter. Clemson is unstoppable when it doesn't commit turnovers, and the Deacons have 14 takeaways the last five games, but that probably just means the score won't be as high.

    Prediction: Clemson 32, Wake Forest 17

    FINAL: Clemson 35, Wake Forest 13


    Arkansas (6-4, 2-4 SEC) at Mississippi State (4-6, 2-4), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Mississippi State won 51-50 at Arkansas last November.

    Arkansas has been a different team on almost a weekly basis, trading wins and losses much of the season despite playing almost exclusively in its own state. Mississippi State, which knocked off Texas A&M in its last home game, should stick to the run and let dual-threat quarterback Nick Fitzgerald weave through the Razorbacks' leaky front seven.

    Prediction: Mississippi State 27, Arkansas 23

    FINAL: Arkansas 58, Mississippi State 42


    Arizona State (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12) at No. 6 Washington (9-1, 6-1), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Arizona State beat Washington 27-17 last November.

    ASU head coach Todd Graham just got a vote of confidence from his athletic director after a fourth straight loss, per Arizona Sports' Craig Morgan. Now the Sun Devils and their FBS-worst pass defense play a Washington team that's angry after falling out of the Top Four and has a quarterback (Jake Browning) who had his worst game of the season in a loss to USC.

    Prediction: Washington 48, Arizona State 17

    FINAL: Washington 44, Arizona State 18


    Alabama A&M (4-6) at No. 15 Auburn (7-3), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Auburn beat Alabama A&M 51-7 in November 2012.

    Auburn can't win the SEC West, but it can still mess with rival Alabama's championship plans. That's assuming the Tigers get through this warm-up game without suffering more offensive injuries.

    Prediction: Auburn 48, Alabama A&M 17

    FINAL: Auburn 55, Alabama A&M 0

Other Saturday Evening Games

8 of 10

    South Florida QB Quinton Flowers averages 333.5 yards of total offense per game and has accounted for 32 touchdowns.
    South Florida QB Quinton Flowers averages 333.5 yards of total offense per game and has accounted for 32 touchdowns.Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

    Southern Mississippi (5-5, 3-3 C-USA) at North Texas (4-6, 2-4 C-USA), 5:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Southern Miss beat North Texas 49-14 in October 2015.

    Southern Miss has a bright future at quarterback after freshman Keon Howard had 328 yards of total offense in his debut last week, but the Golden Eagles continue to have turnover issues. North Texas is starting to wear down on defense after showing improvement earlier this season, though.

    Prediction: Southern Miss 31, North Texas 25

    FINAL: North Texas 29, Southern Miss 23


    Old Dominion (7-3, 5-1 C-USA) at Florida Atlantic (3-7, 2-4), 6 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Florida Atlantic won 33-31 at Old Dominion last November.

    Old Dominion has averaged 6.95 yards per play during a three-game win streak and is bowl-eligible for the first time. Florida Atlantic's two-game win streak has come against teams that are a combined 5-15, while opponents with winning records have outscored the Owls 153-20.

    Prediction: Old Dominion 30, Florida Atlantic 27

    FINAL: Old Dominion 42, Florida Atlantic 24


    South Florida (8-2, 5-1 AAC) at SMU (5-5, 3-3), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: South Florida beat SMU 38-14 in October 2015.

    South Florida's Quinton Flowers deserves to be included in the conversation of best dual-threat quarterbacks. His 1,131 rushing yards are only 203 behind Louisville's Lamar Jackson, and he's more accurate as a passer. He's a big reason the Bulls are the No. 10 scoring team in the FBS, and they'll need plenty from him to outscore an SMU squad that's put up at least 35 in four of its last five. They'll get it.

    Prediction: South Florida 47, SMU 36

    FINAL: South Florida 35, SMU 27


    Marshall (3-7, 2-4 C-USA) at Florida International (3-7, 3-3), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Marshall beat FIU 52-0 last November.

    Marshall has dropped six straight road games, averaging 19 points per contest away from home this season. FIU has only one win at home, but it's scoring 29.2 points per game under interim coach Ron Cooper, compared to 13.5 during its 0-4 start. This is a chance for Panthers who will be back next season to impress the newly hired Butch Davis.

    Prediction: FIU 30, Marshall 21

    FINAL: FIU 31, Marshall 14


    Hawaii (4-7, 3-4 MWC) at Fresno State (1-9, 0-6), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Fresno State won 42-14 at Hawaii last November.

    Fresno has its coach in place for 2017 in former Bulldogs quarterback and assistant Jeff Tedford, but the current team still has to play out the string. Fresno is third-worst nationally in rushing defense, and running the ball is one of the few things Hawaii can sometimes do well.

    Prediction: Hawaii 30, Fresno State 24

    FINAL: Hawaii 14, Fresno State 13


    Presbyterian (2-8) at South Alabama (4-5), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    A rare in-season schedule addition, this matchup was a byproduct of the postponed Florida-LSU game getting moved to this date. That means South Alabama got paid by LSU and received an easier game in its quest to be bowl-eligible. Presbyterian is winless in 12 tries against FCS schools.

    Prediction: South Alabama 37, Presbyterian 21

    FINAL: South Alabama 31, Presbyterian 7

Saturday Night Games

9 of 10

    Oklahoma is 4-0 against West Virginia since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12.
    Oklahoma is 4-0 against West Virginia since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12.Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    No. 9 Oklahoma (8-2, 7-0 Big 12) at No. 14 West Virginia (8-1, 5-1), 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Oklahoma beat West Virginia 44-24 in October 2015.

    Oklahoma is the one team WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen hasn't beaten in the Big 12, but he's come close at home. The Mountaineers are playing tough defense in a league full of offensive powers, holding the likes of TCU, Texas and Texas Tech way below their scoring averages. Doing that to Oklahoma is a different challenge, though, since the Sooners are one of three teams in the FBS that are averaging 300-plus passing yards and 200-plus on the ground.

    Prediction: Oklahoma 36, West Virginia 34

    FINAL: Oklahoma 56, West Virginia 28


    No. 8 Penn State (8-2, 6-1 Big Ten) at Rutgers (2-8, 0-7), 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Penn State beat Rutgers 28-3 in September 2015.

    There are probably more Ohio State fans rooting for Rutgers than people who regularly support the lowly Scarlet Knights, since Penn State can keep the Buckeyes out of the Big Ten title game by winning out. Saquon Barkley could get his third 200-yard rushing game against the league's worst run defense.

    Prediction: Penn State 44, Rutgers 14

    FINAL: Penn State 39, Rutgers 0


    Ole Miss (5-5, 2-4 SEC) at Vanderbilt (4-6, 1-5), 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Ole Miss beat Vanderbilt 27-16 in September 2015.

    Ole Miss pulled Shea Patterson's redshirt last week, which was met with mixed reviews. But after his performance in a second-half comeback win at Texas A&M, he's getting universally praised. Patterson had 402 yards of total offense and now takes on a Vandy defense that has playmakers but gave up a career-best 346 passing yards to Georgia freshman Jacob Eason a few weeks ago.

    Prediction: Ole Miss 27, Vanderbilt 21

    FINAL: Vanderbilt 38, Ole Miss 17


    Tulsa (7-3, 4-2 AAC) at UCF (6-4, 4-2), 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Tulsa beat UCF 45-30 last November.

    Tulsa's league losses are by seven at defending champ Houston and last week by two at likely AAC West winner Navy, and scoring wasn't an issue in either game. UCF, which has gone from winless to bowl-bound in less than a year, is still hunting for its first win against a non-losing team.

    Prediction: Tulsa 38, UCF 30

    FINAL: Tulsa 35, UCF 20


    New Mexico (7-3, 5-1 MWC) at Colorado State (5-5, 3-3), 10:15 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Colorado State won 28-21 at New Mexico last November.

    New Mexico's five-game win streak is its longest in 12 seasons, and it remains No. 1 in the FBS in rushing heading into a matchup against a team that just gave up 485 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. But the Lobos' numbers aren't as good on the road, with 5.43 yards per carry compared to 7.28 at home. Colorado State has become a balanced attack and is capable of winning a shootout.

    Prediction: Colorado State 38, New Mexico 33

    FINAL: Colorado State 49, New Mexico 31


    No. 13 USC (7-3, 6-2 Pac-12) at UCLA (4-6, 2-5), 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: USC beat UCLA 40-21 last November.

    USC's six-game win streak includes victories over Colorado and Washington, as well as 20 touchdown passes from Sam Darnold. UCLA has allowed only eight passing TDs, but that's because opponents who want to run on the Bruins are usually able to. Trojans sophomore Ronald Jones II has 564 rushing yards and seven TDs in his last four games on only 77 carries.

    Prediction: USC 31, UCLA 19

    FINAL: USC 36, UCLA 14


    Arizona (2-8, 0-7 Pac-12) at Oregon State (2-8, 1-6), 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Arizona beat Oregon State 44-7 in October 2015.

    Nothing says #Pac12AfterDark like two division bottom-feeders who have one victory between them since mid-September. Neither team is playing with the offensive personnel it began the season with, and the replacements have been a mixed bag. Oregon State has been somewhat competitive the last few weeks, while Arizona has lost by at least 21 in five of six.

    Prediction: Oregon State 28, Arizona 21

    FINAL: Oregon State 42, Arizona 17


    Air Force (7-3, 3-3 MWC) at San Jose State (3-7, 2-4), 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Air Force beat San Jose State 37-16 in September 2015.

    Air Force has won three straight after a three-game midseason slide, as its run game is back on track and ranked third in the FBS. San Jose is 10th-worst against the run and has allowed 808 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns the last three games.

    Prediction: Air Force 36, San Jose State 20

    FINAL: Air Force 41, San Jose State 38

Next Tuesday Night's Games

10 of 10

    Andrew Weber/Getty Images

    Akron (5-6, 3-4 MAC) at Ohio (7-4, 5-2), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Ohio won 14-12 at Akron in October 2015.

    Ohio clinches the East Division and its first trip to the MAC championship game since 2011 with a win, and its done that eight straight times against Akron. The Zips have dropped three straight and four of five, allowing 38.6 points per game during that stretch.

    Prediction: Ohio 31, Akron 17

    FINAL: Ohio 9, Akron 3

    Ball State (4-7, 2-6 MAC) at Miami, Ohio (5-6, 5-2), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Ball State beat Miami 55-14 in November 2013.

    No FBS team has ever gone from 0-6 to 6-6, which puts Miami on the brink of history after not winning its first game of the season until Oct. 15. The RedHawks averaged 20 points per game in their first six and 35 during their last four, with QB Gus Ragland throwing 12 touchdowns with zero interceptions in his five starts.

    Prediction: Miami 33, Ball State 20

    FINAL: Miami 21, Ball State 20

    Central Michigan (6-5, 3-4) at Eastern Michigan (6-5, 3-4), 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Central Michigan beat Eastern Michigan 35-28 last November.

    Eastern Michigan is going bowling for the first time since 1987 while Central Michigan is heading to its third straight bowl and eighth since 2006. Neither can win the Michigan MAC Trophy since they both lost to unbeaten Western Michigan, but second place isn't bad either.

    Prediction: Eastern Michigan 38, Central Michigan 34

    FINAL: Eastern Michigan 26, Central Michigan 21

    All statistics courtesy of, unless otherwise noted. All series history information courtesy of, unless otherwise noted. Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.


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