College Football Picks: Week 12 Predictions for Every Game

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 13, 2019

College Football Picks: Week 12 Predictions for Every Game

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    In the aftermath of a thrilling Week 11, there is plenty more college football excitement on tap as we head down the home stretch of the regular season.

    In Saturday's early slate, Alabama and Penn State will look to bounce back from their first losses of the year, while the afternoon games are highlighted by an SEC tilt between Georgia and Auburn and a Big Ten clash between undefeated Minnesota and 6-3 Iowa.

    That all leads up to a battle for Big 12 supremacy when undefeated Baylor welcomes higher-ranked Oklahoma to McLane Stadium for a game that will have sweeping ramifications on the College Football Playoff picture.

    Before all that happens, it's time for some predictions.

    We'll start with a close look at each Top 25 team, give rundown of the five best games between unranked opponents and then round things out with predictions for the rest of the Week 12 slate.


    All odds are courtesy of Caesars and accurate as of Tuesday. Rankings reflect the latest AP Top 25 poll.

AP Nos. 25-21

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    Texas running back Keaontay Ingram
    Texas running back Keaontay IngramChuck Burton/Associated Press

    Kansas at No. 25 Oklahoma State, Noon ET (OKST -17.5)

    The Cowboys have won back-to-back games after a 1-3 start to conference play and get to take on Big 12 cellar-dwellers Kansas and West Virginia over the next two weeks. Kansas ranks 126th against the run, and Oklahoma State averages 267.7 rushing yards per game. That's not ideal for the Jayhawks.

    Prediction: Oklahoma State 44, Kansas 24


    No. 24 Indiana at No. 9 Penn State, Noon ET (PSU -14)

    For prediction, see No. 9 Penn State.


    No. 7 Minnesota at No. 23 Iowa, 4 p.m. ET (Iowa -2.5)

    For prediction, see No. 7 Minnesota.


    No. 22 Texas at Iowa State, 3:30 p.m. ET (ISU -7)

    The Cyclones took Oklahoma to the brink last week, and they are better than their 5-4 record might suggest. Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy threw for 282 yards and five touchdowns in the win, and the Longhorns secondary has struggled all season. However, it will be a cold one in Ames, and that could neutralize the passing games. If this turns into a grind-it-out ground contest, Texas has the advantage.

    Prediction: Texas 32, Iowa State 24


    No. 21 Navy at No. 16 Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m. ET (ND -9.5)

    For prediction, see No. 16 Notre Dame.

AP Nos. 20-16

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    Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder
    Cincinnati quarterback Desmond RidderJohn Minchillo/Associated Press

    No. 20 SMU (idle)

    The Mustangs get a week off before a huge game against Navy that could decide the AAC West title. They bounced back from a loss to Memphis by beating East Carolina 59-51 in a wild one last Saturday, and games like that have been a regular occurrence all season for SMU. If nothing else, this is a fun team to watch.


    New Mexico at No. 19 Boise State, 10:15 p.m. ET (Boise State -28)

    The last three games have been a struggle for Boise State. The Broncos suffered their first loss of the season on Oct. 19 to BYU, allowed 42 points to San Jose State on Nov. 2 and needed overtime to beat Wyoming last week. Luckily, New Mexico shouldn't put up much of a fight. The Lobos have the nation's worst passing defense by a wide margin at 340.4 yards allowed per game, and the Broncos should have no problem exploiting that weakness.

    Prediction: Boise State 42, New Mexico 13


    No. 18 Memphis at Houston, 3:30 p.m. ET (Memphis -10)

    A lot of points will be scored in this game. Memphis is averaging 41.1 points, and Houston is scoring 30.7 per contest despite a 3-6 record. Neither team has been particularly interested in defense for most of the season, and that's unlikely to change. This will come down to whether the run-heavy Cougars can throw it around enough to keep up with the Tigers. That seems doubtful.

    Prediction: Memphis 49, Houston 35


    No. 17 Cincinnati at South Florida, 7 p.m. ET (Cincinnati -14)

    The Bearcats can't look ahead to their Nov. 29 trip to Memphis just yet, but they shouldn't have any trouble with a South Florida team that has a tough time stopping the run. Cincinnati is averaging 202.4 yards per game on the ground, and the Bulls have the nation's No. 98-ranked run defense at 194 yards allowed per game. Not the recipe for an upset.

    Prediction: Cincinnati 27, South Florida 14


    No. 21 Navy at No. 16 Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m. ET (ND -9.5)

    The Fighting Irish have one of the country's best pass defenses. That will be a non-factor Saturday. The Midshipmen have attempted just 62 passes all season while averaging 357.9 yards per game on the ground. The triple-option offense is alive and well, folks. In its loss to Michigan earlier this year, Notre Dame allowed 303 rushing yards, and its rush defense ranks a pedestrian 62nd. The pieces are there for an upset.

    Prediction: Navy 27, Notre Dame 21

AP Nos. 15-11

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    Auburn defensive lineman Derrick Brown
    Auburn defensive lineman Derrick BrownMichael Woods/Associated Press

    No. 15 Wisconsin at Nebraska, Noon ET (Wisconsin -14.5)

    Coming off a bye, Wisconsin snapped a two-game losing streak last week against Iowa. Nebraska is just 1-4 in its last five games and has gotten smoked by Ohio State (48-7) and Minnesota (34-7) along the way. The Cornhuskers' 83rd-ranked rushing defense (173.7 yards per game) will have no answer for Jonathan Taylor, who'll top 200 yards on the ground for a second straight week.

    Prediction: Wisconsin 30, Nebraska 13


    Michigan State at No. 14 Michigan, Noon ET (Michigan -13.5)

    Remember when Michigan State was ranked? It seems so long ago that the Spartans were 4-1—before consecutive losses to Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State sent them tumbling. A loss to Illinois last week dropped them below .500, and their lack of offensive firepower will make it tough to keep up with the Wolverines, who are coming off impressive back-to-back wins.

    Prediction: Michigan 28, Michigan State 14


    No. 5 Georgia at No. 13 Auburn, 3:30 p.m. ET (Georgia -3)

    For prediction, see No. 5 Georgia.


    No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 12 Baylor, 7:30 p.m. ET (OU -10)

    For prediction, see No. 10 Oklahoma.


    No. 11 Florida at Missouri, Noon ET (Florida -7.5)

    Missouri has lost three in a row by a combined score of 77-21, and Georgia shut out the Tigers last week. The Gators present an equally daunting task fresh off a 56-0 thrashing of Vanderbilt. To their credit, the Tigers are 5-0 at home on the year, but covering 7.5 points will be tough. That goes double if Kelly Bryant (hamstring) can't go again after the quarterback missed the Georgia game.

    Prediction: Florida 35, Missouri 17

AP Nos. 10-6

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    Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan
    Minnesota quarterback Tanner MorganHannah Foslien/Getty Images

    No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 12 Baylor, 7:30 p.m. ET (Oklahoma -10)

    Who would have guessed this game would be so important when the season began? Baylor went 7-6 last year and is just two seasons removed from a brutal 1-11 campaign. The Bears have had a great year, but there's no denying they have walked the tight rope with a pair of overtime victories and an alarmingly close game against 0-9 Rice. The high-powered Oklahoma offense will prove too much for Baylor in a shootout.

    Prediction: Oklahoma 42, Baylor 31


    No. 24 Indiana at No. 9 Penn State, Noon ET (Penn State -14)

    The Hoosiers are ranked for the first time since 1994 after winning four straight to improve to 7-2. However, that recent stretch came against Rutgers, Maryland, Nebraska and Northwestern, who are a combined 3-23 in Big Ten play. Penn State is a different animal, and it will be out for vengeance after last week's loss to Minnesota.

    Prediction: Penn State 37, Indiana 13


    UCLA at No. 8 Utah, 8 p.m. ET (Utah -21.5)

    UCLA has won three straight, including a victory over then-ranked Arizona State on Oct. 26, so the Bruins should not be taken lightly. However, they will have a tough time moving the ball against a staunch Utah defense that leads the nation in stopping the run at just 56 yards per game. Expect a big day from the Utes passing attack against a defense that has allowed 294.3 yards per game through the air (123rd in the FBS).

    Prediction: Utah 31, UCLA 10


    No. 7 Minnesota at No. 23 Iowa, 4 p.m. ET (Iowa -2.5)

    After a huge win against Penn State last week, the 9-0 Golden Gophers are facing another tough test during their quest to stay undefeated. The Hawkeyes surrendered 250 rushing yards to Jonathan Taylor last week and still kept things close against Wisconsin in a 24-22 loss, so they are capable of hanging tough even if the Minnesota running game is firing on all cylinders. The undefeated run stops here for the Gophers in a classic grind-it-out Big Ten game.

    Prediction: Iowa 21, Minnesota 17


    Arizona at No. 6 Oregon, 10:30 p.m. ET (Oregon -27.5)

    This game will get out of hand quickly. The Wildcats are one of the nation's worst defensive teams, allowing 37.3 points and 481.2 yards per game, and the Ducks just put 56 points on USC last week. Senior quarterback Justin Herbert has thrown for 2,329 yards and 24 touchdowns on the year, and he'll pad those stats considerably in a lopsided Oregon win.

    Prediction: Oregon 49, Arizona 17

AP Nos. 5-1

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    Joe Burrow
    Joe BurrowKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    No. 5 Georgia at No. 13 Auburn, 3:30 p.m. ET (Georgia -3)

    The Bulldogs defense is rolling with two shutouts in its last three games, including a 27-0 victory over Missouri last week in which it allowed just 198 total yards. Meanwhile, Auburn piled up 507 yards against Ole Miss its last time out but managed just 20 points. Freshman quarterback Bo Nix was picked off three times by a good Florida defense earlier this year, and a few takeaways will make the difference for Georgia in a low-scoring game.

    Prediction: Georgia 24, Auburn 14


    No. 4 Alabama at Mississippi State, Noon ET (Alabama -21)

    How will Alabama respond? In terms of sheer talent, the Crimson Tide should steamroll a 4-5 Bulldogs team that has already suffered blowouts against Auburn and LSU. However, if the Tide come out flat on the heels of their loss to LSU, the Mississippi State running game could make them pay. Bulldogs junior Kylin Hill leads the SEC with 1,027 rushing yards, and he piled up 234 yards and three touchdowns against Arkansas on Nov. 2. Alabama will win, but Mississippi State will easily cover.

    Prediction: Alabama 38, Mississippi State 24


    Wake Forest at No. 3 Clemson, 3:30 p.m. ET (Clemson -33.5)

    If this one turns into a shootout, Wake Forest is capable of putting some points on the board, even facing an excellent Clemson defense. However, the Demon Deacons have zero chance of slowing a Tigers offense that is averaging 45.3 points and 545.8 yards per game.

    Prediction: Clemson 49, Wake Forest 17


    No. 2 Ohio State at Rutgers, 3:30 p.m. ET (n/a)

    Rutgers has already been shut out three times this season, and its 280.3 yards of total offense per game rank 126th in the nation. If the Scarlet Knights even get on the scoreboard against a juggernaut Ohio State defense, it will be a small victory.

    Prediction: Ohio State 63, Rutgers 0


    No. 1 LSU at Ole Miss, 7 p.m. ET (LSU -21)

    What will Joe Burrow do for an encore after lighting it up against Alabama last week? The Rebels can pound the ball, as they average 247.4 rushing yards per game (14th in the FBS). But an LSU rush defense that allows just 100.7 yards per game (13th in the FBS) should have no trouble neutralizing that threat. This one won't be close.

    Prediction: LSU 41, Ole Miss 17

The 5 Best Unranked Battles

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    Tulane quarterback Justin McMillan
    Tulane quarterback Justin McMillanJulio Cortez/Associated Press

    Tulane at Temple, Noon ET (Tulane -5)

    The AAC has been a battleground this season, and while Tulane and Temple are not part of a group of four ranked teams, they both have strong resumes. The Green Wave are 6-3 and played Navy tough a few weeks ago, while the Owls are also 6-3 and responsible for Memphis' only loss. Tulane dual-threat quarterback Justin McMillan accounted for four touchdowns in a win over Tulsa in his team's most recent game, and he'll be the difference in this one.

    Prediction: Tulane 37, Temple 24


    Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech, 3:30 p.m. ET (VT -5.5)

    This won't be a cakewalk for the Hokies. Georgia Tech has won four of the last five against Virginia Tech, and the Yellow Jackets played tough on the road against a good Virginia team last week. If they can torch a shaky Hokies pass defense for a few big plays, they'll hang around. Virginia Tech will eventually wear them down, though, and pull out the victory late.

    Prediction: Virginia Tech 28, Georgia Tech 21


    USC at California, 11 p.m. ET (USC -6.5)

    Devon Modster was back under center last week for the Golden Bears and led the team to a solid 33-20 victory over Washington State with three passing touchdowns and a rushing score. Aside from their blowout loss to Utah when Modster was on the sidelines, Cal has been a tough draw all season. Can the Bears secondary slow a potent Trojans passing attack?

    They'll do enough to cover, but not enough to win.

    Prediction: USC 31, California 27

The Rest of the Slate (1/2)

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    Texas Tech quarterback Jett Duffey
    Texas Tech quarterback Jett DuffeyJohn E. Moore III/Getty Images

    VMI at Army, Noon ET (n/a)
    Prediction: Army 45, VMI 14

    Alabama State at Florida State, Noon ET (n/a)
    Prediction: Florida State 49, Alabama State 6

    TCU at Texas Tech, Noon ET (TCU -3)
    Prediction: Texas Tech 31, TCU 28

    UMass at Northwestern, Noon ET (Northwestern -39)
    Prediction: Northwestern 45, UMass 10

    UTEP at UAB, 1 p.m. ET (UAB -17.5)
    Prediction: UAB 28, UTEP 13

    Idaho State at BYU, 3 p.m. ET (n/a)
    Prediction: BYU 47, Idaho State 12

    Troy at Texas State, 3 p.m. ET (Troy -8)
    Prediction: Troy 38, Texas State 27

    Coastal Carolina at Arkansas State, 3 p.m. ET (Arkansas State -12.5)
    Prediction: Arkansas State 41, Coastal Carolina 20

    UL Monroe at Georgia Southern, 3 p.m. ET (Georgia Southern -7)
    Prediction: Georgia Southern 31, UL Monroe 20

The Rest of the Slate (2/2)

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    Wyoming quarterback Sean Chambers
    Wyoming quarterback Sean ChambersDarren Abate/Associated Press

    West Virginia at Kansas State, 3:30 p.m. ET (K-State -15)
    Prediction: Kansas State 27, West Virginia 14

    Central Michigan at Ball State, 3:30 p.m. ET (Ball State -2.5)
    Prediction: Ball State 34, Central Michigan 27

    Kentucky at Vanderbilt, 3:30 p.m. ET (Kentucky -8.5)
    Prediction: Kentucky 28, Vanderbilt 17

    Syracuse at Duke, 4 p.m. ET (Duke -11)
    Prediction: Duke 34, Syracuse 24

    Hawaii at UNLV, 4 p.m. ET (Hawaii -6.5)
    Prediction: Hawaii 35, UNLV 27

    Incarnate Word at New Mexico State, 4 p.m. ET (n/a)
    Prediction: New Mexico State 24, Incarnate Word 10

    Wyoming at Utah State, 4 p.m. ET (Utah State -5.5)
    Prediction: Wyoming 28, Utah State 24

    Stanford at Washington State, 4:30 p.m. ET (Washington State -11)
    Prediction: Washington State 38, Stanford 28

    Rice at Middle Tennessee State, 4:30 p.m. ET (MTSU -12.5)
    Prediction: Middle Tennessee State 31, Rice 17

    Louisiana at South Alabama, 5 p.m. ET (Louisiana -28)
    Prediction: Louisiana 42, South Alabama 10

    Southern Mississippi at UTSA, 6 p.m. ET (Southern Miss -17)
    Prediction: Southern Mississippi 37, UTSA 17

    Air Force at Colorado State, 7 p.m. ET (Air Force -11)
    Prediction: Air Force 42, Colorado State 28

    South Carolina at Texas A&M, 7:30 p.m. ET (Texas A&M -10.5)
    Prediction: Texas A&M 31, South Carolina 24

    Louisville at NC State, 7:30 p.m. ET (Louisville -3.5)
    Prediction: Louisville 34, NC State 30

    Arizona State at Oregon State, 7:30 p.m. ET (ASU -2.5)
    Prediction: Oregon State 35, Arizona State 32

    Appalachian State vs. Georgia State, 7:30 p.m. ET (Appalachian State -15.5)
    Prediction: Appalachian State 42, Georgia State 21