This week's national dance card leaves a lot to be desired as most of the SEC teams are playing FCS opponents. To me it just seems strange to have these FCS/SEC games in the last few weeks of the season and not the first few. Have no fear, we still have the growing rivalry that is Bucky/Brutus to feast on.
Last week ATS: 9-2
Season ATS 30-23 (12-14 National, 18-9 B1G)
Here are your week 12 matchups:
#21 USC (-3.5) vs. #17 UCLA - 3:00 EST - Fox
After the 50-0 drubbing that USC put on UCLA last year it's hard to believe that less than a year later this matchup will determine what Pac 12 South team will get to lose to Oregon in the Pac-12 title game. Jim Mora has quickly turned the Bruins around, and a win will tie him with Terry Donahue for most wins by a first-year UCLA head coach. The Trojans have been careless with the football the last few games, turning it over 13 times in the last 3 weeks. The Bruins, who have forced 25 turnovers this season, need to force USC into more of those mistakes to keep Barkley, Lee, and Woods off the field. I like UCLA to get some revenge for last year, and hand one of the preseason national championship favorites their 4th loss of the season.
UCLA 45 USC 41
Wake Forest vs. #3 Notre Dame (-24) - 3:30 EST - NBC
If Vegas is going to keep throwing out Notre Dame as big favorites against mediocre competition I'm gonna keep taking the underdogs. Notre Dame has scored more than 24 points in 4 games this year and you want me to take them as 24 point favorites? Nice try. The Irish have won the last 5 games at Notre Dame Stadium by a combined 23 points. Like I've said in predicting Notre Dame games the last 2 weeks, the Irish should win comfortably but it won't be enough to cover the spread.
Notre Dame 31 Wake Forest 10
#13 Oklahoma (-11) vs. West Virginia - 7:00 EST - Fox
How things have changed in just over a month. Remember when Geno Smith was the front-runner for the Heisman and West Virginia was undefeated? Oklahoma gave up the run against Baylor to protect against the pass and I expect more of the same this week. If West Virginia had any semblance of a defense I would take them in this game, but I just don't see them keeping pace with the Sooners.
Oklahoma 52 West Virginia 31
#2 Kansas State (-13) vs. Baylor - 8:00 EST - ESPN
Optimus Klein will get a chance to add to his case for the Heisman trophy on Saturday when he faces one of the nation's worst defenses. Baylor can score points as fast they give up points, but K-State has been able to shutdown a number of high-powered offenses already this year. This is the last hurdle that the Wildcats have to clear before a showdown with Texas in a couple weeks and I don't see Baylor being able to stop K-State's march to Miami.
Kansas State 49 Baylor 28
#14 Stanford vs. #1 Oregon (-20.5) - 8:00 EST - ABC
Stanford's #1 ranked rushing defense heads into Autzen to take on Oregon's #3 ranked rushing offense in the marquee national game of the week. The bad news for Stanford is that last week Marcus Mariota proved he can spin it through the air too, racking up 377 passing yards and 6 TD passes against Cal. Last week Kevin Hogan was solid for Stanford in his first career start, but should find the surroundings a little more hostile this week in his first road start. Oregon does have some injury issues on D but I just don't see Stanford having the offensive firepower to be able to exploit those injuries.
Oregon 51 Stanford 24
Indiana vs. Penn State (-18.5) - 12:00 EST - Big Ten Network
Indiana tries to rebound after giving up 564 rushing yards (this really happened) against Wisconsin last week. The Hoosiers must now face a Penn State team that they have never actually beaten on a football field (I know, record books say otherwise).The good news for Indiana is that Penn State doesn't rush the ball quite as effectively as Wisconsin. The bad news for Hoosiers is that they still have the same rushing D that they trotted out last week against Wisconsin. Penn State has beaten up on the B1G cellar dwellers and they should take out their frustrations from that critical fumble call last week on the Hoosiers.
Penn State 38 Indiana 17
Iowa vs. #23 Michigan - 12:00 EST - ESPN
As of Thursday there is no line that I can find up for this game. When one becomes available I will update the spread, but that won't stop me from giving my thoughts on the game. The Wolverines look to be better off with Devin Gardner at QB over Denard Robinson but whoever gets the start really shouldn't matter against this poor Iowa team. Iowa hasn't won a game since the end of September and with the Wolverines this week and Nebraska next it looks like they won't get another win this season. Michigan gets a tune-up game before heading into Columbus next week.
Michigan 35 Iowa 10
Northwestern vs. Michigan State (-7) - 12:00 EST - ESPN2
I can only imagine how hard these two teams will try not to have the lead heading into the 4th quarter in this game. Had both teams been able to close games this year we might have had a matchup against two ranked teams. Michigan State needs a win either this week or next week at Minnesota to become bowl eligible on the season. I'll gladly take the points in a game that I see coming down to the last moments.
Michigan State 24 Northwestern 23
Purdue (-6.5) vs. Illinois - 3:30 EST - Big Ten Network
Do they really have to play this game? Can't the B1G just simulate it on NCAA '13? Not going to spend too much time on a game between teams that are a combined 1-11 in B1G play this season. Purdue is bad, Illinois is bad, and if you'll excuse me I have to return some video tapes.
Purdue 20 Illinois 10
Minnesota vs. #16 Nebraska (-20) - 3:30 EST - Big Ten Network
Nebraska's last 6 games have been against the toughest the B1G has had to offer. Nebraska went 5-1 in those 6 games and now gets to finish up against Minnesota and Iowa. The Cornhuskers can't afford to look past Minnesota and give Michigan any shot at the Legends Divison. Last week the Gophers won against Illinois to become bowl eligible, which had to be a major goal for Jerry Kill's team. Unless something goes horribly wrong, Nebraska shouldn't need a 2nd half comeback in this game.
Nebraska 42 Minnesota 17
#6 Ohio State vs. Wisconsin (-2.5) - 3:30 EST - ABC/ESPN2
As Chris pointed out earlier this week, the Wisconsin/Ohio State rivalry has really taken off the last few years. The Buckeyes got a much needed bye week to rest/get some extra preparation for the games left against Wisconsin and Michigan that stand in their way of an undefeated season. Urban is 32-2 in his coaching career after having a week off. I won't deny that Camp Randall is a tough place to play but if Michigan State can go in there and win this year why can't a better team? Last week Wisconsin ran for 564 on Indiana but they might not even see 164 against this stout Buckeye running D. The Silver Bullets can really key on the run with Wisconsin having very little to offer through the air. Braxton Miller is the most dynamic QB that Wisconsin has faced this year and I see his versatility being a real issue for the Badgers. Let's just hope that by the 4th quarter Wisconsin fans don't have anything to jump around about. Maybe I'm a sucker/homer but I don't think the Buckeyes will need the points in this one.
Ohio State 37 Wisconsin 24