Week 12. Big Week, Big Games, Big Picks

What college football games appear to be the best bets and the best picks going into Week 12? The 10 best predictions against the spread are the biggest games in the biggest week so far.

Week 12 Fearless Predictions, Game Previews
CFN Week 12 Experts Picks: College
CFN Week 11 Experts Picks: NFL
Week 12 Schedule, Game Times, Game Previews
Game Previews ACC | Big Ten | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC
College Football Playoff Rankings Reaction

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Results So Far ATS: 69-53-1

No goofing around

No gimmicks – the Kansas train finally came to a crashing halt, and in spectacular fashion. However, that was an overall plus to save my bacon after an offseason lobbying effort to get everyone to go over on the KU season win total of 1 or 1.5.

No obscure Group of Five on Group of Five action – because, to be honest, I couldn’t find anything.

No, it’s time to gear up and get in shape for what’s coming with the monster Thanksgiving Week around the corner – I’ll do this Wednesday before the Thursday and Friday games and then another version Friday night – leading into the conference championships leading into the bowl games.

But first, a bonus pick because I can’t resist, and because I’m not messing with a streak after falling into last week’s calls of Utah State outright over San Jose State (48-17 Aggies) and Nevada covering the 3 against San Diego State (SDSU 23-21).

It’s arguably the biggest game of the weekend, and I’m not going with it because I’m compromised.

For nine months I picked Utah to beat Oregon outright, and now 1) I hate Utah giving away points, 2) the pick fits my narrative, and that’s not a good thing – forgive the nauseating pretentiousness; I just chugged a latte at 2 am – and 3) I was yelled at by Oregon people that it’s not going to be as obvious as Oregon loses to Utah, Oregon beats Oregon State, Oregon beats Utah for Pac-12 Championship and goes on to beat random-good Big Ten team in the Rose Bowl.

Whatever. Of course that’s what’s going to happen. Utah -3. (BTW, biggest badass game preview photo ever for that.)

10 biggest college football games, 10 biggest college football picks. Here we go, starting with …

Click on each game for the preview

10. Virginia at Pitt

LINE Pitt -14.5
ATS PICK Virginia

Forgive me for doing this for a second week in a row.

Last week I loved the over in Virginia-Notre Dame, but that was based on Cavalier QB Brennan Armstrong playing. As it turned out, he couldn’t go with his injured rib and the team was a disaster in the 28-3 Irish win that didn’t come within ten miles of the total.

I might change this on the fly if news comes out about Armstrong one way or another, but at the moment the line is based on him not playing.

If he plays – and I’m guessing he tries everything to get out there with the Coastal Division still up for grabs – the line might plummet fast and the 14.5 should be a gift. However, that doesn’t quite jibe with the point total of 66.5.

If he’s not playing, UNDER if you can still get the 66.5. If he is playing, stay away from the total.

CFN Week 12 Experts Picks: College

9. SMU at Cincinnati

LINE Cincinnati -11
ATS PICK Cincinnati

I know this goes completely against my unwavering belief that Cincinnati not obliterating everyone with this schedule of meh is a disqualifier for the College Football Playoff, but I don’t believe in SMU at all.

No, Cincinnati hasn’t been as good as it should’ve been against awful teams, but yeah, Navy is quirky, and yeah, Tulsa is tough – and loses after bringing a decent fight – and the team did pull away from Tulane and USF.

SMU has been good enough over the last few years to get to the big stage, and then lose. Last year it was the 42-13 loss to Cincinnati. In 2019 it was the 54-48 loss to Memphis, and in 2018 – granted, that team was just okay – it was a 48-20 loss to UCF.

Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder is playing better lately than he’s getting credit for, the lack of a consistent running game shouldn’t matter in this, and …

If this 2021 Bearcat ride ends, I think it happens either at East Carolina next week or against Houston in the AAC Championship.

CFN Week 11 Experts Picks: NFL

8. Oklahoma State at Texas Tech

LINE Oklahoma State -10.5
ATS PICK Oklahoma State

Interim head man Sonny Cumbie is coaching up this Texas Tech team through a tough situation. It fought well in a loss to Kansas State, got picked apart by Oklahoma, and then pulled off a Big 12 game-changer with a win over Iowa State. However …

Oklahoma State is fabulous.

This defense is incredible – it has yet to allow more than 24 points and gave up just 23 total in the last three games – the offense is finding its stride, and for all of his Mike Gundyness, Mike Gundy is really, really good at this and has his team peaking at the right time.

Texas Tech freshman QB Donovan Smith looks like a superstar to build around after ripping up Iowa State. However, Iowa State doesn’t get into the backfield like Oklahoma State does.

Donovan, meet the No. 1 pass rush and No. 3 defense in college football.

NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 7: Nebraska at Wisconsin

7. Nebraska at Wisconsin

LINE Wisconsin -9
ATS PICK Wisconsin

My job is to give you all of the information, and then you do with it what you must.

Here’s why this pick is scary. Nebraska’s run defense has been fantastic.

Michigan is the only team to get to 200 yards, it’s allowing 3.7 yards per carry, and despite the numbers lately, bad things happen if Wisconsin has to throw.

Also, Nebraska plays just about every game close. It always loses, but it managed to give Ohio State a fight in a nine-point loss, and that was the largest margin of defeat this year.

Throw in the two weeks off, the no pressure factor with Scott Frost’s situation settled and with a losing season locked in, and go ahead and freak out about the paper-thin Wisconsin running back situation. It’s uh-oh time if super-frosh Braelon Allen goes down.

All that, and …

Wisconsin’s defense continues to play at a historic level of greatness.

As I’ve mentioned before, you have to go back to 2011 Alabama for the last time anyone flirted with going through a season allowing fewer than 250 yards per game – Bama was under 200 that year, by the way – and Wisconsin is allowing 216 per outing.

Ever since the loss to Michigan, Wisconsin has won its last six games by a score of 186-34 – an average of 31-6.

Nebraska hasn’t beaten Wisconsin since 2012.

Week 12 Schedule, Game Times, Game Previews

6. Illinois at Iowa

LINE Iowa -12
ATS PICK Illinois

Let’s start with this belief, and go the other way if you disagree.

A team not having its coach around for a game doesn’t really matter, and if anything, it’s a plus. The team seems to come in more focused.

The work is done during the week, and for a one or two game shot the assistants can get the job done. However, a missing coach – Illinois’ Bret Bielema is in the COVID protocol – appears to be worth two points here.

Iowa might have found something in QB Alex Padilla – there was an actual downfield pass in the win over Minnesota – but this is still the worst offense in the Big Ten averaging fewer than 300 yards per game.

Iowa isn’t into that whole scoring thing.

The 27 put up against Minnesota were the most since early October, but this O is more likely to hang around 17 against Illinois unless the D comes up with a slew of takeaways.

Illinois leads the Big Ten in fewest giveaways.

No one grinds games down like the Illini. The team might not be great, but Wisconsin and Virginia are the only two teams to beat it by more than 12.

The point total is 38 for a reason. If everything holds to form, this is being played in the teens.

NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 5: Michigan State at Ohio State

5. Michigan State at Ohio State

LINE Ohio State -19
ATS PICK Michigan State

I get it, no one will be shocked if Ohio State goes off and hangs 60 on the board, but for a game of this magnitude the line is too damn high.

It’s been a wee bit lost in the 2021 narrative, but the Spartan defense is awful.

If got lit up by Michigan – according to the committee, the 552 yards allowed by the MSU D mattered – Purdue lit up the secondary like a Christmas tree, and Bailey Zappe and the WKU high-octane passing attack rolled for close to 500 yards through the air.

Now CJ Stroud and his NFL receivers are about to have a whole lot of fun. However …

Just how much do you believe in the Ohio State defense?

It hasn’t played anyone who can run since Oregon rolled for 269 yards on the ground in Week 2 after Mohamed Ibrahim and Minnesota rumbled for over 200 in the opener. Michigan State is going to run Kenneth Walker over and over and over again.

That should be enough to keep this from getting too out of hand.

Speaking of the Gophers …

NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 4: Minnesota at Indiana

4. Minnesota at Indiana

LINE Minnesota -7

It’s the strange thing about Minnesota under PJ Fleck. When the team lays an egg, it usually – but not always – happens at home.

The Bowling Green thing was weird, and the Illinois loss was unacceptable. However, as a road program it’s been getting the job done.

It totally wiped up Colorado with a perfect 30-0 performance after struggling at home against Miami University the week before, It followed up the loss to Bowling Green with a terrific win over Purdue in West Lafayette.

It lost last week to Iowa, but it didn’t play all that poorly in the 27-22 loss.

And then there’s Indiana.

It has yet to win a game in the Big Ten, it just got rolled by Rutgers 38-3, and now it gets a Minnesota team that’s trying to stay in the hunt for the Big Ten West title.

The Hoosiers scored seven points or fewer in five of the ten games, and the 35 points scored against Maryland were just three fewer than all six other Big Ten games combined.

It’s not going to be pretty. Minnesota is going to blast away with its ground game, and it’s going to keep doing it on the way to over 200 yards.

NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 3: Florida at Missouri

3. Florida at Missouri

LINE Florida -9
ATS PICK Missouri

Just how much juice to Florida have in the tank?

On the plus side for the Gators. Missouri’s secondary is hammered by injuries, and while QB Connor Bazelak will play, he’s hardly going to be 100%.

A disaster on defense for most of the year, Missouri has to try finding something special in the home finale, and it’s going to need Florida to struggle.

There’s a shot, though, the Mizzou is being way undervalued here despite all the concerns. There’s a shot it could win outright.

This is what Missouri does as a program. It loses to the strong teams, beats the awful ones, and it’ll come up with the occasional win over a team that’s not 100% fully focused.

Oh sure, everything looked great against South Carolina, Vanderbilt, North Texas, and SE Missouri State, but it was a world of ugly for Mizzou against Tennessee, and Texas A&M, and Georgia, and …

Florida can’t stop the run and Missouri RB Tyler Badie is awesome.

The smallish, slippery back has four 200-yard days on the season – all Missouri wins.

The Gator D just gave up 52 points to Samford, got run over by South Carolina and LSU – and LSU isn’t running on anyone – and it’s not like anything big has changed over the last month.

One other factor for what it’s worth. It’s not going to be too bad, but when the ball is kicked off it should be about 30 degrees colder in Columbia, Missouri than it will be in Gainesville, Florida.

NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 2: Texas at West Virginia

2. Texas at West Virginia

LINE West Virginia -3
ATS PICK West Virginia

Don’t think, just throw.

Sometimes something seems too obvious for a reason, but then it really is just that simple.

Things aren’t exactly going well in your world if you los as a 30-point favorite at home against Kansas.

But it’s not just that disastrous 57-56 clunker.

It’s the lifeless 30-7 loss to Iowa State after the rough defeats to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Baylor.

It’s head coach Steve Sarkisian getting a dreaded vote of confidence – it’s Year One of a rebuilding job and fans are already claiming to miss Tom Herman.

It’s star RB Bijan Robinson being out for the year with an elbow injury. It’s being 4-6 and needing two wins just to go bowling. And it’s West Virginia playing its home finale and also needing two wins to get to a bowl.

The difference? West Virginia gets Kansas next week and Texas gets a hot Kansas State.

The line is just three. West Virginia has a good enough defense to keep the high-powered Longhorn passing game under wraps, the offense is running the ball far better than it showed against Kansas State and Oklahoma State, and not to get technical here, but Texas is just plain sad.

A jacked up home team that’s great at controlling the tempo and can get into the backfield in bunches should be able to come up with this.

There is a theme in these last three picks. Florida, Texas, and now this – disappointing brand name teams in lost seasons that might not even go bowling.

NEXT: College Football Pick Against The Spread No. 1: UCLA at USC

1. UCLA at USC


Not to bother the gods, but you should once again be in a safe space here.

After losing with the pick in the No. 1 slot for weeks on end in every way imaginable, the jinx finally took a break thanks to one long touchdown by Michigan’s Erick Ali against Penn State.

Like Florida and Tennessee, USC is in a rough spot.

You don’t go to USC to get fired up to possibly get a bowl bid.

An argument can still be made that it was the most talented team in the Pac-12 from top to bottom – even if Oregon has the best starting 22 – and you were hardly crazy to think before the season began that this might have been a sleeper College Football Playoff team.

2021 USC is the reason why you don’t fire your head coach two games in. This has been a lost little lamb of a program ever since.

It blew out Washington State the week after Clay Helton was sacked – teams this year seem to play great the week after the coach is fired – but that was it.

There was a win over Colorado, but whatever, and there was a victory over Arizona that was too much of a fight.

That’s it.

As a few of my Pac-12 friends have explained, it’s not like the team isn’t trying, but this season has been one big gut punch and it can’t get its wind back. The loss of star WR Drake London was just one more shot this team couldn’t take.

However, it’s USC vs UCLA, and bizarre things happen.

It’s not like this is a killer UCLA team, the Trojans have had two weeks off after Cal had to postpone the game, and this week could be the official signal that the Jaxson Dart era at quarterback is about to kick in for the Trojans. But …

It’s USC vs UCLA, and That Team Up North hasn’t won this in three years and lost five of the last six.

It’s playing well on the lines, it should be able to power away with the ground attack, and considering every Trojan loss this year has been by 14 or more, giving away three isn’t that bad.

Week 12 Fearless Predictions, Game Previews
CFN Week 12 Experts Picks: College
CFN Week 11 Experts Picks: NFL
Week 12 Schedule, Game Times, Game Previews
Game Previews ACC | Big Ten | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC
College Football Playoff Rankings Reaction

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