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Viewers Guide, Picks: Week 12

We are back with the Viewers Guide and Picks for Week 12 of the college season.

Wisconsin's Montee Ball and OSU's Carlos Hyde

After a great Week 10, I stumbled in Week 11.

I ended up 18-8 straight-up and 9-15-2 against-the-spread. For the year, I am now 203-67 SU and 128-129-3 ATS.

In Big Ten games, I was 3-2 straight-up and 2-3 ATS. Through 11 weeks, I am 67-17 straight-up and 41-35 ATS.

Ranked teams will collide in three match-ups, including USC-UCLA, Texas Tech-Oklahoma State and Stanford-Oregon. Other notables match-ups include Ohio State-Wisconsin, Oklahoma-West Virginia and Kansas State-Baylor.

Here we go with the Viewers Guide and Picks for Week 12 of the college football season:

Wednesday’s Games

Note: I posted these on the Big Ten Board late Tuesday so I could be on record. (Click here for the picks.)

* Ohio at Ball State (-6), 8 p.m. (ESPNU) – This game matches up a pair of 4-2 teams in MAC play. They each need to win out and get some help to win their respective divisions. OU has lost two of its last three games, while Ball State is surging with four straight wins. Ball State defeated OU 23-20 last year in Athens. Ball State 27-24 (Ball State won 52-27, so I lose this one ATS)

* Toledo at Northern Illinois (-10 ½), 9 p.m. (ESPN2) – NIU can clinch the MAC Western Division title and a spot in the conference championship game with a win over Toledo. The Huskies are ninth nationally in scoring (40.6 ppg) and 10th in rushing yardage (250.9 ypg). NIU has won nine straight since its season-opening 18-17 loss to Iowa in Chicago. Toledo had its eight-game losing streak snapped with last week’s 34-27 home loss to Ball State. Toledo lost to Northern Illinois 63-60 in a shootout last year at UT. Northern Illinois 37-32 (NIU won 31-24, so I hit this one)

Thursday’s Game

* North Carolina (-3 1/2) at Virginia, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN) – Virginia, at 4-6, needs wins over UNC and Virginia Tech to get to 6-6 and qualify for a bowl. The Cavaliers are making a late push with wins over N.C. State (33-6) and Miami (41-40) the last two weeks. UNC limps in off losses in two of its last three games, including last week’s home loss to Georgia Tech (68-50 … ouch). UNC has won the last two in the series, including 28-17 last year in Chapel Hill. Virginia 31-30

Friday’s Game

* Hawaii at Air Force (-22 ½), 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2) – Well, I have to pick one of the Friday games. It was either Florida International (2-8) at Florida Atlantic (3-7) or this game, which is Air Force (5-5) hosting Hawaii (1-8). Not much of a bargain. Hawaii won the only previous meeting in 2001 (52-30). They ain’t winning the rematch. Air Force has lost road games to Army and San Diego State the last two weeks. Hawaii has lost seven straight. Air Force 44-17

Saturday’s Games

* Florida State (-31) at Maryland, noon (ESPNU) – FSU can clinch a share of the ACC Atlantic Division title and a spot in the conference title with a win at College Park. FSU is 9-1 for the first time since 2000. The Terps’ bowl hopes hinge on winning with their fifth-string QB Shawn Petty against one of the nation’s best defenses (FSU is fourth in scoring defense, at 13.0 ppg). FSU is 20-2 all-time against Maryland with five straight wins, including a 41-16 win at Tallahassee last year. FSU tunes up for next week’s showdown with Florida. Florida State 48-10

* Iowa at Michigan (-15), noon (ESPN) – Iowa is limping to the finish line with four straight losses. The Hawkeyes need two wins to qualify for a bowl game. Michigan will likely be without QB Denard Robinson (elbow) for the third game in a row. But Devin Gardner filled in ably last week. UM has won five of its last six games, although Northwestern took UM to the limit last week before the Wolverines pulled it out 38-31 in overtime. Michigan leads the all-time series 40-13-4, although Iowa has won three straight years (including 24-16 last year at Iowa City). That streak comes to an end. Michigan 32-23

* Rutgers at Cincinnati (-6 ½), noon (Big East Network) – Rutgers is gunning for its first-ever 5-0 start in Big East play. But Cincinnati, with one league loss, is still in the thick of the race and won’t be an easy out at home. Rutgers is 1-6-1 all-time at UC with its one win coming back in 1987. QB Brendan Kay has taken over for Munchie Legaux and led the Bearcats to last week’s win over Temple (34-10). Rutgers rebounded from its loss to Kent State with last week’s win over Army (28-7). Cincinnati 27-23

* Northwestern at Michigan State (-7), noon (ESPN2) – MSU needs a win to get to six wins and become bowl-eligible. The Spartans have endured four tough Big Ten losses by a combined 10 points. They are just dying for a breakthrough. NU has been hard-luck as well losing three Big Ten games (to Penn State, Nebraska and Michigan) after holding double-digit leads in the second half. MSU has won four straight in the series, including 31-17 last year at Evanston. MSU leads the all-time series 36-16. Michigan State 26-23 (should be a fun one, for sure)

* Kent State at Bowling Green (-2 ½), noon (ESPN3.com) – Kent State has won the last two games in the series, including 27-15 last year at Kent. Kent can clinch a share of the MAC Eastern Division title and a spot in the conference title game with a win at BG. Kent has won eight straight, while BG has won six in a row. Something has to give. Kent State 34-27

* Central Florida at Tulsa (-2), noon (Fox Sports Net) – This could be a preview of the Conference USA championship game with both at 8-2 overall and 6-0 in C-USA play. The winner could even get to host the title game. Tulsa bounced back from a loss at Arkansas (19-15) by spanking Houston last week (41-7). After a 2-2 start, UCF has won six straight. UCF has also won two in a row over Tulsa, including 24-17 at home last week. Central Florida 31-20

* Indiana at Penn State (-18 ½), noon (Big Ten Network) – Penn State is 15-0 all-time against Indiana. Both teams come in off tough losses with PSU losing at Nebraska (32-23) and Indiana seeing its Big Ten title game hopes float away with a 62-14 home loss to Indiana. IU’s passing game must come up big or the Lions will roll. PSU won 16-10 last year in Bloomington. Penn State 37-23

* South Florida at Miami (Fla.) (-7), 3 p.m. (ACC Network) – Miami is 3-1 all-time vs. USF. USF won a 6-3 “thriller” last year in Tampa, while USF won 23-20 in overtime at Miami in 2010. USF snapped a six-game losing streak with a 13-6 home win over Connecticut. Miami has lost four of its last five games. Miami (Fla.) 38-25

* USC (-3 ½) at UCLA, 3:05 p.m. (FOX) – It’s put-up or shut-up time for the Trojans, the preseason No. 1 team in the AP poll. But the Trojans are looking at a possible fourth loss and this one could hurt if it’s at the Rose Bowl to the crosstown rival Bruins. The winner will rep the Pac-12 South in the conference title game, likely at Oregon. UCLA redshirt freshman Brett Hundley has started to overshadow USC’s Matt Barkley. But Barkley has the luxury of throwing to Marqise Lee. USC leads the all-time series 44-28-7, including 11 of the last 12 games (the lone loss was in 2006, 13-9 for UCLA). USC embarrassed UCLA 50-0 last year. UCLA has won four in a row, while USC has lost two of its last three. This should be a heck of a game with the powder blue and the garnet and the green of the grass at the Rose Bowl just oozing out of your TV. USC 35-30

* Wake Forest at Notre Dame (-24), 3:30 p.m. (NBC) – Notre Dame is sitting at No. 3 and on the outside looking in at Oregon and Kansas State. Underdogs have made life difficult for ND in South Bend this year, but the Irish always find a way to come through. Wake has lost four of its last six, including a 37-6 defeat at N.C. State last week. ND rallied for a 24-17 win at Wake last year in the first meeting ever between the schools. Notre Dame 31-10

* Mississippi at LSU (-18), 3:30 p.m. (CBS) – Ole Miss comes to LSU off a pair of losses to Georgia and Vanderbilt. LSU, at 8-2, is a BCS long shot. The Tigers rebounded from their loss to Alabama by defeating Mississippi State 37-17 last week. LSU 34-17

* N.C. State at Clemson (-16 ½), 3:30 p.m. (ABC regional, ESPN2 outer market) – N.C. State snapped a seven-game losing streak to Clemson with a 37-13 win in Raleigh last year. The Tigers, at 9-1, could be a BCS contender with home wins over N.C. State and South Carolina. Clemson 45-17

* Minnesota at Nebraska (-20), 3:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network) – Nebraska needs a win to maintain its hold on the Big Ten Legends Division lead and put itself in position to advance to the title game. The Gophers have clinched a postseason bid with six wins, but have yet to beat a I-A team with a winning record. That isn’t going to change here. Minnesota leads the all-time series at 29-21-2, although Nebraska won 41-14 last year at Minneapolis. Should be a nice send-off for the NU seniors as they chase their first-ever Big Ten title (and first conference crown since 1999). Nebraska 35-21

* Texas Tech at Oklahoma State (-10 ½), 3:30 p.m. (Fox Sports Net) – Texas Tech needed two OTs to get past sadsack Kansas last week (41-34). Oklahoma State has perked up down the stretch with four wins in the last five games and the loss was at No. 2 Kansas State (44-30). Oklahoma State has won three straight over Tech, including 66-6 last year at Lubbock. Oklahoma State 41-26

* Ohio State at Wisconsin (-2 ½), 3:30 p.m. (ABC regional, ESPN2 outer market) – OSU comes in at 10-0 and has already clinched a share of the Big Ten Leaders Division title, even though the Buckeyes are ineligible for the title game and postseason play. Wisconsin has clinched the title game shot and looks for legitimacy with a home win over the Buckeyes. OSU leads the all-time series 54-18-5, including four wins in the last five meetings. OSU upset Wisconsin 33-29 on a Braxton Miller-to-Devin Smith Hail Mary last year in Columbus. UW comes in off that lopsided win at Indiana, where the Badgers rushed for 564 yards. Can the Buckeyes contain RBs Montee Ball and James White? They held Michigan State and Penn State under 100 yards rushing in those wins, so there may be some hope for the Scarlet and Gray. Can UW QB Curt Phillips, making his second career start, move the ball through the air when need be? Hmmm. Ohio State (in a thriller) 27-24

* Purdue (-7 ½) at Illinois, 3:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network) – Purdue, at 4-6, revived its bowl hopes with last week’s win at Iowa (27-24) on a last-second field goal. The Boilers, with Robert Marve taking over at QB, need this win and also one over Indiana next week to snag a bowl bid. Illinois has lost seven straight – all by double digits – and is playing out the string. Purdue 27-10

* Oklahoma (-11) at West Virginia, 7 p.m. (FOX) – Remember when WVU was 5-0? Since then, the Mountaineers have lost to Texas Tech, Kansas State, TCU and Oklahoma State by an average score of 50-25. This is Oklahoma’s first trip to Morgantown. The all-time series is 2-2. This is a rematch of the 2008 Fiesta Bowl, won by WVU 48-28. OU has won two in a row since its loss to Notre Dame and is still hoping for a BCS bid. Oklahoma 51-44

* Tennessee at Vanderbilt (-4), 7 p.m. (ESPN2) – Vandy comes in at 6-4, while Tennessee is 4-6 and circling the drain (with coach Derek Dooley likely to take the fall as well). UT leads the all-time series 73-27-5 and has won 28 of the last 29 meetings, including the last six in a row (and 27-21 in overtime last year at UT). Vanderbilt 31-21

* Kansas State (-12 ½) at Baylor, 8 p.m. (ESPN) – K-State has ascended to No. 1 for the first time in school history. The Wildcats head to Baylor, where the Bears only have one Big 12 win. Baylor won 36-35 last year at K-State. QB Collin Klein will want to have a big game after a so-so win over TCU. Kansas State 35-16

* Stanford at Oregon (-20 ½), 8 p.m. (ABC) – Oregon needs a win to clinch the Pac-12 North title and hosting the conference championship game. But Stanford is also still in the division hunt and has a lot to play for. Stanford has lost its last five straight trips to Eugene. Oregon won 53-30 last year at Stanford. Stanford has won four in a row and its defense is playing well. That’s good because the Ducks are averaging a nation’s best 54.8 ppg. Oregon 40-23

* California at Oregon State (-14), 10:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network) – Oregon State QB Cody Vaz (ankle) is doubtful. It looks like Jeff Tedford’s days at Cal may be numbered. Oregon State has lost two of its last three games. Cal has lost four in a row. Oregon State 37-17

* BYU (-3) at San Jose State, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN2) – This looks like a good match-up on paper with 6-4 BYU facing 8-2 San Jose State. The Spartans have won four in a row and will be gearing for next week’s home match-up with Louisiana Tech for the WAC title. BYU is 6-1 all-time vs. SJSU. Should be a good one. San Jose State 27-24

And in case you missed it:

Our Big Ten Blast for the week

Quickie Bowl Projections

We will try and update these each week. It was pointed out to me I overlooked LSU last week. I apologize.

This whole SEC logjam is giving me a headache. If I had to sort it out, I’d say:

No. 4 (BCS) Alabama, 9-1 now, figure they beat Western Carolina and Auburn, putting the Tide in the SEC title game against Georgia. A win there puts Alabama in at least the Sugar Bowl (and maybe the title game if two of the teams in front of them lose).

No. 5 Georgia, 9-1 now, figure they beat Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech. They face Alabama (barring an Alabama loss to Auburn) in the SEC title game. Win puts them in Sugar Bowl, loss makes them 11-2 and probably drops them to the Outback Bowl.

No. 6 Florida, 9-1 now, figure they beat Jacksonville State and game at Florida State could go either way (especially if Jeff Driskel is questionable). Win makes them 11-1 and a BCS possibility, loss makes them 10-2.

No. 7 LSU, 8-2 now, figure they beat Ole Miss and Arkansas to finish 10-2.

No. 8 Texas A&M, 8-2 now, figure they beat Sam Houston State and Missouri to finish 10-2.

No. 9 South Carolina, 8-2 now, figure they beat Wofford and game at Clemson could go either way. Win makes them 10-2, loss makes them 9-3.

So, if I had to go with what seems most likely, I’d say Alabama in the Sugar, Florida in a BCS at-large spot, Georgia in the Capital One Bowl, LSU in the Outback, Texas A&M in the Cotton and South Carolina in the Chick-Fil-A.

Now, if Florida loses, it could go LSU in a BCS at-large spot, Georgia in the Capital One Bowl, Florida in the Outback, Texas A&M in the Cotton and South Carolina in the Chick-Fil-A.

And if Georgia defeats Alabama in the SEC title game, it would be Georgia to the Sugar, Florida or LSU in the BCS, Alabama to the Capital One, Florida or LSU in the Outback, Texas A&M in the Cotton and South Carolina in the Chick-Fil-A.

That’s my take on that SEC logjam. Feel free to debunk me below (ha ha).

Here goes absolutely nothing:

* BCS National Title Game (at Miami) – Kansas State vs. Oregon (Alabama’s loss opens the door for K-State to get into the title game)

* Rose Bowl – Nebraska vs. Notre Dame (I started talking about this weeks ago when it seemed like ND would get edged out of the title game; when Oregon beats Stanford and Oregon State neither of them will be eligible here – must be top 16 in BCS – winner of Notre-Dame USC could get this spot … or just ND outright)

* Orange Bowl – Florida State vs. Louisville (Louisville’s loss opens door for Rutgers; those two play Nov. 29)

* Fiesta Bowl – Oklahoma vs. Florida (this could be LSU if Florida loses to Florida State)

* Sugar Bowl – Alabama vs. Clemson (Tigers could even still get here at 10-2 with loss to South Carolina, which would be completely galling to the Gamecocks; Louisiana Tech is also a possibility if it can wedge its way up into the top 14)

* Capital One Bowl – Georgia vs. Michigan

* Outback Bowl – LSU vs. Wisconsin

* Cotton Bowl – Texas A&M vs. Texas (There will be a huge push for this in the Lone Star state)

Enjoy this big weekend of college football and best of luck to your team!

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