NCAA Football Predictions: Week 12 Opening Line Report and Picks
My first impression of the initial College Football Playoff rankings released last week? The Big 12 is in trouble and the Pac-12 is a winner.
That's because the highest-ranked Big 12 team was one-loss and No. 9 Oklahoma, and it's not good for the Sooners' CFP hopes that they were behind three other one-loss teams: No. 6 Georgia, No. 7 Oregon and No. 8 Utah. It's not likely any of those schools lose again in the regular season, although Georgia certainly might Saturday (doubt it) or in the SEC title game, and Oregon and Utah are on a collision course for the Pac-12 title game, so one of them has to lose eventually.
Oklahoma's ranking has been hurt by the fact that Texas hasn't been near as good as expected, and the Longhorns weren't even in the CFP Top 25. UT is the only ranked team that OU has faced at the time, and the school had a laughable nonconference schedule of Houston, South Dakota and UCLA. The Sooners also didn't help themselves this past Saturday when they squeaked by unranked Iowa State.
The Big 12's CFP hopes might be officially killed this week when Oklahoma visits unbeaten Baylor, which is No. 12 in the CFP Top 25 and avoided an upset at TCU this past week. The problem for the Bears is that a win probably doesn't even jump them all that much because this is their first game against a ranked school all season and might remain that way - Texas could be ranked again when they meet in Waco on Nov. 23. Baylor's nonconference schedule makes Oklahoma's look tough: Stephen F. Austin, UT-San Antonio and Rice. That's absurd. The CFP committee clearly was sending a message to Baylor with that cupcake schedule, and I honestly hope Baylor runs the table and is still left out. The Bears can't really help that the Big 12 as a whole is rather weak. ESPN's College GameDay will be in Waco. Last year, Baylor was torched in Norman 66-33.
Here are a few other college football Week 12 opening lines that caught my eye with rankings from the CFP Top 25 and some certainly to change on Tuesday. Games Saturday unless noted. Picks are ATS.
Indiana at No. 4 Penn State (-13.5): Tom Allen is doing a fantastic job at Indiana, which is 7-2 overall and 4-2 in the Big Ten coming out of its bye week. The Hoosiers are guaranteed to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2007 and could win eight games for the first time since 1993. However, they did lose starting QB Michael Penix to season-ending surgery during the bye. Penix completed 68.8% of his passes for 1,394 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions in six games. Junior Peyton Ramsey, who has started three games this year, takes over. Ramsey was last season's IU starter, but Penix won the starting job to open 2019. He missed a few games due to injury. Penn State isn't going to be No. 4 in the new CFP rankings as it was knocked off at unbeaten Minnesota this past Saturday and the Gophers were clearly the better team. Another loss and PSU can forget about playing in the Big Ten title game. They visit unbeaten Ohio State next Saturday. PSU barely won in Bloomington a year ago, 33-28. Pick: Indiana.
No. 6 Georgia at No. 11 Auburn (+3): If Auburn wants to get out of the huge contract of Gus Malzahn (and it may well want to), the Tigers could simply let him walk away and take the job in his native Arkansas, which just came open with the firing of Chad Morris. This is a game that the Big 12 needs Georgia to lose. The Pac-12 perhaps too. Look, the SEC champion is almost surely getting into the playoff even if it has two losses, but a Dawgs defeat here will drop them out of the CFP Top 10. Auburn is a good club and handed Oregon its only loss, but the two other good teams the Tigers played (Florida and LSU, both on road) they lost to. Auburn barely beat a so-so Ole Miss team on Nov. 2 but might have been looking ahead to this one. Georgia spanked Missouri. Pick: Georgia.
No. 3 Alabama at Mississippi State (+20.5)/No. 2 LSU at Ole Miss (+21): Letdown games! Every year, I bet against Alabama and LSU the week after they play each other because that's such an emotionally and physically draining battle. Last year, for example, LSU barely won at a bad Arkansas team the week after playing the Tide. Alabama won by "only" 24 at vs. Mississippi State following the LSU game. The year before, Bama nearly lost at MSU - only going ahead in the final seconds -- the week after LSU. The Tigers are now No. 1 in both the AP and Coaches polls following their very impressive victory on Tuscaloosa on Saturday. They probably will jump to No. 1 in the CFP rankings too. The Heisman is Joe Burrow's to lose. Alabama now needs a lot of help to avoid missing the playoff for the first time. Picks: Both Mississippi schools.
No. 19 Wake Forest at No. 5 Clemson (+32): Well, this lost a lot of luster with Wake Forest being upset by Virginia Tech this past Saturday. Clemson would clinch the ACC Atlantic Division yet again with a victory. Don't fret being ranked fifth in the first CFP Top 25 Clemson fans: You are in the playoff without question if you win out (and you will jump into the Top 4 on Tuesday with Bama's loss). The Tigers are being punished for the ACC being so weak overall. It's not like Clemson avoided tough games out of conference, either, as it faced Texas A&M and closes at rival South Carolina. Find me another Power 5 school that played two nonconference games vs. SEC schools. Clemson has won the past 10 in this series, all by at least 14 points but one. It was a 63-3 wipeout in 2018. The Tigers ran for 471 yards with three Clemson players reaching at least 125. That was a first in school history. Pick: Wake Forest.
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