It’s Friday and while I’m a day late, you already know what that means: It’s time to make some college football picks.
And I can’t lie guys, I feel….. GREAT!
We rallied nicely to get back to our winning ways last week, and this week I just feel really, really good. I feel like now that we’re in Week 12, I have a great feel for who these teams are, how they play and what their motivations are at this point in the year. I also feel like we’re going to hit a perfect 7-0 week!
As always, my picks are sponsored by our good friends at MyBookie. And remember, if you’re gambling this weekend, the only place to do it as at MyBookie. Go there and use the promo code “TORRES” to receive a 100 percent sign-up bonus. For every dollar you spend, MyBookie matches it.
Alright, enough non-sense, let’s get to these Week 12 picks and our inevitable 7-0 week!
No. 5 Alabama at Mississippi State (+18): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Part of me feels like following a loss, Alabama might come out with something to prove. Not just to themselves, but to the committee, as the Tide will now spend the rest of the season doing their best to make an argument that they deserve an at-large bid to the College Football Playoff.
But while I feel like that could happen, here is what I think will happen: Bama will come out flat. Super flat. How can they not? Last week the Tide was playing the biggest game of the college football season. Now, they’re stuck in a noon kickoff, in Starkville, as the college football world shifts its attention off of Alabama and to the sport’s shiny news toys, primarily LSU and Ohio State. Plus, I also wonder if Bama is a little physically beat up too after that LSU game. You know, the whole “body blow” theory.
So when you take all that, and factor in that Mississippi State is coming off a bye, and at the very least they can score points, I think the Bulldogs do enough to cover the points here.
Bama will win, maybe something like 40-28, but I do believe that the Bulldogs will do enough to cover the spread here.
Indiana at No. 9 Penn State (-14 ½ - bought down to 14): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ABC
Listen, I know it’d be easy to write-off Penn State after last week, but I’m just not doing it. As bad as they looked, their season is still in front of them. Beat Indiana this week and Ohio State next week and finish the season with Rutgers and they’re going to the Big Ten title game and a potential College Football Playoff appearance (Now, do I think that will happen? Not likely. But it is in play).
Still, a motivated Nittany Lions club isn’t really why I’m making this pick. You know why I am? I’m not sold on Indiana.
The Hoosiers are getting a whole bunch of hype because of the fact that they are 7-2, but dig deeper and umm, basically none of their wins are impressive. Here are Indiana’s victories this season: Ball State, Eastern Illinois, UConn (love my Huskies!), Rutgers, Maryland, Nebraska and Northwestern. Of the FBS teams they’ve beaten this season, zero – ZERO!! – have a winning record.
To take it a step further, they haven’t even been all that impressive in those wins. They only beat Rutgers 35-0, when teams are routinely putting up 60 points against them. They gave up 31 points to Nebraska, and umm have you seen that Nebraska offense? There are high school teams in Texas that could shut them out. Same with Maryland. Indiana beat the Terps 34-28. Maryland’s 28 points against Indiana is more than they scored against Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan combined (21).
In the end, I think Penn State is able to move the ball relatively easy up and down the field against the Hoosiers and their defense steps up after a disappointing loss last week.
I’ll buy the half-point to get this one from 14 ½ to 14, but I believe the Nittany Lions cruise regardless.
Kentucky (-10 ½) at Vanderbilt (UNDER 41 ½): Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network
I know Kentucky is coming off a disappointing, last second loss to Tennessee where they were driving and had the chance to win late. But while the loss is a bummer, it’s borderline incredible that this team has gone 2-2 with a converted wide receiver playing quarterback. The other loss was to Georgia in a monsoon.
And ultimately that’s why I like this Kentucky team here. One, they know what their identity is: They are going to run the ball and play great defense and try to win every game as low scoring as possible.
Two – and this is the more important part – despite everyone knowing they are going to run the ball, Kentucky is still managing to do it really effectively. Well, if Kentucky can move the ball against an improving Tennessee defense, I’m guessing that they can also move it against a Vanderbilt team which ranks 118th nationally in total defense. To take it a step further, Vandy is also allowing 5.21 yards per rush, last in the SEC.
I don’t know if Kentucky is built to blow anyone out.
But if it’s ever going to happen it will be this weekend.
I like the Cats in something like a 28-7 or 24-3 final score, with a cover and UNDER both hitting.
No. 10 Oklahoma (-10 ½) at No. 13 Baylor (UNDER 67 ½): Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
It’s the single biggest game of the weekend, and – at least until the conference championship game – the single biggest game of the Big 12 season. it’s Oklahoma at Baylor in Waco.
Coming into this game, the two things that stand out to me more than anything are these: Baylor is really good on defense and really bad on offense. In their last two games, the Bears have given up just 23 total points in regulation on defense (last week’s game against TCU went to triple overtime). But they’ve only scored 26 as well.
So ultimately, this matchup is pretty simple. I believe that the Bears can slow down Oklahoma at least for a portion of the game. The question is, can they keep up?
Honestly, I’m not sure.
One, this offense simply hasn’t proven to be explosive. I just mentioned the struggles the last two weeks (where Baylor has scored two combined touchdowns in regulation) and while it’s easy to dog Oklahoma’s defense, I think they’re due to play better. If you break it down, they’ve really only played one bad game this season (Kansas State) and did have a mini-collapse against Iowa State late. But otherwise they’ve been really good this year. Only they have been hearing how “bad” they’ve been these last few weeks and I do believe they will come out with something to prove.
Because of it, I think Oklahoma bounces back nicely and pulls away late.
It might be close for a quarter or two as Oklahoma works through the jitters and Baylor’s crowd keeps them in it. But I believe the Sooners win going away.
Give me Oklahoma, 38-21, with the Sooners pulling away late.
UCLA at No. 7 Utah (UNDER 52): Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET, FOX
Give credit where it’s due: UCLA is one of the single best stories of the season. after the Bruins got crushed week-in and week out to start things, they have closed the season well of late. UCLA has won three straight heading into this one.
Still, there is a big difference between beating up on Stanford and Colorado and going to Utah and getting this win. Especially with the way the Utes defense has played this year. And especially with the way they’ve played at home.
Here are the final scores of Utah’s home games this year: 35-17, 31-0, 38-13, 21-3, and 35-0. In total, three Pac-12 opponents have scored a combined 16 points in Salt Lake City.
Point being it’d be a minor miracle if UCLA breaks 14 points.
Utah wins a sloppy, dominant game and keeps their playoff hopes alive.
BONUS PICK: Auburn 13, Georgia 10
I don’t feel comfortable enough to make an “official” pick here, but my unofficial pick (which won’t count towards my win-low record on the season) is Auburn. The bottom-line is that Gus Malzahn is lights out after a bye (9-0 since he got to Auburn) and the Tigers play real defense. They are the only team – not Alabama or Florida – which made Joe Burrow look human, and if they can do that against Joe Burrow, I’m terrified to think what they can do against Jake Fromm.
Again, I’m not confident enough to make this part of my official picks. But i’ll go ahead and take the Tigers here.