by Chris Carlson
From time to time the schedule on paper appears to give us lemons, College Football works it’s magic and makes lemonade. In what looked to be a mediocre Week 11, 3 out of the top-4 teams in the country loss last Saturday for the first time since 1985. Week 12 features key marquee matchups in the Pac-12 & Big-12, along with a slew of important games that could produce yet another major upset.
#9 Oklahoma at #14 West Virginia: This Marquee Matchup could go a long way in deciding who will be the Big-12 champion. The Sooners have strung together 7 straight wins and now control their own destiny with a sparkly-clean conference record. Mountaineers QB Skylar Howard gets a second chance at redemption in a high-profile spot, having played poorly against #11 Oklahoma State. Oklahoma holds a slight edge in offensive production and depth at running back, West Virginia has a better defense statistically speaking. This flip of the coin type contest will be decided by turnovers and quarterback play. With that said, Sooners signal-caller Baker Mayfield is more reliable than Skylar Howard.
The Pick: Oklahoma 37 West Virginia 34
#22 Washington State at #10 Colorado: Offensive styles clash in this crucial Pac-12 dust up. Colorado’s rushing attack (205 yards per game) will be of great importance to keep a potent Cougar offense on the bench. Washington State junior QB Luke Falk is quietly, on the national stage anyway, having a superb year producing over 3,600 passing yards, a 73% completion rate and 33 touchdowns. Unfortunately the Cougars will be without star wide receiver River Cracraft and that’s enough of a difference maker for this scribe to side with the home team.
The Pick: Colorado 34 Washington State 30
Under The Radar
#6 Louisville at Houston: Back in September, which is light years-ago in College Football regular season terms, this non-conference tussle was on everybody’s radar instead of flying under it. At the time, Louisville had spanked FSU and Houston ran away from Oklahoma in the second half. The Cougars head coach Tom Herman hype-train has cooled some and Louisville seems stuck in neutral. A salivating quarterback dual between Heisman pace-setter Lamar Jackson and all-purpose Greg Ward Jr. will be something to keep an eye on. The Cardinals win on a late field goal.
The Pick: Louisville 27 Houston 24
Saturday Upset Special
#11 Oklahoma State at TCU: The Cowboys lost two early games but managed to right the ship and are in line for a Big-12 title. TCU got off to a shaky start letting a few winnable games get away from them. The Horn Frogs put it all together and spoil Oklahoma State’s hopes of a league championship.
Hardcore Barn Burner
Miami at North Carolina State: The records of these two teams don’t tell the whole story and both had plenty of chances but failed to earn a signature win. The Hurricanes are surprisingly better on the road and the NC State has a different vibe about them at home, amounting to the perfect ingredients for an ACC barn burner.
(Honorable Mention: Northwestern at Minnesota: The Gophers & BYU have qualified for this category all year long more than any other & there’s no reason not to think Minnesota won’t play to the level of the Wildcats.)
Against The Spread
#11 Oklahoma State as 4.5-point road dog at TCU: Yes, I realize hedging my upset prediction with this category is suspect but it also makes a lot of sense.
(Honorable Mention: Houston’s two losses equates to a 14-point home underdog versus #6 Louisville according to the betting lines. Look for the Cougars to overachieve enough to lose competitively or win outright).
Quick Hits Recap & My Top 4 Plus 2 More
-My Top 4 Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, Clemson, plus Wisconsin & Louisville.
-Pittsburgh’s shocking 43-42 victory ended Clemson’s streak of 46 consecutive wins over unranked opponents.
-We knew #1 Alabama true freshman QB Jalen Hurts was dangerous with his legs, but it was his 341 passing yards (447 total yards) & 4 TD’s in a 51-3 blowout over Mississippi State that stood out.
-University of South Florida QB Quinton Flowers had a monstrous outing piling up 263 yards on 24 of 29 passing, 210 rushing yards, & 5 TD’s in a victory over Memphis.
-John Carroll University put an abrupt halt to Mount Union’s 112-game NCAA record winning streak in Division 3 football.
Written by Chris Carlson Host of The College Ball Show Podcast at blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio on iTunes under Rope A Dope Radio Podcast. Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio.