College Football Week 12 Picks
The SEC West title is most likely at stake this Saturday, when the 9-0 Bulldogs hope to add another win to their resume against the fifth ranked Crimson Tide, at Bryant-Denny Stadium. While Mississippi State has beaten Auburn, Texas A&M and LSU, a loss here would put their Playoff hopes in jeopardy, as many believe them to be a shaky No. 1 team. Dak Prescott continues to impress and is a popular Heisman frontrunner but he will get all he can handle from 'Bama's speedy defense. The Tide defense is led by a number of playmaking linebackers, including hard-working Reggie Ragland (67 tackles), seasoned vet Trey DePriest and pass rushing Xzavier Dickson (27 tackles, seven sacks). They will be joined by rangy safety Landon Collins, who will challenge all of Prescott's deep balls. Prescott will be joined offensively by steady running back Josh Robinson, along solid receiver De'Runnya Wilson. Prescott has proven to be just as dangerous with his legs (779 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns) as his improving arm, and his dual threat ability will challenge Alabama's defense, one that has really struggled when presented with a dual threat QB over the years. The key for the Tide will be Blake Sims, who evidently struggled against LSU. While Mississippi State's defense is widely considered as strong, their pass defense is actually among the worst in the entire nation, which should obviously help Sims make big plays and open up running lanes. Stopping Heisman candidate Amari Cooper, along proven DeAndrew White will be an awfully tough challenge for the Bulldogs. The good news is that T.J. Yeldon is questionable to play at back, and even if he does they have a speedy front seven, led by linebacker Benardrick McKinney. While Mississippi State is well prepared and has a dangerous offense, this one will be incredibly tough on the road. If their secondary can contain Cooper and put pressure on Sims they have a real chance to keep their unblemished record. But, I get the feeling that won't happen in the hostile environment that is Bryant-Denny.
Alabama, 27 Mississippi State, 24
16 Nebraska vs. 20 Wisconsin
If you love running back battles, you won't see a better matchup this whole season than this Big Ten West tilt between the 'Huskers and Badgers. Although his health is a relative concern, Ameer Abdullah has run for 1,250 yards and 17 scores and he will lead a one-loss Nebraska team hoping to sneak into the Playoff. The Nebraska offense also includes solid quarterback Tommy Armstrong, who while turnover prone, can make plays with his feet and has two dangerous receivers in sure-handed Jordan Westerkamp and senior stud Kenny Bell. Wisconsin safety Michael Caputo is a tackling machine and he will have to be everywhere to help lead a Wisconsin defense that has been terribly inconsistent all year. Offensively, the Badgers will lean heavily on their one-two punch of junior Melvin Gordon (1,501 yards, 21 total touchdowns) and Corey Clement (720 yards). Those two will hope to punish a Nebraska defense that while improved, could be exposed against the run. The 'Huskers do have one of the nation's best pass rushers in defensive end Randy Gregory, who has six sacks on the year despite being constantly double teamed. He will have to apply pressure on the two-QB system in Wisconsin, which includes Tanner McEvoy and Joel Stave. McEvoy has struggled to make the big throws but has been able to make plays with his legs, while Stave has been decent. Both will need to step up and pass the ball a lot better because running Gordon and Clement might not work all day long. Gordon and Clement's power could open up play action passes and if someone can move the ball, the Badgers have a good chance. Though, if Abdullah is healthy for Nebraska, they will have much more dynamic offense and a defense that can at least contain Wisconsin's ground attack. It should be close, but Nebraska will most likely keep themselves in the Big Ten West lead with a big win.
Nebraska, 23 Wisconsin, 17
8 Ohio State vs. 25 Minnesota
It has been a pretty memorable year for Minnesota, who sits at 7-2 on the year and has now captured the Little Brown Jug and Floyd of Rosedale trophies for the first time in nearly half a century. Now, they hope to prove they are a legitimate threat in the Big Ten against the conference's last hope at reaching the Playoff: Ohio State, one week after their huge victory over MSU. Since a pretty embarrassing loss to Virginia Tech, Ohio State has rolled through their schedule, thanks in large part to the play of redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett. Barrett, who had five total scores against the Spartans' superb defense, is an impressive runner and can also make some beautiful throws with his huge arm. He is joined by underrated speedster Ezekiel Elliott at tailback along with veteran receiver Devin Smith. While Minnesota does present one of the conference's best secondaries and a do-it-all defensive star in linebacker Damien Wilson (88 tackles, two sacks), they have historically been absolutely embarrassingly bad defensively against Ohio State. They must be disciplined and make key open field tackles against the speed and quickness of the Buckeyes. If their defense does not perform, the Gophers will obviously need their offense to keep up with OSU. QB Mitch Leidner has been a proven threat as a runner all year but still leaves something to be desired as a passer. He will have reliable tight end Maxx Williams to pass too and running back David Cobb is an absolute workhorse, while Berkley Edwards is a great change of pace. Although he was contained by the Spartans pretty good last week, Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa is a monster and he could give the Gophers' offensive line fits. If Minnesota is to pull off a pretty big upset at home, they will need Leidner to make some big throws and the defense to contain Barrett. They must force turnovers against the young quarterback and capitalize, or else the Buckeyes will coast to a victory.
Ohio State, 38 Minnesota, 27
19 Clemson, 35 22 Georgia Tech, 21
15 Georgia, 31 9 Auburn, 30
4 TCU, 49 Kansas, 14
14 Arizona, 34 Washington, 28
3 Florida State, 37 Miami, 31
Current Picks Record: 61-26