2017 Week 12 NCAAF Weekend Preview

November 17, 2017

If you’re still catching your breath after last weekend’s monster slate, don’t worry. A lot of are, too.

Although the heavy hitters weren’t necessarily the greatest games on the scoreboard, they shook things up in the rankings enough to keep people talking all week. This is good news for college football, since this week will kind of feel like the hangover coming off of a really wild night.

Most of the SEC will engage in its annual battle with the Sun Belt, which is somewhat of an act of civic duty as those lucky Sun Belt teams make about as much money in that one game as they do their entire conference slate. The ACC is somewhat dormant as well, although I’m not sold that there won’t be at least one more upset in that conference. The Big Ten stands as the conference that could take advantage, but its best game will see less passing than Kobe’s 81 point game.

To help me predict those games, I’ve brought the biggest college football fan I know other than myself onto the blog.

Just kidding.

I’m not sure my buddy Trent will even read the post he’s featured in, but such is life when you asked the people in your GroupMe chat to be the guest prognosticator on an every-other-week basis. Also, his secret intention to best me at everything ensures that real bragging rights are on the line, regardless of his propensity for the NFL over college football.

The gap didn’t change after Ryan’s picks last week, so the overall standings in the head-to-head prediction game look like this:

K. Becks – 36-19

Guests – 38-17

Let’s take a look at the games that will affect those standings this week.

5 Games to Pay Attention to This Weekend

#24 Michigan at #5 Wisconsin (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

This game was already referenced in a not so flattering way earlier, but in all honesty, this is a monster game for the Badgers. Up to this point, Michigan will serve as Wisconsin’s best win of the season if it can defend Camp Randall Stadium. The positive note is that there will be another chance to build on a potential victory in the Big Ten title game. The negative note is that the Wolverines are adept at stopping what the Badgers do best.

Michigan’s run defense hasn’t been nearly as dominant as the pass defense, but it’s still good. The best rushing offenses in the Big Ten have fared pretty well against it, though, so the Badgers won’t have to change the usual gameplan much to have success in this one. No one outside of Madison is sold on Wisconsin as a legit Playoff contender yet, so it won’t be all that surprising when it’s close. But this victory will help the team’s case in that department.

My Pick: 27-21 Wisconsin

Trent’s Take: Wisconsin 28-21

SMU at #21 Memphis (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

It isn’t usually until bowl season that Around The Corn gets geeked about stud performers that most of the nation don’t know, but given the schedule I figured I’d share an early Christmas gift. Both SMU and Memphis sling the ball around quite a bit and are led offensively by their quarterback. The Tigers’ Riley Ferguson and Mustangs’ Ben Hicks are No. 1 and 2 in the AAC in passing touchdowns this season and will be looking to gain a leg up on one another in the race for the conference’s Offensive POY award.

To say that this game will be decided by which of those two is able to best the other is not just lazy literary prose. Neither one of these teams loves to defend the pass, which makes sense when you’re averaging around 40 points a game. Expect the averages to be hit and maybe more in this one.

My Pick: 49-44 Memphis

Trent’s Take: Memphis 24-17

Kansas State at #13 Oklahoma State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

In a sense, this game is a legendary coaching matchup. Bill Snyder is Kansas State football, and there isn’t another place in the country I’m aware of where the football stadium, field and road leading up to the stadium are all named after a current head coach. And then there’s Mike Gundy, a 50-year old man befitting of his own statue thanks to the million dollar mullet he’s sported all season. Something has got to give, and I’m willing to bet that with the hair product Gundy has to use to get that animal to stay in one place, it won’t be the mullet.

Coach Snyder always gets his team to play tough, but the Cowboys are itching for a rematch with hated in-state rival Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game. That won’t happen without a little help from others, but Oklahoma State also needs to win out as well. Mason Rudolph won’t go down quietly, so expect the Cowboys to open it up in this one and simply outscore the Wildcats at home.

My Pick: 55-34 Oklahoma State

Trent’s Take: Oklahoma State 35-14

UCLA at #11 Southern Cal (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

If there was a way to pick against both of these teams at the same time, I’d gladly do it. Both of these teams have been grossly disappointing this season, and although it’s easy to pin it on the names at quarterback, the problems stem so much deeper than that. UCLA’s defense has been so atrocious this season that even Chosen Rosen hasn’t been able to overcome its ineffectiveness. Sam Darnold admittedly has a better team around him than Rosen, so by definition he’s more to blame. But for a team that was supposed to seriously vie for a Playoff spot this season, the Trojans have been little more than average on more than a few times this season.

This game deserves your attention for two reasons: one is that the Trojans are absolutely the final chance for the bruised and broken Pac-12 to make the Playoff, as unlikely as their chances may be. The other is that Southern Cal is inconsistent enough to ensure that The Crosstown Rivalry will be closer than overall records and rankings would suggest. One or both of these quarterbacks will go off, but I wouldn’t want to bet money on whom.

My Pick: 33-30 Southern Cal

Trent’s Take: 27-24 UCLA

California at #22 Stanford (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

When the Cardinal took down then No. 7 ranked Washington last Friday night, few took notice. Such is life when you play on the West Coast, play the night before three top 10 games are to be played and compete in a Power 5 conference that most had already assumed would not place a team in the Playoff. Like many years, Stanford is playing its best football as the regular season wanes, meaning a very difficult road battle for the Golden Bears.

California has only surprised the college football world once this season, which is an unusually low tally from the school that often looks okay but is never truly for real. Thus, Stanford should be able to run the ball easily with Bryce Love and chew up clock. The Golden Bears will have some moments, but ultimately won’t be able to put together enough scoring drives to best the Cardinal. Just as it was written up on paper.

My Pick: 31-27 Stanford

Trent’s Take: 17-14 Stanford

5 Games to Flip To

Virginia at #3 Miami (FL) (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

It may sound crazy, but coming down from the high of not one but two big weekends could affect the Hurricanes in this one. Don’t forget that Miami struggled against less than stellar competition more than once prior to the Virginia Tech and Notre Dame games.

Temple at #15 Central Florida (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

The Knights are hanging onto the automatic bid given to the highest ranked Group of Five team, but every game is excruciatingly tense for their fans at this point.

#12 TCU at Texas Tech (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

I watched some of Texas Tech’s game a couple of weeks ago and got a glimpse of Kliff Kingsbury during a timeout – damn, what a good looking guy. Back to football, there will be a lot of scoring in this one.

Fresno State at Wyoming (Saturday, 2 PM ET)

Wyoming is hoping for a Boise State loss to get back into the Mountain West title game picture, but Fresno State is no slouch. Josh Allen will need to be the good version of himself against the conference’s second best defense.

Navy at #8 Notre Dame (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The Midshipmen have the unfortunate task of facing an angry Fighting Irish squad that can run the ball just as well as Navy can. This could be a blowout as easily as it could be a close one.

If you would like to become a guest prognosticator like Trent did this week, please let me know in one of the following ways: email me at kbecks@aroundthecorn.com, send me a message on Around The Corn’s Facebook page, post a comment under this article or send me a tweet @KBecks_ATC. Opportunities to become a guest prognosticator will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Thanks everyone.

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