2019 NCAAF Week 12 Weekend Preview

November 16, 2019

It’s Saturday morning and I’m scrambling to get this all together in time for the noon kickoffs, so excuse my lack of prose in this week’s lead-up to the top games.

In the head-to-head prediction game, my sister’s boyfriend did succeed in taking my dignity, putting me behind in the head-to-head prediction game for the season in the process. The overall standings as of this week:

K. Becks – 35-21

Guests – 37-19

This week, my Dad did me a solid and put together a set of quick picks on Friday evening. Let’s see if overthinking prevails against the gut feeling.

Here are the top games to pay attention to this weekend.

5 Games to Watch This Weekend

Indiana at #9 Penn State (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

The Nittany Lions have a lot of work to do to make it back into the Playoff discussion, but it isn’t over in Happy Valley yet. A victory over Ohio State in two weeks puts Penn State back into the driver’s seat in the Big Ten East, assuming that James Franklin’s team takes care of business in its other games. The Hoosiers are no slouch, going 5-1 since being punished by the Buckeyes in mid-September thanks to an offense that trails only those same Buckeyes in yards per contest.

While on paper this game sets up a lot like the Minnesota game last weekend, the difference is that Penn State has already suffered a loss and are playing at home. Franklin’s team trailed nearly the entire ballgame last weekend, but don’t expect them to get off to a slow start here. The Nittany Lions are good enough defensively to slow down Indiana’s offense and get back on the winning track.

My Pick: 44-31 Penn State

Dad’s Take: Penn State wants to stay in the hunt, so no lack of focus with the Hoosiers.

Penn State 34, Indiana 10

#23 Navy at #16 Notre Dame (Saturday, 2:30 PM ET)

Give Ken Niumatalolo some credit – just when it seems like the Navy head coach may have lost the ability to produce a consistent winner, he turns things around as he has done with the Midshipmen this season. Following a 3-10 campaign in 2018, Navy is off to a 7-1 start and a national ranking for the first time since mid-2017. The Midshipmen lead a competitive AAC in total defense and per usual are one of the toughest teams in the country to stop on the ground.

Do the Fighting Irish have better talent? Yes. Does Brian Kelly’s football team also play strong defense? Yes. But despite the gap in overall talent and matchup of strength versus strength, Navy is a legitimately solid football team that deserves the ranking it has right now. Even at home, the Fighting Irish will struggle to put the Midshipmen away and the game will come down to the final minutes.

My Pick: 27-23 Notre Dame

Dad’s Take: Navy will play hard until the final whistle, but Notre Dame prevails.

Notre Dame 31, Navy 21

#4 Georgia at #12 Auburn (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Say what you want about the Committee’s decision to put three SEC teams in the Top 5 this week; there is still a lot of football left to be played down South and nothing is certain. Georgia’s ranking puts it in the Playoff conversation as of right now, but one slip will end all of that in a heartbeat. The struggling Georgia offense must travel to Auburn for a Saturday afternoon showdown against a capable defense that has been picking up the slack as best it can for the inconsistent Tigers offense.

If Kirby Smart is what his surname would suggest, he’ll let Jake Fromm open it up on offense against a suspect Auburn secondary. Auburn has done poorly playing catch-up this season and Bo Nix tends to make the freshman mistakes when placed into a position where he needs to create quickly. A run-first mentality against a strong run defense could put Georgia in a precarious position on the round. Smart won’t let that happen.

My Pick: 31-24 Georgia

Dad’s Take: Auburn pulls the upset at home.

Auburn 38, Georgia 37

#8 Minnesota at #20 Iowa (Saturday, 4 PM ET)

The country has decided to Row The Boat with the Golden Gophers following its emotional and well-earned victory over Penn State last Saturday, but Minnesota is far from the clear in terms of finishing the season in position to make the Playoff or even a Big Ten title game spot. Iowa is the first of back-to-back opponents that could crawl back into contention in the West division of the conference by beating P.J. Fleck’s squad, needing to make up two games on the Golden Gophers to pull even in the league.

If Minnesota’s previous results are any indication, the Hawkeyes won’t be blown out of the water early without a chance to recover. Iowa’s methodical offensive approach will work just fine to keep the team in the game, but in a close fourth quarter game, your pick will come down to which quarterback you trust more to lead a team down the field against a stingy defensive secondary. Tanner Morgan has already proven himself while Nate Stanley hasn’t.

My Pick: 31-27 Minnesota

Dad’s Take: The Gophers can score and will be up for this one.

Minnesota 41, Iowa 27

#10 Oklahoma at #13 Baylor (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

The CFP Committee is begging the Big 12 to show them something before propelling one of the league’s teams up the rankings ladder into actual contention for a Playoff bid. This weekend presents a perfect opportunity to do so, when perennial Playoff contender Oklahoma travels to Waco to take on the unbeaten Bears. Baylor nearly messed the bed last weekend against sub-.500 TCU, but pulled things together in overtime (barely) to make this weekend’s game the premier battle in college football.

Conventional wisdom would tell you that the Sooners cannot be stopped offensively and will ride that wave to another victory, albeit one that may have an ugly scoreline. While it’s hard to disagree that the score won’t look pretty, assuming an Oklahoma victory on the road against one of the Big 12’s best kept secrets is dangerous. Like every other quarterback in the conference, Charlie Brewer is capable of slicing and dicing Oklahoma’s “defense” to keep pace with whatever the Sooners put on the board. And at least statistically, Baylor is better defensively than both Iowa State and Kansas State, two teams that have given Oklahoma the most trouble this season. Call it a K. Becks Wishful Thinking prediction, but the Bears have what it takes to stay perfect on the year and enter the true Playoff conversation.

My Pick: 42-38 Baylor

Dad’s Take: Wild early on, but Oklahoma proves they are the league’s best.

Oklahoma 45, Baylor 31

5 Games to Flip To

Tulane at Temple (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Both of these teams need help in order to climb back into the thick of the AAC title race, but both have also had a solid season and their status as middle-of-the-pack teams in the conference highlight the overall strength of the league.

Wake Forest at #3 Clemson (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Wake Forest’s disappointing loss last weekend nearly assures that the Tigers will not face an opponent still ranked in the Top 25 until, at earliest, the ACC title game.

#19 Texas at Iowa State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The Longhorns come into this game as the underdog, a result undoubtedly influenced by Iowa State’s performance last weekend’s against Oklahoma but also of Texas’s inability to separate itself against any opponent over the last five games.

#25 Appalachian State at Georgia State (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

The Mountaineers may be the ranked squad in this one, but Georgia State has had a magnificent season as well for a team that was picked to finish near the bottom of the Sun Belt, kicked off by that stunner in Knoxville.

Arizona at #6 Oregon (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET)

The Pac-12 teams still in contention for a CFP bid both need to avoid a costly loss against a lesser opponent, and this week Oregon’s matchup appears to be the more difficult of the two.

In the past, I’ve asked readers to let me know if they’d like to be guests on Around The Corn to make weekly college football picks. And while that invite still stands (email kbecks@aroundthecorn.com or message me on Facebook or Twitter if interested), the truth is that I’m basically asking friends and family on a weekly basis. Writing is a passion of mine, as is commenting on sports. But sharing those two passions with others are what has always made this worthwhile. So tell me what you think of the site and let me know what could be done better, or what would make you come back without prompting. I’d really appreciate it.

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