Welcome everyone to Week 12, or as the SEC likes to call it, SoCon week. It's up to the rest of college football to shoulder the weight. ::GULP:: Buckle up, I feel another unbeaten succumbing to the pressure.
I know I mention GameDay a lot, but this week it's different. It's GameDawn. I love when the ESPN crew heads to Eugene. The broadcast starts out pitch black, then dawn pushes through the morning crowd, all the while throughout the morning the atmosphere is absolutely nuts. Autzen Stadium is on my very short list of stadiums to visit. I sure hope when I do it's on GameDawn. So tune in and enjoy the unique vibe of Pacific Northwest fans. They are all powered by the combo of weed, alcohol, and Red Bull.
USC -3.5 at UCLA 3:00 pm FOX
for the Victory Bell at the Rose Bowl
Damn, I should have invented this at Tech
What a difference a year makes, just last season UCLA was a dumpster fire sparked by a flailing coaching staff, fueled with underperforming talent. Sure, the Bruins backed their way into the Pac-12 Championship Game against Oregon, but that was because USC wasn't eligible. This time around, the Bruins are playing like worthy champs, and have the chance to prove it on Saturday versus their bitter crosstown rivals. This year, to a lesser degree, it's the Trojans that have underperformed, and Lane Kiffin has not handled the results well at all. USC has won 11 of the last 12 games, so if you enjoy seeing a pissed off and pouting Kiffin, you'll be pulling for Powder Blue like me.
Pick: USC laying the points. I know it's tinsel town, but it would be too much of a movie ending for the Bruins to win this year, right? I think the Trojans win going away, their talent will rise up, but more importantly UCLA's spread isn't on par with Arizona's or Oregon's to really test Monte Kiffin's defense.
Texas Tech at Oklahoma State -10.5 3:30 pm FSN
Finger Guns Fun
The Big 12 is college football's version of Top-40 music. It's catchy and fun, but ultimately it has little redeeming value. If you watch to see scoring, hardly any defense, and mindless fun, then this is the game for you. Since neither team is on the national championship radar, I can sit and enjoy this sideshow a whole lot more.
Pick: Texas Tech getting the points. I have no damn idea how to pick the winner of Ping Pong, but when two teams look this evenly matched and the spread is that high ...
Ohio State at Wisconsin -2.5 3:30 pm ABC / ESPN2
Three yards and a cloud of dust. Rinse. Repeat. Don't look now, but Wisconsin has rebounded from an awful start, and will win their division. Although, they can't pass worth a shit (108th nationally), so good thing that's not Badger football. They like to pound the rock at Whisky (17th nationally). tOSU QB Braxton Miller is pretty limited throwing the ball as well, but he looks like Geno Smith in comparison to Joel Stave. What makes Miller special, and an early '13 Heisman hopeful, are his magical feet. His moves are sick, and his speed is elite. If Miller gets loose, the defense better have an angle or he is housing it. Somehow, I just made the game more exciting than it will be. My apologies.
Pick: Buckeyes getting the points. They are winning, it's a magical year in Columbus, much like Auburn's in 1993. Bittersweet.
Old Dominion at James Madison 7:00 pm NBCSN
Should be a very amped I-AA game
The best game between two Virginia schools will be played in Harrisonburg on Saturday. ODU is the most entertaining team in the commonwealth, and one of the top teams in the FCS. The Monarchs emply a no huddle spread that is pass happy, but they can run it as well. Monarchs' quarterback Taylor Heinicke is quite accomplished, and I highly recommend watching him ball out. The ODU defense is, well ... limited or perfectly acceptable if they were in the Big 12. JMU is also very good with slower tempo spread run offense. They'll look to shorten the game and let the crowd at Bridgeforth Stadium carry the defense.
Pick: ODU in a Pick Em. My "other" team bias is showing, but I don't think JMU can slow down the Monarch's aerial attack.
Kansas State -11.5 at Baylor 8:00 pm ESPN
Upset Alert #1. No question, the Wildcats are the better team by a long shot. However, upsets have a way of happening late in the season, often unexpectedly. Lose that edge, suffer injuries, buckle to internal pressure, or play a team jacked out of their minds, and a favorite might find itself on the ropes. Baylor has no defense, hell it could be negative defense, so it's virtually impossible for the Bears to stop the Wildcats. However, a couple of turnovers and fortuitous stops and maybe, just maybe, Baylor can keep it close late.
Pick: Baylor getting the points. This game will be close and we'll see what K-State is made of as the season tightens up.
Stanford at Oregon -20.5 8:00 pm ABC
Yeah, not all Oregon fans are hot
Upset Alert #2. Conventional wisdom says that Oregon 2012 > Oregon 2011, and Stanford 2011 > Stanford 2012. Last season at Palo Alto the Ducks boat raced the Tree 53-30. By that transitive logic, the Ducks win and cover. I know Stanford doesn't beat themselves often, but going against the Oregon offense, it might not matter. This is a really bad matchup for the Cardinal. Oregon will take what they want on the edge. It's the other side of the ball that has Oregon really nervous. Oregon is down two starting safeties for the year, and are banged up across the entire defensive line and at cornerback. It's so bad stud RB/WR De'Anthony Thomas may get some burn at corner. That's a difficult way to win a national championship, but can the limited Stanford offense capitalize?
Pick: Stanford covering. Oregon will score in waves, but can their defense get Stanford off the field or stop them from scoring ... I have doubts.
Beer of the Week
Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale is out and the clock is ticking on this limited release IPA. It's arguably their best beer with Up front bitterness, toasty malty body, finishing with citrusy and a hint of spicy.
Remember, these picks are against the spread.
Trojans -3.5 at Bruins
Red Raiders at Cowboys -10.5
Buckeyes at Badgers -2.5
Monarchs at Dukes PK
Wildcats -11.5 at Bears
Cardinal at Ducks -20.5
At this point, drink heavily while picking. Cheers.