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Friday, 17 November 2017

College Football Week 12 Picks 2017 (November 18th)

We are getting down to the final couple of weeks of the College Football regular season which is going to set up the Conference Championship Games and also settle on the four teams who will be playing in the College Football Play Offs.

Week 11 proved to be another devastating week for the leading contenders with both the Georgia Bulldogs and Notre Dame Fighting Irish going down to losses and the chances of a two loss team being part of the final four has increased. The Committee may still be hoping things are easier to decide if four teams can run the table from here with the hope that Alabama, Wisconsin, Clemson and Oklahoma are those teams who would all be Conference Champions and none with more than a single loss to their name.

However the likes of the Auburn Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, and Georgia Bulldogs can still play a huge part, while the Big Ten has to worry that a team from the East is able to knock off the Badgers in their Championship Game.

There is also still an outside hope for the Ohio State Buckeyes to make the four selections if they can win out, but they are going to need a lot of help to achieve the goal they would have had at the start of this season.

Week 11 was a good one for the College Football Picks and hopefully the following Picks from Week 12 can back that up.

Michigan Wolverines @ Wisconsin Badgers Pick: If the Wisconsin Badgers can run the table and remain unbeaten they will be representing the Big Ten in the College Football Play Off but they are going to have to beat two Big Ten East opponents to do that. The Badgers are currently outside of the top four in the latest Committee Rankings because they have not exactly faced the most daunting of schedules, but Wisconsin remain unbeaten which has to be respected.

They face the first of two Big Ten East opponents in Week 12 when hosting the Michigan Wolverines having avoided meeting Ohio State, Michigan State or Penn State during the regular season. That has gone against the Badgers who simply don't have many big wins on their schedule and even beating a two loss Michigan team may not be respected as much as it would have expected to be before the season began.

That's not something Wisconsin can concern themselves with and instead the focus has to be to win this game and keep the pressure on the other teams in the nation. For Michigan there is still something to play for as they have a 5-2 Conference record and will be the Big Ten East winners if they can win out and both Penn State and Michigan State lose another game.

It is a long shot, and some may think the focus has already turned to the home game with the much disliked Ohio State Buckeyes in Week 13 as Michigan have a chance to play spoiler for their great rival.

Michigan have a tough challenge in front of them as they hope Brandon Peters can continue his decent play from the Quarter Back position. His lack of experience is a concern in the most hostile atmosphere Peters would have seen in College Football, but Peters may not be asked to make too many plays through the air and instead make sure the mistakes are avoided which can be critical.

Running the ball will be a challenge for the Wolverines against a strong Wisconsin Defensive Line, but the Offensive struggles for Michigan will likely be matched by the Badgers.

As well as Wisconsin have played, they are now facing one of the premier Defensive units in the nation and it is not going to be easy for Alex Hornibrook who has been guilty of throwing at least one Interception in each of the Conference games this season. In a game where mistakes could be so influential to the outcome of the match, Hornibrook has to be careful to give Michigan extra possessions and the team who creates the most turnovers will have every chance of winning this one outright.

The Badgers will feel they can perhaps establish the run, but this has all the feeling of a really close game which may be decided by a Field Goal either way. It was Michigan who won a really close game in 2016 and that was low-scoring with every chance of this one going the same way.

Both teams have struggled against the spread when playing an opponent with a winning record. However the Michigan Wolverines did cover in their sole game as the underdog under Jim Harbaugh and I will take the points on offer in this one and look for a close game to develop.

Virginia Cavaliers @ Miami Hurricanes Pick: In one of the leading preview publications I read for the College Football season, the Miami Hurricanes were considered the Number 2 'Surprise Team' who could challenge for the National Championship. For much of the season it has been hard to believe in the Miami Hurricanes after some closer than expected wins, but the last couple of weeks have changed things.

The Hurricanes have dominated the Virginia Tech Hokies and Notre Dame Fighting Irish in those games and now they are occupying one of the top four places in the College Football Play Off Rankings. Winning out in style and then challenging the Clemson Tigers, or beating them outright, in the ACC Championship Game could be enough for the Hurricanes to earn a Play Off berth.

They come into this one as a heavy favourite to beat the Virginia Cavaliers who have been enjoying their best season since 2011. Bronco Mendenhall needs to be given a lot of credit for turning around the Cavaliers who finished 2-10 last season, but they have lost three of their last four games and are now playing a second consecutive road game.

Much will depend if Miami are focused on this one, but the same can be said for Virginia who have their big rivalry game with Virginia Tech next week. The number is immediately a concern when you think of how close Miami games have tended to be this season before the blow out over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Week 11.

The performances from the Hurricanes have been sparked by the Defensive performances as they have prevented either Virginia Tech or Notre Dame from scoring more than 10 points. That is impressive and I think the Hurricanes can shut down the Virginia Offensive unit who have struggled in their three losses in four games.

Jordan Ellis has struggled on the ground for the Cavaliers and it is a big ask for the team to establish the run against the Miami Defensive Line who have been playing at a high level. It has the hallmarks of a game where Virginia are stuck in third and long for much of the game when they do have the ball and that puts plenty of pressure on Kyle Benkert, although the Quarter Back has responded with some top performances.

It won't be easy to replicate those from Benkert in this one as he will be under pressure from the Miami pass rush who can pin back their ears whenever Virginia are in obvious passing downs. Benkert will also have to be aware of the ball-hawking Secondary who have been able to turn the ball over.

Running the ball had been a problem for Miami too for much of the season, especially with Mark Walton going down with an injury. However they have come alive over the last couple of weeks and Miami should be able to rip off some big gains against a Virginia Defensive Lie who have allowed 5.1 yards per carry over their last three games.

That only opens things up for Malik Rosier at the Quarter Back position who has been able to play with more confidence knowing he is not going to be left in third and long himself. However he too is going to be throwing against a strong Secondary so the majority of the day should be Rosier trying to make plays with his legs and possibly opening up the play-action to take his shots downfield, although mistakes made will be gobbled up by the Virginia Defensive Backs.

Overall it does feel like Miami could have another dominant performance on the Defensive side of the ball which can spark another solid win. They have not covered too many big spreads, but the Hurricanes have a chance against the Cavaliers who have not been at their best over the last four games and potentially looking ahead to their rivalry game with Virginia Tech.

The Cavaliers and the underdog have a strong recent run in this series. However they are 2-5 against the spread in their last seven road games and Virginia have lost by 17 at both Pittsburgh and Louisville of late. The Hurricanes are better than both and can win this one by a bigger margin and continue in their bid to earn a Play Off berth.

UCF Knights @ Temple Owls Pick: The defending American Athletic Champions the Temple Owls are not going to defend their title this season, but they can play spoiler for the UCF Knights in Week 12. It is a big time for the Knights who have three big games to play and win if they want to work their way through to one of the big Bowl Games this season, while some may even think an unbeaten end to the season can bring them into a position to challenge for a College Football Play Off spot.

That is not likely to be the case, but the Knights can finish this season unbeaten which would be a huge achievement for a team who didn't win a single game just two seasons ago. The Knights have already secured a Bowl spot, but they do want more, although they cannot look past Temple to the big State game against South Florida next week.

Back to back 10-4 seasons saw Matt Rhule leave for the vacant job at Baylor and Temple have taken a step back this time around. The Owls still need another win to become Bowl eligible for the third consecutive season and they would love to get that here while knocking UCF out of the realms of the unbeaten.

Temple have a chance of doing that with their much improved performances in their most recent games. They have found a way to get the run established which should be on show in Week 12 and that has opened the door for Frank Nutile to continue his fine performances from his last three games.

With the Offensive unit being placed in third and manageable spots, Nutile should be able to make some plays through the air to keep the Owls Offense moving the ball up and down the field. Nutile has 6 Touchdown passes with over 800 passing yards in his three starts for the UCF Knights and his Offensive Line has not only paved the way for solid outings on the ground but have also given the Quarter Back time in pass protection.

The bigger challenge for Temple may come on the other side of the ball as slowing down the Knights Offensive unit has proven to be too big a task for teams they have run into. The Knights have scored at least 31 points in every game they have played this season, and they too should have their success running the ball which will give them a chance to keep the chains moving in this one.

The key to the outcome of the game could come through the air as the high octane passing game of the Knights comes up against an improving Temple Secondary. McKenzie Milton has had a really impressive performance at Quarter Back for the UCF Knights and he should be able to make some big plays in this one, and I do think this could be a high scoring game between these teams.

The points could be key for Temple at home with the Knights knowing the huge game coming up on the schedule. Temple are 20-8 against the spread in their last twenty-eight games against a team with a winning record, and they are 8-3 against the spread in their last eleven at home.

Recently the UCF Knights have just found the spreads a little skewed against them and they have won their last couple of road games by a combined 17 points. This start for the Temple Owls looks appealing enough and I will take the points on offer with the home underdog in Week 12.

Pittsburgh Panthers @ Virginia Tech Hokies Pick: Two weeks ago the trendy pick in the ACC Coastal Division were the Virginia Tech Hokies but back to back losses have left them out of the equation in a Division won by the Miami Hurricanes. The Hurricanes and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have won back to back games against Virginia who have already secured Bowl eligibility but who need to win out of they want to match the 10 wins they earned in 2016.

That has to give the Hokies the motivation to pick themselves up off the floor after losing those back to back games. Hosting the Pittsburgh Panthers gives Virginia Tech the chance to get back to winning ways before facing rivals Virginia next week, although Pittsburgh have the motivation of needing to win their last two games to become Bowl eligible too.

The Panthers had won consecutive games themselves, but the home loss to North Carolina last week has put their chances of reaching a Bowl behind the black ball.

Pittsburgh do have their chances in this one as they have been able to establish the run very effectively in recent games which has put their Offensive unit in a decent spot on the field. They will be encouraged by the problems Virginia Tech have had on the Defensive Line in their most recent games, but those have come against Miami and Georgia Tech and I expect the Hokies to respond.

They have been difficult to run against at home and Virginia Tech know shutting down Pittsburgh on the ground, or at least limiting them, will put the pressure on Ben DiNucci at Quarter Back. DiNucci has offered Pittsburgh a spark with his duel-threat ability but throwing the ball against the Virginia Tech Secondary has proven to be a difficult test for teams throughout the season.

DiNucci would be under pressure from the pass rush in third and long situations behind an Offensive Line which has not been as strong in pass protection as run blocking. Throwing from difficult spots increases the expectations of throwing a pick and that is where the Hokies will look to put Pittsburgh in a tough situation for much of the afternoon.

Running the ball has proven to be a difficult task for Virginia Tech in recent games but this is a team who have played better at home. It is important for the Hokies to get back to basics running the ball as that can ease the pressure on Josh Jackson at Quarter Back who has not been playing at a high level in recent games.

Any established run game means Jackson has a little more time to make his plays down the field and that is important for Virginia Tech's Offensive Line. Any time the Hokies are in third and long would be a win for the Panthers and allow them to get after the Quarter Back, but any third and manageable spot would be good for Jackson to expose some of the holes in the Pittsburgh Secondary.

The underdog has been very strong in this series, but the home team is 5-1 against the spread in the last six. Pittsburgh have a poor 3-7-2 record against the spread in their last twelve games overall and like I have mentioned, Virginia Tech tend to play better at home where they have a solid 7-2 record against the spread in the last nine here.

It is a big number when you think how Virginia Tech have played in their last couple of games, but they are the superior team over Pittsburgh and I think they can show that. An Interception or two can swing this towards the Hokies and I will look for them to win this by around 17 points.

Kentucky Wildcats @ Georgia Bulldogs Pick: Two of the top four in the College Football Play Off Rankings were beaten last week and one of those were the Georgia Bulldogs who have dropped out of those positions. There is still a chance the Bulldogs can turn things around if they can win out having already secured a spot in the SEC Championship Game, but another loss would be curtains for Georgia when it comes to earning a Play Off spot.

The blow out loss to the Auburn Tigers was a real disappointment for Georgia who headed into the game as the favourites but suffered a 23 point defeat. Georgia and the Kentucky Wildcats finish off their Conference play this weekend and both schools are already Bowl eligible.

The Kentucky revival has been very important for a school that has usually turned towards their basketball team at this time of the season. While the 7-3 record has to be respected, Kentucky have not really played a team of the level of Georgia with the three losses coming against Florida, Mississippi State and Mississippi as the Wildcats avoided playing some of the top schools from the SEC West this season.

Kentucky will lean on Benny Snell in this one as they look for the Running Back to put the Offensive unit in third and manageable spots, although that won't be easy against a Georgia Defensive Line that have something to prove this week. Snell has been a huge part of the successes of the Wildcats over the last couple of seasons and he will be encouraged by some of the runs teams have ripped off against the Bulldogs Defensive Line over their last three games.

I do think the Bulldogs will look to clamp down on the run and give their Secondary the chance to make plays against Kentucky's Stephen Johnson at Quarter Back. Johnson has gone as far as Snell has been able to carry the Wildcats so Georgia will know they can make Kentucky a little one dimensional if they at to get a lock on Johnson.

Running the ball with Nick Chubb and Sonny Michel carrying has been the basis of Georgia's success this season and I imagine there will be a large dose of both Backs in this one. The Bulldogs know it is so important for them to get the run going to keep their Offense going in the right direction, although the line of scrimmage is where Kentucky's Defensive Line have played well too.

In all honesty I don't think Kentucky have faced a team who can run the ball anything like Georgia can so I am not so convinced about the strong Wildcats numbers. We will know for sure on Saturday, but I believe the Georgia Offensive Line will win that battle and keep the Georgia Offensive unit in third and manageable spots where Jake Fromm should be able to be effective at Quarter Back.

Fromm has been asked to manage the games for Georgia since taking over at Quarter Back and allow the Running Backs and Defense to dominate games. He has been effective at doing that and keeping him in third and manageable should slow down the Kentucky pass rush, while also opening up play-action passes against a Secondary who have turned the ball over, but also given up some very big plays.

I do like Georgia bouncing back in a big way here as I look for them to dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. That is so important in games in the SEC and it should give Georgia the chance to pull away and put an impressive win on the board to keep them in the mind of the College Football Play Off Committee.

Georgia are 5-1 against the spread in their last six games following a straight up loss, while the favourite is 4-0 against the spread in the last four in this series. A big number on paper, I will look for the Bulldogs to use their dominance at the line of scrimmage to make some big plays on both sides of the ball and pull away for a win by close to four Touchdowns.

Texas A&M Aggies @ Mississippi Rebels Pick: This has been a down season for both the Texas A&M Aggies and the Mississippi Rebels and it would not be a big surprise if both schools are looking for a new Football Head Coach next season. The Aggies have at least confirmed their Bowl eligibility before their final two games are to be played on the road in the SEC, while the Rebels are still searching for one more win.

The Egg Bowl is played next week which may take some of the focus away from this game for Ole Miss. That game is played on Thanksgiving Day this year which means a shortened preparation time than teams are used to and so the Rebels could be forgiven if they are not at full whack for this one.

In saying that Ole Miss need one more win to become Bowl eligible and this may be seen as the game in which they can earn that victory more than the one against Mississippi State on the road. The Rebels have won two games in a row which includes a road win at Kentucky to show they have far from quit on this season, but the Aggies have nothing to lose in this one.

With Nick Starkel back at Quarter Back, the Aggies have more of a threat at the Quarter Back position which should open a few running lanes for the team. The Mississippi Defensive Line have been one that has been inconsistent this season so the Aggies have every chance to at least put the Offense in decent down and distances and give Starkel a chance to make some big plays down the field.

The passing game is the key for Starkel and the Aggies and he should have a decent game against this Rebels Secondary. Running the ball will just give Starkel a little more time in the pocket and that should see him hit some of his big time Receivers which can see the Aggies have a decent day Offensively.

With the Aggies likely feeling confident when it comes to moving the chains, their Defensive unit will also believe they can get the better of their opposition on the other side of the ball. Playing in the tough SEC West can see the numbers affected, but the Aggies Defensive Line have played well and they will be looking to clamp down on the Mississippi Running Backs and force young Quarter Back Jordan Ta'amu to beat them through the air.

Ta'amu has come in for Shea Patterson who was injured for the season, but he has led the Rebels to an impressive road win at Kentucky. Now the question is how he can play against an Aggies Secondary who have played at a decent level all season, especially with the pass rush Texas A&M can generate up front likely to be in Ta'amu's face.

The Quarter Back has shown the confidence to make the big throws when he has needed to and I have little doubt he will be able to do that here. However I think the Aggies Defense can step up and make a couple of big plays which can see them change the momentum in their favour in what looks to be a very close game.

Texas A&M have not enjoyed playing in this series as they are 0-5 against the spread since joining the SEC, but the underdog is 4-1 against the spread. Neither team has been impressive against the point spread in recent games, but I do think this could easily be a pick 'em and getting the points with the road underdog look to be worth taking.

It will be close, but the Aggies have every chance of winning this one outright and I like having the points with me.

NC State Wolfpack @ Wake Forest Demon Deacons Pick: The ACC Atlantic Division has been won by the Clemson Tigers who battled past the NC State Wolfpack in a really close game a couple of weeks ago. While the Wolfpack will be disappointed to see their chances of winning the Conference come to an end, they are 7-3 this season and winning out will mean they have the chance for the first double digit winning season since 2002.

That would be a huge achievement for a school that has secured a fourth consecutive winning season already, but have yet to win more than 8 games in a single season in that time. They will be the favourites to win the final game next week, but the Wolfpack need to earn the upset on the road at the Wake Forest Demon Deacons to have a chance to get up to 10 wins in total.

After seven consecutive losing seasons, Wake Forest have the chance to finish with back to back winning years if they can win one of what is likely to be three games left in the 2017 season. The Demon Deacons became Bowl eligible after rallying for a big win at the Syracuse Orange last week, but it may still look a little funny to see them as the favourite to win in Week 12.

The chances to win the game have been improved by the tough schedule NC State have been battling through over the last few weeks which will have an accumulated effect on the players. The Wolfpack Defensive Line have been challenge on the ground and struggled to make the plays to slow teams down, but their numbers have been affected by the quality of the teams the Wolfpack have faced.

Matt Colburn should be able to get the run established for Wake Forest in this one which is going to make life that much easier for John Wolford at Quarter Back who has been producing some huge numbers. Wolford is helping the Demon Deacons average almost 400 passing yards per game over their last three games, but it will be interesting to see how they perform against the Wolfpack Secondary who can be helped by their Defensive Ends bringing the pressure up front.

However the Secondary has also been protected by the fact that the Wolfpack have faced teams who have been able to run the ball against them. I expect Wake Forest can make some big plays in this one and the pressure will be on NC State to try and keep up with them.

Motivation for the NC State Wolfpack is not an issue as they look to finish the ACC Conference play with a 7-1 record which will be the best performance in the Conference in their school history. They will be able to run the ball as effectively as the Wake Forest Demon Deacons which makes this a fascinating game where mistakes could prove to be very costly.

Ryan Finley has had a strong season at Quarter Back and should be able to make plenty of plays against this Wake Forest Secondary. The concern has to be some of the Interceptions that he has thrown in recent games, although those have come against a higher quality of opponent including Notre Dame and Clemson, and this Demon Deacons Secondary have given up plenty of passing yards.

The Wolfpack have won four of the last five games in this series and they have covered in each of their wins. While having a poor 1-7 record against the spread in their last eight in Wake Forest, the Wolfpack did cover the last time they played here.

The home team has been dominant against the spread in the series, but I think the Wolfpack are the superior team and can show that as the road underdog where they may feel a little disrespected. You can't read too much into games against the same opponents, but I do think NC State have been able to play the better Football this season and I think they can win this one outright which made it more of a surprise to have the benefit of receiving the points in this game.

MY PICKS: Michigan Wolverines + 7.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Miami Hurricanes - 18.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Temple Owls + 13.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Virginia Tech Hokies - 15.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Georgia Bulldogs - 21 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Texas A&M Aggies + 2.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
NC State Wolfpack + 1.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)

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