Sooners will be last ones standing in Norman shootout
I had a solid week, going three over .500 against the line, putting me 14 over for the season. The recap of Week 12's picks: the good -- picking Maryland to upset North Carolina; the bad -- picking Wake Forest to beat NC State; the ugly -- picking San Diego State to keep it close against Utah. This week's guesses:
Miami 24, Georgia Tech 17: Dealing with the option attack -- and some colder weather (low 40s) -- won't be easy for the young Miami defense, but the Canes' confidence is surging as all their young talent is maturing quickly. Miami's edge in special teams also will be a factor. And Thursday night history is on Miami's side, as the Canes are 13-1 while Tech is just 9-11 in Thursday specials.
San Jose State 20, Fresno State 14: Pat Hill's Bulldogs have been a disappointment this season. They have been hit pretty hard by injuries to some key players and haven't been able to stop the run (109th in the country). They also have been pretty sloppy with the ball. San Jose State's offense hasn't been good, either, but the Spartans' D-line might force a few big plays, and that will be the difference.
Ohio State 27, Michigan 13: The Wolverines can't turn the page on 2008 fast enough. Their offense has perked up some over the past month, but Ohio State is too talented and too experienced on defense for them. Michigan's D, which has been a major disappointment this season, is better against the run than the pass, which is a plus when facing a ground-heavy team like OSU.
North Carolina 23, NC State 20: As long as Russell Wilson is healthy, State is dangerous. Meanwhile, UNC now has some uncertainty at QB, as Cameron Sexton has struggled of late. UNC's imposing D-line ultimately will win this game for the Tar Heels as they neutralize State's running game.
Penn State 28, Michigan State 17: Javon Ringer has had a phenomenal season, but the PSU run defense is tough (10th in the country) and has done a very solid job against some great backs, holding Jacquizz Rodgers, P.J. Hill and Beanie Wells under 100 yards while Shonn Green got "only" 117 yards and on 28 carries didn't have a run longer than 14 yards. PSU also has won all of its home games and by huge margins. The Nittany Lions are 17-1 in season finales at home.
TCU 27, Air Force 14: The Horned Frogs' vaunted pass rush probably won't be much of a factor against the ground-based AFA offense. Still, TCU's stout front seven (first against the run) eventually will contain the Falcons' running game.
LSU 17, Ole Miss 16: Just how much has the gap between these two programs narrowed? The Rebels almost beat LSU in their last trip to Baton Rouge. Now, LSU's passing game isn't as good as that one was, and this Ole Miss team finally has a capable QB and those receivers, who were freshmen in that game two years ago, are dangerous juniors. I'm tempted to pick the Rebels to upset, but my hunch is that LSU will battle through in the fourth quarter for a very close escape.
Nevada 35, Boise State 31: Colin Kaepernick went wild last year against Boise and the lanky young QB has only gotten better. He's averaging almost 135 yards rushing over the past three games and has thrown four TDs and zero picks over that stretch, while his team has averaged 40 points per game. Nevada is shaky and Kellen Moore could pick them apart, but I still like the Pack in a shootout.
Utah 28, BYU 21: History is on BYU's side, since the road team has won three of the past five games in this series, but I think Utah will stay undefeated. The Utes have a sizeable edge when it comes to their D-line against a BYU front that was picked apart by TCU. Plus, the potential absence of standout TE Dennis Pitta would really hurt the Cougars.
Oregon State 27, Arizona 20: The Beavers have been playing great down the stretch as their skill players have been phenomenal. The Cats' suspect run defense probably won't hold up well, and Zona's O-line (87th in the country in sacks allowed) also could be in trouble against an improving Beavers defense.
Maryland 20, Florida State 13: Two of the most inconsistent teams meet up in Maryland, where the Terps have been terrific, going 6-0 in home games. QB Chris Turner is at his best when the competition rises, and even if FSU is not a top-15 team, look for the Maryland offense to respond well. It doesn't make things easier for FSU knowing that DB Myron Rolle, one of its leaders on D, likely will miss at least half the game while en route from his Rhodes Scholarship interview.
Oklahoma 47, Texas Tech 44: The Sooners might be great at home, but Tech's players will not be at all intimidated. They have beaten OU in two their past three meetings and led the Sooners at halftime in their previous visit. This also is Tech's most complete team in the Mike Leach era, but my hunch is that OU's O-line will respond after a disappointing performance versus Texas and allow both the passing and running games to stay hot throughout.Bruce Feldman is a senior writer with ESPN The Magazine. His new book, "Meat Market: Inside the Smash-Mouth World of College Football Recruiting," is on sale now.
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