Need to move quickly here. On to this week's picks...
BLATANT HOMERISM--Week 12
(Last week: 3-2; Overall: 33-22)
Northwestern at Wisconsin (-10)
I realize that asking Wisconsin to score more than 10 points is a tall order. Even so, I'm willing to be they can squeeze enough offense out to cover against the Wildcats, who will have major problems moving the ball against Wisky's stout run defense.
The pick: Badgers, 14-2.
Michigan State at Ohio State (-13.5)
I definitely don't fancy myself a Big Ten expert, but it seems like the granddaddy of all conferences keeps finding its way onto my card every week.
The Buckeyes have burned me far too frequently this year, but I don't know when to stop. I look at this as more of a play against Sparty, however. MSU isn't exactly overrated, but this is not a team that is equipped to handle OSU's best effort. I think that's what we get this week as Urban Meyer's team enters the season's stretch run.
The pick: OSU big.
USC at Oregon (-4.5)
Don't look now, but the Ducks are rounding into form after covering four straight games. Last week's upset of Stanford gave UO one to build on, too.
Even with all the buzz around Clay Helton potentially having the interim tag removed from his title, the Trojans appear to be losing steam. Linebacker Cameron Smith's absence will hurt against Oregon's high-powered O.
The pick: You can't spell "fight on" without "n-o."
Baylor (+1) at Oklahoma State
Context suggests the oddsmakers hung a bad number here.
OSU supposedly has a respectable home field advantage in Stillwater, while Baylor stinks outside Waco. The Bears just suffered an emotional loss that all but wiped out their national title hopes, and the Cowboys are firmly in the playoff hunt. The Bears are dinged up at the key positions of defensive line and quarterback.
I'm putting my faith in the house's opinion, which matches up with my own. The Pokes look awfully overrated from where I sit. For all the talk about their big win against TCU, they've played far closer this season to the team that barely beat Iowa State a week ago.
Jarrett Stidham's health does add a little intrigue here, but I'll live dangerously.
The pick: Bears score the unfortunate upset.
North Carolina at Virginia Tech (+5)
You're not getting the best end of the line if you're betting this game this late, but the Hokies still have a little value left. Tech has looked stout since Michael Brewer returned to the lineup at quarterback. Frank Beamer's team will be playing with some serious emotion in his final game at Lane Stadium.
The pick: UNC by not enough, if at all.
THE SKINNY--Week 12
(Last week: 3-2; Overall: 28-26-1)
Boston College (+16) vs. Notre Dame
Michigan St. at Ohio St (-13.5)
UCLA +3 at Utah
Mississippi State at Arkansas (-3.5)
Tennessee (-7) at Missouri