Jim Mora

Crystal Ball Run Week 12 Staff Picks

Here are your Crystal Ball Run Week 12 staff picks!

No. 22 Rutgers at Cincinnati: Saturday , 12 p.m. Big East Network/ESPN3

Allen Kenney’s Take: Plenty left to play for in the Big East this season. Rutgers leads the league with an undefeated record in conference play, but Cincinnati may somehow be able to sneak back into the mix for the conference championship if it wins out.

One of the big question heading into this match-up is the health of Jawan Jamison, Rutgers' leading rusher. Reports say Jamison is expected to play. In the end, it won't matter. The Bearcats turned a corner after losing to Toledo last month and are solid on both sides of the ball. Rutgers should have trouble generating enough offense to pull out a road win.

Pick: Cincinnati 21, Rutgers 13

Everybody Else’s Take:

Aaron Torres: Rutgers 24, Cincinnati 20
Kevin McGuire: Rutgers 23, Cincinnati 21
Michael Felder: Rutgers 27, Cincinnati 24

Northwestern at Michigan State: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ESPN2

Aaron Torres’ Take: With last week’s disappointing loss to Michigan, Northwestern has officially been eliminated with the Big Ten title picture. Meaning that with Michigan State sitting at 5-5, this game is simply about pride.

Well, actually let’s correct that: For Northwestern it’s about pride. But for Michigan State it’s about needing one more win to even get bowl eligible, a thought that seemed inconceivable when this team started the season in everyone’s Top 15.

The point being, Northwestern is coming off a letdown, while Michigan State actually, genuinely needs this win. Coming off a bye, look for the Spartans to be the hungrier and healthier team, and for them to do what’s needed to get the win.

The Pick: Michigan State 20, Northwestern 17

Allen Kenney: Michigan State 28, Northwestern 17
Andy Coppens: Northwestern 27, Michigan State 24
Kevin McGuire: Northwestern 23, Michigan State 21
Michael Felder: Northwestern 19, Michigan State 17

No. 18 USC at No. 17 UCLA: Saturday, 3:05pm, Fox

Michael Felder’s Take: It's been a long time since the Bruins were ahead of the Trojans and even as they sit one spot ahead of USC in the BCS rankings, Jim Mora's team is a 3.5 point underdog. Lane Kiffin's Trojans have real issues on defense and their transfer star running back, Silas Redd, is still not 100% for this game. That means it will rest largely on Matt Barkley, Marqise Lee and Robert Woods; same as it has been all season long. 

For UCLA it will be about trying to find spots to stop the Trojans' offensive attack. When the Bruins have the ball look for them to do the two things that USC struggles with: power running and the zone-read. Monte Kiffin's defense has been terrible at stopping both attacks and with Brett Hundley and Johnathan Franklin running the zone-read and power attack, USC could be in trouble.

UCLA 37 USC 34

Everybody Else’s Take:

Aaron Torres: UCLA 41, USC 24
Allen Kenney: USC 27, UCLA 24
Andy Coppens:  UCLA 33, USC 27
Kevin McGuire: UCLA 23, USC 21

Wake Forest at No. 3 Notre Dame: Saturday,  3:30 p.m. NBC

Kevin McGuire’s Take: Notre Dame is inching closer to the first perfect season in Notre Dame history since winning the national championship in the 1988 season. Getting to that big stage will be difficult with next week's contest at USC, but the Fighting Irish need to put away Wake Forest at home this weekend.

Wake Forest has been going back and forth with wins and losses the last five games (which puts the Demon Deacons on track for a win this weekend) but have struggled against their biggest opponents this season. Against Florida State, Clemson and North Carolina State, the Demon Deacons have been outscored 131-19. Look for Wake Forest to struggle on offense this weekend against one of the top defenses in the country. Wake Forest ranks 88th in rushing and 114th in passing (108th in scoring).

Pick: Notre Dame 23, Wake Forest 6

Everybody Else’s Take:

Aaron Torres: Notre Dame 17, Wake Forest 3
Allen Kenney: Notre Dame 24, Wake Forest 7
Andy Coppens: Notre Dame 31, Wake Forest 14
Michael Felder: Notre Dame 25, Wake Forest 10

Ole Miss at No. 7 LSU: Saturday, 3:30pm CBS

Andy Coppens’ Take: Ole Miss is seeking bowl eligibility, coming in 5-5 overall under 1st year head coach Hugh Freeze, but the bad news is they're going into Death Valley to face the LSU Tigers who are a loss to Alabama away from an undefeated season. You'd think this would be a complete miss match, right? However, since they've begun playing this game for the Magnolia Trophy in 2008 they've split the series 2-2.

As for this game, these two teams are actually pretty evenly matched when it comes to statistics. However, LSU uses a much more balanced offensive attack than the Rebels do. Ole Miss is much more pass happy under Hugh Freeze than LSU is and that could be the key to either team winning. If the Bo Wallace that's accurate shows up on Saturday afternoon it'll be a heck of a matchup. However, if the Wallace that's thrown 10INT's to just 12TD's this season shows up the Tigers backfield will have a field day. Expect the later as this one could be a defensive struggle.

The Pick: LSU 22, Ole Miss 13

Everybody Else’s Take:

Aaron Torres: LSU 14, Ole Miss 10
Allen Kenney: LSU 31, Ole Miss 21
Kevin McGuire: LSU 24, Ole Miss 23
Michael Felder: LSU 24, Ole Miss 10

Ohio State at Wisconsin: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ABC

Aaron Torres’ Take:  While the rest of college football has been busy railing on the Big Ten, Wisconsin has quietly been rolling over opponents. The Badgers have now won four of their last five, with at least 31 points in all four victories. Last week’s 62-14 beat down of Indiana led to shades of the Badgers’ previous two Big Ten championship teams.

Still, we’re going to have to go with Ohio State here. Wisconsin will keep it close, but the Buckeyes are off a bye, and have athletes on offense that the Badgers simply can’t keep up with.

The Pick: Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 28

Everybody Else’s Take:

Allen Kenney: Wisconsin 30, Ohio State 27
Andy Coppens: Wisconsin 33, Ohio State 30
Kevin McGuire: Wisconsin 30, Ohio State 27
Michael Felder: Ohio State 38, Wisconsin 27

No. 23 Texas Tech at No. 24 Oklahoma State, 3:30 p.m. FOX Sports Network

Allen Kenney’s Take: The Red Raiders head to Stillwater amid a major slide. Tech has lost two of its last three and needed overtime a week ago to beat lowly Kansas in Lubbock. Tech is dealing with the added distraction of coach Tommy Tuberville's sideline incident last week, too.

Despite their questions at quarterback, the Cowboys appear to be rounding into form. Tech may have revenge on the brain after suffering a 66-6 shellacking last week, but that doesn't change the reality that OSU is the better team playing on its home turf.

The Pick: Oklahoma State 42, Texas Tech 27

Everybody Else’s Take:

Aaron Torres: Texas Tech 38, Oklahoma State 31
Kevin McGuire: Texas Tech 50, Oklahoma State 45
Michael Felder: Texas Tech 48, Oklahoma State 45

Utah State at No. 20 Louisiana Tech: Saturday, 4:00pm, ESPN3

Michael Felder’s Take: Chuckie Keeton was something of a hero a season ago when he led the Aggies to an "almost win" over Auburn. Keeton is still playing well and the gang in Logan, Utah is sitting on a quietly impressive 8-2 record and they stand as a big obstacle for LaTech's BCS "hopes." With their only losses coming in close fashion to BYU and Wisconsin, this game is also for the WAC title and Utah state, despite the lack of national love, is in as good a position as Sonny Dykes team.

Colby Cameron is going to try and do what the Bulldogs have done all season long, outscore their opponents for a victory. The game is at home which is a big plus, no weather or altitude to combat on the way to a hopeful WAC title. Expect a lot of point out of these two squads and ultimately it will boil down to who can get some timely stops.

The Pick: Louisiana Tech 48 Utah State 45

Everybody Else’s Take:

Aaron Torres: Louisiana Tech 41, Utah State 28
Allen Kenney: Utah State 42, Louisiana Tech 35
Andy Coppens: Utah State 37, Louisiana Tech 24
Kevin McGuire: Louisiana Tech 28, Utah State 24

Tennessee at Vanderbilt: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ESPN2

Andy Coppens Take’: The in-state battle has a crap ton of meaning, especially for Derek Dooley. Loose to the Commodores and it's likely lights out for his tenure as Vols HC. (Probably is anyway) Vanderbilt comes in hoping for it's first 5 game winning streak since starting the 2008 campaign 5-0 and it's first to include games in the month of November since 1982. 

Tennessee hasn't had much of an issue scoring points, averaging 37.9ppg but they've given up an average of 37ppg on defense. However the hallmark of this Vandy team is a very good defense, one that only gives up 18ppg. It will be key for Jordan Rogers and Jordan Matthews to get going early for the Commodores chances of winning a 7th game this season. For the Vols they still need to find a running game, but that's been easier said than done against almost anyone. If they can do it against a defense that gives up 153yds a game then they've got a shot. 

Expect this to be a shoot out between Rogers and Bray.

The Pick: Vanderbilt 31, Tennessee 27

Everybody Else’s Take:

Aaron Torres: Tennessee 28, Vanderbilt 24
Allen Kenney: Vanderbilt 34, Tennessee 27
Kevin McGuire: Tennessee 20, Vanderbilt 19
Michael Felder: Tennessee 45, Vanderbilt 31

No. 12 Oklahoma at West Virginia: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. Fox

Aaron Torres' Take: As recently as a month ago, this one looked like it might be a de-facto Big XII Championship Game, but with West Virginia’s defense disappearing like the California coastline over that stretch it is now simply about bragging rights.

The problem of course is that WVU has little to brag about. We already mentioned their defense, but that early-season Geno Smith Heisman buzz has disappeared as the senior has  had just a 7-3 touchdown to interception ratio in his team’s recent four game losing streak.

West Virginia is bad. Really bad. And they’re once again going to get exposed Saturday night in Morgantown.

The Pick: Oklahoma 45, West Virginia 31

Everybody Else’s Take:

Allen Kenney: West Virginia 38, Oklahoma 35
Andy Coppens: Oklahoma 44, West Virginia 31
Kevin McGuire: West Virginia 42, Oklahoma 38
Michael Felder: Oklahoma 35, WVU 31

No. 2 Kansas State at Baylor, 8:00 p.m. ESPN

Kevin McGuire’s Take: Before you write Kansas State's name in to the BCS championship, let us see if they can avoid an upset this weekend on the road at Baylor. We all know what the Wildcats have done this season with Collin Klein leading the offense with authority and generating legitimate Heisman hype as the season draws to a close, but Baylor quarterback Nick Florence is putting up numbers this season similar to last year's Heisman winner, Robert Griffin III.

Baylor appears like a team that could be capable of giving Kansas State a scare the way they can fling the football and they can score with the best of them. Baylor has the dubious distinction of scoring 63, 50 and 34 points in losing efforts this year. What that should tell you is they can score, but the defense can also be torn to shreds. A loss would force Baylor to win their final two games to be bowl eligible, so look for Baylor to hold nothing back in what amounts to a huge game, really, for both teams. Ultimately, the defense may not be able to contain Klein enough.

The Pick: Kansas State 37, Baylor 31

Everybody Else’s Take:

Aaron Torres: Kansas State 31, Baylor 18
Allen Kenney: Kansas State 45, Baylor 31
Andy Coppens: Kansas State 41, Baylor 21
Michael Felder: Kansas State 54, Baylor 47

No. 13 Stanford at No. 2 Oregon: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ABC

Aaron Torres' Take: It’s another late-season showdown between the two powers of the Pac-12 North, but if recent history has been any indication, Stanford-Oregon could be decidedly one-sided. For all the success the Cardinal have had the last two seasons, their two games with Oregon have resulted in a pair of losses by a combined 44 points. Not a good look.

And not something we expect to change Saturday.

Yes Stanford is a darn good football team, and if anything proved last weekend against Oregon State they can hang with just about anyone.

Unfortunately, “anyone” isn’t Oregon, and the Ducks will cruise to victory.

The Pick: Oregon 51, Stanford 28

Everybody Else’s Take:

Allen Kenney: Oregon 46, Stanford 23
Andy Coppens: Oregon 45, Stanford 24
Kevin McGuire: Oregon 37, Stanford 23
Michael Felder: Oregon 53, Stanford 33

About Aaron Torres

Aaron Torres works for Fox Sports, and was previously a best-selling author of the book 'The Unlikeliest Champion.' He currently uses Aaron Torres Sports to occasionally weigh-in on the biggest stories from around sports. He has previously done work for such outlets as Sports Illustrated, SB Nation and Slam Magazine.

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