Week 12 CF Picks
The 2008 College Football Season continues through its final month with a full slate of games on Saturday. Our team of writers and handicappers hand out six picks for Week 12.
California at Oregon State, 3:30 PM ET
Oregon State is no stranger to slow starts in conference play. Once again, the team has done a remarkable job rebounding.
The 23rd-ranked Beavers look to extend their conference winning streak to six games as they continue to pursue a share of their first Pac-10 title in eight years on Saturday with a home game against California.
Oregon State (6-3, 5-1) lost its season opener against Stanford on Aug. 28, dropping its first conference game for the fifth straight season. Coach Mike Riley vowed that his team would learn from that game, and it looks like the Beavers have delivered.
In its next Pac-10 game nearly a month later, Oregon State upset top-ranked Southern California 27-21, the first of five straight conference wins. It's the Beavers' longest Pac-10 win streak since they won their last six games in 2000 to claim a share of the conference title with Oregon and Washington.
Bouncing back from a bad start to conference play is nothing new for Oregon State. In 2004, it won five of six after losing its first two Pac-10 contests. In both 2006 and 2007, it followed 0-2 conference starts with six wins in its final seven Pac-10 games.
The Beavers, though, have a special feeling about this season's turnaround after routing UCLA 34-6 last Saturday at the Rose Bowl.
The Beavers have won seven of the teams' last nine meetings, including a 31-28 victory over the second-ranked Golden Bears last Oct. 13. Cal, however, has won its last two visits to Corvallis by a combined 90-20 score.
Indiana at Penn State, 12:00 PM ET
Penn State was supposed to have the easiest remaining road to the BCS championship game of any contender. After a devastating last-second loss, they now have the easiest path to the Rose Bowl - and they won't have to leave home to get there.
With their national title dreams almost certainly evaporated, the seventh-ranked Nittany Lions can still earn the consolation prize of a trip to Pasadena with wins in their final two games at Beaver Stadium, starting Saturday against Big Ten bottom-feeder Indiana.
Penn State was ranked third in the Top 25 and the BCS standings heading into Iowa last Saturday. With two home games on the horizon to close out their schedule, the Nittany Lions appeared to have a strong shot of finishing in the top two with tough contests left for both top-ranked Alabama and No. 2 Texas Tech.
As it turns out, Penn State (9-1, 5-1 Big Ten) won't have to worry about the results of the Crimson Tide or the Red Raiders. The Nittany Lions led 23-14 heading into the fourth quarter in Iowa City, but the Hawkeyes scored the game's final 10 points, including a 31-yard field goal with one second left, to pull off a shocking 24-23 upset.
The Lions have never lost to Indiana in 11 meetings, including a 36-31 win in Bloomington last season. Lewis threw for 318 yards and three touchdowns for the Hoosiers.
Mississippi State at Alabama, 7:45 PM ET
Alabama has clinched a spot in next month's SEC championship game, but has no room to coast in its final two contests of the regular season against a pair of inferior opponents.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide looks to remain perfect and on track for a spot in the BCS title game while trying to avoid a third consecutive loss to visiting Mississippi State on Saturday.
A season after finishing 7-6 and second-to-last in the SEC West Division, Alabama (10-0, 6-0) clinched its first division title since 1999 with an emotional 27-21 overtime victory at LSU last Saturday. The win kept the Tide atop the national rankings and BCS standings, ahead of fellow unbeaten Texas Tech.
Now, Alabama will try to avenge losses to Mississippi State (3-6, 1-4) and struggling Auburn on Nov. 29 - both at home - before facing Florida in the SEC title game Dec. 6 in Atlanta.
Mississippi State, which has lost two straight SEC games since beating then-No. 13 Vanderbilt 17-14 on Oct. 11, has been outscored 128-48 while going 0-4 on the road this season.
The Bulldogs lost 24-14 at Tennessee on Dec. 5, 1998 in their most recent meeting versus the nation's top-ranked team.
North Carolina at Maryland, 3:30 PM ET
North Carolina is already enjoying one of the best seasons in the program's history, and appears poised to continue its recent success.
On Saturday, the 17th-ranked Tar Heels seek their third straight victory overall and a second consecutive win over host Maryland in an ACC matchup.
North Carolina (7-2, 3-2) is off to its strongest start since winning the first eight games in 1997 en route to an 11-1 finish. It has won five of its last six contests, posting a 28-7 victory over then-No. 22 Georgia Tech last Saturday.
The Tar Heels jumped two spots in the AP Top 25 poll, and were assured their first winning record since finishing 8-5 in 2001.
North Carolina, which gained bowl eligibility for the first time since 2004, has matched its victory total from the previous two seasons combined.
But the Tar Heels recognize that they have much more left to accomplish with three contests left, and a spot in next month's ACC championship game is still a possibility. North Carolina - among several teams in the conference with two losses - last won the ACC in 1980.
To have success again this weekend, the Terrapins will try to contain the Tar Heels' Hakeem Nicks, who had eight catches for 88 yards and touchdown in last season's matchup. Nicks had three receptions for 72 yards and a TD against Georgia Tech last weekend as he established the school record for receiving yardage (2,472).
Texas at Kansas, 12:30 PM ET
A loss two weeks ago knocked Texas out of the No. 1 spot in the AP poll, the BCS standings and the Big 12 South. A win last week, though, has worked wonders in restoring the Longhorns' confidence.
The fourth-ranked Longhorns look to improve their chances of competing for the conference title when they visit struggling Kansas on Saturday.
Three straight wins over teams ranked No. 11 or better gave Texas (9-1, 5-1) control of its own destiny at the end of October, but a 39-33 loss to then-No. 6 Texas Tech with 1 second remaining on Nov. 1 was a crushing blow to the Longhorns' national championship aspirations.
Though that defeat will continue to haunt the Longhorns as they head toward bowl season, the team is feeling a lot better after getting back on track with a 45-21 win over Baylor last Saturday.
McCoy has never played against Kansas, which is meeting Texas for the first time since 2005. The Longhorns won that game 66-14 en route to an undefeated national championship season, and have won six straight against the Jayhawks by an average of 30.8 points since a 19-18 loss in 1938.
BYU at Air Force, 2:00 PM
After finishing the home portion of its schedule undefeated for a third consecutive season, the remainder of BYU's year likely won't be as easy.
Looking to remain in the hunt for a share of a third consecutive Mountain West title, the 16th-ranked Cougars visit Air Force on Saturday.
BYU (9-1, 5-1) is in third place in the conference, one game behind Utah and a half-game back of TCU, which handed the Cougars their only loss of the season.
The Cougars have won three straight since that 32-7 defeat, including a 41-12 victory over San Diego State last Saturday that gave them a 19-0 home record over the last three seasons.
BYU has one of the nation's most prolific offenses, averaging 443.9 total yards per game and 314.8 through the air.
Quarterback Max Hall had another strong performance last Saturday, completing 25-of-30 for 317 yards and three touchdowns. He has thrown for 12 TDs and only one interception in his last three games.
Air Force has lost nine straight against ranked opponents since beating No. 23 California in 2002. Included in that stretch is a 30-23 loss to then-No. 20 Utah on Sept. 20.
BYU is 22-6 all time against Air Force, winning 31-6 last year. In Colorado Springs, the Cougars are 10-3.
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Posted: 11/14/08 10:00 PM