College football Week 12: Picks and preview

The stretch drive of the college football season is upon us, and teams continue to jockey for position in The Associated Press Top 25 and the College Football Playoff rankings. 

Weekly point spreads are from BetOnline.ag, and are current as of 10 p.m. ET Tuesday.  For up-to-date spreads, check out the BetOnline.ag site. All times Eastern. 1 of 25

Michigan State (4-5) at No. 14 Michigan (7-2), Noon, Saturday, Fox

Two rivals headed in the opposite direction. Michigan eyes a third straight victory after outscoring Notre Dame and Maryland, 83-21. Michigan State, meanwhile, might have bottomed out by blowing a 28-3 second quarter lead vs. Illinois to extend its losing streak to four. The Spartans have won two straight and four of five in the Big House, so at least they have that going for them.

Prediction: Michigan (-13.5)  2 of 25

No. 4 Alabama (8-1) at Mississippi State (4-5), Noon, Saturday, ESPN

Dropped to fifth in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, Alabama has to rely on others to help keep its national title hopes alive. Or it can hope the CFP committee feels the Tide is worthy of being part of the mix after losing to LSU and even if they don’t get a shot at the SEC title. Regardless what the future holds for Alabama, it should not have much trouble extending Mississippi State’s slide against Top 25 teams to four straight.

Prediction: Alabama (-20) 3 of 25

No. 11 Florida (8-2) at Missouri (5-4), Noon, Saturday, CBS

Florida is 2-1 on the road in the SEC, but those wins at Kentucky and South Carolina didn’t necessarily come easy. The Gators won by a combined 19 points and trailed in the second half of both. Missouri is 5-0 at home, where it returns from a three-game winless road stretch at Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Georgia. The Tigers are also looking for a third straight series victory.

Prediction: Missouri (+7)

4 of 25

No. 15 Wisconsin (7-2) at Nebraska (4-5), Noon, Saturday, Big Ten Network

The Badgers got back in the win column by edging Iowa and now face a seemingly desperate Nebraska team. The Cornhuskers obviously must find a way to contain Wisconsin star Jonathan Taylor, who rushed for a season-high 250 yards last week. He’s totaled 470 yards and five TDs on 49 carries in two games vs. Nebraska.

Prediction: Wisconsin (-14) 5 of 25

Kansas (3-6) at No. 25 Oklahoma State (6-3), Noon, Saturday, FS1

Consecutive wins over Iowa State and TCU have the Cowboys rounding out the Top 25 this week. Oklahoma State averages 37.1 points and gives up 29.3, so low-scoring affairs are not its style. Having the nation’s top rusher in Chuba Hubbard (1,604 yards) also helps. Kansas allows an average of 235.3 yards on the ground.

Prediction: Oklahoma State (-17) 6 of 25

No. 24 Indiana (7-2) at No. 9 Penn State (8-1), Noon, Saturday, ABC

Penn State’s hopes of a College Football Playoff berth took a severe hit with last weekend’s loss to Minnesota. A bounce back for the Nittany Lions would seem likely since they are 13-0 against Indiana at home. The Hoosiers, though, are ranked in the AP Poll for the first time since September 1994 and looking for their first five-game Big Ten-winning streak in more than 50 years. However, losing quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is a blow.

Prediction: Penn State (-14.5)

7 of 25

No. 21 Navy (7-1) at No. 16 Notre Dame (7-2), 2:30 p.m., Saturday, NBC

It’s the first time since 1978 that both Navy and Notre Dame are matching up as ranked teams. That was also the last season the Midshipmen won six consecutive contests, so there is some history on the line. The Irish, meanwhile, will be looking for a 17th straight home victory overall and a fifth in a row over Navy in South Bend.

Prediction: Navy (+9) 8 of 25

No. 5 Georgia (8-1) at No. 13 Auburn (7-2), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, CBS

The Bulldogs have found their way into the top four of the CFP rankings, which is interesting considering their lone loss to South Carolina looks worse by the weekend. The Bulldogs, however, face a stiff road test against Auburn, which has won three of the last five home meetings in this series. The Tigers have also won their last two home games against top five opponents.

Predictions: Auburn (+3)  9 of 25

Wake Forest (7-2) at No. 3 Clemson (10-0), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ABC

At some point we knew Clemson would be among the top four in the CFP rankings — at No. 3 this week. That came with Alabama and Penn State both losing last weekend. The Tigers, meanwhile, have outscored their last five opponents, 263-55, but should get more of a test this week. Wake has enjoyed a solid season, and after losing at Virginia Tech, must prove its validity — at least by making this somewhat of a game.

Predictions: Clemson (-34.5)

10 of 25

No. 18 Memphis (8-1) at Houston (3-6), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN2

The Tigers will have had two weeks to come down from the high of beating a ranked SMU team at home. Expect Memphis coach Mike Norvell to have his team ready and poised to avoid a letdown. The Tigers will aim for a fourth consecutive win over Houston, which is still putting up points (30.7 per game) but also having trouble keeping them off the board (32.6 per contest).

Prediction: Memphis (-10) 11 of 25

No. 22 Texas (6-3) at Iowa State (5-4), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, FS1

The Longhorns are back in the Top 25 after taking down Kansas State for their first victory over a ranked team in three tries this season. However, things don’t get any easier at Iowa State, which nearly won at Oklahoma. Texas is still a tough team to figure out, but this just seems like another potential stumble on an underachieving season.

Predictions: Iowa State (-7) 12 of 25

No. 2 Ohio State (9-0) at Rutgers (2-7), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, Big Ten Network

It’s not really a surprise the Buckeyes slipped to No. 2 in the latest CFP rankings. They continue to roll while not really being tested. With or without star defensive end Chase Young, Ohio State is going to win big in this contest. By how much is the question. And is there an outside chance the likely new Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano will be somewhere in the yard?

Predictions: Ohio State (+52)

13 of 25

No. 7 Minnesota (9-0) at No. 23 Iowa (6-3), 4 p.m., Saturday, Fox

The Golden Gophers are up to eighth in the CFP rankings, and if they keep winning that would eventually put them among the top four. Of course winning at Iowa is no easy task. Minnesota is probably still riding that massive high from beating Penn State, but it has lost four in a row vs. Iowa. The Hawkeyes have also won eight straight at home in the series.

Predictions: Iowa (-3) 14 of 25

No. 1 LSU (9-0) at Mississippi (4-6), 7 p.m., Saturday, ESPN

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By: Jeff Mezydlo

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