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Staff Picks - College Football Week 12

Cupcake weekend around the SEC, so we had to improvise.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Northwestern Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

While college basketball is gearing up, we’re only getting a few true SEC football games this weekend as the now-traditional cupcake day has arrived prior to rivalry week. The league only has three conference matchups (Missouri/Tennessee, Ole Miss/Vanderbilt, Arkansas/Mississippi State) and so there are slim pickins around college football to choose from. We found some stuff though.

Notre Dame (-10.5) vs Syracuse (O/U 65.5)

“Syracuse is ranked 12th in the CFP Playoff and if they were in the Coastal, they would likely get another crack at Clemson in 2 weeks. Still, their best win is over N.C. State and so how good is the Orange? There’s no better way to find out by going up against the Irish who will try to get 1 win away from securing their spot in the College Football Playoff. I’m hoping for a Syracuse upset (because we desperately need some chaos) but I think the Irish are the better team here. Notre Dame 38, Syracuse 23.” - Will McLaughlin

“Ever since Ian Book was inserted as the starter, this Fighting Irish squad has actually looked somewhat like a legitimate playoff team. The big question I have going into this game though is the health of Book. He missed Florida State but will supposedly be back this week. Real quick, can we all laugh about the fact that Notre Dame sat their starter against Florida State to recover so he can be good to go against Syracuse? Like they knew they would beat FSU without their starter but had to have him ready for a much stronger Syracuse team. HAHA FLORIDA STATE (it’s the little things these days). It’s the defense however that I think proves the difference. The Fighting Irish have the 3rd best D in the country according to S&P+. While I love watching Eric Dungey do Eric Dungey things and I believe the Orange make this game scary close, Notre Dame finds a way and keeps the undefeated season alive. ND 21, SYR 16.” - AU Nerd

“Goodness gracious! Who cares?! Notre Dame 32-21 or whatever.” - AU Chief

“I want Syracuse to beat the pinstripes off of Notre Dame. Syracuse 35-29.” - Son of Crow

“Sneaky good game. If it were in the sometimes air-conditioned dome, I would take the ‘Cuse. I will go with the Golden Domers however, but it will be close late and would not be shocked if the Urrrange take it out right. Take the points. ND 24, Cuse 21.” - Drew McCracken

“My heart says give me Syracuse for maximum playoff chaos, but my head says Notre Dame. The Irish defense is suffocating, even if their offense isn’t world-beating. Syracuse only wins this game if they make multiple big special teams plays, which might happen as they have the #1 ST per S&P+, largely driven by dynamite freshman kicker Andre Szmyt, who is 27 of 29 and 3-3 from over 50 this year. Notre Dame takes it 23-19.” - Ryan Sterritt

“This is the one at Yankee Stadium where Notre Dame is wearing those horrendous pinstripe uniforms right? I can’t pick them if that’s the case, or at least I can’t lay the points. Notre Dame 24, Syracuse 20.” - James Jones

“Notre Dame has a defense, they’re playing outside, and Syracuse hasn’t beaten anyone who’s decent this year. I’ll take the Irish. Is it snowing up there tomorrow? ND 38-24.” - Jack Condon

UCF (-7) vs Cincinnati (O/U 59)

“UCF gets College Gameday and the primetime attention they think they deserve. This is their toughest test of the season so far. My gut says the streak ends here and we can finally move on with our lives without UCF griping about where they should be in regards to national respect. Cincinnati 48, UCF 44.” - Will McLaughlin

“At some point, the 2017 national champion will lose. Cincinnati COULD be the team to do it. The Bearcats are ranked 29th by S&P+ making them the biggest threat UCF has seen since Memphis who they beat by only 1 point. But with the game being at home and Gameday on campus, I don’t think it happens just yet. UCF escapes again 41-38.” - AU Nerd

“My National Champs are definitely going to win this one. Reining National Champion UCF 33-23.” - AU Chief

“Nothing but respect for MY national champs. UCF 38-31.” - Son of Crow

“BEND THE KNEE FOR THE NATIONAL CHAMPS!! The Knights who say NEI! with the win. UCF 42, Cincy 31.” - Drew McCracken

My national champion is going to win this one in a shootout, 42-38.” - Ryan Sterritt

“Finally a test for the defending national champions. The Bearcats have been fantastic this year, particularly on defense. Given the struggles the Knights have had on defense, that could set up the upset. As tempting as that is, I think UCF hangs on for the win late, but they don’t cover. UCF 37, Cincinnati 31.” - James Jones

“UCF’s at home with the Gameday excitement? That stadium will be pretty packed. I also like Josh Heupel and if we did lose Gus, he might be my top choice to replace him. I’m going to keep the train going and the winning streak extends one more week. UCF 40-30.” - Jack Condon

Texas (-3) vs Iowa State (O/U 48)

“Did ya’ll know freshmen Iowa State QB Brock Purdy turned down Alabama to go to Ames? I didn’t until this week and he’s made a name for himself, as has the Cyclones and Matt Campbell. (I know who my first call would be to if well.... you know) Iowa State and Texas both sit at 5-2 in the Big 12, a game out of being in the Big 12 Championship game picture. Texas got a win last week but have struggled the last 3 weeks. The Cyclones are on a roll right now and I like the feel good story to continue. Iowa State 38, Texas 35.” - Will McLaughlin

“Ohhhh man. I’m really struggling with this one. These teams are actually built sorta similar. While Air Raid has become king in the conference, these two programs are trying to find success by relying more on a power run game and dominant defense. If you have never watched an Iowa State game, I highly recommend it. They are on the cutting edge right now for shutting down high powered Air Raid attacks. However, this week they face a power rushing attack from the Longhorns. This Cyclone squad seems to do better against spread out attacks. I think I’m gonna go with Texas again this week but this game is gonna be a battle and I probably should pick ISU. But whatever, Hook em 20-17.” - AU Nerd

“I think I’m going to have to go with the Cyclones here. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that Texas ain’t back, and this ISU team is half-way decent. Iowa State 29-27.” - AU Chief

“Iowa state has a really fun team apparently but I haven’t watched many of their games, to be honest. (I haven’t seen a single of their games). Tom Herman is not a good person. Ok. cool Hook em UT 28-25.” - Son of Crow

“Man if this was in Ames.... EH! Why not, CLONES!!!! Iowa State 38, Texas 34.” - Drew McCracken

“Texas favored, you say? The Longhorns give up big passing plays like nobody’s business, and Iowa State QB Brock Purdy can throw the ball purdy well. Cyclones 31-24.” - Ryan Sterritt

“Oh man this would be exciting to watch IF IT WEREN’T ON THE DAMNED LONGHORN NETWORK. The Cyclones have really come into their own this season. Not only is it another bowl season, they still have an outside shot at the Big XII Championship Game. Texas has been better as a favorite recently, but I think the Cyclones are dangerous enough to push them. The defenses will keep this close. Iowa State 24, Texas 21.” - James Jones

“Texas can actually do a little bit of everything on offense, and I do like watching a quarterback plunge his body into defenders with little regard for safety. I’ve heard that there are some Browns fans that want Matt Campbell as their next head coach, so take that for what it’s worth. Horns get it done at home at night. Texas 27-20.” - Jack Condon

Texas A&M (-17) vs UAB (O/U 46.5)

“What Bill Clark has done at UAB is nothing short of remarkable. His Blazers are 9-1, should be in the Top 25 College Football Rankings, and going to play in their Conference Championship Game in 2 weeks time. And any guy that calls a certain school University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa is a good guy in my book. This will most certainly be their toughest game of the year going up against the Aggies. I’m pulling for you Blazers but I think the Aggies have a little too much firepower in this one. Texas A&M 38, UAB 24.” - Will McLaughlin

“LOL JIMBO!!!!!! I will not stop laughing about him blowing that game in Jordan-Hare for a good while. This season has been stanky but we have that lovely moment to remember. Bill Clark has become the darling of many in Auburn’s fanbase and I understand why. What he’s done at UAB has been outstanding and I think the Blazers have a chance to muck things up in College Station. But Trayveon Williams is freaking good. I think he proves the difference in an entertaining 28-24 Aggie victory.” - AU Nerd

“I know earlier in the season I talked a lot of noise about Bill Clark, but this UAB team is pretty solid, and it might be time for me to start showing Bill Clark some respect. It would be pretty wild, and pretty fun if UAB beat the Aggies. With that in mind, I’m going to pick the Blazers. UAB 28-27.” - AU Chief

“Trogdor was a man, he was a dragon man, or maybe he was just a dragon but he was still TROGDORUAB 31-30.” - Son of Crow

“Man I really want to, but I don’t think Jimbo loses here....but I will be watching... Texas A&M 35, UAB 24.” - Drew McCracken

“Jimbo is going 0-3 against the state of Alabama this year. The Blazer defense is no joke, particularly in limiting the passing game. If they can find a way to contain Trayveon Williams, UAB can win this game. Blazers, 24-20.” - Ryan Sterritt

“How poetic would it be for UAB to get their first win against a power 5 team since 2004 against the man they tried to hire, but were blocked by the very board of trustees that tried to take them out of existence. As wonderful as that would be, I think A&M has too much talent on offense, and UAB doesn’t have anything offensively to threaten the Aggies. I do think the Blazers keep it close, but they never really threaten. Texas A&M 24. UAB 10.” - James Jones

“I honestly have no idea what to make of this UAB team. They’ve played nobody, but have looked really good doing so. Where do you draw the line on what matters? Since I do have a little info on the Aggies, I think their running game and rush defense wear down the Blazers enough to pound them into submission late. A&M wins 31-14.” - Jack Condon

Rams (-3.5) vs Chiefs (O/U 63.5)

“An NFL Pick? Okay. This game has been moved back to Los Angeles due to the horrendous conditions of the soccer stadium in Mexico City. Both teams are 9-1. I need big games from Jared Goff and Todd Gurley for fantasy football purposes. I think this will be a fun game and a shootout but being in Los Angeles, I’ll take the Rams. Rams 45, Chiefs 41.” - Will McLaughlin

“What the hell is this? When did we become an NFL website?

But for real, this game is gonna be awesome. These 2 coaches have broken the dumb molds of what NFL offenses are supposed to look like and instead done this novel thing where you play to the strengths of your personnel. PRETTY COOL IDEA GUS AIN’IT?! REMEMBER WHEN YOU USED TO DO COOL STUFF LIKE THAT? Man I’m getting bitter... Anyway, I really have 0 idea who wins, I just hope that for 180K to Play’s sake that Tyreek Hill scores like 4 touchdowns. Chiefs 45, Rams 42.” - AU Nerd

“Dee Ford.” - AU Chief

“Pat Mahomes is a delight. I love when a guy comes into a league and turns it on its head. It makes it seem like not such a ‘tough man’s league’ when a young kid lights it up in a ‘college’ offense. I want him to win every game. Great googily moogily. Chiefs 34-30.” - Son of Crow

“Rhode Island is playing the New Hampshire Wildcats this weekend, Jack....geez.

“Rhode Island started off strong with a 2 point win over the Blue Hens of Delaware (ranked 15th in the country at the time), and started off strong with a 4-1 record before hitting conference play but have gone 1-4 down the stretch including a confusing loss in Greensboro to the Phoenix of Elon. To the northwest, things have been just as confusing for the Hamp. Normally a power in D-1, the Wildcats enter the contest at 4-6 but have won their last 3 including a yuge win over the Dukes of James Madison. It’s a close on but I will take the Wildcats....or “Chiefs” as Jack called them. (Go Dee Ford Go!).” - Drew McCracken

“I’m in the classic predicament of facing Jared Goff in one fantasy league and playing him in another. It’s not relevant to the outcome of this game, but I thought you all might like to hear me talk about my fantasy team. I’m that guy. Chiefs 38-34.” - Ryan Sterritt

“Game of the year so far, and the highest over/under in several years for Shield Ball. Neither of these teams has much of a defense. I think Mahomes is the better quarterback, and hopefully Dee Ford makes a play or two to get the stop that the Chiefs need. If this was still in Mexico City, I think it’s a definite win. Maybe it’s a little closer now that it’s in Los Angeles. Chiefs 34, Rams 31.” - James Jones

“Dee Ford’s playing like the best pass rusher in the game right now, Patrick Mahomes is playing like the best quarterback in the game right now, and I don’t think the home field advantage for the Rams has truly been established yet. Fun game that goes down to the wire, but KC wins 42-40.” - Jack Condon

BONUS AU CHIEF PICK BECAUSE

#7 Jacksonville Sate University vs #2 Kennesaw State University (-10.5)

“JSU enters this game as a dog against an FCS opponent during the regular season for the first time in many years. The Gamecocks season ended at the hands of KSU in the second round of the FCS playoff last year. The relative newcomer Owls put a stranglehold on the Cocks’ offense, something not too many teams have been able to do in recent years, and ended JSU’s title hopes. This is JSU’s chance for revenge, but it’s going to be quite the challenge. First off, KSU is great again this year, having lost only one game and that to FBS bottom feeder Georgia State. Secondly the game is being played in Cobb County at SunTrust park, which will probably prove to be a weird experience for both teams. At least KSU only has to travel a couple of miles from their own football complex. I really don’t know who to pick here. This isn’t a playoff game, and both teams have locked up a playoff spot by winning their respective conference. I would think JSU has the revenge factor in their favor here, so with that and my personal bias in mind i’m felling a little COCKY. JSU 37-21.” - AU Chief