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College Football Week 12 Picks

Michael Thomas, Ohio State
3 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. 9 Michigan State Spartans 2:30 pm (CT) on ABC
A year ago, Ohio State used a huge day from J.T. Barrett and their defense to make a major statement: the Buckeyes dominated a higher-ranked Michigan State team en route to winning the Big Ten East. It was the first true sign that the Buckeyes were a team to be feared, and also essentially knocked the Spartans out of Playoff contention. This year, Ohio State will look to once more handle MSU, and continue to build up a resume that pales when compared to some of the other elite teams in the nation. The Buckeyes will once more be led by Barrett, who looked superb last week after serving a one-game suspension prior to the Illinois meeting. Barrett will be joined by a plethora of playmakers on the OSU offense, most notably running back Ezekiel Elliott, big-bodied receiver Michael Thomas and two explosive do-it-all weapons, Jalin Marshall and Braxton Miller. The Spartans have made a living off their defense under Mark Dantonio and while it hasn't been absolutely shutdown this season, it will look to contain those weapons. Defensive end Shilique Calhoun will also look to pressure Barrett and force some turnovers. On the other side of the ball, the Spartans will be led by senior quarterback Connor Cook. Cook has overall played well this season, but has been far from dominant after a hot start to the year. Ohio State is still pretty young in the secondary, so Cook could well get himself some golden opportunities. It helps that he has clearly found a top option in the passing game in Aaron Burbidge. Burbidge, who wasn't expected to do all that much this season, has already surpassed 1,000 receiving yards on the campaign. The key for Michigan State may be their ground attack. True freshman L.J. Scott is leading Michigan State in rushing yards this season, but hasn't been playing well as of late. It will not help him that Ohio State's rush defense has been stout all year, led by end Joey Bosa and linebacker Darron Lee. Even so, if Scott can break out a couple big runs, it would certainly help Michigan State find some offensive rhythm. The Spartans are a well-built, well-rounded and sound football team. But, they just don't have the explosiveness or firepower to hang with Ohio State. Maybe if they can force some mistakes, they could pull an upset. If not, it should be a close, but overall comfortable, win for OSU.
Ohio State, 34 Michigan State, 24

6 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. 10 Baylor Bears 6:30 pm (CT) on FOX
The Big 12 race is incredibly intriguing at the moment, and this weekend should help the world gain clarity on just what is going on in the conference. Oklahoma State is the lone undefeated, but beyond a victory over TCU, they haven't played too much. They could add a big resume booster against Baylor, who looked overmatched against Oklahoma the past week. The Bears still can obviously put up points in a hurry, even with true freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham leading the charge. Stidham is young and he will make mistakes, but it helps having all-world receivers on his side. Although Corey Coleman was far from perfect against the Sooners, he is still perhaps the most electrifying receiver in America. The Cowboys have far from a proven secondary (although it did play well against Trevone Boykin and TCU), so that could be a major problem. Oklahoma State will also have to contain explosive Shock Linwood and pounding Devin Chafin, two wonderful backs. Though the Cowboys will counter with junior defensive linemen Emmanuel Ogbah (one of the nation's leaders in sacks) and a ready front seven. The Cowboys have been using two quarterbacks on the offensive side of the ball. Sophomore Mason Rudolph has had some unreal moments, while senior J.W. Walsh has looked as good as ever. Some may argue that constant switching at the position could contribute to chemistry issues, but Mike Gundy is smart and he knows how to use the pair effectively. Something else to watch: how Baylor contains Cowboys' receiver James Washington. I was actually pretty impressed with Baylor's defense as a whole last week against the Sooners, and they have some great experience. Though, Washington has been on an absolute tear lately (surpassing 100 yards in four of their last six games), and the Bears will have to be smart in covering him. Another key for the Bears will be getting pressure on either Rudolph or Walsh. Shawn Oakman has his moments but can also gets lost out there; defensive coordinator Phil Bennett will look for big, bulky Andrew Billings to get a solid push through the interior of their line. This should be a crazy week in the Big 12, and one with it's fair share of fireworks. A win here and Oklahoma State is in prime position for a crazy battle against archrival Oklahoma that could well be a Playoff play-in game. A loss, and the season obviously takes a disappointing turn. Baylor, meanwhile, isn't completely out of the Playoff conversation yet. Although I think the Bears could certainly come out and pound down the Cowboys, I like Oklahoma State in this one. Their defense has had some signature moments and the way their offense is grooving, they should be able to impress in this one.
Oklahoma State, 42 Baylor, 33

7 Oklahoma Sooners vs. 18 TCU Horned Frogs 7:00 pm (CT) on ABC
The Oklahoma State-Baylor battle isn't the only Big 12 game with huge implications this week. Oklahoma and TCU should square off in a game that is sure to be a shootout. Oklahoma's stock is rising quickly, as they have won five straight, and beat Baylor. Meanwhile, things have gone downhill quickly for TCU. They lost their first game of the season to Oklahoma State, and then barely survived against Kansas this past week. Much of that was because of an ankle injury to star QB Trevone Boykin, but even so, it was extremely worrying. Boykin is questionable to go in this one, but even if he does, he will be without his top target, wide receiver Josh Doctson, who is out for the remainder of the year. That should prompt Kolby Listenbee and KaVontae Turpin to step up in a big way. But, the Sooners' defense proved they could stop the pass very well against Baylor a week ago. Cornerback Zack Sanchez and the rest of the defensive backfield played sound, disciplined football. Oklahoma also got wonderful contributions from defensive linemen Charles Walker and linebacker Eric Striker, who will hope to get after Boykin in this one, assuming he is good to go. On the other side of the ball, Oklahoma will bring an offense that is absolutely on fire. Baker Mayfield put his name into the Heisman conversation with a big day against Baylor and he will hope to feast against an inexperienced TCU secondary. He will be helped by senior receiver Sterling Shepard, a reliable possession receiver who dominated a week ago, along with powerful running back Samaje Perine. Unless someone steps up in a big way for the TCU defense, they could have a long day ahead of them, attempting to stop that Big 3. Even so, if Boykin is good to go for this one (he is questionable), TCU should be able to match Oklahoma's offensive output for the most part. If he isn't, particularly considering this game is in Norman, this one could turn ugly really, really quick.
Oklahoma, 49 TCU, 30

Other Picks
25 Wisconsin, 28 20 Northwestern, 21
23 Oregon, 38 24 USC, 34
13 Utah, 31 UCLA, 27
5 Iowa, 35 Purdue, 14
12 Michigan, 27 Penn State, 20
Current Picks Record: 66-22

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