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College Football Picks 2019: Week Twelve

Current Picks Record: 62-26 (6-6 Upset)
(#10) Oklahoma Sooners @ (#13) Baylor Bears
Kennedy Brooks, Oklahoma
The Big 12 race takes center stage as undefeated Baylor looks to stay perfect against Oklahoma, who remains on the outside looking in for the Playoff. The Bears' resurgent 2019 campaign has been based on a stellar defense and methodical, balanced offense. However, that offense appears to be trending down, with two straight off weeks against West Virginia & TCU. Junior QB Charlie Brewer has been solid in both games, but he needs others to step up around him. The good news for Baylor is they face an OU defense that is also struggling. After a strong start to the 2019 season under new coordinator Alex Grinch, the Sooners have allowed over 40 points their last two games. They have struggled to get any pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and a secondary that was playing very well hasn't looked good as of late. It will be interesting to see whether it turns into a shootout, which would play into Oklahoma's hands. Baylor does have one of the best defenses in the Big 12, but they recently lost No. 2 tackler Clay Johnston for the season, and the Sooners can hurt you in so many ways. Jalen Hurts remains a serious Heisman candidate, and he should be able to handle an aggressive Bears' pass rush. However, for the Oklahoma offense to really be humming, their ground game actually plays a much larger role than most realize. A trio of running backs lead the way in Kennedy Brooks, Rhamondre Stevenson and Trey Sermon. Brooks ran for nearly nine yards a carry in last weekend's win over Iowa State, but Stevenson and Sermon will need to provide a change of pace. If OU can really attack Baylor on the ground, they will open up things on the outside for their real speedsters, namely Biletnikoff candidate CeeDee Lamb. As the battle of the top two teams currently inside the Big 12, this is obviously a huge game for the league and a possible Championship Game preview. Even though both teams haven't been playing great as of very recently, I think both offenses should have a good night. It could come down to who is able to execute better and not turn the ball over. I trust Oklahoma slightly more in this regard, and I think they find a way to end Baylor's perfect season, even on the road.
The Pick: Oklahoma, 38 Baylor, 34

(#4) Georgia Bulldogs @ (#12) Auburn Tigers
After their win two weekends ago over Florida, Georgia now appears to be in control of the SEC East. They hope to avoid a slip-up on the Plains against Auburn, who plays an interesting spoiler role, with both UGA and Alabama still remaining on the schedule. Georgia's offense still lacks consistency, and now they have to find a way to put up points against a very stout Auburn D. It is hard to know what you are going to get each and every week from Jake Fromm. With that being said, Fromm has traditionally played better against his best opponents, and the receiver corps is really starting to emerge in Athens. Former Miami transfer Lawrence Cager in particular has really been crucial to this offense as of late, although he is probable in this one. It is hard to imagine any Auburn defensive back being able to contain the 6'5" matchup nightmare. Freshman George Pickens is coming off a two-touchdown showing against Missouri, and it will be fascinating to see how the Bulldogs plan to use him here. UGA will really need their offensive line to play well, as they face down a superb defensive line. They'll also be tasked with openings things up for D'Andre Swift as well. Utilizing the play-action pass will be pivotal in opening up routes for this offense, and give Fromm some huge windows to work with. On the other side of the ball, Georgia's defense continues to play terrific, as they've held Kentucky and Mizzou under 200 yards twice in the last three games. They've been especially elite in stopping the run, and a really strong linebacker corps is the reason. Guys like Monty Rice, Tae Crowder and Azeez Ojulari have been huge. Ojulari, who wasn't even very high up on the depth chart to begin 2019, is also important as a pass rusher. If the Bulldog rush defense continues their recent play, it is hard to imagine Auburn being able to move the ball. They really use the ground attack to set things up for freshman QB Bo Nix, and it is hard to see them getting anything easy here. I expect Gus Malzahn to try and be creative to open things up on the ground with different read options and sweep plays. Even so, Nix is going to have to make some big throws, which he has really struggled to do in important games, with the exception of the Oregon victory. A veteran UGA secondary will be very eager to try and force turnovers, even with one of their top corners, Tyson Campbell, nursing a toe injury. I still do like this Auburn offense a lot, but I just don't think they have enough to get things going against Georgia. If Fromm does again have another great showing in a big game, Georgia should win pretty comfortably, and continue to strengthen their Playoff resume.
The Pick: Georgia, 28 Auburn, 20

(#23) Navy Midshipmen @ (#16) Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Even though this Navy-Notre Dame rivalry game doesn't have any Playoff implications with the Irish essentially eliminated, it is still important for both teams. ND still has a chance for a New Year's Six bowl, as does Navy, as they sit at 7-1 and remain a genuine threat to be the Group of Five representative. Per usual, Navy is led by their triple-option offense, which has allowed them to average 358 yards rushing per game, and over 40 PPG. Quarterback Malcolm Perry is the main instrument in this offense, a tremendous athlete who knows how to make terrific reads. He really is a touchdown machine, with nine touchdowns in the last five games. The rest of the Midshipmen offense consists of fullbacks Nelson Smith & Jamale Carothers, as well as some under-the-radar receivers. Navy's triple-option is always going to be tough to stop, but this Irish defense should be well-equipped to contain them. They are really strong and experienced across their front seven, and defensive coordinator Clark Lea has done a fine job. I think they should do just enough to make things difficult for Navy. I still believe the Midshipmen are going to have to make some throws to really pull off this type of upset. Perry has been okay through the air, and sophomore Mychal Cooper is a big play threat, averaging nearly 27 yards per catch. Even with stud safety Alohi Gilman (who just happens to be a Navy transfer), I'm not sure how must I trust this ND secondary, even against a weak pass offense. However, far more questionable is the Notre Dame offense, which has been unbelievably inconsistent for much of the year. They looked pretty good this past Saturday against Duke, but really struggled against Michigan and Virginia Tech, combining for 35 points in total. Quarterback Ian Book is a steady veteran, but he has really had a tough time throwing downfield. He does have a superb wide out in Chase Claypool, but others are going to have to step up. That includes the running back situation, which simply hasn't been that great lately. Tony Jones Jr. had three straight games eclipsing 100 yards, but has totaled just 28 the last two weekends. Either he is going to have to get things going, or the Irish are going to have to try something different. The Midshipmen defense is consistently very strong, so I think a low-scoring affair should be in order. I like this Navy team a lot, and I think they have a real shot at taking down ND for just the second time since 2010. Yet, I think the Irish defense is going to have a good game, and going into South Bend and coming out victorious is a lot to ask. I'll stick with Notre Dame to come out in a close game without much points being added to the scoreboard.
The Pick: Notre Dame, 21 Navy, 17

Other Picks
(#8) Minnesota @ (#20) Iowa: Minnesota, 28 Iowa, 27
Indiana @ (#9) Penn State: Penn State, 34 Indiana, 28
Wake Forest @ (#3) Clemson: Clemson, 41 Wake Forest, 27
Arizona @ (#6) Oregon: Oregon, 31 Arizona, 21
Upset: Georgia State, 28 Appalachian State, 24

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