Breaking news, rankings, predictions and analysis all in one place.

2022 College Football Picks: Week Twelve

Zach Charbonnet, UCLA
Current Picks Record: 59-40

Upset: 4-7

Superdogs: 5-6

(#7) USC Trojans @ (#16) UCLA Bruins

Line: USC -1.5

O/U: 76

USC-UCLA is one of the West Coast's premier rivalries, but rarely does a matchup between these two have so much on the line. Not only does a potential trip to the Pac-12 Championship Game hang in the balance, USC still has a shot at the CFB Playoff, although they'll need to impress down the stretch. Going into Westwood and beating the 16th-ranked Bruins would certainly bolster their resume.

At the core of USC's 9-1 start to the season has been one of college football's most potent offenses. The Trojans are averaging over 42 points per game, and they do so with a balanced offensive attack. Quarterback Caleb Williams remains firmly in the Heisman hunt but still needs his so-called "Heisman Moment", which could come against a fierce Bruin defense. A host of former transfers flank Williams on all sides, including Oregon transplant Travis Dye at tailback and a fun receiver corps that includes Jordan Addison (Pittsburgh), Mario Williams (Oklahoma) and Tahj Washington (Memphis). Addison, who won the Biletnikoff last fall, remains one of the most difficult receivers to cover one-on-one in college football. He has a knack for tough contested catches and his downfield ability makes him a constant threat to score. It's a brutal matchup for just about any defense, but I have a feeling UCLA won't be overwhelmed. They've made real strides defensively since the addition of coordinator Bill McGovern; this is a much more physical and disciplined group than we saw in the early Chip Kelly years. They're particularly stout up front and should give Williams some troubles, but their success in stopping the passing could be the deciding factor.

It took awhile for Kelly to get UCLA rolling, but the offense has become a very productive unit under his tutelage. Long-time quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson has been maddening at times during his UCLA career, but he's had a fabulous 2022, with nearly 3,000 yards of total offense and 27 touchdowns. Most importantly, he's taken care of the ball in a way that he didn't early on his career, which has made the Bruins much more consistent on this side of the ball. Thompson-Robinson is always a threat to run, but it's Zach Charbonnet that energizes the ground game, as the former Michigan Wolverine averages over seven yards per carry. He's also an incredibly productive receiver out of the backfield and Kelly can get him the ball in creative ways. The receiver corps is short on big names, but former Duke transfer Jake Bobo has been their best, while Kaz Allen and Logan Loya offer plenty of support. I think the Bruins should be able to move the ball against this Trojan defense, especially if "DTR" can play smart football. USC has improved here, thanks to a front seven that includes sack machine Tuli Tuipulotu and a good 1-2 punch at linebacker in Eric Gentry and Shane Lee. However, they're still prone to getting outplayed along the line and the pass defense is iffy at best. This feels like a golden opportunity for Charbonnet and Thompson-Robinson.

This game lost a bit of intrigue last weekend when Arizona shocked UCLA, but the Bruins would love nothing than spoiling USC's Playoff hopes. And, I think they can do it. USC feels like a very shaky 9-1 team to me and while the offense can put up points, I have real concerns about this defense. Add to that the fact they can on the road, I like the Bruins in the upset.

The Pick: UCLA, 38 USC, 34

(#10) Utah Utes @ (#12) Oregon Ducks

Line: Oregon -2.5

O/U: 63

Oregon looked to be firmly in the CFB Playoff mix before a heartbreaking loss to Washington last weekend. They hope to avoid that loss turning into a losing streak, as they welcome 10th-ranked Utah to Eugene. The Utes have quietly won four in a row since their second loss of the season to UCLA, and a victory here could put them on an inside track towards a second straight Rose Bowl berth.

There's nothing particularly flashy about Utah on either side of the ball, especially offensively. They won't throw the ball all over the field or beat you on the outside with speed, but they're a methodical, consistent group that has had a strong 2022. At the helm has been quarterback Cam Rising, a junior who has 2,225 yards and 19 touchdowns through the air, while adding 335 and six with his legs. He has beat up in Utah's win last over Stanford last weekend, but is listed as probable on the injury report and is expected to play. He's joined in the backfield by a deep stable of backs, spearheaded by Tavion Thomas. Thomas hasn't been quite as effective this fall as he was a year ago, but remains one of the Pac-12's best. Along with him, Jaylon Glover, Micah Bernard, and do-it-all Ja'Quinden Jackson have unleashed a ferocious ground attack after starting off slow at the beginning of the season. Jackson in particular is a fascinating piece of the offense; a former quarterback who has essentially made the transition to tailback and has been extremely effective. Jackson did not play last week and is listed as questionable, but should be a factor if he sees the field. As for pass-catchers, tight end Dalton Kincaid has stepped up in the absence of Brant Kuithe and wide out Devaughn Vele is a real playmaker. Overall, it's a strong enough group that has put up good numbers most of the season, but I am curious how they match up against Oregon's defense. The Ducks boast a very good front seven and the secondary also appears to be coming into its own. They were shredded by Michael Penix and Washington a week ago, but should match up much better against the Utes this Saturday.

Bo Nix has been one of the best stories in college football this season and has added an interesting dynamic to this Duck offense, which couldn't throw the ball down-the-field through much of the Mario Cristobal era. Now, he needs to prove that he can battle through some adversity after the loss last weekend. Nix didn't play bad by any stretch of the imagination, but he wasn't able to quite match what the explosive Washington offense did to to Oregon's defense. The good news for him is that Utah's pass defense has been suspect for most of the season, even with a potential Jim Thorpe Award winner, Clark Phillips III, helping out. In fact, Utah's defense as a whole has been a bit of disappointment for a program that always seems to be very strong on that side of the ball, although they have been better in recent weeks. There's an opportunity for this Duck offense, which has a bunch to like beyond Nix. Mar'Keise "Bucky" Irving is one of my favorite players in college football, Noah Whittington offers plenty of bunch, and the receiver corps is inexperienced but fun to watch. The offensive line should also give them a good shot to move the ball against the Utes, but an important note: two key blockers, Ryan Walk and Alex Forsyth, could both miss the game. The pair are proven commodities up front who left last week's game and their status for Saturday is in doubt.

I picked this game wrong last year not once, but twice! Utah smacked around the Ducks in the regular season and then cruised by them in the Pac-12 Championship Game. However, I believe this Oregon team is significantly better than last year's group. They have a much more impressive offense that should be able to attack Utah vertically and the defense also matches up better. Add in the fact it's in Eugene, I'm rolling with the Ducks in this one.

The Pick: Oregon, 30 Utah, 24

(#1) Georgia Bulldogs @ Kentucky Wildcats

Line: Georgia -22

O/U: 48.5

It's the annual late November "bye week" for the SEC, with most of the league playing cupcakes in one of the final weeks of the regular season. One of the lone exceptions takes place in Lexington, where Kentucky is hoping to recover from a shocking loss to Vanderbilt by toppling the nation's No. 1 team.

The 10-0 Bulldogs continue to decimate everything standing in their path, fresh off a 45-19 dismantling of Mississippi State. Quarterback Stetson Bennett still has an outside shot at a Heisman Trophy run, as the savvy signal-caller continues to be the best QB on the field each and every week. He did throw two interceptions last week and faces a pretty good Kentucky defense, but has more than enough around him to put up points. The Georgia ground game has been a bit disappointing this year, without any back able to take charge. For that reason, the Bulldogs are airing it out more this year than any other season in the Kirby Smart era, with the nation's ninth-ranked pass offense. The tight end duo of Darnell Washington and Brock Bowers is an absolute nightmare to defend, and wide out Ladd McConkey has been the unsung hero. He doesn't blow you away with his athleticism, but the versatile receiver is a chain-mover, and can hurt you on screens, sweeps, or anything else this offense requires of him. Kentucky traditionally has had a good defense under Mark Stoops, one that is usually well-coached, but do they have the pieces in place to contain this offense? Considering Georgia has mauled everybody in their path, with the lone exception being a random stinker against Missouri, it's obviously fair to wonder.

Kentucky's offense has had their moments at times in 2022, but the same problems seem to persist: they can move the ball at a decent rate, but as far as points? The offense is averaging 23.3 PPG, which is good for 96th nationally. Simply put, the Wildcats are going to need to find some ways to get the ball in the end zone, and they happen to face a defense full of superstars. Quarterback Will Levis has been a constant source of doubt from many college football fans due to his high NFL Draft billing, but can he help spring the upset? There's no doubting Levis' arm, and he can also make plays with his legs, but turnovers have been a persistent problem. In 22 games in his Kentucky career, he has exactly 22 interceptions, and now faces a ball-hawking UGA secondary. The Wildcats will undoubtedly try and make things happen with the ground attack and Christopher Rodriguez Jr. has had a strong campaign. With that being said, Kentucky's offensive line has had a surprisingly poor season, and they face Jalen Carter and the Georgia defensive front. Is Rodriguez going to get any holes to run through?

Kroger Field has become a much more hostile environment under Stoops and Kentucky is a respectable program, but I don't see any reason to believe an upset could happen here. On the contrary, the game affords another opportunity for the Bulldogs to try out and tinker with some things before they finish the season with Georgia Tech and LSU in the SEC Championship Game.

The Pick: Georgia, 37 Kentucky, 14

Other Picks

Miami @ (#9) Clemson -- Miami seemed to rid themselves of some demons by beating Georgia Tech last week, but this remains an average-to-bad football team. It's hard to imagine them going into Death Valley and finding a way to win, although this Clemson team isn't exactly lighting the world on fire either.

The Pick: Clemson, 28 Miami, 18

Iowa @ Minnesota -- "The Floyd of Rosedale" is one of the best rivalry games in the sport, but Iowa has dominated this matchup over the last several decades. I'm thinking that could change this year; the Gophers outplayed the Hawkeyes in a close loss last fall and now get a worse Iowa team in Huntington Bank.

The Pick: Minnesota, 20 Iowa, 14

(#4) TCU @ Baylor -- I'm still under the belief somebody is going to get TCU this fall, but will it be Baylor? The Bears looked completely overmatched in a blowout loss to Kansas State last weekend and they don't have the run defense to slow down Kendre Miller and Frogs.

The Pick: TCU, 34 Baylor, 23

(#2) Ohio State @ Maryland -- After a 6-2 start, Maryland has lost two straight and now welcomes the Big Ten's Goliath to College Park. It would take a magical game from Taulia Tagovailoa to spring an upset, which feels highly unlikely against this vastly improved Buckeye defense.

The Pick: Ohio State, 42 Maryland, 20

Upset: Arkansas over (#14) Ole Miss -- Arkansas has faded quickly this year, but it sounds like K.J. Jefferson could be back in action this week. That's huge news for an offense that has been atrocious since his injury and I like their chances at home against an Ole Miss team potentially looking ahead to the Egg Bowl.

The Pick: Arkansas, 28 Ole Miss, 24

Superdogs (covers > 21 point spread): Boston College (+21) @ Notre Dame -- Emmett Morehead has breathed new life into a Boston College team going through a rough season and it's hard to know what to expect from Notre Dame week-in, week-out. I like BC's chances to cover this three-touchdown spread, even in South Bend.

The Pick: Notre Dame, 27 Boston College, 17

No comments:

Theme images by LUGO. Powered by Blogger.