- It may not be the deepest slate of games, but Wisconsin-Michigan and USC-UCLA should have your Saturday bookended with intra-conference intrigue.
Few fans could be blamed for looking past this weekend’s marquee games to the final full week of the regular season, when rivalry games and national title implications abound, but any team that gets ahead of itself in Week 12 could be the subject of an embarrassing upset. Unbeatens Wisconsin and Miami need to take care of business in early-afternoon home games against stout conference foes, and around the same time the race for the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bowl spot could gain some clarity as UCF and Memphis set the tone for the final weeks of the AAC schedule.
Below, our experts make their picks for Week 12’s biggest games, taking turns defending their selections.
Chris Johnson: 101–35 (74.3%)
Molly Geary: 97–39 (71.3%)
Andy Staples: 93–43 (68.3%)
Eric Single: 90–46 (66.2%)
Bruce Feldman: 83–43 (65.9%)
Scooby Axson: 80–42 (65.6%)
Joan Niesen: 84–52 (61.8%)
Michigan at Wisconsin (Noon ET, FOX)
Bruce Feldman picks Wisconsin: This is the Badgers’ first big test. The Wolverines’ D is pretty nasty—it’ll be much tougher for freshman running back Jonathan Taylor to get rolling, and quarterback Alex Hornibrook can’t afford the two pick-sixes he threw last week against Iowa—but I’m still going with Wisconsin, who was at its best defensively last week in snuffing out the Hawkeyes’ offense. I expect more of the same this weekend in Madison; Paul Chryst and the Badgers have had this game circled for a long time in light of the nationwide skepticism about their merits as a playoff contender.
Texas at West Virginia (Noon ET, ESPN)
Andy Staples picks West Virginia: Texas needs a win to get bowl eligible, but that win probably will have to come next weekend against Texas Tech.
Virginia at Miami (Noon ET, ABC)
Joan Niesen picks Miami: Call me converted when it comes to the Hurricanes. I was skeptical for much of the season due to Miami’s soft slate of opponents, but Virginia Tech and Notre Dame are both good. Really good. I’m picking Miami to win out.
UCF at Temple (Noon ET, ESPNU)
Eric Single picks UCF: Don’t be surprised if this one is closer than the experts think, with UCF heading to Philadelphia for an early-afternoon matchup against a team that needs to win out to become bowl-eligible. The War on I-4 against USF is just six days away, and it will be difficult not to look ahead.
SMU at Memphis (Noon ET, ESPN News)
Chris Johnson picks Memphis: The Tigers have lost to only one team this season, UCF (on Sept. 30 in Orlando). If they keep winning, they’ll get a chance to avenge that defeat in the American Athletic Conference title game. They’re going to keep winning.
Kentucky at Georgia (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)
Scooby Axson picks Georgia: Fresh off of a spanking at the hands of Auburn in which they failed to run the ball, the Bulldogs could do themselves a favor by getting true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm more used to throwing on a regular basis. Kentucky is one of the nation's worst at defending the pass, giving up 282.3 yards a game.
Navy at Notre Dame (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC)
Joan Niesen picks Navy: As the SI staffer who has made the majority of the year’s bizarre picks against Notre Dame, what’s another? If Josh Adams isn’t healthy and the Irish’s quarterback situation is as dire as it was last week, Navy has a real chance here.
Syracuse at Louisville (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
Chris Johnson picks Louisville: Wake Forest gashed Syracuse for 64 points in a win last week. Lamar Jackson and Louisville may not hit that number, but they'll come close, and the Cardinals’ defense will do enough to rein in the Orange's attack.
UAB at Florida (4 p.m. ET, SEC Network)
Andy Staples picks UAB: This isn’t Georgia Southern Part II. If the depleted, coach-just-got-fired Gators win this one, that would be the upset.
Texas A&M at Ole Miss (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Eric Single picks Ole Miss: We need to talk about Jordan Ta’amu, the junior college transfer who has stepped in for the injured Shea Patterson and kept the Rebels humming on offense. Kevin Sumlin can’t afford to lose this game—but then again, that’s been the case for several games the Aggies have dropped this fall.
UCLA at USC (8 p.m. ET, ABC)
Bruce Feldman picks USC: The Bruins’ defense has been woeful this season, and they’re giving up 545 yards a game in November. I think San Darnold, who has been much sharper since the Notre Dame debacle with seven touchdown passes and just one interception in the past three games, lights up UCLA. And the Bruins—Josh Rosen notwithstanding—don’t have enough firepower to keep up.
Utah at Washington (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Scooby Axson picks Washington: The Huskies still have plenty to play for—a shot at a conference title, and from there, a New Year’s Six bowl—and have been way better at home than on the road. That’s bad news for Utah, which has lost all three of its games against the Pac-12 North this season.