College Football Week 12 Picks: Five Top-25 Matchups Highlight the Weekend

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Georgia vs Auburn college football predictions

After a wild weekend that saw LSU end its losing streak to Alabama and Minnesota prevail over Penn State, Week 12 promises to deliver more fireworks. Five games are showdowns between Top-25 teams: Georgia-Auburn, Navy-Notre Dame, Wake Forest-Clemson, Minnesota-Iowa and Oklahoma-Baylor. Playoff and division stakes are both on the line, with a number of teams looking to play spoiler. Who will win the weekend's 12 biggest games? Our writers and editors' picks are in.

Season-Long Standings

Molly Geary: 92–39 (70.2%)
Max Meyer: 92–39 (70.2%)
Michael Shapiro: 90–41 (68.7%)
Pat Forde: 8–4 (66.7%)
Laken Litman: 87–44 (66.4%)
Ross Dellenger: 85–46 (64.9%)
Lorenzo Arguello: 37–21 (63.8%)

North Carolina at Pittsburgh (Friday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN)


Michael Shapiro picks Pitt: Expect Pitt to earn its first win over North Carolina since the Panthers joined the ACC in 2013, ending a streak of six straight wins for the Tar Heels. Pat Narduzzi's squad is one of the nation’s most stout defenses, and Pitt’s ground-and-pound attack that should keep the ball away from North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell. A win for the Tar Heels would all-but-clinch a bowl appearance with Mercer next on the schedule on Nov. 23. But a loss at Heinz Field will necessitate a win against intrastate rival NC State on Nov. 30 to clinch a bowl in Mack Brown’s first season with the program since 1997. There will be drama in Raleigh to close the regular season two days after Thanksgiving. 

Indiana at No. 4 Penn State (12 p.m. ET, ABC)


Ross Dellenger picks Penn State: Look out for this one. The Hoosiers are in the top 25 for the first time since 1994, and the Nittany Lions are coming off an exhaustive loss in a top-15 showdown at Minnesota. The upset probability seems high, especially with a looming Ohio State on the horizon for the Lions. Still, we'll go with James Franklin's bunch in a close one. Penn State's season isn't over just yet, either. The Lions could conceivably advance to the Big Ten title game if they win out, having to win at Ohio State in the process. 

No. 10 Florida at Missouri (12 p.m. ET, CBS)


Lorenzo Arguello picks Florida: After a hot start to the season, Missouri returns home trying to end a three-game losing streak this week. Fortunately for the Tigers, they’re 5–0 at home in 2019. Unfortunately, they face Florida’s defense Saturday. Getting shut out by Georgia last week after barely scoring against Kentucky and Vanderbilt during the two games prior isn’t exactly the kind of tune up you want when the Gators are coming to town. I’ll take Florida in a low-scoring affair.

Michigan State at No. 14 Michigan (12 p.m. ET, FOX)


Pat Forde Picks Michigan: Michigan State desperately needs something to feel good about this season, and this is pretty much the last chance for that. Quarterback Brian Lewerke's pass efficiency has fallen off a cliff during the Spartans' four-game losing streak, and now he faces a defense that will not make it easy on him. Michigan got up off the mat a few weeks ago, and now it wants to beat a rival on the way toward playing THE rival. 

Tulane at Temple (12 p.m. ET, ESPNU)


Laken Litman picks Temple: Temple is still a contender to win the AAC East, sitting just two games behind first-place Cincinnati, which it plays on the road next week. Before looking ahead, though, the Owls must stop Tulane QB Justin McMillan, who is one of only three quarterbacks in the country to rush for 12 touchdowns or more this season. The Green Wave and its triple option are always a tricky opponent and have six players on the team who have rushed for 200 yards or more. But if Temple wants next week’s game against the Bearcats to mean something, it needs this win this one at home. 

No. 24 Navy at No. 15 Notre Dame (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC)


Ross Dellenger picks Notre Dame: The Irish and Midshipmen might be out of the playoff conversation, but this is an intriguing matchup. Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo has righted the ship after last year's 3–10 debacle, but Brian Kelly's club is just too talented. Notre Dame has an outside shot of reaching a New Year's Six bowl. Without this victory, the Irish won't have much of a shot.

No. 19 Wake Forest at No. 5 Clemson (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)


Molly Geary picks Clemson: The Tigers' dominance of the rest of the ACC is so great that they are 33-point favorites over a team ranked 19th in the country. Making matters worse, the Demon Deacons just lost top receiver Sage Surratt for the season, and are coming off a 19-point road loss to Virginia Tech. Wake Forest QB Jamie Newman is having a big season, but losing a 1,000-yard receiver in Surratt makes things that much tougher as the Deacons go up against Clemson's staunch D in Death Valley. The Tigers haven't given up more than 14 points in a game since their late September scare against UNC.

No. 6 Georgia at No. 11 Auburn (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)


Pat Forde picks Georgia: Ancient, underrated rivalry takes on an important tone this year, with the Bulldogs No. 4 in the latest playoff rankings and the Tigers not out of the hunt despite two losses. Georgia, as has been its custom, played one terrible game (South Carolina) and then righted the ship. Can Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix find some holes in a defense that has played well of late?

Texas at Iowa State (3:30 p.m. ET, FS1)


Michael Shapiro picks Iowa State: Tom Herman and the Longhorns kept their Big 12 title hopes alive with a last-second win against Kansas State last week, but a trip to Ames will end Texas’ chances of appearing in Arlington for the second straight season. Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy will have ample opportunity to shred a Texas secondary that ranks ninth in the conference in pass defense, especially with Longhorns cornerback Jalen Green suspended for the first half. Texas should enter 2020 as a top-20 program, armed with senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger and deeper pool of quality defenders. But as things are currently trending, 2019 will be remembered as a step back following last year’s Sugar Bowl upset over Georgia.

No. 17 Minnesota at No. 18 Iowa (4 p.m. ET, FOX)


Lorenzo Arguello picks Minnesota: Minnesota is riding high after its upset win against Penn State. The Gophers bring a No. 8 College Football Playoff ranking to Iowa City, hoping they can keep climbing toward a spot in the selection committee’s final four. And this date with Iowa is exactly the kind of game that can derail a dream season. Minnesota hasn’t beaten Iowa on the road in its last eight tries. That being said, I have a hard time seeing the Hawkeyes’ offense keeping up with Tanner Morgan & Co. P.J. Fleck keeps rowing the boat to 10–0.

No. 9 Oklahoma at No. 12 Baylor (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)


Laken Litman picks Oklahoma: Is No. 13 Baylor finally due for a loss? Matt Rhule and the Bears keep finding ways to win in the fourth quarter and victories over No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 19 Texas over the next two weeks might finally garner some respect from the CFP selection committee. OU hasn’t looked all that dominant recently, allowing more than 900 yards of total offense combined in a loss to Kansas State and a one-point win over Iowa State. The thing about this game, though, is that OU still has the nation’s top offense and quarterback Jalen Hurts, who leads the Big 12 in completion percentage (73.3%), passer rating (219.68) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (24:4). Baylor might have a tough time finding a way to win this one.

USC at Cal (11 p.m. ET, FS1)


Max Meyer picks Cal: Cal starting QB Chase Garbers has been cleared to play, and if he does end up playing against USC, that is an enormous upgrade. Otherwise, the key showdown in this game will be USC's wideouts against Cal's secondary. Cal just went up against Washington State's Air Raid and did a nice job limiting the Cougars' explosiveness in a 33–20 win. There's been a few instances where teams have faced the USC and Washington State Air Raid offenses in back-to-back weeks, and those defenses have fared better the second time around. Add in the fact that USC has struggled on the road this season and that this game is always circled on Justin Wilcox's calendar following Clay Helton firing him as USC's then-DC, and I think you have a live underdog in Berkeley.