By Stewart Mandel
November 18, 2011
College Football Pickoff: Week 12
Friday, Nov. 18
8 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 2 Oklahoma State (10-0) at Iowa State (5-4)
This one screams "trap game," especially with Joe Tessitore and Rod Gilmore in the booth. (They magically conjure Friday night drama.) But Oklahoma State has been no less dominant on the road than at home this season, and while Iowa State's rushing attack may help slow the pace of the game, Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith will slash through the Cyclones' defense.
Saturday, Nov. 19
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 18 USC (8-2) at No. 4 Oregon (9-1)
There's some sentiment that the Trojans, with their speed at receiver and defensive line, will pose a bigger challenge to the Ducks than Stanford did. Unfortunately for USC, though, star receiver Robert Woods may miss the game with injury. The Ducks' underrated defense will shut down USC's rushing attack while LaMichael James and De'Anthony Thomas run wild.
Noon (ESPN) No. 17 Nebraska (8-2) at No. 20 Michigan (8-2)
Michigan's defensive improvement from last season is staggering. With largely the same players who finished 110th nationally in yards allowed, the Wolverines now sit in the top 20. They should be able to fluster Huskers quarterback Taylor Martinez. Denard Robinson is interception-prone himself, but Nebraska's defense generates little pass rush.
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 5 Oklahoma (8-1) at No. 25 Baylor (6-3)
Oklahoma's offensive approach won't change much without star receiver Ryan Broyles, though Landry Jones' completion percentage might take a hit with his most reliable target out. Jones is still more than capable of torching Baylor's 89th-rated pass efficiency defense. Robert Griffin III is the nation's third-rated passer, but the Sooners usually disrupt opponents' rhythm.
3:30 p.m. ET (FSN) SMU (6-4) at No. 11 Houston (10-0)
Kudos to GameDay for showing the Cougars some love, but this game seemed far more intriguing a month ago before the Mustangs -- once 5-1 -- lost to Southern Miss, Tulsa and Navy. Most surprising: June Jones' normally potent offense has averaged just 9.0 points in those losses. Houston, meanwhile, hasn't scored fewer than 49 points in a game since Sept. 17.
Noon ET (ESPN2) No. 15 Wisconsin (8-2) at Illinois (6-4)
After a torrid 6-0 start, it seems Illinois remembered that it's still coached by Ron Zook. Questions are now hovering about Zook's job security -- questions he literally will not answer. The Illini still have a decent defensive front that can slow down the Russell Wilson/Montee Ball Show, but their offense won't be able to take advantage like Michigan State and Ohio State did.
8 p.m. ET (FX) No. 16 Kansas State (8-2) at Texas (6-3)
Vegas feels Collin Klein and the Wildcats are overachievers who will be brought back to earth against a defense like Texas'. But the Longhorns' offense is an injury-riddled mess. Texas was without its top three running backs for much of last week's 17-5 loss to Missouri and could be this week as well. Quarterback David Ash isn't far enough along to win the game himself.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 21 Penn State (8-2) at Ohio State (6-4)
The best thing that could happen to the Nittany Lions right now is to get out of Happy Valley. Unfortunately, they're going to play an opponent with a top 15 defense. Penn State is averaging just 18.3 points in conference play and won't fare any better against the Buckeyes, whose own offense gets a boost this week as receiver DeVier Posey finally returns from two suspensions.
7:15 p.m. ET (ESPN2) Virginia (7-3) at No. 23 Florida State (7-3)
The surprising Cavaliers have won five of their last six, and they've done it primarily with defense, allowing no more than 21 points in those victories. But they remain fairly limited offensively, and they're now running into an FSU defense that's been absolutely dominant, holding opponents to 85 rushing yards per game and 16.1 points. The 'Noles will cruise.
Noon (ESPNU) Cincinnati (7-2) at Rutgers (7-3)
UPSET SPECIAL: The Bearcats still control their BCS destiny, but things took an ominous turn last week when quarterback Zach Collaros suffered a season-ending injury. His backup, the magnificently named Munchie Legaux, makes his first road start against a Rutgers defense that puts heat on the quarterback. Scarlet Knights receiver Mo Sanu will catch his usual 11 to 13 passes as Rutgers prevails.
Record Last Week: 6-4               Record This Season: 72-38
Week 12 Preview
Source:SI previews the key Week 12 action, including USC-Oregon, Nebraska-Michigan and more.

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