FOX Sports Betting Analyst
Where are the upsets in college football this season?
Is this the week of upset?
There’s been 100 games with the preseason top 15 teams checking in as 10-point or more favorites. The favorites are 98-2 straight up (SU).
RELATED: College football Week 12 By The Numbers
This feels like it could be a shake-up week, and it might start with a Pac-12 game.
Let’s dive into my picks for Week 12.
(All times ET Saturday)
No. 5 Washington @ No. 11 Oregon State (7:30 p.m., ABC)
All right, folks, you’re going to help me work through my thoughts on this game. I’m going to start with the non “football” stuff before I talk about this matchup on the field.
The Beavers have lost a single home game since the beginning of the 2021 season, a 17-14 loss to USC last season. A closer look at their home/road splits over the last two seasons gives an eye-opening look at their home success.
Home: 6-1 with an average scoring margin of 36.3-17.85
Away: 3-2 with an average scoring margin of 26.2-28.4
Home: 5-0 with an average scoring margin of 40–12.8
Away: 3-2 with an average scoring margin of 35.8–28.2
Their offense is slightly worse on the road, while the defense has regressed big time away from Reser Stadium. This can be explained by the quality of opponents home and away.
Last season, Oregon State played offensive-friendly teams Fresno State, Utah and Washington on the road, while only playing Oregon at home.
This season, the Beavers played Washington State, Arizona and Cal on the road, while getting Utah, UCLA and Stanford at home. When the Beavers played Utah, their offense was scoring less than Iowa.
UCLA is 71st in points per drive, and the Cardinal are in the 100s. Now Washington comes to town with its highly potent offense, which is fifth in points per drive. I don’t know if Oregon State has the secondary to stop the Huskies wide receivers.
The Beavers are 70th in plays over 20-plus yards in the air. It might be easy to say Reser Stadium’s environment is so loud it will disrupt the Huskies, but this group went to Autzen and won last season. UW won at USC this year. I don’t know how much crowd noise matters to Washington’s offense.
RJ Young breaks down Washington-Oregon State ahead of Week 12
The Huskies have won 17 straight games, eight of which are won by eight points or fewer. Another three games were by 10 points or fewer, so 11 of 17 games were by 10 points or fewer.
Their games are close, especially this season, because of their defense. Washington’s D is 103rd in stopping opponents on third down. The Huskies are 112th in havoc rate, 123 in tackle success rate and 133rd in sack rate. They do have players who get to the quarterback but struggle to finish with a sack.
The Oregon State offense is a machine. The Beavers run the ball extremely well, with the third-best rushing success rate, and have two running backs averaging more than 5.8 yards per carry.
At his best, quarterback DJ Uiagalelei is steady in the play-action passing game but has only completed 58% of his passes. He’s still prone to some bad throws, but it doesn’t hurt the offense much.
Oregon State will also rotate in true freshman Aiden Chiles, who looks like he’s the future of the program. Against defenses like Washington, OSU scored 21 against Utah, 36 against UCLA, and 24 against Arizona. The Beavers should get into the high 20s against UW, maybe even the low 30s.
So here’s my dilemma with this game: Sharps are on the Beavers. The Beavers play much better at home. Washington is sort of due for a loss.
But what does that mean in reality?
There’s a quality to winning football games and Washington has beaten three ranked teams this season. Oregon State’s best win is at home against Utah before the Utes figured out their offense. I think the Huskies are better, and I’m taking them to win this game.
PICK: Washington (+2.5) to lose by fewer than 2.5 points (or win outright)
Bo Nix, Michael Penix Jr. on Joel Klatt’s Heisman leaders
No. 6 Oregon @ Arizona State (4 p.m., FOX and FOX Sports App)
This feels like an Under game in the desert for many reasons. First off, the Ducks are in a look-ahead spot, playing in a state where horrors happen in November. Oregon hosts Oregon State next weekend with plenty at stake.
Avenging a loss to the Beavers in the final Civil War contest before Oregon leaves for the Big Ten, plus a win, would get it one step closer to the playoffs. It is focused on Arizona State, but it would be naïve to believe the players don’t know what next weekend holds. Playing in Arizona in November as a ranked team has not been pleasant for my Ducks. A torn ACL for Dennis Dixon in Arizona ended a possible title game opportunity for Oregon in 2007.
A sixth-ranked Oregon team lost to the Sun Devils in this exact week in 2019, a game won by Arizona State true freshman QB Jayden Daniels (now at LSU). Things tend to go weird for the Ducks in this spot, which will affect scoring opportunities for a team that has scored more than 30 points in every game this season.
Plus, the Sun Devils defense is better than it gets credit for. It has allowed more than 27 points just twice this season by limiting explosive pass plays. It has only allowed 22 passing plays of more than 20 yards. Sun Devils coach Kenny Dillingham was the Oregon offensive coordinator last season, and he knows Ducks quarterback Bo Nix well. I expect them to have something ready for Oregon’s offense.
Arizona State’s offense is in a bad way because of offensive line and quarterback injuries. That has not stopped the Sun Devils from being creative. Last weekend, the Sun Devils ran 18 reps of a swinging gate and other various plays with their tight end and running back playing quarterback.
Running Cameron Skattebo threw a touchdown out of the Wildcat formation last week, but the Sun Devils only scored 17 points. ASU scored three the previous week and seven at Washington just a month ago.
When the Sun Devils play against a decent defense, points are hard to come by. Oregon’s defense is 19th in points per drive and 28th in third down success rate. The pass rush recorded 26 pressures against USC on Saturday, and it feels that production can be matched this weekend.
I have the score at 31-10. Oregon wins, and it doesn’t cover, but gets out of Arizona healthy and ready for the Beavers.
PICK: Under 53.5 points scored by both teams combined
Joel Klatt reacts to the Week 12 CFP rankings
No. 22 Utah @ No. 17 Arizona (2:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
Wagering the Under on the Utes was extremely profitable for weeks. Utah games went Under the total for the first five weeks, with none combining for even 40 points.
After the bye, they’ve gone Over in four of the next five games, often clearing the number by multiple scores. The only game that didn’t go Over was against Oregon, which just needed one more score by either team to get there.
Utah’s offense is beat up and lacking consistent dynamic play at quarterback, but the Utes are piecing it together — 34 points against Cal, 32 against USC and 28 at Washington, where they didn’t score a second-half point.
Arizona’s defense is improved, as the Wildcats are 49th in points per drive, but they don’t stop the run all that well and allow a ton of explosive passing plays. Arizona is 107th at allowing passing plays over 20 yards. Utah should be able to move the ball and get into the upper 20s.
On the flip side, Arizona’s offense has been humming since the quarterback change, and when Utah has played like offenses, it allows points. The Wildcats are seventh in yards per offensive drive and 23rd in points per drive. The Ducks and Huskies, who profile just a tad better than Arizona’s offense, scored 35 against Utah in both games.
I could see Arizona getting into the 30s against Utah. The Wildcats have outstanding offensive tackles who should be able to slow down the edge rushers, Arizona has excellent receivers, and the Utes don’t have the secondary to stop the Wildcats.
I’m taking the Over, as I see the points into the 50s.
PICK: Over 45 points scored by both teams combined
Will No. 3 Michigan defeat Maryland without head coach Jim Harbaugh?
No. 3 Michigan @ Maryland (noon, FOX and FOX Sports App)
This is the Super Bowl for the Terrapins, and I will wager they start fast with the Wolverines primed for a letdown. Michigan beat Penn State in Happy Valley in a highly emotional game with the Jim Harbaugh suspension looming. Now the Wolverines head back on the road, and it’s possible by the time you read this that Harbaugh is back on the sideline after a court ruling.
Will that “us against the world” fight be there against Maryland? Also, Michigan has an upcoming date with Ohio State for a playoff spot and I could see them start slowing against the Terps.
It’s worth noting Maryland played best against Penn State and Ohio State in the first half before those games ended in blowouts.
PICK: Maryland +10.5 first half
Geoff Schwartz is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.
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