CFB Staff Picks: Week 12
By WZBC writers
As the College GameDay van heads down to Central Florida, snow blankets the grass the GameDay set stood on just a week ago. Week 12 finally puts UCF in the national spotlight, bringing GameDay to campus for the matchup with No. 24 Cincinnati. Outside of that, there aren’t too many ranked versus ranked matchup, but there are some intriguing destinations (see below). Here are the five most important games of the week and our picks.
Yale at Harvard (at Fenway Park)
#12 Syracuse at #3 Notre Dame (at Yankee Stadium)
#20 Boston College at Florida State
#24 Cincinnati at #11 UCF
#16 Iowa State at #15 Texas
Nic: Harvard 28 – Yale 17
Bryan: Harvard 24 – Yale 14
This Saturday, Harvard and Yale will renew their historical rivalry for 135thtime at one of the most historic venues in all of sports, Fenway Park. The Bulldogs were gashed by Princeton for 59 points last week, and although Yale has emerged victorious in the last two meetings, and I expect Harvard to buck that trend and pick up the win.
Bryan: Notre Dame 31 – Syracuse 17
I feel that both teams in this matchup are pretty overrated, but the return of Ian Book will be enough to propel the Irish to victory in this one. Syracuse being ranked #12 in the country with only one win over a ranked opponent and a loss to Pittsburgh baffles me, and although they have played with heart all year, Notre Dame is simply too hot and too talented to falter in this one. The Fighting Irish will be just one win away from securing an undefeated regular season for the first time since 2012.
Bryan: Boston College 35 – Florida State 21
Although Florida State has been pathetic this year, one needs to consider that all of their loses (with the exception of Syracuse) were to teams that were ranked at the time. The Seminoles must win out to gain bowl eligibility, but BC will likely dash those aspirations so long as Anthony Brown suits up. If not, the Eagles still have a punchers chance to win this one if AJ Dillon can get it going on the ground. I’ll take BC by a few touchdowns under the presumption that Brown plays., but if not, this one could go either way.
Bryan: UCF 28 – Cincinnati 24
UCF finally will be tested against a ranked opponent, and I can’t wait to see how this one shakes out. I would be picking Cincinnati in this one if they were at home, but the home crowd and College Gameday atmosphere in Orlando gives UCF an advantage. The Bearcats will give the Knights a scare, but I anticipate that Mackenzie Milton will make some big throws in route to a UCF victory, giving their CFP hopes some more credence.
Bryan: Texas 27 – Iowa State 20
Texas is coming off a hard fought victory on the road against Texas Tech, and they face another tough task this week against the Iowa State Cyclones. Fortunately for the Longhorns, they will be at Memorial Stadium, and it’s no secret that Iowa State is a different team away from home. Sam Ehlinger will continue to shine, leading the Longhorns to a much needed victory after excruciating defeats in two of their last three games.
JD: Harvard 27 – Yale 23
What was once the biggest game on the college football calendar, literally “The Game”, is now just another game. Despite the unique venue, there isn’t much to see in this game. I honestly couldn’t tell you anything about these two teams. They’re both 5-4 overall and 3-3 in conference, so I cant just pick the team with the better record. The only bench mark I have is that Harvard beat Holy Cross and Yale lost to Holy Cross. So the Crimson it is.
JD: Notre Dame 38 – Syracuse 24
There is more riding on this game than meets the eye. Syracuse can’t win the ACC, but, like BC a few weeks ago, the Orange are a team on the outside who could benefit from a lot of chaos. If Syracuse can win out, the program would add two more wins over ranked teams to its resume and prove that hanging with Clemson wasn’t a fluke. With Ian Book and Anthony Brown not at 100 percent, it’s certainly possible. That said, they won’t. In fact, (spoiler alert for those who want to read my Syracuse-BC pick next week) the Orange will lose out.
JD: Boston College 21 – Florida State 17
BC is better than FSU, but Brown and AJ Dillon won’t be healthy, if they even play at all. If EJ Perry has to start at QB, I’m confident we’ll see an expanded playbook compared to last week against Clemson. And if AJ Dillon is out, mark it down that Travis Levy will out-rush Cam Akers. BC’s defense looked so good against the potent Tigers offense that it’s hard to imagine FSU mustering much offense.
JD: UCF 42 – Cincinnati 20
UCF is going to win because that’s what they do. Instead of telling you why they are going to win, I want to Gove a scenario that may make the committee consider the Knights for the Playoffs. Alabama wins out, beating Georgia in the SEC title game. West Virginia and Oklahoma split the series when they play each other next week and in the Big 12 Championship. Ohio State beats Michigan and loses to Northwestern in the Big 10 Championship. Washington State doesn’t win out. Notre Dame wins out. Then you’d have three undefeated teams guaranteed spots. The fourth spot would come down to undefeated UCF and a bunch of 2-loss Power Five teams. It’s kind of sad that all this still has to happen for a team that hasn’t lost in around two years to even get consideration for a Playoff spot.
JD: Texas 45 – Iowa State 37
Oklahoma and West Virginia should meet in the Big 12 championship game a week after the two clash on Black Friday, but both the Longhorns and the Cyclones have an outside shot of sneaking into the game. The loser of this game is effectively eliminated from title contention, and the winner will await Oklahoma-WVU part one in the hopes that there’s no part two. A victorious Texas would root for the Mountaineers and the Cyclones, if they win, would root for the Sooners. It’s a whole confusing process to get to the title game that will be more clearly defined next week. Enough with hypotheticals, Texas will win. I know I said a few weeks ago that I didn’t believe in the Longhorns, but they earned my respect in the WVU game.