All About Football: Week 12

All About Football with Blaine Fentress

All About Football:  Week 12

Twitter:  @BlaineTrain310
Follow the action with me at #AAFGameday

That clock keeps ticking towards the end of the season.

Hello, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Week 12 of All About Football: The Deluxe Edition.  I am sure you will be able to find a hidden track or two somewhere in this.  And, a reminder, I am the Walrus.

As always, November has shaked out who has a true shot at a national crown and who just didn’t have enough to make it to the end.  LSU looked good for most of the season, but with back-to-back losses, you can cancel the Tigers out.  I was pretty high up on the Pac-12 earlier in the season.  Even with one loss, I thought either Stanford or Utah had a chance to get into the playoffs.  But, with both teams losing last week, I think it is safe to say the West Coast will not have a representative in the Big Four in a few weeks.

A few weeks and we will be starting bowl games, funny how quickly the season has gone yet again.  Let’s dive into last week.

About Last Week

Week 11 Record:  8-5
Overall Blaine Train Record:  111-43

I called Vandy beating Kentucky; talk about a team with no momentum.  Did fine except, I missed the UCLA loss, Stanford loss, Memphis loss (how about Houston STILL undefeated), and the Baylor loss.  Serious big names losing this week, but that is expected when they book the big opponents just at the time the selection committee meets to discuss who should go into the playoffs.  Speaking of which…

 The Big Four (In My Opinion)

1. Clemson
2. Ohio State
3. Alabama
4. Notre Dame

Nothing has changed, with Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, and Notre Dame having little trouble winning games this week.  It is the field behind them that has changed a bit.  Exit Baylor, who had no answer for Oklahoma this week.  This benefits Iowa, who moves into the 5th spot, waiting for that big matchup against Ohio State in the Big 10 Championship game that should propel them into the Top 4.  Oklahoma State will benefit from being the only undefeated team in the Big 12 now, the best chance that conference will get into the Top 4 this season.  Especially if Notre Dame still sits there.

This all could shake out a bit next two weeks, as Ohio State will have a tough three game stretch (Michigan St, Michigan, Iowa) and Notre Dame plays Stanford next week.  So, if Oklahoma St keeps its nose clean, it should make it close.  Then, they would have to weigh something big:  a one-loss Notre Dame or undefeated Oklahoma State.  I would have to side with the Cowboys.  Clemson and Alabama shouldn’t have any real issues getting through the rest of the season, unless the Tide get tripped up by Florida in the SEC Championship game.  And, I know, North Carolina may give Clemson a game this season in the ACC Title game.  I doubt it.

Around the Tri State (Games not too far away; in Central Time)

Indiana @ Maryland ….. Sat, Nov. 21 ….. 11 AM
My Pick:  Indiana

If I had one word to describe the 2015 Indiana Hoosiers Football season, it would be the season of ALMOST.  Almost beat the #1 Ohio State, almost held on against Rutgers, almost knocked off undefeated Iowa, and just last week, almost beat Michigan in double overtime.  Imagine how this team would have looked if they had those four losses back.  But, we don’t deal with almost and Indiana is in a nose-dive, six-game losing streak.  Need to win final two games to be bowl eligible, which they should be.  Quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard have played good in most of the games this season, not their fault for the inconsistent Hoosiers defense.  Shouldn’t have any issues breaking this streak on the road against a 2-8 Maryland squad, just hoping to get to the finish line on this season.  It would then set up Indiana-Purdue with a bowl bid on the line for the Hoosiers, making that game mean a little bit more than just rivalry pride.

Illinois @ Minnesota ….. Sat, Nov. 21 ….. 11 AM, ESPN News
My Pick:  Minnesota

The Illini sits at 5-5, including losing four out of their last five games and one win shy of being bowl-eligible.  Last week, it was ugly for Illinois against Ohio State.  Check this out:  283 yards to 20 yards.  That is the difference between the Buckeyes rushing yards and the Illini rushing yards.  Now, they turn their attention to get that key sixth win against Minnesota, who has to win the last two games to make it to a bowl game.  Would be a great way for Minnesota to honor former coach Jerry Kill and all he has done for this program.  Both teams have around the same numbers for total yards/game, plus total yards allowed/game.  I think it could go either way.  But, I think the need for the Golden Gophers to get that emotional bowl bid.

Western Kentucky vs. Florida International ….. Sat, Nov. 21 ….. 1:30 PM, FCS
My Pick:  Western Kentucky

It has been an amazing season for WKU, with just two regular season games remaining.  With the big game against Marshall looming, the Hilltoppers will have to keep their mind on the game against the Panthers on Saturday.  This season, quarterback Brandon Doughty has thrown for 3590 yards and 34 touchdowns.  No, he won’t be up for a Heisman and probably won’t lead to a first round draft pick, but Doughty has made a great run in college football.   I fully expect him to increase those stats against Florida International, who has given up 399 yards/game this season.  The only thing that may keep WKU from winning the conference will be that defense, which has allowed over 400 yards a game.  Still, on Saturday, this should be an easy win for WKU.

Louisville @ Pittsburgh ….. Sat, Nov. 21 …. 3 PM, ESPN News
My Pick:  Louisville

The Cardinals are winners of four straight games, including a close 38-31 victory over Virginia last week.  Despite the rough start to the season, they have made it to six wins and have a good chance to pick up two more to finish out the regular season.  While quarterback Lamar Jackson is still dealing with ankle issues, I expect we will see more of Kyle Bolin taking snaps this weekend.  Against Virginia, it was running back Brandon Radcliff carrying the load, rushing for 146 yards and two touchdowns.  140 yards/game is what the Pitt Panthers have allowed rushing this season, so I expect it to be plenty of opportunities for him to run on Saturday.

Charlotte @ Kentucky ….. Sat, Nov. 21 ….. 6:30 PM, SEC Network
My Pick:  Kentucky

Oh, last week.  I went with Vandy because Kentucky has shown NO LIFE out there.  And, the Wildcats didn’t disappoint.  In their 21-17 loss to the Commodores, Kentucky QB Patrick Towles went 10-26 for 67 yards and one interception.  Got so bad, they brought in Drew Barker to quarterback and he threw for one touchdown, but also another interception.  Now, in order for Kentucky to make it into a bowl game this season and to avoid a losing 2015 campaign, they have to beat Charlotte, then rival Louisville next weekend.  I am real tempted to go with Charlotte here, excepted the 49ers are 2-8 on the season.  Hilarious to see that Kentucky is a 24-point favorite in this game.  Both teams give up at least 400 yards/game.  The Wildcats will struggle in this game because they have little confidence out there.  And, if they lose this game, coach Mark Stoops may need to get that resume ready to go.

The Top Ten Games of Week 12

10.  #12 Michigan @ Penn State ….. Sat, Nov. 21 ….. 11 AM, ABC
My Pick:  Penn State

Last week, coach John Harbaugh had to watch his team struggle to beat Indiana 48-41 in 2 OTs.  Senior Jake Rudock had his best game as Michigan quarterback this season, throwing for 440 yards and six touchdowns.  He had to get the job done through the air because the running game was kaput.  Rudock ended up being the leading rusher for Michigan, gaining 64 yards on the ground.  The highly-vaulted Michigan defense took this game off, as they allowed Indiana to gain 527 total yards, with 307 yards rushing.  They could get away with that because it was Indiana, who has a penchant of not winning close games this season.  Michigan defense won’t be as lucky if they perform like that against Penn State.  The Nittany Lions are rested after a late-season bye week.  Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg hasn’t put up the numbers that I believe folks thought he might this season, throwing for 1992 yards and 13 touchdowns.  But, it has been the defense that has won games, led by DE Carl Nassib.  The senior leads the nation with 15.5 sacks this season.  This will probably be a low-scoring affair, and I think Rudock will be in for a rude awakening in Happy Valley.

9.  #15 LSU @ Ole Miss ….. Sat, Nov. 21 …… 2:30 PM, CBS
My Pick:  LSU

You can turn out the lights on the Tigers season, the party is over in Baton Rouge.  It would have been one thing if they had just one loss against Alabama.  That would have helped keep them in one of the Big Six bowl games at the end of the season.  However, after losing to Arkansas last week 31-14, the Tigers are just trying to finish the season without any more damage.  Heisman front-runner Leonard Fournette ran for 91 yards and one touchdown in the losing effort, better than what he did against Alabama.  But, with the timing of the NCAA investigation into his family, plus his performance against Bama, and that front-runner status may be in some danger.  So, watch out for Fournette to turn on his jets against the Rebels Saturday.  Ole Miss is wrapping up one of its better offensive years, thanks to quarterback Chad Kelley.  The junior has thrown for 3224 yards and 23 touchdowns in a very tough conference.  If he comes back next season, he should be on the Heisman list early.  But, I think LSU wants to wake up from its slumber and Fournette wants to use the next two games to seal up the Heisman bid.

8.  #20 Northwestern @ #25 Wisconsin ….. Sat, Nov. 21 ….. 2:30 PM, Big Ten Network
My Pick:  Wisconsin

Before the season started, I am sure plenty of people predicted that this game could decide who would fill out one-half of the ticket in the Big Ten Championship game.  Especially after the hot start Northwestern had to begin the season.  But, there was Iowa.  Still, this will be a barnburner up in Madison Saturday.  Last eight years, the home team in this game has won.  The Wildcats will need sophomore Justin Jackson to hit the ground running.  The running back rushed for 116 yards and one touchdown in the 21-14 win over Purdue last week.  It may be tough against a Badgers defense that has allowed only 98 yds/game on the ground this season.  Coming off a bye week, Badgers are hoping to keep the five-game winning streak intact.  Speaking of wins, by the end of the season, QB Joel Stave may become the winningest quarterback in Wisconsin history.  Sure Badgers fans will love hearing that, especially with his struggles on the field this season.  Stave has only thrown for 10 touchdowns and thrown for more than 300 yards twice this season.  Despite that, Wisconsin still wins games, like they will on Saturday, due to the defense shutting down the Wildcats run game.

7.  #21 Memphis @ Temple ….. Sat, Nov. 21 ….. 11 AM, ESPNU
My Pick:  Temple

At one point this season, both teams were undefeated and looking to not only win the AAC crown, but now, both teams have suffered two losses and will be looking to just finish the season on a strong note.  Last week, in the big AAC showdown against undefeated Houston, the Tigers went toe-to-toe.  Quarterback Paxton Lynch went 20-31 for 278 yards and two touchdowns.  Running back Doroland Dorceus rushed for 116 yards and one touchdown.  The Tigers were up 20-7 at halftime.  But, led by backup Kyle Postma, Houston came back and won 35-34.  Gut-wrenching loss for Memphis, who will now need to head to Philly to take down a successful Temple team.  In their first season in the AAC, the Owls still seem to be heading to the Championship game against Houston.  However, last week, a 44-23 loss to South Florida has brought them back down to Earth.  They still sit in first place in AAC East and still control their own destiny, but they will need to get past a team that has seen a great season meet a brick wall.  After losing two straight, Memphis may be heading for to another slugfest against Temple that might lead to defeat.  I am going, in a squeaker, Temple over Memphis.

6.  Boston College vs. #4 Notre Dame ….. Sat, Nov. 21 …… 6:30 PM, NBC Sports
My Pick:  Notre Dame

This game is being played at Fenway Park in Boston.  Hopefully, they have changed where the field is because, last time a football or soccer match was played there, the Green Monster was right up to the corner.  Imagine running into that after a touchdown.  The Fighting Irish know that Oklahoma State is breathing down their necks for that fourth spot in the playoffs.  Iowa and Ohio State will cancel one or the other out, plus Clemson and Alabama have easy schedules the rest of the way.  So, this might be the nail-bitter when it comes to the last team in.  With all the injuries that took place at the beginning of the season, it is amazing to see Notre Dame with just one loss this late in the year.  Especially, when that one loss is to the number one team in the country.  Quarterback DeShone Kizer, the second-string going into the season, has amassed 2042 yards and 16 touchdowns this season.  Kizer has also rushed for 338 yards and eight touchdowns.  A wide receiver that you will be see playing on Sundays in the future is Will Fuller.  The junior has caught for 937 yards and 12 touchdowns.  However, the Golden Eagles defense is nothing to sneeze at.  They are ranked #1 in total defense.  On the season, B. C. has only allowed 164 passing yds/game, 71 rushing yds/game, and 14 pts/game.  This maybe that one trap, ahead of the big showdown against Stanford next week, that could trip Notre Dame and open the door for the Big 12 to FINALLY be in this thing.  However, I expect Kizer to keep finding Fuller and take advantage of a weak Golden Eagles offense.  Notre Dame gets out of Boston with the win.

5.  California @ #11 Stanford ….. Sat, Nov. 21 ….. 9:30 PM, ESPN
My Pick:  Stanford

Speaking of the Cardinal, the BIG GAME is here once again on Saturday.  Funny how it was in this game that we had a play come out of it known as, “the band is on the field” play.  That is what we call it when a desperate team, after a kickoff, with no time left, try to find a way to score.  Last week, the Cardinal lost a nail-bitter to Oregon, 38-36.  In a game where both teams had a combined 942 yards of total offense, plus RB Christian McCaffrey rushing for 147 yards and one touchdown and QB Kevin Hogan passing for 304 yards and two touchdowns, it came down to a missed two-point conversion with just 10 seconds left on the clock that could have tied the game.  Now, they have to get past it and get ready for the Golden Bears.  Cal QB Jared Goff has thrown an insane 3324 yards and 30 touchdowns this season.  It has also been his 13 interceptions that has lead California to be at 6-4 on the season.  The Cardinal have a big two game stretch that includes Notre Dame next week, before playing for the Pac 12 Championship and, they still may have a little chance at getting into the playoffs.  But, they need to win out in order for that to possibly happen.  Should be a Cardinal win on Saturday.

4.  UCLA @ #13 Utah ….. Sat, Nov. 21 ….. 2:30 PM, FOX
My Pick:  Utah

IF…UCLA had won against Washington State and Utah still lost in double overtime to Arizona last week, this game would have been for the Pac-12 South ticket in the championship game and a chance, small one, that they could have backed their way into the Playoffs.  However, this game may still go a long way to decide who possibly faces Stanford in three weeks.  The Utes are still recovering from playing against Arizona QB Amu Solomon, who was primarily THE OFFENSE for the Wildcats last week, until an injury knocked him out of the game.  Backup QB Jerrard Randall completed just one pass, but it was the game-winning touchdown in the second overtime for Arizona to upset Utah.  The Utes will have to put this loss behind them as they host the Bruins, who played a close one against the Cougars last week.  UCLA QB Josh Rosen was 33-57 for 340 yards, but no touchdowns.  Losing to Washington State 31-27 should have knocked UCLA out of the Pac-12 title picture but, if they beat Utah and USC, they will be in the championship game.  And, while the playoff birth won’t be a possibility, a birth in the Rose Bowl would be a great consolation prize for either team.  I think UCLA will have a hard time stopping Utah RB Devontae Booker this week, who is averaging 126 yards/game.  It will be a fun one, but I am going with Utah in this one.

3.  #18 TCU @ #7 Oklahoma ….. Sat, Nov. 21 ….. 7 PM, ABC
My Pick:  Oklahoma

All of a sudden, despite the one, horrible loss to Texas earlier in the season, the Oklahoma Sooners are right in the middle of the playoff chase and TCU, a team that was figured to be in the mix before their game against Baylor, is suddenly out of the picture.  Amazing.  So many great matchups in this one.  Sooners QB Baker Mayfield vs. TCU QB Trevone Boykin.  Sooners RB Samaje Perine vs. TCU RB Aaron Green.  Sooners WR Sterling Shepard vs. TCU WR Josh Doctson.  Both teams have scored over 44 points per game.  Both teams have allowed around 340 yards/game on defense this season.  Despite having the one loss, you can see how far back the selection committee feels TCU is in the playoff chase this season.  Meanwhile, the Sooners may control their own destiny to not only win the Big 12 title, but to get past Ok. State and Notre Dame to be in the four slot in the playoffs.  And, if I was Clemson, I would probably not want to face a team like Oklahoma in the semis.  But, back to this week.  With talk that Baker Mayfield may now be a contender in the Heisman race, and how hot the Sooners have been playing as of late, I expect them to notch another big win this week and set up for a HISTORIC Bedlam game next week.

2.  #10 Baylor @ #6 Oklahoma State …. Sat, Nov. 21 ….. 6:30 PM, Fox
My Pick:  Oklahoma State

When Baylor lost Seth Russell a few weeks back, you knew the Bears were going to take a bit of a hit.  But, with all that talent on that team, you also knew they were going to find a way to win.  Last week, Baylor QB Jarrett Stidham threw for 257 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions in the 44-34 loss to the Sooners.  Stidham had issues finding the true playmaker on the Bears, WR Corey Coleman.  Colman had a season-low 51 yards and was held to no touchdowns for the first time this season.  Meanwhile, last week, the Cowboys ended up in a slugfest against Iowa State.  Down 10 points at the end of the third quarter, Ok. State scored two big touchdowns in the fourth and held the Cyclones to 28 total yards in the fourth quarter, including a key interception by Cowboys Jordan Sterns w/ 1:38 left in game to seal the deal for Ok. State.  Now, they host Baylor ahead of Bedlam against Oklahoma next week.  Tough two game stretch.  But, if the Cowboys are serious about getting into the playoffs, they need to win against the Bears next week.  I feel that the winner of Bedlam will be the ONLY chance of the Big 12 to crack the playoffs this season.

1. #9 Michigan State @ #3 Ohio State ….. Sat, Nov. 21 ….. 2:30 PM, ABC
My Pick:  Ohio State

It is safe to say that within the next three weeks, we will truly know if Ohio State deserves to be in the Top Four or the selection committee was keeping them up there longer than they needed to be.  This game was shaping to be the a battle of undefeated teams, with the winner in the Big Ten slot for the playoffs before taking on Iowa in the Big Ten Championship game.  But, the Spartans slipped up at the hands of Nebraska a couple of weeks ago and now they sit four teams back of getting into the playoffs.  This will be the first tough challenge for Ohio State this season.  The Spartans defense has allowed only 121 yards rushing/game.  So, expect Buckeyes RB Ezekiel Elliott to have some troubles on Saturday.  Michigan State will also be having issues scoring on the Buckeyes, as Ohio State has only allowed 13.8 points/game.  Buckeyes QB J.T. Barrett came back from suspension to throw for 150 yards and one touchdown in the win against Illinois last week.  It should be real interesting to see how he performs against a tougher defense, like Michigan State.  If the Spartans find a way to win this game, it will propel them back into the Big Ten Championship, plus cause havoc for the Buckeyes.  So much riding on this game, have to think that the Buckeyes will find a way to win.

NFL Week 11 Express

Last Week:   8-6
Blaine Train Season Record:  86-61

Hey, I can pat myself on the back for the fact that I had Tampa beating Dallas.  I am fully convinced they will lose all their games before Tony Romo comes back, which may still not be too late for them to make a run at getting the NFC East crown.  It is that weak of a division this season, second to the thing called the AFC South.  Probably won’t be picking Broncos this week, with Peyton Manning out due to injury.  One will have to wonder if we just saw him play his last NFL game of his career.  We are down to two undefeated teams, New England and Carolina, thanks to a weird Monday Night Football game that saw Cincinnati just sleep their way to a 10-6 loss.  Yikes.

Thursday, Nov. 19
Titans @ Jaguars ….. 7:30 PM
My Pick:  Jaguars

Tennessee came back to Earth yesterday in a loss against Carolina.  Still a long road ahead after a crummy start.  Jacksonville should still be happy that they aren’t that far behind Indy for the AFC South title.  And, they continue to improve week after week.

Sunday, November 2
Raiders @ Lions ….. Noon
My Pick:  Raiders

How Detroit got their second win against Green Bay will never be answered.  But, now they host an Oakland team that is looking to bounce back after two straight losses this season. They are still in the Wildcard race, believe it or not.

Colts @ Falcons ….. Noon
My Pick:  Colts

No Luck for the next couple of weeks, so it is Hasselbeck time for Indy.  Nice to have a quality second string QB.  Atlanta is looking to rebound off a horrible loss to San Francisco last week.  What has happened to Atlanta?

Jets @ Texans ….. Noon
My Pick:  Texans

Hey, Houston defense played a great game against Cincinnati to get a big win that has tied them for the LEAD in the AFC South.  4-5 and they have a share of the lead.  Isn’t America great?  Jets offensive magic from earlier in the season is starting to run out.

Buccaneers @ Eagles …… Noon
My Pick:  Buccaneers

I called Tampa beating Dallas, thought I would pat myself on the back once again.  Bucs are getting it done with RB Doug Martin and QB Jameis Winston is still getting better.  Philly QB Sam Bradford still not winning any friends in Eagle country, especially after losing to Miami 20-19 last week.

Broncos @ Bears ….. Noon
My Pick:  Bears

There will be no Peyton in Denver for a bit.  Enter Brock Osweiler, who will finally get the chance to prove that he could be the man to replace Manning.  Chicago has quietly been getting better, with two wins on the road.  Should be an interesting game.

Rams @ Ravens ….. Noon
My Pick:  Rams

St. Louis has fallen on their faces in the last two weeks, hoping to rebound against a very weak Baltimore team this season.  Seriously, I don’t know if the Ravens will make any big improvements this season and the seat will get hotter for John Harbaugh

Cowboys @ Dolphins ….. Noon
My Pick:  Dolphins

Tony Romo is expected to finally return this week and Dallas can’t be any happier to see him back on the field.  They didn’t win a single game with him gone.  Good news, despite the 7 game losing streak, they are still only two losses back of the NFC East lead.  Miami rebound back with a good win against Philly.  Should be a fun one.

Washington @ Panthers ….. Noon
My Pick:  Panthers

Carolina had a close one against Tennessee for two and a half quarters last week, but they remembered who they were and Cam Newton just dominated the rest of the game.  Washington buried New Orleans last week and now, it looks like Desean Jackson may be asserting himself into the top wide receiver spot.  But, too much Panthers.

Chiefs @ Chargers ….. 3 PM
My Pick:  Chiefs

With Denver falling back to Earth with a new quarterback, possibly, now maybe the time for Kansas City to start to shine.  Winners of three straight, Alex Smith has done a great job taking up the reigns for a lesser running game.  San Diego is getting ready to move that team to L.A. soon.

Packers @ Vikings ….. 3 PM
My Pick:  Packers

This game will be for the NFC North lead.  Minnesota leads Green Bay by one game and the Packers know that if this losing streak continues, there is a good chance that they will start losing the ability to win the division.  Can Teddy Bridgewater win his first BIG game of the season?  Probably not.

49ers @ Seahawks ….. 3 PM
My Pick:  Seahawks

Who has been the more underwhelming this season?  Seattle, who has produced little on offense this season?  Or San Fran, who thinks being 3-6 is a cause for celebration.  Bet both fanbases are banging their heads, wondering how it went wrong.

Bengals @ Cardinals ….. 7:30 PM
My Pick:  Cardinals

Meanwhile, at the top of the NFC West sits Arizona, winners of three straight.  And, with a wounded Cincinnati traveling west after a short week of rest following a horrible loss, it will be interesting  to see if Andy Dalton will be able to rebound back and play better on Sunday Night.

Monday, November 23
Bills @ Patriots …… 7:30 PM
My Pick:  Patriots

Wonder who should I go with here?  Actually, it might be a tougher win for New England with no Edelman.  But, Buffalo will need to figure out who on offense will be able to get past the Pats D and if they can stop Gronk.  Possibly not.

So, there you have it.  Week 12 is up and running.  Hope everyone has a great weekend and let’s do this all again next week.  Until then, have a good one.

Blaine Train OUT!!!!!! 

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