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Fearless Rick's 2011-12 College Football Week 14 - Early Games

Rick Gagliano | December 1-3, 2011

All times Eastern - Click here for late games.

Thursday, December 1

8:00 pm West Virginia (-1 1/2, 55) at South Florida - West Virginia needs to win here and a win on Saturday by Cincinnati over Connecticut to force a three-way tie for the Big East title. Louisville is already in at 5-2 in the conference; the Mountaineers and Bearcats are 4-2.

The trouble with this scenario is that South Florida, despite their 5-6 record, has one of the best defenses in the conference, allowing an even 22 points per game and just 105.5 yards per game rushing.

The Mountaineers are coming off a comeback, 21-20 win over Pitt last week to put them in place for a possible championship and a BCS bowl.

South Florida has lost four of its last five, though all of the games have been close, losing by three points to Cincinnati, Rutgers and Miami. Last week Louisville beat them by 10, 34-24. Their lone win over the past month was a 37-17 win at Syracuse, but a win here would make the Bulls bowl eligible.

Prediction: Bulls 27 Mountaineers 24

Friday, December 2

7:00 pm Northern Illinois (-3 1/2, 70) at Ohio - Oddsmakers are expecting a high-scoring affair in the MAC championship game, and not without reason. Both teams are 9-3 on the year. Northern Illinois scores at a 39.6 points per game pace; Ohio puts up an average of 31.9.

Even though the Huskies are favored slightly, Ohio is at home and the key stat is that the Huskies are is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games when playing the Bobcats.

Ohio also has a ten-point scoring advantage on defense, allowing 22 points per game to the Huskies' 32.

Ohio is riding a five game win streak. Northern Illinois has reeled off seven in a row - all within the conference - after opening MAC play with a 48-41 loss at Central Michigan on October 1. This has all the makings of a very close call.

Prediction: Bobcats 36 Huskies 34

8:00 pm UCLA at Oregon (-31 1/2, 65) - Well, due to USC being ineligible for any post-season play, the inaugural PAC-12 championship game is something of a joke, though the Bruins are surely going to take their task seriously, as will the Ducks, because the winner gets an automatic BCS bowl bid.

The question is not which team will win the game - Oregon is a heavy favorite for good reasons - but by how much the Ducks will win. UCLA, despite going 6-6 and 5-4 in the conference, has had some ugly losses, including 49-20 to Texas, 45-19 to Stanford, 48-12 to Arizona and last week's 50-0 loss to USC.

The Ducks lost only to the Trojans and USC (by three points), so they should rise up for a huge, blowout win.

Prediction: Ducks 48 Bruins 14

--- Story continues below ---

Saturday, December 3

12:00 pm Southern Miss at Houston (-12 1/2, 71) - The 12-0 Houston Cougars can continue an undefeated season and possibly score enough to give QB Case Keenum a shot at the Heisman Trophy, if they can overcome the Golden Eagles in the Conference USA championship game.

Southern Miss has stumbled only twice, both within the conference - to Marshall (26-20) and two weeks ago at UAB, 34-31. The Golden Eagles zipped through the rest of their schedule with relative ease, finishing up with a 44-7 win over Memphis last week.

Houston is heavily favored as they have the highest-scoring offense in the nation, at 52.7 points per game and can score from anywhere on the field. Southern Miss counters with 36.9 ppg,

The home team has won this match-up the past six times, each team winning three. It's a fierce rivalry and Southern Miss has experience and a good secondary with which to slow down the Cougars, but not enough offense to win it.

Prediction: Cougars 42 Golden Eagles 35

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12:30 pm Iowa State at Kansas State (-11, 54) - This game has no conference championship label, but Kansas State can put an exclamation mark on their season with a 10th win if they emerge triumphant here. The Wildcats' only losses were to Oklahoma and Oklahoma St., but seven of their nine wins have been by seven points or less.

The Cyclones have been up and down, winning three straight to start the season, then losing four in a row before beating Texas Tech, Kansas and Oklahoma State (the Cowboys' only loss). Their 26-6 loss to Oklahoma last week was closer than many predicted.

A win by Iowa State may be enough to boost Oklahoma State into the #2 slot in the BCS, allowing them to play LSU for the national championship, should they defeat Oklahoma later in the day. The Cyclones have been playing well enough of late to possibly pull off the upset.

Prediction: Cyclones 31 Wildcats 28

All times Eastern - Click here for late games

Copyright 2011, 2012, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.


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