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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tucker's Pick 'Em 2011: College Football Previews and Score Predictions for Week 12, Plus Alabama High School Playoff Games of the Week

Lane Kiffin and USC quarterback Matt Barkley look
to upset Oregon  Saturday in the Tucker's Pick 'Em
Game of the Week for Week 12. (AP Photo / Jack Dempsey)
Alabama took care of business at Mississippi State last weekend, but Auburn and Troy fell to Georgia and North Texas, respectively. This week the Tide and Tigers both face teams from the FCS as they prepare for the Iron Bowl next Saturday in Auburn.  Troy plays the winless Florida Atlantic Owls as the Trojans look to put win No. 3 up on the board for the 2011 season.

In high school football, it's Week 3 of the playoffs in the state of Alabama, which means it's the quarterfinals Friday night. It's do or die on the high school gridiron, and for the rest of the season I'll bring you the game of the week in each classification!

Here goes Week 12:


High School AHSAA State Playoffs Games of the Week; Quarterfinals (6-1 last week; 70-14 this season)

Hoover (11-1) at Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa (12-0)
Fri., Nov. 18, 2011 at 7 PM: Roy Johnson, Jr. Stadium
The Hoover Bucs held off a Bob Jones rally last week in Madison to beat the Patriots 26-17 and set up this match against another group of Patriots this week in Tuscaloosa.   Hoover is 3-0 all-time in games played against Hillcrest, but they've never played in Tuscaloosa.

Bucs advance to the semifinals:

Hoover 34, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa 21. (ACTUAL SCORE: HOOVER 21, HILLCREST 14)

Hueytown (12-0) at Saint Paul’s (11-1), Mobile
Fri., Nov. 18, 2011 at 7 PM: E.E. Delaney Field
The Hueytown Golden Gophers, who average 44.7 points per game this season, travel south to Mobile for this 5A quarterfinal tilt against the Saint Paul's Saints. This one should be a dandy; Saint Paul's is 3-3 all-time in home quarterfinal contests, while Hueytown is 1-1 on the road in the third round.

Who wins the first-ever meeting between the Gophers and the Saints?

Hueytown 30, Saint Paul's 24. (ACTUAL SCORE: HUEYTOWN 39, SAINT PAUL'S 13)

Jackson (12-0) at Bibb County (12-0), Centreville
Fri., Nov. 18, 2011 at 7 PM: Choctaw Stadium 
Both offenses in this one are scoring more than 44 points a game (Jackson 44.7 and Bibb County 45.4) as they get set to square off in Centreville.  But the edge here must go to the visiting Jackson Aggies.  Their defense only gives up 9.3 points a game compared to the Bibb County Choctaw's 13.7, and they've actually played an away game in the third round before (granted, it was in 1994, when the Aggies knocked off Smiths Station 27-18).

As for the Choctaws, this is the first quarterfinal game they've ever hosted:

Jackson 40, Bibb County 20. (ACTUAL SCORE: JACKSON 49, BIBB COUNTY 28)

Handley (12-0) at Washington County (10-2), Chatom 
Fri., Nov. 18, 2011 at 7 PM: Jordan Wilcox Stadium 
Handley makes the 272-mile trek northeast to Washington County for the first-ever meeting between the Tigers and the Bulldogs.  The visiting Tigers are undefeated and looking to move to 13-0, and if history means anything, they'll do so Friday night in Chatom.  Handley is 31-22 all-time in playoff appearances, while Washington County is a less-than-impressive 14-19. In third round games, the Tigers are 4-4, while the Bulldogs are 1-2.

Tigers move on:

Handley 34, Washington County 17. (ACTUAL SCORE: HANDLEY 26, WASHINGTON COUNTY 7)

Elba (12-0) at Flomaton (11-1)
Fri., Nov. 18, 2011 at 7 PM: Hurricane Field
The fact that this game takes place at Hurricane Field is certainly fitting; this one could be the best game of the week in all classifications.  Elba averages 53 points a game, while Flomaton is putting up 43.2 points per contest this season. Both defenses are stellar as well; the visiting Tigers give up 11.9 points a game, while the home-standing Hurricanes allow just 9.8 points per contest. Hurricane Field has never been host to a quarterfinal game, but it picked a good one here.

Hold on, spectators!

Elba 36, Flomaton 33. (ACTUAL SCORE: ELBA 33 FLOMATON 23)

Maplesville (12-0) at Linden (11-1)
Fri., Nov. 18, 2011 at 7 PM: Linden Field
The Maplesville Red Devils and Linden Patriots might have something to say about that 2A game that I just called a thriller.  The Red Devils enter this one averaging 46.8 points per game while giving up just 6.2, while the Patriots put up 42.3 points a game and allow just 5.7.  Linden's one loss this season is deceiving; the Patriots fell at 5A Gulf Shores in Week 7 of the regular season 20-14.

To make this match-up even more appealing, Maplesville and Linden have met 6 times in the past. The series record? 3-3, including a 45-13 win for Linden in last year's quarterfinal round:

Linden 24, Maplesville 21. (ACTUAL SCORE:  LINDEN 21, MAPLESVILLE 7)

College (8-4 last week; 95-24 this season)


Kentucky (4-6, 1-5) at No. 14 Georgia (8-2, 6-1)
Sat., Nov. 19, 2011 at 11 AM: SEC NETWORK
The struggling Wildcats travel south to play the 'Dawgs between the hedges Saturday, and a victory by the home team will capture the SEC East Division Championship for Georgia. The Bulldogs have either won or shared five Eastern Division titles since the league started its current divisional format in 1992, but they haven't been to the SEC Championship Game since 2007.

It has turned into such a charming 2011 season for Mark Richt, head coach of the 'Dawgs, who started out this season on the hot seat:

Georgia 38, Kentucky 12.

No. 16 Nebraska (8-2, 4-2) at No. 18 Michigan (8-2, 4-2)
Sat., Nov. 19, 2011 at 11 AM: ESPN
Nebraska travels to Ann Arbor Saturday for the first time since 1962, but the Cornhuskers have met Michigan's Wolverines seven times in this rivalry's history.  The "Black Shirts," as Nebraska's defensive unit is infamously known, face stiff competition for this meeting; they'll be up against Denard Robinson and the fast-paced Wolverine offense in this Big Ten Conference Legends Division showdown.

But Michigan's defense isn't bad, either. The Wolverines allow just 15.5 points per game, good for 2nd in the Big Ten and 5th in the nation.

Go Blue:

Michigan 27, Nebraska 24.

Samford (6-4, 4-4) at No. 24 Auburn (6-4, 4-3)
Sat., Nov. 19, 2011 at 12 PM: PPV/ESPN3.COM
Former Auburn Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Pat Sullivan returns to the Plains for Homecoming Saturday, but he'll be on the opposite sideline from the one he stood on between 1969-1971 — as head coach.  Sullivan, who took over at the small Birmingham college in 2006, will be honored for his collegiate achievements prior to kickoff along with several of his teammates from his Heisman season at Auburn.

It'll be a bittersweet homecoming for the 61-year old; in 26 games against the Tigers, Samford is 0-25-1:

Auburn 43, Samford 13.

Georgia Southern (9-1, 7-1) at No. 3 Alabama (9-1, 6-1)
Sat., Nov. 19, 2011 at 1 PM: PPV/ESPN3.COM
Alabama hosts the FCS's No. 3 team Saturday for the last home game of the 2011 season, looking for a big win to set up next Saturday's Iron Bowl in Auburn.  The Georgia Southern Eagles spent six weeks atop the FCS polls earlier this season before suffering their only loss of the year at Appalachian State. Yes, that's the same App State that knocked off Michigan a few years ago in the "Big House." Do you smell upset?

I don't:

Alabama 45, Georgia Southern 6.

Southern Methodist (6-4, 4-2) at No. 11 Houston (10-0, 6-0) 
Sat., Nov. 19, 2011 at 2:30 PM: FSN 
ESPN's College Gameday makes its first trip to the University of Houston campus Saturday to showcase one of the nation's three remaining undefeated teams, the Houston Cougars.  The 'Cougs have one of the best passing attacks in the nation, led by senior Case Keenum.

The quarterback has broken several records during his long tenure at the Texas school, and this season he has the Cougars averaging 54.7 points per game (first in the nation).

Houston coach Kevin Sumlin is 3-0 all-time against SMU, including a 38-15 win over the Mustangs last season:

Houston 44, SMU 27.

Mississippi State (5-5, 1-5) at No. 6 Arkansas (9-1, 5-1)
Sat., Nov. 19, 2011 at 2:30 PM: CBS
Arkansas leaves its Fayetteville campus to play host to Mississippi State in Little Rock Saturday, with the 'Hogs still 'technically' alive for a shot at the BCS National Championship Game.  Arkansas is looking to complete its first undefeated season at home since the 1999 season, but Mississippi State will hope to play spoiler in this one.  I foresee a struggle for the Razorbacks, but they're not ranked No. 6 for no reason.

Bobby Petrino, believe it or not, boasts the highest career November winning percentage among SEC coaches (.793):

Arkansas 33, Mississippi State 21.

No. 7 Clemson (9-1, 6-1) at North Carolina State (5-5, 2-4)
Sat., Nov. 19, 2011 at 2:30 PM: ABC
This series dates all the way back to 1899, when the Clemson Tigers, playing in just the 16th game in the school's history, shutout the Wolfpack 24-0 in a game played in Rock Hill, SC. This Saturday's game should be a lot closer, however, if recent history means anything.

Nine of the last 14 meetings between the Tigers and the Wolfpack have been decided by eight points or less, including last year's 14-13 Clemson win in Death Valley:

Clemson 31, North Carolina State 24.

No. 21 Penn State (8-2, 5-1) at Ohio State (6-4, 3-3)
Sat., Nov. 19, 2011 at 2:30 PM: ESPN/ABC
The Penn State child abuse sex scandal continues to evolve this week, and the school's football program has undoubtedly had its focus stripped as the Nittany Lions travel west to Columbus to face the Buckeyes.  Ohio State has struggled with off the field issues of its own all season, but no illegal jersey sales or any other actions the university has been accused of could measure up to what went down in Happy Valley during Jerry Sandusky's time as a coach there.

A season that started out promising for Penn State has been turned upside down:

Ohio State 20, Penn State 15.

Florida Atlantic (0-9, 0-6) at Troy (2-7, 1-4)
Sat., Nov. 19, 2011 at 2:30 PM: TROY ISP SPORTS NETWORK
The Trojans dropped their homecoming game to North Texas last week 38-33, but they stay home this Saturday to host winless FAU within the confines of Veterans' Memorial Stadium. The only time FAU beat the Trojans was at Troy in the final game of the 2007 regular season, when the Owls knocked off the Trojans 38-32 to earn a berth in the New Orleans Bowl as the Sun Belt Champ.

Not this time:

Troy 31, Florida Atlantic 20.

No. 1 LSU (10-0, 6-0) at Ole Miss (2-8, 0-6)
Sat., Nov. 19, 2011 at 6 PM: ESPN
The Bengal Tigers travel to Oxford Saturday for what has recently become known as "The Magnolia Bowl." It's the fourth straight year the two schools will play for The Magnolia Bowl, which was a joint creation by the two schools' student governments.

Ole Miss was already hurting on offense this season, and it doesn't help that the Rebels' starting quarterback and leading rusher will be suspended for Saturday's contest:

LSU 41, Ole Miss 8.

Vanderbilt (5-5, 2-5) at Tennessee (4-6, 0-6)
Sat., Nov. 19, 2011 at 6 PM: ESPNU
Vanderbilt has looked impressive this season under first-year head coach James Franklin, but Saturday the Commodores travel to Knoxville to face the Tennessee Volunteers, who are looking for their first SEC win this season.

If they're going to beat anyone, it should be Vandy. The Vols have won 27 of their last 28 games against the Commodores, and they've won 16 of their last 17 over the 'Dores in Knoxville since 1977.

I'm counting on UT coach Derek Dooley to get the job done at home under the lights:

Tennessee 24, Vanderbilt 21.

Virginia (7-3, 4-2) at No. 25 Florida State (7-3, 5-2)
Sat., Nov. 19, 2011 at 6:30 PM: ESPN2
The Jefferson-Eppes Trophy links Virginia and Florida State through Virginia's founding father and U.S. President Thomas Jefferson and his grandson, Francis Eppes VII. Eppes was the three-time mayor of Tallahassee and long-time president of the Board of Education of the Seminary West of the Suwanee —the institutional forerunner of Florida State University. The trophy was first presented in 1995 when the Cavaliers handed FSU's Seminoles — who were ranked No. 2 at the time — their first ACC defeat (33-28), but the 'Noles have hoisted the trophy after 11 of the 12 meetings since then.

To add to that, FSU has never lost to Virginia in Tallahassee (8-0):

Florida State 31, Virginia 17.

  USC (8-2, 5-2) at No. 4 Oregon (9-1, 7-0) 
Sat., Nov. 19, 2011 at 7 PM: ABC
The USC Trojans, led by coach Lane Kiffin, aren't eligible for postseason play this season due to NCAA disciplinary actions, but none of those rulings have anything to do with their game Saturday night at Oregon. LaMichael James leads the Ducks' fast, high-scoring offense, but Kiffin told's Whitney Blaine that his Trojans won't focus only on James.

"It's about their scheme," said the USC coach. "If you start worrying about the players and who is where and everything you'll have no chance of lining up because they play so fast. You've got to get lined up based off their scheme and where they're at and then play your assignments regardless of who has the ball."

USC will provide an exciting matchup early, but I don't see the Trojans derailing the Duck Train.

As a result of Boise State's loss to TCU last week, Oregon now owns the longest home winning streak in the FBS at 21 games:

Oregon 43, USC 26.

Tucker Sargent is a senior at Troy University in his home state of Alabama. "Tucker's Pick 'Em" started in 2009 on Facebook, with 10 games of interest being picked each week. Opinions are not meant to offend anyone. Follow Tucker on Twitter     here.

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