The best upset picks for Week 12 of the college football season
For maybe the first time this college football season, ranked teams showed quite a bit of resiliency by pulling out wins and avoiding upsets. It didn’t bode well for this column, but teams like Pittsburgh, Oregon, Michigan, and Wake Forest all got pushed to the limit and came away victorious.
Oklahoma was the only notable loss on the week among top teams, while Texas lost as a massive 31-point favorite.
Let’s turn to Week 12, which is historically headlined by crazy upsets, and find a couple of outright underdog winners.
Florida State vs. Boston College
Sat, November 20 2021, 5:00 PM
Florida State was a short underdog winner last week in its big rivalry matchup against Miami, as the Seminoles overcame a late eight-point deficit to win in the final seconds of the game.
Before allowing Miami to go on a 28-3 run, however, the Seminoles had gotten off to a 17-0 lead, thanks to some really solid defensive play.
Future draft pick Jermaine Johnson is leading the way and pressuring quarterbacks as well as anyone in the country in 2021, and the young secondary is finally starting to round into more reliable form.
Jermaine Johnson tonight:— Atlanta Nole 🍢 (@nole_atl) November 14, 2021
9 tackles, 7 solo, 4 tackle for loss, 3 (‼️) sacks, 1 forced fumble pic.twitter.com/yzSoiAuGJo
Quarterback Jordan Travis was back from the flu against Miami, and he is still showing enough to get the ball in the end zone.
The Seminoles’ culture shift is clearly underway. This is a program that is building the foundation to return to relevancy.
Florida State is 4-1 ATS in the last five matchups between these teams and will pull off this win as a short underdog yet again.
Wake Forest vs. Clemson
Sat, November 20 2021, 5:00 PM
Sticking in the land of upsets and middle-of-the-pack teams, we’ve got a matchup this week between the leading team in the ACC Atlantic and the defending conference champion.
Clemson has dominated this division for years now, but after a disappointing start to the season, the Tigers sit at just 5-2 in the conference and are 112th in the nation in yards per play on offense (4.7).
Wake Forest is 20th in the nation in that category, with 6.4 yards per play, and has been getting involved in shootouts in recent appearances.
The defense isn’t good, but if things start going back and forth, I like the team that has continued to win, cover, and score points to pull this upset and cement its place as the best team in the Atlantic in 2021.
The Demon Deacons have covered five of the last seven games between these two teams.
Auburn vs. South Carolina
Sun, November 21 2021, 12:00 AM
It is hard to win on the road in the SEC, and it is even harder when your longtime starting quarterback won’t be there to lead the offense.
The Auburn Tigers will be without quarterback Bo Nix when they head to Columbia this weekend to take on the Gamecocks.
Last week, Auburn proved it is not a good team without him.
After jumping out to an early lead against Mississippi State, the Tigers were dominated in the second half.
Mississippi State's 43-34 win over Auburn was the biggest comeback in program history (trailed by 25 points).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 13, 2021
Will Rogers finished with 6 Pass TD, setting a new school record for the most in a single game. pic.twitter.com/CEMOFCZwpJ
Backup TJ Finley has the measurables but has yet to prove he can lead this offense.
South Carolina isn’t a great team, but at 5-5, it has an opportunity to secure its sixth win at home and should bring plenty of intensity against an Auburn team that has endured a very difficult schedule and might get caught looking ahead to Alabama.
Memphis Tigers vs. Houston Cougars
Sat, November 20 2021, 2:00 AM
In what should make for an entertaining Friday night matchup, the Memphis Tigers head to Houston to take on the Cougars as double-digit underdogs.
Houston has rattled off an undefeated conference record and sits 9-1 overall, while the Tigers are just 5-5 on the season, but are 6-0 ATS in their last six games against Houston.
The Tigers are averaging nearly half a yard more per play than Houston in 2021, and if they can protect quarterback Seth Henigan against a strong Cougars pass rush, they can catch Houston in a Friday night Texas shootout.
Illinois vs. Iowa
Sat, November 20 2021, 7:00 PM
Hawkeyes fans probably feel like I’m picking on them after selecting Minnesota last week, but Iowa is in the process of regressing to its mean level of play.
The Hawkeyes are playing with a backup quarterback and are not rushing the ball very effectively. The defense is still excellent, but Illinois’ defense has been better than expected in 2021 and helped the Illini spring upsets against Nebraska, Penn State, and Minnesota already this year.
This should be a low-scoring affair, and a couple of plays should make the difference in the final score.
With Northwestern looking beatable in its final game of the year, a win for Bret Bielema and this Illinois team would give them a great opportunity to go 6-6 and make a bowl game.
The road team is 6-1 ATS in the last seven matchups between these teams.