Week 13 Predictions
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A Thanksgiving feast - rivalry week is upon us! Year after year this week produces games that become memories we never forget. This coming weekend should be no different...I am still alive in the Fans25 Pick'em Contest, but will have to really show-out to make up the three game difference between the leader and myself over these last two weeks and last 30 games. Here are my picks for week 13....
(all rankings BCS, all times EST)
#17 Texas A&M at Texas - 8:00 - ESPN - Year after year I have watched A&M stumble when they are just on the verge of doing something good. This game offers the perfect setup for them to do it again. They have risen into the top 20, and have thoughts of a major bowl and top ten finish in mind. But just as they get near to glory, they must travel to Austin and play a hurt and wounded Texas team that is licking its lips for a chance to redeem themselves on national TV. Aggies, I want to pick you, but I have to go with the 'Horns and the upset at home. Texas, 25-21.
West Virginia at Pitt - 12:00 - ABC - The Big East race will be majorly impacted by what happens in this game as a WVU win would really clog things up at the top of the league standings. The Mountaineers got off to a rough start, and still aren't setting the world on fire, but I like the spirit of the 'Neers year after year after year. This game is always a rough one, but I will pick the road team to go into Pittsburgh and return home thinking BCS. West Virginia, 27-20.
#2 Auburn at #11 Alabama - 2:30 - CBS - When typing this artcle, this was the very last game I wrote about. I just had an exceptionally hard time in deciding on this one. Rarely are there games that have such a local and national impact at the same time. Locally, the bragging rights last 364 days. Nationally, Alabama is the defending national champion and Auburn is in this year's national title race. The most known fact in Tuscaloosa right now is that a Tide win could knock their rival out of the national title hunt...So how do I pick this game? On one hand I see Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson rolling behind a strong offensive line. I can see Bryant-Denny Stadium going bananas to support a very strong defense. On the other hand, legends make their marks in huge games, and despite this off-the-field mumbo jumbo, Cam Newton has had a legendary season for Auburn in 2010. I can see him floating through the line of scrimmage for four and five yards a carry, and occasionally bursting for big yardage. Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb also present big-play opportunity...This is one of the harder picks in the four-year history of the Fans25 Pick'em Contest, and with a nervous soul, I am going to go with the Tigers of Auburn. I think they really do have a special player in Cam, a player that not only will move the chains and put a decent amount of points up, but a player who will keep the Alabama offense and the Auburn defense on the sidelines. I believe Bama can score on Auburn, but not if Cam can keep the ball out of their hands. That is the key to me picking Auburn in this game. Auburn, 30-24.
#21 Arizona at #1 Oregon - 7:00 - ESPN - The Ducks are two games away from playing for a national title. While next week's game for Oregon (at Oregon State) appears to be the trickiest left, they better take Arizona seriously Friday or the ride could be over prematurely. My guess is that they will be ready. Chip Kelly seems to have all of his bases covered, and I think they roll big in a rowdy Autzen Stadium for the home finale. Oregon's offense is number one in the nation in several main categories, and I expect to see some points thrown up in this one, as well. Oregon, 45-24.
#4 Boise State at #19 Nevada - 10:15 - ESPN - It is a fun idea to think that Boise is in a big game here. The fact is, though, they are not. BSU will turn up the heat and put a huge, convincing loss on this Wolfpack squad. The Broncos are one of the most disciplined, well-coached teams in America with an excellent gameplan, and I expect nothing less than a Boise win of at least three scores. As I looked over Nevada's body of work, I see little reason for them to be in the top 20. If they beat BSU, I will certainly change my mind. Boise State, 42-20.
Michigan at #8 Ohio State - 12:00 - ABC - Depending on the size of the beatdown that the Buckeyes put on Michigan Saturday, this may or may not be RichRod's last game on the Wolverine sideline. He has yet to beat OSU, and you can bet if this gets embarassing, some in Ann Arbor may consider this the last straw after three mediocre seasons. It could happen, too. UM just isn't very good, and the Buckeyes have a point to prove on a national level. Expect Terrelle Pryor to show-out in his home finale. Ohio State, 37-21.
#10 Michigan State at Penn State - 12:00 - ESPN2 - I want to lean towards PSU with the upset here, but something is keeping me from doing it. I think that "something" is that the Spartans have been very impressive in 2010. If this were a night game, I might pick the Lions to pull the upset. But being an early game, I'm not sure if the crowd will be a huge factor. MSU is 23rd nationally in points against, while PSU is 81st in points for. I'm doubting that Penn State can score enough to win this one. Michigan State, 30-21.
#5 LSU at #12 Arkansas - 3:30 - CBS - Often times offenses look real good when the defense on the other side isn't any good. That certainly will not be the case when Arkansas (13th nationally in points for at 38 points per game) lines up across from the LSU defense (8th nationally in points against at 16.5 points per game). LSU is without a big-name star like they have had in past years, but they have athletes galore and that talent alone has kept them in every game. They will stay in this one until the end, but I think Arkansas pulls one out at home. Arkansas, 27-20.
Florida at #22 Florida State - 3:30 - ABC - It has been since 2003 since FSU has won this game, so with home-field advantage, a pretty good squad, and a whole lot of motivation, you would think this woud have to be FSU's year to finally put a whoopin' on their rival from just a hundred miles away. Florida, though having a season to forget, still has gobs of talent that can certainly come together when the stars align just right. The Gators will be back to chomp in 2011, but I think FSU finally beats UF again here in 2010. Florida State, 31-26.
#23 NC State at Maryland - 3:30 - ESPN2 - Who will Virginia Tech play in the ACCCG? If NC State wins, they get the Hokies. If Maryland wins, Florida State heads up to Charlotte. After being eliminated from the ACC Atlantic race a week ago, one must wonder if Maryland will be focused. NC State meanwhile knows that a win sends them to play for the conference crown. I am throwing home-field advantage away in this one as I think State is the better team with a more focused goal. Maryland can be a pain in the rear-end to beat, but I think the 'Pack get it done. NC State, 30-24.
#18 South Carolina at Clemson - 7:00 - ESPN2 - I think South Carolina is the better team in 2010 - but the better team doesn't always win. USC has as talented of a squad as they have ever assembled in Columbia, but this group has shown it can lose focus at times (second half versus Kentucky, Arkansas at home). Publicly, the Gamecocks claim they are 100 percent focused on Clemson. But getting a roster full of 18-22 year olds to not look forward to the SEC Championship Game is a tall task to ask. Meanwhile, this is a huge game for Clemson. The Tigers will lean on their defense to keep them in it, and then - for a change - get key points when they need them late in the game. This one has all of the makings for a classic, and I will never pick against my alma mater in this game. Clemson, 26-21.
Oregon State at #6 Stanford - 7:30 - Versus - I have liked this Stanford team all year, and to pick against them in a home game would be against all I've said about them. Right now, Stanford is keeping alive the slimmest of hopes for a Pac Ten title and/or national title game berth. That probably won't happen, but a major bowl will be realized if they keep winning. OSU has been known to pull upsets in the past, but I think the Cardinal offense is too good for that to happen this time. Stanford, 41-27.
Georgia Tech at Georgia - 7:45 - ESPN - Neither of these teams has had a season to remember, but everyone in the Peach State remembers what happens in this game every year. Most years - at least as of late - they remember UGA winning. I think they will get more of the same on Saturday. GT already lost on the road to its other rival, Clemson, and I think a rowdy Sanford Stadium crowd will see them lose on the road again. GT's run offense is tricky, but the Dawgs will stuff it. Georgia freshman qb Aaron Murray gets his first taste of this rivalry and suddenly finds his popularity in Athens shoot up after a win. Georgia, 31-23.
#13 Oklahoma at #9 Oklahoma State - 8:00 - ABC (half the nation) - One of the more impressive teams in the nation to me, the Cowboys of OSU welcome in their arch-rival. The Sooners have historically been the class of the state, but now they will have to stop one of the best offenses in the nation (3rd nationally in points for at 45 points per game) to keep that claim. Oklahoma has lost twice in 2010, but is still a strong team at its core. OSU has lost once, but scored 41 even in that defeat. I have to think the offense of the Cowboys will win ths game when 60 full minutes have played out. Oklahoma State, 38-29.
Notre Dame at USC - 8:00 - ABC (half the nation) - It has been a year of ups and downs for first-year head coaches Lane Kiffin of USC and Brian Kelly of Notre Dame. In what is historically one of the biggest and best rivalry games in the nation, the fact that neither school is ranked takes little away from the dire need of a win by both. USC has had a little bit better season, seems to be a little more talented, and has home-field advantage. I will use those three things as my factors in picking the Trojans in this game. USC, 28-21.
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