Week Thirteen Predictions
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Rivalry week is upon us here in the Fans25 Pick'em Contest. Intense games that are nearly impossible to pick fill the lineup. Here are my predictions for week thirteen's games:
Iowa (7-4, 4-3) at #21 Nebraska (8-3, 4-3) - 12:00 - ABC - The Huskers have proved they are bad on the road (1-2), but pretty good at home (7-1). In their Big Ten finale for year one, they get an Iowa team that is up and down. The Nebraska rushing game is one of the better ones in the country, and I see them being the difference here. The grumblings are starting over Coach Bo Pelini. He needs a big win here heading into the bowl season. Nebraska, 27-24.
#3 Arkansas (10-1, 6-1) at #1 LSU (11-0, 7-0) - 2:30 Friday - CBS - A trip to the SECCG is on the line here as LSU looks to remain the top candidate to win the national championship. Arkansas has won seven in a row and would love to be the team to knock the Tigers off. The Razorbacks can score, averaging 39.3 ppg. But LSU has the nation's second best defense (10 ppg) and I will take that and the home crowd for the win. LSU, 27-21.
Pittsburgh (5-5, 3-2) at West Virginia (7-3, 3-2) - 7:00 - ESPN - The Mountaineers' offense is due to explode, and I think this is the weekend it happens. In the Backyard Brawl, WVU stays in the hunt for the Big East crown and the BCS. The Panther defense ranks 38th overall nationally - not terrible - but QB Geno Smith will light them up. He has thrown for 3,497 yards and 24 TDs on the season. West Virginia, 44-29.
#13 Georgia (9-2, 7-1) at #23 Georgia Tech (8-3, 5-3) - 12:00 - ESPN - This is one heck of an appetizer to what will be a great buffet of college football on this day. The Dawgs are on a roll. The winners of nine straight and now in the SECCG, UGA is on fire. But GT can be one of the single most annoying teams to ever wear shoulder pads. If they get a lead, you can almost forget it. They just burn the clock out. UGA will go up early though, and in an absolute war, I'll take UGA close. Georgia, 30-28.
Ohio State (6-5, 3-4) at #15 Michigan (9-2, 5-2) - 12:00 - ABC - The Wolverines haven't won this game since 2003, so you can bet Michigan Stadium will be out of control for this game. The Buckeye streak of seven straight wins will come to an end as Michigan is the better team this year, is at home, and is hungry. Michigan, 38-21.
#2 Alabama (10-1, 6-1) at #24 Auburn (7-4, 4-3) - 3:30 - CBS - Auburn steps up big in this game, winning eight of the last eleven, including last year in Tuscalossa. The all-time score is close, with Bama leading 40-34 (1 tie). In the coming 20 years, anything could happen, and Auburn could be leading by 2031. But for 2011, I think Bama opens the gap by one more game. The Tide's defense is nearly impenetrable. Auburn will be play them close at home in Jordan-Hare, but Bama wins. Alabama, 26-16.
#5 Virginia Tech (10-1, 6-1) at Virginia (8-3, 5-2) - 3:30 - CBS - Scott Stadium hasn't been involved in a big game in a long time. In 24 hours, it will be. Visiting hated rival VT enters Charlottesville ranked fifth nationally and the preassumed winnner of the ACC Coastal Division. But the Wahoos have momentum on their side and know a win would send them, instead, to the ACCCG. I am going to push the upset button here and pick UVA to play strong at home, and be the surprise winner of the Coastal. Virginia, 33-30.
Oregon State (3-8, 3-5) at #10 Oregon (9-2, 7-1) - 3:30 - ABC - Being a rivalry game, anything is possible. But with the Ducks being a good team, and the Beavers being a bad one, I will play it safe and go with Oregon to win big. The Ducks have been humbled by losses to Stanford and USC, but they are much stronger than their in-state rival, and they will end their regular season with a bang. Oregon, 45-10.
#19 Penn State (9-2, 6-1) at #16 Wisconsin (9-2, 5-2) - 3:30 - ESPN - A trip to the first ever Big Ten Championship Game is on the line from Madison. Despite seeing a shot at the national title gone with two losses, Wisconsin is still a potent team. Their offense will be tested as PSU brings one of the best defenses in America into this game. In an exciting game to watch, I think the Badgers penetrate the Lion defense for a few scores. Wisconsin, 31-20.
Ole Miss (2-9, 0-7) at Mississippi State (5-6, 1-6) - 7:00 - ESPNU - Both of these teams are bad, but one of them is real, real, real bad. That team is Ole Miss. While MSU has been a colossal disappointment in 2011, the Rebels are breaking records in the wrong areas. In a game that only matters in the state of Mississippi, I will pick the Bulldogs at home to defeat their rival. Mississippi State, 31-17.
Florida State (7-4, 5-3) at Florida (6-5, 3-5) - 7:00 - ESPN2 - See that "2" that is with the "ESPN" in the TV part of this capsule? That "2" would never have been there in years past. These two teams have been mainstays in the top 25 - the top 10 even - for decades, and normally this game would be on regular ESPN. But in 2011, neither of them are ranked heading into this rivalry game. I think FSU is a bit better, but the game is in Gainesville. This is a toss-up, and I will go with the home team. Florida, 29-27.
Washington State (4-7, 2-6) at Washington (6-5, 4-4) - 7:30 - Versus - 22 of the best-dressed players in college football will take the field at a time in this one. Yes, I am a big fan of the uniforms of both of these schools. As for the game, the two teams are mediocre. The Cougars' rushing attack is 107th nationwide (though ninth in passing). Their D is real bad. The Huskies are not much better as their D gives up 34.5 ppg, 105th nationally....I will go with the Huskies with the better record and at home. Washington, 30-20.
#17 Clemson (9-2, 6-2) at #12 South Carolina (9-2, 6-2) - 7:45 - ESPN - All of the intangibles point to South Carolina in this one. They are at home. They are going for three-in-a-row over Clemson for the first time in 40 years. They have ESPN's national cameras in their stadium for prime-time. And, they are bitter over going 5-0 against their SEC East foes, but not being crowned that division's champ. So initially, the thought is Clemson doesn't have a chance. But CU has more than a chance. They have a key ingredient returning this week in Phillip Price on the offensive line. WR Sammy Watkins is also expected back. And Dabo knows this game is huge for him. This will be a battle, a CU-USC game that is for the ages. But in a rivalry game that is this hard to pick, you couldn't pay me to pick against my alma mater. Clemson, 30-26.
#22 Notre Dame (8-3) at #6 Stanford (10-1, 8-1) - 8:00 - ABC - ND can gain a lot of national respect by pulling the unlikely upset here. The Cardinal are favored by a touchdown, so if I were a betting man (which I am not), I would take Stanford. I think they beat the Irish by a good three TDs in this one. QB Andrew Luck knows he needs to make a huge splash with the Heisman voters, and many will be tuned in for this game. ND is slowly getting better, but they aren't yet at the level of this Stanford team. Stanford, 42-24.
UCLA (6-5, 5-3) at USC (9-2, 6-2) - 10:00 - I hope the Trojans put UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel out of his misery. He is terrible, but his team is still alive in the Pac 12 South race thanks to USC being in trouble. Since the Trojans cannot participate in the Pac 12 Championship Game, UCLA is in a three-way fight to get in, along with Utah and Arizona State. It is complicated, but USC is the class of the Pac 12 South. In this game, the last of the season for them, I will pick them to win convincingly. USC, 37-21.
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