Week Thirteen Predictions
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#4 Baylor makes the trip to Stillwater to face #10 Oklahoma State in the highest profile game of week 13. The Bears have outside hopes of playing for a national title, but the Cowboys are one of the better programs in the country and will have a huge say in what happens. Both teams are thinking Big-12 crown...In Baton Rouge, #12 Texas A&M and #22 LSU square off in an intriguing matchup pitting the athletic Tiger defense against playmaker Johnny Manziel and the Aggies...In Columbia, Missouri folks will be cheering for the #8 Tigers on the road in Oxford against #24 Ole Miss. In Columbia, South Carolina, Gamecock fans will be screaming for the Rebel upset! This game could decide the SEC East champion...In Los Angeles, #17 Arizona State will tackle #14 UCLA in an important Pac-12 South matchup...
Here are my picks for the games of week 13...
Michigan (7-3) at Iowa (6-4) - 12:00 - Big Ten Network - Per my standard protocol, I go with the home team when I cannot decide who to choose. The Hawkeyes have the nation's 12th-rated defense at just 19 ppg and the nation's 79th-rated offense at just 27 ppg. Michigan, meanwhile, is ranked 52nd nationally at 25 ppg allowed, and are scoring 34 ppg, which is 39th in the country. Come on, Hawkeyes, don't let me down! Iowa, 20-17.
Duke (8-2) at Wake Forest (4-6) - 12:00 - ESPN2 - The Blue Devils are the class of the state of North Carolina this year and I look for them to put an exclamation point on that feat this Saturday in Winston Salem. Jim Grobe has done a ton for Wake football over the years, but in recent seasons his teams have really slipped. David Cutcliffe's Duke teams meanwhile seem to get better each year. Duke does the X's and O's as well as anyone. Duke, 38-21.
#20 Oklahoma (8-2) at Kansas State (6-4) - 12:00 - FOX Sports 1 - My initial thought was to pick KSU, but as I look at their wins and losses I am now leaning towards OU for the upset on the road (yes, Vegas has the Wildcats by 5). Kansas State lost to North Dakota State to open the season, reeled off a few wins, and then lost to Texas, Oklahoma State and Baylor. OU has a couple of losses, neither pretty, but I think the bleeding stops there. Oklahoma, 33-26.
Pittsburgh (5-5) at Syracuse (5-5) - 12:30 - ESPN3.com - A meeting of the ACC newbies. Which school has represented the league best so far? Well, Pitt is 2-1 in OOC games while Syracuse is 0-2 (ok, they are 2-2, but Wagner and Tulane are the wins). As far as conference play goes, the Orange hold a slight edge at 3-3 compared to the Panthers' 2-4. All of that out the window, this game is a toss up. Hopefully in future years it will mean more, but as per my usual, I will go home team for the pick. Syracuse, 36-27.
#12 Texas A&M (8-2) at #22 LSU (7-3) - 3:30 - CBS - Les Miles is hearing the grumbles as his team has lost three times already this fall. Saturday, his Tigers will be fired up and ready to quiet the doubters. Texas A&M - we know - can score behind Johnny Manziel, but so can LSU against one of the nation's most porous defenses (A&M is 88th nationally in points allowed). In a battle that will go deep into the 4th quarter, I am picking Miles to get a big win. LSU, 41-37.
#19 Wisconsin (8-2) at #25 Minnesota (8-2) - 3:30 - ESPN - I am a Badger man here. I think Wisconsin is perhaps the best program in the Big Ten on a perennial basis and will pick up a big road win here to move up in the polls. The losses are both close (at Arizona State and at Ohio State) and the Badger D is one of the best in the country, so my decision is to go with the visitors. Minnesota is having a better than average season, but I see them coming up just short here. Wisconsin, 26-21.
#5 Oregon (9-1) at Arizona (6-4) - 3:30 - ABC regional - The Ducks should cruise here, but they still need to watch out. Arizona is a sneaky team under Rich Rod and would love nothing more than to put a feather in their cap with a win over one of the big left coast names. The Duck defense will be the key to this game. They are 8th nationally in points allowed and they need to slam the door and not let Arizona hang around. I think the crowd and intensity keep it fun for a quarter or two, but Oregon pulls away. Oregon, 47-23.
BYU (7-3) at Notre Dame (7-3) - 3:30 - NBC - After an embarrassing loss to Alabama in the national title game, followed by a very average 2013 season so far, Brian Kelly isn't exactly setting the world on fire right now as head coach in South Bend. A win over BYU here is critical or Kelly may enter 2014 with some heat starting to be applied to his seat. Sound crazy? It's not. ND is not amongst the national picture at this point and that is not what is wanted for a coach in year three. He wins here, but watch this situation. Notre Dame, 30-24.
Nebraska (7-3) at Penn State (6-4) - 3:30 - Big Ten Network - 6'4" 220 pound freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg is making a case for first-team freshman All-American for Penn State with 2,399 yards and 14 TDs. The dude can play ball. But he also has nine INTs and that could be a problem against Nebraska. The Cornhusker defense isn't as good as has been in seasons gone by, but they are still ok. If PSU can keep the ball, I can see them getting a key home win. Turn it over, Nebraska wins. Nebraska, 30-24.
Utah (4-6) at Washington State (5-5) - 3:30 - Pac-12 Network - I will go for an upset here and pick the Utes to go on the road and beat Wazzu. I am impressed with the way Utah beat Stanford and also played UCLA a good game. On the road, they haven't set the world on fire, but a big road showing is due. Washington State has been one of my biggest disappointments in 2013. I thought Mike Leach would get things rolling sooner rather than later, but that hasn't been the case. He could get a key win here to get above .500, but I am picking the Utes to break a four-game slide. Utah, 36-34.
#17 Arizona State (8-2) at #14 UCLA (8-2) - 7:00 - FOX - All year I have liked UCLA and I'm not gonna stop now. They defeated Nebraska on the road, scoring 41-straight, and they won at Utah - something Stanford was not able to do. Bruin quarterback Brett Hundley has thrown for 2,384 yards and 20 TDs. But this game isn't all about UCLA. The Sun Devils have become one of the best teams in the Pac-12 and they will give the home team all they want. I'm going UCLA because I like their style (uniforms included), they are at home, and they have a solid QB. But this should be a dandy! UCLA, 36-29.
Vanderbilt (6-4) at Tennessee (4-6) - 7:00 - ESPN2 - I kid you not, this is a huge game! The folks in Knoxville are really wanting to get this rivalry game back on their side after Vandy whipped 'em good in Nashville a year ago. UT is in its first year under Butch Jones and have made some strides, including a win over a strong South Carolina team. A win over the in-state rival Commodores would be big for both recruiting and morale. Tennessee, 35-28.
#8 Missouri (9-1) at #24 Ole Miss (7-3) - 7:00 - ESPN - The scene will be a good one in Oxford Saturday night for a key SEC game with major implications for the SEC East. Missouri must win this week and next week (Texas A&M at home) to earn a berth to Atlanta. South Carolina fans will be cheering hard for the Rebels and the Aggies so that they could make the trip instead. Ole Miss, meanwhile, is not going to win any SEC hardware in 2013 but they could get a ton of national respect with a big win here to cap what has already been a solid season. Ole Miss, 33-26.
#4 Baylor (9-0) at #10 Oklahoma State (9-1) - 8:00 - ABC - Baylor has done a lot in recent seasons for me to consider them a true top 15 program. It started with Robert Griffin III winning the 2011 Heisman Trophy and has carried over into this season's 9-0 start. But I think the Cowboys will win Saturday night on national TV to show that the Big-12 championship is a very real possibility for OSU. This will be a fun game to watch, can't wait! Oklahoma State, 44-35.
Washington (6-4) at Oregon State (6-4) - 10:30 - ESPN2 - The Beavers will get the benefit of my normal toss-up game standard pick: the home team. Oregon State and Stanford have both had their ups and their downs in 2013, and it is uncertain if either can call the season a success or a failure. As I said, in this one, I will go with the home team to get the extra play or two that is needed to get the win. The visitors actually have better stats coming in, but I will pick OSU. Oregon State, 30-28.
* All rankings BCS, all times EST
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