College Football Spoiler Alert; Week 13
Thanksgiving has come and gone, and as we edge closer to Christmas, there's plenty left to be played for the college football universe. Not only does the College Football Playoff promise to give us an intense down to the last second battle for position, but other teams battle for spots in the prominent bowls. We had some good ones on Black Friday, where Iowa picked themselves up a brand spanking new 12-0 record while Baylor got trampled by the upset crowds. Here are the ones to watch on Saturday....
(all times EST, all rankings reflect CFP poll)
#8 Ohio State (10-1, 6-1,) @ #10 Michigan (9-2, 6-1)
Remember when Ohio State's biggest problem was "They have three great quarterbacks!!! Who will stop them?!?!" Buckeye bliss came to a screeching halt last week, as not only did OSU fall to Michigan State on a game ending field goal, but Ezekiel Elliot had some choice words after the game. After so many wins, some of which were great escapes, others triumphant upset, the Buckeyes' roof is caving in on them. Who better to take advantage of that than Jim Harbaugh, who, like many in the Ann Arbor area, has had this game circled on his calendar ever since he took the UM job. OSU naturally won't make it easy, but the Wolverines tip this rivalry back in their favor.
The Pick: Michigan
Penn State (7-4, 4-3) @ #5 Michigan State (10-1, 6-1)
3:30 PM, ESPN
With only the College Football Playoff quartet ahead of them, Michigan State not only has to win this one, but has to win convincingly. Clemson is playing whatever's left of South Carolina, Bama gets a weakened Auburn team, and Oklahoma gets an Oklahoma State team coming off a loss (more on those latter two games in a minute). Penn State plays it's tough opponents well, but have had a tough job closing things out. Coach James Franklin is 1-12 all time vs ranked opponents in the AP poll, the lone win coming back at Vanderbilt. Expect a close one here, with the talented PSU defense going after slightly hobbled QB Connor Cook, but MSU is able to pull away, in prime position if/when one team in front of them slips. Keep in mind also that MSU earns a trip to the Big Ten championship game (as well as one more chance to impress the College Football Playoff committee) with a W.
The Pick: Michigan State
#14 North Carolina (10-1, 7-0) @ North Carolina State (7-4, 3-4)
3:30 PM, ABC/ESPN2
The Tar Heels don't have too much to gain in this one, a total trap game. They're too far deep in the CFP rankings to make a run at the Playoff, with their lone loss to South Carolina providing enough of a dagger. They've already clinched a spot in the ACC title game, and now face a Wolfpack team that's quietly assembled a solid year. UNC stumbled a bit on the road last week against a hapless Virginia Tech team, and the upset potential is there in Raleigh today, especially considering last season ended with the Wolfpack dismantling the Tar Heels at Chapel Hill to the tune of a 35-7 blowout last year. Expect a lot of offense here, and a close game, but the Tar Heels will pull out the victory for the inevitable tilt with Clemson next week.
The Pick: North Carolina
#2 Alabama (10-1, 6-1) @ Auburn (6-5, 2-5)
3:30 PM, CBS
Glimpses of what this Auburn team was supposed to be have crept up throughout November. The month opened with an upset victory on the road against a ranked Texas A&M team and they tallied 56 points last week (albeit against Idaho, but keep in mind this is a team that needed overtime to squeak past Jacksonville State). Alabama though, would not only love to embarrass they're biggest rival at home, but it would send yet another message on how you should never doubt the Crimson Tide. Somehow, people are still questioning the Tide, still perplexed by the loss to Ole Miss. The last of the haters won't disappear until playoff time, but a good amount can go with a blowout win today.
The Pick: Alabama
#22 UCLA (8-3, 5-3) @ USC (7-4, 5-3)
Considering the way both teams entered the season, you can't help but be a little disappointed with them. UCLA had national title aspirations, but key injuries on the defense have given them some painful losses. USC had to face the Steve Sarkisian situation. Somehow, both teams rummaged up a win against Utah each, and now the winner has the chance to play for the right to get beat up by Stanford next week. UCLA has enjoyed tremendous play from the true freshman QB Josh Rosen, who hasn't thrown an interception since mid-October. This will be Rosen's first participation in the great SoCal rivalry. If it takes the Bruins to the PAC-12 title game for a chance at revenge at the Cardinal, preparations could slowly begin on that statue outside the Rose Bowl....well, not really but still.
The Pick: UCLA
#18 Ole Miss (8-3, 5-2) @ #21 Mississippi State (8-3, 4-3)
7:15 PM, ESPN2
Give credit to MSU. I didn't think there'd be any way they could come close to duplicating their success from last year, but bless 'em they've come darn close. You don't normally associate the SEC and their games with high scoring non-stop shootouts, but that's exactly what we could have here today. Two teams going back and forth trying to one-up the other, going after Dixie bragging rights, it's fun to see this rivalry be relevant after a long time. The two QBs, Chad Kelly and Dak Prescott, could combine for over 800 yards of offense today. In the end though, you just have to go with the Rebels. That win over Bama helps in confidence, and at the end of the day, they simply have more weapons than MSU.
The Pick: Ole Miss
#13 Florida State (9-2, 6-2) @ #12 Florida (10-1, 7-1)
7:30 PM, ESPN
I totally understand this is a weak pick for the upset special...but hey this is my story, I'm sticking to it. Florida, frankly, should've lost to Florida Atlantic last week. But they're really not that bad of a team. Florida State is nowhere near the level they were last year, but they would love to end a season that won't conclude in the ACC title game with a big win over the Gators. They've been flexing their muscles against the Gators recently, and it only seems right that trend continue. You think the 'Noles are going to put up with an inept offensive performance like FAU did last week?
UPSET SPECIAL: Florida State
Texas A&M (8-3, 4-3) @ LSU (7-3, 4-3)
7:30, SEC Network
Who would've thought this would be a matchup between unranked teams? LSU has several things going on today in Baton Rouge. It's Senior Day at Tiger Stadium, as well as possibly Les Miles's final home game. To top it all off, they'll be seeking to end a three game losing streak that has removed from national title consideration. It's going to be an emotional day for them, and I believe that the Tigers will come out roaring (no pun intended), inspired what's going to be a heavy day for all involved. LSU's season may end in disappointment, but they can send Miles off in style with a win today.
The Pick: LSU
#6 Notre Dame (10-1) @ #9 Stanford (9-2, 8-1)
The Irish have a huge opportunity today. It isn't right that they were dropped all the way to 6th (though a mere 3 point win to Boston College wasn't impressive), and they'll come out furious. The Cardinal have a case to be angry as well, as if it weren't for two tough losses, one of them on opening weekend to Northwestern, we could be putting them in the College Football Playoff discussion. However, it's the Irish who have been wronged more recently, and since its their regular season finale, they're going to go all out to move up those precious two spots. Close game, but Irish pull it out.
The Pick: Notre Dame
#3 Oklahoma (10-1, 7-1) @ #11 Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1)
8 PM, ABC
There's a lot to like about the Oklahoma Sooners. Baker Mayfield! Samaje Perine! Under 200 yards in each defensive category (a shocker in the Big 12). Then again....they lost to Texas. "Yeah but..." No, no...they lost to TEXAS. I don't know how that happened. I don't think we'll ever know how the Longhorns won that Red River Shootout. But I still can't get that Texas loss out of my head. And frankly, OSU is ready for an upset. They're kind of like Iowa, with not the greatest schedule, but a strong team. Cowboys pull off this close one.
The Pick: Oklahoma State
Last Week: 7-3
Upset Specials: 4-8
Geoff Magliocchetti isn't sure what he'll do with his Saturday mornings when he can't write anything about College Football in a few weeks. Give him ideas on Twitter, @GeoffMags5490.
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