College Football Predictions Week 13: Picking Saturday's Best Rivalry Matchups

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIINovember 23, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 22:  Members of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish defense line up against the offense of the University of Southern California Trojans at Notre Dame Stadium on October 22, 2011 in South Bend, Indiana. USC defeated Notre Dame 31-17.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Week 13 offers a Saturday slate of rivalry matchups that are sure to keep college football fans glued to the tube.

Some teams will be playing for pure pride, looking to play spoiler against superior 2012 foes, while other games will have much at stake for both teams.

The game between Ohio State and Michigan would typically be featured, but with the undefeated Buckeyes ineligible for the postseason, let's look at a quartet of other marquee games that will largely shape the BCS and major bowl picture.


No. 1 Notre Dame at USC

Matt Barkley is out for USC (h/t ESPN Los Angeles), but the preseason No. 1 Trojans will still have plenty of pride on the line in taking on the current top-ranked team in the nation at home.

With incredible playmakers on the USC offense—receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, RB Silas Redd, TE Xavier Grimble—there are plenty of players to turn to for new starting signal-caller Max Wittek.

The young QB has certainly not shown signs of fearing the big stage after guaranteeing that the Trojans would beat the Fighting Irish in the Los Angeles Coliseum, according to a report by Paul Myerberg of the USA Today.

Wittek's confidence may be deemed foolish, but it is precisely the swagger that has been characteristic of dominant Trojan teams. This team was expected to be one of those, but the season has played out to a different set of circumstances. That makes USC the best candidate to play spoiler.

As incredible as Notre Dame's defense has played all year, it has not faced an offense quite this powerful. The expectations for the Irish are going to be monstrous, as many people are viewing them as a lock to win this game 

Last week's debacle by college football's top two teams shows just how fragile national title hopes are. The road ends in L.A. for ND, as the Trojans hold onto the Jeweled Shillelagh.

Final score: USC 23, Notre Dame 17


No. 4 Florida at No. 10 Florida State

A rough past three games for Will Muschamp's Gators make it hard to fathom why they continue to be ranked so high in the BCS standings. 

Respect is rightfully given to SEC teams, but this seems a bit ridiculous.

Florida hardly has any offense to speak of, and it barely survived teams such as conference cellar-dweller Missouri and Louisiana-Lafayette, and a 23-0 victory over Jacksonville State wasn't exactly resounding.

The competition hikes up this weekend in Tallahassee. The Seminoles have not only one of the better defenses in the country but also an extremely balanced offense orchestrated by quarterback EJ Manuel.

Although Florida has shut down top-tier offenses throughout the year, the Gators' offense has been seriously discouraging lately.

Without a competent passing game and a rushing attack that is becoming a liability, it's going to be tough for the Gators to stay in the national title race.

Manuel and company should have no problem getting into the end zone multiple times if the Florida offense continues to struggle moving the ball.

Judging by Florida State's recent form, the Seminoles should win convincingly, proving they can match up with their a top-notch SEC foe despite hailing from the ACC.

Final score: Florida State 20, Florida 3


No. 8 Stanford at No. 17 UCLA

Freshmen QBs and senior running backs highlight this matchup of two California teams coming off of incredible victories.

The big rivalry game for the Bruins happened at home last week, when they ended a five-game losing streak against USC by winning 38-28.

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley has been a rock under center for head coach Jim L. Mora, and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone has helped the freshman have a phenomenal year. The presence of senior RB Johnathan Franklin has definitely made life easier, too.

A similar symbiotic relationship has budded for the Cardinal recently. Stepfan Taylor has been running hard all season, and Kevin Hogan has benefited from the strong running game since taking over as starting quarterback three weeks ago.

With Taylor being the workhorse back and Hogan playing efficient football, Stanford was able to upset Oregon on the road last week. The victory showed that Hogan guiding his team to a win over Oregon State the previous week was no fluke.

Stanford has endured an extremely difficult schedule to deservedly rank among the best teams coming down the stretch.

Despite the way the Bruins have been playing, expect the Cardinal to find a way to gut this one out on the road once again.

Final score: Stanford 24, UCLA 21


No. 5 Oregon at No. 15 Oregon State

The Beavers have one of the better run defenses in the country, but this is an angry Oregon team that is eager to claw back into the national title picture despite long odds.

It's hard to fathom the Ducks possessing the ball for under 23 minutes as they did last week against Stanford—probably because it won't happen again.

The X-factor that quarterback Marcus Mariota brings to the position with his mobility will be too much for Oregon State to overcome.

Beavers' QB Sean Mannion is turnover-prone to say the least, and he doesn't have a strong running game to lean on. That should lend itself to a lot of short fields for Oregon and a lot of quick strikes to the end zone.

Despite the limited time on offense last week, the Ducks still amassed 405 total yards in the Stanford game, which is a testament to their explosiveness.

Mariota gives Oregon an insurmountable edge, and Ducks RB Kenjon Barner will bounce back from a disappointing outing to get his Heisman-caliber campaign back on track.

Final score: Oregon 35, Oregon State 17