College Football Week 13 Predictions: Last-Second Breakdowns for Top 25 Clashes
After last week's explosive Top 25 matchups, how can we possibly miss out on Week 13's duels?
Stanford's upset of Oregon last week was spectacular, as well as UCLA's turn-back-the-clock performance against in-state rival USC. And Oklahoma State's dominant display against Texas Tech should have Oklahoma worried this week.
Speaking of this week, we have five—yes, five—Top 25 clashes in store for Saturday.
No. 21 Oklahoma State heads into Norman to face No. 13 Oklahoma, No. 15 Oregon State tries to use its defense to stop No. 5 Oregon, No. 10 Florida State hosts No. 4 Florida, No. 17 UCLA attempts to shock the nation in back-to-back weeks against No. 8 Stanford and No. 11 Clemson hosts No. 12 South Carolina.
Here's a look at the key to the game for each Top 25 duel, complete with my predictions.
No. 5 Oregon at No. 15 Oregon State
Key to the Game: Oregon State Run Defense vs. Oregon Rushing Attack
Stanford showed last week that Oregon's offense can indeed be contained.
The Cardinal did so with one of the top run defenses in the country.
Oregon State has allowed 3.51 yards per carry this season (23rd in the FBS, via CFBStats.com), but the performance against Stepfan Taylor and Stanford on Nov. 10 worries me.
The Beavers allowed Taylor to rush for 114 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in the 27-23 loss.
Oregon State has a good run defense, but not an elite unit. Given that Oregon has an elite rushing attack, it's only natural to expect the Ducks to pull this one off in Corvallis.
Prediction: Oregon 30, Oregon State 24
No. 4 Florida at No. 10 Florida State
Key to the Game: Florida Passing Game vs. Florida State Pass Defense
The only way I see Florida winning this game is if Jeff Driskel steps up.
Florida's offense is largely reliant on the running game. The problem is, Florida State has just allowed 2.3 yards per carry (first in the FBS, via CFBStats.com) and six rushing touchdowns in 11 games.
Sure, Florida State's pass defense is also imposing, but I think the run defense is even better.
Given that Driskel has averaged 6.9 yards per pass attempt this season (tied for 74th among qualifying quarterbacks), forgive me if I don't see this working out well for the Gators in Tallahassee.
Prediction: Florida State 27, Florida 21
No. 21 Oklahoma State at No. 13 Oklahoma
Key to the Game: Oklahoma Defense vs. Oklahoma State Offense
Earlier in the season, I would have flipped this key to the game, as Oklahoma State's defense was a disaster.
But a 5-1 run since the loss to Texas on Sept. 29, complete with improved defense from the Cowboys, has me thinking upset in Norman.
Oklahoma's defense hasn't been extraordinary lately; it's been extra-ordinary. The Sooners gave up 30 points to Notre Dame, 34 points to Baylor and 49 points to West Virginia last week.
Given that Oklahoma State has scored a combined 114 points in its past two games against Texas Tech and West Virginia, Oklahoma's defense would have to be much-improved in one week, and that's not realistic in my mind.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 45, Oklahoma 37
No. 8 Stanford at No. 17 UCLA
Key to the Game: UCLA Offense vs. Stanford Defense
UCLA has an explosive offense, complete with freshman quarterback Brett Hundley and senior running back Johnathan Franklin. But anyone who saw what Stanford did to Oregon last week knows the Cardinal can shut down just about any offense.
UCLA is coming off a monumental 38-28 victory over USC, but the fact of the matter is, UCLA's offense isn't better than Oregon's unit, so I don't see how you can give this game to the Bruins.
The only way I see Stanford losing this game is if the offense collapses. That's possible with quarterback Kevin Hogan given that he's a freshman, but the Cardinal also have running back Stepfan Taylor and UCLA has had problems against the run all season long.
Prediction: Stanford 24, UCLA 20
No. 12 South Carolina at No. 11 Clemson
Key to the Game: South Carolina Offense
South Carolina has outscored its last two opponents by a combined 62-27 since running back Marcus Lattimore went down with a season-ending injury.
The problem is, those two opponents were dysfunctional Arkansas and FCS opponent Wofford.
South Carolina goes up against an explosive Clemson offense on Saturday that hasn't scored fewer than 38 points since its 49-37 loss to Florida State on Sept. 22. Those 37 points are the most Florida State has given up to an opponent this season.
The ho-hum 24 points South Carolina scored against Wofford worries me.
The Tigers should be able to score enough to emerge victorious in Clemson on Saturday.
Prediction: Clemson 35, South Carolina 30