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College Football Picks: Week 13 Predictions for Every Game

Brian PedersenFeatured ColumnistNovember 21, 2013

College Football Picks: Week 13 Predictions for Every Game

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    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    The final stretch of the 2013 college football season is here, with teams jockeying for position atop the standings, fighting to get bowl eligibility or just hoping not to keep losing.

    The Week 13 schedule has a pleasantly large number of good matchups, ones that will go a long way toward determining the qualifiers for the BCS bowls, as well as who will face whom in the many lesser bowl games.

    There are some stinkers too, pitting a pair of clubs just playing out the string and hoping to finish on a high note.

    Last week's slate gave us a few upsets, with home teams getting beat by visitors they shouldn't have lost to. Still, we went 38-9 in the picks, avoiding double-digit losses thanks to some Georgia defensive backs forgetting the lessons learned in countless practice tip drills.

    Check out our predictions for the Week 13 lineup and then give us your picks in the comments section.

    Note: All rankings via the latest BCS standings.

No. 13 Michigan State at Northwestern

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    Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 12 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Good, but not great

    Last meeting: Northwestern beat Michigan State 23-20 last season.

    What to watch for: No. 13 Michigan State (9-1, 6-0 Big Ten) is a win away from clinching the Legends Division and making the Big Ten title game for the second time in three years. The Spartans defense has been so suffocating it's all but masked an offense that's slowly starting to produce. 

    Northwestern (4-6, 0-6) has had a season to forget, losing in every way imaginable during a six-game skid. The latest was a triple-overtime home setback to Michigan after the Wildcats saw their opponent get its field-goal unit out and drill a tying kick as the clock ran down.

    This one won't have last-second heartbreak, just regular pain.

    Prediction: Michigan State 23, Northwestern 7

    Final: Michigan State 30, Northwestern 6

Memphis at No. 21 Louisville

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 12 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Louisville crushed Memphis 56-0 in 2010.

    What to watch for: Memphis (3-6, 1-4 AAC) has won two straight to keep faint bowl hopes alive. The Tigers are doing it with defense, holding several strong offenses far below their averages.

    Louisville (9-1, 5-1) is just as defense-minded, but in a much more dominating fashion. There's also that guy named Teddy Bridgewater and his playmaking ability, as the Cardinals have put up big numbers in the same games they've stifled opponents.

    Memphis' bowl chances will be over by late afternoon.

    Prediction: Louisville 28, Memphis 10

    Final: Louisville 24, Memphis 17

Old Dominion at North Carolina

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    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 12 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Points, points, points!

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for: Old Dominion (8-3) is wrapping up a solid first year in FBS, though the Monarchs have been in the transition from FCS and played seven lower-division opponents. They're 1-3 against FBS teams, averaging 32.8 points in those games.

    North Carolina (5-5) has surged back into respectability after a 1-5 start, and even with QB Bryn Renner gone with an injury, it was able to get past Pittsburgh to pull within a win of a bowl bid. The Tar Heels were supposed to be this good; it just took them a while to figure it out.

    Carolina's going bowling.

    Prediction: North Carolina 40, Old Dominion 31

    Final: North Carolina 80, Old Dominion 20

Duke at Wake Forest

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    Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 12 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Upset alert; Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Duke beat Wake Forest 34-27 last season.

    What to watch for: Duke (8-2, 4-2 ACC) has put itself in position to make the ACC title game, an almost unheard-of prospect when the season began. The Blue Devils have pulled out some big wins over Miami and Virginia Tech, while in other games they've been lucky not to lose.

    Wake Forest (4-6, 2-5) was a minute from knocking off then-unbeaten Miami, but that loss and others since have the Demon Deacons on a three-game skid with an offense that has disappeared. Wake is averaging less than 18 points per game, which is hard to win with.

    Wake will give Duke a game, though.

    Prediction: Duke 21, Wake Forest 17

    Final: Duke 28, Wake Forest 21

Citadel at No. 7 Clemson

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    Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 12 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: Clemson beat the Citadel 45-17 in 2008.

    What to watch for: Citadel (5-6) is a middling FCS team that's made no secret it's playing this game for the paycheck. The Bulldogs have won three in a row, but not against the competition they'll be facing here.

    Clemson (9-1) has nothing to gain from this game. In fact, the Tigers will be best served to let the starters come out early and use reserves the rest of the way so everyone is healthy for South Carolina next week.

    But Clemson will still put up a ton of points.

    Prediction: Clemson 57, Citadel 13

    Final: Clemson 52, Citadel 6

Cincinnati at Houston

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    Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 12 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Cincinnati beat Houston 47-14 in 2002.

    What to watch for: Cincinnati (8-2, 5-1 AAC) was a big question mark entering last week, having not played anybody decent this season. But the Bearcats showed they're for real with a blowout win at Rutgers with a blend of trick plays not seen since the last time Tommy Tuberville felt he needed to prove people wrong.

    Houston (7-3, 4-2) has lost two straight to fall out of the league race, playing both Louisville and UCF close on the road but having their offense disappear in both games. The Cougars are improved on defense, but without scoring they can't win.

    Look for the Cougars to rebound and set Cincinnati straight.

    Prediction: Houston 35, Cincinnati 30

    Final: Cincinnati 24, Houston 17

Michigan at Iowa

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    Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 12 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Michigan beat Iowa 42-17 last season.

    What to watch for: Michigan (7-3, 3-3 Big Ten) has probably contributed to hundreds of ulcers, heart attacks and stress disorders in its fanbase with the up-and-down way the last six games have gone. Two overtime games, shootouts, dismal run performances—the Wolverines have done it all.

    Iowa (6-4, 3-3) has calmly, methodically and without much fanfare put together a decent season. The Hawkeyes have no signature wins, but also no bad losses. To get to a better bowl, though, they might need to beat someone with more wins than them.

    Like this opponent.

    Prediction: Iowa 27, Michigan 22

    Final: Iowa 24, Michigan 21

No. 20 Oklahoma at Kansas State

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 12 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Kansas State beat Oklahoma 24-19 last season.

    What to watch for: Oklahoma (8-2, 5-2 Big 12) can only count Notre Dame in the "good wins" category. Otherwise the Sooners have beaten dregs and lost to the two other strong opponents on the schedule. With Blake Bell out, Oklahoma has to once again change its offensive approach with Trevor Knight at QB.

    Kansas State (6-4, 4-3) has been on fire the last month but had to pull out a late win over TCU last week. The Wildcats have gotten better as the season has gone on and are for the most part playing their best ball as the temperature drops.

    Look for K-State to keep it going and pass Oklahoma in the standings.

    Prediction: Kansas State 30, Oklahoma 24

    Final: Oklahoma 41, Kansas State 31

Virginia at Miami (Fla.)

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    Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 12 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: Virginia beat Miami 41-40 last season, its third straight win in the series.

    What to watch for: Virginia (2-8, 0-6 ACC) has looked really bad this month and is so far from the team that opened the year with a win over BYU that it's almost unrecognizable.

    Miami (7-3, 3-3) isn't the same team it was a month ago either, but injuries have been a big part of that. The loss of Duke Johnson has been devastating, but the Hurricanes have enough talent they should be able to get out of this funk.

    That's what having Virginia in is for.

    Prediction: Miami 40, Virginia 16

    Final: Miami 45, Virginia 26

Illinois at Purdue

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    Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 12 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Snoozefest

    Last meeting: Purdue beat Illinois 20-17 last season.

    What to watch for: Illinois (3-7, 0-6 Big Ten) has lost 20 straight league games and is very likely going to be searching for another coach in the offseason. Despite a talented quarterback in Nathan Scheelhaase, the Fighting Illini make way too many mistakes.

    Purdue (1-9, 0-6) is among the four or five worst teams in the BCS conferences, putting together one of the most woeful seasons in years. The Boilermakers virtually exploded on offense last week with 21 points but still lost by 24 to Penn State.

    The pain ends for someone, most likely Illinois.

    Prediction: Illinois 34, Purdue 20

    Final: Illinois 20, Purdue 16

Mississippi State at Arkansas

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    Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 12:21 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Snoozefest

    Last meeting: Mississippi State beat Arkansas 45-14.

    What to watch for: Mississippi State (4-6, 1-5 SEC) has been good enough to lose most games, but not necessarily by a lot. The Bulldogs have played some teams tight, but they haven't really looked good in the process.

    Arkansas (3-7, 0-6) has found a way to look worse as the season has gone on, making a 3-0 start against weak competition a far distant memory. The Razorbacks have scored just over 16 points per game during their seven-game losing streak, much of that coming after the games are out of hand.

    However, the Hogs will take this one at home and knock MSU out of the bowl picture in the process.

    Prediction: Arkansas 24, Mississippi State 20

    Final: Mississippi State 24, Arkansas 17 (OT)

East Carolina at NC State

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    James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 12:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Better than you'd think

    Last meeting: East Carolina beat North Carolina State 33-27 in overtime in 2010.

    What to watch for: East Carolina (8-2) hasn't been challenged in the league in more than a month, but will now face a test from Marshall to get into the Conference USA title game. This brief foray into ACC territory would be a nice warmup for that much more important league play.

    North Carolina State (3-7) has dropped six in a row and, other than some flashes of mediocrity here and there, has been mostly noncompetitive. The Wolfpack are without stars on offense, and their defense can't make key stops.

    ECU already beat North Carolina, who is far better than NC State.

    Prediction: East Carolina 41, North Carolina State 27

    Final: East Carolina 42, North Carolina State 28

Pittsburgh at Syracuse

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    Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 12:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Syracuse beat Pittsburgh 14-13 last season.

    What to watch for: Pittsburgh (5-5, 2-4 ACC) lost all the momentum it got from beating Notre Dame by losing at home to North Carolina, and now are in a perilous place as far as the bowl picture goes. After this one, they host a vulnerable Miami (Fla.) team, but no club wants to enter that final game needing a win to keep playing.

    Syracuse (5-5, 3-3) has been so hard to figure out, posting back-to-back shutout victories that were bookended by losses of 56-0 and 59-3. The Orange gets its last two at home, but like Pitt doesn't want to have to put off the bowl qualification to the final Saturday.

    How ironic that one former Big East team puts the other on the precipice of a losing season.

    Prediction: Syracuse 23, Pittsburgh 14

    Final: Pittsburgh 17, Syracuse 16

Massachusetts at Central Michigan

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    Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 1 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Snoozefest

    Last meeting: Central Michigan beat Massachusetts 42-21 last season.

    What to watch for: Massachusetts (1-9, 1-5 MAC) has two one-point losses in its last three games, a sign of a team not used to winning. The Minutemen are looking better, but aren't good enough to beat anybody other than the absolute worst opponents.

    Central Michigan (4-6, 3-3) has lost to five potential bowl teams, but now that the schedule is softening it's starting to play better. The Chippewas might actually get eligible here down the stretch, but the MAC probably won't have enough bids to give one to them.

    But CMU will still play like a bowl is on the line.

    Prediction: Central Michigan 37, Massachusetts 16

    Final: Central Michigan 37, Massachusetts 0

Bowling Green at Eastern Michigan

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    Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 1 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: Bowling Green beat Eastern Michigan 24-3 last season.

    What to watch for: Bowling Green (7-3, 5-1 MAC) has shaken off a two-game skid with two dominating defensive performances, capped by last Tuesday's 49-0 win over a decent Ohio team. The Falcons are on a collision course for a East Division showdown with Buffalo next week and looking really good.

    Eastern Michigan (2-8, 1-5) got an inspired win two weeks ago after its coach was fired the day before the game. But the Eagles don't have enough in the tank or the talent pool to beat a strong team.

    Bowling Green keeps rolling.

    Prediction: Bowling Green 44, Eastern Michigan 10

    Final: Bowling Green 58, Eastern Michigan 7

Coastal Carolina at No. 11 South Carolina

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    Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 1 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for: Coastal Carolina (10-1) actually has the better record in this matchup, though against far lesser competition. The Chanticleers can play, and are likely going to the FCS playoffs, but their role in this game is clearly as a team to be pushed around for confidence purposes.

    South Carolina (8-2) will use this game as a tuneup for the rivalry with Clemson, possibly tinkering with things here and there while also getting the Gamecocks' starters out without any significant injuries.

    Nothing spectacular will come from this game, other than maybe a Jadeveon Clowney YouTube hit.

    Prediction: South Carolina 47, Coastal Carolina 17

    Final: South Carolina 70, Coastal Carolina 10

Alabama A&M at Georgia Tech

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    Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 1:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for: Alabama A&M (4-7) will get a nice payday for coming into Atlanta and getting pounded, and though the FCS Bulldogs will put up their best effort, their results this season make it unlikely they can compete.

    Georgia Tech (6-4) squandered its chance to be a factor in the ACC Coastal Division race with a midseason swoon, but the Yellow Jackets still have a dangerous run game that can wreak havoc on unprepared defenses.

    Tech will romp and roll ahead of next week's game with Georgia.

    Prediction: Georgia Tech 55, Alabama A&M 13

    Final: Georgia Tech 66, Alabama A&M 7

Georgia Southern at Florida

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    Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 2 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Better than you'd think

    Last meeting: Florida beat Georgia Southern 62-14 in 1996.

    What to watch for: Georgia Southern (6-4) is one of the better FCS programs over the last two decades, but with the transition to the Sun Belt next season, the Eagles are sitting out a lot of their best players. However, they still have fared well and could serve as a challenge.

    Florida (4-6) is likely going to miss a bowl for the first time since 1986, unless it can somehow knock off Florida State next week. But the Gators have struggled so much offensively they can't even consider what should be a cakewalk game an automatic win.

    The Gators will win, but Will Muschamp's seat will remain warm.

    Prediction: Florida 27, Georgia Southern 21

    Final: Georgia Southern 26, Florida 20

Chattanooga at Alabama

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    John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 2 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: Alabama beat Chattanooga 45-0 in 2009.

    What to watch for: Chattanooga (8-3) leads the Southern Conference and will be among the 24-team field for the FCS playoffs in two weeks. The Mocs have kept the games relatively low-scoring, which is probably why Alabama scheduled them.

    But after last week's subpar effort at Mississippi State, it's likely Nick Saban will try to reassert his message for Alabama (10-0) even in a game that's meaningless with the Iron Bowl on the horizon.

    The Crimson Tide will play harder than you'd expect.

    Prediction: Alabama 43, Chattanooga 13

    Final: Alabama 49, Chattanooga 0

Hawaii at Wyoming

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    Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 2 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Points, points, points!

    Last meeting: Wyoming beat Hawaii 35-6 in 1997.

    What to watch for: Hawaii (0-10, 0-7 MWC) squandered yet another chance to get off the schneid last week, losing a late lead before falling in overtime at home to San Diego State. The Warriors have played much better at home than on the mainland.

    Wyoming (4-6, 2-4) looked strong early in the season, but a total defensive breakdown plus mounting injuries to dual-threat QB Brett Smith has neutered the Cowboys' season.

    Wyoming can still make a bowl, so it will play with fervor to keep that dream alive.

    Prediction: Wyoming 47, Hawaii 23

    Final: Wyoming 59, Hawaii 56 (OT)

Georgia State at Arkansas State

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    Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 3 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for: Georgia State (0-10, 0-5 Sun Belt) has struggled mightily in its first season in FBS. The Panthers had some close calls midway through, but they haven't been able to compete of late.

    Arkansas State (6-4, 5-1) is putting together a late-season surge in hopes of a third bowl in as many years and under different coaches each season. The Red Wolves should be able to lock up the Sun Belt's second spot, getting them into the GoDaddy Bowl.

    The newcomers will serve as nice-win fodder for the home team.

    Prediction: Arkansas State 40, Georgia State 17

    Final: Arkansas State 35, Georgia State 33

New Mexico State at Florida Atlantic

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    Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 3 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: New Mexico State beat Florida Atlantic 35-7 in 2004.

    What to watch for: New Mexico State (1-9) is almost done with its year of nomadic existence, lost between the defunct Western Athletic Conference and next season's addition to the Sun Belt. The Aggies haven't beat an FBS opponent in more than two years mostly because of a defense that has no ability to make stops.

    Florida Atlantic (4-6) has been almost a completely different team since Carl Pelini was forced out amid a drug scandal. Even with that issue festering away from the field, the Owls are playing like a team with a mission—a mission that could include an unlikely bowl bid after a 2-6 start.

    The Owls will be a win away after Saturday. 

    Prediction: Florida Atlantic 34, New Mexico State 20

    Final: Florida Atlantic 55, New Mexico State 10

No. 5 Oregon at Arizona

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    Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Upset alert; bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Oregon beat Arizona 49-0 last season.

    What to watch for: Oregon (9-1, 6-1 Pac-12) has returned to the driver's seat in the Pac-12 North after Stanford's loss to USC. But the Ducks can't afford to lose again, not just because it would knock them out contention for the Rose Bowl, but for any BCS bid. 

    Arizona (6-4, 3-4) has struggled the last two weeks, with an offense that's starting to sputter like early in the year and a defense that's giving up big plays at bad points in the game. The Wildcats still have one of the country's most dependable weapons in Ka'Deem Carey, who they'll ride for as much as they can.

    Oregon could be ripe for an upset, but Arizona isn't playing well enough to be the upsetter. 

    Prediction: Oregon 45, Arizona 27

    Final: Arizona 42, Oregon 16

Idaho at No. 2 Florida State

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    Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for: Idaho (1-9) is in the southeast for the third time in the past six weeks, the life of a team that has no league and has to go wherever someone will have them. Add in the fact the Vandals aren't strong on offense and can't play defense, and it's been a rough year. 

    Florida State (10-0) has a spot in the ACC title game all wrapped up, and now all it has left to do is continue to whoop on people to hold onto second in the BCS. The Seminoles waste no time getting the job done and won't let up.

    Pity the people from Idaho. 

    Prediction: Florida State 63, Idaho 6

    Final: Florida State 80, Idaho 14

BYU at Notre Dame

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    Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Good, but not great

    Last meeting: Notre Dame beat BYU 17-14 last season.

    What to watch for: BYU (7-3) has already accepted a bid to the Fight Hunger Bowl, so this game and its finale at Nevada are essentially meaningless. All the Cougars want to do is play competitive and keep their offense running smoothly. 

    Notre Dame (7-3) is in a weird spot, knowing it's all but eliminated from BCS contention but also completely unsure of what lies beyond next week's finale at Stanford. The Fighting Irish have to find an open bowl slot somewhere, so putting together an impressive result can only help with that. 

    Notre Dame has looked shaky of late, and will fall at home. 

    Prediction: BYU 30, Notre Dame 28

    Final: Notre Dame 23, BYU 13

No. 12 Texas A&M at No. 22 LSU

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: LSU beat Texas A&M 24-19 last season, its second straight win over the Aggies.

    What to watch for: Texas A&M (8-2, 4-2) has provided another season's worth of offensive exploits and Johnny Manziel highlights, but a lack of defensive stops and no wins over good teams have the Aggies hovering between a desirable BCS participant and just another good-but-not-great team.

    LSU (7-3, 3-3) is the only team to beat Auburn, but other than that not much has gone its way. The Tigers have a lot of weapons on offense, but sometimes they disappear, and their defense has struggled at key times. 

    Texas A&M has more to play for, but LSU will win.

    Prediction: LSU 40, Texas A&M 35

    Final: LSU 34, Texas A&M 10

Boston College at Maryland

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    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Boston College beat Maryland 20-17 last season.

    What to watch for: Boston College (6-4, 3-3 ACC) has jumped on the back of workhorse running back Andre Williams to get to bowl eligibility, and there's no reason the Eagles would stop that game plan. Williams has broken the school's single-game rushing record in back-to-back games, and leads the FBS by more than 370 yards for the season. 

    Maryland (6-4, 2-4) got a huge boost when quarterback C.J. Brown got back to full strength, and it showed in last week's OT win at Virginia Tech. The Terrapins were looking like a really good team before injuries got in the way, but there's still hope for a good season now that bowl eligibility has been achieved.

    This should be a good one, with Maryland taking it late.

    Prediction: Maryland 30, Boston College 27

    Final: Boston College 29, Maryland 26

No. 19 Wisconsin at No. 25 Minnesota

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Wisconsin beat Minnesota 38-13 last season for its ninth straight win over the Golden Gophers.

    What to watch for: Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) has romped over everyone in the league since losing at Ohio State, also handling a good BYU team along the way with a combo of power running and solid defense. The Badgers haven't allowed anyone to play them close of late, though the competition has been mostly soft. 

    Minnesota (8-2, 4-2) is having one of the better seasons in school history, using the motivation to play for its recovering coach to give fuel to the fire. The Golden Gophers offense is still trying to find itself, but a solid and opportunistic defense has been a constant force all season. 

    But Wisconsin has looked far too good to lose this one.

    Prediction: Wisconsin 27, Minnesota 23

    Final: Wisconsin 20, Minnesota 7

Indiana at No. 3 Ohio State

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    Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: Ohio State beat Indiana 52-49 last season, its 18th straight win in the series.

    What to watch for: Indiana (4-6, 2-4 Big Ten) continued its defenseless approach to defense last week, but also saw its offense disappear in a 48-point blowout loss at Wisconsin. Not the best circumstances for heading into Columbus the following game. 

    Ohio State (10-0, 6-0) is starting to resign itself to the fact it doesn't control its own destiny for the BCS title game, but that's not stopping the Buckeyes from keeping the pedal to the medal. You won't see a quick start and then clock-killing. Instead, they're trying to hit 50-plus and then go to 60.

    Shouldn't be too hard this time out.

    Prediction: Ohio State 62, Indiana 20

    Final: Ohio State 42, Indiana 14

Nebraska at Penn State

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    Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Upset alert

    Last meeting: Nebraska beat Penn State 32-23 last season.

    What to watch for: Nebraska (7-3, 4-2 Big Ten) was thoroughly beaten by Michigan State at Lincoln last week, falling out of the Big Ten Legends race and putting Bo Pelini back on the hot seat. Now the Cornhuskers must regroup to try and finish strong and high enough in the Big Ten hierarchy to get a New Year's Day bowl slot. 

    Penn State (6-4, 3-3) has looked quite good at times, but also quite bad at other points in this second of four bowl-ban seasons. There's some good talent to build around for the Nittany Lions, assuming they figure out how to stop making mistakes at key moments in games. 

    This will be a signature win for the Lions and some extra kindling under Pelini's backside.

    Prediction: Penn State 28, Nebraska 20

    Final: Nebraska 23, Penn State 20 (OT)

UTSA at North Texas

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    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for: UTSA (5-5, 4-2 C-USA) can become bowl eligible with a win, but as part of its transition plan from FCS, it can only get an invite if there aren't other teams able to fill an open slot. But the Roadrunners have more goals, like finishing with a winning season despite a decent schedule.

    North Texas (7-3, 5-1) controls its own destiny to win the West Division in C-USA and play in the title game in its first season in the league. The Mean Green have won five straight and have managed to avoid looking bad in any of their losses. 

    The North keep rolling, though it'll be relatively close. 

    Prediction: North Texas 37, UTSA 24

    Final: UTSA 21, North Texas 13

Utah at Washington State

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    Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Utah beat Washington State 49-6 last season.

    What to watch for: Utah (4-6, 1-6 Pac-12) is a team on the way down, a once well-defined offensive unit that's struggled mightily with the ball for the past six weeks. The Utes lost quarterback Travis Wilson to a concussion and he's done for the year, furthering the lost season.

    Washington State (5-5, 3-4) shocked Arizona on the road last week, and now the long shot of a first bowl bid since 2003 is looking like a reality. The Cougars still make a lot of mistakes, but with Mike Leach's scheming and some talented offensive players, getting a win in the last two games (with a Friday night showdown at Washington the season finale) is very possible.

    It'll happen at home.

    Prediction: Washington State 35, Utah 17

    Final: Washington State 49, Utah 37

Colorado State at Utah State

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    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Utah State beat Colorado State 31-19 last season.

    What to watch for: Colorado State (6-5, 4-2 Mountain West) has seemingly out-of-nowhere developed the most unstoppable player in the game in Kapri Bibbs. Bibbs has rushed for 19 touchdowns in the last five games, including six last week at New Mexico. He'll keep getting the ball as long as the Rams are playing.

    Utah State (6-4, 5-1) has generated far more offense than anyone could have expected after losing Chuckie Keeton and his playmaking ability at quarterback. But the Aggies shook off the initial shock of his loss and are peaking late, with a chance still to make the MWC title game.

    This should be one of the better games of the weekend. At home, give the slight edge to the Aggies.

    Prediction: Utah State 40, Colorado State 34

    Final: Utah State 13, Colorado State 0

Middle Tennessee at Southern Miss

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    Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: Middle Tennessee beat Southern Mississippi 42-32 in the 2009 New Orleans Bowl.

    What to watch for: Middle Tennessee (6-4, 4-2 C-USA) has fared quite well in its first season in the league, a surprise considering the Blue Raiders had been middling the last few years in the lesser Sun Belt.

    Southern Mississippi (0-10, 0-6) has somehow played worse than last year's 0-12 campaign, with only one near victory. That was a one-point loss to a team that's almost as bad (Florida International).

    MTSU will continue the Golden Eagles' pain.

    Prediction: Middle Tennessee 37, Southern Mississippi 17

    Final: Middle Tennessee 42, Southern Mississippi 21

UTEP at Tulane

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Good, but not great

    Last meeting: UTEP beat Tulane 24-20 last season.

    What to watch for: UTEP (2-8, 1-5 C-USA) finally got a league win thanks to a visit from woeful Florida International, as the Miners have struggled all year on both sides of the ball.

    Tulane (6-4, 4-2) is bowl-bound for the first time since 2002, but the Green Wave are struggling. The offense has disappeared, and without a reverse in momentum, that bowl game could result in the team finishing with a losing record after a 6-2 start.

    Two struggling teams will make for a muddy game, but the home team wins.

    Prediction: Tulane 22, UTEP 17

    Final: Tulane 45, UTEP 3

California at No. 9 Stanford

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 4 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: Stanford beat California 21-3 last season.

    What to watch for: California (1-10, 0-8 Pac-12) has not looked good nearly the entire season, only showing some signs of decency here and there. Sonny Dykes' rebuilding plan hasn't taken root yet, but the Golden Bears should look better next season.

    Stanford (8-2, 6-2) shot itself in the foot by losing at USC last week, and now has to hope Oregon slips again or the Cardinal will not make a BCS bowl. Stanford can only rely on its defense so much. Without more explosive offense, there could be further struggles.

    But not with Cal.

    Prediction: Stanford 41, California 14

    Final: Stanford 63, California 13

New Mexico at No. 15 Fresno State

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    Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 4 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: Fresno State beat New Mexico 49-32 last season.

    What to watch for: New Mexico (3-7, 1-5 MWC) has one of the best running games in the country, but that's partly due to the Lobos' almost complete inability to move the ball via the pass. The Lobos also can't stop anybody on defense, which makes for an odd strategy when they continue to run despite trailing most of the time.

    Fresno State (9-0, 6-0) just has to avoid a letdown and it will get into the MWC title game, where a win over Boise State or Utah State will likely be enough to hold onto a spot as a BCS buster. The Bulldogs' passing game with Derek Carr is fun to watch and would be a great addition to a big-time bowl.

    Fresno will let New Mexico run all it wantsit won't matter.

    Prediction: Fresno State 54, New Mexico 24

    Final: Fresno State 69, New Mexico 28

Marshall at Florida International

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 6 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: Marshall beat Florida International 20-10 in the 2011 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl.

    What to watch for: Marshall (7-3, 5-1 C-USA) is playing toward a shot at the league championship game, riding the arm of talented quarterback Rakeem Cato to a top-10 offensive ranking. But the Thundering Herd can also play some defense, which is why they're having their best season in at least a decade.

    Florida International (1-9, 1-5) fired Mario Cristobal after a 3-9 season last year, and now are worse than before he was canned. The Golden Panthers can't score, don't defend and have no real field presence.

    The Herd will thunder on.

    Prediction: Marshall 44, Florida International 13

    Final: Marshall 48, Florida International 10

Louisiana-Monroe at South Alabama

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    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 7 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Snoozefest

    Last meeting: Louisiana-Monroe beat South Alabama 38-24 last season.

    What to watch for: Louisiana-Monroe (5-5, 3-2 Sun Belt) has five blowout losses and some relatively unimpressive wins, though taking out Wake Forest on the road was impressive. The Warhawks have a good quarterback in Kolton Browning who can make some plays, but not enough to make them a consistent winner.

    South Alabama (3-6, 1-3) was looking sharp early in the season, with upsets of Tulane and Western Kentucky and a close loss at Tennessee. The latter half of the year hasn't been as good, though, and the Jaguars are headed toward a losing campaign.

    ULM gets a bowl eligibility-making win, but the Warhawks probably won't be bowl-bound.

    Prediction: Louisiana-Monroe 33, South Alabama 21

    Final: South Alabama 36, Louisiana-Monroe 14

No. 17 Arizona State at No. 14 UCLA

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    Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 7 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: UCLA beat Arizona State 45-43 last season.

    What to watch for: Arizona State (8-2, 6-1 Pac-12) has seen its offense drop down a few notches from the ridiculous numbers it was putting up in October. But the Sun Devils defense has started to fill in some of their gaps, with the last game against Oregon State a prime example.

    UCLA (8-2, 5-2) has discovered a secret weapon in Myles Jack, a seemingly unstoppable running back plucked from the linebacking corps. The Bruins have other talents, too, though some have struggled to be consistent of late.

    Winner of this game takes the Pac-12 South, so expect a tight finish. Slight edge to UCLA.

    Prediction: UCLA 37, Arizona State 31

    Final: Arizona State 38, UCLA 33

SMU at South Florida

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    Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 7 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Good, but not great

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for: SMU (4-5, 3-2 AAC) has looked a lot better in the second half of the season, with the offense rallying around Garrett Gilbert and his strong passing game. The Mustangs are still not ready to compete with the big boys, though.

    South Florida (2-7, 2-3), meanwhile, is a bad team that had a brief moment of decency in early October. The offense is mostly lethargic, making any efforts that come from defense get wasted, a big reason the Bulls are having their third straight losing season.

    SMU gets to .500 and keeps their fleeting bowl hopes alive.

    Prediction: SMU 33, South Florida 16

    Final: SMU 16, South Florida 6

Kentucky at Georgia

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 7 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: Georgia beat Kentucky 29-24 last season, its third straight win over the Wildcats.

    What to watch for: Kentucky (2-8, 0-6 SEC) isn't nearly as bad as its record shows, but neither are the Wildcats any good. Mark Stoops has made some strides in his first season in Lexington, but it's still an uphill battle until they can get some talent in there.

    Georgia (6-4, 4-3) is having a snakebit season full of miscues, injuries and bad luck, but they'll still get at least seven victories and get into a decent bowl because of its SEC pedigree. The Bulldogs are still good enough to beat anyone, especially the bad teams.

    Kentucky is a bad team.

    Prediction: Georgia 43, Kentucky 17

    Final: Georgia 59, Kentucky 17

Connecticut at Temple

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    Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 7 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Snoozefest

    Last meeting: Temple beat Connecticut 17-14 in overtime last season.

    What to watch for: Connecticut (0-9, 0-5 AAC) has been no better since Paul Pasqualoni got the axe in late September. The Huskies are the worst team from a BCS automatic qualifier conference, and it's not even close.

    Temple (1-9, 0-6) isn't that far behind in the badness category, but the Owls can at least score and make some noise from time to time. They put a huge scare into 17th-ranked UCF last week, and with some luck could have three or four wins.

    They'll have two after playing UConn.

    Prediction: Temple 40, Connecticut 20

    Final: Connecticut 28, Temple 21

Western Kentucky at Texas State

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    Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 7 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for: Western Kentucky (6-4, 2-3 Sun Belt) has had more off days than would have been expected with Bobby Petrino at the helm. The Hilltoppers have lacked consistency for most of the season, but they've looked better of late thanks to Antonio Wallace's running ability.

    Texas State (6-4, 2-3) has no wins over winning teams, and no losses against sub-.500 teams, the epitome of a middle-of-the-road team. Dennis Franchione is slowly building this team into a mid-level FBS program, but the lack of playmakers on offense is keeping that from being a quick ascension.

    The winner has the inside track on the possibility of an extra bowl bid for the Sun Belt if something opens up.

    Prediction: Texas State 27, Western Kentucky 26

    Final: Western Kentucky 38, Texas State 7

Tulsa at Louisiana Tech

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    Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 7 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Snoozefest

    Last meeting: Louisiana Tech beat Tulsa 38-24 in 2004.

    What to watch for: Tulsa (2-8, 1-5 C-USA) is finishing up its worst season since 2001, even with Trey Watts rushing for more than 1,000 yards. The Golden Hurricane don't score much and give up a lot of points—a bad combination.

    Louisiana Tech (4-6, 3-3) has an outside shot to be bowl eligible despite being a vastly worse team from 2012, when the program turned down a bid to the New Orleans Bowl and ended up getting shut out despite a 9-3 record. The Bulldogs are still lacking in offense, which is what's holding them back more than anything.

    The Bulldogs knock off another low-hanging fruit.

    Prediction: Louisiana Tech 30, Tulsa 20

    Final: Tulsa 24, Louisiana Tech 14

Vanderbilt at Tennessee

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    Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 7 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Vanderbilt beat Tennessee 41-18 last season.

    What to watch for: Vanderbilt (6-4, 3-4 SEC) has surged to a third straight bowl bid thanks to an upset at Florida and a solid victory last week over Kentucky. The Commodores now get a chance to play spoiler to their rivals, while at the same time move up the league's bowl list.

    Tennessee (4-6, 1-5) put itself in a bad position, postseason-wise, by basically throwing in the towel after its nice win over South Carolina. Though the three-game stretch versus Alabama, Missouri and Auburn was brutal, Volunteers have been inconsistent on offense and the defense has given up too many big plays to remain competitive.

    This is one of those games where the better team doesn't win.

    Prediction: Tennessee 30, Vanderbilt 28

    Final: Vanderbilt 14, Tennessee 10

No. 8 Missouri at No. 24 Ole Miss

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 7:45 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Missouri beat Ole Miss 38-25 in 2007.

    What to watch for: Missouri (9-1, 5-1 SEC) has to win its last two games to hold onto the East Division title and stay in BCS contention. The Tigers are getting quarterback James Franklin back, making them just as dangerous as during their 7-0 start.

    Ole Miss (7-3, 3-3) has gotten on a roll thanks to being at home for what seems like four years (six games, actually, including this weekend). The Rebels defense is starting to lock down, while, on offense, QB Bo Wallace is putting together solid outings.

    Many SEC teams will be rooting for Ole Miss, but it won't happen.

    Prediction: Missouri 34, Ole Miss 27

    Final: Missouri 24, Ole Miss 10

Kansas at Iowa State

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    John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 8 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Snoozefest

    Last meeting: Iowa State beat Kansas 51-23 last season, its third straight win over the Jayhawks.

    What to watch for: Kansas (3-7, 1-6 Big 12) ended its ridiculously long league losing streak in its win over West Virginia, but the Jayhawks are still a really bad team. They make too many mistakes to be good or beat a good team, something they've proven several times this season.

    Iowa State (1-9, 0-7) has given up all hope for 2013, a sad turn of events that started with some hard-luck losses early on. The Cyclones offense keeps getting worse, while its offense hasn't improved.

    One team is going to suddenly feel a lot better. And the blind dart thrown at the board says...

    Prediction: Iowa State 24, Kansas 21

    Final: Iowa State 34, Kansas 0

No. 4 Baylor at No. 10 Oklahoma State

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 8 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Baylor beat Oklahoma State 41-38 last season.

    What to watch for: Baylor (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) has shown no serious weaknesses all season, playing explosive offense and, for a team that's scoring so much, surprisingly solid defense. The Bears seem like a team of destiny, with weapons and playmakers around every corner.

    Oklahoma State (9-1, 6-1) has very quietly become a force despite an offense that's far below the normal standards of a Mike Gundy team. The Cowboys are starting to get more consistent play from the quarterback position, and that defense is far better than anyone could have expected.

    Baylor will have to play into the fourth quarter, and may trail late in Stillwater, but will come out on top in this Top 10 battle.

    Prediction: Baylor 34, Oklahoma State 31

    Final: Oklahoma State 49, Baylor 17

No. 23 USC at Colorado

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 9:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Good, but not great

    Last meeting: USC beat Colorado 50-6 last season and is 7-0 all time against the Buffaloes.

    What to watch for: USC (8-3, 5-2 Pac-12) has returned to the national stage after its win over Stanford, rising from the ashes of the Lane Kiffin era under the inspired leadership of interim coach Ed Orgeron. The turnaround isn't that surprising, considering the Trojans' bevy of talent, but it has still been fun to watch.

    Colorado (4-6, 1-6) broke through in league play with a win over listless Cal last week, but the Buffaloes are still a long way from being competitive in the Pac-12. The defense is starting to figure things out, but until that becomes the norm, the Buffs will struggle to win.

    USC is focused and feeling good, and it will show.

    Prediction: USC 34, Colorado 20

    Final: USC 47, Colorado 29

Boise State at San Diego State

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    Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 10:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: San Diego State won 21-19 last season.

    What to watch for: Boise State (7-3, 5-1 MWC) got shocked at home by San Diego State last season, and that Broncos team was better than this one. But the current version is getting better each week, especially now that quarterback Grant Hedrick has settled in for the injured Joe Southwick and remembers he's got a nice back in Jay Ajayi to work with.

    San Diego State (6-4, 5-1) was 0-3 and looking sluggish, but since then it's been a completely different team. The Aztecs are confident, and they know how to rally late, with the only loss in the last seven weeks coming in overtime to unbeaten Fresno State.

    This will be a last-second victory, and it will be a revenge win for Boise.

    Prediction: Boise State 35, San Diego State 33

    Final: San Diego State 34, Boise State 31 (OT)

Washington at Oregon State

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 10:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Washington beat Oregon State 20-17 last season.

    What to watch for: Washington (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) has gone 7-6 each of the previous three seasons, and a similar result looks to be in the making despite the 4-0 start. The Huskies have talent all over, but have found a way to mess things up. And now with QB Keith Price questionable with a shoulder injury, there's even more uncertainty.

    Oregon State (6-4, 4-3) has suddenly become sloppy on offense, going from one of the nation's best to one with some good players that can't stop making mistakes. The Sean Mannion-to-Brandin Cooks combination is one of the best around, but when it's not there the Beavers go from good to bad in a flash.

    Two frustrated teams will make for a sloppy but fun game. Advantage, home team.

    Prediction: Oregon State 34, Washington 27

    Final: Washington 69, Oregon State 27

Rutgers at No. 18 UCF

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    Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Thursday, Nov. 21, 7:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Rutgers beat UCF 45-24 in the 2009 St. Petersburg Bowl.

    What to watch for: Rutgers (5-4, 2-3 AAC) has looked ridiculously bad in some games and in others has barely knocked off lesser foes. The Scarlet Knights have no offensive rhythm, and they can't stop good teams.

    UCF (8-1, 5-0) almost squandered all it had achieved this season before getting some late magic to rally past Temple last week. The Knights seem to be doing just enough to get the job done, whether it's score a lot or play some defense.

    Look for UCF to be more focused this week.

    Prediction: UCF 33, Rutgers 20

    Final: UCF 41, Rutgers 17

Rice at UAB

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    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Thursday, Nov. 21, 7:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: Rice beat UAB 28-23 in 2010.

    What to watch for: Rice (7-3, 5-1 C-USA) is going to miss out on the league championship game because of a Halloween loss to North Texas, but the Owls are still having a strong season thanks to a decent run game and a defense that hasn't allowed more than 31 points in a game since the opener against Texas A&M.

    UAB (2-8, 1-5) has one of the worst defenses in the country, though on occasion the Blazers have kept the score down, but their offense can't follow through with points. The fourth straight season with at least eight losses is perilously close to a third straight with nine defeats.

    Close as in, after this game.

    Prediction: Rice 34, UAB 17

    Final: Rice 37, UAB 34 (OT)

UNLV at Air Force

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    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

    When: Thursday, Nov. 21, 9:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Better than you'd think

    Last meeting: UNLV beat Air Force 38-35 last season.

    What to watch for: UNLV (5-5, 3-3 MWC) is on its third try to get that elusive sixth win for bowl eligibility, which hasn't happened since 2000. The Runnin' Rebels need to get it done this time or would face having to beat San Diego State at home next week.

    Air Force (2-8, 0-6) has a strong option run game, but that's it. The Falcons can't throw and don't play defense well, which is why they've either been blown out or fallen in shootouts most games.

    UNLV's nerves will be there again, but it will finally break through.

    Prediction: UNLV 37, Air Force 31

    Final: UNLV 41, Air Force 21

Navy at San Jose State

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    Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Friday, Nov. 22, 9:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl picture clarifier

    Last meeting: San Jose State beat Navy 12-0 last season.

    What to watch for: Navy (6-4) locked up its bid to the Armed Forces Bowl by downing South Alabama last week, making this game almost a practice in preparation for the Army game in three weeks. But the Midshipmen will want to still grind out yards through their option game to keep SJSU's offense off the field.

    San Jose State (5-5) has missed out on two good chances to get that sixth win, losing at home to San Diego State and then laying a stinker at Nevada last week. The Spartans are struggling at the wrong time, and without having played other run-heavy teams this year, they're unprepared for Navy.

    But David Fales will throw San Jose to victory.

    Prediction: San Jose State 34, Navy 29

    Final: Navy 58, San Jose State 52 (3 OT)

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