College Football Week 13: Previews and Predictions for the Top 10 Games
Week 13 has the making to become Upset Saturday. Teams that are on the verge of either winning their division or conference title could be on upset alert.
The most critical game on Saturday will be between Top 10 Big 12 foes Baylor and Oklahoma State. A win for Baylor would put it in good position heading into the final weekend with a home game against another Big 12 title contender in Texas. Oklahoma State, on the other hand, would like nothing better than to take down Baylor and take the lead in the Big 12 race.
While an upset could be brewing in Stillwater, Missouri heads to Ole Miss where it might be in danger of losing and missing out on a chance of an SEC East Division title.
Minnesota and Kansas State will hope to pull off home upset victories over Wisconsin and Oklahoma as well.
Arizona State will look to clinch a Pac-12 South Division title at UCLA, and Texas A&M will head to the Bayou to battle it out with division opponent LSU.
With conference title races winding down and big upsets a possibility, here are the Top 10 games to watch on Saturday:
No. 12 Texas A&M at No. 22 LSU
No. 12 Texas A&M @ No. 22 LSU, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Texas A&M still has an outside chance to receive an at-large BCS bowl bid, but it's never an easy task to go into Death Valley and come out with a win.
Johnny Manziel's 3,313 passing yards, 611 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns still leaves him in contention to win a second consecutive Heisman Trophy.
Manziel, of course, will rely on one of the top receivers in the country, Mike Evans, to hopefully cause headaches for an LSU defense surrendering just 200.8 passing yards per game.
With the Aggies offense averaging an impressive 578.0 yards per game and 49.2 points per game, the defense hasn't necessarily needed to be at its best. Unfortunately in this matchup, the Texas A&M defense, which is currently giving up 454.4 yards per game, could struggle against both the pass and run.
LSU comes in off a bye week after being dismantled by bitter rival Alabama 38-17 on Nov. 9. The offense led by senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger (2,733 passing yards and 20 touchdowns) could have a big day against a subpar Aggie defense with main target wide receiver Odell Beckham. It also will be beneficial to have balance with physical running back Jeremy Hill in the backfield as well.
With the way both teams have played this season, this matchup will no doubt turn into a shootout, with the outcome being decided in the final minutes of the game.
Prediction: Texas A&M 45, LSU 42
No. 19 Wisconsin at No. 25 Minnesota
No. 19 Wisconsin @ No. 25 Minnesota, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
At the moment, Wisconsin is in the discussion for a BCS at-large bid. The Badgers will likely miss out on the conference title game, unless they win out and Ohio State drops its last two games.
Gary Andersen's squad has been rolling, as it has outscored its last five opponents 197-67. The offense, led by 1,000-yard rushers Melvin Gordon and James White, is currently racking up 505.8 yards per game and scoring 38.5 points per game.
With the Badgers having success on offense, the defense continues to make a big impact as well. The Wisconsin defense, led by senior linebacker Chris Borland, is giving up only 14.0 points per game (fifth in the country) and locking its opponents' running games down.
The Badgers are only surrendering 98.8 rushing yards per game, which could present big problems for a Minnesota offense that relies heavily on its running game.
While dual-threat quarterback Philip Nelson has done a solid job running the offense, its been running back David Cobb who has been the heart and soul of this Gophers offense. Cobb currently has 942 rushing yards and seven touchdowns this season.
Minnesota has exceeded expectations this season and is currently still in the Big Ten Legends Division race, but Wisconsin is much tougher than any opponent it has faced this season.
The Badgers will take care of business and experience a decade of dominance over the Gophers.
Prediction: Wisconsin 35, Minnesota 20
No. 17 Arizona State at No. 14 UCLA
No. 17 Arizona State @ No. 14 UCLA, 7 p.m. ET, FOX
Arizona State heads into the Rose Bowl after a convincing 30-17 win over Oregon State. This will be the Sun Devils' most important game in recent history with a trip to Pac-12 Championship on the line.
The offense, led by quarterback Taylor Kelly and running back Marion Grice ,will have a difficult task, as it faces a physical UCLA defense. Talented wide receiver Jaelen Strong needs to be a difference maker in the passing game, as he was against Oregon State, to help open up the running game.
Arizona State won't only have to worry about the Bruins defense, but the Bruins offense as well.
The Sun Devils defense, led by All-American defensive end Will Sutton, has held opponents to 120.6 rushing yards per game, and it will be looking shut down the Bruins running game.
The biggest story recently for UCLA has been its rushing attack led by freshman linebacker Myles Jack. Since being put in the backfield, Jack has rushed for an impressive 179 yards and five touchdowns. Not only is Jack a threat on offense, but dual-threat quarterback Brett Hundley continues to be as well.
Arizona State lost to UCLA 45-43 last season on a game-winning field goal as time expired. Now it's time for second-year head coach Todd Graham and company to prove they are no longer underachievers.
It will be a competitive game for a third consecutive year with each team relying heavily on its offense to keep up with the other on the scoreboard.
The Bruins will outlast the Sun Devils and keep itself in position to advance to a third straight Pac-12 Championship game.
Prediction: UCLA 38, Arizona State 34
No. 8 Missouri @ No. 24 Ole Miss
No. 8 Missouri @ No. 24 Ole Miss, 7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN
One aspect that could be either beneficial or costly is having quarterback James Franklin back in the starting lineup after sitting out for more than a month with a sprained shoulder. Redshirt freshman Maty Mauk won three games as a replacement for Franklin, which makes this quarterback situation interesting.
Regardless of who starts at quarterback, the offense has benefited with Henry Josey being a threat in the backfield and wide receivers L'Damian Washington and Dorial Green-Beckham stepping up in the passing game. Both wideouts should be able to start Saturday.
The Tigers defense has also continued to play well, as it has held opponents to no more than 28 points this season and stopped the run.
Ole Miss went on a three-game skid from late September to early October, but it is now back in the Top 25 after winning its last four games. The Rebel offense has a chance to cause problems for Missouri—if it can establish a passing game against a Tiger defense that has allowed 274.9 passing yards per game (114th in the country).
Quarterback Bo Wallace (2,664 yards, 21 total TDs, 5 INTs) knows he will need to rely heavily on his arm against Missouri, but if the Ole Miss offensive line can give Jeff Scott some running room, it could make things even more complicated for the Tiger defense.
Gary Pinkel's team has had a good run, but its SEC East Division title hopes will end in Oxford.
Prediction: Ole Miss 28, Missouri 24
No. 4 Baylor at No. 10 Oklahoma State
No. 4 Baylor @ No. 10 Oklahoma State, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
It will be the biggest game these two teams have ever played against each other. Not only are both ranked in the Top 10, but the loser of this game will likely lose out on a Big 12 Conference title.
Baylor's offense continues to dismantle defenses week in and week out. After trailing Texas Tech 20-7 late in the first quarter, the Bears roared back for a blowout 63-34 win.
Quarterback Bryce Petty is a true Heisman contender, as he continues to put up big numbers in the passing game. Petty has passed for 2,992 yards, 24 touchdowns and just one interception.
The rushing attack could be the only downfall against Oklahoma State on Saturday night. Explosive running back Lache Seastrunk (groin) and Glasco Martin (leg) missed last week's game and could be out again, meaning a lot of the workload will be put on Shock Linwood again. Linwood has averaged 184.5 rushing yards in Baylor's last two games.
While Baylor has caused nightmares for its opposition, Oklahoma State could finally be up for the challenge. The Pokes have a solid offense and a defense that has held opponents to 19.0 points per game this season.
Dual-threat quarterback Clint Chelf heads an offense that's averaged 47.5 points in its last four games. Desmond Roland has been a contributor in the running game, and Tracy Moore has been the main target in the passing game. The offense will likely be without dynamic wide receiver Josh Stewart, who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury.
While the offense needs to be at the top of its game, the defense, led by senior safety Daytawion Lowe, will have the privilege of containing Baylor's offense.
Baylor has not won in Stillwater since 1939, and it looks like the losing streak will continue, as Oklahoma State will pull off the upset and take the driver's seat in the Big 12.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 38, Baylor 35
The Other Five
No. 20 Oklahoma @ Kansas State, 12 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
Freshman Trevor Knight is expected to start while Blake Bell recovers from a concussion.
The offense will also be without running back Damien Williams and wide receiver Lacoltan Bester, who have been suspended for Saturday’s game.
Bill Snyder's Wildcats are on a four game winning streak heading into Saturday, and have the talent to make it five. The Wildcat offense has averaged 39.5 points its past four wins, and the defense, led by Ty Zimmerman, has played well against the run this season.
Kansas State has only given up 137.0 rushing yards per game this season, and it's something that could cause significant problems for Knight, who relies on his legs to make plays.
The Wildcats will get their first win at home against the Sooners since 1996.
Prediction: Kansas State 31, Oklahoma 27
Michigan @ Iowa, 12 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
Brady Hoke's Wolverines barely got out of Evanston with a win, as they needed a 44-yard field goal as time expired to knot things up at 9-9 and three overtimes to escape with a 27-19 victory. While Michigan may have pulled off their seventh win of the season, it has not scored more than one touchdown in regulation since its win against Indiana on Oct. 19.
The offense, led by quarterback Devin Gardner, has clearly struggled, and it could be another tough game for it.
Iowa has exceeded expectations this season and will challenge the Wolverines up front on defense. The Hawkeyes defense is averaging only 130.0 rushing yards per game. Don't count out Iowa's offense, though, as running back Mark Weisman is physical and can make plays on the ground.
It will be a low-scoring game that will be decided late in the fourth quarter. Look for big plays from Wolverine wide receivers Jeremy Gallon and Devin Funchess down the stretch, along with key field goals from placekicker Brendan Gibbons.
Brady Hoke's squad will escape Kinnick Stadium with tough road win.
Prediction: Michigan 23, Iowa 20
No. 13 Michigan State @ Northwestern, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Spartan defense continues to be the best in the country by only surrendering 228.0 yards per game. The offense continues to improve with Connor Cook under center, Jeremy Langford racking up yards on the ground and the receiving corps continuing to make big plays in key situations.
Northwestern has fallen off the grid after once being a Big Ten Big Legends Division title contender. Pat Fitzgerald's team has been unluckiest team this season with six consecutive losses, including two overtime losses and a last-second Hail Mary touchdown.
Northwestern will give Michigan State trouble, but it fall once again in the fourth quarter.
Prediction: Michigan State 34, Northwestern 26
No. 5 Oregon @ Arizona, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2
Oregon should be more determined than ever after bouncing back with a 44-21 win over Utah last week. A Stanford loss at USC last week also gives the Ducks a chance to win their next two games and host the Pac-12 Championship game on Dec. 7.
While the Oregon offense, led by quarterback Marcus Mariota, has struggled to score points in the first half recently, it takes over in the second half and blows its opposition away.
Arizona has lost its past two games, which were at home, by a combined 12 total points. Last week, it was a surprising loss to Washington State, who it had not lost to since 2004.
The Wildcats defense is going to have trouble containing the Ducks' high-octane offense, meaning it will be Arizona's sixth straight loss to Oregon.
Prediction: Oregon 45, Arizona 24
Boise State @ San Diego State, 10:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
It's a big game for Boise State, who is looking to win its last two games to reach the first annual Mountain West Conference Championship game and hopefully get another shot at knocking off potential BCS buster, Fresno State.
Since Joe Southwick suffered a broke ankle, Grant Hedrick has stepped in and played big role in the success of the Broncos offense. The running game has been solid with Jay Ajayi (1,078 yards, 15 TDs) as well.
San Diego State was a last-second field goal away from taking the driver's seat in the West Division, but Fresno State blocked it and won in overtime 35-28 on Oct. 26.
The loser of this matchup is eliminated from winning its division title. The Aztecs have proved to surprise opponents this season, but the Broncos will come away with the win.
Prediction: Boise State 37, San Diego State 28