College Football Picks Week 14: Predicting This Weekend's Biggest Clashes

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 30, 2013

CLEMSON, SC - NOVEMBER 24:  Jaron Brown #18 of the Clemson Tigers battles for a ball with DeVonte Holloman #21 of the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Memorial Stadium on November 24, 2012 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The national title picture in college football could look very different by the time Saturday is over.

All eyes are on Jordan-Hare Stadium, as the No. 4 Auburn Tigers are taking on the unbeaten No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide. If the Crimson Tide lose, they'll be out of the national championship and possibly out of the BCS altogether.

A little further down the standings, you've got other teams trying to play their way into their conference championships, hopeful they can sneak into a BCS bowl.

It should be a great Saturday from start to finish.

Read below to get quick predictions for three of Saturday's most pivotal matchups.


No. 4 Auburn Tigers vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide

Nov 23, 2013; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron (10) celebrates by making a victory lap around the stadium after their 49-0 win over the Chattanooga Mocs at Bryant-Denny Stadium. This was McCarron's final home game of his
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The argument could be made that Alabama hasn't been the best team in college football, based solely off  this season's results. The Crimson Tide had some early trouble against Mississippi State and just squeaked by Texas A&M.

But they remain the king until they get knocked off.

As good as Auburn has been, it's difficult seeing the Tigers get the better of 'Bama, even playing at home. Auburn is so reliant on that rushing game, and Alabama is only allowing 91.3 yards a game. If Auburn digs itself into a hole, it doesn't have the kind of quick-strike option that will allow the team back into the game.

In addition, how will the Auburn defense respond when it's smashed in the mouth by Alabama's physical offense? There's a sense that Alabama does just enough to win games and doesn't care how it's done.

You could see this ending up like the Alabama/LSU game, where the Crimson Tide land some early body blows before connecting with the knockout in the fourth quarter and pulling away.

Alabama 31, Auburn 20


No. 10 South Carolina Gamecocks vs. No. 6 Clemson Tigers

CLEMSON, SC - NOVEMBER 23: Tajh Boyd #10 of the Clemson Tigers passes during the game against the Citadel Bulldogs at Memorial Stadium on November 23, 2013 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images)
Tyler Smith/Getty Images

It's not unfair to wonder how good this 10-1 Clemson team is. Georgia has continued falling off this season, so that season-opening win for the Tigers has lost quite a bit of shine.

In addition, you can't overlook that 51-14 shellacking at home to Florida State in what was Clemson's other big game.

At least the Tigers have a great chance to erase any negative perception as they take on South Carolina. A win here would lock them into a BCS at-large bid.

The Gamecocks, though, have owned Clemson in recent years, winning each of the last four games by double digits.

Although they're playing on the road, the Tigers should be able to end that losing streak on Saturday.

South Carolina ranks just 58th in passing efficiency defense and 45th in interceptions. Tajh Boyd should have success early and put Clemson out in front. That will be important, because if the Gamecocks can get up early, they'll use Mike Davis to pound the football and control the game.

Clemson 27, South Carolina 19


No. 5 Missouri Tigers vs. No. 21 Texas A&M Aggies

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 23:  Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies is tackled by linebacker Lamin Barrow #18 and cornerback Jalen Mills #28 of the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium on November 23, 2013 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Se
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

You can count on one thing in this Missouri/Texas A&M game: a lot of scoring. The Aggies are scoring 45.6 points a game, while the Tigers are putting up 39.7. Although Mizzou is only surrendering 19.3 points a game, you would expect that the Aggies offense will have a response after being silenced by LSU last week.

It's clear that the Tigers get the defensive advantage, and that's what will see them through to the win on Saturday. Gary Pinkel can look at the blueprint for how to stop Johnny Manziel that's been left by LSU, Alabama and Auburn this year.

Missouri has the pass rush and athletic linemen that will be able to keep Manziel in the pocket and limit his effectiveness.

In addition, Mizzou has intercepted 18 passes this season, tied for fourth in the country. Manziel has thrown a combined six interceptions in Texas A&M's three losses, compared to four INTs in its eight wins.

Force "Johnny Football" into turnovers and harass him in the pocket. That's how you beat him.

Unless this becomes a shootout, the Tigers will prevail and move a step closer to a possible BCS bowl.

Missouri 38, Texas A&M 24


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