College Football Picks: Week 14 Predictions for Every Game

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2014

College Football Picks: Week 14 Predictions for Every Game

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    The season's over already?

    That's what a lot of college football fans will be saying after this weekend, which marks the final round of games for many FBS teams that won't be playing in bowl games. For others, it will be the last regular-season contest, with all that remains being an invite to a far-off locale against an intriguing opponent in a one-off game sponsored by a relatively obscure advertiser.

    And then there are those fighting for the big time, the first-ever four-team playoff, as well as the major bowl games associated with the College Football Playoff system.

    A lot is riding on this weekend of action, with almost every game having some impact on the bowl selections and playoff rankings. Heading into Thursday's holiday games, 74 schools have secured bowl eligibility (including two that, as transitioning FBS members, would only get a bid if they're all that remains for bowls to pick from), and another 17 teams are a win away from being bowl-eligible.

    Only 78 bowl spots are available.

    No week of college football this season has had more intrigue than this one, which would already be a big one because of the many rivalry games. However, it's even more important due to bowl and playoff positioning. But who will win?

    Check out our predictions for Week 14's games, then give us your selections in the comments section.

    Last week: 44-13 (.772)

    Season: 569-185 (.754)

LSU at Texas A&M

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    When: Thursday, Nov. 27; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: LSU gained 517 yards, including 324 on the ground, in a 34-10 home rout of Texas A&M in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    LSU (7-4, 3-4 SEC) has 23 points in its past three games, getting shut out at Arkansas in its most recent contest. The Tigers offense has been inconsistent all season, with neither sophomore Anthony Jennings nor freshman Brandon Harris performing effectively at quarterback. The run game has shown promise, particularly when freshman Leonard Fournette gets lots of touches, but for the most part, the season has been about hoping the defense makes big plays.

    Texas A&M (7-4, 3-4) has shown improvement on defense, but not on a game-in, game-out basis. The Aggies are still giving up 27.7 points per game, and with an offense that's very young (but very talented), they're not able to win shootouts anymore. Kyle Allen has eight touchdown passes in his three starts, and with plenty of receiving targets to work with, he'll only get better.

    Depending on what happens with Arkansas' game at Missouri, the loser could finish in a tie for last place in the SEC West. Despite the struggles for each team, expect a fun game that goes down to the wire. 

    A Les Miles trick play contributes to LSU's road win.

     

    Prediction: LSU 27, Texas A&M 24

    Final: LSU 23, Texas A&M 17

No. 5 TCU at Texas

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    When: Thursday, Nov. 27; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Malcolm Brown scored two rushing touchdowns in Texas' 30-7 home win over TCU in October 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    TCU (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) had its scare two weeks ago, trailing for much of its win at Kansas, a result that dropped the Horned Frogs out of the top four in the playoff standings. Yet now they have a legitimate road challenge to worry about in the form of a holiday game against one of the most dangerous teams in the country.

    The Frogs are ahead of Baylor in the rankings, despite a head-to-head loss to the Bears, but with no remaining games against ranked teams, the opportunities to improve their resume are limited to this clash in Austin. It comes after their first bye in more than two months, an eight-game stretch that saw them go 4-1 against ranked opponents.

    Quarterback Trevone Boykin has put together an amazing season, an award-worthy one, with 3,569 yards of total offense and 31 touchdowns. Yet he hasn't faced a defense as good as what's ahead.

    Texas (6-5, 5-3) has won three straight and is playing with the intensity that was expected with the hiring of defensive-minded coach Charlie Strong. It took a little while to show, but now that the Longhorns have momentum, they might be the worst team to have to face during a critical playoff run.

    "Earlier this year Texas held Baylor to 28 points and less than 400 yards of offense, so there's no reason to think it can't do the same with the Horned Frogs' overhauled offense," wrote Ryan McGee of ESPN.com. "Add to that a Texas offense that has quietly rediscovered the end zone, and it all adds up to potential trouble."

    The Longhorns allow 4.59 yards per play, which ranks 12th in the country. They make you fight for every yard, and combining that with a partisan crowd and a big national stage, this is where TCU's dream season comes crashing down.

     

    Prediction: Texas 27, TCU 21

    Final: TCU 48, Texas 10

Northern Illinois at Western Michigan

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    When: Friday, Nov. 28; 11 a.m. ET

    Last meeting: Jordan Lynch ran for 321 yards, breaking his own FBS single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback, in Northern Illinois' 33-14 home win over Western Michigan in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Northern Illinois (9-2, 6-1 Mid-American) has played in the MAC title game each of the previous four seasons, but the Huskies still have work to do to lock up another West Division title. A loss earlier this year to Central Michigan made it so they have to win on the road against a much-improved Western Michigan team just to get a share of the division crown, though NIU does hold the tiebreaker over Toledo (7-4, 6-1) if the teams ended up tied.

    Western Michigan (8-3, 6-1) was 1-11 a year ago. Second-year coach P.J. Fleck has orchestrated a major turnaround with the Broncos. His young roster has a burgeoning star in freshman running back Jarvion Franklin, who is the MAC's overwhelming leader in rushing yards (1,433) and touchdowns (23). Sophomore quarterback Zach Terrell, who has completed 80 percent of his passes over the past four games, has also come along nicely.

    Western Michigan can win the division with a victory and a Toledo loss, but even without making the MAC title game, the Broncos are going to end up in a bowl game for the first time since 2011.

     

    Prediction: Western Michigan 27, Northern Illinois 24

    Final: Northern Illinois 31, Western Michigan 21

Nebraska at Iowa

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    When: Friday, Nov. 28; noon ET

    Last meeting: Iowa forced three turnovers in a 38-17 win at Nebraska in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Nebraska (8-3, 4-3 Big Ten) has lost two straight to fall out of the race for the West Division title and once again bring back talk of whether the program has hit its ceiling under coach Bo Pelini. Pelini has won either nine or 10 games every season, with four losses in each of those six full years, and most of those losses have come in the bigger contests.

    The Huskers' only wins over plus-.500 teams are at home to Miami (Florida) and Rutgers, while they're 0-3 against ranked opponents.

    Iowa (7-4, 4-3) is in a similar boat, with its only victory over a winning team coming in its opener against FCS Northern Iowa. The Hawkeyes lost at home to Wisconsin last week, joining Nebraska as a team to recently get run over by Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon.

    Bowl position and bragging rights are all that's left to play for in this game, with the road team having taken the Heroes Trophy the past two seasons. Iowa ends that streak with its second straight win over Nebraska.

     

    Prediction: Iowa 30, Nebraska 27

    Final: Nebraska 37, Iowa 34 (OT)

Western Kentucky at Marshall

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    When: Friday, Nov. 28; noon ET

    Last meeting: Marshall beat Western Kentucky 37-3 in September 1996.

     

    What to watch for

    Western Kentucky (6-5, 3-4 Conference USA) is one of six teams in the conference that is already bowl-eligible, yet the league only has five guaranteed bowl bids. The Hilltoppers were in a similar situation last season, when they went 8-4 in the Sun Belt but didn't get a bowl invite.

    Marshall (11-0, 7-0) will be hosting the C-USA title game next week, against either Louisiana Tech or Rice, regardless of what happens in this game. But don't expect the Thundering Herd to let up in their regular-season finale, not when they're still holding out hope the playoff selection committee will deem them worthy of the group of five's at-large spot in a major bowl game.

    The Herd finally entered the rankings this week, but at 24th, they're still behind No. 23 Boise State for that at-large bid.

    Two of the most prolific quarterbacks in the country will be in this game, with Western Kentucky's Brandon Doughty (3,853 yards, 36 touchdowns) and Marshall's Rakeem Cato (2,897 yards, 28 TDs) likely to sling it all over the place. But Marshall also has Devon Johnson, who is fourth in the country with 1,573 rushing yards.

     

    Prediction: Marshall 49, Western Kentucky 28

    Final: Western Kentucky 67, Marshall 66 (OT)

UCF at South Florida

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    When: Friday, Nov. 28; noon ET

    Last meeting: Breshad Perriman caught a 52-yard touchdown pass from Blake Bortles with 4:50 left to give UCF a 23-20 home win over South Florida in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    UCF (7-3, 5-1 American) can still earn a piece of the conference title if it wins out, but because of the unbalanced schedule, it doesn't face the other teams (Cincinnati and Memphis) its battling with for the top spot. The Knights will still get a good bowl invite, regardless of their finish in the standings, and with quarterback Justin Holman coming along, they'll be a tough out.

    South Florida (4-7, 3-4) is winless against teams with above-.500 records and perfect against those at the bottom end of the American standings. The Bulls have doubled last year's win total and have a bright future to build around in 1,000-yard freshman running back Marlon Mack.

    The hope that this game will become a rivalry now that both teams are in the same conference is ambitious, and it would require both teams to have a chance to win. South Florida isn't there yet.

     

    Prediction: UCF 26, South Florida 17

    Final: UCF 16, South Florida 0

Houston at SMU

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    When: Friday, Nov. 28; noon ET

    Last meeting: John O'Korn threw for 245 yards and two touchdowns in Houston's 34-0 home win over SMU in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Houston (6-4, 4-2 American) is the only team in the conference to beat first-place Memphis, but because of home losses to Tulane and UCF, the Cougars aren't in the race for the title. Houston ranks 16th nationally in yards allowed and is tied for 13th in scoring defense.

    SMU (0-10, 0-6) had five turnovers and four first downs in a 53-7 loss at UCF last week, its sixth game this season where it was held to single digits. The Mustangs are on a 12-game losing streak, and their 258.3 yards per game is second-worst in the FBS.

    SMU has a winnable game next week to end its streak, but it won't be able to do much this game against Houston's defense.

     

    Prediction: Houston 33, SMU 10

    Final: Houston 35, SMU 9

Toledo at Eastern Michigan

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    When: Friday, Nov. 28; 1 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Terrance Owens threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns and Kareem Hunt added 168 rushing yards and two scores in Toledo's 55-16 home win over Eastern Michigan in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Toledo (7-4, 6-1 Mid-American) won seven games last year but didn't get invited to a bowl game. That's not likely to happen again this season, especially because the Rockets have a good shot to win the West Division. When healthy, Kareem Hunt has been amazing running the ball this season, rushing for at least 101 yards in all eight games he's played.

    Eastern Michigan (2-9, 1-6) is headed for a third straight 10-loss season, with first-year coach Chris Creighton facing the same problems as his predecessor. The Eagles rank last in the MAC in offense and defense, and they've been held to 17 points or fewer in eight games.

    Toledo wins the West with a victory and a Western Michigan win over Northern Illinois. The Rockets will do their part of that scenario.

     

    Prediction: Toledo 44, Eastern Michigan 17

    Final: Toledo 52, Eastern Michigan 16

Ball State at Bowling Green

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    When: Friday, Nov. 28; 1 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Tyler Sheehan threw three touchdown passes, all to Freddie Barnes, in Bowling Green's 31-17 win at Ball State in October 2009.

     

    What to watch for

    Ball State (4-7, 3-4 Mid-American) won 10 games a year ago, but after graduating many key players from that team, 2014 has been a rebuilding effort. The Cardinals have finished strong, winning three of five, with quarterback Jack Milas showing promise for the future.

    Bowling Green (7-4, 5-2) will be playing in the MAC title game next week for the second year in a row, as new coach Dino Babers has converted the Falcons from a defensive-minded team into one of the top scorers in the country. Even with the loss of quarterback Matt Johnson early in the season, Bowling Green has managed to average 31.5 points per game.

    The Falcons wrap up the East Division with another solid win.

     

    Prediction: Bowling Green 38, Ball State 21

    Final: Ball State 41, Bowling Green 24

Buffalo at Massachusetts

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    When: Friday, Nov. 28; 1 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Branden Oliver ran for 216 yards and a touchdown in Buffalo's 32-3 home win over Massachusetts in October 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Buffalo (4-6, 2-4 Mid-American) had last week's home game against Kent State canceled because of heavy snow, and with that postponement went its chances at becoming bowl-eligible. The Bulls fired coach Jeff Quinn after five games, and after this one, they can really get moving on finding his replacement.

    Massachusetts (3-8, 3-4) has won more games this season than in its first two years of FBS play combined. The play of senior quarterback Blake Frohnapfel, a transfer from Marshall, has sparked the Minutemen offense and enabled them to compete in most games. He missed the last game with an ankle injury, though, and if he can't go, it will be much rougher sledding.

    Assuming its quarterback can play, UMass wins.

     

    Prediction: Massachusetts 38, Buffalo 31

    Final: Buffalo 41, Massachusetts 21

Akron at Kent State

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    When: Friday, Nov. 28; 1 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Jawon Chisholm ran for 151 yards in Akron's 16-7 home win over Kent State in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Akron (5-6, 3-4 Mid-American) has a shot to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2005, which was also the only time the Zips have ever played in the postseason. They ended a four-game losing streak last week with a big win over Massachusetts, but they're 1-4 on the road this season. Amazingly, though, that lone road victory was at Pittsburgh.

    Kent State (1-9, 0-6) was in the MAC title game in 2012, but including that game, the Golden Flashes have gone 5-19. Another loss will give them their worst record since 2005, mostly because of an offense that ranks 121st nationally in yards gained.

    It won't be easy, but Akron will get that sixth win and then hope to get a bowl invite.

     

    Prediction: Akron 24, Kent State 17

    Final: Kent State 27, Akron 24

Arkansas at No. 17 Missouri

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    When: Friday, Nov. 28; 2:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Tony Temple ran for 281 yards and four touchdowns as Missouri crushed Arkansas, 38-7, to win the 2008 Cotton Bowl.

     

    What to watch for

    Arkansas (6-5, 2-5 SEC) has gone from that team everyone is rooting for to one nobody wants to have to face. The Razorbacks have ended a 17-game conference losing streak in style, with back-to-back shutouts against ranked teams to lock up their first bowl bid since 2011.

    The run game remains Arkansas' bread and butter, as it ranks 26th nationally at 226.2 yards per game, but that number has dropped of late as coach Bret Bielema has tried to balance the offense. Brandon Allen has 16 touchdown passes and five interceptions, but he hurt his hip against Ole Miss last week, and if he can't go, then younger brother Austin Allen gets the nod.

    "I don't think anybody had any anxiety about Austin Allen walking in that huddle that was out there with him," Bielema told Robbie Neiswanger of the Arkansas News Bureau. Austin Allen completed three of five passes for 65 yards after replacing Brandon Allen last week.

    Missouri (9-2, 6-1) will try to fluster whoever plays quarterback for Arkansas, like it has all season. Markus Golden and Shane Ray have anchored a defensive line that has contributed to the No. 23 overall defense that is tied for seventh in the country with 85 tackles for loss.

    Maty Mauk's midseason passing struggles have gone away, as he's thrown seven TD passes in the past four games after going three-plus games without a scoring throw. Mizzou has won five straight since getting shut out at home by Georgia, and with a win, it locks up a second straight East Division title.

    The Tigers don't play as well at home—they lost there to 3-8 Indiana—but with the chance to clinch a spot in another SEC title game, they'll find a way to overcome the hot Razorbacks.

     

    Prediction: Missouri 24, Arkansas 19

    Final: Missouri 21, Arkansas 14

Navy at South Alabama

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    When: Friday, Nov. 28; 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Navy ran for 351 yards in a 42-14 home win over South Alabama in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Navy (5-5) has two games left to lock up a third straight bowl bid, which would be the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego against a Mountain West school. However, if the Midshipmen can't get it done here, that would put qualifying out to Dec. 13 against Army, which would put the whole bowl system in flux.

    South Alabama (6-5) is eligible and is technically in second place in the Sun Belt Conference because two of the schools ahead of it (Appalachian State and Georgia Southern) are transitional FBS teams that only get bowl bids if they're all that's left to pick from. The Jaguars have challenged themselves this season, playing Mississippi State and South Carolina.

    This contest will come down to the run games, particularly how well South Alabama does trying to stop a Navy option attack that ranks second in the country at 354.8 yards per game. Five opponents have gained more than 200 rushing yards against the Jaguars, and Navy will be the sixth.

     

    Prediction: Navy 31, South Alabama 17

    Final: Navy 42, South Alabama 40

No. 13 Arizona State at No. 11 Arizona

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    When: Friday, Nov. 28; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: D.J. Foster ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns, and Arizona State forced four turnovers in a 58-21 home win over Arizona in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    For the first time since 1986, the Duel in the Desert features a pair of ranked teams. A rivalry as heated as this doesn't need much added incentive, yet this season it also could determine who wins the Pac-12 South title.

    Arizona State (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12) fell back in the pack after losing at Oregon State two weeks ago, its first loss since late September. The Sun Devils had a rough defensive game that night, something that hasn't happened much with their blitz-happy defense that tends to disrupt opponents' timing, yet OSU responded by running more often to neutralize the threat.

    ASU's offense has been strong all season, even when quarterback Taylor Kelly missed several games with a broken foot. Running back D.J. Foster has stepped into the role of last year's catalyst, Marion Grice, by being not only a strong rusher (968 yards, nine touchdowns) but also the team's second-leading receiver with 52 receptions for 586 yards.

    But the key player the Sun Devils need to have in this game is top wideout Jaelen Strong, who missed last week's game with a concussion. Coach Todd Graham expects Strong, who has 71 receptions for 982 yards and nine TDs, to be available.

    "He and D.J. (Foster) are two catalysts in what we do, so it's going to be great to have him back," Graham told Tyler Lockman of Fox Sports. "That's going to help us tremendously."

    Arizona (9-2, 6-2) has been mum on whether its most important offensive piece, redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon, will be healthy enough to play. A nagging ankle injury forced him out of the second half of last week's win at Utah.

    If he can't go, the Wildcats will turn to Jesse Scroggins, the USC transfer who played the second half but wasn't utilized as much because freshman running back Nick Wilson went off for 218 yards and three TDs. He's run for 475 yards and five scores in Arizona's past three games.

    While ASU has the more aggressive defensive scheme, Arizona is the one with the big-name individual player on that side of the ball. Sophomore linebacker Scooby Wright is a finalist for several national awards due to his huge year, which includes 12 sacks, 23 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles.

    The winner of this game can only take the South if UCLA loses to Stanford, a game that's being played at the same time. But the victor could still be in the hunt for a major bowl bid without winning the division and playing in the Pac-12 title game.

    The Territorial Cup goes to Arizona for the first time since 2011.

     

    Prediction: Arizona 30, Arizona State 28

    Final: Arizona 42, Arizona State 35

Stanford at No. 8 UCLA

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    When: Friday, Nov. 28; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Tyler Gaffney ran for 171 yards and two touchdowns in Stanford's 24-10 home win over UCLA in October 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Stanford (6-5, 4-4 Pac-12) has spent much of the past five years being the team that's tried to avoid getting taken out of the division, conference or championship picture, yet this season the Cardinal have had far too many offensive issues to be a true contender. Even after scoring on six of seven trips to the red zone last week at California, Stanford is tied for 123rd in red-zone conversion at less than 70 percent.

    Those numbers don't figure to improve much with top receiver Ty Montgomery ruled out because of a sprained shoulder. Also a standout return man, Montgomery gained 128.6 all-purpose yards per game.

    That will just mean Stanford relies even more heavily on its defense to dictate its performance, something that's enabled it to still win six games despite only topping 20 points in five of 11 games. The Cardinal allow 16.5 points per game and are sixth in yards allowed.

    UCLA (9-2, 6-2) cliches the South Division, and a rematch with Oregon in the conference title game, with a win. The Bruins have won five straight since falling at home to the Ducks in mid-October, and the last few results have been to the level that was expected from this team at the beginning of the season.

    Brett Hundley has managed to stay upright despite getting sacked 31 times, including 10 in one game. His scrambling ability prevented it from being worse, while the emergence of Paul Perkins as a go-to back has taken some weight off of his shoulders.

    Stanford is capable of keeping this score low, but UCLA is playing with too much momentum to fail at this point. The Bruins win the Pac-12 South and remain in contention to sneak into the playoffs.

     

    Prediction: UCLA 28, Stanford 17

    Final: Stanford 31, UCLA 10

Colorado State at Air Force

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    When: Friday, Nov. 28; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Garrett Grayson threw three touchdown passes, and Kapri Bibbs ran for three scores in Colorado State's 58-13 home win over Air Force in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Colorado State (10-1, 6-1 Mountain West) takes a nine-game win streak into its clash with its in-state rival, but being able to top the Falcons is only part of the motivation for the Rams' regular-season finale. A win (combined with a Boise State loss Saturday to Utah State), would put them in the Mountain West title game.

    Quarterback Garrett Grayson became the school's all-time total offense leader last week, and this season he's thrown for 3,413 yards and 29 touchdowns. Receiver Rashard Higgins has been an amazing target, catching 77 passes for 1,447 yards and 15 scores, while Dee Hart has run for 1,139 yards and 16 TDs.

    Air Force (8-3, 4-3) has had a major turnaround from a year ago, when it was 2-10 and allowed 40 points per game. This season the Falcons give up 24.2 per contest, and with a lethal offense that ranks eighth in rushing at 274.9 yards per game, they've been able to hang with everyone this season.

    Colorado State hasn't won in Colorado Springs since 2002, and its past three road games have been decided by a combined 17 points. But those have also all been wins, as the Rams have been rolling.

     

    Prediction: Colorado State 31, Air Force 27

    Final: Air Force 27, Colorado State 24

Virginia at Virginia Tech

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    When: Friday, Nov. 28; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Logan Thomas threw for 229 yards and a touchdown in Virginia Tech's 16-6 win at Virginia in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    The Battle for the Commonwealth Cup also grants its winner a spot in a bowl game, something that one team hasn't had in three years and the other is trying to do for the 22nd straight season.

    Virginia (5-6, 3-4 ACC) ended a four-game losing streak with an impressive home win over Miami (Florida) last week to keep bowl hopes alive. The Cavaliers' offense resurfaced after weeks of dormancy, with the most points since late September.

    Virginia Tech (5-6, 2-5) has played in a bowl game every season since 1993, yet after losing in double overtime (and managing a lone field goal) at Wake Forest, the Hokies' streak is in serious jeopardy. It's been a Jekyll-and-Hyde season for Frank Beamer's team, which has road wins over Duke and Ohio State but has lost in Blacksburg four times.

    Winners of 10 straight in the series, Virginia Tech manages to keep its bowl run alive and prevent Virginia from getting back to a bowl for the first time since 2011.

     

    Prediction: Virginia Tech 19, Virginia 16

    Final: Virginia Tech 24, Virginia 20

East Carolina at Tulsa

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    When: Friday, Nov. 28; 8:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Shane Carden threw for 384 yards and five touchdowns as East Carolina beat visiting Tulsa 58-24 in November 2013, when both teams were in Conference USA.

     

    What to watch for

    East Carolina (7-3, 4-2 American) ended a two-game skid with a blowout victory over Tulane last week, but the Pirates have lost out on a realistic chance to win the conference or contend for a major bowl berth. What's left to play for is to have their standout seniors add to their great numbers, with wide receiver Justin Hardy becoming the FBS career receptions leader last week and quarterback Shane Carden poised to top 11,000 passing yards.

    Tulsa (2-9, 2-5) won the 2012 Conference USA title, and it's been all downhill since. Three wins last season looked like an aberration, but this year has been even worse despite good offensive players in quarterback Dane Evans (2,903 passing yards, 22 touchdowns) and wide receiver Keevan Lucas (95 catches, 1,134 yards, 11 TDs)

    Tulsa will score, but it won't keep East Carolina from scoring.

     

    Prediction: East Carolina 48, Tulsa 28

    Final: East Carolina 49, Tulsa 32

Cincinnati at Temple

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; noon ET

    Last meeting: Brendon Kay threw two touchdown passes and Tion Green rushed for two scores in Cincinnati's 38-20 home win over Temple in October 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Cincinnati (7-3, 5-1 American) has won five straight games, but a September home loss to Memphis will likely keep the Bearcats from winning the conference title. Still, a nine-win season is very possible and would earn this prolific offensive team a good bowl bid, and a chance for quarterback Gunner Kiel to show off his passing skills.

    Temple (5-5, 3-3) has averaged only 14 points in its last five games, losing four of those. But the lone victory in there was against East Carolina, when the Owls defense helped pace the victory by forcing turnovers. Temple has 28 takeaways, tied for fifth-most in the country.

    Look for Temple to pull the minor upset and become bowl-eligible.

     

    Prediction: Temple 23, Cincinnati 20

    Final: Cincinnati 14, Temple 6

South Carolina at No. 21 Clemson

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; noon ET

    Last meeting: South Carolina used six turnovers to pace a 31-17 home win over rival Clemson in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    South Carolina (6-5) was a Top 10 team before the season began, but three home losses and a year's worth of bad play on defense have caused the Gamecocks to fall far short of expectations. Quarterback Dylan Thompson has done all he could, with an SEC-leading 3,031 yards and 23 touchdowns, but the run game has been inconsistent.

    Defensively, South Carolina has given up nearly 75 more yards and 10 more points per game than a season ago.

    Clemson (8-3) has fallen back a bit from the past few seasons as well, but not nearly as much as its Palmetto State rivals. Injuries have prevented a young offense from gaining any momentum, with hand and knee injuries to freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson derailing his development.

    The Tigers defense has been rock-solid since getting beat up in the opener to Georgia, and for the year, it ranks first nationally by allowing 252.4 yards per game.

    South Carolina has won five straight in the series, none by fewer than 10 points, but Clemson gets its revenge this season.

     

    Prediction: Clemson 27, South Carolina 20

    Final: Clemson 35, South Carolina 17

No. 16 Georgia Tech at No. 9 Georgia

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; noon ET

    Last meeting: Todd Gurley ran for 122 yards and three touchdowns, including a 25-yard score in the second overtime of Georgia's 41-34 win at Georgia Tech in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Georgia Tech (9-2) gets a shot at Florida State next week in the ACC title game, but that doesn't mean it will treat the annual clash with Georgia as anything less than its biggest game of the year. The Yellow Jackets have been one of the hottest teams in the country the past month, winning four straight behind an option run game that's fourth nationally at 327.9 and plus-10 turnover margin.

    Quarterback Justin Thomas has fared far better than last year's starter, Vad Lee, making good decisions in passing situations by throwing only four interceptions in 145 attempts.

    Georgia (9-2) will know by the time this game is played if it won the SEC East, since Missouri plays on Friday. It would need to get a shot at the West champ to have a chance to somehow slip into the playoff race, but the Bulldogs are still very much in place for a major bowl bid.

    Even with Todd Gurley no longer in the mix, first because of suspension and then injury, Georgia's offense hasn't missed a beat in terms of its running ability. Freshman Nick Chubb has six straight 100-yard games, and the Bulldogs rank 13th at 260.5 yards per game.

    Another careful team, Georgia has turned it over only eight times, keeping its improved defense from getting put in tough situations. Yet that same defense disappeared when playing Florida and South Carolina this season, so you never know what unit you'll get.

    "Georgia has more depth up front defensively than any opponent Georgia Tech has faced this year," Bleacher Report's Andrew Hall wrote. "That's the one great advantage Georgia has in this game."

    Tech will be able to move the ball, but it won't be able to keep up with Georgia's diverse offense.

     

    Prediction: Georgia 31, Georgia Tech 21

    Final: Georgia Tech 30, Georgia 24 (OT)

Kentucky at No. 22 Louisville

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; noon ET

    Last meeting: Senorise Perry ran for 100 yards and two touchdowns in Louisville's 27-13 win at Kentucky in September 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Kentucky (5-6) gets to join the ACC-SEC end-of-season rivalry party after years of ending with Tennessee every season since 2002. But that also means having a heated game with bragging rights on the line serving as what stands between the Wildcats and their first bowl bid since 2010. Kentucky has lost five in a row, allowing 43.8 points per game during that skid.

    Louisville (8-3) is coming off of back-to-back road wins at Boston College and Notre Dame, where its offense came alive after being sluggish most of the season. Standout wide receiver DeVante Parker is back, as evidenced by how he's leading the Cardinals in yards with 555 despite having only played the past four games.

    Kentucky's going to have to wait another year to get that bowl bid, but this was a big step forward after going 2-10 last season.

     

    Prediction: Louisville 33, Kentucky 16

    Final: Louisville 44, Kentucky 40

West Virginia at Iowa State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; noon ET

    Last meeting: Justin Coleman caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Grant Rohach as Iowa State beat host West Virginia, 52-44, in three overtimes in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    West Virginia (6-5, 4-4 Big 12) has dropped three in a row and lost quarterback Clint Trickett to a concussion in the last game against Kansas State. Skyler Howard will start in his place this week, looking to build off of impressive numbers (198 yards, two touchdowns, 15-of-25 passing) in relief. But for the Mountaineers to reverse their struggles, they have to take better care of the ball, having failed to do so 26 times for a minus-15 turnover margin.

    Iowa State (2-8, 0-7) has lost four in a row and is staring at its first winless conference record since 2008. Coach Paul Rhoads' job is in jeopardy, even with a large buyout, with a fifth straight losing season locked up. While last year featured plenty of hard-luck defeats, this year it's been more about just being overmatched.

    If the Cyclones want Rhoads to still have his job, winning this game would help. But West Virginia rights the ship and Howard shows what he can do with a full week of practice.

     

    Prediction: West Virginia 37, Iowa State 21

    Final: West Virginia 37, Iowa State 24

Michigan at No. 6 Ohio State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; noon ET

    Last meeting: Ohio State's Tyvis Powell intercepted a pass on a two-point conversion with 32 seconds left to give the Buckeyes a 42-41 win at Michigan in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Michigan (5-6, 3-4 Big Ten) could be playing its last game for coach Brady Hoke, whose seat was warm before the season but has gotten hotter throughout a campaign that featured near-constant breakdowns on offense. That's taken away from great work the Wolverines have done on defense, where they rank ninth in yards allowed and give up only 2.94 yards per carry on the ground.

    But great defense can't make up for the lack of production, which has led to Michigan failing to top 20 points in seven different games.

    Ohio State (10-1, 7-0) hasn't had any trouble putting up points or gaining yards and, outside of the home loss to Virginia Tech, has rarely been unable to dictate pace and tempo. Freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett had a rough first half last week in the unimpressive home win over last-place Indiana, but he rebounded after halftime and has managed to put together a season with more than 3,500 yards of total offense and 42 total touchdowns.

    OSU is in a position, in terms of playoff ranking, where if it continues to win and one or two teams above it flounder, it will get into the semifinals. The Indiana result didn't affect the Buckeyes, but a second straight struggle could have an impact.

    Look for the Buckeyes to drive the Wolverines into the ground and then keep stomping until the final whistle.

     

    Prediction: Ohio State 45, Michigan 20

    Final: Ohio State 42, Michigan 28

North Texas at UTSA

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; noon ET

    Last meeting: Evans Okotcha ran for 104 yards in UTSA's 21-13 win at North Texas in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    North Texas (4-7, 2-5 Conference USA) won nine games last season, but that was a senior-heavy team that didn't leave much for coach Dan McCarney to work with in 2014. The Mean Green have won two of three, but they're 0-5 on the road and have lost by an average of 25.8 points away from home.

    UTSA (3-8, 2-5) was a seven-win team a year ago, and now as a full FBS member, it was expected to contend for the West Division title thanks to a large senior class. Instead, the Roadrunners offense has been abysmal, only reaching 20 points on four occasions. They rank 125th in total offense, at 283.5 yards per game.

    There's not much to play for here, other than lower-tier Texas pride. UTSA wins by a field goal.

     

    Prediction: UTSA 20, North Texas 17

    Final: UTSA 34, North Texas 27

Old Dominion at Florida Atlantic

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    USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; noon ET

    Last meeting: None

     

    What to watch for

    Old Dominion (5-6, 3-4 Conference USA) has a chance to finish at .500 in its first season of full FBS play, which would be a great accomplishment for a program that has only been around since 2009. The Monarchs could technically still earn a bowl bid, but as a transitional member, that only happens with both six wins and no eligible full members left for bowls to pick from.

    Florida Atlantic (3-8, 2-5) has lost four in a row, giving up at least 31 points in every contest. The Owls have won three of four at home, but not since mid-October, as first-year coach Charlie Partridge has struggled to get this team to play consistently.

    Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke has thrown for 14,677 yards and 129 touchdowns in his career, which, if put up against passers who spent their entire career at the FBS level, would rank him sixth all-time in yards and fifth in TDs. In what will likely be his final college game, he will pad those numbers in a road win.

     

    Prediction: Old Dominion 37, Florida Atlantic 23

    Final: Old Dominion 31, Florida Atlantic 28

Rice at Louisiana Tech

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; noon ET

    Last meeting: Charles Ross ran for 215 yards and five touchdowns in Rice's 52-14 home win over Louisiana Tech in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Rice (7-4, 5-2 Conference USA) has won seven of eight since a 0-3 start the included games at Notre Dame and Texas A&M. The Owls' only loss in that stretch was at Marshall, the team they beat for the Conference USA title last season and whom they could play again next week for another championship with a road win here.

    Louisiana Tech (7-4, 6-1) could have clinched the West Division last week, but ended up losing in overtime at Old Dominion to end a five-game win streak. The Bulldogs have been very efficient with their offense, managing 35.4 points per game despite only ranking 72nd in yardage.

    Both of these teams will be in a bowl game, but only one also gets to play for a conference title before then. Louisiana Tech will rebound and knock off the defending champs.

     

    Prediction: Louisiana Tech 24, Rice 21

    Final: Louisiana Tech 76, Rice 31

Illinois at Northwestern

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; noon ET

    Last meeting: Trevor Siemian threw for 414 yards and four touchdowns in Northwestern's 37-34 win at Illinois in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    One of two rivalry games on this weekend's slate that also sends the winner into a bowl game (along with Virginia-Virginia Tech), the battle for the Land of Lincoln Trophy and state of Illinois supremacy could also be what saves the winning coach's job.

    Illinois (5-6, 2-5 Big Ten) knocked off Penn State last week to stay alive for its first bowl bid under coach Tim Beckman, who is 3-20 in conference games. The Fighting Illini have only scored 44 points over their past three games, which doesn't bode well with a defense that allows 34 points per game.

    Northwestern (5-6, 3-4) is on the cusp of a bowl bid thanks to back-to-back road wins, first at Notre Dame and then Purdue. But the Wildcats lost their best offensive player, quarterback Trevor Siemian, to a knee injury last week, putting more emphasis on freshman running back Justin Jackson to carry the offense.

    Northwestern has won five of its last nine, but Illinois is playing for Beckman's job. Nod to the road team.

     

    Prediction: Illinois 27, Northwestern 24

    Final: Illinois 47, Northwestern 33

Purdue at Indiana

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; noon ET

    Last meeting: Tre Roberson threw six touchdown passes to lead Indiana to a 56-36 home win over Purdue in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Purdue (3-8, 1-6 Big Ten) has lost five straight and seen its offense fall back to 2013 levels with only 44 points in the last three contests. The Boilermakers remain unable to make stops on defense, allowing 32.5 points per game.

    Indiana (3-8, 0-7) has one of the best running backs in the country in Tevin Coleman, who has rushed for 1,906 yards and 15 touchdowns. But that's all the Hoosiers have going for them, as other than a surprising win at SEC East Division-leading Missouri, they've been very bad. Ranking 99th in total defense and allowing 34.4 points per game, it's hard to win without a passing game.

    The Old Oaken Bucket stays with Indiana for the second straight year, though, because Coleman is all the Hoosiers need to win.

     

    Prediction: Indiana 41, Purdue 34

    Final: Indiana 23, Purdue 16

North Carolina State at North Carolina

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 12:30 ET

    Last meeting: Quinshad Davis caught two touchdown passes in North Carolina's 27-19 win at North Carolina State in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    North Carolina State (6-5, 2-5 ACC) has won two of three to lock up a bowl bid, yet its season-opening 24-23 win over Georgia Southern goes down as its "best" victory. The Wolfpack struggle to stop the run, while their offense is relatively balanced.

    North Carolina (6-5, 4-3) blew out Duke on the road last week, then vandalized the visiting locker rooms after securing bowl eligibility. It's been a shootout kind of season for the Tar Heels, who have scored 40 or more points six times and given up at least that much on five occasions.

    Both NC State quarterback Jacoby Brissett and Carolina passer Marquise Williams have the ability to take over games, but Williams has done a much better job on a weekly basis. His 3,499 yards of total offense and 32 touchdowns is a big reason the Tar Heels have six wins.

     

    Prediction: North Carolina 45, North Carolina State 34

    Final: North Carolina State 35, North Carolina 7

Syracuse at Boston College

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 12:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Josh Parris caught an eight-yard touchdown pass from Terrel Hunt with six seconds left in Syracuse's 34-31 home win over Boston College in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Syracuse (3-8, 1-6 ACC) has lost four in a row and eight of nine, headed to its worst season since at least 2009. The Orange average 18 points per game, down to only 10 during the past four, as without mobile quarterback Terrel Hunt (injured since early October), the offense has had no flow.

    Boston College (6-5, 3-4) lost at the buzzer at Florida State last week, its first road loss of the season. Strangely, the Eagles are 2-4 at home and have dropped the last three in Chestnut Hill.

    This game comes down to whether Syracuse can contain BC's run game, which ranks 12th in the country at 261.8 yards per game. Quarterback Tyler Murphy has 1,059 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, but Syracuse's run defense allows only 3.44 yards per carry.

    Still, BC has the edge.

     

    Prediction: Boston College 23, Syracuse 20

    Final: Boston College 28, Syracuse 7

Louisiana-Lafayette at Troy

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 12:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Terrance Broadway threw two touchdown passes and ran for two scores in Louisiana-Lafayette's 41-36 home win over Troy in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Louisiana-Lafayette (7-4, 6-1 Sun Belt) had its six-game win streak snapped at home by Appalachian State, repeating the Ragin' Cajuns' trend from last year of having a bad loss after locking up the conference. They're not officially the league champions, as Georgia Southern is 7-0, but in terms of bowl selection, ULL will be the first choice and likely is headed to the New Orleans Bowl for a fourth straight season.

    Troy (3-8, 3-4) is missing a bowl game for the fourth consecutive year, and this will mark the final game of Larry Blakeney's 24-year career as the Trojans' coach. In charge of the program since it was in Division II, Blakeney led Troy to five bowl games before things tailed off the past few years.

    It would make for a great story for Blakeney to go out with a win, but if ULL wants to have any momentum going into bowl season, it will get back on track and take this one.

     

    Prediction: Louisiana-Lafayette 30, Troy 20

    Final: Louisiana-Lafayette 42, Troy 23

No. 25 Utah at Colorado

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 1 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Kelvin York ran for 132 yards and two touchdowns in Utah's 24-17 home win over Colorado in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Utah (7-4, 4-4 Pac-12) was blown out at home by Arizona in Week 13, its third loss in four games, as its offensive issues continue to dictate the season. The Utes' defense is one of the more aggressive in the country, with Nate Orchard's 17.5 sacks pacing a unit that ranks first nationally with 49 sacks. The D hasn't been enough to overcome an unbalanced offense, which doesn't have the passing to go with Devontae Booker's 1,255 rushing yards.

    Colorado (2-9, 0-8) has lost 10 straight in conference play, though this season it has three one-score losses (including twice in double overtime) and has led in nearly every Pac-12 contest. Nelson Spruce has 101 receptions, tied for most in the country, but he's got no say in a defense that allows 39.1 points per game.

    This is definitely a place where Colorado can break through and get that elusive win, but Orchard and the Utes will swarm.

     

    Prediction: Utah 30, Colorado 24

    Final: Utah 38, Colorado 34

Texas State at Georgia State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 2 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Robert Lowe ran for 177 yards and a touchdown in Texas State's 24-17 home win over Georgia State in October 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Texas State (6-5, 4-3 Sun Belt) is in line for its first bowl bid after beating Arkansas State last week, but with the Sun Belt only guaranteed three spots, it's imperative for the Bobcats to finish as high in the standings as possible to improve their resume. Running back Robert Lowe is coming off of a career game, rushing for 236 yards and four touchdowns.

    Georgia State (1-10, 0-7) won its opener and has since dropped 10 straight, still struggling to maintain consistency at the FBS level. The Jaguars are 1-22 since moving up in 2013 and have been shut out in two of their past three games.

    Texas State has a lot more to play for, and it will show on the field.

     

    Prediction: Texas State 35, Georgia State 21

    Final: Texas State 54, Georgia State 31

Idaho at Appalachian State

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    USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 2 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

     

    What to watch for

    Idaho (1-9, 1-6 Sun Belt) was ineligible for a bowl this season because of low academic progress, but that wasn't going to happen anyway for one of the worst programs in the country. The Vandals are wrapping up a fifth straight losing season and fourth in a row with no more than two wins.

    Appalachian State (6-5, 5-2) has exploded during the second half of its first season in the FBS, winning five straight games, including back-to-back victories over Sun Belt powers Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette. The Mountaineers would only land a bowl invite, as a transitioning team, if all other eligible teams are picked and spots still remain.

    Appalachian State's progress has been fun to watch, particularly with how quarterback Taylor Lamb and running back Marcus Cox have developed. Both will have big games in their season finale.

     

    Prediction: Appalachian State 40, Idaho 16

    Final: Appalachian State 45, Idaho 28

New Mexico State at Arkansas State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Arkansas State beat New Mexico State, 28-24, in November 2003.

     

    What to watch for

    New Mexico State (2-9, 1-6 Sun Belt) has lost nine in a row and will finish with at least nine losses for the eighth straight year. The Aggies have allowed at least 29 points in each of their past 10 games.

    Arkansas State (6-5, 4-3) has a shot at a fourth straight bowl invite with a fourth different coach, but the Red Wolves aren't guaranteed to get picked with three other full FBS members ahead of them in the Sun Belt standings and only three automatic bids. Last week's loss at Texas State could end their postseason streak, but an at-large selection is still possible.

    Getting to seven wins overall (and into a tie for fourth in the Sun Belt) will help Arkansas State's cause.

     

    Prediction: Arkansas State 45, New Mexico State 14

    Final: Arkansas State 68, New Mexico State 35

Wyoming at New Mexico

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Brett Smith had 387 yards of total offense and ran for two fourth-quarter touchdowns in Wyoming's 38-31 home win over New Mexico in October 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Wyoming (4-7, 2-5 Mountain West) has dropped six of seven, its defense wearing down as the season has progressed while its offense has failed to improve. A leg injury to starting quarterback Colby Kirkegaard during last week's 63-14 home loss to Boise State will likely keep him out of the finale, putting more pressure on the Cowboys' struggling run game to produce.

    New Mexico (3-8, 1-6) has lost all five of its home games, giving up an average of 41.6 points per game in those defeats. Despite an effective run game that nets 316.7 yards per game, fifth-best in the country, the inability to play from behind or play any semblance of defense has prevented the Lobos from really competing this season.

    New Mexico scored 28 first-quarter points against Boise State a few weeks back and ended up losing 60-49. That's how it's been for the Lobos this season, but they might have finally found a vulnerable opponent.

     

    Prediction: New Mexico 41, Wyoming 35

    Final: New Mexico 36, Wyoming 30

San Jose State at San Diego State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Adam Muema's 12-yard touchdown run with 3:32 left gave San Diego State a 34-30 win at San Jose State in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    San Jose State (3-8, 2-5 Mountain West) is on a five-game losing streak, having scored only seven total points in the last two games. The Spartans offense fell apart when quarterback Joe Gray got injured in a shutout home loss to Hawaii two weeks ago, and without him there aren't many other options.

    San Diego State (6-5, 4-3) is tied for first in the West Division with Fresno State, but because of a loss to Fresno earlier this season it can only claim the title and play in the Mountain West final with a win and a Fresno home loss to Hawaii. The Aztecs are 5-0 at home this season, winning by an average of 17.6 points.

    The Aztecs will claim at least a share of the West title, then watch the later games to see if they get to play again next week.

     

    Prediction: San Diego State 38, San Jose State 14

    Final: San Diego State 38, San Jose State 7

Notre Dame at USC

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Tommy Rees threw two first-half touchdown passes in Notre Dame's 14-10 home win over USC in October 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Notre Dame (7-4) takes a three-game losing streak into its annual Thanksgiving weekend trip out west.

    A month ago, this looked like a game the Fighting Irish could use to beef up their playoff resume, but with the skid they're resigned to playing out the string and seeing which bowl committee wants them (and their fanbase) the most. Everett Golson's turnover issues continue, negating the good he does when he holds onto the ball.

    USC (7-4) had a listless performance in losing at rival UCLA last week, falling out of contention for a Pac-12 division title in the process. The Trojans offense looked sluggish, and the defensive playmakers were negated, the first time those things have both happened in the same game.

    Cody Kessler and his offensive weapons should get back on track against a Notre Dame defense that's been torn apart of late. Add in Golson's likelihood to give it away and USC should win handily.

     

    Prediction: USC 40, Notre Dame 24

    Final: USC 49, Notre Dame 14

No. 4 Mississippi State at No. 19 Ole Miss

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Dak Prescott's three-yard touchdown run in overtime gave Mississippi State a 17-10 home win over Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Mississippi State (10-1, 6-1 SEC) was a 5-6 team a year ago, needing to win the Egg Bowl at home just to get into a bowl (and possibly saving Dan Mullen's job). Now the Bulldogs head to Ole Miss needing a victory to remain in the hunt for the playoff, their spot at No. 4 a tenuous one with teams below them capable of a leapfrog.

    When unbeaten, MSU had few detractors, most people awed by what Dak Prescott and Josh Robinson had been able to accomplish on offense. But after falling to Alabama, the Bulldogs' resume has been picked apart to show they may end up with zero wins against teams with fewer than four losses. 

    Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report wrote that MSU not only needs to win this game, it needs to do so in a way that convinces the selection committee to keep it ranked high, despite not likely winning its own division.

    "This is a beauty pageant, and there's a runway waiting for Mississippi State in Oxford on Saturday afternoon," Sallee wrote. "It needs to turn some heads, regardless of where it's ranked going in."

    Ole Miss (8-3, 4-3) comes in hurting, not just in terms of personnel but in the confidence department. The Rebels have lost three straight SEC games after a 7-0 start to the season, with their stout defense starting to wear down with the pressure of having to carry an inefficient offense.

    That offense lacks its main weapon for quarterback Bo Wallace to throw to, as Laquon Treadwell was lost for the season late in the loss to Auburn because of injury. Wallace has responded by trying to do more on his own, which has led to his mistakes resurfacing.

    Ole Miss remains one of the top defensive teams in the country, ranked 10th in yards allowed, but it's given up 65 points in the last two conference games.

    The Rebels would love to play spoiler and won't lie down easily. But Mississippi State knows what it needs to do and will get it done on the road.

     

    Prediction: Mississippi State 26, Ole Miss 19

    Final: Ole Miss 31, Mississippi State 17

Florida at No. 3 Florida State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Kelvin Benjamin caught nine balls for 212 yards and three touchdowns in Florida State's 37-7 win at Florida in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Florida (6-4) says goodbye to Will Muschamp after this one, as the coach is stepping down and handing the reins to defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin as interim coach for whatever bowl game the Gators head to. Offensive struggles doomed this team and kept it from being able to pull out several games in which a still-solid defense did its job.

    Like the matchup against Georgia, Florida comes into this one not expected to be able to hang with its more accomplished opponent. Yet the Gators are likely to be the latest team to play Florida State to the wire, considering the way this season has gone.

    Florida State (11-0) has a 27-game win streak, but most nights it doesn't look like a defending champion that hasn't lost since November 2012. The tight finishes are causing the Seminoles to fall out of favor with the selection committee, but they can still hold onto their playoff spot by winning out.

    Jameis Winston has been the savior for FSU down the stretch in most games, but he's also been part of the problem with some slow starts. The Seminoles haven't had one of those wire-to-wire dominations like last season, but with the entire country waiting for them to fall it's not likely to happen here.

    Expect more of the same from FSU, though it won't have to wait until the final moments pull out the win. For once, it will take control before the fourth quarter.

     

    Prediction: Florida State 30, Florida 20

    Final: Florida State 24, Florida 19

No. 7 Baylor vs. Texas Tech (at Arlington, Texas)

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Baylor racked up 675 yards and rallied from an early 14-0 deficit in a 63-34 win over Texas Tech in November 2013 in a game played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

     

    What to watch for

    Baylor (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) remains a little too far outside the top four to feel confident it can slide into the playoffs by season's end, though winning out and having a tiebreaker over TCU should help. The Bears' motivation this week is to stay the course, control the game and be in position to win big both here and next week against Kansas State.

    Texas Tech (4-7, 2-6) can only try to play spoiler, as it's headed for a losing season because of turnover issues and defensive breakdowns. The Red Raiders are minus-10 in turnover margin, and they rank 126th in yards allowed.

    Combine Tech's issues with Baylor's top-rated offense, and even though this is a neutral-site game it's going to feel like being in hostile territory for the Raiders.

     

    Prediction: Baylor 49, Texas Tech 21

    Final: Baylor 48, Texas Tech 46

Rutgers at Maryland

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Rutgers forced five turnovers and scored two defensive touchdowns in a 34-13 win at Maryland in September 2009.

     

    What to watch for

    Rutgers (6-5, 2-5 Big Ten) will be playing in a bowl game in its first season since moving from the American, but it won't be a very promising one after the Scarlet Knights limp toward the finish. A 5-1 start has been followed by four losses in the last five games, with quarterback Gary Nova falling apart and the defense allowing 40.6 points per game over the last five.

    Maryland (7-4, 4-3) has been impressive at times in its first year following the transfer from the ACC, and road wins at Michigan and Penn State have put the Terrapins in position to finish third in the East Division, despite getting blown out by the better teams in the conference.

    Though no rivalry exists between these Big Ten newcomers, one could develop as their simultaneous moves into the league get compared to each other. Maryland takes the early lead in that race.

     

    Prediction: Maryland 30, Rutgers 24

    Final: Rutgers 41, Maryland 38

UAB at Southern Mississippi

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Nick Mullens threw for 370 yards and five touchdowns as Southern Mississippi ended a 23-game losing streak with a 62-27 win at UAB in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    UAB (5-6, 3-4 Conference USA) has a chance to be bowl-eligible for the first time since 2004, the one and only instance the program has played in a bowl game. The Blazers won two contests last season, but first-year coach Bill Clark has orchestrated a major turnaround, despite looming speculation the school may drop football after 2016.

    Southern Mississippi (3-8, 1-6) was in the C-USA title game in 2011 and since then has had seasons of 0-12 and 1-11 before getting to three wins this fall. Gradual improvement has been shown, but the Golden Eagles are still a shell of the program that won at least six games every season from 1994 to 2011.

    UAB nearly knocked off unbeaten Marshall at home last week, and this game it'll pounce early and roll.

     

    Prediction: UAB 41, Southern Mississippi 21

    Final: UAB 45, Southern Mississippi 24

No. 10 Michigan State at Penn State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Michigan State clinched a share of the Big Ten title with a 28-22 win at Penn State in November 2010.

     

    What to watch for

    Michigan State (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten) won't be playing in the semifinals or the conference title game, but it can still grab a spot in one of the major bowls by getting to 10 wins, thanks to its spot in the committee's rankings. The Spartans are seventh in total offense, with quarterback Connor Cook's passing numbers better than or equal to last season's, and the defense still ranks No. 8 overall.

    Penn State (6-5, 2-5) has the defense to slow down Michigan State, as it showed a few weeks back against Ohio State. But the Nittany Lions have yet to establish any sort of flow when they have the ball, ranking 116th in yardage. Christian Hackenberg has been sacked 39 times and thrown just eight touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

    Penn State will keep it from getting out of hand, but short of Michigan State mailing it in this won't be much of an upset alert.

     

    Prediction: Michigan State 27, Penn State 16

    Final: Michigan State 34, Penn State 10

No. 18 Minnesota at No. 14 Wisconsin

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: James White ran for 125 yards and a touchdown in Wisconsin's 20-7 win at Minnesota in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Minnesota (8-3, 5-2 Big Ten) hasn't had a piece of the conference title since 1967, and it hasn't done this well in the league since 2003. The Golden Gophers are in uncharted territory, yet unlike past seasons with good starts, this group hasn't folded down the stretch.

    After losing by a touchdown at home to Ohio State, Minnesota bounced back by winning at Nebraska for the first time in 54 years. And it did so even with top running back David Cobb missing time because of injury, with the slack picked up by mobile quarterback Mitch Leidner.

    Cobb has 1,430 yards and 12 touchdowns, but he's "very questionable" because of a strained hamstring, coach Jerry Kill told reporters. With or without him, Minnesota will be a run-first team with Leidner looking to reliable tight end Maxx Williams when it's time to throw.

    Wisconsin (9-2, 6-1) has no bells or whistles to its offense; it's just lots and lots of running. Most of that will come from Melvin Gordon, the nation's leading rusher with 2,109 yards and 25 touchdowns, who briefly held the single-game rushing mark when he ran for 408 two weeks ago against Nebraska.

    His season tally is tied with Ron Dayne for the school and Big Ten records, and he's within reach of Barry Sanders' all-time mark (2,628 yards in 1988) if the Badgers get into the Big Ten title game.

    The winner of this contest earns that distinction, along with a chance to take down Ohio State. With two of the top 25 rushing teams in the country—Wisconsin is third, Minnesota No. 25—this will be an old-school clash for a division title. Where it will get decided, though, is on defense, where Wisconsin ranks second overall and fifth against the run.

     

    Prediction: Wisconsin 34, Minnesota 20

    Final: Wisconsin 34, Minnesota 24

Kansas at No. 12 Kansas State

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    USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: John Hubert ran for 220 yards and a touchdown in Kansas State's 31-10 win at Kansas in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Kansas (3-8, 1-7 Big 12) was on the other side of a record performance last week, giving up 427 rushing yards to Oklahoma's Samaje Perine and hardly touching him in the process. The Jayhawks are likely going to end up with nine or more losses for the fifth straight season.

    Kansas State (8-2, 6-1) survived at West Virginia last week, staying alive for a piece of the Big 12 title if it wins out. That includes the finale at Baylor, which will have a major impact on whether the conference gets a team into the playoff semifinals.

    K-State can still play its way into a major bowl, so look for this game to be one where it jumps out to a big lead and then gives its seniors a nice send-off. That includes Tyler Lockett, the wide receiver who has the school's career-yardage record but needs five catches and three touchdowns to grab those all-time marks as well.

     

    Prediction: Kansas State 55, Kansas 14

    Final: Kansas State 51, Kansas 13

Connecticut at Memphis

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    USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Casey Cochran threw for 461 yards and four touchdowns in Connecticut's 45-10 home win over Memphis last December.

     

    What to watch for

    Connecticut (2-8, 1-5 American) is finishing up a fourth straight losing season, with its lone bright spot being the only team in the past two years to beat UCF in conference play. The Huskies are third-worst in offense in the country, averaging 273 yards per game.

    Memphis (8-3, 6-1) last won a conference title in 1971, back when it played in the Missouri Valley Conference. A win here gives the Tigers at least a share of the American crown, as well as their first nine-win season since 2003. Five straight wins have been paced by improving offense and a defense that ranks ninth in points allowed at 17.7 per game.

    Memphis will up its piece of the title in convincing fashion.

     

    Prediction: Memphis 34, Connecticut 13

    Final: Memphis 41, Connecticut 10

Tennessee at Vanderbilt

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    USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Patton Robinette scored on a five-yard touchdown run with 16 seconds left in Vanderbilt's 14-10 win at Tennessee in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Tennessee (5-6, 2-5 SEC) ran into a defensive wall last week at home in the form of Missouri, slowing the momentum it had gained since Joshua Dobbs moved into the starting quarterback role. The Volunteers' young lineup has been maturing on the fly. But it struggled under that adversity, and it showed, leaving the rivalry game as the Vols' last chance to end a three-year bowl drought.

    Vanderbilt (3-8, 0-7) has been outscored by 24.9 points per game in conference play, showing how hard the rebuilding job first-year coach Derek Mason has in front of him. The Commodores average only 17.2 points per game, topping 21 just three times, and rank 124th in total offense at 289.8 yards per game.

    Tennessee lost in the final moments at home to Vandy last year, costing it a bowl bid. It won't let that happen again and could run away with this one.

     

    Prediction: Tennessee 34, Vanderbilt 20

    Final: Tennessee 24, Vanderbilt 17

BYU at California

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 4:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Marshawn Lynch ran for 194 yards and three touchdowns in California's 35-28 win over BYU in the 2005 Las Vegas Bowl.

     

    What to watch for

    BYU (7-4) already knows what is next after the regular season ends, having lined up a spot in the Miami Beach Bowl months ago. The Cougars have been getting quarterback Christian Stewart up to speed since replacing injured Taysom Hill, and his play of late has been solid. He could be in line for a huge game against California's bad defense.

    California (5-6) gave up 38 points to a Stanford team that struggles to score, particularly in the red zone. It was the second time this season the Golden Bears have been blown out at home by a team with a struggling offense, showing how bad their defense is.

    The team has allowed 39.5 points per game and at least 31 in nine straight, which has prevented Jared Goff's passing and Daniel Lasco's emergence as a go-to running back from taking hold.

    Cal hasn't gone to a bowl game since 2011, but that ends by virtue of a last-team-to-score shootout in Berkeley.

     

    Prediction: California 47, BYU 43

    Final: BYU 42, California 35

Louisiana-Monroe at Georgia Southern

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 6 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

     

    What to watch for

    Louisiana-Monroe (4-7, 3-4 Sun Belt) has seen a promising season that began 3-1 (and included a win over Wake Forest) go down the drain with a six-game losing streak. That ended last week at New Mexico State, but the Warhawks are still going to finish without a bowl bid for another year because of an offense that ranks last in the conference.

    Georgia Southern (8-3, 7-0) is wrapping up a wildly successful first season of FBS play and one that could include a bowl bid, even though it's not fully eligible. If open slots are available after all full FBS teams are put into bowls, the Eagles will most certainly get a bid because of the appeal of their No. 1 rushing offense that averages 384.2 yards per game.

    Look for GSU quarterback Kevin Ellison to join Matt Breida in the 1,000-yard rusher club in a romp for the Eagles.

     

    Prediction: Georgia Southern 46, Louisiana-Monroe 20

    Final: Georgia Southern 22, Louisiana-Monroe 16

Hawaii at Fresno State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Derek Carr threw for 324 yards and two touchdowns, and Marteze Waller ran for two scores in Fresno State's 42-37 win at Hawaii in September 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Hawaii (4-8, 3-4 Mountain West) scored on the final play last week to beat UNLV at home, keeping alive very faint hopes of reaching the conference title game despite its poor overall record. The Warriors, who two weeks ago ended a 17-game road losing streak, need to win this away game and hope both San Diego State and Nevada lose.

    Fresno State (5-6, 4-3) began the season with three blowout losses to power-conference teams, but since then the Bulldogs defense has improved immensely, and it's been able to move the ball well behind quarterback Brian Burrell and running back Marteze Waller. Waller was hurt early in last week's win over Nevada, but Josh Quezada stepped up with a second straight 100-yard rushing game.

    Fresno wins the division title and a spot in the Mountain West final for the second straight year with a win. Mark it down as happening.

     

    Prediction: Fresno State 33, Hawaii 17

    Final: Fresno State 28, Hawaii 21

Wake Forest at Duke

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Anthony Boone threw for 256 yards and three touchdowns in Duke's 28-21 win at Wake Forest in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Wake Forest (3-8, 1-6 ACC) ended a 10-game conference losing streak in one of the ugliest games in recent memory, edging Virginia Tech 6-3 in double overtime at home last week. The Demon Deacons will take it, though, especially with an offense that averages only 14.3 points and 207.3 yards per game.

    Duke (8-3, 4-3) has dropped two in a row, falling from the outright leader of the Coastal Division to out of the race for the division crown and a major bowl bid. The Blue Devils lost both of those games at home, including getting blown out by rival North Carolina, as their offense has sputtered since scoring 51 points in a double-overtime win at Pittsburgh a month ago.

    Duke gets back in the win column, but it will be an ugly game.

     

    Prediction: Duke 23, Wake Forest 14

    Final: Duke 41, Wake Forest 21

Pittsburgh at Miami (Florida)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Stephen Morris threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns in Miami's 41-31 win at Pittsburgh in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Pittsburgh (5-6, 3-4 ACC) has a six-year bowl streak that is in jeopardy because its defense hasn't been able to stop many teams. The Panthers were able to shut down Syracuse last week to keep the possibility of six wins alive. James Conner has run for 1,600 yards and an ACC-record 22 touchdowns, but a 1-4 record in games decided by five points or less has Pitt in a pickle.

    Miami (6-5, 3-4) looked disinterested last week in a blowout loss at Virginia, possibly still hungover from the previous game against Florida State. The Hurricanes have some great offensive weapons, particularly running back Duke Johnson, but they don't all seem to click at the same time.

    An intimate crowd in South Florida will watch Miami end Pitt's bowl streak.

     

    Prediction: Miami 30, Pittsburgh 21

    Final: Pittsburgh 35, Miami 23

Middle Tennessee at UTEP

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    USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Logan Kilgore threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns in Middle Tennessee's 48-17 home win over UTEP in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Middle Tennessee (6-5, 5-2 Conference USA) scored with 19 seconds left to edge Florida Atlantic last week and lock up bowl eligibility, as well as second place in the East Division behind Marshall. The Blue Raiders are 1-4 on the road this season.

    UTEP (6-5, 4-3) is bowl-eligible for the first time since 2010 and has a chance at its first seven-win season since 2005. The Miners were 2-10 a year ago, but the development of quarterback Jameill Showers (a Texas A&M transfer) and running back Aaron Jones (1,086 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns) has boosted this long-down program.

    Conference USA has six bowl-eligible teams, but only five automatic bids. Winning this game all but cinches an invite, and UTEP won't let that opportunity slip away.

     

    Prediction: UTEP 30, Middle Tennessee 24

    Final: UTEP 24, Middle Tennessee 21

No. 15 Auburn at No. 1 Alabama

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 7:45 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Chris Davis returned a missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown as time expired in Auburn's 34-28 win over visiting Alabama in the Iron Bowl in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    A year after one of the greatest plays in college football history, the famed "Kick-Six" that propelled Auburn toward a spot in the national championship game and ended Alabama's two-year reign, the Iron Bowl once again has national-title implications. But only for one team this time, as Auburn's late-season swoon has knocked it out of contention.

    Auburn (8-3, 4-3 SEC) won last week against Samford, but before that it dropped two straight conference games. Both losses were the result of the Tigers' porous defense failing to make tackles or slow down opponents, while in the loss to Georgia its own attack sputtered.

    No longer getting the kind of breaks it got en route to the title game in 2013, Auburn has become just another decent team with major flaws that have been exposed.

    Alabama (10-1, 6-1) had its bump in the road earlier this season, first losing at Ole Miss and then struggling against Arkansas. But since then the Crimson Tide have looked better than anyone else, riding a six-game win streak with their defense playing its best ball as the season has progressed.

    No longer as susceptible to up-tempo offenses, the Tide have held down the potent attacks of LSU and Mississippi State to bring confidence into the Auburn clash.

    "So far this fall, the Alabama defense passed the test against other tempo-oriented offenses," wrote Michael Casagrande of AL.com.

    Auburn was still somewhat of an unknown quantity last season, enabling it to keep opposing defenses on their heels for much of the game. The same isn't the case in 2014, and Alabama hasn't been tricked yet by anyone else.

    It won't here either. Don't expect anything close to the late-game drama of last year's Iron Bowl, with Alabama winning relatively comfortably.

     

    Prediction: Alabama 34, Auburn 21

    Final: Alabama 55, Auburn 44

No. 2 Oregon at Oregon State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Josh Huff's 12-yard touchdown catch with 29 seconds left gave Oregon a 36-35 home win over Oregon State in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Oregon (10-1, 7-1 Pac-12) seems firmly entrenched in the good thoughts of the playoff committee, remaining ahead of unbeaten Florida State. All that stands in the Ducks' way of getting into the semifinals is a conference title win next week, as well as the always feisty Civil War game. They somehow do better against Oregon State on the road, winning by an average of 22.7 points in the last three trips to Corvallis.

    Oregon State (5-6, 2-6) has struggled on offense all season, despite having the Pac-12's career-passing-yardage leader in quarterback Sean Mannion. Without a go-to weapon, like last season, Mannion's numbers are way down, and the Beavers continue to be among the worst teams in the country in trying to run the ball.

    Marcus Mariota is a top contender for the Heisman, and while this game isn't the one that will make his candidacy, it could hurt it without a stellar performance. He had three touchdowns and two interceptions in last season's back-and-forth game and can't afford to slip against an inferior opponent.

    With so much at stake for Oregon, expect it to fire on all cylinders from the opening kickoff and cruise to an easy win.

     

    Prediction: Oregon 43, Oregon State 21

    Final: Oregon 47, Oregon State 19

Utah State at No. 23 Boise State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 10:15 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Joe Southwick threw for 335 yards and two touchdowns in Boise State's 34-23 win at Utah State in October 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Utah State (9-3, 6-1 Mountain West) has a shot at a second straight Mountain Division title, something that didn't seem possible back in September when starting quarterback Chuckie Keeton got hurt. The Aggies are now on their fourth quarterback, and freshman Kent Myers has been spectacular.

    The Aggies have won five straight, but those teams are a combined 16-41.

    Boise State (9-2, 6-1) has won six in a row and nine of 10, the only loss in that stretch is a turnover-filled trip to Air Force. It now sits as the highest-ranked Group of Five team, which would guarantee a major bowl invite. The Broncos have averaged 50.7 points per game during the win streak, with quarterback Grant Hedrick and running back Jay Ajayi both on a roll.

    Boise wins the Mountain outright with a victory, while Utah State would need to win and have Colorado State fall Friday. Boise gets its first division title and a spot in the title game, but it will be a close one.

     

    Prediction: Boise State 27, Utah State 23

    Final: Boise State 50, Utah State 19

Washington at Washington State

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    USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Bishop Sankey ran for 200 yards and a touchdown in Washington's 27-17 home win over Washington State in November 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Washington (7-5, 3-5 Pac-12) is headed for a fifth straight bowl game, but by currently holding the worst conference record of the Pac-12's eight bowl-eligible teams, it won't get a very good slot. That can change by getting to eight overall victories, which will require winning in Pullman for the third time in the last decade.

    Washington State (3-8, 2-6) is playing out the string, a lost season that saw prolific passer Connor Halliday set the FBS single-game passing record and then go down with a leg injury that ended his college career. His replacement, freshman Luke Falk, just threw for 601 yards and three touchdowns at Arizona State, but he was also intercepted four times.

    Seven of the last 10 Apple Cup games have been decided by one score. No reason to expect anything less, especially with it being the final #Pac12AfterDark game of the season.

     

    Prediction: Washington State 43, Washington 38

    Final: Washington 31, Washington State 13

Nevada at UNLV

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    USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 29; 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Caleb Herring threw for 335 yards and three touchdowns in UNLV's 27-22 win at Nevada in October 2013.

     

    What to watch for

    Nevada (6-5, 3-4 Mountain West) has almost played its way out of a division title the past two weeks, losing at Air Force in overtime and then at home to Fresno State. The Wolf Pack could finish in a tie with Fresno or San Diego State (as well as Hawaii) with a win, but they lose out in most tiebreakers.

    UNLV (2-10, 1-6) has dropped off from seven wins a year ago to a fourth season of 10 or more losses in the past five. The Runnin' Rebels give up 37.6 points per game, and last week they allowed Hawaii to score two touchdowns in the final two minutes to lose on the road.

    Nevada's offense is too much for UNLV to slow down.

     

    Prediction: Nevada 37, UNLV 27

    Final: Nevada 49, UNLV 27

     

    Statistical rankings from CFBStats.com.

    Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.