CFB's Top Matchups of Week 13: Who Will Position Themselves for BCS Supremacy?
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It's rivalry week in college football. So many great teams will be battling on the gridiron for conference supremacy and BCS positioning. This is always my favorite week of the college football season, because this is the time where all the emotions of college football are shown, great endings occur and bragging rights are developed.
This is it, the college football season is coming to an end unfortunately, and after this week, the bowl picture will be that much clearer.
Here is a preview and prediction of the top matchups that the final week of the regular season has to offer.
Ohio State at No. 15 Michigan: Hoke, Michigan Play for Their Tenth Win
Michigan tail back Fitz Touissant hopes to have a huge game vs. Ohio State
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Time: 12:00 PM ET Coverage: ABC Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
This is the greatest rivalry in not just college football, but in all of sports. When you look at Michigan versus Ohio State, you disregard all the circumstances involving both schools, including records, stats, etc.
Michigan looks to end their seven-year skid against their hated rivals, in a year which Brady Hoke has put a Michigan program back on its feet. Hoke and his staff, particularly coordinators Al Borges and Greg Mattison, have done a tremendous job in re-tooling this team to put it in positions to win games. Mattison especially has done a remarkable job in turning one of the nation's worst defenses last year into a defense only yielding 15.6 points per game this season (sixth in the nation).
Ohio State has had a year to forget, as they sit at 6-5. After the memorabilia scandal, and the resignation of head coach Jim Tressel and the departure of quarterback Terrelle Pryor, this Buckeye squad hasn't known what has hit them this season.
True freshman quarterback Braxton Miller has came in and shown some flashes of scrambling ability, but his passing needs a lot of work. It is hard to believe that the Buckeyes rank 118th in the nation in passing offense, only averaging 114 passing yards a game.
Ohio State has no chance for a berth in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game. Michigan cannot win the Legends division, already clinched by Michigan State last week, but they are hoping for a BCS at-large bid with a victory over Ohio State.
The Buckeyes are a turmoil-filled team who is reeling badly, and Michigan has a lot of anger and frustration to let out against their hated rival. This one could get ugly, and I think it will.
Prediction: Michigan 35, Ohio State 14
No. 3 Arkansas at No. 1 LSU: Battle for the SEC West
Arkansas is upset minded as they head to Baton Rouge Saturday
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Time: 2:30 PM ET (Friday) Coverage: CBS Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
What a game this has the potential to be. Arkansas comes into Baton Rouge at No. 3 in the nation with a 10-1 record, with their only loss being to No. 2 Alabama. LSU is ranked first in the land, hoping to avenge last year's 31-23 loss to the Razorbacks.
Things could get pretty crazy if the Razorbacks upset LSU this weekend. That would create a three-way tie in the SEC West in which Arkansas, LSU, and Alabama would all be 11-1 overall and 7-1 in the conference.
The last two weeks of football in the SEC should be very exciting though, let's just put it that way. This conference has the highest caliber of teams, which results in very good games. Either Arkansas, Alabama or LSU will likely have their hands full when they face Georgia in the SEC Championship game.
As far as this game goes, it is not only for SEC Championship Game rights, but also carries a lot of weight for BCS National Championship implications. As of right now, LSU is the only team from the six power conferences that is undefeated; Houston is the other undefeated team from Conference USA.
Whoever wins this game could very well be in the National Championship Game because even if they lose in the SEC Championship Game, their resume will still be looking mighty attractive.
I am going to take Arkansas in the upset here. I think that Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson will do a good job exploiting his dynamic receivers. This will likely be a shootout though, because the Razorbacks do give up 21.1 points per game. Let the fireworks in the SEC West begin.
Prediction: Arkansas 28, LSU 24
No. 13 Georgia at No. 23 Georgia Tech: Potential Trap Game for the Bulldogs
Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs hope to avoid a big upset at the hands of Georgia Tech on Saturday
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Time: 12:00 PM ET Coverage: ESPN Location: Atlanta, Georgia
This is a rivalry game, and it's a game where Georgia Tech has nothing to play for and Georgia has everything to play for. In the ACC Coastal division, The Yellow Jackets sit behind Virginia and Virginia Tech, so with only one regular season game remaining, it is statistically impossible for them to reach the ACC Championship Game. Georgia Tech also realizes even if it does win Saturday against Georgia, that they are likely not going to be chosen for an at-large BCS bid.
With this said, I can definitely see Georgia Tech winning this game. The Yellow Jackets have lost three of their last five games, so they will be pumped up for this one. It's usually the team that has nothing to play for that is the most dangerous, and I see that being the case here.
Although Georgia's defense has portrayed it is quite stingy this season, ranking 11th in points against, the Yellow Jackets bode the second ranked rushing attack in the nation averaging over 323 yards a game, that is fantastic.
Besides, it is always very difficult for teams to defend that triple option that Georgia Tech runs.
This game will be a shootout. Georgia Tech's defense ranks 56th in points against giving up over 25 points a game, and the Georgia offense has multiple weapons. In the end though, I think Georgia Tech's offense will outlast Georgia's offense.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 34, Georgia 27
No. 8 Houston at Tulsa: Houston Tries to Nab BCS Bid
Case Keenum and the Cougars are likely going to play in a BCS game, barring an upset at the hands of Tulsa
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Time: 12:00 PM ET (Friday) Coverage: Not Listed Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
What has been the main story line in Houston this year? How Heisman contender quarterback Case Keenum has led the Cougars to an 11-0 record and vying for a BCS bowl bid. Keenum has put up ridiculous numbers this season, over 4,200 yards and 38 touchdown passes; he has the Cougars ranked first in both yards per game passing (447.5) and points per game (53.1).
You could argue though, and I definitely wouldn't disagree, that Houston has played an extremely favorable schedule. They have only played one team from a power conference in UCLA (6-5), and they only won by four points. Not to take anything away from Keenum, who is a very talented quarterback, but it's easy to put up the gaudy numbers he has when your toughest competition all season has been against a low-tier Pac-12 team.
Tulsa comes into this game at 8-3, with their three losses coming to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State, all of which are ranked in the top ten of the BCS standings.
The Golden Hurricane have a lot of talent behind the arm of senior quarterback G.J. Kinne, who's thrown for over 2,600 yards and 24 touchdowns. Tulsa may very well be Houston's toughest competition all season long.
Tulsa will make this a game, but I think Keenum and that spread out Houston offense will be too much for the Tulsa defense in the end. The Cougars are going to steal a BCS bid away from someone.
Prediction: Houston 45, Tulsa 35
No. 2 Alabama at No. 24 Auburn: The Iron Bowl
Trent Richardson will likely have a huge game against Auburn
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Time: 3:30 PM ET Coverage: CBS Location: Auburn, Alabama
This year's Iron bowl doesn't have as much hype to it, simply because Auburn isn't as good as they were last year after losing Cam Newton to the NFL. If you ask Alabama, although, they'll tell you this is the biggest game they will play this year next to their game against LSU.
The Crimson Tide have to win this game to stay in contention for not only the BCS National Championship game, but the SEC Championship game as well. If the Tide win, and LSU loses, there could be all-out BCS chaos, as it will leave a three-way tie between themselves, Arkansas, and LSU; the two teams highest in the BCS standings that have the head-to-head victory gets the nod for the conference championship game.
Auburn comes into this game 7-4, and clearly they have no shot at the conference championship game being in the SEC West, so they are just playing for War Eagle.
Alabama must keep their focus in this game. The Tide have a similar situation as Georgia, playing an opponent who doesn't have much to play for except a decent bowl game.
It seems unlikely that Auburn can win this game. First of all, Alabama has been reminded constantly of their collapse in last year's game after being up 24-0, in which Cam Newton rallied the Tigers and made a remarkable comeback. Secondly, Alabama is a lot better of a team than Auburn, a lot better. This is the same Auburn team that got beat by Georgia 45-7. If the Bulldogs can do that to them, who knows what Alabama can do to them.
Prediction: Alabama 31, Auburn 3
No. 5 Virginia Tech at Virginia: Cavaliers Vying for Huge Upset
Logan Thomas will lead his Hokies to the ACC Championship Game
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Time: 3:30 PM ET Coverage: ABC/ESPN/ESPN 3 Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
I'll be the first one to say it, and I'm not the first one to say it; Virginia Tech is vastly overrated. For the Hokies to be ranked fifth in the nation is absurd. Do you know the best team Virginia Tech has beaten all season? Georgia Tech. Not saying that isn't a good win, just saying that it looks like the pollsters don't give much thought to the body of work concerning teams.
The Hokies have talent, but they aren't the fifth best team in the country, as their record is very deceptive. This is a team that got blown out by a Clemson team who just got their wheels blown off by a Russell Wilson-less North Carolina State team. The Hokies also have a meager three-point victory over a very average Miami team, and a four-point victory over a bad Duke team.
As far as Virginia goes, second-year head coach Mike London has done a remarkable job with this program. London has this team at 8-3 after a 4-8 season last year, and just got a signature win against Florida State in Tallahassee. The Cavaliers also defeated Georgia Tech when they were ranked 12th in the nation.
Virginia Tech and Virginia will meet this Saturday in Charlottesville, and the Hokies will get this victory. An ACC Championship appearance is on the line here, and I think the Hokies have more talent offensively to outscore the Cavaliers.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 27, Virginia 14
Oregon State at No. 10 Oregon: Not Much of a Contest in This Civil War
LaMichael James will carve a nice hole through the Beaver defense en route to a blowout in the Civil War on Saturday
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Time: 3:30 PM ET Coverage: ABC/ESPN 2/ESPN 3 Location: Eugene, Oregon
I can't imagine this game will be very close, unless the Ducks have a complete emotional breakdown from last week's loss to USC. If anything, I would think Oregon's statistically bound elimination from national championship contention would make them angry, and they will likely play angry.
The Ducks have to have a win at home against the Beavers this Saturday for them to make an appearance in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game. How likely is this? I would say it's rather likely, considering that Oregon is likely going to handle their business against a lowly Oregon State squad.
Oregon State will at least try to spoil Oregon's hopes of a Pac-12 Championship Game appearance. The Beavers come into this game at 3-8, and will do everything they can to halt the Ducks.
I can't see Oregon not winning this game by 40-plus points in all honesty. Aside from Oregon just being a lot better of a team, them being at home, and having something to play for, the Beavers are just not going to be able to keep up with the tempo Oregon has offensively.
Blowout in the making.
Prediction: Oregon 59, Oregon State 14
No. 19 Penn State at No. 16 Wisconsin: Leaders Division Championship Game
Montee Ball will lead his Badgers to a Big Ten Championship appearance Saturday vs. Penn State
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Time: 3:30 PM ET Coverage: ESPN/ESPN 3 Location: Madison, Wisconsin
This is it. The winner of this game will represent the Leaders division in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 3. Both teams are 9-2, and have had their ups and downs this season.
Wisconsin is still one the best teams in the nation without a doubt. They can say they are the only team in the nation that is two Hail Mary's away from being 11-0. The Badgers haven't looked back since their 33-29 loss to Ohio State, as the last three games they have out scored their opposition 132-47.
Penn State has been through a very emotional time. First the allegations about ex-defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky molesting young boys between 1994 and 2002, then the firing of legendary coach Joe Paterno who was there for 61 years. Penn State also just recently found out that Paterno has been diagnosed with a treatable form of lung cancer.
The difference in this game will be the emotional burden the Nittany Lions have upon them. I believe the Badgers are going to beat up on a team who is just plain and simply tired.
I could be wrong, the Nittany Lions could use all they have been through for motivation, but my gut tells me that's not going to be the case. The Badgers' offense is very dynamic led by quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Montee Ball. Ball has rushed for 25 touchdowns this season, and Wilson has thrown for 26 touchdown passes this season. The Badger attack will be too much for an emotionally spent Nittany Lion team to handle.
Prediction: Wisconsin 28, Penn State 14
No. 17 Clemson at No. 12 South Carolina: Gamecocks with All to Play for
Connor Shaw has been an impressive replacement for Stephen Garcia
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Time: 7:45 PM ET Coverage: ESPN/ESPN 3 Location: Columbia, South Carolina
Clemson has the Atlantic Division in the ACC wrapped up, so all they are trying to accomplish this Saturday is better bowl positioning. The Tigers have fallen off quite significantly, although, and I think that voters will keep this in the back of their minds.
Clemson has dropped two of their last three games after starting 8-0, that includes a 37-13 romping NC State put on them last week. Personally, I believe Clemson was over-hyped during their eight game win streak, having a few games where they narrowly escaped over what I believe are all overrated ACC teams.
The Gamecocks are in good position to beat Clemson Saturday. The Tigers have virtually nothing to play for, and they are reeling. Connor Shaw has really come on for this Gamecock squad after losing Stephen Garcia, so look for South Carolina to win this game.
Prediction: South Carolina 35, Clemson 24
No. 22 Notre Dame at No. 6 Stanford: The Cardinal Is in a Tough Spot
Andrew Luck and Stanford can only hope Oregon slips up against the Beavers
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Time: 8:00 PM ET Coverage: ABC Location: Palo Alto, California
Stanford is not only worried about having to beat a much-improved Irish team, they are worried about Oregon. On Nov. 12, Oregon came into Palo Alto and beat the Cardinal by 23, giving them their first loss of the season. Stanford currently sits with an 8-1 record in conference play, but Oregon is right behind them at 7-1. The Cardinal play a non-conference opponent this weekend, so all Oregon has to do is beat Oregon State in Eugene Saturday to play for a conference championship.
At this point, Stanford is praying for an at-large BCS bid, because they have come to the realization that the likeliness of Oregon losing to Oregon State is very unlikely. That's what happens when you allow another team to control your fate.
Notre Dame on the other side of things climbed their way back into the BCS Top 25. The Irish are 8-1 since starting the season off 0-2. A 9-3 record for the Fighting Irish would sit well with them considering how poorly they started the season, as it would likely catapult them to a Jan. 1 bowl game.
With the off chance that Oregon does lose to Oregon State, The Cardinal will still play a determined football game in front of their home crowd. Look for Andrew Luck to have a big game, as he usual does. I believe Notre Dame will keep this game close, although.
I give the nod to Stanford in this game, their offense will be too much for the Notre Dame defense.
Prediction: Stanford 34, Notre Dame 24