Picking the Biggest Games of College Football's Week 13
It's Week 13 in college football and that means this is the final chance for teams to enhance their resumés before the postseason.
It's doubtful that we'll have a repeat of last week's drama, but this week's slate is far from lacking in enticing matchups.
Although the headliner this week is the SEC West showdown between No. 1 LSU and No. 3 Arkansas, several other games will have major implications for the upcoming bowl season.
The games over the next two days will also be one of the final chances for Heisman candidates to make their cases.
Will Andrew Luck regain his place atop the Heisman hierarchy with a big win against Notre Dame? Will Trent Richardson get revenge in this year's rendition of the Iron Bowl?
Will Robert Griffin repeat his performance from last week against Oklahoma when he faces an even more porous Texas Tech defense on Saturday?
These are my Week 13 picks.
Virginia Tech at Virginia
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The Cavaliers moved into the Top 25 this week for the first time since 2007. It's fitting that their reward will be a chance to face their in-state rival Virginia Tech, a team that's beaten them in seven straight games, including 11 out of their last 12.
The Hokies have won six straight with their last victory being a three-point win over North Carolina on Nov. 17. Leading Frank Beamer's squad is quarterback Logan Thomas and running back David Wilson, whose average of 131.1 yards per game ranks third in the nation.
Virginia's four straight wins are impressive, but the Cavaliers are yet to face a back of Wilson's caliber. Coach Mike London has Virginia relevant for the first time in recent memory, but this team isn't ready to take that next step, yet.
Virginia Tech 31, Virginia 22
Clemson at South Carolina
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After getting off to a hot 8-0 start, the Clemson Tigers have struggled in their last three games. Sandwiched between blowout losses at Georgia Tech (31-17) and at NC State (31-13) is an unimpressive three-point win against Wake Forest.
In order for Clemson to beat its in-state rival on Saturday, the offensive firepower evident in Weeks 1-8 will have to return against a South Carolina team that's tied for sixth in the FBS with 29 turnovers this year.
Like the Tigers, the Gamecocks fail to resemble their earlier form. Embattled quarterback Stephen Garcia is gone and star running back Marcus Lattimore is injured.
Although The Tigers have more offensive firepower with once-Heisman contender Tajh Boyd and star freshman Sammy Watkins, the Gamecocks' stingy defense will hold Dabo Sweeney's crew in check.
USC corner Stephon Gilmore is one of the nation's best, and will play a big role in limiting Clemson's multitude of skilled players.
South Carolina 17, Clemson 13
Georgia at Georgia Tech
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Since losing their first two games, the Georgia Bulldogs have rattled off nine straight victories, including seven against conference opponents.
After losing three of four, Georgia Tech beat lowly Duke by seven points at home last week.
This is Georgia's final game before it faces the SEC West champion in the conference championship game, a matchup that—with a favorable outcome for the Bulldogs—could potentially throw the BCS title game picture into utter chaos.
Mark Richt may no longer be on the hot seat, but a loss in this annual rivalry game will be accompanied by clamors for Richt's removal as head coach.
The Bulldogs will be prepared for Georgia Tech's complex triple-option attack.
Georgia 24, Georgia Tech 18
Notre Dame at Stanford
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Where has it all gone? You know, the Andrew Luck hype.
No longer is the Stanford signal-caller infallible and no longer is he the best quarterback prospect since John Elway, his predecessor in Palo Alto, Calif.
Since Stanford's 23-point loss against Oregon, both Luck's draft and Heisman stocks have fallen. But with a win against the Irish this weekend in prime time would go a long way towards restoring that sterling reputation.
While the Cardinal have been limited by injury in recent weeks, Notre Dame faces a similar problem for this weekend's matchup with star tailback Jonas Gray out for the season with a torn ACL.
Even without Gray, the Irish have more talent, but this one goes down to the quarterbacks. And although Tommy Rees has shined at times this year, he's no Luck.
Expect 300-plus yards and three TD's from Luck on Saturday.
Stanford 34, Notre Dame 25
Penn State at Wisconsin
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The winner of this one gets a shot at Michigan State in the inaugural Big Ten championship game.
While Penn State seems to have received an emotional boost resulting from the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Wisconsin is the better team.
If not for two Hail Mary touchdown passes, the Badgers would be undefeated and a contender for the BCS national championship game.
What's more, Wisconsin has one of the nation's best running backs in Montee Ball, who has racked up 25 touchdowns and nearly 1,500 rushing yards.
With Devon Still and Jordan Hill, Penn State possesses arguably the nation's most lethal combination at defensive tackle. Yet, it won't be enough to stop Ball and dual-threat quarterback Russell Wilson.
Wisconsin 19, Penn State 7
Ohio State at Michigan
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Brady Hoke has led Michigan to a 9-2 record in his first year in Ann Arbor. Things are looking up for the Wolverines, but none of it will matter unless they snap their seven-game losing streak against rival Ohio State.
Michigan QB Denard Robinson is coming off his best game of the season, torching Nebraska last week for four touchdowns and 263 yards of offense in a 45-17 blowout.
The Bucks counter with a quarterback of similar style in Braxton Miller. While the freshman still needs to refine his passing game, Miller has still proven capable at times this season with his ability to scramble and make plays outside the pocket.
Robinson and the Wolverines have the advantage here. If there was ever a year in which they were going to beat the Buckeyes, it's this year.
Michigan 35, Ohio State 17
Arkansas at LSU
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This is the game of the weekend. LSU faces a tough challenge on Friday in Arkansas, which has one of the league's most potent offenses.
Razorbacks quarterback Tyler Wilson is flat-out balling this season, throwing for 3,215 yards with 21 touchdowns and just five interceptions. Wilson has a bevy of explosive receivers in his arsenal: Greg Childs, Jarius Wright and Joe Adams comprise the nation's most explosive trio.
The offensive firepower would be frightening for any team in the country. That is, not including LSU.
The Tigers's secondary is laden with potential NFL talent and will have no problems limiting the Razorbacks' offense.
The only chance for Arkansas is to get ahead early against an LSU team that isn't built to play from behind.
More importantly, the Hogs will need Adams, their electric kick returner, to make a play. Arkansas simply won't be able to move the ball against LSU.
The Razorbacks will keep it close, but LSU is just too good on defense.
LSU 27, Arkansas 21
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These are the games I see as potential blowouts, but they're worth mentioning.
The Iron Bowl: Alabama at Auburn
Auburn will go down by 24 like last year. Except this time around, they won't come back.
Trent Richardson + NFL-level Defense = domination against an Auburn team that lost too much after its national championship last season.
Alabama 41, Auburn 14
Texas Tech at Baylor
Since upsetting Oklahoma, Texas Tech has lost four straight by a combined score of 190-60. Yikes.
Robert Griffin III has the Heisman hardware in his sight. Enough said.
Baylor 45, Texas Tech 31
Houston at Tulsa
Case Keenum and the Cougars are going to a BCS Bowl if they remain undefeated. But they face arguably their toughest foe at Tulsa, who's 7-0 in conference play.
This Cougars' offense is too explosive. Get familiar with this connection: Case Keenum to Patrick Edwards.
Houston 42 Tulsa 19