College Football Picks: Week 12 Predictions for Every Game

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2015

College Football Picks: Week 12 Predictions for Every Game

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Another week, another chance for the top teams in college football to make or break their cases to play for a national title.

    So far, November has lived up to its promise of playing a key role in deciding who will qualify for the College Football Playoff, but there's still a long way to go. This weekend's slate of games features another batch of matchups that will propel the winners up the rankings and and cause the losers to spiral downward.

    But more than just playoff hopes are up for grabs in Week 12. Several division titles can be clinched, while another 16 schools find themselves a win away from being bowl-eligible.

    Check out our predictions for every game this weekend, then give us your picks in the comments section.

    All rankings are based on the College Football Playoff standings.

    Last week: 45-14 (.763)

    Season: 524-170 (.755)

North Texas at Middle Tennessee

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; noon ET

    Last meeting: Brandin Byrd ran for 139 yards and a touchdown in North Texas' 34-7 home win over Middle Tennessee in October 2013.

    What to watch for

    North Texas (1-9, 1-5 Conference USA) is 1-4 under interim coach Mike Canales, its most recent result a 24-0 loss at Tennessee. That was the first time the Mean Green had been shut out since playing Alabama in September 2011, and it ensured their most losses in a season since 2010.

    Middle Tennessee (5-5, 4-2) has won three of four to get in position to be bowl-eligible for the fourth year in a row. However, in two of the past three seasons, the Blue Raiders have not been invited to a postseason game.

    Brent Stockstill has been the most productive freshman quarterback in the country, ranking 14th in the FBS at 309.9 passing yards per game with 23 TDs.

    Prediction: Middle Tennessee 48, North Texas 20

    FINAL: Middle Tennessee 41, North Texas 7

No. 21 Memphis at Temple

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; noon ET

    Last meeting: Jake Elliott kicked a 31-yard field goal as time expired to give Memphis a 16-13 win at Temple last November.

    What to watch for

    Memphis (8-2, 4-2 American) has lost two in a row after winning its previous 15 games, and as a result the Tigers have gone from being the favorites to get the “Group of Five” spot in a major bowl game to a team that's in third place in its own division. This will mark a third consecutive game for Memphis against a team with two or fewer losses, having fallen to Navy and Houston the last two weeks.

    The Houston loss was particularly troubling, as Memphis led 20-0 in the first half and 34-14 early in the fourth quarter.

    Temple (8-2, 5-1) has lost two of three, most recently by 21 points at South Florida, postponing its clinching of the East Division title. The Owls can't afford to lose again if they want to win their first division title since 2009, when they were in the Mid-American Conference.

    After being staunch on defense during a 7-0 start, Temple has allowed 36 points per game over the last three weeks, and its last three opponents have managed 6.93 yards per play.

    Memphis will rebound, and Temple will continue to slip.

    Prediction: Memphis 31, Temple 24

    FINAL: Temple 31, Memphis 12

Florida Atlantic at No. 8 Florida

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    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; noon ET

    Last meeting: Jeff Demps ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns in Florida's 41-3 home win over Florida Atlantic to open the 2011 season.

    What to watch for

    Florida Atlantic (2-8) has lost five of six and has failed to reach 20 points in six games this season. The Owls are 1-29 all-time against power-conference opponents, their only victory coming against Minnesota in 2007.

    Florida (9-1) knows it will be playing on the first weekend of December in the SEC title game after winning the East Division, though it isn't certain whether that will be against Alabama or Ole Miss. The Gators will spend this week focusing on getting their offense to be more efficient before facing rival Florida State in the regular-season finale.

    Florida Atlantic has been susceptible to the run this season, giving up 226 yards and four TDs to Miami (FL) in September in its other game this year against a power opponent. The Gators will look to run frequently to get Kelvin Taylor going for the stretch run.

    Prediction: Florida 38, Florida Atlantic 14

    FINAL: Florida 20, Florida Atlantic 14 (OT)

The Citadel at South Carolina

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    Richard Shiro/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; noon ET

    Last meeting: Connor Shaw had 307 yards of total offense and four total touchdowns in South Carolina's 41-20 home win over The Citadel in November 2011.

    What to watch for

    The Citadel (7-3) is ranked 24th in the latest FCS coaches poll, finishing second in the Southern Conference after losing to No. 9 Chattanooga last week. The Bulldogs, an option team, average 343.7 rushing yards per game and gained 313 in a 48-13 loss at Georgia Southern in September. That dropped them to 6-40 all-time against FBS opponents.

    South Carolina (3-7) went 1-7 in the SEC, its worst record in conference play since going winless in 1999 under Lou Holtz. Interim coach Shawn Elliott is 1-3 since taking over for Steve Spurrier but has lost his last three, managing a season-low 201 yards last week against Florida.

    The Gamecocks haven't lost to an FCS team since 1990—ironically, to The Citadel—but they've been run on pretty easily this year. Opponents average 5.04 yards per carry, which is 110th in FBS.

    This will be a fight, but South Carolina will come out on top.

    Prediction: South Carolina 34, The Citadel 27

    FINAL: The Citadel 23, South Carolina 22

No. 17 North Carolina at Virginia Tech

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    Rob Brown/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; noon ET

    Last meeting: Kendall Fuller's 47-yard interception return for a touchdown keyed Virginia Tech's 34-17 win at North Carolina in October 2014.

    What to watch for

    North Carolina (9-1, 6-0 ACC) is on a nine-game winning streak, but the way its season started continues to hold down its ranking with the playoff committee. The Tar Heels' loss to South Carolina as well as a pair of games against FCS opponents are to blame for their being ranked behind five two-loss teams, making a shot at a major bowl bid very slim.

    The more attainable goal is the Coastal Division, which UNC would clinch with one more victory. And with the way its offense has exploded of late behind quarterback Marquise Williams and running back Elijah Hood, the only thing that might slow it down is the emotions of its opponent.

    Virginia Tech (5-5, 3-3) will be playing its final game at Lane Stadium under Frank Beamer, who is set to retire after the season. The Hokies kept improved their chances for a 23rd straight bowl bid by winning at Georgia Tech last Thursday but need more consistency on offense.

    The Hokies have topped 400 yards just once in the past six games, in a 45-43 home loss to Duke. They're 2-3 at home and have dropped nine of their last 12 at home against FBS opponents.

    Tech will fight hard to send Beamer out a winner, but it will have to wait until next week to clinch a bowl.

    Prediction: North Carolina 27, Virginia Tech 19

    FINAL: North Carolina 30, Virginia Tech 27 (OT)

Rutgers at Army

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    Rich Schultz/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; noon ET

    Last meeting: Gary Nova threw for 123 yards and a touchdown on 14-of-17 passing in Rutgers' 28-7 home win over Army in November 2012.

    What to watch for

    Rutgers (3-7) has averaged 11.8 points during a four-game losing streak, ensuring its first season without a bowl game since 2010. The Scarlet Knights scored 55 in a comeback win at Indiana but have been lethargic on offense since then, and even the return of big-play receiver Leonte Carroo didn't matter last week at home against Nebraska.

    Army (2-8) lost on a late field goal at home to Tulane last week, its third consecutive loss. The Black Knights have been all-or-nothing on offense this season, scoring 31 or more points four times and 17 or fewer five times, including two games with just a field goal.

    The Knights last beat a power-conference team in 2010, knocking off Boston College, but their only other chance this season resulted in a 44-3 home loss to Duke.

    Prediction: Rutgers 35, Army 21

    FINAL: Rutgers 31, Army 21

West Virginia at Kansas

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    Chris Jackson/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; noon ET

    Last meeting: Clint Trickett threw for 302 yards and a touchdown in West Virginia's 33-14 home win over Kansas in October 2014.

    What to watch for

    West Virginia (5-4, 2-4 Big 12) has won two straight and is making the most of having a soft back end of its league schedule compared to the front. Home wins over Texas Tech and Texas have the Mountaineers in place to be bowl-eligible in the same year in which they've had a four-game losing streak, and the key to that will be a continued focus on running the ball.

    Wendell Smallwood has 1,119 rushing yards, the most for a West Virginia player since 2009, with 441 in the last three games.

    Kansas (0-10, 0-7) has lost 13 consecutive games and has ensured a season with nine or more losses for the sixth straight year. The Jayhawks remain invested despite the struggles, as they found themselves tied with TCU on the road at halftime last week, but their lack of any real weapons on offense makes it impossible to compete in the conference.

    West Virginia will continue its late-season push.

    Prediction: West Virginia 34, Kansas 17

    FINAL: West Virginia 49, Kansas 0

Iowa State at Kansas State

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    David K Purdy/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; noon ET

    Last meeting: Jake Waters' eight-yard touchdown run with 90 seconds left gave Kansas State a 32-28 win at Iowa State in September 2014.

    What to watch for

    Iowa State (3-7, 2-5 Big 12) had a 17-point first-half lead against unbeaten Oklahoma State last week but couldn't hold on, a problem that's popped up before this season. The Cyclones also led TCU at home early but blew that edge, and thus they will not be going to a bowl game for the third year in a row.

    Kansas State (3-6, 0-6) has lost six in a row for its worst skid since 1989. That was Bill Snyder's first season, and since then only once has he lost more games in one campaign. The Wildcats scored 44 points but gave up 59 at Texas Tech last week, getting back on track offensively after managing 33 in their previous three games.

    Iowa State plays far better in Ames than on the road. It has lost eight straight away from home. K-State will finally get off the mat with a Big 12 win.

    Prediction: Kansas State 30, Iowa State 20

    FINAL: Kansas State 38, Iowa State 35

Purdue at No. 5 Iowa

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    Matt Marton/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; noon ET

    Last meeting: Iowa got two rushing touchdowns from Mark Weisman in a 24-10 win at Purdue in September 2014.

    What to watch for

    Purdue (2-8, 1-5 Big Ten) goes back and forth between spirited efforts and getting run over. Its last game was an example of the former, as it was tied at Northwestern in the fourth quarter before losing by seven. The week before, the Boilermakers lost by 34 at home to Illinois, one of five losses by 10 or more points in 2015.

    Somehow, though, Purdue has managed to hang around against its toughest opponents in the league, losing by only an average of nine points at ranked teams Michigan State, Northwestern and Wisconsin.

    Iowa (10-0, 6-0) has been playing down to its level of competition lately, unable to put away sub-.500 teams Maryland, Indiana and Minnesota early. The Hawkeyes have done just enough to get by, which is why they're off to their best start in school history and remain the most surprising playoff contenders in the mix.

    The Hawkeyes average 211.7 rushing yards per game and have scored on the ground 30 times, which is enabling them to control the clock. Purdue is last in the league in rushing defense, giving up 5.12 yards per carry and 209.6 per game, so expect more of the same.

    Prediction: Iowa 36, Purdue 20

    FINAL: Iowa 40, Purdue 20

Indiana at Maryland

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    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; noon ET

    Last meeting: C.J. Brown and Caleb Rowe each accounted for two touchdowns in Maryland's 37-15 win at Indiana in September 2014.

    What to watch for

    Indiana (4-6, 0-6 Big Ten) has had a lifetime's worth of heartbreaks since the schedule switched over to league play, with four single-digit home losses to Rutgers, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio State. Last week's 48-41 double-overtime loss to Michigan was the most painful since the Hoosiers took a seven-point lead with 2:52 left in regulation but couldn't get a stop.

    Jordan Howard had 238 rushing yards and two TDs in that game, his sixth 100-yard game, as the UAB transfer has been great when healthy. But a defense that allows 511.7 yards per game isn't helping the cause.

    Maryland (2-8, 0-6) is on a seven-game losing streak that included a coaching change, and interim coach Mike Locksley hasn't made much of a difference. The Terrapins had their best defensive performance of the season last week at Michigan State, but their offense responded with a stinker of an effort, a season-long trend in which only one side of the ball has clicked in any given game.

    Considering the number of close calls Indiana has had, you have to think it's going to break through at some point. Maryland is decent against the run, though, and if Howard can't contribute, it will be hard for the Hoosiers to win.

    Prediction: Maryland 31, Indiana 27

    FINAL: Indiana 47, Maryland 28

Illinois at Minnesota

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    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; noon ET

    Last meeting: V'Angelo Bentley returned a fumble 12 yards for a touchdown with 6:33 left in Illinois' 28-24 home win over Minnesota in October 2014.

    What to watch for

    Illinois (5-5, 2-4 Big Ten) has lost four of five games, scoring 36 points in those defeats, with a 48-point performance in a win over Purdue lumped in there. The Fighting Illini are 0-5 against teams with winning records and 5-0 against those at or below .500 or from the FCS ranks, which perfectly justifies their even mark at this point.

    Only 24 of Illinois' 34 red-zone possessions have ended in points, which ranks 122nd in FBS, and its 50 percent TD rate inside the 20 is tied for 110th.

    Minnesota (4-6, 1-5) is a hair below that, scoring TDs on 48.28 percent of its red-zone possessions, though it's been a lot better the last two games. The Golden Gophers were 5-of-5 with five TDs in losses at Ohio State and Iowa, playing with fire under interim-turned-permanent-coach Tracy Claeys.

    The Gophers have only won once since September, against Purdue, and otherwise are spending a lot of time playing from behind. This time, though, they'll get a lead and stay ahead to end a four-game skid.

    Prediction: Minnesota 26, Illinois 21

    FINAL: Minnesota 32, Illinois 23

No. 12 Michigan at Penn State

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; noon ET

    Last meeting: Michigan used three field goals from Matt Wile and a safety to rally from a 13-7 deficit to beat visiting Penn State 18-13 in October 2014.

    What to watch for

    Michigan (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) has had three of its last four games come down to the final play, needing a goal-line stop to win at Minnesota and then last week going to double overtime to get past Indiana. Early in the season, the Wolverines asserted their will early. Now, they are playing with fire.

    The Wolverines have been able to win these close, high-scoring games because Jake Rudock has come alive at quarterback, playing like the leader Jim Harbaugh had hoped for after he transferred from Iowa for his final season. Rudock had six touchdown passes and threw for 440 yards at Indiana, and he's surpassed a 70 percent completion rate the last two games.

    Penn State (7-3, 4-2) was off last week and now gets to make a final push to mess with the East Division standings by facing both of the Michigan schools. The Nittany Lions have the second-best pass defense in the country, as they've allowed 159 yards per game and just seven TDs thanks to a front line that leads FBS with 42 sacks.

    Christian Hackenberg threw his first interception in nearly two months in PSU's last game, a 23-21 loss at Northwestern. He's completing a career-low 54.2 percent of his passes, needing the run game to back him up and keep him from having to take risks.

    Michigan has allowed only 14 sacks this year but hasn't played a front like the one the Lions have. This will also be Harbaugh's first game in a really hostile Big Ten environment, which will result in his first conference road loss.

    Prediction: Penn State 23, Michigan 17

    FINAL: Michigan 28, Penn State 16

Georgia Tech at Miami (Florida)

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 12:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Georgia Tech ran for 318 yards and four touchdowns in a 28-17 home win over Miami in October 2014.

    What to watch for

    Georgia Tech (3-7, 1-6 ACC) saw its 18-year bowl streak come to an end after losing at home to Virginia Tech last Thursday, a major drop from a season ago, when it won 11 games and played in the conference title game. The Yellow Jackets' option run game has been off and on this year, averaging fewer than five yards per carry in six games, whereas that happened just twice in 2014.

    Quarterback Justin Thomas has been particularly unsuccessful, with 3.56 yards per carry compared to 5.72 last season. And with the run game's struggles, Tech has had to turn to the pass far too much, and Thomas has only completed 42.6 percent of his attempts.

    Miami (6-4, 3-3) was blown out 59-21 at North Carolina last week, a game that was eerily similar to the 58-0 home loss to Clemson that led to Al Golden's firing. The difference, though, was that the Hurricanes kept fighting, while quarterback Brad Kaaya stayed healthy.

    Kaaya only has 13 TDs this season but has been intercepted just four times in 298 attempts. Miami is plus-seven for the year in turnover margin but plus-11 in its wins, and it's facing a Tech team that has lost 11 fumbles this season.

    Prediction: Miami 27, Georgia Tech 20

    FINAL: Miami 38, Georgia Tech 21

Syracuse at North Carolina State

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    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 12:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Pharoah McKever's 82-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the third quarter helped North Carolina State to a 24-17 win at Syracuse last November.

    What to watch for

    Syracuse (3-7, 1-5 ACC) has 10-point home losses to LSU and Clemson and a three-point home loss to Pittsburgh, teams that are a combined 24-5. Yet during the Orange's seven-game losing streak, they have also lost by 20 or more three times on the road.

    Five of Syracuse's last seven opponents have gained at least 6.79 yards per play.

    North Carolina State (6-4, 2-4) led 17-7 at Florida State but ended up losing 34-17, unable to do anything once its opponent adjusted and took control. The same thing happened to the Wolfpack two weeks earlier at home against Clemson, where they had two TDs in the first five minutes yet lost 56-41.

    The Wolfpack are 17-18 under coach Dave Doeren but just 5-17 in ACC play. Syracuse is 6-16 in the ACC under Scott Shafer and has lost seven straight away from the Carrier Dome.

    Prediction: North Carolina State 34, Syracuse 23

    FINAL: North Carolina State 42, Syracuse 29

Miami (Ohio) at Massachusetts

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 1 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Andrew Hendrix had 528 yards of total offense and accounted for five touchdowns, scoring on a one-yard run late in the fourth quarter to give Miami a 42-41 home win over Massachusetts in October 2014.

    What to watch for

    Miami (2-9, 1-6 Mid-American) fell at home to Akron last week, 37-28, missing out on the chance for its first two-game win streak since September 2012. The RedHawks have won only three of their last 24 conference games, but their offense has come alive lately, with 80 points in the last three contests after 115 in their first eight this season.

    Massachusetts (2-8, 1-5) ended a five-game losing streak by winning at Eastern Michigan last week, a game that saw the Minutemen abandon their pass-heavy approach and turn to the run. The 330 rushing yards were their most in four seasons of FBS play.

    Opponents have scored 26 rushing TDs against Miami this season, so look for Massachusetts to exploit this for its own win streak.

    Prediction: Massachusetts 30, Miami 20

    FINAL: Miami 20, Massachusetts 13

South Alabama at Georgia State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 2 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Brandon Bridge threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Danny Woodson with 4:02 left in South Alabama's 30-27 home win over Georgia State in October 2014.

    What to watch for

    South Alabama (5-4, 3-2 Sun Belt) knocked off defending conference champ Louisiana-Lafayette at home last Thursday for its second straight win, moving within a victory of its second consecutive season of bowl eligibility. The Jaguars play Sun Belt powers Georgia Southern and Appalachian State to end the year, so this is a must-win opportunity to earn a 13th game this season.

    Georgia State (3-6, 2-3) won by 22 at Texas State last week to remain alive for a bowl, but the road ahead will be very difficult. That's mostly because the next two games are not on the road but at the Georgia Dome, where the Panthers are 0-4 this season and 1-16 since moving up to FBS in 2013.

    South Alabama has a win this year at San Diego State, which is unbeaten in Mountain West play, so it should be able to handle this road assignment.

    Prediction: South Alabama 29, Georgia State 23

    FINAL: Georgia State 24, South Alabama 10

Western Kentucky at Florida International

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    Michael Chang/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 2:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Antonio Andrews ran for 158 yards and a touchdown in Western Kentucky's 14-6 win at Florida International in October 2012.

    What to watch for

    Western Kentucky (8-2, 6-0 Conference USA) has won nine straight league games and has a one-game lead on defending champ Marshall in the East Division. Those teams meet next week to determine that title, but first the Hilltoppers get another chance to pad the stats quarterback Brandon Doughty (3,590 passing yards, 34 TDs) and Anthony Wales (7.78 yards per carry) have put up this season.

    Florida International (5-6, 3-4) was shut out at Marshall last week, putting in a position where it has to knock off the top team in C-USA to earn its first bowl bid since 2011. The Golden Panthers are unbeaten at home, averaging 45 points per game, but none of the FBS opponents have winning records.

    Western Kentucky played three road games against Power Five opponents this year, so Florida International won't scare it.

    Prediction: Western Kentucky 44, Florida International 24

    FINAL: Western Kentucky 63, Florida International 7

Chattanooga at Florida State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Christian Ponder threw three touchdown passes in Florida State's 46-7 home win over Chattanooga in September 2008.

    What to watch for

    Chattanooga (8-2) is ranked ninth in the FCS coaches poll and has earned an automatic bid to the playoffs after winning the Southern Conference. The Mocs' two losses have each been by a field goal, but they haven't beaten an FBS team since knocking off Georgia State in 2013.

    Florida State (8-2) went 6-2 in the ACC, its worst league mark since 2011, the product of a rebuilding year after the Seminoles sent most of their best players from last season to the NFL. The offense has been hot and cold all year, the most consistent piece being Dalvin Cook, who has already set the FSU single-season rushing record with 1,369 yards.

    Sean Maguire has taken over the starting quarterback job from Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson, who turned it over three times last week against North Carolina State. Maguire will face a solid Chattanooga defense but should be able to perform well in preparation for a visit to rival Florida next week.

    Prediction: Florida State 34, Chattanooga 13

    FINAL: Florida State 52, Chattanooga 13

Fresno State at BYU

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Fresno State claimed a 31-21 win over BYU in October 1998, when both teams were in the Western Athletic Conference.

    What to watch for

    Fresno State (3-7) gained 455 yards in a 42-14 win last weekend at Hawaii; both the yardage and points were season highs for the Bulldogs. Quarterback play has been abysmal all season, but Zack Greenlee came through with 285 yards and six touchdown passes on the road trip.

    BYU (7-3) lost 20-16 against Missouri in Kansas City last Saturday to snap a five-game win streak. The Cougars are best known for their passing, but their complete lack of a run game the past two weeks has been troubling.

    The Cougars have gained 82 yards on 40 carries the last two games, though Fresno gives up nearly 240 rushing yards per contest and has allowed 27 TDs on the ground.

    Prediction: BYU 46, Fresno State 20

    FINAL: BYU 52, Fresno State 10

Nevada at Utah State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Robert Turbin caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Stanley Morrison on the final play of the third quarter to give Utah State a 21-17 home win over Nevada in November 2011, when both teams were in the Western Athletic Conference.

    What to watch for

    Nevada (6-4, 4-2 Mountain West) has won three in a row and is still alive for the West Division title, though it would need to win out—including next week at first-place San Diego State—and have SDSU also lose this week at UNLV. The Wolf Pack average 222.3 rushing yards per game thanks to a two-headed backfield featuring sophomore James Butler (997 yards) and senior Don Jackson (898 yards).

    Utah State (5-5, 4-3) has lost two straight and three of four to fall out of the race in the Mountain Division. The Aggies need one more victory to be bowl-eligible for a school-record fifth year in a row after playing in only six bowl games between 1946 and 2010.

    Nevada is 2-2 on the road, but one of those losses was to 1-10 Wyoming, while Utah State has won 13 straight in Logan.

    Prediction: Utah State 28, Nevada 23

    FINAL: Utah State 31, Nevada 27

Old Dominion at Southern Mississippi

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Old Dominion (5-5, 3-3 Conference USA) has won two in a row to get in position to receive a bowl bid for the first time in program history with another victory. The Monarchs host 2-8 Florida Atlantic next week, which figures to be the better opportunity to get to six wins, since they've lost by an average of 29.5 points this season against teams with winning records.

    Southern Mississippi (7-3, 5-1) has won four in a row and is tied with Louisiana Tech—whom it visits next week—for first in the West Division. The Golden Eagles won four games in the previous three seasons, but thanks to junior quarterback Nick Mullens (3,276 passing yards, 30 touchdowns), they'll be bowling for the first time since 2011.

    Mullens needs 174 yards to pass Brett Favre for second on the school's career passing list. He'll probably reach that total before halftime.

    Prediction: Southern Mississippi 48, Old Dominion 17

    FINAL: Southern Mississippi 56, Old Dominion 31

Louisiana Tech at UTEP

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Cody Sokol accounted for four touchdowns in Louisiana Tech's 55-3 home win over UTEP in October 2014.

    What to watch for

    Louisiana Tech (7-3, 5-1 Conference USA) won three straight before its bye, averaging 47.7 points per game in that span, and is tied for first in the West Division. The Bulldogs' only losses were at Kansas State, Mississippi State and East Division leader Western Kentucky.

    Running back Kenneth Dixon has 81 career TDs, which is two below the FBS all-time record, and last time out he ran for six scores against North Texas. He and quarterback Jeff Driskel, a transfer from Florida, have combined for an offense that is 14th in FBS at 6.85 yards per play.

    UTEP (4-6, 2-4) needs to win out for a second consecutive bowl bid, which hasn't happened for this program since 2004-05. The Miners are 3-1 at home, but that loss came to a two-win UTSA team, and they managed a season-low six points.

    At 7.19 yards allowed per play, UTEP is 125th out of 128 FBS schools in total defense. That's not how you pull an upset.

    Prediction: Louisiana Tech 52, UTEP 23

    FINAL: Louisiana Tech 17, UTEP 15

No. 19 Houston at Connecticut

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Houston (10-0, 6-0 American) rallied from 20 points down on two occasions to edge Memphis last week, 35-34, going most of the way without its best player. Greg Ward Jr. was hurt in the first half, leading coach Tom Herman to show off the quarterback-whisperer skills we saw when he was Ohio State's offensive coordinator in 2014.

    Backup Kyle Postma was strong in Ward's relief, enabling the Cougars to come back from a 34-14 deficit in the fourth quarter, but if Ward is healthy, he's the best option. The junior has 2,986 yards of total offense and has accounted for 29 touchdowns, including 16 rushing scores.

    Connecticut (5-5, 3-3) won two straight before its bye, including an ugly 7-3 win at Tulane featuring a season-low 227 yards. The Huskies are a win away from being bowl-eligible for the first time since 2010, though they're 0-5 against teams that currently have a .500 record or better.

    Houston has a huge showdown next week with Navy for the West Division title, but it can't afford to lose here if it hopes to grab the Group of Five bid to a major bowl.

    Prediction: Houston 27, Connecticut 14

    FINAL: Connecticut 20, Houston 17

Buffalo at Akron

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Joe Licata threw four touchdown passes in Buffalo's 55-24 home win over Akron last November.

    What to watch for

    Buffalo (5-5, 3-3 Mid-American) lost 41-30 at home to Northern Illinois last week to snap a three-game win streak. The Bulls have three road wins in coach Lance Leipold's first season thanks to the heady play of senior quarterback Joe Licata, who last week became the school's career passing leader.

    Akron (5-5, 3-3) won its past two games on the road to move within a victory of bowl eligibility, something the Zips haven't achieved since 2005. Since opening the season with losses to Oklahoma and Pittsburgh, the Zips have scored 27 points per game.

    Terry Bowden, the former Auburn coach in his fourth season at Akron, will get that elusive sixth win after back-to-back 5-7 records.

    Prediction: Akron 26, Buffalo 21

    FINAL: Akron 42, Buffalo 21

No. 15 LSU at No. 22 Ole Miss

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Logan Stokes caught a three-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Jennings with 5:07 left in the fourth quarter in LSU's 10-7 home win over Ole Miss in October 2014.

    What to watch for

    LSU (7-2, 4-2 SEC) was second in the initial playoff rankings, but after consecutive double-digit losses to Alabama and Arkansas, the Tigers are once again out of the picture for a national title. And now the rumors are starting up again that Les Miles might not last much longer in Baton Rouge.

    "The ice has thinned under Miles' feet to the point where strong indications are that he will be coaching for his very job at Ole Miss on Saturday and the week after that against Texas A&M," Scott Rabalais of the Advocate wrote Tuesday.

    Thus is the status of a team that spent the first two months riding Leonard Fournette's hard running while also getting lucky in facing opponents going through issues. That's changed the last two weeks, and consequently so has Fournette's dominance, with only 122 yards in the two losses after averaging 193.14 yards during the 7-0 start.

    Ole Miss (7-3, 4-2) has been sliding for a bit longer, its surprising win at Alabama in late September a distant memory. The Rebels' last game before the bye was an overtime loss to Arkansas, one of three games this season in which they didn't force a turnover.

    The Rebels are at their best when the defense forces the issue and creates for the offense, but when Chad Kelly has to freelance, it leads to mistakes. He has 12 interceptions but also throws for 322.4 yards per game, which is 11th in FBS.

    Ole Miss gives up 3.19 yards per carry and has allowed only five rushing TDs. If Fournette can't produce, LSU has no shot.

    Prediction: Ole Miss 24, LSU 20

    FINAL: Ole Miss 38, LSU 17

Wake Forest at No. 1 Clemson

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    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Cole Stoudt threw three touchdown passes in Clemson's 34-20 win at Wake Forest last November.

    What to watch for

    Wake Forest (3-7, 1-5 ACC) is on a four-game losing streak that included a 28-7 loss last week at Notre Dame. The Demon Deacons have scored more than 20 points just once this season against an FBS opponent, averaging 17.5 points per game for the season.

    The Deacons are 2-12 in league games in Dave Clawson's two seasons, with both of those wins coming without a TD. They won 3-0 at Boston College in October and edged Virginia Tech 6-3 in double overtime last November.

    Clemson (10-0, 7-0) remained atop the playoff rankings for a third straight week after winning by 10 at Syracuse, and it figures to remain there as long as the wins keep coming. The Tigers couldn't put away a struggling Syracuse team on the road last week, though they never trailed, instead experiencing what it's like to be every opponent's biggest game.

    Deshaun Watson has solidified himself as one of the best dual-threat passers in the country, topping 400 yards of total offense in four of the last five games. Since a so-so game against Notre Dame, the sophomore has averaged 8.2 yards per play.

    Prediction: Clemson 42, Wake Forest 10

    FINAL: Clemson 33, Wake Forest 13

Duke at Virginia

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Thomas Sirk threw a three-yard touchdown pass to David Reeves midway through the fourth quarter in Duke's 20-13 home win over Virginia in October 2014.

    What to watch for

    Duke (6-4, 3-3 ACC) is on a downward spiral not seen in Durham since the tail end of 2012, which was the first of four straight seasons being bowl-eligible. The controversial ending to the Blue Devils' home loss to Miami (Florida) has lingered and resulted in lopsided defeats to North Carolina and Pittsburgh.

    Now inner turmoil is surfacing in the form of coach David Cutcliffe's dismissal of three players Tuesday, including second-leading receiver Johnell Barnes.

    Virginia (3-7, 2-4) assured itself of a fourth straight year without a bowl after losing at Louisville last week, likely sealing coach Mike London's fate. The Cavaliers have won their last two at home, against Georgia Tech and Syracuse, but their last victory against an FBS team with a winning record was last November against Miami.

    Quarterback Matt Johns threw four TD passes at Louisville, his first game without an interception since Week 2, but that still wasn't enough.

    Look for Duke to get back on track but still face a stern test.

    Prediction: Duke 28, Virginia 23

    FINAL: Virginia 42, Duke 34

Arizona at Arizona State

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Nick Wilson ran for 178 yards and three touchdowns in Arizona's 42-35 home win over Arizona State last November to clinch the Pac-12 South Division title.

    What to watch for

    Arizona (6-5, 3-5) upset Utah in double overtime at home last week to end a three-game losing streak and somewhat salvage what's been a very disappointing season. The Wildcats won 10 games and played in the conference title game a year ago, but injuries have impacted nearly every significant offensive and defensive player.

    It hasn't helped that the Wildcats have not had a bye week, one of only five teams (along with Colorado, Florida International, Hawaii and Miami of Ohio) to have played every week since early September.

    Quarterback Anu Solomon was knocked out of a second game because of a head injury, and his status for the regular-season finale is up in the air. If Arizona has to go with Jerrard Randall, it will mean more running—he leads FBS with a 9.19 yards-per-carry average—though it was his 25-yard TD pass to Nate Phillips in the second OT that proved to be the game-winner.

    Arizona State (5-5, 3-4) ended a three-game losing streak by rallying from 17-0 down to win at home against Washington last week. The Sun Devils need to win one of their last two, either this one or at California, to be bowl-eligible for a fifth straight year.

    They'll be doing it without leading tackler Jordan Simone, who is out for the rest of the year with a knee injury. The senior had 91 tackles, nine tackles for loss, four sacks and two interceptions.

    The Territorial Cup decided the Pac-12 South last year, but this time it'll be solely for bragging rights—and to lock up a bowl for the home team.

    Prediction: Arizona State 34, Arizona 30

    FINAL: Arizona State 52, Arizona 37

No. 24 USC at No. 23 Oregon

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Kenjon Barner ran for 321 yards and five touchdowns in Oregon's 62-51 win at USC in November 2012.

    What to watch for

    This was a potential Pac-12 title game preview before the season began, but that seemed like the furthest thing from reality a month ago, when both Oregon and USC were 3-3 and in their own versions of disarray. Now they're both back in the hunt for division titles, with USC (7-3, 5-2) tied for first in the South and holding the tiebreaker with co-leader Utah.

    The Trojans have won four straight under interim coach Clay Helton, though Friday's win at Colorado wasn't their best. They came back from a double-digit deficit in the first half and can claim their first title since the Pac-12 split into divisions by winning out.

    Oregon (7-3, 5-2) would need to win out and have Stanford lose to rival California, which would then give the North to the Ducks, after they won 38-36 in Palo Alto last Saturday. That was the fourth game since graduate transfer Vernon Adams Jr. returned from a broken finger, and those have been their best performances of 2015.

    "Adams has long said one of the reasons he transferred to Oregon was for games like this," Tyson Alger of the Oregonian wrote.

    Oregon has the advantage of playing at home—though it has lost twice in Autzen Stadium this season—and that it will be facing a USC team which is feeling the effects of injury attrition. The Trojans most recently lost leading tackler Cameron Smith and key reserve Lamar Dawson, leaving them thin on defense.

    Prediction: Oregon 37, USC 27

    FINAL: Oregon 48, USC 28

UCLA at No. 13 Utah

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Andy Phillips kicked a 29-yard field goal with 34 seconds left to give Utah a 30-28 win at UCLA in October 2014.

    What to watch for

    UCLA (7-3, 4-3 Pac-12) gave up a touchdown to Washington State with three seconds left to lose at home last Saturday, 31-27. That was the Bruins' second home loss this season and fifth in the past two years, while they have won 13 of 14 games on the road and at neutral sites.

    That should make the Bruins the favorites playing in Salt Lake City, right?

    If anything is going to impact UCLA's chances it's that Utah star running back Devontae Booker, whose 268 carries are most in the country, will miss the game after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus on Thursday (per David Lombardi of

    The Utes (8-2, 5-2) are so heavily reliant on Booker that he's also their No. 2 receiver with 37 catches. His absence changes things in a big way, since when he's not part of the mix they have struggled. He had 34 carries at Arizona last Saturday but just three in the two overtimes, and in the Utes' loss at USC in October, he had a season-low 14 carries.

    The Utes can still win the South but don't control their destiny, needing to win out and have USC lose once. Not having Booker will make a difference, but someone the home team still gets it done.

    Prediction: Utah 27, UCLA 20

    FINAL: UCLA 17, Utah 9

No. 20 Northwestern at No. 25 Wisconsin

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Northwestern pulled off a 20-14 home win over Wisconsin in October 2014, despite giving up 259 rushing yards to Melvin Gordon.

    What to watch for

    Northwestern (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten) has won its last three games by a combined 11 points, needing a late touchdown to win at home against 2-8 Purdue last week. The Wildcats have only scored 35 more points than their opponents in 2015 due to losses by 38 and 30.

    Tied for 116th nationally in total offense at 4.68 yards per play, the Wildcats have only gained 20 or more yards 38 times in 733 offensive plays.

    Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1) is coming off a bye week and has a five-game win streak, averaging 30 points per game during that run. The Badgers are getting it done without the run game for which they're known, with Corey Clement limited to just two games because of a sports hernia.

    He missed the last outing, and his status for Saturday is uncertain, though at this point in the season Wisconsin's offense has become more centered on the pass. Senior Joel Stave, who a year ago lost his confidence and couldn't throw the ball, has topped 200 yards in seven of 10 games.

    Wisconsin's defense has been top-notch throughout the year, ranking first in the nation at 12.3 points allowed per game. Put that up against Northwestern's offense, and it spells a sixth straight win for the Badgers.

    Prediction: Wisconsin 24, Northwestern 13

    FINAL: Northwestern 13, Wisconsin 7

No. 9 Michigan State at No. 3 Ohio State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: J.T. Barrett had 386 yards of total offense and accounted for five touchdowns in Ohio State's 49-37 win at Michigan State last November.

    What to watch for

    Michigan State (9-1, 5-1 Big Ten) sleepwalked through a 24-7 home win over Maryland last week, a mix of looking ahead to this big game and still feeling the effects of the controversial loss at Nebraska. Having Connor Cook suffer a shoulder injury didn't help the situation, as backup Tyler O'Connor threw a TD and an interception in his place.

    The Spartans have played their worst against the least imposing foes, resulting in unimpressive Big Ten wins over Purdue, Rutgers and Maryland and the Nebraska loss. They get up for the big ones, though, beating Oregon and stealing one at Michigan, games when their abundance of fifth-year seniors become their most valuable asset.

    There are several key contributors still around from the 2013 MSU team that beat Ohio State in the conference title game, the only Big Ten team to knock off Urban Meyer's Buckeyes.

    Ohio State (10-0, 6-0) has lost only three times in four seasons under Meyer, the last coming in Week 2 of last season. Since then, the Buckeyes have won 23 in a row, though most of this year's results haven't been what one would expect from a defending champion that brought back nearly every significant contributor.

    The quarterback shuffling appears to be over, with Barrett back as starter and looking better in that spot than Cardale Jones has this season. Regardless of who takes the snaps, though, OSU's best weapon remains junior running back Ezekiel Elliott.

    "I know if I had my choice of any tailback in the country, I've got mine," Meyer said, per Bleacher Report's Ben Axelrod.

    OSU has had only one league game that was considered a tough one going in, and it breezed to a 38-10 win over Penn State. This is the first of two straight that stand out above all else, and 10 weeks' worth of building up to that will manifest in their best effort of 2015.

    Prediction: Ohio State 30, Michigan State 20

    FINAL: Michigan State 17, Ohio State 14

Louisville at Pittsburgh

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    Lance King/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 3:45 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Senorise Perry had four rushing touchdowns in Louisville's 45-35 win at Pittsburgh in October 2012, when both teams were in the ACC.

    What to watch for

    Louisville (6-4, 5-2 ACC) has won six of seven since a disastrous 0-3 start, a comeback that has been paced by its defense. The Cardinals have made this push despite continuing trouble taking care of the ball, as they are now sitting at 23 turnovers, including 11 during a four-game win streak.

    The last two games have seen Louisville start to get some consistent production on the ground from junior Brandon Radcliff. He's gone for 263 yards the last two weeks since not getting a touch against Wake Forest. He had 263 yards in the Cardinals' first eight games.

    "It makes life a lot easier," coach Bobby Petrino said of Radcliff's production, per Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal. "It makes everything better."

    Pittsburgh (7-3, 5-1) ended a two-game skid by winning at Duke last week, giving it seven regular-season wins for the first time since 2010. That was the start of the Panthers' five-year run of coaching instability, which Pat Narduzzi has possibly ended.

    The Panthers' losses this year are to Iowa, North Carolina and Notre Dame, teams who are a combined 28-2, and those defeats were by a combined 22 points.

    Prediction: Pittsburgh 27, Louisville 17

    FINAL: Pittsburgh 45, Louisville 34

Idaho at Auburn

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Auburn claimed a 30-23 win over Idaho in September 1999.

    What to watch for

    Idaho (3-7) has its most wins since 2010, but the immense amount of travel that comes with being in a league with schools mostly located in the Southeast has taken its toll. The Vandals have lost three straight and are making their third trip to Alabama this season, including one two weeks ago in which they lost 52-45 at South Alabama.

    Auburn (5-5) has its most regular-season losses since 2012, the year before Gus Malzahn arrived and led the Tigers to the BCS title game. This year's squad failed to top 20 points three times, which happened only once in Malzahn's first two seasons.

    The more important game for Auburn, for many reasons, is next week's Iron Bowl against Alabama, but it first needs to get its house in order. That's the point of bringing in an overmatched Idaho team at this point of the schedule, but the Tigers also struggled this year at home against expected pushovers Jacksonville State and San Jose State.

    Prediction: Auburn 40, Idaho 24

    FINAL: Auburn 56, Idaho 34

Charleston Southern at No. 2 Alabama

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Charleston Southern (9-1) is ranked eighth in the FCS coaches poll and is the Big South Conference champion whose only loss this season came in September at Troy. That made the Buccaneers winless in 17 all-time games against FBS opponents.

    Alabama (9-1) has won seven in a row since its home loss to Ole Miss, a result that's become more anomalous as the season has progressed. That game saw the Crimson Tide turn the ball over five times, but in their last four outings they've only given it away four times.

    Derrick Henry has risen to the top of the list for Heisman contenders, according to Odds Shark, sitting as the favorite at 2-3. That's on the heels of consecutive 200-yard rushing games in big wins over LSU and Mississippi State, putting Alabama in position to win the SEC West with a victory next week at rival Auburn.

    Henry and other starters probably won't play much in this game, which, despite the opponent's record, shouldn't be close for long.

    Prediction: Alabama 51, Charleston Southern 13

    FINAL: Alabama 56, Charleston Southern 6

New Mexico State at Louisiana-Lafayette

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 5 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Terrance Broadway threw three touchdown passes in Louisiana-Lafayette's 44-16 win at New Mexico State last November.

    What to watch for

    New Mexico State (2-7, 2-3 Sun Belt) was off last week, but before that won two consecutive games after having dropped 17 in a row. The Aggies finish with two of three on the road, both in Louisiana, having already lost on visits to Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.

    Louisiana-Lafayette (4-5, 3-2) has its most losses since 2010 after losing 32-25 at South Alabama last Thursday. The Ragin' Cajuns had gone 9-4 the previous four seasons under Mark Hudspeth, but an inconsistent offense has prevented them from winning more than two in a row this year.

    Wins here and on Dec. 5 against Troy seem attainable, assuming the Cajuns can hold serve at home.

    Prediction: Louisiana-Lafayette 38, New Mexico State 21

    FINAL: New Mexico State 37, Louisiana-Lafayette 34

Colorado State at New Mexico

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    Loren Orr/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 5:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Dee Hart ran for 230 yards and five touchdowns in Colorado State's 58-20 home win over New Mexico last November.

    What to watch for

    Colorado State (5-5, 3-3 Mountain West) has won three of four to set itself up for a possible third straight bowl bid, which last happened when the Rams went bowling five consecutive seasons from 1999 to 2003. The Rams need to be able to win outside of Fort Collins, though, taking a 2-1 road record on a season-ending two-game trip.

    New Mexico (6-4, 4-2) is bowl-eligible for the first time since 2007 after knocking off Utah State and Boise State the last two weeks. The latter made the Lobos just the fifth team to beat the Broncos on the blue turf in 16 years and has them in contention for the Mountain Division title.

    The Lobos' last division title came in 1997, when Dennis Franchione parlayed that success into gigs at TCU, Alabama and Texas A&M. Former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie won only four Mountain West games in his first three seasons before breaking through in 2015.

    New Mexico could be hosting Air Force for the division title next week but first has to end a five-game losing streak to Colorado State.

    Prediction: New Mexico 26, Colorado State 20

    FINAL: Colorado State 28, New Mexico 21

Washington at Oregon State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 6 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Cyler Miles threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns in Washington's 37-13 home win over Oregon State in November 2014.

    What to watch for

    Washington (4-6, 2-5 Pac-12) led 17-0 at Arizona State and then didn't score again, its fourth loss in five games. The Huskies are 12-12 under Chris Petersen, who only lost 12 games in eight seasons at his previous gig with Boise State.

    Quarterback Jake Browning has had an up-and-down freshman year, which was typified by this last game. The true freshman threw for a career-best 405 yards but was intercepted three times, giving him nine picks this season.

    Oregon State (2-8, 0-7) has its most losses in Pac-12 play since 1997 and has lost nine in a row in the conference. Gary Andersen's first season was expected to be a lean one, heavily dependent on freshmen and sophomores, but the results have been even worse than imagined thanks to a complete lack of offense.

    The Beavers had 24 points in Saturday's loss at California, one fewer than in the three previous games combined, and their 4.93 yards per play is 112th in FBS.

    Prediction: Washington 27, Oregon State 19

    FINAL: Washington 52, Oregon State 7

Mississippi State at Arkansas

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Fred Ross caught a 69-yard touchdown pass from Dak Prescott early in the fourth quarter of Mississippi State's 17-10 home win over Arkansas in November 2014.

    What to watch for

    Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3 SEC) lost 31-6 at home to Alabama last week, meeting the same lopsided fate that nearly everyone else who's faced the Crimson Tide has over the last two months. Prescott, pretty much the only weapon the Bulldogs have, was sacked nine times after being sacked nine times in the first nine games.

    Prescott also threw for 300 yards, but MSU's lack of a run game—his 112 carries are more than any other two players—keeps it from being able to beat the better teams in the SEC.

    Arkansas (6-4, 4-2) has become one of those in the upper half after a rough start to this season, when it lost to Toledo and Texas Tech, among others. The Razorbacks have won four straight, though, averaging 50.3 points during that stretch, with quarterback Brandon Allen throwing 12 TD passes.

    The run game is also on the way back, now up to 203 yards per game, as Alex Collins has four straight 100-yard performances. MSU just gave up 235 yards to Alabama on the ground.

    Prediction: Arkansas 37, Mississippi State 20

    FINAL: Mississippi State 51, Arkansas 50

Georgia Southern at Georgia

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Aaron Murray threw for 330 yards and four touchdowns in Georgia's 45-14 home win over Georgia Southern in November 2012.

    What to watch for

    Georgia Southern (7-2) is 5-1 in the Sun Belt conference after going unbeaten in that league during its first season of FBS play in 2014. The Eagles have the No. 1 rushing offense in the country, a spread-option attack that averages 378.9 yards per game.

    Four players have run for at least 500 yards and combined for 35 rushing TDs, with junior Matt Breida the workhorse at 1,242 yards and 14 TDs with an average of 8.94 yards per carry.

    Georgia (7-3) went 5-3 in the SEC East and will finish second or third, again falling short of the projections that had the Bulldogs winning the division and playing for their first conference title since 2005. A turning point was the loss of running back Nick Chubb. His absence has exposed the lack of a passing game, while his backups haven't been able to match his production.

    Longtime coach Mark Richt has come under plenty of scrutiny this year, though Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee noted that Saturday's win over Auburn should take some of the heat off, since it makes it very possible for the Bulldogs to still end up with nine or 10 wins.

    "At least with Richt, Georgia has a chance—even during rebuilding years," Sallee wrote.

    Losing to Georgia Southern would change that significantly, though, and this isn't the normal pre-Georgia Tech walkover the Bulldogs usually schedule.

    Prediction: Georgia 27, Georgia Southern 21

    FINAL: Georgia 23, Georgia Southern 17 (OT)

No. 16 Navy at Tulsa

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Tulsa pulled out a 24-23 overtime win over Navy in September 2006.

    What to watch for

    Navy (8-1, 6-0 American) remains the top-ranked non-power team in the latest playoff standings, a spot it can solidify next week against Houston in a battle for the West Division title. Before that comes about, though, the Midshipmen will have to deal with the most uptempo team in the country.

    Tulsa (5-5, 2-4) averages 86.5 plays per game, a style that Philip Montgomery brought with him from Baylor and which has led to 526.9 yards and 36.5 points per game. The Golden Hurricane have as many wins as in 2013-14 combined and would have more if their defense wasn't fifth-worst in FBS.

    The Hurricane have allowed at least 30 points on eight occasions, and though they're worst against the pass, they have given up 220.6 rushing yards per game with 27 TDs.

    Navy has the No. 2 rushing attack in the country, at 335 yards per game, led by its all-time leader in rushing TDs, Keenan Reynolds. The senior scored four times on the ground last week to give him 81 rushing scores for his career, including 17 this year.

    Prediction: Navy 45, Tulsa 31

    FINAL: Navy 44, Tulsa 21

Rice at UTSA

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Driphus Jackson had 261 yards of total offense and two total touchdowns in Rice's 17-7 home win over UTSA last November.

    What to watch for

    Rice (4-6, 2-4 Conference USA) has lost three in a row, most recently an embarrassing 65-10 home setback to West Division co-leader Southern Mississippi. The Owls are clearly a level below the better teams in C-USA, having lost by 25 at home to Louisiana Tech and by 30 at East leader Western Kentucky, and none of their conquests have come against opponents with more than two victories in 2015.

    UTSA (2-8, 2-4) ended a four-game skid by winning 30-27 in overtime at Charlotte, its second road win this season. The Roadrunners, who are 6-16 the past two seasons, have lost their last three home games by a combined 10 points.

    Rice is in danger of missing out on a bowl for the first time since 2011 but will stay alive for at least another week.

    Prediction: Rice 27, UTSA 20

    FINAL: UTSA 34, Rice 24

Tennessee at Missouri

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    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 7:15 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Maty Mauk threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes in Missouri's 29-21 win at Tennessee last November.

    What to watch for

    Tennessee (6-4, 3-3 SEC) reached bowl eligibility via a mostly uninspiring 24-0 home win over North Texas last week, and now comes a final stretch that can help improve its resume in order to earn a better bid. The Volunteers can also exceed six regular-season wins for the first time since 2009.

    Last week's result was most notable for the strong effort on defense, though that won't factor as much in the Vols' final two games, since the remaining opponents are at the bottom of the league in scoring. They're also two of the better defenses in the SEC, and Tennessee has been inconsistent moving the ball.

    Missouri (5-5, 1-5) ended a four-game skid by beating BYU on Saturday in Kansas City, the first game after longtime coach Gary Pinkel announced he was retiring after the season to battle a recent lymphoma diagnosis. That game saw the Tigers score multiple TDs for the first time since Oct. 3, though their 15.2 points-per-game scoring average remains second-worst in FBS.

    The two-time defending East Division champs now have a renewed purpose: to send Pinkel out on a high note. That will include reaching bowl eligibility with a win in their home finale.

    Prediction: Missouri 21, Tennessee 13

    FINAL: Tennessee 19, Missouri 8

Texas A&M at Vanderbilt

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Johnny Manziel threw four touchdown passes in Texas A&M's 56-24 home win over Vanderbilt in October 2013.

    What to watch for

    Texas A&M (7-3, 3-3 SEC) scored its most points since mid-September last week, but the 41 came against an FCS team that's never beat an FBS program. The Aggies will take anything at this point, considering how their offense has sputtered, mostly because of poor decision-making by the quarterbacks that has resulted in 10 interceptions in the last five games.

    Kyler Murray has three TDs and five picks since replacing Kyle Allen as starter.

    Vanderbilt (4-6, 2-4) won 21-17 at home against Kentucky last week, its most points against an FBS opponent this season. The Commodores are still alive for a bowl bid but would need to win three straight for the first time since 2013.

    At 11.9 points per game against FBS foes, Vandy is third-worst in the country in scoring offense. If not for a defense that has held six of 10 opponents below five yards per carry, it wouldn't have a chance most weeks.

    A&M is still a mess, and Vandy will win an ugly game.

    Prediction: Vanderbilt 15, Texas A&M 14

    FINAL: Texas A&M 25, Vanderbilt 0

Boston College vs. No. 4 Notre Dame (in Fenway Park, Boston)

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Everett Golson threw two touchdown passes and ran for another in Notre Dame's 21-6 win at Boston College in November 2012.

    What to watch for

    Boston College (3-7) is 0-7 in the ACC because of an offense that is dead last in the country, gaining 276.6 yards per game. Take away the Eagles' two wins over FCS schools, and that drops to 240.5 yards per game. They are stuck with a run game that has no player with more than 303 yards and four quarterbacks who have combined to complete only 45.5 percent of their passes for 123.4 yards per game.

    These struggles with the ball overshadow a good defense, one that is tops in the country, allowing 3.9 yards per play and 236.5 yards per game.

    Notre Dame (9-1) is technically the home team in this game, though it opted to have it held in a baseball stadium as part of its Shamrock Series, which previously visited Yankee Stadium. It marks the start of a two-week, cross-country trip that ends with a Nov. 28 visit to Stanford that's essentially a playoff eliminator.

    The Fighting Irish won 28-7 at home last week against Wake Forest, a team that beat Boston College 3-0 earlier this season, so this matchup shouldn't be too troublesome. The main goal will be to remain healthy and be ready for the Stanford game, so don't expect the greatest performance.

    Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Boston College 12

    FINAL: Notre Dame 19, Boston College 16

Charlotte at Kentucky

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    Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Charlotte (2-8) began its first season of FBS play with wins over Georgia State and FCS school Presbyterian, but that's been followed by eight consecutive defeats. Last week, the 49ers fell in overtime at home to UTSA, only the second game in the streak which they lost by single digits.

    Kentucky (4-6) has dropped five in a row and has fallen apart in much the same way as in 2014, when a 5-1 start was followed by six straight losses. The Wildcats turned to redshirt freshman Drew Barker at quarterback midway through last week's 21-17 loss at Vanderbilt, and he's set to get his first career start.

    Charlotte is the perfect game for Barker to establish himself, and this provides an opportunity for the Wildcats to get some confidence before hosting rival Louisville next week with a bowl bid on the line.

    Prediction: Kentucky 37, Charlotte 14

    FINAL: Kentucky 58, Charlotte 10

No. 10 Baylor at No. 6 Oklahoma State

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    David K Purdy/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Devin Chafin and Bryce Petty each tallied three touchdowns in Baylor's 49-28 home win over Oklahoma State last November.

    What to watch for

    Baylor (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) didn't slide as much as it could have after losing at home to Oklahoma last week, making it seem like the Bears could still be in the playoff mix if they can win out. The first step is winning in Stillwater for the first time since 1939.

    To put that in perspective, Hall of Fame Kansas State coach Bill Snyder was born that year.

    The Bears are still first in FBS in yards per game at 637.9 and gain 292.2 per game on the ground, but the last two weeks have seen that run attack stunted. K-State and Oklahoma held them to 3.36 yards per carry, putting pressure on true freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham to be more of a factor.

    He did well enough in his first start, but with Oklahoma blanketing top receiver Corey Coleman, he threw a pair of interceptions, the first of his career.

    Oklahoma State (10-0, 7-0) will want to do much of the same, though it will also make a harder push to pressure Stidham with a defensive line that has 35 sacks and 80 tackles for loss. That front had its worst game of 2015 last week, though, as the Cowboys needed to rally from 17 down in the first half to win at Iowa State.

    The unique two-quarterback system Mike Gundy has used this season has produced results, getting 316 passing yards per game from Mason Rudolph, while J.W. Walsh has come in to tally 10 rushing TDs and 10 passing TDs (on just 28 attempts).

    "It's either two or three plays where they're both in the backfield at the same time," Gundy said, per Kyle Fredrickson of "I would suspect at some point that we'll use that. It's not really any secret, but if you do, you still gotta get lined up and defend it."

    OK State hasn't been the most dominant team in the country but is also one of just five without a loss. That will remain the case after Saturday.

    Prediction: Oklahoma State 40, Baylor 31

    FINAL: Baylor 45, Oklahoma State 35

No. 18 TCU at No. 7 Oklahoma

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Paul Dawson's 41-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter gave TCU a 37-33 home win over Oklahoma in October 2014.

    What to watch for

    TCU (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) was tied with winless Kansas at halftime and had to thwart multiple fourth-quarter drives that would have put it behind last Saturday. And that wasn't even the worst part of a 23-17 home win that moved the Horned Frogs even further away from the playoff picture.

    The much more concerning development was an ankle injury to superstar quarterback Trevone Boykin, who went out early and was replaced by a pair of backups—senior Bram Kohlhausen and freshman Foster Sawyer—who weren't impressive. Receiver Josh Doctson was able to play despite a bum wrist but had a minimal impact, leaving only running back Aaron Green as a healthy and reliable weapon.

    Boykin is "still questionable" despite showing improvement early this week on the ankle, according to TCU coach Gary Patterson, per Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News. Having him less than 100 percent is better than nothing but not ideal against the hottest team in the conference.

    Oklahoma (9-1, 6-1) jumped five spots in the playoff rankings after winning by 10 at Baylor, a masterful performance both offensively and defensively that helped further distance it from the puzzling October loss to Texas. The Sooners were able to minimize Baylor's potent run game, while Baker Mayfield and Samaje Perine were at their best in Waco's heavy rain.

    Back in Norman, knowing it has a real shot to make the playoff, Oklahoma won't waste time jumping on a wounded opponent.

    Prediction: Oklahoma 47, TCU 23

    FINAL: Oklahoma 30, TCU 29

Tulane at SMU

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Ryan Griffin threw for 302 yards and three touchdowns in Tulane's 27-26 home win over SMU in October 2012, when both teams were in Conference USA.

    What to watch for

    Tulane (3-7, 1-5 American) won 34-31 at Army last week on a late field goal, ending a five-game losing streak in the process. The Green Wave had managed only 47 points during that skid, and their 15.9 points per game against FBS opponents ranks 120th in the country.

    SMU (1-9, 0-6) has lost eight in a row, most recently by 41 at Navy. The Mustangs have been able to hang around in many of their games because of an offense that averages 28.4 points per game, but they give up an FBS-worst 46.4 points.

    When a bad offense meets a bad defense, the offense usually gets healthy. The loser gets the bottom of the West Division.

    Prediction: SMU 33, Tulane 28

    FINAL: SMU 49, Tulane 21

San Diego State at UNLV

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    Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Donnel Pumphrey ran for 167 yards and four touchdowns in San Diego State's 34-17 home win over UNLV in September 2014.

    What to watch for

    San Diego State (7-3, 6-0 Mountain West) can clinch the West Division with a victory, which would be its seventh in a row after a 1-3 start. The Aztecs had a tough non-league schedule that included trips to California and Penn State, experiences that have enabled them to win their three conference road games by 20.3 points apiece.

    UNLV (3-7, 2-4) has dropped four of five but is still much-improved from a year ago, when it went 2-11. The Runnin' Rebels have averaged 31.6 points over their last five games, but a thin defense allows 6.12 yards per play, including 5.53 yards per rush.

    San Diego State's Donnel Pumphrey has 20 career 100-yard rushing games, including one in each of his team's six straight wins. The Aztecs will earn their first outright title since 1986.

    Prediction: San Diego State 34, UNLV 21

    FINAL: San Diego State 52, UNLV 14

California at No. 11 Stanford

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Remound Wright scored four rushing touchdowns in Stanford's 38-17 win at California last November.

    What to watch for

    The Big Game has one of the greatest histories of any rivalry in college football, and not just because of the band-on-the-field play from 1982. Now it gets the #Pac12AfterDark treatment a week after three of the conference's top teams lost in the final moments in night tilts.

    California (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) is coming off a 54-24 home win over Oregon State that enabled it to clinch bowl eligibility for the first time since 2011. It also ended a four-game losing streak during which the Golden Bears defense reverted back to the 2014 version and Jared Goff threw eight interceptions.

    Goff had six TD passes and 453 yards last week, with Cal gaining 760 yards overall.

    Stanford (8-2, 7-1) saw its playoff hopes take a major hit by falling 38-36 at home to Oregon, a missed two-point conversion at the end being the difference. That ended the Cardinal's eight-game win streak and kept them from clinching the North Division.

    Instead, they can do so against their rivals, whom they have beaten five straight times by an average of 23.2 points.

    Prediction: Stanford 43, California 27

    FINAL: Stanford 35, California 22

Colorado at Washington State

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    James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 10:45 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Jordan Webb scored on a four-yard run with nine seconds left in Colorado's 35-34 win at Washington State in September 2012.

    What to watch for

    Colorado (4-7, 1-6 Pac-12) has lost three in a row to guarantee an eighth consecutive season without a bowl game. Making matters worse, quarterback Sefo Liufau suffered a foot injury in Friday's home loss to USC and is done for the year. The junior was likely to have become the school's career passing leader by season's end, but now freshman Cade Apsay takes over.

    Apsay had 128 yards and two TDs on 18-of-23 passing against USC, and his first career start will come opposite the most prolific quarterback in the country.

    Washington State (7-3, 5-2) has its most wins since 2003 after rallying to win at UCLA last week, with Luke Falk hitting Gabe Marks from 21 yards out in the final seconds. That was Falk's 35th TD pass of the season, a school record, and he's first in FBS at 406.7 passing yards per game.

    "Virtually everybody needs to vote for Luke Falk, and anybody that doesn't needs to re-examine why they're voting for the Heisman to begin with," WSU coach Mike Leach said, per Adam Lewis of

    That might be a hard sell across the country, but after another big performance, Leach will have more fodder for his politicking.

    Prediction: Washington State 48, Colorado 26

    FINAL: Washington State 27, Colorado 3

San Jose State at Hawaii

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    TIMOTHY J. GONZALEZ/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Nov. 21; 11 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Hawaii ended a 17-game road losing streak with a 13-0 win at San Jose State last November.

    What to watch for

    San Jose State (4-6, 3-3 Mountain West) has lost three of four, including a 37-34 loss last week at Nevada, and now must win out to be bowl-eligible. The Spartans have the No. 10 rusher in the country in senior Tyler Ervin, who averages 130.3 yards per game, but he's been held below four yards per carry in three of the last four.

    Hawaii (2-9, 0-7) has lost eight consecutive games, the last two since firing coach Norm Chow. The Rainbow Warriors score only 16.2 points per game, sixth-worst in the country, and have been outscored 128-35 in their last three home games.

    San Jose would also have beat Boise State at home next week to earn a bowl bid, which won't be easy. At least it will have a shot after being the latest team to pick on the hapless Warriors.

    Prediction: San Jose State 31, Hawaii 16

    FINAL: San Jose State 42, Hawaii 23

Air Force at Boise State

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    Otto Kitsinger/Associated Press

    When: Friday, Nov. 20; 9:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Air Force used five intercepted passes to key a 28-14 home win over Boise State in September 2014.

    What to watch for

    Air Force (7-3, 5-1 Mountain West) is alone atop the Mountain Division but has to play its two main challengers to close out the season. The Falcons, winners of four straight, haven't won a division or conference title since 1998.

    The Falcons have the No. 3 rushing offense in the country at 333.2 yards per game but also got 271 passing yards from Karson Roberts to beat Utah State last week. That total marked the most passing yards by an Air Force quarterback since 2000, according to John Coon of the Associated Press, thus making this one of the more dangerous teams in program history.

    Boise State (7-3, 4-2) fell at home to New Mexico on Saturday to fall out of first place in the Mountain, losing at home for just the fifth time since 1999. The Broncos turned it over four times in that loss, similarly to when they gave the ball away eight times in a loss to Utah State.

    In the Broncos' three losses they have 15 giveaways, but just five in the seven wins.

    This game might come down to which team is able to deal with the other's big-play receiver. Boise's Thomas Sperbeck, who averages 121 yards per game, has 30 catches for 444 yards in his past two games, while Air Force's Jalen Robinette had seven receptions for 210 yards and a TD last week.

    Prediction: Boise State 30, Air Force 27

    FINAL: Air Force 37, Boise State 30

Cincinnati at South Florida

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    Cliff McBride/Getty Images

    When: Friday, Nov. 20; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Mike Boone ran for 212 yards and a touchdown in Cincinnati's 34-17 home win over South Florida in October 2014.

    What to watch for

    Cincinnati (6-4, 3-3 American) wrapped up a fifth straight season of bowl eligibility by outlasting Tulsa at home last week, 49-38. The Bearcats have the No. 4 offense in the country at 585.6 yards per game, thanks to an explosive passing game and as well as a trio of running backs with 600 or more yards.

    Head coach Tommy Tuberville has won 24 games in his three seasons in Cincinnati, the best start to a career that has included stops at Ole Miss, Auburn and Texas Tech.

    South Florida (6-4, 4-2) is bowl-eligible for the first time under coach Willie Taggart, who won only six games in his first two seasons in Tampa. The Bulls are still in the hunt for the East Division title after their 21-point win over Temple last week, a game during which they ran for 326 yards and three TDs.

    The Bulls average 227.9 rushing yards per game, which ranks 15th in FBS. Cincinnati has allowed 200 or more yards on the ground five times this season, including in its last three games.

    Prediction: South Florida 35, Cincinnati 33

    FINAL: South Florida 65, Cincinnati 27

East Carolina at UCF

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    David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Thursday, Nov. 19; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Justin Holman threw a 51-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman as time expired to give UCF a 32-30 win at East Carolina in December, earning the Knights a share of the American Athletic Conference title.

    What to watch for

    East Carolina (4-6, 2-4) has lost three in a row, most recently at home to South Florida, scoring only 14.7 points per game during that span. The two-quarterback system of juniors Blake Kemp and James Summers hasn't produced the desired results, with the run-first Summers 0-4 as a starter, while Kemp has thrown 10 interceptions.

    UCF (0-10, 0-6) has lost 11 straight, its longest skid since dropping 17 in a row from 2003-05. That streak included George O'Leary's winless first season in 2004, and the program has returned to those depths in his final year. He quit after an 0-8 start, and interim coach Danny Barrett has piloted the Knights through two blowouts on the road.

    East Carolina has only one win on the road this year. But with bowl eligibility still in their sights, the Pirates will come out of their bye with a renewed focus.

    Prediction: East Carolina 37, UCF 21

    FINAL: East Carolina 44, UCF 7

Louisiana-Monroe at Texas State

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    Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Thursday, Nov. 19; 9:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Robert Lowe's 21-yard touchdown run with 3:29 left gave Texas State a 22-18 win at Louisiana-Monroe in October 2014.

    What to watch for

    Louisiana-Monroe (1-9, 0-6 Sun Belt) fired coach Todd Berry on Saturday after a 59-21 home loss to Arkansas State, the Warhawks' eighth consecutive defeat and 16th in their last 18 games. ULM has turned the ball over 24 times this year, including 13 in the last three games.

    Texas State (2-7, 1-4) has lost three in a row and six of seven, the last two at home against New Mexico State and Georgia State. The defense has let the Bobcats down all season, allowing 7.2 yards per play despite a midseason change at coordinator.

    It's a short week for both teams, and with Monroe traveling amid a coaching change, it's not in position to be competitive.

    Prediction: Texas State 34, Louisiana-Monroe 24

    FINAL: Texas State 16, Louisiana-Monroe 3

Bowling Green at Ball State

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    Andrew Weber/Getty Images

    When: Tuesday, Nov. 24; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Ozzie Mann threw three touchdown passes in Ball State's 41-24 win at Bowling Green last November.

    What to watch for

    Bowling Green (8-3, 6-1 Mid-American) had a seven-game win streak snapped on Tuesday when it lost 44-28 at home to Toledo. The Falcons had already clinched the East Division title and will play in the conference championship on Dec. 5 for the third year in a row.

    Ball State (3-8, 2-5) has its most losses in a season since 2010 after falling at Ohio on Tuesday. The Cardinals allow 6.65 yards per play, which ranks 117th in FBS, and they have allowed 40 or more points four times this season.

    Bowling Green wants to get back some momentum ahead of the MAC final and will look to put this one away early so it can rest up for the title match.

    Prediction: Bowling Green 45, Ball State 21

    FINAL: Bowling Green 48, Ball State 10

Ohio at Northern Illinois

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    Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Tuesday, Nov. 24; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Chad Beebe caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Drew Hare with six minutes left in Northern Illinois' 21-14 win at Ohio last November.

    What to watch for

    Ohio (7-4, 4-3 Mid-American) finished its home slate with a 5-1 record after wins the past two weeks over Kent State and Ball State. The Bobcats have struggled on the road, however, losing their last two by an average of 31 points.

    Northern Illinois (8-3, 6-1) can clinch a sixth consecutive West Division title with a victory, which would be its seventh in a row after a 2-3 start. The Huskies are tied with Toledo for first place but holds the tiebreaker by virtue of their 32-27 win against the Rockets earlier this month.

    It's hard to bet against Northern Illinois in November, when it's won 22 consecutive games.

    Prediction: Northern Illinois 31, Ohio 17

    FINAL: Ohio 26, Northern Illinois 21

    All statistics provided by unless otherwise noted.

    Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.


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