College Football Picks: Week 13 Predictions for Every Game

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistNovember 22, 2018

College Football Picks: Week 13 Predictions for Every Game

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    Week 13 brings the final regular-season week for nearly every college football team, and it's loaded with intrigue.

    Results will set conference-championship matchups, and College Football Playoff contenders will try to stay aliveone could even secure a CFP spot.

    Rivalry games will dominate the slate, and teams that are striving for bowl eligibility are down to their last chance.

    We've offered a prediction for every game that involves a Football Bowl Subdivision program in what should be a hectic week.


    Rankings based on the latest CFP poll.

Thursday Games

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    Colorado State (3-8) at Air Force (4-7), 3:30 p.m. ET

    One penalty as time expired prevented Colorado State from pulling off a stunning upset of Utah State last week. Instead, the Rams will finish 2018 on a five-game losing skid if their 104th-ranked run defense fails to contain an Air Force offense that has 840 rushing yards and seven touchdowns over the last two weekends.

    Prediction: Air Force 38, Colorado State 30


    No. 18 Mississippi State (7-4) at Ole Miss (5-6), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Alabama and LSU outscored Ole Miss 107-23 while limiting the Rebels to 311 total yards through the air. Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta'amu has thrown for at least 324 yards in every other game. But since Mississippi State has ceded only 5.3 yards per pass this season, the Egg Bowl has blowout potential.

    Prediction: Mississippi State 45, Ole Miss 24

Top Friday Games

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    No. 14 Texas (8-3) at Kansas (3-8), Noon ET

    The Longhorns can clinch a place in the Big 12 Championship Game if they fend off Kansas. Given the Jayhawks' inability to stop an offense, Texas should earn a painless win. The only reason that would change is turnovers.

    Prediction: Texas 41, Kansas 21


    Houston (8-3) at Memphis (7-4), Noon ET

    The winner will challenge UCF in the AAC title game. Unfortunately for Houston, it lost standout quarterback D'Eriq King to a torn right meniscus. The Cougars ripped past Tulane anyway, 48-17, but Memphis and its seventh-ranked offense will be too much for Houston to overcome with freshman Clayton Tune behind center.

    Prediction: Memphis 45, Houston 34


    Oregon (7-4) at Oregon State (2-9), 4 p.m. ET

    Is your running game in need of a spark? Here's a healthy dose of Oregon State to make you feel better. The Beavers, who have surrendered six-plus yards per carry in seven of their last eight contests, will have no answer for Oregon's offense.

    Prediction: Oregon 45, Oregon State 20


    No. 9 UCF (10-0) at South Florida (7-4), 4:15 p.m. ET

    Another week, another lackluster performance by South Florida. The Bulls have dropped four games in a row and haven't shown any signs they'll compete with UCF. Knights QB McKenzie Milton and Co. will cruise to their second straight undefeated regular season.

    Prediction: UCF 42, South Florida 21


    No. 6 Oklahoma (10-1) at No. 13 West Virginia (8-2), 8 p.m. ET

    West Virginia is a tempting pick. Last week, we railed against a defense that struggles on the road but thrives in Morgantown. Well, the Mountaineers are back at home. The offense will excel opposite a porous OU defense. But the Sooners only struggle when they commit turnovers, and WVU has just eight takeaways this year.

    Prediction: Oklahoma 52, West Virginia 48


    No. 16 Washington (8-3) at No. 8 Washington State (10-1), 8:30 p.m. ET

    Streaks are meant to be broken, right? Since 2013, Washington is 5-0 in the Apple Cup and has outscored Wazzu 189-71. After the Cougars hung 69 points on Arizona last week, and considering UW's offense has labored all season, it seems this might be the year. However, a lockdown Washington secondary will frustrate WSU and doom its CFP dreams.

    Prediction: Washington 27, Washington State 22

Other Friday Games

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    Nebraska (4-7) at Iowa (7-4), Noon ET

    This contest hinges on the performance of Iowa QB Nate Stanley. Nebraska boasts an 8-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio in four wins but a meager 9-to-7 mark in seven losses. We'll trust Stanley to complement another quality defensive effort from the Hawkeyes.

    Prediction: Iowa 31, Nebraska 23


    Akron (4-6) at Ohio (7-4), Noon ET

    On paper, the nation's sixth-worst scoring offense has no chance on the road against Ohiothe 11th-best scoring unit. We fully anticipate that difference will appear on the field in Athens.

    Prediction: Ohio 45, Akron 17


    Buffalo (9-2) at Bowling Green (3-8), Noon ET

    Win and they're in. That's the outlook for the Buffalo Bulls, who could've wrapped up the MAC's East Division last week but limped to a 52-17 defeat at Ohio. On the bright side, Buffalo only has Bowling Green and its 106th-ranked defense in the way of the MAC title game.

    Prediction: Buffalo 38, Bowling Green 20


    Central Michigan (1-10) at Toledo (6-5), Noon ET

    Mercifully, CMU's 2018 campaign is about to end. John Bonamego's club hasn't scored more than 13 points in a game since mid-October. Toledo has posted 45-plus in three of its last four outings, so the Rockets will have no issue reaching win No. 7.

    Prediction: Toledo 37, Central Michigan 14


    Eastern Michigan (6-5) at Kent State (2-9), Noon ET

    Kent State has mustered only two victories largely because its red-zone defense is woeful. Eastern Michigan is inefficient enough inside the 20-yard line to make us think twice, but the Eagles should pull out a tight victory on the road.

    Prediction: Eastern Michigan 24, Kent State 17


    Arkansas (2-9) at Missouri (7-4), 2:30 p.m. ET

    Drew Lock is really, really good at torching really, really bad teams. Missouri's senior quarterback will shred an Arkansas defense that has allowed 8.5 yards per attempt and 20 touchdowns and grabbed only five interceptions this year.

    Prediction: Missouri 52, Arkansas 21


    Coastal Carolina (5-6) at South Alabama (2-9), 3 p.m. ET

    Call it unlucky that Coastal Carolina had each of the Sun Belt's best five programs on the 2018 schedule. Attaining bowl eligibility would be a real achievement for the Chanticleers, which they'll do unless South Alabama's porous defense has a stunning day. The Jaguars have given up 38-plus points in eight games this year.

    Prediction: Coastal Carolina 35, South Alabama 24


    East Carolina (3-7) at Cincinnati (9-2), 3:30 p.m. ET

    The latest beneficiary of the UConn bump, East Carolina put up a season-high 55 points last week. Cincinnati had a dreadful day at UCF in a 38-13 loss, but the Bearcats are 5-0 at home and will quiet an East Carolina offense that typically can't run the ball successfully.

    Prediction: Cincinnati 34, East Carolina 17


    Virginia (7-4) at Virginia Tech (4-6), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Defense? What's that? In six straight games, Virginia Tech has surrendered at least five yards per snap. That hadn't happened in this decade until now. Virginia will lean on its running game to snap the Hokies' 25-year bowl streak.

    Prediction: Virginia 31, Virginia Tech 24

Top Saturday Early Games

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    No. 4 Michigan (10-1) at No. 10 Ohio State (10-1), Noon ET

    Can the Buckeyes handle this defense? That's the defining question of this Big Ten clash, since the Wolverines have allowed an FBS-best 4.9 yards per pass and only 3.3 yards per carry. Ohio State won't continue its dominance in "The Game" unless the offense can attack downfield. Between UM's season-long excellence at preventing big plays and OSU's recent struggles, that seems unlikely.

    Prediction: Michigan 27, Ohio State 20


    Georgia Tech (7-4) at No. 5 Georgia (10-1), Noon ET

    Although the triple-option attack may frustrate Georgia early, the Bulldogs should be able to overwhelm Georgia Tech's front seven. D'Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield will control the game and send Georgia into the SEC championship at 11-1.

    Prediction: Georgia 42, Georgia Tech 21


    No. 11 Florida (8-3) at Florida State (5-6), Noon ET

    Florida State owns a five-game winning streak in the series. Despite the Seminoles' issues in 2018, they boast the nation's stingiest run defense at home with only 2.4 yards allowed per carry. That suggest a tight finish, though we'll cautiously predict Dan Mullen's creativity will overcome that major obstacle.

    Prediction: Florida 24, Florida State 20


    No. 20 Syracuse (8-3) at Boston College (7-4), Noon ET

    This season, the Orange boast a 6-0 record inside the Carrier Dome. However, Dino Babers' club is a paltry 2-3 when outside of Syracuse. Sophomore back AJ Dillon will propel Boston College past the Orange and their No. 72 run defense.

    Prediction: Boston College 27, Syracuse 23


    UAB (9-2) at Middle Tennessee (7-4), 3 p.m. ET

    Middle Tennessee is also perfect at home in 2018 and put up a decent fight at Kentucky last week. The Blue Raiders are 0-4 when they lose the turnover battle, but UAB has posted a negative margin in four of its five road games. Get ready for an upset.

    Prediction: Middle Tennessee 24, UAB 17

Other Saturday Early Games

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    Purdue (6-5) at Indiana (5-6), Noon ET

    Purdue's complete inability to stop Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor is a concern, but Indiana's ground attack is no better than average. Boilers QB David Blough should be able to dice the Big Ten's second-worst pass defense and keep IU from the postseason.

    Prediction: Purdue 34, Indiana 27


    Baylor (5-6) vs. Texas Tech (5-6), Noon ET

    Winner goes to a bowl. Loser watches from home. Unfortunately for the Red Raiders, they really don't know who will play quarterback. Injuries have derailed the position all season long, and that unknown means we're not going to trust Texas Tech. (But for the record, Tech is the pick if Alan Bowman is able to go.)

    Prediction: Baylor 31, Texas Tech 21


    Marshall (7-3) at Florida International (8-3), Noon ET

    Red-zone efficiency will shape the result of this important Conference USA tilt. FIU has surrendered touchdowns in 10 of its opponent's last 12 trips inside the 20, but only 16 of the previous 31 resulted in six points. Marshall has the 10th-worst red-zone touchdown rate in the country.

    Prediction: FIU 31, Marshall 23


    NC State (7-3) at North Carolina (2-8), 12:20 p.m. ET

    In what could be Larry Fedora's final contest as UNC's head coach, the Tar Heels are desperate to end the season on a high note. However, the defense has ceded six yards per snap in five straight games and will fail to contain N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley.

    Prediction: NC State 42, North Carolina 31


    Wake Forest (5-6) at Duke (7-4), 12:30 p.m. ET

    Duke's run defense is on a remarkable four-game trend of getting flat-out wrecked. Still, the Blue Devils should lean on quarterback Daniel Jones to navigate Wake Forest, which has allowed 300-plus passing yards in four of the last five weeks.

    Prediction: Duke 45, Wake Forest 35


    Georgia Southern (8-3) at Georgia State (2-9), 2 p.m. ET

    As expected, Georgia Southern shook a two-game losing streak with a dominant performance on the ground. The Eagles racked up a season-high 409 yards to throttle Coastal Carolina. Somehow, Georgia State's run defense is even worse.

    Prediction: Georgia Southern 45, Georgia State 17


    Troy (9-2) at Appalachian State (8-2), 2:30 p.m. ET

    The winner of this showdown heads to the first-ever Sun Belt Championship Game. Since both programs boast top-25 run defenses, quarterbacks will determine this matchup. We're inclined to trust App State's Zac Thomas at home in a tight finish.

    Prediction: Appalachian State 27, Troy 24


    Stanford (6-4) at UCLA (3-8), 3 p.m. ET

    Although UCLA's defense remains an issue, the Bruins are 3-0 when holding their opponent to a red-zone touchdown rate below 66.7 percent. But that also happens to be Stanford's season clip. Opportunistic offense will propel the Cardinal.

    Prediction: Stanford 38, UCLA 34

More Saturday Early Games

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    Navy (3-8) at Tulane (5-6), Noon ET

    Defense has not been Navy's strong suit in 2018. Excluding the rain-soaked date with Memphis, eight of the Mids' nine FBS opponents have scored at least 29 points. Tulane's balance will overwhelm Navy and vault the Green Wave to bowl eligibility.

    Prediction: Tulane 36, Navy 24


    Western Kentucky (2-9) at Louisiana Tech (7-4), Noon ET

    Throw out WKU's blowout of 10-loss UTEP last week, and the Hilltoppers have only cracked 20 points once in the last six games. That should mean Louisiana Tech cruises to a win, but a frustrating offense may allow Western Kentucky to hang around.

    Prediction: Louisiana Tech 31, Western Kentucky 20


    Old Dominion (4-7) at Rice (1-11), 1 p.m. ET

    Rice has surrendered 34-plus points in nine games this season. As poorly as Old Dominion's defense has performed in 2018, the Monarchs can throw up 30-something in any game. Rice is headed toward its 12th consecutive loss.

    Prediction: Old Dominion 41, Rice 24


    New Mexico State (3-8) at Liberty (4-6), 2 p.m. ET

    This is a unique regular-season rematch. New Mexico State earned a 49-41 victory in October. Since then, both programs have played mistake-prone offense and little defense. Liberty's penchant for throwing interceptions will be its downfall.

    Prediction: New Mexico State 47, Liberty 42


    Wyoming (5-6) at New Mexico (3-8), 2 p.m. ET

    What a remarkable turnaround for Wyoming. The Pokes averaged 15.5 points in their first eight games but 31 over the last threeall wins. That late-season surge will help Wyoming attain bowl eligibility opposite the Mountain West's third-worst defense.

    Prediction: Wyoming 31, New Mexico 20


    Southern Miss (5-5) at UTEP (1-10), 3 p.m. ET

    The Eagles are a victory from bowl eligibility but haven't won on the road in 2018. The uninspiring offense has overshadowed a consistent Southern Miss defense. Even if UTEP doesn't score much, USM hasn't provided evidence to predict a rout, either.

    Prediction: Southern Miss 27, UTEP 17


    Louisiana (6-5) at UL Monroe (6-5), 3 p.m. ET

    Which mediocre defense will be less bad? UL Monroe seems to have the edge, considering it limited three of its last four opponents to 250 yards or fewer. Plus, Louisiana's offense tends to struggle on the road. This would be UL Monroe's first home victory in the Battle on the Bayou since 2004.

    Prediction: UL Monroe 37, Louisiana 30

Top Saturday Afternoon Games

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    Auburn (7-4) at No. 1 Alabama (11-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Alabama's run defense is very good. Auburn's run offense is subpar, and Jarrett Stidham hasn't impressed this season. Perhaps the Iron Bowl gives Auburn a motivational boost, but there's no evidence to say an upset is brewing.

    Prediction: Alabama 38, Auburn 10


    Maryland (5-6) at No. 12 Penn State (8-3), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Penn State is sort of limping to the finish, following a blowout loss to Michigan and 42 total points in victories over Wisconsin and Rutgers. The Nittany Lions are susceptible to chunk gains on the ground, and Maryland is competitive when its running game is productive. We'll trust Penn State at home, but the upset path is clear.

    Prediction: Penn State 34, Maryland 27


    Illinois (4-7) at No. 19 Northwestern (7-4), 3:30 p.m. ET

    This should be a tune-up for Northwestern prior to its first-ever Big Ten Championship Game appearance. While the Wildcats aren't a high-scoring team and rely on their defense, Illinois has ceded 46-plus points in five of its last six games.

    Prediction: Northwestern 31, Illinois 10


    Minnesota (5-6) at Wisconsin (7-4), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Minnesota's home/road splits are ridiculous. The Gophers have held seven opponents to just 3.1 yards per carry at home, yet they allow a mind-numbing 8.3 per attempt on the road. Jonathan Taylor, who scampered for 321 yards last week, should carry Wisconsin.

    Prediction: Wisconsin 38, Minnesota 21


    Pitt (7-4) at Miami (6-5), 3:30 p.m. ET

    The stunning turnaround that led Pitt to a Coastal Division title coincided with its massive improvement running the ball and defending it. However, this contest likely comes down to whether QB N'Kosi Perry can elevate Miami's offense if the running game stalls. That's a bit of wishful thinking in this non-creative system.

    Prediction: Pitt 24, Miami 20

Other Saturday Afternoon Games

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    Arizona State (6-5) at Arizona (5-6), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Entering the regular-season finale, Arizona State has played every road contest to within seven points but is only 1-4 in those games. As long as Arizona does a slightly better job converting red-zone chances, it'll snag bowl eligibility at the last moment.

    Prediction: Arizona 34, Arizona State 31


    SMU (5-6) at Tulsa (2-9), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Tulsa's horrid run defense has contributed to a forgettable year, yet SMU presents a decent matchup for the Golden Hurricane. They're at least competent against the pass, and SMU has no running game. Tulsa still won't win, but it'll be competitive.

    Prediction: SMU 27, Tulsa 20


    Temple (7-4) at UConn (1-10), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Your nightmare is almost over, Connecticut fans. Temple running back Ryquell Armstead will gash the worst defense of the modern era and hand the program its 10th eight-win season.

    Prediction: Temple 48, UConn 24


    Arkansas State (7-4) at Texas State (3-8), 4 p.m. ET

    Texas State is relatively pesky for a 3-8 team, holding four of the last six opponents to 20 points or fewer. However, the Bobcatswho just fired Everett Withersdon't score enough to suggest Arkansas State won't have several chances to pull away.

    Prediction: Arkansas State 27, Texas State 13


    Rutgers (1-10) at Michigan State (6-5), 4 p.m. ET

    Since toppling Texas State to kick off 2018, Rutgers hasn't scored more than 17 points in any game. Michigan State couldn't possibly regress that much, right? We don't anticipate MSU's defense collapsing, but it's not much fun thinking about the offense.

    Prediction: Michigan State 24, Rutgers 10


    Tennessee (5-6) at Vanderbilt (5-6), 4 p.m. ET

    Vanderbilt is going to give up some points, but Tennessee isn't exactly an offensive juggernaut. So, will the good version of the Volunteers defense travel? The performance of Vanderbilt QB Kyle Shurmur will dictate the result, and UT's secondary is vulnerable.

    Prediction: Vanderbilt 31, Tennessee 24

Saturday Evening Games

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    Charlotte (4-7) at Florida Atlantic (5-6), 6 p.m. ET

    Florida Atlantic never came close to matching expectations, but the Owls can still achieve bowl eligibility in a sour season. Charlottewhich recently fired Brad Lamberthas averaged just 13.4 points on the road, while FAU has scored 36.2 per game at home.

    Prediction: Florida Atlantic 34, Charlotte 17


    South Carolina (6-4) at No. 2 Clemson (11-0), 7 p.m. ET

    Ole Miss and Florida combined for 604 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground in November clashes with South Carolina. Clemson's running game should dominate, but its defense won't be anywhere near as forgiving as either previous opponent.

    Prediction: Clemson 45, South Carolina 14


    No. 15 Kentucky (8-3) at Louisville (2-9), 7 p.m. ET

    Louisville has allowed 52-plus points in five of its last six games. Even if an unspectacular Kentucky offense is unable to match that featwhich is what we anticipatethe Wildcats' stingy defense won't allow UL's anemic attack to accomplish much.

    Prediction: Kentucky 38, Louisville 21


    Kansas State (5-6) at No. 25 Iowa State (6-4), 7 p.m. ET

    Could this be Bill Snyder's final game? No matter the answer, a pair of trends are working against Kansas State. This season, the 'Cats are 0-4 on the road and 0-4 against teams currently ranked. Iowa State's sturdy run-stopping unit will silence K-State.

    Prediction: Iowa State 31, Kansas State 17


    San Jose State (1-10) at Fresno State (9-2), 7 p.m. ET

    In six games outside San Jose, opponents have outscored the Spartans 220-71. Conversely, Fresno State has racked up 228 points and ceded only 77 in five home contests. Easy choice.

    Prediction: Fresno State 56, San Jose State 14


    Colorado (5-6) at Cal (6-4), 7 p.m. ET

    Honestly, we feel bad for Colorado fans. The Buffswho just fired Mike MacIntyreearned five victories by Oct. 6 but are a loss in Berkeley away from failing to reach a bowl. Barring a surge from Colorado's laboring offense, the Pac-12's second-best defense (4.7 yards per play) should propel Cal in a low-scoring matchup.

    Prediction: Cal 24, Colorado 16


    North Texas (8-3) at UTSA (3-8), 7 p.m. ET

    North Texas occasionally makes it more interesting than necessary, as evidenced by its three-point win over 1-10 UTEP, loss to Old Dominion and second-half issues this year. Theoretically, though, the Mean Green should overwhelm UTSA's horrid pass defense.

    Prediction: North Texas 45, UTSA 7


    No. 7 LSU (9-2) at No. 22 Texas A&M (7-4), 7:30 p.m. ET

    One quick note: No, LSU doesn't have a realistic chance to reach the College Football Playoff despite hovering near the Top Five. But it won't matter after Saturday anyway. The Tigers will be unable to run successfully on Texas A&M, which has thrived offensively at home this season.

    Prediction: Texas A&M 24, LSU 19

Saturday Night Games

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    No. 3 Notre Dame (11-0) at USC (5-6), 8 p.m. ET

    In what seemed like a legitimately dicey matchup against Syracuse, Notre Dame left no question about who the superior team was. The Irish have now kept five straight opponents below 350 total yards of offense. Do you trust USC? Me neither.

    Prediction: Notre Dame 38, USC 17


    Oklahoma State (6-5) at TCU (5-6), 8 p.m. ET

    As everyone expected, quarterback Grayson Muehlstein kept TCU's postseason hopes alive and guided the Horned Frogs to a victory at Baylor. Wait, what? He deserves credit for that performance, but TCU can't expect to barely clear 300 yards and upset Oklahoma State.

    Prediction: Oklahoma State 34, TCU 20


    Nevada (7-4) at UNLV (3-8), 9:30 p.m. ET

    As poorly as UNLV has played this season, the Rebels have scored enough to keep things interesting lately. That trend will probably end opposite a Nevada defense that has assembled a second-season surge and braced an inconsistent offense.

    Prediction: Nevada 36, UNLV 24


    BYU (6-5) at No. 17 Utah (8-3), 10 p.m. ET

    Utah's upside without quarterback Tyler Huntley (collarbone) is a concern, but this defense gives the Utes a high floor. They've held six opponents below 100 yards rushing this season, and BYU is 0-5 when failing to reach triple digits on the ground.

    Prediction: Utah 27, BYU 13


    No. 21 Utah State (10-1) at No. 23 Boise State (9-2), 10:15 p.m. ET

    The escape at Colorado State was Utah State's second one-possession win of 2018. This has otherwise been a dominant team. Boise State is a challenging place to play, but a vulnerable secondary will prevent the Broncos from defending their blue turf.

    Prediction: Utah State 27, Boise State 24


    Hawaii (7-5) at San Diego State (7-4), 10:30 p.m. ET

    While it's a problem that Hawaii has converted just 21 of its last 81 third-down attempts, the bigger issue is a sieve of a run defense. Five straight opponents have cracked 200 yards. San Diego State has flailed on the ground for much of 2018, but this is an ideal matchup for the Aztecs.

    Prediction: San Diego State 24, Hawaii 19