College Football Picks: Week 13 Predictions for Every Game

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2019

College Football Picks: Week 13 Predictions for Every Game

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    Although 23 ranked teams play in Week 13, only two matchups contain a pair of Top 25 programs.

    And of those two, there's no question Penn State and Ohio State will attract most of the attention. While the Nittany Lions would need to defeat Rutgers next week, the Buckeyes could clinch the Big Ten East title. So, effectively, the division crown is at stake in Columbus.

    That showdown is in the noon window Saturday, while Georgia tries to keep its College Football Playoff hopes alive when it hosts Texas A&M later in the afternoon.

    The predictions are initially organized based on AP ranking in ascending order. The rest are listed chronologically after a preview of the five best games between unranked teams.

    All odds are courtesy of Caesars and accurate as of Tuesday. Rankings reflect the AP Top 25.

AP Nos. 25-21

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    Pittsburgh at No. 25 Virginia Tech, 3:30 p.m. ET (VT -3.5)

    What a remarkable rise for a Virginia Tech squad that struggled with Old Dominion and Furman before falling to Duke 45-10. Since that embarrassing loss at home, the Hokies are 5-1, with the only shortcoming a one-point loss at Notre Dame. Their much-improved defense will contain a quality Pitt offense.

    Prediction: Virginia Tech 27, Pitt 23

                             

    No. 24 Texas A&M at No. 4 Georgia, 3:30 p.m. ET (UGA -13)

    For prediction, see No. 4 Georgia.

                 

    Texas State vs. No. 23 Appalachian State, 2:30 p.m. ET (Appalachian State -29)

    In a 63-27 loss to Troy, Texas State had a minus-four turnover margin while giving up 368 yards and six touchdowns through the air. App State prefers to lean on the running game, but Zac Thomas has tossed at least three scores in four games this season. The Mountaineers can thrive aerially to crush the Bobcats.

    Prediction: Appalachian State 48, Texas State 17

                      

    No. 22 Oklahoma State at West Virginia, Noon ET (OSU -7.5)

    West Virginia halted its five-game skid with a 24-20 upset at Kansas State last week. The Mountaineers limited K-State to just 3.2 yards per carry, and their run defense is quietly solid despite the team's 4-6 record. But the Mountaineers are prone to turnovers, and OSU has snagged three interceptions in three straight games. If West Virginia loses in that category, containing running back Chuba Hubbard won't be enough.

    Prediction: Oklahoma State 27, West Virginia 20

                                       

    No. 21 SMU at Navy, 3:30 p.m. ET (Navy -3.5)

    Well, we didn't see the blowout loss coming. Navy fumbled on its first two drives at Notre Dame, and the Irish quickly built a 21-0 lead. The bigger concern for Week 13, though, is a secondary that has struggled against good competition. Memphis, Tulane and Notre Dame all averaged 10-plus yards per pass attempt against the Midshipmen. SMU is likely to have similar success, even on the road.

    Prediction: SMU 31, Navy 24

AP Nos. 20-16

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    No. 20 Boise State at Utah State, 10:30 p.m. ET (Boise State -8)

    Utah State boasts a 5-1 conference record and a 4-1 mark at home, but the Aggies have regularly struggled against better competition. On the other hand, Boise State is dealing with a problematic number of injuries to star players, including quarterbacks Hank Bachmeier and Chase Cord and edge-rusher Curtis Weaver. We'll take the Broncos while monitoring those statuses closely.

    Prediction: Boise State 31, Utah State 24

                        

    Illinois at No. 19 Iowa, Noon ET (Iowa -15.5)

    The Illini suddenly have the most opportunistic defense in the country, leading the FBS with 26 takeaways. However, only eight offenses have committed fewer turnovers than Iowa's nine. As long as the Hawkeyes protect the ball, they should avoid a letdown after the marquee win over Minnesota.

    Prediction: Iowa 31, Illinois 21

             

    No. 18 Memphis at South Florida, 4 p.m. ET (Memphis -14.5)

    Despite a 4-6 record, USF is relatively stingy against the pass. The Bulls rank 33rd nationally with just 6.8 yards allowed per attempt, so Memphis may encounter some cold stretches. But it's difficult to trust an offense that has only cracked 21 points in four games this season to threaten an upset.

    Prediction: Memphis 38, USF 21

                                 

    Temple at No. 17 Cincinnati, 7 p.m. ET (Cincinnati -10.5)

    Temple has recovered from a miserable two-game stretch in October and held its last two opponents to fewer than four yards per snap. That improvement should keep the Owls close, but they've struggled on third downs lately. In the last five games, Temple has converted at a 35.4 rate and allowed 46.9 percent of attempts. Cincinnati makes it nine straight wins.

    Prediction: Cincinnati 24, Temple 20

                            

    Samford at No. 16 Auburn, Noon ET (No Line)

    It's SEC-against-FCS week! Auburn will host Samford, a 5-6 team that surrenders about 230 rushing yards per game. Auburn hasn't run the ball effectively since smashing Arkansas in mid-October, but that trend figures to change Saturday.

    Prediction: Auburn 45, Samford 14

AP Nos. 15-11

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    Boston College at No. 15 Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m. ET (ND -19)

    Through 10 games, Boston College has allowed 440-plus yards on seven occasions. That, in the calmest terms possible, is extremely problematic. BC's running game will likely be successful, but Notre Dame should score too often for that to matter.

    Prediction: Notre Dame 45, Boston College 31

                            

    Purdue at No. 14 Wisconsin, 4 p.m. ET (Wisconsin -24)

    Leading go-ahead drives against Nebraska and Northwestern is one thing. Purdue quarterback Aidan O'Connell is now preparing for the greatest test of his young career: a trip to play the nation's eighth-best defense in one of the Big Ten's toughest environments. Other than that, no pressure, right? Wisconsin wins big.

    Prediction: Wisconsin 38, Purdue 17

                  

    Texas at No. 13 Baylor, 3:30 p.m. ET (Baylor -5.5)

    Now that Texas is eliminated from the Big 12 title conversationbarring some absurd chaoswill the Longhorns embrace the spoiler role or roll over? We're guessing the former, though an average defense will still prevent a win.

    Prediction: Baylor 27, Texas 22

                                           

    No. 12 Michigan at Indiana, 3:30 p.m. ET (Michigan -8.5)

    Although the Wolverines are riding a 23-game winning streak in the series, Indiana has two seven-point losses and one 10-point and 11-point defeat in the Jim Harbaugh era. Plus, 7-3 Indiana is nearing its first-eight win season since 1993, and the Wolverines have them sandwiched between emotional games with Michigan State and Ohio State. Defense tilts the scale in Michigan's favor, but it won't be an easy contest.

    Prediction: Michigan 27, Indiana 24

                             

    No. 11 Minnesota at Northwestern, Noon ET (Minnesota -13)

    While losing to Iowa stung, Minnesota still has Big Ten championship dreams. The Gophers should be able to rebound opposite Northwestern and its dreadful offense. Perhaps we're undervaluing the Wildcats' 400 yards in consecutive games, but the competition level wasn't high. Besides, Northwestern scored more than 15 points in one of its first eight games. We'll happily overlook the upset bid.

    Prediction: Minnesota 31, Northwestern 14

AP Nos. 10-6

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    No. 10 Florida (idle)

    Florida is a victory away from a 10-win regular season. The Gators play floundering rival Florida State in Week 14. Considering all that has transpired in 2019, that would be an outstanding year. The team might be headed to a New Year's Six bowl.

                                   

    No. 9 Penn State at No. 2 Ohio State, Noon ET (Ohio State -18)

    For prediction, see No. 2 Ohio State.

                                

    TCU at No. 8 Oklahoma, 8 p.m. ET (Oklahoma -19)

    These programs are probably sick of the drama. For both teams, four of the last five contests had margins of seven points or fewer. Oklahoma has navigated that stretch at 4-1 overall, and they'll get another victory opposite a vulnerable TCU secondary. But the Horned Frogs are pesky enough to make the Sooners work for 60 minutes.

    Prediction: Oklahoma 38, TCU 27

             

    No. 7 Utah at Arizona, 10 p.m. ET (Utah -23)

    Will this become a #Pac12AfterDark special? Sure doesn't seem likely, considering Arizona has dropped five straight outings while allowing 44.6 per game along the way. Utah should overwhelm the Wildcats on both sides of the ball.

    Prediction: Utah 45, Arizona 10

                                    

    No. 6 Oregon at Arizona State, 7:30 p.m. ET (Oregon -14)

    Hopefully, you didn't dive headfirst into the Arizona State hype following its 5-1 start. The Sun Devils are an all-around average team, and a four-game skid suggests maybe a little worse. Playing the nation's sixth-ranked team is a perfect opportunity to silence such a critic, but a pass defense surrendering 270.9 yards per game (115th out of 130 FBS teams) with only four interceptions should be a nice matchup for Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert.

    Prediction: Oregon 35, Arizona State 21

AP Nos. 5-1

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    Western Carolina at No. 5 Alabama, Noon ET (No Line)

    The main story is Tua Tagovailoa's season-ending hip injury that pushed Mac Jones into the lineup. Can he beat Auburn? Will the CFP selection committee still value the Tide at 11-1 after the Week 11 loss to LSU? We'd caution against looking ahead, but Western Carolina is 3-8 and cedes 5.6 yards per rushing attempt. Najee Harris and Co. can carry Bama.

    Prediction: Alabama 52, Western Carolina 7

                                                 

    No. 24 Texas A&M at No. 4 Georgia, 3:30 p.m. ET (UGA -13.5)

    Since dropping to 3-3 after a brutal opening half of 2019, Texas A&M has earned four consecutive wins while posting 200-plus passing and rushing yards in three straight. At the worst, the Aggies are a threat. Still, Georgia hasn't allowed more than 20 points in any contest this season. We'll keep riding this defense into the SEC Championship Game.

    Prediction: Georgia 27, Texas A&M 17

                                       

    No. 3 Clemson (idle)

    This defense ranks second nationally in yards allowed per pass and yards per snap. Clemson is third in points allowed per game; fifth in third-down defense; sixth in red-zone touchdown percentage allowed; and 10th in yards allowed per carry. The Tigers have six straight wins of 31-plus points. They're still ridiculously good.

                                                                           

    No. 9 Penn State at No. 2 Ohio State, Noon ET (Ohio State -18)

    In the last two weeks, Penn State has played poorly on defense. Minnesota and Indiana combined to complete 80.3 percent of their passes for 710 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. That's not a good sign before playing Justin Fields, who is averaging 9.4 yards per attempt with 31 scores and one pick. And unless it changes, the Buckeyes should grab a comfortable win.

    Prediction: Ohio State 37, Penn State 24

                            

    Arkansas at No. 1 LSU, 7 p.m. ET (LSU -44)

    Arkansas has the second-worst run defense in the Power Five (121st nationally), and the secondary has given up 21 touchdowns with just five interceptions. How are the Razorbacks going to stop future Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow? Spoiler: They won't.

    Prediction: LSU 52, Arkansas 24

The 5 Best Unranked Battles

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    UCF at Tulane, Noon ET (UCF -6)

    All three of UCF's losses have happened on the road, but Tulane is mired in a slump. The Green Wave have allowed 270-plus passing yards three times in the last four gamesafter holding six previous opponents below 230. UCF will ride quarterback Dillon Gabriel to a win.

    Prediction: UCF 34, Tulane 28

                                                 

    UCLA at USC, 3:30 p.m. ET (USC -13.5)

    Although a Utah loss is unlikely, USC can keep pressure on the Utes with a victory. The Trojans would finish the season 7-2 in Pac-12 play and own the head-to-head tiebreaker. As a bonus, they'd prevent UCLA from having a chance to reach a bowl. That all should happen because USC holds such a dramatic advantage in the passing game opposite UCLA's sieve of a secondary (298.4 yards allowed per game).

    Prediction: USC 41, UCLA 24

                          

    Louisiana Tech at UAB, 3:30 p.m. ET (UAB -4.5)

    Louisiana Tech seemed to have Conference USA's West Division locked up, but a suspension to quarterback J'Mar Smith has shaken up the season. The Bulldogs managed just 261 yards in a loss to Marshall, and a UAB defense that ranks sixth nationally will only be a more challenging foe.

    Prediction: UAB 30, Louisiana Tech 13

                                

    Western Kentucky at Southern Miss, 3:30 p.m. ET (USM -4)

    As a result of Smith's suspension, the window for Southern Miss to steal the West is flying open. Southern Miss lost to Louisiana Tech in October, but the teams are tied atop the division. As long as quarterback Jack Abraham moves the ball efficiently through the air, the Golden Eagles have a chance to take control of the West.

    Prediction: Southern Miss 27, Western Kentucky 24

                 

    San Diego State at Hawaii, 11 p.m. ET (Hawaii -3)

    The pivotal matchup is between Hawaii's passing attack and San Diego State's defense. The Aztecs have ceded just 6.2 yards per attempt this season (18th nationally), intercepting 12 passes (14th-most) and allowing only nine touchdowns (eighth-fewest). The SDSU offense is painfully limited, though. Maybe a poor Hawaii defense is what the Aztecs need, but we'll lean on the explosive passing game to drag the Warriors to a win.

    Prediction: Hawaii 28, San Diego State 20

The Rest of the Slate (1/3)

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    Akron at Miami (Ohio), Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. ET (Miami -30.5)
    Prediction: Miami 34, Akron 10

    Toledo at Buffalo, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. ET (Buffalo -8.5)
    Prediction: Buffalo 31, Toledo 27

    NC State at Georgia Tech, Thursday, 8 p.m. ET (GT -2)
    Prediction: Georgia Tech 24, NC State 20

    Colorado State at Wyoming, Friday, 9:30 p.m. ET (Wyoming -6.5)
    Prediction: Wyoming 23, Colorado State 17

    Liberty at Virginia, Noon ET (Virginia -17)
    Prediction: Virginia 45, Liberty 21

    Kansas at Iowa State, Noon ET (Iowa State -24.5)
    Prediction: Iowa State 38, Kansas 24

    Michigan State at Rutgers, Noon ET (No Line)
    Prediction: Michigan State 31, Rutgers 14

    Ball State at Kent State, Noon ET (Ball State -3.5)
    Prediction: Ball State 34, Kent State 17

    BYU at Massachusetts, Noon ET (BYU -40.5)
    Prediction: BYU 41, UMass 14

    East Carolina at UConn, Noon ET (East Carolina -14)
    Prediction: East Carolina 38, UConn 24

    Air Force at New Mexico, 2 p.m. ET (Air Force -22)
    Prediction: Air Force 42, New Mexico 14

    South Alabama at Georgia State, 2 p.m. ET (Georgia State -9.5)
    Prediction: Georgia State 34, South Alabama 24

    Georgia Southern at Arkansas State, 3 p.m. ET (GSU -1)
    Prediction: Arkansas State 31, Georgia Southern 27

The Rest of the Slate (2/3)

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    Mercer at North Carolina, 3:30 p.m. ET (No Line)
    Prediction: UNC 45, Mercer 14

    Marshall at Charlotte, 3:30 p.m. ET (Marshall -6.5)
    Prediction: Marshall 27, Charlotte 24

    Nebraska at Maryland, 3:30 p.m. ET (Nebraska -4)
    Prediction: Nebraska 35, Maryland 21

    North Texas at Rice, 3:30 p.m. ET (North Texas -6)
    Prediction: North Texas 32, Rice 20

    East Tennessee State at Vanderbilt, 3:30 p.m. ET (No Line)
    Prediction: Vanderbilt 42, ETSU 14

    UT Martin at Kentucky, 3:30 p.m. ET (No Line)
    Prediction: Kentucky 37, UT Martin 13

    Cal at Stanford, 4 p.m. ET (Stanford -3)
    Prediction: Cal 24, Stanford 21

    Syracuse at Louisville, 4 p.m. ET (Louisville -9)
    Prediction: Louisville 45, Syracuse 28

    UTEP at New Mexico State, 4 p.m. ET (NMSU -7)
    Prediction: UTEP 21, New Mexico State 20

    San Jose State at UNLV, 4 p.m. ET (SJSU -5.5)
    Prediction: San Jose State 38, UNLV 21

    Troy at Louisiana-Lafayette, 5 p.m. ET (UL Lafayette -14)
    Prediction: Louisiana 36, Troy 29

    Coastal Carolina at Louisiana-Monroe, 5 p.m. ET (UL Monroe -6)
    Prediction: UL Monroe 37, Coastal Carolina 34   

The Rest of the Slate (3/3)

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    Florida Atlantic at UTSA, 6 p.m. ET (FAU -20)
    Prediction: FAU 41, UTSA 14

    Miami at Florida International, 7 p.m. ET (Miami -19)
    Prediction: Miami 35, FIU 16

    Kansas State at Texas Tech, 7 p.m. ET (Texas Tech -2.5)
    Prediction: Kansas State 27, Texas Tech 23

    Houston at Tulsa, 7:30 p.m. ET (Tulsa -3)
    Prediction: Houston 30, Tulsa 27

    Abilene Christian at Mississippi State, 7:30 p.m. ET (No Line)
    Prediction: Mississippi State 42, Abilene Christian 14

    Tennessee at Missouri, 7:30 p.m. ET (Missouri -4)
    Prediction: Tennessee 23, Missouri 17

    Duke at Wake Forest, 7:30 p.m. ET (Wake Forest -7)
    Prediction: Duke 31, Wake Forest 24

    Oregon State at Washington State, 9 p.m. ET (WSU -11.5)
    Prediction: Washington State 38, Oregon State 30

    Washington at Colorado, 10 p.m. ET (Washington -14.5)
    Prediction: Washington 27, Colorado 16

    Nevada at Fresno State, 10:30 p.m. ET (Fresno State -13.5)
    Prediction: Fresno State 23, Nevada 20