College Football Picks: Week 13 Predictions for Every Game
Thanksgiving weekend means we're entering the home stretch of the 2020 college football season, and you're probably wondering what we should expect to happen during the Week 13 slate.
With only three weeks remaining until conference championship weekend, each game feels a little more important as both the College Football Playoff and overall bowl pictures come into focus. And with those increased stakes come the Iron Bowl, the Egg Bowl, a huge ACC clash between Notre Dame and North Carolina, a rematch of a seven-overtime affair from two years ago and so much more.
Forty-three games have been postponed or canceled over the past three weeks, and we've already lost both the Apple Cup and a key Mountain West Conference game (San Diego State at Fresno State) from the Black Friday schedule. Others are sure to follow. But in the spirit of the holiday weekend, let's try to be thankful for the games we do get to watch instead of dwelling on the ones we don't.
B/R's predictions for each Week 13 game are broken into three sections: AP Top 25 teams, best games for unranked teams and the rest of the slate.
AP Nos. 25-21
No. 25 North Carolina (6-2) vs. No. 2 Notre Dame (8-0), 3:30 p.m. ET (Friday)
See No. 2 Notre Dame for prediction
No. 24 Tulsa (5-1) at Houston (3-3), PPD
Houston had to postpone its Week 12 game against SMU because of COVID-19 issues, so there's a good chance this game will get nixed, as well.
If they are able to play, though, you have to like Tulsa's chances of remaining undefeated in AAC play. Houston is 3-3 with three wins by 16 or more points against teams currently .500 or worse and three losses by 17 or more points against opponents with winning records. Tulsa, obviously, falls into the latter category, and its defense should be able to bottle up the Cougars.
Prediction: Tulsa 31, Houston 20
No. 23 Louisiana (7-1) at Louisiana-Monroe (0-8), 3 p.m. ET
Louisiana-Monroe has not played since Nov. 7, and seven of its eight losses were by at least 18 points. In games against the Sun Belt's other sub-.500 teams, the Warhawks lost by 21 to Texas State and by 24 to South Alabama. Against one of the best teams in the conference, it's very likely things will get out of hand.
Prediction: Louisiana 45, Louisiana-Monroe 7
No. 22 Auburn (5-2) at No. 1 Alabama (7-0), 3:30 p.m. ET
See No. 1 Alabama for prediction
No. 21 Oklahoma State (5-2) vs. Texas Tech (3-5), Noon ET
It didn't take long for Oklahoma State to freefall from "Big 12's only hope for the College Football Playoff" to "probably won't even play for the conference championship." The Cowboys lost to Texas, barely squeaked by Kansas State and then got smashed by Oklahoma.
They can finish strong, though, with three games remaining against the bottom half of the conference. That starts with snapping out of their offensive funk against a Texas Tech defense that has been quite bad. Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace have struggled lately, but they should both have banner days in this one.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 38, Texas Tech 20
AP Nos. 20-16
No. 20 Texas (5-2) vs. No. 15 Iowa State (6-2), Noon ET (Friday)
See No. 15 Iowa State for prediction
No. 19 USC (3-0) vs. Colorado (2-0), 3:30 p.m. ET
After opening the season with high-stress fourth quarters against Arizona State and Arizona, USC cruised to victory at Utah in what originally looked like one of the stiffest tests on the Trojans' schedule. Now they host a Colorado team that has been overpowering with its rushing attack but prone to major lapses in the secondary.
In just two games, the Buffaloes have allowed 10 passing plays of at least 20 yards, and USC's Kedon Slovis already has 16 completions that have gone for 20-plus. Jarek Broussard (154.0 rushing yards per game) will keep Colorado close for a while, but the Buffs won't be able to keep up with Slovis' chunk gains.
Prediction: USC 38, Colorado 28
No. 18 Wisconsin (2-1) vs. Minnesota (2-3), Canceled
Wisconsin's College Football Playoff aspirations went up in smoke after a 17-7 loss to Northwestern, but the Badgers just need to recalibrate to set their hopeful sights on a New Year's Six bowl instead.
If they can do that, the offense should be able to rebound against a Minnesota defense that has allowed at least 31 points in all four of its games against opponents not named Illinois. If Michigan, Maryland and Iowa could run at will against the Golden Gophers, so can Wisconsin. And the Badgers defense should be able to keep Mohamed Ibrahim from running wild.
Prediction: Wisconsin 38, Minnesota 17
No. 17 Marshall (7-0) IDLE
Next Scheduled Game: Dec. 5 vs. Rice
No. 16 Coastal Carolina (8-0) at Texas State (2-9), 3 p.m. ET
Similar to the Louisiana vs. Louisiana-Monroe game, this is probably going to get ugly.
Texas State has allowed at least 30 points in seven consecutive games, and Coastal Carolina has had the most potent offense in the Sun Belt this season. The Bobcats will probably do a little bit of scoring, but I'm going to guess that Coastal Carolina punts fewer times than Texas State scores.
It's kind of cool, though, that—provided this game gets played—Texas State is going to play a full 12-game season. I wasn't sure anyone would be able to pull that off this year. It's a shame it couldn't happen for a team that can actually play some defense, though.
Prediction: Coastal Carolina 49, Texas State 13
AP Nos. 15-11
No. 15 Iowa State (6-2) at No. 20 Texas (5-2), Noon ET (Friday)
If this game was played on a Saturday full of games with College Football Playoff implications, it would probably, unfortunately, get lost in the shuffle. But as the no-doubt-about-it marquee game of the early-Friday slate, this Big 12 showdown is going to get the national attention it deserves.
Iowa State just annihilated Kansas State, 45-0, behind yet another stellar performance from the nation's leading running back, Breece Hall. Coupled with Oklahoma State's loss to Oklahoma, that put the Cyclones in sole possession of first place in the Big 12 standings. But if Texas can win this home game, there will be a four-way tie in the loss column atop the conference.
Conversely, if Texas loses the game, the subsequent "Fire Tom Herman!" fallout will be swift and fierce. But I think the Longhorns will eke out the victory.
Prediction: Texas 31, Iowa State 28
No. 14 Oklahoma (6-2) at West Virginia (5-3), PPD
It feels like a lifetime ago that Oklahoma lost back-to-back games to Kansas State and Iowa State. The Sooners have since won five straight, and that offense has been unstoppable since getting running back Rhamondre Stevenson back from a suspension.
Playing at West Virginia will be a significant challenge, though.
The Mountaineers are 5-0 at home this season, and they held each of those five opponents below 300 total yards. Granted, those opponents (Eastern Kentucky, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State and TCU) have offenses that are laughably inferior to Oklahoma's, but the 'Eers are going to give the Sooners a run for their money.
Prediction: Oklahoma 28, West Virginia 23
No. 13 Georgia (5-2) at South Carolina (2-6), 7:30 p.m. ET
After allowing at least 48 points in three consecutive games, at least South Carolina's defense finally provided some resistance this past weekend. Too bad the offense stunk out loud in a 17-10 loss to Missouri. Meanwhile, Kirby Smart finally let JT Daniels on the field to lead Georgia's offense, and he promptly threw for 401 yards and four touchdowns.
South Carolina stunned Georgia last year, but there's just no way that's happening here. The Gamecocks are too far gone, and the Bulldogs found something that works.
Prediction: Georgia 35, South Carolina 13
No. 12 Indiana (4-1) vs. Maryland (2-1), Noon ET
Raise your hand if you had this game circled six weeks ago as the battle for second place in the Big Ten East.
There better not be a single hand up because nobody saw this coming.
All the same, it should be fun to watch Taulia Tagovailoa and Michael Penix Jr. duke it out to see who remains the only one-loss team in the division.
Though the Maryland offense was mighty impressive in its past two wins over Minnesota and Penn State, Maryland's porous defense will most likely be the difference here. The Terrapins have allowed 474.0 total yards per game, and Penix just torched Ohio State's secondary for 491 yards and five touchdowns. He should have another big day in this one.
Prediction: Indiana 42, Maryland 21
No. 11 Northwestern (5-0) at Michigan State (1-3), 3:30 p.m. ET
Can Northwestern avoid the "emotional letdown" game after its colossal win over then-No. 10 Wisconsin?
The Wildcats are clearly the better team, and their opportunistic defense should have no problem shutting down a Michigan State offense that has a combined total of seven points and seven turnovers in its last two games.
They still have to play the game, though, and the Wildcats offense isn't exactly great. While I'm predicting Northwestern to win comfortably, this could easily be one of those "classic" Big Ten football games with a 9-6 final score.
Prediction: Northwestern 27, Michigan State 7
AP Nos. 10-6
No. 10 Miami (7-1) IDLE
Next Scheduled Game: Dec. 5 at Wake Forest
No. 9 Oregon (3-0) at Oregon State (1-2), 7 p.m. ET (Friday)
The alleged best team in the Pac-12 has left a lot to be desired. Oregon is undefeated, but only after overcoming a 19-7 deficit against Washington State and surviving a valiant upset bid from a UCLA team playing on the road with a backup quarterback. It's not exactly steamrolling into the first College Football Playoff rankings show.
The Ducks probably don't need a statement win in the Civil War to stay in the hunt for the CFP, but it would be nice. And they should be able to ride CJ Verdell and Travis Dye to victory against a Beavers defense allowing 206.7 rushing yards per game.
Prediction: Oregon 34, Oregon State 25
No. 8 BYU (9-0) IDLE
Next scheduled game: Dec. 12 vs. San Diego State
No. 7 Cincinnati (8-0) at Temple (1-6), Canceled
Cincinnati had to overcome an early 14-3 deficit in order to defeat UCF and keep its College Football Playoff dreams alive.
This one should be a wee bit less stressful. Temple has lost each of its last four games by a margin of at least 24 points. That includes two games in which it failed to score even one touchdown against a defense much less dominant than Cincinnati's. The Bearcats will cruise into what will likely be back-to-back games against Tulsa to end the season.
Prediction: Cincinnati 45, Temple 6
No. 6 Florida (6-1) vs. Kentucky (3-5), Noon ET
Just seven days after losing by 60 to Alabama, it has to play another road game against a potent offense likely to partake in the SEC Championship Game. Heisman hopeful Kyle Trask is probably going to shred a defense that has looked like a shell of its former self in recent weeks, especially if tight end Kyle Pitts is available for this game after missing the past two-and-a-half games with a concussion.
Prediction: Florida 45, Kentucky 19
AP Nos. 5-1
No. 5 Texas A&M (5-1) vs. LSU (3-3), 7 p.m. ET
It has been a while since we got a chance to see Texas A&M. The Aggies were surging on offense in wins over Arkansas and South Carolina prior to postponing games each of the past two weeks.
If they acquired any rust during that time off, the good news is they get to ease back into the swing of things with a home game against an LSU defense that has been terrible. Even in the win over Arkansas on Saturday, the Tigers allowed 443 total yards.
Kellen Mond will avenge last year's disastrous performance against LSU (10-of-30 for 92 yards and three interceptions) in a relatively convincing win.
Prediction: Texas A&M 38, LSU 23
No. 4 Clemson (7-1) vs. Pittsburgh (5-4), 3:30 p.m. ET
Speaking of potential rust, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence has not played since Oct. 24. He missed the Oct. 31 and Nov. 7 games after testing positive for COVID-19, Clemson had a designed bye on Nov. 14, and it had an unexpected bye on Nov. 21 when its game against Florida State was postponed Saturday morning.
Lawrence hasn't been particularly human thus far in his college career, so we expect he'll be more than fine. But it bears mentioning that Pittsburgh blew out both Florida State and Virginia Tech in its last two games and surely has no intentions of simply kissing Clemson's rings here. It also bears mentioning that 5-4 Pittsburgh won at third-ranked Clemson in their only previous regular-season meeting in 2016.
I'm not picking the upset, but those are fun things to point out.
Prediction: Clemson 41, Pittsburgh 24
No. 3 Ohio State (4-0) at Illinois (2-3), Canceled
Ohio State's secondary was some kind of awful in that close call against Indiana, but Illinois' passing attack—or, rather, the lack thereof—should get the Buckeyes back on the right track.
The Illini have just four passing touchdowns through five games, and there's no way they'll be able to run against Ohio State like they did against Nebraska (285 yards and four touchdowns). In a blowout, Justin Fields will also bounce back nicely from his three-interception performance against the Hoosiers.
Prediction: Ohio State 49, Illinois 10
No. 2 Notre Dame (8-0) at No. 25 North Carolina (6-2), 3:30 p.m. ET (Friday)
This could be a major challenge for Notre Dame. North Carolina has averaged 51.0 points over its last four games. Twice during that stretch, Sam Howell threw for at least 440 yards and four scores. And in the other two games, the Tar Heels rushed for at least 325 yards and five touchdowns. They can beat you in a lot of ways.
But Notre Dame has one of the best defenses in the country, especially against the run. And the Fighting Irish can do a fair bit of scoring in their own right, putting up at least 42 points in five of their last seven games.
It might be close. It will probably be a high-scoring affair. But Notre Dame should get the win to keep the "two ACC teams in the CFP" dream alive for another week.
Prediction: Notre Dame 38, North Carolina 35
No. 1 Alabama (7-0) vs. No. 23 Auburn (5-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
On one hand, anything can happen in the Iron Bowl.
On the other hand, Alabama has an average margin of victory north of 30 points this season and is the home team against an Auburn squad that has only looked particularly good in one of its seven games: the 48-11 win over LSU.
Auburn did win this game last year, but it needed two pick-sixes, home-field advantage and a "trick play" at the end to force a game-sealing penalty. It's not going to be that close at the end this time.
Prediction: Alabama 42, Auburn 23
Best Unranked Clashes
Penn State (0-5) at Michigan (2-3), Noon ET
You know you shouldn't watch this game, just like you know you shouldn't have multiple servings of turkey and stuffing for a third consecutive day. But make yourself another plate and settle in for this train wreck.
For an 0-5 team, Penn State has actually moved the ball pretty well in most games and played decent defense. Believe it or not, it is leading the Big Ten with 88 plays that have gained 10 or more yards. But it seems like every time the Nittany Lions get something going, they commit a backbreaking turnover.
Michigan's defense is far from decent. The Wolverines have allowed at least 300 passing yards or at least 300 rushing yards in each of their last four games. At least they don't commit too many turnovers, though, and they might have finally found something at quarterback in Cade McNamara.
I honestly have no clue what to expect in this game aside from a minimum of one fanbase wanting its coach fired immediately.
Prediction: Michigan 27, Penn State 24
Kent State (3-0) at Buffalo (3-0), Noon ET
Must-watch games in the MAC only come along once in a blue moon, but this one fits the bill.
Buffalo has scored at least 42 points in each of its three wins. Kent State has put up at least 60 in each of its last two games. KSU quarterback Dustin Crum is going to end up on an NFL roster one day, and Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson is easily one of the best rushers in the nation. It should be a fun one to determine who moves into the driver's seat to win the MAC's East Division.
Between having home-field advantage and the better defense, Buffalo should get the win. But if Kent State scores at will, it wouldn't be the first time.
Prediction: Buffalo 41, Kent State 35
Mississippi State (2-5) vs. Ole Miss (3-4), 4 p.m. ET
After three consecutive years of getting the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving, we'll have to wait until Saturday for this year's edition. And that's a bummer because Lane Kiffin vs. Mike Leach deserves an entire day to itself instead of kicking off half an hour after the Iron Bowl.
Ole Miss is both scoring and allowing more than 40 points per game, while Mississippi State has only put up 13.0 points per game since its stunning season-opening win over LSU. It will be interesting to see if that Air Raid Offense will finally manage to accomplish something against an awful Rebels defense.
Prediction: Ole Miss 35, Mississippi State 27
San Jose State (4-0) at Boise State (4-1), Canceled
The Rest of the Slate
Colorado State (1-2) at Air Force (2-2), 2 p.m. ET (Thursday)
Prediction: Air Force 31, Colorado State 21
New Mexico (0-4) at Utah State (0-4), 7 p.m. ET (Thursday)
Prediction: Utah State 25, New Mexico 22
Massachusetts (0-3) at Liberty (8-1), Noon ET (Friday)
Prediction: Liberty 52, Massachusetts 9
Southern Mississippi (2-7) at UAB (4-3), 12:30 p.m. ET (Friday)
Prediction: UAB 35, Southern Mississippi 14
Nebraska (1-3) at Iowa (3-2), 1 p.m. ET (Friday)
Prediction: Iowa 27, Nebraska 13
UCF (5-3) at South Florida (1-7), 3:30 p.m. ET (Friday)
Prediction: UCF 45, South Florida 14
Stanford (0-2) at California (0-2), 4 p.m. ET (Friday)
Prediction: California 23, Stanford 20
Wyoming (1-2) at UNLV (0-4), 4 p.m. ET (Friday)
Prediction: Wyoming 31, UNLV 14
Central Michigan (2-1) at Eastern Michigan (0-3), 4 p.m. ET (Friday)
Prediction: Central Michigan 35, Eastern Michigan 30
Bowling Green (0-3) at Ohio (1-1), Noon ET
Prediction: Ohio State 49, Bowling Green 14
Northern Illinois (0-3) at Western Michigan (3-0), Noon ET
Prediction: Western Michigan 45, Northern Illinois 21
Ball State (2-1) at Toledo (2-1), Noon ET
Prediction: Toledo 35, Ball State 20
Vanderbilt (0-7) at Missouri (3-3), Noon ET
Prediction: Missouri 31, Vanderbilt 21
Louisiana Tech (4-3) at Florida International (0-5), Canceled
Prediction: Louisiana Tech 28, FIU 24
NC State (6-3) at Syracuse (1-8), Noon ET
Prediction: NC State 38, Syracuse 17
Georgia Southern (6-3) at Georgia State (4-4), Noon ET
Prediction: Georgia State 27, Georgia Southern 24
SMU (7-2) at East Carolina (2-6), Noon ET
Prediction: SMU 41, East Carolina 27
Miami-OH (1-1) at Akron (0-3), 1 p.m. ET
Prediction: Miami-OH 31, Akron 13
UTEP (3-4) at Rice (1-2), 1 p.m. ET
Prediction: Rice 21, UTEP 20
Florida Atlantic (5-1) at Middle Tennessee (3-6), PPD
Prediction: Florida Atlantic 27, Middle Tennessee 10
North Texas (3-3) at UTSA (6-4), 3 p.m. ET
Prediction: UTSA 41, North Texas 34
South Alabama (3-6) at Arkansas State (3-6), 3 p.m. ET
Prediction: Arkansas State 28, South Alabama 23
Rutgers (1-4) at Purdue (2-2), 4 p.m. ET
Prediction: Purdue 37, Rutgers 27
Louisville (3-6) at Boston College (5-4), 4 p.m. ET
Prediction: Boston College 31, Louisville 28
Duke (2-6) at Georgia Tech (2-5), 7 p.m. ET
Prediction: Georgia Tech 28, Duke 26
Kansas State (4-4) at Baylor (1-5), 7 p.m. ET
Prediction: Baylor 27, Kansas State 21
Memphis (5-2) at Navy (3-4), 7 p.m. ET
Prediction: Memphis 45, Navy 27
TCU (3-4) at Kansas (0-7), 8 p.m. ET
Prediction: TCU 34, Kansas 14
Virginia (4-4) at Florida State (2-6), PPD
Prediction: Virginia 40, Florida State 27
Troy (4-4) at Appalachian State (6-2), 8 p.m. ET
Prediction: Appalachian State 34, Troy 20
Arizona (0-2) at UCLA (1-2), 8 p.m. ET
Prediction: UCLA 38, Arizona 27
Nevada (5-0) at Hawaii (2-3), 11 p.m. ET
Prediction: Nevada 40, Hawaii 30
Utah (0-1) at Arizona State (0-1), TBD (Sunday)
Prediction: Arizona State 26, Utah 23
Western Kentucky (4-6) at Charlotte (2-3), 10:30 a.m. ET (Tuesday)
Prediction: Western Kentucky 28, Charlotte 24