2013 NCAA Football Week 13 Weekend Preview

November 22, 2013

Both Mike and I finished Week 12 at 4-1, so the overall standings in the head-to-head prediction game look like this:

K. Becks: 43-17

Guests: 35-25

This week, my dad will try to make things interesting for the guests. With only three weeks left in the regular season, it won’t be easy for me to blow the eight game lead that I have. However, knowing me, you can safely say that it is still possible.

Here is a list of my top five games to watch this weekend, as well as five more to keep an eye on.

5 Games to Pay Attention to This Weekend

#9 Texas A&M at #18 LSU (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

How big is home field advantage at Death Valley? In this game LSU is a four and a half point favorite over the No. 9 Aggies, so the answer is pretty big. Despite a 3-3 SEC record that has the Tigers mired in the middle of the West Division pack, Les Miles’s team is being treated like a top ten squad in this one. But does LSU have enough on the offensive end to keep up with Texas A&M? We’ll find out on Saturday afternoon in what should be a terrific contest.

I was never really a believer in Texas A&M as a national title contender, but part of the reason I felt that way was because I had a lot of confidence that LSU would hand the Aggies their third loss of the regular season. This was back in early August, though, and it’s the end of November now. Things have changed. No longer do I see an underrated LSU defense that has the ability to shut down the likes of Johnny Manziel and even Alabama’s vaunted run game. It was proven two weeks ago that the Tigers were unable to shut down the latter. The former will be tough, as well. Manziel might not blow LSU away through the air, but he will give the Tigers a lot of problems on the ground. LSU’s ninth ranked SEC run defense is the reason that Les Miles could experience his first four-loss regular season since 2008.

It isn’t easy to pick against LSU when the Tigers are playing at Death Valley. However, the mediocre defensive numbers make it worth the shot. I wouldn’t be totally surprised to see LSU have some success on Saturday afternoon, but I also wouldn’t bet a lot of money on it happening, either. Manziel has already experienced losing to the Tigers in his career, and I don’t think he wants to feel that pain again.

My Pick: 38-31 Texas A&M

Dad’s Take: LSU 42 Texas A&M 31 – LSU back in Death Valley with tiger ears pinned back and tired of losing games.

#16 Wisconsin at Minnesota (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

One of the feel good stories of the 2013-2014 college football season has been the Minnesota Golden Gophers, which head coach Jerry Kill has been getting lots of credit for but in reality has been a collective effort amongst the entire coaching staff due to Kill’s bouts with epileptic seizures. The Golden Gophers will get a chance to really impress fans with a victory over visiting Wisconsin this weekend. The Badgers have played very well since a close loss to Ohio State back on September 28th, and are in position to perhaps steal a BCS bid if they can win out. Not many people would have predicted it four months ago, but this game should be extremely exciting.

Wisconsin’s offense has always been known as a rushing machine. But Minnesota? The Golden Gophers are normally the laughing stock of the Big Ten, but thanks to a run game that averages over 218 yards per contest, Minnesota is a punching bag no longer. Led by running back David Cobb, the Golden Gophers will look to beat Wisconsin at what it does best: score often by running often. This won’t be an easy task, though, as Wisconsin allows less than 100 yards on the ground per game. In addition, wide receiver Derrick Engel, Minnesota’s leading pass catcher, has been ruled out with a torn ACL. The absence of Engel could result in the Golden Gophers being painfully one dimensional offensively.

As if Engel’s injury wasn’t bad enough, Wisconsin has continued to be one of the more disciplined teams on the road under head coach Gary Andersen. If this was any other ranked squad, Minnesota might have a very good chance at pulling off the upset. But against the Badgers, something special is going to have to occur in Minneapolis for the Golden Gophers to win.  

My Pick: 33-21 Wisconsin

Dad’s Take: Wisconsin 34 Minnesota 31 – Gophers fight hard but fall to more consistent Badgers.

#19 Arizona State at #14 UCLA (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

The Crosstown Rivalry may end up being the de facto Pac-12 South title match, but before that can happen, the Bruins have to take care of business at home against Arizona State. The Sun Devils currently lead the division outright, and haven’t lost since an October 5th battle with Notre Dame in Dallas. This game features the No. 2 and 3 scoring offenses in the Pac-12, so expect a lot of fireworks in Los Angeles on Saturday evening.

Home field advantage seems to be the topic of the weekend (thanks, LSU), so for the sake of argument we’ll take a look at that as one of the major factors in this game. Arizona State hasn’t played particularly well against strong competition when away from Tempe, and the Bruins haven’t lost at home this season. However, the Sun Devils are considerably better than the Bruins on defense, giving up a Pac-12 best 338.4 yards per game compared to UCLA’s 393.6. If Arizona State wants to keep the Pac-12 South lead, it is going to need to find a way to keep this game from turning into a shootout.

While UCLA’s defense may be of concern, the Bruins still allow fewer than 400 yards of total offense. Unless Arizona State benefits from costly turnovers in UCLA territory, I think that the Bruins will hold the Sun Devils under that mark and as a result under 40 points. That will be the magic number in this one.

My Pick: 42-34 UCLA

Dad’s Take: UCLA 35 ASU 27 – UCLA at home too tough for the Sun Devils.

#8 Missouri at #24 Ole Miss (Saturday, 7:45 PM ET)

This is one of the most improbable Top 25 matchups of the season. Missouri has been the biggest surprise, and the Tigers are on a collision course to meet up with Alabama in what would be an interesting SEC title game. However, Ole Miss has managed to put together a pretty impressive campaign itself, and has been a tough opponent for the best teams in the conference thus far. When Gary Pinkel’s team meets up with the Rebels in Biloxi on Saturday night, it might need to play its most complete game of the season to avoid being upset.

Ole Miss may not be the most statistically dominant team defensively, but the Rebels have done a nice job at limiting opponents’ ability to run the ball. Alabama, Auburn and Arkansas are three of the best teams in the SEC at simply running the ball down the throats of opposing defenses. The Rebels held each of those teams to under 30 points. Missouri is the No. 2 team in the conference in rushing offense, so it makes sense that the Tigers would want to do the same. It’s not going to be easy, though. Ole Miss has employed a bend-but-don’t-break style on defense against the best, and it has produced pretty strong results.

Ole Miss is unconventional offensively, but hasn’t failed to score against anyone but Alabama. Missouri is average defensively, so expect the Rebels to be able to keep this one close. The fans will make the stadium a hostile environment, and I just don’t know if the Tigers are going to be able to get it done on the road. Either way, this one will be worth watching until the end.

My Pick: 30-27 Ole Miss

Dad’s Take: Mizzou 31 Ole Miss 24 – Mizzou rides toward SEC showdown.

#3 Baylor at #11 Oklahoma State (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

To say that this is the Big 12’s biggest matchup of the year would not be an understatement. To say that this is Baylor’s biggest football game in school history would not be an understatement, either. If the Bears win this game, the only thing that separates the team from perfection is a 4-7 TCU squad and a Texas team that got blasted at home by Oklahoma State last weekend. But getting to that point will be far from simple. Oklahoma State has looked dominant over the past month, and is chomping at the bit to silence Baylor fans and their chants of “We Want ‘Bama”.

It wasn’t a pretty start to last week’s game, but if the 14-0 hole that Baylor dug itself against Texas Tech taught us anything, it’s that the Bears are never out of any football game. Art Briles is blessed with an offense that is capable of scoring in a matter of seconds, and it’s the only reason that the Bears are No. 3 in the nation right now. The reason that Oklahoma State has a chance in this one is because the Cowboys are the best bet to match Baylor’s offensive output. Mike Gundy is no stranger to offensive shootouts, and will not be intimidated by Baylor’s ability to strike quickly. But Oklahoma State’s impressive victory over Texas can only be taken with a grain of salt. The Longhorns were not able to take advantage of the Cowboys’ defensive secondary, which gives up an average of nearly 240 yards per game through the air. Baylor will not only take advantage of it; the Bears will destroy it, averaging 384.4 yards per game passing.

I’d love to see a huge upset in this one. And regardless of whether or not it happens, neither team will be out of this game at any point on Saturday night. But even on the road, I have a hard time believing that Oklahoma State has a defense capable of shutting down Bryce Petty and the Baylor passing attack. Unless the Cowboys can do that, the Bears remain unbeaten. I have Baylor in a close one.

My Pick: 45-41 Baylor

Dad’s Take: OSU 45 Baylor 41 – Cowboys spoil it all for the Bears at home in a wild finish.

5 Games to Flip To

#13 Michigan State at Northwestern (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Can the Wildcats avoid becoming bowl ineligible with a victory over the Big Ten’s best defensive team? It seems unlikely, but so has pretty much everything that has happened to Northwestern this season.

Michigan at Iowa (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

While the boys in East Lansing are having a great season, folks in Ann Arbor are ready to light the fire under Brady Hoke’s seat. The Wolverines need to show up on the road to avoid entering The Game on a losing note.

BYU at Notre Dame (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The Fighting Irish won’t be playing in a BCS game, but pride is on the line in the battle between the nation’s best schools without a conference.

Nebraska at Penn State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

This has proven to be a very interesting matchup the past two seasons. Expect the trend to continue in 2013.

Boise State at San Diego State (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET)

The Broncos are clinging to the Mountain Division lead, but a slip up against the Aztecs for a second season in a row puts Boise State’s chances of competing for the conference crown in doubt.

If you would like to become a guest prognosticator like my dad did this week, please let me know in one of the following ways: email me at kbecks@aroundthecorn.com, send me a message on Around The Corn’s Facebook page, post a comment under this article or send me a tweet @KBecks_ATC. Opportunities to become a guest prognosticator will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Thanks everyone.

– K. Becks

One Response to 2013 NCAA Football Week 13 Weekend Preview

  1. 2014 Sugar Bowl Preview | aroundthecorn.com on January 2, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    […] this point I have to recognize the current Von Hugendong group leader, my dad (Week 13 guest prognosticator). It’s unlikely that he’ll win either, but he hasn’t been mentioned as a leader […]

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