2023 NCAAF: Week 13 Preview

November 24, 2023

It feels like the previous weekend came and went in a blur.

Maybe that was because things went pretty much as expected on the college football front, with no real upsets making major waves across the landscape.

With that said, Colin’s wish for chaos was not granted and the gap between the guests and K. Becks was stretched further.

Don’t fret, readers. My buddy Zach provided some input from paradise for rivalry week, looking to stage a furious comeback for the guests. For reference, here are the current records:

K. Becks – 9-1

Guests – 3-7

Prior to diving into this week, let’s take a quick look back at Week 12.

3 Things We Learned in Week 12

Florida State’s national title hopes took a major hit

The loss of Jordan Travis for the season to a leg injury may prove to be devastating not only to Florida State’s national title hopes, but its CFP hopes altogether. The overriding opinion is that the Seminoles have the weakest resume of the handful of teams battling for a spot in the Playoff, but this ignores the fact that the ACC title game will feature a Top 10 team in Louisville.

Travis wasn’t only the starting quarterback for Florida State – he was the unquestioned leader in the locker room and coach on the field. Even if backup Tate Rodemaker provides a smooth transition in terms of on-the-field play, the Seminoles have lost an intangible strength without Travis.

Washington has a defense after all

Think the Huskies can only win by racking up yards and points? Think again.

Washington had its worst offensive performance of the season, but dug deep defensively and managed to force three turnovers against an Oregon State team that had previously coughed up only eight total the entire season. The Huskies’ identity is centered around offense, yes, but Kalen DeBoer’s squad has done what it needs to do defensively on multiple occasions now.

Bowl season took the ‘L’ of the week

James Madison fell to Appalachian State on the same week it made its loudest plea to the NCAA to waive a rule that prevents the previously unbeaten Dukes from playing in a bowl game. Additionally, Colorado was steamrolled by Washington State, effectively ending any hope that the Buffaloes would achieve bowl eligibility in Prime’s first season.

These two teams would have been a media outlet’s dream when it comes to promoting an otherwise overlooked bowl game in the middle of December. Instead, neither will play in the postseason – and those of us that love the bowl season are in mourning over what could have been.

5 Games You Need to Watch This Weekend

UT-San Antonio at #23 Tulane (Friday, 3:30 PM ET – ABC)

With three teams unbeaten in conference play, the AAC has a de facto play-in game to the league title game on its hands in New Orleans. The Green Wave are amidst the most successful two year period in program history, but with success comes change – the athletic director who orchestrated the turnaround is no longer with the program, and there are already rumors that head coach Willie Fritz could be the next to bolt for seemingly greener pastures. Maintaining focus will be key if the Green Wave want to play next weekend.

Expect a lower scoring affair between these two. Tulane’s run defense is ranked third nationally and on the offensive side, the Green Wave haven’t experienced much of a dropoff from Tyjae Spears’ departure to the NFL. Freshman back Makhi Hughes leads the AAC in rushing yards and allows Tulane to sustain long, clock-eating drives. Despite the threat of outside distraction, Tulane’s strong leadership headed by quarterback Michael Pratt should prevent the lapses that would allow the Roadrunners to block a return trip to the AAC title game.

My Pick: 23-21 Tulane (does not cover -3.5 spread)

Zach’s Take:

Roadrunners versus the Green Wave is a cartoon we all watched as a kid, right? Can’t say I know much about either program, but Tulane is 4-7 against the spread and has only hit the over twice this year. I’m still picking the Green Wave in a close one – and the under.

UTSA-19, Tulane-21

#16 Oregon State at #6 Oregon (Friday, 8:30 PM ET – FOX)

Oregon State’s furious fourth quarter comeback against Oregon in 2022 proved to be the backdrop for one of the best games in college football last season. It was also the third straight year that the Civil War has been a highly entertaining fixture for fans watching games on Black Friday. The Beavers will look to end Oregon’s CFP hopes and also put an end to a five year streak in which the home team has come away victorious in this rivalry tilt.

The Beavers did nearly everything right against Washington last weekend, but lost the turnover battle 3-1. Similarly, Oregon State will need to find a way to slow down Oregon’s potent offense, which is equally as capable of hurting teams on the ground as it is through the air. Pitching a shutout in the second half against Washington was certainly an eye-raiser, and should give Beavers fans hope in this one. But once again, homefield advantage will have a say between these two. Provided turnovers don’t upset the balance, Oregon is slightly more talented on both sides of the ball.

My Pick: 21-17 Oregon (does not cover -14 spread)

Zach’s Take:

The Ducks man, what a weird season they’ve had. It wasn’t that long ago that people thought Colorado might upset them (sorry Deion, respect what you did this season but…no). The Beavs have quietly had a good season but I generally expect them to finish in the Top 25 every year. Dan Lanning has the Ducks rolling and whatever the over is, hammer it.

Oregon St-31, Oregon-55

#2 Ohio State at #3 Michigan (Saturday, 12 PM ET – FOX)

We can all breath a deep sigh of relief now that we’re at the point where The Game on the field can be talked about. For the third consecutive season, this rivalry pits two top five teams against one another – and this year, a scenario where both the winner and loser end up in the CFP seems unlikely. Ryan Day has been successful in almost all other facets during his tenure as head coach at Ohio State, but the inability to beat Michigan consistently looms large. Prevailing sentiment is that the absence of Jim Harbaugh on the Wolverines sideline is hardly a gift for Day.

Given the Big Ten’s relative weakness this season, head-to-head matchups against like opponents can only do so much to gauge these heavy hitters. Michigan wanted to (and did) bully Penn State at the line. Ohio State used superiority on the outside to punish the Nittany Lions when the Buckeyes needed a score. Both Ohio State and Michigan’s defense are too good to be bullied in any way, though field position established through the run game will play a part in this one. The stars will need to step up and make some big plays. J.J. McCarthy is the more creative of the two quarterbacks, but Kyle McCord can throw to the best player in college football (Marvin Harrison Jr.). He won’t win the Heisman, but he’ll be instrumental in winning The Game.

My Pick: 28-24 Ohio State (covers +3.5 spread)

Zach’s Take:

There’s a lot of talk this year. That’s all it is to me – talk. People have said that Ryan Day is in a lose-lose situation. Bucks lose, and it’s the same story as the last couple of years. Bucks win, and he can’t beat them without Harbaugh. Forget that noise, forget the cheating, forget Harbaugh, forget Stalions, forget vacuums, most importantly – F*** Xichigan. Bucks by a million.

OSU-99, TSUN-0

Washington State at #4 Washington (Saturday, 4 PM ET – FOX)

The Apple Cup is the only thing standing between Washington and regular season perfection. Washington State was one of the season’s first half darlings, only to drop six straight following the 5-0 start, becoming one of the season’s second half disappointments as well. While the Cougars are fighting for bowl eligibility, the Huskies showed last week that they aren’t a one trick pony (canine?).

Last weekend marked the first time all season that Washington failed to pass for at least 250 yards. However, the defense finally came to the rescue for Michael Penix Jr. & Co. and forced three turnovers in what was a tight game otherwise. In the only other game this season that the Huskies have struggled to move the football, turnovers (four of them) played a large role. If Washington avoids gifting the Cougars opportunities, the Huskies have proven that they can run away with this one.

My Pick: 44-27 Washington (covers -16 spread)

Zach’s Take:

Absolutely love what Washington has done so far this season. Michael Penix Jr. is outstanding and deservedly in the Heisman race. Washington State has definitely been respectable, but no chance they pull off the upset here.

Wash St-28, Huskies-45

#5 Florida State at Florida (Saturday, 7 PM ET – ESPN)

The loss of Jordan Travis for the rest of the season is a major blow to the Seminoles, which have been on a collision course with the CFP. Now Florida State will need to rely on redshirt junior Tate Rodemaker, who once upon a time was higher up on the Seminoles depth chart than the man he’ll replace for the rest of the year. Fans in Tallahassee didn’t expect the rivalry game this year to double as a working interview for next year’s starting job, but that is essentially what it has become amongst other, more important things.

The Gators will also toss out a new quarterback in true freshman Max Brown. A dual threat option by nature, Brown will likely be forced to use his legs to avoid being eaten up by Florida State’s opportunistic pass rush (32 sacks this season). The move also suggests Billy Napier is searching for options to light a fire under his team – the Gators are looking to end a four game losing streak, one in which they have allowed at least 30 points to every opponent. It might not be pretty, but Florida State can get the job done with the new signal-caller.

My Pick: 27-17 Florida State (covers -6.5 spread)

Zach’s Take:

Look at the Seminoles, playing nobody and beating the breaks off of most of ‘em. Lucky for them, the Gators are also a nobody. I’ll give some respect to this rivalry, but not much.

FSU-24, Gators-16

5 Games to Keep an Eye On This Weekend

Texas Tech at #7 Texas (Friday, 7:30 PM ET – ABC)

The Longhorns will need some help getting to the CFP, but overlooking the Red Raiders on Black Friday would be a mistake by Steve Sarkisian’s group.

Kentucky at #10 Louisville (Saturday, 12 PM ET – ABC)

The Cardinals have already booked a spot in the ACC title game next week, but will look to keep a dream start under Brian Brohm going with a victory over the rival Wildcats.

#8 Alabama at Auburn (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET – CBS)

A victory by the Tigers would be one of the biggest upsets in this storied rivalry’s history.

James Madison at Coastal Carolina (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET – ESPN2)

Much of the noise coming from the James Madison camp was silenced following its loss to Appalachian State last weekend, but the Dukes need to regroup quickly to avoid relinquishing the Sun Belt East Division lead entirely.

Jacksonville State at New Mexico State (Saturday, 4 PM ET – ESPN+)

Like James Madison, Jacksonville State is ineligible to play in a conference title game or bowl game this season. And like the Dukes, the Gamecocks would technically be one of the top two teams in their conference if they are able to beat the Aggies on Saturday. Please adjust the postseason rules for new FBS members, NCAA.

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