SEC West Showdown Takes Center Stage
By Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
Here's a look at every game of the Week 13 college football schedule.
No. 3 Arkansas at No. 1 LSU
LSU is a big favorite at home, but the Tigers will be tested by Arkansas’ explosive offense. Keep in mind that West Virginia, the only other real quality passing team that LSU has played, rolled up 533 yards of offense (463 through the air) in Week 4. Arkansas’ defense was susceptible to the run earlier in the year but has tightened up in recent weeks. The Hogs will have to control LSU’s rushing attack to have a chance.
LSU 28, Arkansas 21
No. 43 Iowa at No. 22 Nebraska
Nebraska’s first trip to Michigan since 1962 didn’t go very well. The Huskers were torched for 45 points in a lopsided loss and can now finish no better than 5–3 in their first Big Ten season.
Nebraska 24, Iowa 21
No. 78 Boston College at No. 29 Miami (Fla.)
It’s been a difficult season for Boston College, but give the Eagles some credit: They are playing hard down the stretch. After getting ripped by Florida State, 38–7, on a Thursday night three weeks ago, they beat NC State, 14–10, and lost at Notre Dame, 16–14.
Miami (Fla.) 24, Boston College 14
No. 84 Colorado at No. 34 Utah
Utah has battled back to .500 in the Pac-12 after an 0–4 start and can actually still reach the league title game. Three things need to happen: The Utes need to beat Colorado (likely); UCLA needs to lose at USC (likely); and Arizona State needs to lose at home to Cal (possible).
Utah 31, Colorado 14
No. 55 Pittsburgh at No. 35 West Virginia
The Backyard Brawl is for more than just pride this year. Pitt and West Virginia are among five Big East teams with two league losses. The loser is likely done; the winner remains in the hunt for a BCS bowl.
West Virginia 30, Pittsburgh 21
No. 39 Louisville at No. 57 South Florida
Louisville has been one of the biggest surprises in the nation and is still in the hunt for the Big East’s automatic BCS bid. Winning at South Florida will be a challenge, but this team has already won at West Virginia and Connecticut.
Louisville 24, South Florida 21
No. 54 California at No. 50 Arizona State
Arizona State has lost three in a row and four of five yet will still head to the Pac-12 title game with a win over Cal coupled with a UCLA loss at USC.
Arizona State 30, Cal 28
No. 61 Toledo at No. 94 Ball State
Toledo needs to beat Ball State and have Northern Illinois lose at home to Eastern Michigan to advance to the MAC title game. The former is highly likely. The latter isn’t.
Toledo 41, Ball State 17
No. 104 Eastern Michigan at No. 67 Northern Illinois
The Huskies have won six straight in the league after losing the opener at Central Michigan. A win over the improved Eagles will put NIU in the MAC title game.
Northern Illinois 30, Eastern Michigan 14
No. 103 Kent State at No. 73 Temple
After a 1–6 start (with the lone win coming vs. South Alabama), Kent State has bounced back to win four straight and sits in a tie for second with Temple at 4–3 in the MAC East. The run will probably end this weekend, but it’s safe to say that Darrell Hazell’s first season at Kent is a success.
Temple 27, Kent State 13
No. 120 Akron at No. 87 Western Michigan
There are rumblings that this could be Rob Ianello’s final game as the boss at Akron. He is 2–21 in two seasons.
Western Michigan 41, Akron 10
No. 98 UTEP at No. 89 UCF
It’s been a rough season for UCF, the 2010 C-USA champs. The Knights are 4–7 overall and 2–5 in the league and have lost five of their past six games. UTEP needs a win to become bowl-eligible.
UCF 31, UTEP 30
No. 105 Bowling Green at No. 108 Buffalo
Bowling Green was 3–1 after winning at Miami (Ohio) in late September. The Falcons have won just once since, though it was over Temple.
Bowling Green 27, Buffalo 17
No. 2 Alabama at No. 27 Auburn
The winner of the last two Iron Bowls has gone on to win the national championship. And thanks to the crazy developments of this past weekend, that streak could extend to three years. Alabama is now No. 2 in the BCS rankings and could be headed to a rematch with No. 1 LSU in the national title game.
Alabama 28, Auburn 17
No. 71 Oregon State at No. 5 Oregon
Oregon played its way out of the national title picture with a loss last week, but the Ducks still have plenty to play for. A win over the Beavers in the Civil War will sent UO to the Pac-12 title game, which will be played at Autzen Stadium.
Oregon 44, Oregon State 17
No. 23 Notre Dame at No. 6 Stanford
Andrew Luck, still a very strong contender for the Heisman Trophy, has now thrown at least one pick in four straight games, the longest such streak of his career. Nobody’s perfect.
Stanford 33, Notre Dame 28
No. 24 Virginia at No. 7 Virginia Tech
You might not have noticed, but the Virginia Cavaliers have won four straight games — including wins at Miami and Florida State — and can win the ACC Coastal Division with a win over Virginia Tech at home this weekend. I smell upset.
Virginia 27, Virginia Tech 21
No. 42 Iowa State at No. 8 Oklahoma
The two teams that have defeated Oklahoma have scored 41 points (Texas Tech) and 45 (Baylor) to do so. The Cyclones aren’t capable of such an outburst.
Oklahoma 33, Iowa State 16
No. 9 Michigan State at No. 45 Northwestern
The Spartans have already secured their spot in the Big Ten Championship Game, but they have an opportunity to hit the 10-win mark in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history.
Michigan State 31, Northwestern 23
No. 17 Penn State at No. 10 Wisconsin
When Wisconsin is playing well, which it has for most of the season, it is a very difficult team to defend. Penn State has been very good on defense this season, and the Nittany Lions will offer some resistance, but Wisconsin is too talented.
Wisconsin 24, Penn State 14
No. 47 UCLA at No. 11 USC
Remarkably, UCLA will head to the Pac-12 Championship Game with a win over its rivals from USC. That, however, isn’t likely to happen. The Trojans are the far more talented team and are playing with a ton of confidence.
USC 34, UCLA 16
No. 63 Wyoming at No. 13 Boise State
Wyoming has managed to record a 7–3 record through 10 games despite ranking 116th in the nation in stopping the run — considered to be one of the more important stats in football.
Boise State 41, Wyoming 17
No. 14 Georgia at No. 35 Georgia Tech
Georgia has won two in a row and nine of the past 10 in this series and has not lost in Atlanta (to Tech) since 1999. That streak should continue — though it won’t be easy.
Georgia 31, Georgia Tech 23
No. 15 Clemson at No. 16 South Carolina
This rivalry isn’t as celebrated as some of the other great in-state battles around the nation, but there is plenty of hate when Clemson and South Carolina get together. And this year, there is more at stake as it’s only the fifth time in 108 meetings that both teams have been ranked at the time of the game.
Clemson 31, South Carolina 27
No. 60 Texas Tech at No. 18 Baylor
The over-under on this game is 77.5, which seems a little low. Texas Tech has allowed an average of 47.5 points in its four-game losing streak. Expect another big game from RGII.
Baylor 47, Texas Tech 37
No. 20 Houston at No. 32 Tulsa
You can argue that the only difference between 11–0 Houston and 8–3 Tulsa is the difficulty of the two teams’ schedules. Tulsa’s three losses have come at Oklahoma, vs. Oklahoma State and at Boise State.
Houston 47, Tulsa 37
No. 30 Ohio State at No. 21 Michigan
Michigan is 9–2 overall and 5–2 in the Big Ten thanks in large part to the nation’s most improved defense. Last year, the Wolverines ranked 110th in the nation in total defense (450.7 ypg) and 108th in scoring defense (35.2 ppg). Through 11 games, the ’11 club ranks 14th in total defense (316.0 ypg) and eighth in scoring defense (16.2 ppg). Those numbers could get even better after facing an Ohio State offense that struggles mightily to throw the ball.
Michigan 24, Ohio State 10
No. 26 Missouri at No. 95 Kansas
This figures to be the last meeting between these two rivals for the foreseeable future. Kansas has said it has no interest in playing Missouri unless it’s a conference game. Unless KU joins the SEC (not happening) or MU returns to the Big 12 (not happening), these two schools will not be in the same conference.
Missouri 47, Kansas 10
No. 28 Florida State at No. 36 Florida
How the mighty have fallen. Once a can’t-miss game, the Florida vs. Florida State showdown is almost an afterthought on a busy holiday weekend of football. Neither team is ranked, and they are a combined 8–8 in their respective leagues — Florida 3–5 in the SEC and FSU 5–3 in the ACC.
Florida 17, Florida State 14
No. 72 Duke at No. 37 North Carolina
North Carolina has won 20 of the last 21 games in this Tobacco Road rivalry. Duke is decent, but there’s no reason to believe UNC’s dominance will end any time soon.
North Carolina 31, Duke 20
No. 52 Vanderbilt at No. 38 Wake Forest
Vanderbilt needs to win this game to become bowl-eligible in the first year of the James Franklin era. The Dores must regroup after an emotional overtime loss in Knoxville. This is a tough assignment.
Wake Forest 24, Vanderbilt 23
No. 40 Rutgers at No. 76 Connecticut
Rutgers is 8–3 and two of its three losses have come by two points — at North Carolina and at West Virginia. It’s accurate to say this team has exceeded expectations.
Rutgers 20, Connecticut 10
No. 41 Cincinnati at No. 77 Syracuse
The Munchie Legaux era got off to lackluster start at Cincinnati. The Bearcats managed only 225 yards of offense in a 20–3 loss at Rutgers. Anything is possible in the wacky Big East, but the Bearcats look like a team that really misses its starting quarterback.
Syracuse 31, Cincinnati 20
No. 117 Memphis at No. 44 Southern Miss
Southern Miss is fresh off a stunning loss to UAB that ended the Golden Eagles’ eight-game winning streak. A win over Memphis will put Larry Fedora’s club in the C-USA title game.
Southern Miss 38, Memphis 13
No. 66 Washington State at No. 46 Washington
The Huskies are coming off a troubling 38–21 loss at Oregon State. Nick Montana struggled in his first start, completing 11-of-21 for 79 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He was replaced by the banged up Keith Price, who will be back in the lineup this weekend.
Washington 33, Washington State 24
No. 90 Maryland at No. 48 NC State
NC State coach Tom O’Brien might have saved his job by sandwiching wins over North Carolina and Clemson around a loss to Boston College. He better not lose to Maryland, a team that is limping to the finish line on a seven-game losing streak.
NC State 28, Maryland 10
No. 49 Illinois at No. 85 Minnesota
Illinois has lost five straight games after starting the season with a 6–0 mark. Losing at Minnesota would not help Ron Zook remain employed.
Illinois 20, Minnesota 17
No. 51 Tennessee at No. 86 Kentucky
Tennessee needs to beat Kentucky — for the 27th straight time — to become bowl-eligible. A win, which is highly likely, will send the Vols to the Liberty Bowl or Music City Bowl.
Tennessee 27, Kentucky 10
No. 96 Ole Miss at No. 53 Mississippi State
Mississippi State has a 1–6 record in the SEC yet is a 17-point favorite over the Rebels. That should tell you all you need to know about Ole Miss’ struggles this season.
Mississippi State 21, Ole Miss 0
No. 56 Purdue at No. 100 Indiana
Indiana, Akron and Florida Atlantic remain the only three teams without a win over an FBS team. It’s been a nightmare first season for Kevin Wilson.
Purdue 27, Indiana 17
No. 101 New Mexico State at No. 59 Louisiana Tech
Louisiana Tech is a home win vs. New Mexico State away from clinching the school’s first conference title since 2001. The Bulldogs might have to share the WAC crown with Nevada, but Tech beat the Pack head to head.
Louisiana Tech 31, New Mexico State 21
No. 64 Nevada at No. 74 Utah State
After losing its first three games by a combined eight points (and its next two by 10 and seven points, respectively), Utah State is showing it knows how to win close games late in the season. The Aggies evened their record with an overtime win at Idaho last week — their third straight win by seven points or less.
Utah State 38, Nevada 35
No. 65 San Diego State at No. 116 UNLV
UNLV has been pretty bad most of the season, but the Rebels did manage to beat Hawaii and Colorado State at home. This isn’t a sure thing for SDSU — but it’s close.
San Diego State 34, UNLV 17
No. 88 East Carolina at No. 69 Marshall
A win over East Carolina will give Marshall its first winning conference season in seven years in Conference USA. The Herd also need to win this game to become bowl-eligible.
Marshall 27, East Carolina 24
No. 70 Air Force at No. 110 Colorado State
With a win over Colorado State, Air Force is likely headed to a bowl game for the fifth straight season, but the 2011 campaign has been a bit of a disappointment. The Falcons will finish, at best, with a 3–4 record in league play, with wins over New Mexico, UNLV and Colorado State — not exactly the most impressive list of victims.
Air Force 21, Colorado State 14
No. 79 UL-Lafayette at No. 75 Arizona
Just a few days after the Wildcats knocked off rival Arizona State, 31–27 on the road, the school introduced Rich Rodriguez as its new coach. Quite a week.
Arizona 31, UL-Lafayette 24
No. 80 San Jose State at No. 102 Fresno State
Both teams are 4–7 overall, but these are two programs that appear to be heading in opposite directions.
San Jose State 27, Fresno State 20
No. 97 Rice at No. 82 SMU
SMU was expected to compete for the C-USA West title, but the Ponies have been alarmingly uncompetitive against the better teams in the league. Their losses to Southern Miss, Tulsa and Houston have come by a combined score of 102–17.
SMU 31, Rice 10
No. 118 Tulane at No. 83 Hawaii
Hawaii’s 40–20 loss at UNLV in September was one of the most surprising scores of the season. Could that be part of the alleged point shaving scandal at UH?
Hawaii 31, Tulane 17
No. 111 Troy at No. 91 Western Kentucky
Western Kentucky won its sixth straight Sun Belt game last week, beating North Texas, 31–21, on the road. The Hilltoppers have already secured their first non-losing season since joining the FBS ranks in 2009.
Western Kentucky 27, Troy 20
No. 92 FIU at No. 113 Middle Tennessee
FIU won’t be repeating as Sun Belt champs, but the Golden Panthers can secure a second straight winning record in league play by beating the struggling Blue Raiders.
FIU 38, Middle Tennessee 17
No. 93 UAB at No. 119 FAU
It’s been a strange season for UAB. The Blazers are 3–8 overall but have two very good wins, over UCF (26–24) and Southern Miss (34–31).
UAB 31, FAU 10
Last week — 42–14
Season — 486–127