College Football Picks: Week 12 Predictions for Every Game

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2013

College Football Picks: Week 12 Predictions for Every Game

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    Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

    It's Week 12 of the college football season, and while the BCS is still all the rage, there's so much more at stake for so many other teams playing this weekend.

    With 35 total bowls for our viewing pleasure from mid-December through early January, there needs to be a minimum of 70 teams with at least six wins and a .500-or-better record.

    As of Thursday, the number of bowl-eligible teams stands at 58, with another 12 able to reach that six-victory benchmark with a win this weekend.

    Sure, there are still some stinkers on the slate, but for the most part nearly every one of the 47 games previewed in this piece will have an impact on some team's postseason hopes.

    We went 35-15 on the picks last week. How will it go this time around? Check out the slideshow and then tell us your thoughts on the projected outcomes of this weekend's schedule.

    Note: The rankings used come from the latest BCS standings.

Troy at Ole Miss

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    Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, noon ET

    Matchup type: Points, points, points!

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for: Troy (5-5) just plays shootouts, relying on its senior quarterback (active FBS passing leader Corey Robinson) to guide it through defense-optional games. The Trojans haven't been able to keep pace with opponents in such a tempo and will probably miss a bowl again even if they get to six wins because of the Sun Belt's dearth of bowl opportunities.

    Ole Miss (6-3) is in the midst of a six-game homestand, with this being the second non-league opponent to come to Oxford during that span. The Rebels have regained the confidence they had earlier this season and are playing (mostly) mistake-free ball.

    One last warm-up for Ole Miss before the stretch run.

    Prediction: Ole Miss 44, Troy 24

    Final: Ole Miss 51, Troy 21

Cincinnati at Rutgers

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    Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, noon ET

    Matchup type: Bowl-picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Rutgers won 10-3 last season.

    What to watch for: Cincinnati (7-2, 4-1 AAC) hasn't played an opponent that currently holds a winning record, though the Bearcats have lost to sub-.500 clubs Illinois and South Florida. It's unclear whether the schedule to this point has adequately prepared them for a three-game, end-of-season slate that could put them in the BCS mix or send them to an also-ran bowl.

    Rutgers (5-3, 2-2) has either won a tight one or been blown out in its last five games, a 3-2 stretch that's put them on the outside of the AAC's title race. But with this game and next week's trip to UCF, the Knights still have a say in how the league's standings will play out.

    Rutgers will conjure up enough "Jersey Pride" to pull off the mild upset.

    Prediction: Rutgers 27, Cincinnati 24

    Final: Cincinnati 52, Rutgers 17

Iowa State at No. 18 Oklahoma

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    Matt Ryerson-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, noon ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: Oklahoma has won 14 straight in the series, including a 35-20 result last season.

    What to watch for: Iowa State (1-8, 0-6 Big 12) is a lost cause of a team that should have done a lot better, but early near-misses set the tone and sent the Cyclones into a tailspin that doesn't seem possible to recover from. They have too many last-second losses.

    Oklahoma (7-2, 4-2) has managed to look very good in wins over Notre Dame and Texas Tech but then quite pedestrian in defeats to Texas and Baylor, making this one of the more puzzling Sooners teams of recent memory. Blake Bell has struggled as a starting QB, and his running ability has ceased to exist.

    The Sooners will get a nice bounce-back game at ISU's expense.

    Prediction: Oklahoma 41, Iowa State 17

    Final: Oklahoma 48, Iowa State 10

Purdue at Penn State

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    Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, noon ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: Penn State won 34-9 last season, its sixth straight win over Purdue.

    What to watch for: Purdue (1-8, 0-5 Big Ten) scored its first meaningful touchdown in the last four games last week but still lost by 24 at home to Iowa. The Boilermakers are among the worst teams the Big Ten has fielded in the past 20 years.

    Penn State (5-4, 2-3) is among the league's most inconsistent clubs in recent memory, with losses in all three road games and home contests that shouldn't be as close as they've been. The Nittany Lions are fighting through their NCAA sanctions as best as possible, but for now they're not ready to compete with the best of the best.

    Thankfully, Purdue doesn't fall in that best-of-the-best category.

    Prediction: Penn State 45, Purdue 13

    Final: Penn State 45, Purdue 21

No. 17 UCF at Temple

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    Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, noon ET

    Matchup type: Upset alert

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for: UCF (7-1, 4-0 AAC) will be playing in a BCS bowl unless it finds a way to drop two games from a remaining slate that includes three losing teams and a home game with Rutgers. The Knights haven't been particularly flashy, especially in last week's slugfest win over Houston, but they're getting the job done.

    Temple (1-8, 0-5) is the only team to lose to woeful Idaho this year and also has a loss to an FCS team. The Owls have lost their last 10 league games, putting them firmly in the mess of also-ran teams that now make up the soon-to-be-relegated AAC.

    Don't expect a letdown from BCS-bound UCF.

    Prediction: UCF 33, Temple 16

    Final: UCF 39, Temple 36

Indiana at No. 22 Wisconsin

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    Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, noon ET

    Matchup type: Points, points, points!

    Last meeting: Wisconsin won 62-14 last season, its eighth straight victory over Indiana.

    What to watch for: Indiana (4-5, 2-3 Big Ten) has one of the nation's best offenses, averaging more than 43 points per game. That's a little-known fact because all anyone seems to notice about the Hoosiers is they give up a lot of points—182 over the last four games, to be exact.

    Wisconsin (7-2, 4-1) has its own potent offense but also a defense that makes stops and takes opponents out of their comfort zone. The Badgers shut down BYU last week and appear on a mission to make it difficult for the BCS to ignore them as a possible at-large pick.

    Expect the Badgers to let loose on the Hoosiers.

    Prediction: Wisconsin 51, Indiana 24

    Final: Wisconsin 51, Indiana 3

No. 3 Ohio State at Illinois

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    Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, noon ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: Ohio State won 52-22 last season, its fifth straight win over Illinois.

    What to watch for: Ohio State (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) isn't going to make the BCS title game unless Alabama or Florida State loses, and even then it's not a foregone conclusion. But that won't stop the Buckeyes from bulldozing the rest of their opponents in hopes that any style points from such blowouts will make a difference.

    Illinois (3-6, 0-5) began its 19-game conference losing streak with a home loss to Ohio State two years ago, back when the Fighting Illini still had a decent program and OSU was on a downswing. Since then Illinois has been hard to watch, making mistakes whenever it gets close to pulling out a victory.

    It won't be close to doing so this week, though.

    Prediction: Ohio State 49, Illinois 14

    FinalOhio State 60, Illinois 35

West Virginia at Kansas

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    Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, noon ET

    Matchup type: Good but not great

    Last meeting: West Virginia won 59-10 last season.

    What to watch for: West Virginia (4-6, 2-5 Big 12) couldn't close the deal on what would have been a key bowl-bid-boosting upset of Texas last week. But the Mountaineers have the good fortune of getting to finish the regular season against the Big 12's doormats, with this trip to Lawrence and then a finale at home against Iowa State.

    Kansas (2-7, 0-6) has found new ways to extend its conference losing streak to 27 games, giving away leads with boneheaded moves or just getting blown out from the opening whistle. The Jayhawks have lost their three Big 12 home games by an average of 32.7 points.

    This won't be as much of a blowout, if that's something for Kansas to hang its hat on.

    Prediction: West Virginia 35, Kansas 20

    Final: Kansas 31, West Virginia 19

Central Michigan at Western Michigan

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    Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, noon ET

    Matchup type: Snoozefest

    Last meeting: Western Michigan won 42-31 last season.

    What to watch for: Central Michigan (3-6, 2-3 MAC) can count a road win at Ohio on its resume, which seemed like an accomplishment until the Bobcats' back-to-back blowout losses the past two games. The Chippewas could still reach bowl eligibility thanks to a final stretch against opponents who are a combined 4-25, but it's unlikely there will be a bid waiting for what would be the MAC's seventh-best team.

    Western Michigan (1-9, 1-5) picked up its lone win because Massachusetts decided to be ballsy and go for two instead of send the game into overtime a few weeks back. Otherwise, the Broncos' season has been a disaster with little to be proud of.

    Look for CMU to get its late-season groove going.

    Prediction: Central Michigan 27, Western Michigan 24

    Final: Central Michigan 27, Western Michigan 22

Kentucky at Vanderbilt

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 12:21 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Better than you'd think

    Last meeting: Vanderbilt won 40-0 last season.

    What to watch for: Kentucky (2-7, 0-5 SEC) is better than its record indicates, but not by much. The Mark Stoops era is off to a slow start, with only victories over winless Miami (Ohio) and FCS Alabama State, though the Wildcats have played a few opponents tough.

    Vanderbilt (5-4, 2-4) got a key victory last week by winning at Florida for the first time in 23 meetings and now has a very strong shot at a bowl bid with this game and ones against Tennessee and Wake Forest left to secure one more win from. Had the Commodores played like they did last week all season, getting to just six wins might not have been an issue.

    The bowl bid gets wrapped up in a nice bow.

    Prediction: Vanderbilt 39, Kentucky 19

    Final: Vanderbilt 22, Kentucky 6

North Carolina State at Boston College

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    Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 12:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Good, but not great

    Last meeting: North Carolina State won 27-10 last season.

    What to watch for: North Carolina State (3-6, 0-6 ACC) is on a five-game losing streak and has dropped its three road games this season by an average of 21.7 points. The Wolfpack haven't scored more than 20 points in any loss, and even with some players back from injury there's been no offensive progress.

    Boston College (5-4, 2-3) needs to win this one to lock up a bowl bid and avoid having to secure eligibility on the road, where it plays at Maryland and Syracuse to end the season. The Eagles have ridden the running of FBS rushing leader Andre Williams, who last week set the school single-game record with 295 yards at New Mexico State.

    This isn't NMSU (and not just because one letter is different), but it won't be a tough one either.

    Prediction: Boston College 33, North Carolina State 17

    Final: Boston College 38, North Carolina State 21

North Carolina at Pittsburgh

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    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 12:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl-picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Pittsburgh beat North Carolina 19-17 in the 2009 Meineke Bowl.

    What to watch for: North Carolina (4-5, 3-3 ACC) has shown steady improvement the past five weeks, including in losses during the tail end of a 1-5 start. Winners of three straight, the Tar Heels are starting to play with the potential expected of them, even with quarterback Bryn Renner done for the year with a shoulder injury.

    Pittsburgh (5-4, 2-3) got a big win over Notre Dame last week, but that victory was more about Notre Dame's mistakes than Pitt's effort. The Panthers are starting to look better than they did during their midseason doldrums, with Tom Savage slowly getting increasingly efficient.

    A huge game for both teams, but UNC has more momentum.

    Prediction: North Carolina 28, Pittsburgh 23

    Final: North Carolina 34, Pittsburgh 27

Maryland at Virginia Tech

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    Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 12:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl-picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Virginia Tech beat Maryland 36-9 in 2009, its fifth straight win in the series.

    What to watch for: Maryland (5-4, 1-4 ACC) is a shell of the team it was at the beginning of the season, especially on offense, where it has scored 10 or fewer points three times in the last five games. The Terrapins don't have enough skilled talent to put up numbers anymore and will struggle to win again this year.

    Virginia Tech (7-3, 4-2) reversed a recent bad stretch with an impressive romp on the road at Miami (Fla.), thrusting itself into the ACC's Coastal Division race. The Hokies control their own destiny and can take the division title (and a bid in the ACC championship game) by winning out.

    What more motivation does Va. Tech need?

    Prediction: Virginia Tech 33, Maryland 13

    Final: Maryland 27Virginia Tech 24 (OT)

Florida Atlantic at Southern Mississippi

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 12:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Snoozefest

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for: Florida Atlantic (3-6, 2-4 C-USA) has lost three games by a touchdown or less, all to teams in the better half of the league—meaning the Owls' season could have been known for more than their coach quitting amid a drug-use scandal had they been able to take a couple of those games.

    Southern Mississippi (0-9, 0-5) has lost 21 straight games since appearing in the 2011 C-USA title game, the mightiest of all falls for a once-proud program. The Golden Eagles have managed to surpass 15 points just once this season, while they've given up at least 55 points four times.

    USM's last chance to win this season will be another disappointment.

    Prediction: Florida Atlantic 28, Southern Mississippi 20

    Final: Florida Atlantic 41, Southern Mississippi 7

Akron at Massachusetts

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 1 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Snoozefest

    Last meeting: Massachusetts beat Akron 22-14 last season, its first-ever win as an FBS program.

    What to watch for: Akron (3-7, 2-4 MAC) is putting together its best season since 2008, when it went 5-7. The Zips ended a long losing streak to FBS opponents by being just a little bit better than two of the MAC's other really bad teams.

    Massachusetts (1-8, 1-4) is another one of those really bad MAC clubs, whose only victory came against winless Miami (Ohio). The Minutemen could have two victories—double what they did in their first FBS season in 2012—but decided to go for two late against Western Michigan and came up short.

    Akron is the class of the classless in the MAC.

    Prediction: Akron 34, Massachusetts 23

    Final: Akron 14, Massachusetts 13

Washington State at Arizona

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    Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 2 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: Arizona beat Washington State 24-7 in 2010.

    What to watch for: Washington State (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) has gone from being an upstart surprise earlier in the season to just the same old Cougars—albeit the Mike Leach version with a little more offensive punch. WSU has allowed 169 points in its last three games, something even the best offenses can't overcome.

    Arizona (6-3, 3-3) is regrouping after a home loss to UCLA that knocked it out of the Pac-12 South Division race but now faces a great chance to get healthy and happy before hosting Oregon and visiting Arizona State. The Wildcats have the nation's reigning rushing champ in Ka'Deem Carey, who is 250 yards shy of the school's career yardage mark.

    He may pass that by halftime against WSU's defense.

    Prediction: Arizona 47, Washington State 23

UAB at East Carolina

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    David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 2 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: East Carolina won 42-35 last season, its sixth straight win over the Blazers.

    What to watch for: UAB (2-7, 1-4 C-USA) is wrapping up an eighth consecutive losing season, with a third straight 3-9 mark looking very likely. The Blazers are also playing on the road for the seventh time this season, but the locales have only partly contributed to their record.

    East Carolina (7-2, 5-1) hasn't been challenged in more than a month, when it lost in overtime at Tulane. Since then the Pirates have won by an average score of 49-17 and have been able to cruise. The road gets a little tougher after this one, with games at North Carolina State and East Division challenger Marshall.

    The Pirates will breeze past their last cream puff.

    Prediction: East Carolina 52, UAB 17

    Final: East Carolina 63, UAB 14

Louisiana-Lafayette at Georgia State

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 2 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for: Louisiana-Lafayette (7-2, 4-0 Sun Belt) has all but wrapped up the league title and looks poised for another nine-win season. The Ragin' Cajuns are running it well, getting just enough passing to get by and playing with the ability to win either a shootout or a slugfest.

    Georgia State (0-9, 0-4) is feeling the growing pains of a first year in FBS, with some close calls but mostly lopsided losses. The Panthers might be able to end the season with a win when they host South Alabama in two weeks, but for now they're overmatched every time—just like they are in this one.

    Prediction: Louisiana-Lafayette 38, Georgia State 19

    Live: Louisiana-Lafayette 35, Georgia State 21

Idaho State at BYU

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    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 3 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: BYU won 56-3 in 2011.

    What to watch for: Idaho State (3-7) is a lower-tier FCS team that has two wins over Division II schools and has already been whupped by an FBS team, losing 56-0 at Washington in September. The Bengals are just here for the paycheck, thank you very much.

    BYU (6-3) showed it could keep up with Wisconsin last week, but considering the Cougars have nothing substantial to play for during the rest of the regular season, thanks to already accepting a Fight Hunger Bowl bid, it's no biggie. BYU will be using the remainder of its games as practice.

    This will be a light practice.

    Prediction: BYU 51, Idaho State 13

    Final: BYU 59, Idaho State 13

Connecticut at SMU

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    Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 3 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: SMU won 31-30 in 1989 when Connecticut was an FCS program.

    What to watch for: Connecticut (0-8, 0-4 AAC) has somehow looked worse after firing its head coach than when he was running the show, which shows how bad the Huskies are. While they played admirably in early losses to Michigan and Maryland, since then it's been one rollover after another.

    SMU (3-5, 2-2) has split its last four games, with both losses coming by a field goal. The Mustangs have a great quarterback in Garrett Gilbert, but there's not enough there otherwise to help them get past quality opponents.

    But SMU will breeze past this inferior one.

    Prediction: SMU 53, Connecticut 21

    Final: SMU 38, Connecticut 21

No. 25 Georgia at No. 7 Auburn

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl-picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Georgia beat Auburn 38-0 last season.

    What to watch for: Georgia (6-3, 4-2 SEC) is all but done with the East Division race but still has plenty to play for down the stretch to be able to secure a strong bowl berth. The Bulldogs are slowly getting back injured players, who will be needed for this one and the regular-season finale at Georgia Tech.

    Auburn (9-1, 5-1) is firmly in the BCS conversation, and with Alabama looming on Nov. 30 it could find itself getting more than an at-large berth. The Tigers' amazing turnaround has so many factors—most notably the amazing run game paced by Tre Mason and Nick Marshall.

    This is the perfect challenge for Auburn to see if it can contend with 'Bama, and it will meet the challenge.

    Prediction: Auburn 37, Georgia 33

    Final: Auburn 43, Georgia 38

Syracuse at No. 2 Florida State

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    Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Good, but not great

    Last meeting: Florida State won 38-14 in 2005.

    What to watch for: Syracuse (5-4, 3-2 ACC) has allowed just 13 points during its last three wins, but during the same stretch the Orange lost 56-0 to Georgia Tech, so who knows which team will show up? The improved defense has helped make up for a dismal offense that's only scored 14.2 points per game over the last five.

    Florida State (9-0, 7-0) has a firm grasp on the second spot in the BCS, but don't expect the Seminoles to let up off the gas. They want to thoroughly destroy everyone left on the schedule, leaving no doubt they deserve to play for the national title.

    That will make for a long day for Syracuse's defense.

    Prediction: Florida State 43, Syracuse 14

    Final: Florida State 59, Syracuse 3

Michigan at Northwestern

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    Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl-picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Michigan beat Northwestern 38-31 last season.

    What to watch for: Michigan (6-3, 2-3 Big Ten) has gone from an offensive juggernaut that can't play defense to a lethargic ball-mover that can't run to save its life. The Wolverines have gained minus-69 rushing yards in their last two games—both losses—and a once-promising season looks like it's going up in flames.

    Northwestern (4-5, 0-5) has seen it all in its five-game losing streak, including a near upset of a national power, an overtime setback, a Hail Mary defeat and a blowout. The Wildcats, amazingly, could still make a bowl game despite this horrible stretch if they win twice in the last three weeks.

    One of those wins will happen against the downward-spiraling Wolverines.

    Prediction: Northwestern 27, Michigan 23

    Final: Michigan 27, Northwestern 19 (3 OT)

No. 23 Miami (Fla.) at Duke

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    Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Upset alert; bowl-picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Miami (Fla.) beat Duke 52-45 last season.

    What to watch for: Miami (7-2, 3-2 ACC) needs to right the ship quick if it wants to avoid an epic collapse. The loss to Florida State was one thing, but losing by 18 at home to Virginia Tech was a bad result, even with Duke Johnson out with an ankle injury. The Hurricanes have to fight to try to still win the Coastal Division, if that's still even possible.

    Duke (7-2, 3-2) miraculously avoided the start of another epic season-ending collapse by scoring three touchdowns in less than a minute against North Carolina State last week. The Blue Devils have looked tight in some of their recent games, like the success isn't something they're used to.

    To beat Miami, Duke is going to need to play its best game yet. And it will.

    Prediction: Duke 30, Miami (Fla.) 27

    Final: Duke 48, Miami (Fla.) 30

No. 16 Michigan State at Nebraska

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    Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl-picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Nebraska won 28-24 last season and is 7-0 all time against Michigan State.

    What to watch for: Michigan State (8-1, 5-0 Big Ten) is having a season for the ages thanks to the nation's most punishing, unforgiving defense. The Spartans turned Michigan into an uncomfortable mess two weeks ago and have allowed nine points in their last three games. The offense is on the low side for a top-tier team, but with the defense doing so well it hasn't been an issue yet.

    Nebraska (7-2, 4-1) has put itself in position for the Legends Division title despite some very tight finishes of late, including last week at Michigan and the week before thanks to a fortuitous Hail Mary catch. The Cornhuskers haven't solidly beaten anyone of substance this season, but both losses have been convincing ones.

    MSU is a team of destiny and will come out of Lincoln with the low-scoring win.

    Prediction: Michigan State 17, Nebraska 14

    Final: Michigan State 41, Nebraska 28

No. 12 Oklahoma State at No. 24 Texas

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    Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl-picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Texas won 41-36 last season.

    What to watch for: Oklahoma State (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) has developed into a heck of a well-balanced team, getting a slowly improved passing game to go with a strong run attack and a defense that's playing better than anyone could have expected. The Cowboys have shaken off their lone loss—at West Virginia—with five straight strong victories.

    Texas (7-2, 6-0) got a great win in overtime at West Virginia last week, but it came with some major costs. Tailback Johnathan Gray and defensive tackle Chris Whaley were both lost for the season to injury, putting more pressure on Case McCoy and others to pick up the slack. The Longhorns have had a great run but might hit a wall with these losses.

    Oklahoma State takes it over the depleted home team.

    Prediction: Oklahoma State 35, Texas 24

    Final: Oklahoma State 38, Texas 13

TCU at Kansas State

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    John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl-picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Kansas State won 23-10 last season.

    What to watch for: TCU (4-6, 2-5 Big 12) got a last-minute touchdown at Iowa State to keep its bowl hopes alive—a saving grace to play for in an otherwise lost season. The Horned Frogs have shuffled players all over the field to try to make things work on offense, with Trevone Boykin playing quarterback, receiver and now goal-line runner.

    Kansas State (5-4, 3-3) had its own struggles early, too, but the Wildcats look battle-tested now and are hitting their stride at the right time. K-State's schedule could put it as high as eight wins as it continues to feast on teams that are struggling and uncertain of their abilities.

    Add TCU to the list.

    Prediction: Kansas State 32, TCU 22

    Final: Kansas State 33, TCU 31

South Alabama at Navy

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl-picture clarifier

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for: South Alabama (3-5) has vastly improved from its first FBS season, with every loss this year decided by seven or fewer points. The Jaguars are still young and inexperienced, but the players who have gone through these last two seasons will be well-prepared for future games.

    Navy (5-4) is trying to wrap up its bowl eligibility, which comes with a trip to Fort Worth, Texas, for the Armed Forces Bowl. The Midshipmen have a couple of heartbreaking losses, falling in double overtime to Toledo and in the final minutes at Notre Dame, or else there'd be no pressure whatsoever on this game.

    But Navy shouldn't have much trouble.

    Prediction: Navy 37, South Alabama 20

    Final: Navy 42, South Alabama 14

Utah at Oregon

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 4 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: Oregon won 31-24 in 2009, before Utah joined the Pac-12.

    What to watch for: Utah (4-5, 1-5) almost pulled off another big upset at home, but its sluggish offense and mistake-prone quarterback kept that from happening. The Utes offense has been abysmal since upsetting Stanford, and that's put pressure on the defense to do everything—a situation that hasn't been successful.

    Oregon (8-1, 5-1) suffered a crushing loss to Stanford to get knocked out of the national title race, though the Pac-12 championship is still a possibility with Stanford playing at USC. The Ducks have to adapt to a different kind of offensive game plan with quarterback Marcus Mariota hobbled by a knee issue, but they've got some time to work on things before finishing with tough games at Arizona and against Oregon State.

    Consider Utah the sacrificial lamb for Oregon's new mad-scientist offensive experiments.

    Prediction: Oregon 48, Utah 16

    Final: Oregon 44, Utah 21

California at Colorado

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    Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 5:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Points, points, points!

    Last meeting: California beat Colorado 36-33 in overtime in 2011.

    What to watch for: California (1-9, 0-7 Pac-12) has been the whipping boy of every non-FCS opponent it's faced this season, which is part of the growing pains that come from trying to install Sonny Dykes' pass-happy system with a roster that doesn't have much talent. The Golden Bears have a good set of young skill players, but there's nothing on defense whatsoever.

    Colorado (3-6, 0-6) is almost the same type of team as Cal but with a few more good players on both sides of the ball. The Buffaloes could be dangerous if they could find a way to do more than just score on big plays, but that's their approach right now until the pieces are in place to do other things.

    First one to 50 wins!

    Prediction: Colorado 52, California 48

    Final: Colorado 41, California 24

Memphis at South Florida

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    Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Snoozefest

    Last meeting: South Florida won 41-14 in the 2008 St. Petersburg Bowl.

    What to watch for: Memphis (2-6, 0-4 AAC) was in jeopardy of losing at home to FCS team Tennessee-Martin for the second year in a row until a couple of late touchdowns. The Tigers have had to rely on their defense all season, but that hasn't helped win games without any ability to score consistently.

    South Florida (2-6, 2-2) is an odd duck that has been held without an offensive touchdown in three different games but is the only league team to beat Cincinnati. They also looked somewhat decent last time out at Houston. The Bulls are on their fourth different quarterback, but this one (Mike White) seems to be the best of the lot.

    Look for White and the Bulls to shine.

    Prediction: South Florida 24, Memphis 16

    Final: Memphis 23, South Florida 10

Houston at No. 20 Louisville

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    David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl-picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Louisville won 65-27 in 2004, when both teams were in Conference USA.

    What to watch for: Houston (7-2, 4-1 AAC) saw its offense let it down at UCF last week, squandering a chance to play its way into the BCS picture. The Cougars could still win the league with some strange scenarios, but first it has to find a way to figure out how to score against an even better defense this time around.

    Louisville (8-1, 4-1) has tried to distance itself from its crushing home loss to UCF by beating up on some AAC also-rans, reasserting its defensive prowess along the way. Teddy Bridgewater and his teammates look refocused and ready to win out in hopes the Cardinals could somehow back into an (unlikely) at-large BCS berth.

    The possibility of that will be aided by a win here.

    Prediction: Louisville 27, Houston 20

    Final: Louisville 20, Houston 13

Colorado State at New Mexico

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    Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Points, points, points!

    Last meeting: Colorado State won 24-20 last season, its third straight win over New Mexico.

    What to watch for: Colorado State (5-5, 3-2 MWC) has found a potential star in tailback Kapri Bibbs, the FBS leader in rushing touchdowns with 19. He's rushed for 13 of those in the last four weeks, including four (along with a school-record 312 yards) last week against Nevada, and the Rams will likely ride him for big yards the rest of the season.

    New Mexico (3-6, 1-4) averages 329 rushing yards per game, playing an old-school version of football under old-school coach Bob Davie. The Lobos are way too one-dimensional, though, and can't defend well enough to stick with teams by only running the ball.

    These teams could combine for 800 rushing yards.

    Prediction: Colorado State 44, New Mexico 30

    Final: Colorado State 66, New Mexico 42

Texas Tech vs. No. 5 Baylor at Arlington, Texas

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    Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl-picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Baylor won 52-45 last season.

    What to watch for: Texas Tech (7-3, 4-3 Big 12) has hit a wall, both in terms of its competition and performance. The Red Raiders' improved defense has all but disappeared, while offensive issues have caused another quarterback switch. After a 7-0 start, a 7-5 finish is very possible.

    Baylor (8-0, 5-0) aced its first real test last week against Oklahoma, showing off how good its defense really is in light of a slightly underperforming offensive attack. The Bears are banged up—with Lache Seastrunk nursing a leg injury and Tevin Reese done until maybe the bowl game with a wrist ailment—but they have so many weapons they can overcome a few losses, especially against a Tech team going in the wrong direction.

    Prediction: Baylor 51, Texas Tech 24

    Final: Baylor 63, Texas Tech 34

Louisiana Tech at Rice

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    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl-picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Louisiana Tech won 56-37 last season.

    What to watch for: Louisiana Tech (4-5, 3-2 C-USA) has beaten up on the dregs of the league to get back into the hunt for a possible bowl, something the Bulldogs likely wouldn't turn down like they foolishly did last season. They're starting to score again and with an improved defense have a decent shot to get to six wins.

    Rice (6-3, 4-1) fell out of first place in C-USA's West Division with its last game, a loss to North Texas, and now must hope the Mean Green lose again in order for the Owls to get into the conference championship. Rice has struggled to produce offensively all season yet has found a way to beat the teams it should defeat.

    Rice gets the edge for being at home, by just a smidge.

    Prediction: Rice 27, Louisiana Tech 25

    Final: Rice 52, Louisiana Tech 14

Florida at No. 10 South Carolina

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl-picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Florida won 44-11 last season.

    What to watch for: Florida (4-5, 3-4) will miss out on a bowl for the first time since 1990 if it doesn't win two of three. Other than next week's game against FCS Georgia Southern, that means taking this one or trying to knock off Florida State in two weeks. Such a dilemma typifies how painful this season has been for the Gators.

    South Carolina (7-2, 5-2) can still win the SEC East with some help from Missouri, but the Gamecocks have no control over that aspect. They can just focus on this one and continue to play the solid, fundamental football that's been working the last few weeks.

    Florida's bowl run will move one step closer to extinction.

    Prediction: South Carolina 31, Florida 14

    Final: South Carolina 19, Florida 14

Texas State at Arkansas State

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl-picture clarifier

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for: Texas State (6-3, 2-2 Sun Belt) has lost to teams that are a combined 19-10 and won against foes that are a collective 13-42, which explains a lot about the Bobcats' record. Still, it's a great effort by a team in its second year of FBS existence.

    Arkansas State (5-4, 3-1) has won three of four to stay in the top half of the league and try to snag one of its paltry two bowl berths. The Red Wolves have started to stabilize after dealing with a third head coach in as many seasons.

    The Sun Belt has been crazy this year, with the road team seemingly winning most games. Not this one, though.

    Prediction: Arkansas State 30, Texas State 21

    Final: Arkansas State 38, Texas State 21

No. 1 Alabama at Mississippi State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 7:45 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Good but not great

    Last meeting: Alabama won 38-7 last season, its fifth straight win over Mississippi State.

    What to watch for: Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC) proved its mettle with a convincing win over LSU last week, so now it's back to more ho-hum walkover wins before the finale against Auburn and the SEC title game. The Crimson Tide showed no visible flaws, but no doubt Nick Saban found some things to work on incessantly in practice.

    Mississippi State (4-5, 1-4) played about as well as could be expected last week at Texas A&M, but the Bulldogs still don't have a win of any significance this season. It's not likely to get one here but might be able to put together some drives that will help it win the final two to get into a bowl game.

    Small victories are all MSU can hope for.

    Prediction: Alabama 38, Mississippi State 14

    Final: Alabama 20, Mississippi State 7

No. 4 Stanford at USC

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 8 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Upset alert; bowl-picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Stanford won 21-14 last season, its fourth straight win over USC.

    What to watch for: Stanford (8-1, 6-1 Pac-12) has won its last three games with the very basic approach of taking the opponent's most effective weapon and rendering it worthless. The result has been three impressive victories over UCLA, Oregon State and most recently Oregon, and now the Cardinal are in the national title hunt.

    USC (7-3, 4-2) has been a different team since Ed Orgeron took over. Even with tons of injuries, the interim coach has instilled a level of confidence and fun in the Trojans that has made them overcome their deficiencies. They're 4-1 under Orgeron and look like they could beat anyone right now.

    But Stanford? That might be asking too much.

    Prediction: Stanford 23, USC 19

    Final: USC 20, Stanford 17

Florida International at UTEP

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 8 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Snoozefest

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for: Florida International (1-8, 1-4 C-USA) has a one-point win over a winless team on its mantle, and nothing else. The Golden Eagles are one of the more abysmal teams in the country, both offensively and defensively, and have been shut out three times.

    UTEP (1-8, 0-5) has a much more convincing victory over an almost-as-bad team on its resume, while the rest of the games haven't been close for the Miners. They've been outscored 143-21 the last three weeks, and the games weren't even that close.

    It's a perfect opportunity for one bad team to feel good for a bit. The coin flip says give it to the Miners.

    Prediction: UTEP 23, Florida International 20

    Final: UTEP 33, Florida International 10

Oregon State at No. 19 Arizona State

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    Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 9:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Bowl-picture clarifier

    Last meeting: Oregon State won 36-26 last season.

    What to watch for: Oregon State (6-3, 4-2 Pac-12) has had two weeks to figure out what's gone wrong following home losses to Stanford and USC. The second loss was particularly distressing because the Beavers just looked lethargic for most of the game. OSU still has one of the best pass-catch combos in the league and should be considered dangerous because of that.

    Arizona State (7-2, 5-1) showed it could win a slugfest by rallying from 12 points down to beat Utah on the road last week. The Sun Devils had been averaging more than 50 points per game in league play before last week, but even with the lower output they showed an ability to win in difficult circumstances.

    This will be a much more comfortable game for the Devils.

    Prediction: Arizona State 41, Oregon State 30

    Final: Arizona State 30, Oregon State 17

Wyoming at Boise State

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    Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 10:15 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Won't be pretty

    Last meeting: Boise State won 45-14 last season and is 7-0 all-time against Wyoming.

    What to watch for: Wyoming (4-5, 2-3 MWC) has fallen apart over the last month, going from a high-scoring team with a great dual-threat quarterback to one that's getting blown out on a weekly basis. The Cowboys have allowed 151 points in their last three games, scoring only 76 during the same time span.

    Boise State (6-3, 4-1) is rapidly improving under the leadership of QB Grant Hedrick, who keeps looking better each week. The Broncos need to win out to get another shot at Fresno State in the MWC title game, and it appears the schedule will allow for that to happen.

    Boise rolls big.

    Prediction: Boise State 45, Wyoming 20

    Final: Boise State 48, Wyoming 7

San Diego State at Hawaii

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    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 10:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Upset alert

    Last meeting: San Diego State won 52-14 last season.

    What to watch for: San Diego State (5-4, 4-1 MWC) made another bowl berth a strong possibility with a late win at San Jose State last week, leaving the Aztecs in need of just one more victory. This marks seven straight games decided by 10 points or less for SDSU, which isn't good enough to blow anyone out but also plays good teams tough.

    Hawaii (0-9, 0-6) is willing to try anything to get a win this season, from deeply discounting tickets for the remaining home games to whipping out rainbow-trimmed throwback uniforms for this game. The Warriors got close to a victory several times earlier this year, but of late their defense has just made it impossible for a decent offense to keep up.

    There's something about those unis that scream "eh, let's win one, huh?"

    Prediction: Hawaii 38, San Diego State 34

    Final: San Diego State 28, Hawaii 21 (OT)

San Jose State at Nevada

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    Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 10:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Points, points, points!

    Last meeting: Nevada won 17-14 in 2011, its fourth straight win over San Jose State.

    What to watch for: San Jose State (5-4, 4-2 MWC) suffered a painful home loss to San Diego State last week, putting its bowl hopes somewhat up in the air. Quarterback David Fales continues to impress, but allowing 22 fourth-quarter points is a concern no great passer can fix.

    Nevada (3-7, 2-5) has lost five in a row—four of those on the road—as the Wolf Pack have fallen apart after a 3-2 start. And it's not been for the same reason each time, as some opponents have thrown for a bunch, while others have run all over Nevada. It's an equal-opportunity porous defense, with not enough offense to make up for that.

    San Jose will wrap up the bowl without having to worry about the final two games.

    Prediction: San Jose State 33, Nevada 23

    Final: Nevada 38, San Jose State 16

Marshall at Tulsa

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Thursday, Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Good but not great

    Last meeting: Tulsa won 45-38 last season.

    What to watch for: Marshall (6-3, 4-1 Conference USA) is trying to keep pace with East Carolina for the East Division lead, with the teams set to meet in the season finale. The Thundering Herd are 1-3 on the road—those games being decided by a combined 14 points.

    Tulsa (2-7, 1-4) is having a lost season, save for some great individual efforts by senior running back Trey Watts, but overall the Golden Hurricane are a shell of the teams to come out of that program over the last decade. They've also lost three straight home games.

    Marshall looks focused, but it will be a struggle.

    Prediction: Marshall 28, Tulsa 23

    **Update: Marshall 45, Tulsa 34

Georgia Tech at No. 8 Clemson

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    Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Thursday, Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Better than you'd think

    Last meeting: Clemson won 47-31 last season.

    What to watch for: Georgia Tech (6-3, 5-2 ACC) is in a four-team battle for the Coastal Division title, but with just the lone league game left, it's the least in control of its own destiny. The Yellow Jackets have rebounded from a bumpy midseason stretch to get back to effective running and mostly good defense.

    Clemson (8-1, 6-1) is locked into second place in the Atlantic Division but still has plenty to play for as a top BCS at-large candidate. This game, along with the season finale at South Carolina, will determine whether the Tigers get to play in a big game in January or end up somewhere less impressive in late December.

    The Tigers stay on the BCS prowl.

    Prediction: Clemson 34, Georgia Tech 21

    **Update: Clemson 55, Georgia Tech 31

Washington at No. 13 UCLA

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Friday, Nov. 15, 9 p.m. ET

    Matchup type: Good but not great

    Last meeting: Washington beat UCLA 24-7 in 2010.

    What to watch for: Washington (6-3, 3-3 Pac-12) has had a disappointing season compared to expectations, with the Huskies failing to beat any of the better teams on the league schedule after an impressive 4-0 start. But there are still weapons here, and Washington remains a tough out most weeks.

    UCLA (7-2, 4-2) pulled out all the stops to beat Arizona last week, using linebackers as running backs among many schematic wrinkles. The Bruins have three tough ones to end the season but will take them all, and they'll get a shot at a rematch with Oregon or Stanford for the Pac-12 title.

    UCLA's special black unis will light up the night.

    Prediction: UCLA 37, Washington 20

    **Update: UCLA 41, Washington 31