College Football- Week 13 Preview

Well, it is hard to believe, but the game that we all speculated after Michigan’s upset of Notre Dame eight weeks ago is indeed what we all hoped for, an undefeated matchup of archrivals Michigan and Ohio State with a trip to the national championship game on the line. It doesn’t get any bigger or better than this. As far as I’m concerned, this might as well be the national title. But I won’t get ahead of myself. This game clearly dominates the rest of the action, although there are other games on believe it or not. Instead of going through the games chronologically like I would normally do, I’ll run them down in order of importance:

#2 Michigan at #1 Ohio State, 2:30 CST, ABC, for all the marbles!

I am so excited for this game to start. It’s probably the biggest regular season college football game of my lifetime. Okay, enough of that. On paper, these two teams look remarkably evenly matched. Both have high powered offenses with experienced, talented quarterbacks, fearsome running attacks, dynamic receivers, explosive special teams and strong, stout defenses. So where does one begin to pick a winner? For starters, Ohio State undeniably will benefit from having the game in Columbus. But Michigan proved early in the season that they can go on the road as an underdog and dominate an opponent that everyone assumed was superior. Weighing the defenses, I can’t decide who has the advantage. Ohio State has been amazing after replacing nine starters, allowing only three teams all season to score more than seven points. Michigan has gotten here with a defense that has improved vastly from last season. I have to call it a draw, but will note that this game will probably be won by whichever defense is able to be more dominant, since both teams have such explosive offenses. On the offensive side, Michigan gets a slight edge in the backfield and appears to have more versatility at receiver. However, Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith defines versatility, and his gamebreaking presence alone gives them an advantage. (See last year’s game, which Michigan appeared to have in hand before Smith took over). On special teams, Steve Breaston and Ted Ginn, Jr. both provide explosive options, and their abilities will come into play as well, but appear equal on paper. With so many variables it is tough to pick a winner, but with Ohio State having the slighest offensive advantage, the defenses seemingly equal and the home field advantage with the Buckeyes, I’ll be weak and go with the spread.  Ohio State 27, Michigan 20

#19 California at #4 USC, 7:00 CST, ABC

Cal had its heart broken last week as the Golden Bears got sloppy and gave up a big lead at mediocre Arizona. They lost any hope for a national title trip, but BCS hopes are still alive, as this game alone appears to determine the Pac-10 champion. USC, on the other hand, looked as impressive as they have all year in a rout of Oregon. Remember, of course, that Cal also stomped Oregon earlier this season. In its previous four games, USC struggled against Arizona, Washington and Arizona State before losing to Oregon State. The Trojans have seen their running game start to come together behind Chauncey Washington and quarterback John David Booty is coming into his own with all his receivers healthy. But for some reason I think last week served as a wake up call for a California team that is primed for an upset and superior offensively. If they can get some defensive stops, I think Cal can pull a big upset here. California 38, USC 37

#21 Virginia Tech at #17 Wake Forest, 6:00 CST, ABC and #23 Maryland at #20 Boston College, 11:00 CST, ESPN

I keep grouping all of these ACC games together because I can’t make heads or tails of any of them. Virginia Tech has been inconsistent, and I generally find them incredibly overrated year after year post-Michael Vick, although they did surprise me against Clemson. Wake Forest, meanwhile, is maybe the most underappreciated team in the country. The Demon Deacons are two turnovers away from being undefeated! But here, I am going to have to go against them once again, fearing that the dream has to end at some point against superior talent. The home field at night certainly won’t hurt, though. Boston College and Maryland both appear to be better teams. I like the Golden Eagles at home here. Although Maryland has been rolling, Boston College has been tested and has the weapons on both sides of the ball to get the win here.  Virginia Tech 27, Wake Forest 23; Boston College 17, Maryland 13

#11 Auburn at Alabama, 2:30 CST, CBS, THE IRON BOWL

Auburn was shocked last week as Georgia threw 38 points on the board to pull the upset and ruin the Tiger’s chances at the national title. Quarterback Brandon Cox threw way too many interceptions which facilitated the high point total against the normally stout Auburn defense. This week, I expect those problems to be corrected, although Alabama is no pushover despite their record. I think Auburn can contain the Crimson Tide running attack, which is their main offensive threat, and will be able to avoid silly turnovers. Auburn 21, Alabama 13

Indiana at Purdue, 11:00 CST, The OAKEN BUCKET GAME!

Doesn’t it seem like the few times in the past 15-20 years that Indiana has had five wins coming into this game and needed it for a bowl berth that the Boilers always spoil it? Who could forget 1989, when Heisman trophy runner up Anthony Thompson didn’t get the chance to play in a bowl thanks to a narrow season ending loss to the Boilers? Well, this is the year that the Big Red gets its revenge. Purdue’s flimsy defense will have trouble with Indiana’s multi-faceted offensive attack behind Kellen Lewis. Indiana 37, Purdue 34

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