It’s the Rivalry Week edition of our college football picks and predictions, as Week 13 draws the regular season to a close. Which rivalry games should be the nicest to your pockets this season?
Week 13 College Football Picks and Predictions
Michigan (+8) vs. Ohio State
There is an anger about this Ohio State team leading up to “The Game.” The group of Buckeyes are the first to have to ‘avenge a loss’ in 11 years. In Columbus, at The Shoe, and with everything on the line, Ohio State certainly has the roster to defeat any team in the country.
But in this rivalry game where it means more than football, the likelihood of Michigan keeping it close is through the roof. The main reason? Michigan plays a brand of football that Ohio State may struggle with.
The Wolverines are big and dominant up front and on both sides of the ball. Flashback to the first half of the Iowa game, where Ohio State struggled against the Hawkeyes’ zone coverage schemes and their talented linebackers, edge rushers, and box safeties.
Now, look at the Wolverines’ roster full of next-level talent. Michigan’s more talented than that Iowa defense and present a much more challenging offense to figure out. Their offensive line is the best in the country and can mitigate the impact that OSU’s defensive line will have.
Michigan’s defense allows the fewest yards per game, while Ohio State’s offense averages the sixth-most per game. A battle of strength vs. strength goes the way of the defense for Michigan as the Wolverines have the makeup of keeping it closer than eight points.
Prediction: Ohio State 27, Michigan 24
South Carolina vs. Clemson (-14.5)
Style points are going to matter for the Clemson Tigers this season. Their chances of making the College Football Playoff are slim, but they’re still chances after all.
In this case of a rivalry game, style points in how they handle a South Carolina team that just boat-raced Tennessee will go a long way in the CFP’s eyes.
Stylistically, Clemson has the chops of matching up with South Carolina’s passing attack. They’re allowing just 6.37 yards per pass attempt and have done a great job of keeping everything in front of them this season. Most importantly, the Tigers have found their stride over the past two games and held Miami to fewer than 100 yards of total offense last week.
South Carolina’s passing attack took off against a depleted and horrendous Tennessee secondary. Even with a five-touchdown night, the Gamecocks rank 99th in the country in total passing touchdowns thrown this season.
The performance against Tennessee will look more and more like an anomaly, and the Tigers get back in the playoff hunt with a big win (and some help).
Prediction: Clemson 35, South Carolina 17
Auburn (+22) vs. Alabama
The Iron Bowl always features highlight-reel moments. It never disappoints. Well, unless you’re on the Auburn side recently.
However, with the inspired football Carnell Williams has War Eagle playing right now, Auburn’s defense has the design to carry them to a closer contest than it may look on the surface.
Auburn has allowed just 10 touchdowns through the air this season — a figure that ranks 12th in the country. They should give Alabama some trouble on the outside with their lengthy cornerbacks.
The real question, however, will be if Auburn can actually score against Alabama. The Tigers’ passing attack lacks any consistency and is one of the worst units in the country, so don’t count on them throwing the ball much against Kool-Aid McKinstry and Co.
However, the Crimson Tide’s run defense has shown minor discrepancies this season and has been beatable at times. They’re allowing just 3.13 yards per carry but have been beaten for 11 touchdowns on the ground, compared to Auburn’s 4.71 ypc and 20 rushing TDs.
The map to keeping it close is keeping Bryce Young off the field and dominating the ground game. Can Auburn win? Sure, it’s college football. Will they win? No, but it’s closer than three touchdowns.
Prediction: Alabama 31, Auburn 14
Minnesota vs. Wisconsin (36 points)
No Minnesota game has gone over 34 points in the past month. They’re playing some of the best defense we’ve seen from a Big Ten team in the past half-dozen seasons. Unfortunately, their defensive prowess has been overshadowed by just how bad their passing attack has gotten over the turn of the season.
Minnesota’s opponents have scored just 27 points in their last four games, and Wisconsin doesn’t have the offensive chops to hang much on the Gophers.
The Badgers average 370.1 yards per game, ranking 82nd in the country, while they, too, have been carried by their defense. Wisconsin has held opponents below their offensive average in points in over half of their games.
It’ll be a good, old-fashioned slobberknocker in this one, as the defenses can trade punch for punch. Take the under on DraftKings Sportsbook and grab the Gophers.
Prediction: Minnesota 17, Wisconsin 16
Notre Dame (+4.5) vs. USC
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have come into their own this season. They’ve won five straight since dropping a questionable performance against Stanford in mid-October.
On the other hand, USC used some late-game heroics to withstand arch-rival UCLA a week ago and are a mere two-point conversion away from being 11-0. However, in this matchup, the hotter unit of these two teams is Notre Dame’s secondary.
Benjamin Morrison has recorded five interceptions in his past three games, including a three-pick performance against Boston College. Those kinds of ball skills from the freshman are indicative of just how strong the youthful core of this team is.
Drew Pyne has taken great care of the ball as of late as well, throwing six touchdowns compared to just one interception in his past three games, and he’s starting to see the field much better as the year has grown.
The Irish defense is primed to stick with the talented pass catchers from USC to keep it close. They’ve given up just 332 passing yards per game and rank 25th this season but have started playing their best defense as of late.
Prediction: USC 34, Notre Dame 31