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Predictions 101 — Week 13

The Swami AP

Here’s what we’re thankful for … going 7-4 vs. “the number” in what ended up being a wicked Week 12.

Since the standards are sky-high here, our 9-3 straight-up mark was more like shooting par.

After 144 games, we’re 81-57-3 (three games weren’t on the board) and 110-34 straight.

TOP 10 GAMES (Thurs., Nov. 24 thru Sat., Nov. 26)

1) No. 3 Arkansas at No. 1 LSU
Fri., Nov. 25 — 2:30 p.m. ET, CBS

The Razorbacks have won three of the past four in this hard-fought series with the Tigers and a total of four overtime periods were required to decide their last two meetings in Baton Rouge.

Don’t get too caught up in the swollen pointspread. LSU (11-0, 7-0 in SEC) will have its hands full with Arkansas (10-1, 6-1).

Last season, Bobby Petrino ran the football 47 times to earn a 31-23 victory over Les Miles. This year, without running back Knile Davis (knee), who handled 30 of those carries, Petrino will rely a little more on his passing game, featuring quarterback Tyler Wilson and the best four-wide combo in the nation.

That’s a dangerous proposition while going against the Tigers’ vicious pressure packages and ultra-athletic secondary. Considering the fact that Arkansas’ run defense isn’t a great match against LSU’s ground game, Wilson will likely be playing from behind in the first half. He can’t get too anxious and risk forcing any throws. Even one turnover might be one too many for the Razorbacks to overcome the sure-handed Tigers.

LSU has turned the football over only six times this season, by far the lowest total in the nation. The Hogs have had 16 giveaways this year, which puts them in the middle of the road on the national stat sheet.

Oddly enough, one of the crucial matchups will be LSU punter Brad Wing versus Arkansas wide receiver/return man Joe Adams. As we know, Wing was a huge factor in the Tigers’ 9-6 victory over Alabama. He’ll be wise to boot the ball away from Adams, who has brought back three punts for touchdowns and is one of the Hogs’ keys to victory.

Opening point spread: LSU by 14

The pick: LSU 26-20

Final: LSU 41-17

2) No. 20 Penn State at No. 15 Wisconsin
Sat., Nov. 26 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

This prediction comes courtesy of Shane Hedani from the P101 satellite office in Maunawili, Hawai‘i. 

The Badgers have had their ups and downs, but one constant is that they have been absolutely dominant at home.

Within the comfort zone of Camp Randall Stadium, Wisconsin (9-2, 5-2 in Big Ten) has scored an average of 52.3 points, while only giving up 11.3. We don’t expect the Badgers to put up half-a-hundred on Penn State (9-2, 6-1), but many forget that Wisconsin has a top-10 defense of its own.

Penn State punter Anthony Fera will see lots of action and he’ll have to force Russell Wilson and Montee Ball to drive the length of the field in hopes of slowing the carnage committed by the fifth-best scoring offense in the nation.

On the flipside, the Lion offense will look like a kitten against the Wisconsin defense.

It will be a relatively close slugfest in the first half, but it’ll turn as the huge Badger offensive line begins to do what it does best — ground and pound — and pulls away for a comfortable win and ticket to the inaugural Big Ten championship game.

Opening point spread: Wisconsin by 16

The pick: Wisconsin 38-13

Final: Wisconsin 45-7

3) No. 18 Clemson at No. 14 South Carolina
Sat., Nov. 26 — 7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN

With the turnover-machine Tigers visiting the ball-hawking Gamecocks, trouble seems to be brewing for the Atlantic Division champs.

Not so long ago, Clemson (9-2, 6-2 in ACC) was everyone’s darling team (including ours), but Dabo Swinney has watched in horror as his team committed 11 turnovers while losing two of its last three games (the only victory being a slim 31-28 decision over Wake Forest at home).

South Carolina (9-2, 6-2 in SEC), which has won the past two games in this bitter rivalry and is among the national leaders in takeaways with 29, seemingly has the Tigers right where it wants them … in Columbia.

Ever since beating Virginia Tech, 23-3, in Blacksburg, Clemson has been putrid on the road, giving up 45 points to Maryland, and losing to Georgia Tech and N.C. State by a combined score of 68-30.

However, the return of wideout Sammy Watkins (shoulder), who missed last week’s incomprehensible loss in Raleigh, is a massive plus for the Tigers and having left tackle Phillip Price (knee) back is equally important to quarterback Tajh Boyd, who was sacked six times and did not direct a touchdown drive last week.

Gamecock freshman tailback Brandon Wilds has proven to be a serviceable fill-in for Marcus Lattimore, but we have a hard time believing that he and sophomore quarterback Conner Shaw are the ones that will lead the Tigers to three in a row over the Gamecocks for the first time since 1970.

Opening point spread: South Carolina by 3

The pick: Clemson 24-23

Final: South Carolina 34-13

4) Ohio State at No. 17 Michigan
Sat., Nov. 26 — Noon ET, ABC

This prediction comes courtesy of Marc Doche (@MDoche) from the P101 satellite office in Burbank, Calif.

When they enter the Big House, it will have been 2,926 days since the Wolverines last tasted victory against their most-hated rival. So, in a sense, there’s less pressure on first-year head coach Brady Hoke.

Whether Ohio State (6-5, 3-4 in Big Ten) validates Luke Fickell’s only year at the helm by winning “The Game” for an eighth consecutive time or Michigan (9-2, 5-2) propels itself into a top notch bowl, it’s not likely to be pretty in this smash mouth affair that will be decided by the legs of the men lining up under center.

Both defenses are stingy, especially versus the pass, so the quarterbacks, who both lead their squads in rushing yards — Braxton Miller with 595 and Denard Robinson with 993 — will be responsible for making the big plays.

Despite the Wolverines notching double-digit victories in all but one of their home games, we’ll buck that trend and side with the one that shows the four Buckeye conference losses coming by an average of less than five points.

Opening point spread: Michigan by 7 1/2

The pick: Michigan 20-17

Final: Michigan 40-34

5) No. 22 Notre Dame at No. 4 Stanford
Sat., Nov. 26 — 8 p.m. ET, ABC

As Beano Cook said a few times: “You either have to play for Notre Dame or beat Notre Dame to win the Heisman Trophy.”

If that’s true, this is Andrew Luck’s chance to wrap up the stiff-arm trophy by running his personal record versus the Fighting Irish to 3-0.

Judging by how Stanford (10-1, 8-1 in Pac-12) wasn’t able to manhandle arch rival and overmatched neighbor California last week, it might not be the showcase game Cardinal supporters are expecting.

Without his only field-stretching wideout Chris Owusu (concussion) and full complement of tight ends, Luck seems almost human and the Cardinal offense resembles something that Notre Dame (8-3) might be able to handle.

The Tree almost allowed as many yards to Cal (361) as it did in the 53-30 loss to Oregon (387).

The Irish, who have won four in a row and eight of their last nine, might be able to take advantage, but that would have been more likely if running back Jonas Gray (knee) was still in the mix with Brian Kelly’s other playmakers

Opening point spread: Stanford by 6 1/2

The pick: Stanford 34-31

Final: Stanford 28-14

6) No. 2 Alabama at Auburn
Sat., Nov. 26 — 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Against the other two teams ahead of them in the SEC West standings, the Tigers lost both games by a total of 59 points (38-14 at Arkansas and 45-10 at LSU). Granted, both of those games were on the road against high-flying programs, but Auburn (7-4, 4-3 in SEC) doesn’t have much to hang its hat on beside home-field advantage as the Crimson Tide, the third SEC superpower, rolls into Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Furthering that point, the Tigers more recently got shellacked by Eastern Division champ Georgia, 45-7. Ahhh … life in the SEC.

With memories of last season’s 28-27 loss to the Tigers in Tuscaloosa dancing in their heads, Alabama (10-1, 6-1) should be focused and fiesty (unlike what we saw last week in a pedestrian victory over Georgia Southern).

Only one team in the SEC has a worse defense than Auburn (allowing 28 points and 407 total yards per game) and that team, Ole Miss, blew a 7-0 lead in a 52-7 loss at home to Alabama.

We’re tempted to call for a shutout, but we wouldn’t do that to the defending champs.

Opening point spread: Alabama by 21 1/2

The pick: Alabama 35-7

Final: Alabama 42-14

7) UCLA at No. 10 USC
Sat., Nov. 26 — 10 p.m. ET, FSN

In our lifetime, will we ever see anything as sad as the Pac-12 South again? Okay, okay … besides the Big East, will we ever see anything as sad as the Pac-12 South?

Spitting in the face of all logic and reason known to man, UCLA (6-5, 5-3) is in the driver’s seat in this decrepit division. If the Bruins upset cross-town rival USC (9-2, 6-2), the Bruins will represent the South in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game.

UCLA’s position is so solid that even if it loses to USC, it would still play for the conference title if Colorado beats Utah. That would truly be incredible because if the Bruins went on to lose to the North champ, they would be 6-7 and not bowl eligible.

Ah … the glory of divisional play … and postseason prohibition.

Speaking of the Trojans … our boy Lane Kiffin has been on a rampage as of late, but let’s not forget what happened five years ago. If Karl Dorrell can roadblock Pete Carroll from the BCS Championship Game as a double-digit dog, why can’t Rick Neuheisel rain on Kiffin’s parade to nowhere?

Nah.

In his four years in charge, Neuheisel has won only three league games on the road and all of them were at the expense of completely down-n-out programs.

Opening point spread: USC by 15 1/2

The pick: USC 31-23

Final: USC 50-0

8) Texas at Texas A&M
Thurs., Nov. 24 — 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

The history of the Lone Star Showdown is why this game makes the list. The Longhorns and Aggies are going at it for the 118th time and last as members of the Big 12 Conference.

Texas (6-4, 3-4 in Big 12) holds a massive series lead (74-37-5), but the two schools have split the last six meetings. There’s really no telling how long the bragging rights that result from this Thanksgiving Day matchup will last since future meetings are up in the air.

Texas A&M (6-5, 4-4) leads the nation with 41 quarterback sacks. That would mean something if the Longhorns had a viable passing offense, instead of one that ranks way down at No. 96.

Losers of its last two games, Texas has scored only one touchdown and 18 total points in those setbacks against Missouri and Kansas State.

That doesn’t bode well for the Longhorns, who will need a monsterous performance out of their defense to outpoint an Aggie offense that averages 41 points per game.

Opening point spread: Texas A&M by 6 1/2

The pick: Texas A&M 24-19

Final: Texas 27-25

9) No. 8 Houston at Tulsa
Fri., Nov. 25 — Noon ET, FSN

Just about every team loses at some point. It’s virtually a college football law. The carnage doesn’t usually happen in a large batch like it did last week, but it surely does over the course of the season.

With that said, we fully expect Tulsa (8-3, 7-0 in C-USA) to drop visiting Houston (11-0, 7-0) from the ranks of the undefeated, leaving LSU as the only school unscathed … so far.

The Golden Hurricane are clearly the best team on the Cougars’ lightweight schedule.

Houston and its superstar quarterback Case Keenum have all sorts of eye-popping stats, but we prefer to focus on unimpressive road victories over Louisiana Tech (35-34) and UTEP (49-42).

Tulsa’s three losses are to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State. For a Conference USA team, those defeats are badges of honor.

The Golden Hurricane’s league-best running game, led by Trey Watts and Ja’Terian Douglas, will do plenty of business against the Cougar defense, keeping Keenum on the sideline for long stretches.

Opening point spread: Houston by 3

The pick: Tulsa 37-35

Final: Houston 48-16

10) Pittsburgh at West Virginia
Fri., Nov. 25 — 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

Both combatants enter the Backyard Brawl with similar situations, which pretty much isn’t unlike each and every mediocre member the Big East. They need to beat their arch rival and follow up with a win next week to clinch at least a share of the conference crown.

The key for Pittsburgh (5-5, 3-2 in Big East) seems to be scoring 35 or more points. When the Panthers do, they are 4-0. When they don’t, they’re 1-5.

Oddly enough, West Virginia (7-3, 3-2) seems like a team ready to accommodate that request. Syracuse racked up 49 points in a win over the Mountaineers on Oct. 21. Then, two weeks later, Louisville went to Morgantown and won, 38-35.

West Virginia does have the firepower to fight back. Quarterback Geno Smith is 527 passing yards shy of the league’s single-season record of 4,024 yards by Louisville’s Brian Brohm (2007). However, he needs to be alert when facing a Panther pass rush, led by end Aaron Donald, that ranks fifth in the nation in sacks (3.2 per game).

It’s the Big East. Expect the unexpected.

Opening point spread: West Virginia by 8

The pick: Pittsburgh 34-31

Final: West Virginia 21-20

Week 13 record: 6-4
Total: 116-38

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16 Responses to “Predictions 101 — Week 13”
  1. cfbfaninbadnfltown says: Nov 23, 2011 12:30 AM

    I’d put Penn States D-line against Wisconsin’s O-line anyday of the week. And honestly their stats are inflated by starting the season playing teams like UNLV and Oregon State.

  2. wustlumdnj says: Nov 23, 2011 4:29 AM

    John: You didn’t put a TV channel down for the Tulsa-Houston game. Can you or someone else confirm whether this game is not on TV at all, or if it is indeed on a non-ESPN network?

  3. southernpatriots says: Nov 23, 2011 5:29 AM

    We hope Predictons is right on the money or a little conservative for the predicted victory of our beloved alma mater LSU over Arkansas. We believe this game, Miles and team will under no condition, be overlooking the Razorbacks. With so much on the line and with a battle tempered team which has proven themselves of the mettle to best all comers, we hope this will happen again. LSU 38, Arkansas 28.

    To support our team, we will be roasting a whole hog for the occasion. My family and I will have the official Arkansas state fruit and vegetable, the southern Arkansas yellow tomato stuffed in the mouth and used in the salad. The whole hog will be slow roasted and smoked over a bed of hickory and pecan with peach and plum aftertones. Cajun BBQ rub as well as specially prepared injector marinade will provide good flavor profiles.

    LSU Tigers (alums and fans) will be feasting on hog/razorback. The LSU Bengal Tigers (football team) will be feasting on Razorbacks….

    Tiger Bait!

    Allons les Tigres! Geaux Tigers!

    May we wish all CFT bloggers and all our teams and personnel a Most Happy Thanksiving!

  4. parchedcougar says: Nov 23, 2011 7:33 AM

    Prediction for #6 Virginia Tech at #24 Virginia?

  5. florida727 says: Nov 23, 2011 8:02 AM

    “southernpatriots”, have a blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends. Always enjoy your posts and the respectful banter. Will be rooting for your Tigers to continue to run the table toward a sixth consecutive SEC national title. All the best. – DJ…

    “wustlumdnj”, the Houston-Tulsa game is being carried on Fox Sports Network. Should be a great game. Looking forward to watching that one too.

  6. bbuff says: Nov 23, 2011 8:27 AM

    Got it backwards in last paragraph for SC vs. Clemson. Should be “…will lead the Gamecocks to three in a row over the Tigers…”

  7. blastfurnaceknows says: Nov 23, 2011 9:53 AM

    I didn’t see an over/under for the number of violent felonies that will be committed in Morgantown, WV by the most classless fan base in America. 14? You should check it out Big 12 – share their “pride” as your new member. Enjoy, because all of us on the East coast are sure happy to be rid of them.

  8. ancientcougar says: Nov 23, 2011 10:42 AM

    Houston v Tulsa will be on Fox Houston FYI,
    Watch out for the Cougars; not the better team but out for revenge.

  9. southernpatriots says: Nov 23, 2011 11:14 AM

    florida727: Thank you kindly. We think they will need all the support they can get. ESPN has made at least 100 hours of broadcast time by their “What if…LSU loses…what if Arkansas wins….what if…”

    They seem to feel they wouldn’t have a show if they said, “LSU seems to be on a mission. They have faced numerous ranked teams this year, with the highest ranked teams, Oregon and Alabama away from home, and beat them all. We don’t think this will be different, except this is at Tiger Stadium…” ESPN picked Alabama over LSU, picked Oregon over LSU, and now picks Arkansas over LSU. At least they are consistent. Herstreit is the exception. He at least has picked LSU in recent weeks.

    We are preparing a Thanksgiving feast for all the family coming for the family reunion. Of interest to me is the cranberry-pomegranate brined turkey which flavors the meat to match the cranberry-pomegrante whole berry sauce we are making.

    The day after, will be our open pit whole hog roast. We are doing our part to support what we hope is LSU’s “devouring” of the Razorbacks.

  10. thekatman says: Nov 23, 2011 1:45 PM

    It has been said that USC’s limited schollie player roster can beat any team in the country, right now…. and that includes LSU, Alabama and Arkansas. USC went up to Eugene OR and beat the Ducks with 43 scholarship players.

    Oregon can only sustain their high powered offense because they have 85 schollie players and a full compliment of players, the max limit… and the better team won that night.

    Arkansas over LSU by 10
    Stanford over Notre Dame by 17
    and of course, USC over UCLA by 28.

    and as always my friends…. Fight On brothers and sisters.

  11. sierra1004 says: Nov 23, 2011 2:38 PM

    Mr. Tamanaha, Happy Thanksgiving I appreciate the picks and reading the colorful banter that follows. Keep up the Great work.

  12. clark84 says: Nov 23, 2011 2:50 PM

    Apparently, you forgot UVa vs. VT and a berth in the ACC title game is at stake. Add to that it is a rivalry. Some of these games are a joke.

  13. cfbfaninbadnfltown says: Nov 23, 2011 11:05 PM

    @ southernpatriots

    Good luck this weekend and enjoy Thanksgiving down on the Bayou my friend.

  14. southernpatriots says: Nov 23, 2011 11:42 PM

    cfbfaninbadnfltown: From my family and I, thank you. We are looking forward to the big family reunion tomorrow with all the food, that we don’t have to cook it all, ha! Friday is the day of anxiety to us. That is the big game v. Arkansas. We should not have watched ESPN at all. Now we have anxiety. It is such a big game. We thought the game with Alabama was big, and it was, but this one is another BIG game.

    We are about 1/4 mile from the bayou and thank God there is no more Spillway/Floodway release of the Mississippi River at this time.

  15. infrno says: Nov 23, 2011 11:57 PM

    @southernpatriots

    If’n you’re at the game, we will be set up behind Mike’s cage early with some helluva pig butt gravy over some homemade buttermilk biscuits with a bloody Maria or Mary (your choice).

  16. alligatorsnapper says: Nov 24, 2011 11:44 AM

    southernpatriots are enjoying their Thanksgiving Family Reunion and have sent me the following and asked me to post it:

    “BATON ROUGE – LSU put the finishing touches on its game plan for Arkansas top-ranked Tigers went through a spirited workout at the Charles McClendon Practice Facility.

    LSU and third-ranked Arkansas square off on Friday at 1:30 p.m. in Tiger Stadium with a berth in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game on the line. Friday’s game is between the two highest-ranked teams in Tiger Stadium since No. 1 LSU beat No. 3 Ole Miss on Oct. 31, 1959.
    LSU brings a perfect 11-0 overall mark and a 7-0 league record into the game, while the Razorbacks are 10-1 overall and 6-1 in conference action.

    “I have really enjoyed these practices this week,” LSU coach Les Miles said following Wednesday’s workout. “This team was a little heavy-legged on Monday, but Tuesday was really good. Today was a very sharp, crisp Thursday practice on a Wednesday. I look forward to lining up and playing on Friday. I think we will play well.”

    Miles said that sophomore safety Eric Reid ran at practice Wednesday and that he continues to improve. Reid suffered an upper leg injury against Ole Miss and missed most of the contest. Miles said that if Reid can’t go then expect sophomore Craig Loston to step in opposite Brandon Taylor at one of the safety positions.
    “He ran today, but I really do not have the final report,” Miles said of Reid’s status. “I suspect there to be more information tomorrow. I will not play him unless he is ready to roll because we have other players, good players. Whoever takes the field for us will be a guy that can play and do what we ask him to, period. I do take into account a guys desire to play in such a big game, but he also needs to be able to play. Again we are optimistic and he has taken a lot of mental reps anyway.”

    Miles said that his team is excited about the opportunity to play another game against a highly-ranked opponent on the so-called “big stage” of national television with a great deal on the line.

    “The thing that this team has done is rise to the level of competition and exceeded it,” Miles said. “They recognize that the big stage is a football game. In other words it is lights and cameras and a game of significance, but its 53 yards horizontal and 100 yards vertical. It translates very comfortably into this team. There are plays they need to make and plays they want to make and they make them.”

    Arkansas represents the seventh Top 25 team that LSU has faced this year, three of which have come against teams ranked in the top three. LSU has wins over No. 2 Alabama (9-6) and No. 3 Oregon (40-27), both away from home.

    Friday’s contest also serves as LSU’s Senior Day as the Tigers will honor their 25 seniors during a pre-game ceremony. When asked on Wednesday night, Miles reflected on his final game at Michigan as a senior in 1975.

    “The memories of my last playing days are very vivid,” Miles said. “They are of the day, and the game, you remember everything about it. I think these guys are going to be the exact same way. They will recognize they have been fortunate to play on a quality football team in front of one of the most loyal fan bases and the most celebrated game day experiences. They will recognize the plays they have made and how they were celebrated.

    The Tigers are celebrating Thanksgiving today with a team meal followed by a walk through later this afternoon.”

    *********
    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

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