After a crazy Week 12 in college football last week, fans are treated to a relatively tame schedule for this week. There are only three games taking place where both teams are ranked, and most SEC teams are facing FCS teams.
However, there is still a slew of intriguing games on the schedule, and an opportunity for casual college football fans to check out some lesser known teams. So, without further ado, here’s my top six games worth watching this week.
7) Stanford Cardinal (5-5) at Cal Golden Bears (5-5)
Barely cracking the top seven is a matchup between two surprising teams. Cal wasn’t expected to be on the verge of bowl eligibility at this point of the season, while Stanford is a squad that is usually amongst the Pac-12’s elite. However, this season has been a massive disappointment for them, as they have yet to even clinch a bowl berth. Still, they are the Cardinal, and 32 years after “The Play”, they will get their revenge, of sorts. I expect Kevin Hogan to do enough to help his team outdo a feisty Golden Bears squad with a propensity to lose in heartbreaking fashion. Prediction: Stanford 24, Cal 23.
6) #24 Louisville (7-3) at Notre Dame (7-3)
In the final Irish home game of the season, they welcome a Cardinals team that is somehow 7-3. They don’t have any flashy players, barring Devante Parker, but have benefited from a weak ACC .Notre Dame is itching for a win, and I think they’ll win, since Louisville’s starting quarterback is injured. Prediction: Louisville 20, Notre Dame 31.
5) #15 Arizona (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12) at Utah (7-3, 4-3 Utah)
I know this is a game between ranked teams, but I’m not buying into Utah. They got lucky against USC, barely beat Washington State, needed two overtimes to defeat Oregon State and Stanford, and were exposed by Oregon. Arizona will whip them. Prediction: Arizona 41, Utah 20.
4) #16 Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1 Big 10) at Iowa (7-3, 4-2 Big 10)
Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon is a Heisman contender, Wisconsin is a powerhouse, and Iowa is a team known for pulling off crazy wins. Expect a thriller. Prediction: Wisconsin 31, Iowa 26.
3) Boston College Eagles (6-4, 3-3 ACC) at #3 Florida State Seminoles (10-0, 7-0 ACC)
Normally, a game in which an unranked team is playing would not be ranked in the top five. However, when the ranked team is the defending NCAA champion, is led by a Heisman Trophy winner that has been subpar all season, has had its back against the wall on a variety of occasions, faces a surprising team with a dual threat quarterback, an upset is definitely possible. I expect this to be a close game, with the ‘noles prevailing late. Prediction: Boston College 23, Florida State 31.
2) #25 Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-3, 4-2 Big 10) at #23 Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-2, 4-2 Big 10)
At number two, we have one of the games involving a pair of ranked teams. Minnesota lost by a touchdown last week to a surging Ohio State squad, while the Cornhuskers were dominated by Heisman Trophy contender Melvin Gordon and his Wisconsin Badgers. The Huskers allowed Gordon to run for an FBS record 409 yards, as the Badgers stomped their way to a 59-24 win.
That is very troublesome news for Nebraska fans, as they welcome another upstart running back in David Cobb, and his duel threat quarterback Mitch Leidner. But, I expect Ameer Abdullah, Tommy Armstrong and company to be ready this go around, en route to a tight victory. Prediction: Minnesota 23, Nebraska 27.
1) #19 USC Trojans (7-3, 6-2 PAC-12) at #9 UCLA Bruins (8-2, 5-2 PAC-12)
The top game this week is the battle for the “Victory Bell”. The schools are located within a half-hour of each other, and have been rivals for nearly a hundred years, in a variety of sports. This is an all-out rivalry, with a trophy being given to the school that wins the most head-to-head matchups against the other, in which all 19 varsity sports are accounted for.
Both teams are still in the running for a PAC-12 Championship spot, and feature a pair of prolific quarterbacks in UCLA’s Brett Hundley (2,547 passing yards, 564 yards, 24 total touchdowns), and USC’s Cody Kessler (2,919 passing yards, 29 passing touchdowns). Each team features an 1,100 yard rusher, and Trojans’ receiver Nelson Agholor is quite possibly the hottest in the country, having caught 40 passes for 672 yards and six touchdowns in his last four games.
UCLA may be playing at home, but I feel really good about the Trojans’ chances here. They may have three losses, but each one came by a single score, including one on a “Hail Mary” with no time left against Arizona State. While my head wants to go with UCLA, I’m going with the upset here. Prediction: USC 28, UCLA 24.