By Stewart Mandel
November 27, 2013
James Wilder Jr. (32) and the Seminoles look to run past Dante Fowler Jr. (6) and the reeling Gators.
Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Thursday, Nov. 28
7:30 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1) Texas Tech (7-4) at Texas (7-3)
It's the Longhorns' second-annual "The school still has Texas in it name, what's the big deal?" Thanksgiving tradition. The Red Raiders are coming off a much-needed bye week after dropping three straight. That has given coach Kliff Kingsbury extra time to study and scheme. But opponents that have beaten Texas this year did so largely behind a power-running game. Kingsbury's squad doesn't have one.
7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) Ole Miss (7-4) at Mississippi State (5-6)
It's good to see the Egg Bowl back on Thanksgiving. This game has more than just rivalry implications -- it will determine whether the SEC gets a team in the BBVA Compass Bowl. Seriously. The Bulldogs may be able to pull off the upset if they keep the score down, but they rank 86th nationally in pass efficiency defense. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace is capable of exploiting them.
Friday, Nov. 29
Noon ET (ABC) Iowa (7-4) at Nebraska (8-3)
The Cornhuskers deserve credit for their recent run of dramatic wins. At the same time, the fact that they needed last-second breaks to beat mediocre Northwestern and Penn State teams suggest Nebraska isn't all that great. Of primary concern, Bo Pelini's team turns the ball over too often (25 times, tied for 108th nationally). That should play right into the hands Kirk Ferentz's ultra-conservative Hawkeyes.
Noon ET (CBSS) East Carolina (8-3) at Marshall (9-2)
This is for a spot in the Conference USA title game, and it's as even as they come. Both teams have star quarterbacks, East Carolina's Shane Carden (72.8 completion percentage, 3,575 yards, 32 touchdowns, seven interceptions) and Marshall's Rakeem Cato (59.3, 3,042 yards, 32 scores, seven picks). Both squads average more than 41 points per game and field top-11 defenses. Flip a coin.
3:30 p.m. ET (FOX) Washington State (6-5) at Washington (7-4)
The Cougars finally climbed on the right side of .500 despite allowing at least 55 points on four different occasions. Their offense, while improved, is still far from a juggernaut (65th nationally). Wazzu pulled the upset last year and has done so many times in series history. But on paper, the Huskies' rushing attack -- led by Bishop Sankey (143.2 yards per game) -- should be able to roll over the Cougs.
7 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1) Oregon State (6-5) at No. 12 Oregon (9-2)
Both teams have stumbled over the past month, but the Beavers have flat-out imploded. An offense that torched foes through its first seven games has averaged 17.4 points in its last four (all losses), and Washington ran all over Oregon State's defense last week. While Marcus Mariota's knee remains a concern, the Ducks should have little trouble extending their recent Civil War dominance.
Saturday, Nov. 30
Noon ET (ESPN) No. 2 Florida State (11-0) at Florida (4-7)
The embarrassed Gators figure to give whatever they have left in their final game of 2013. In fact, Jameis Winston and the Seminoles may not enjoy their typical 35-0 first quarter. But the talent gap between these teams is massive. Florida's offense, led by a third-string freshman quarterback, is helpless, while its defense can only hold down Florida State's playmakers for so long.
Noon ET (ABC) No. 3 Ohio State (11-0) at Michigan (7-4)
Well ... this could get ugly. Michigan's beleaguered offensive line has proven incapable of protecting quarterback Devin Gardner or providng him with any help from the running game. Enter Ohio State, which has more sacks (36) than all but two teams nationally. Perhaps some weird rivalry voodoo (turnovers, trick plays) will help Michigan keep it close, but Braxton Miller will have the final say.
Noon ET (ESPN2) Duke (9-2) at North Carolina (6-5)
These teams come in with a combined 12-game winning streak. Duke has found its running game, while North Carolina's offense got a late spark from sophomore quarterback Marquise Williams and some other young playmakers. The Blue Devils need a victory to wrap up the ACC Coastal, and despite facing a hot opponent on the road, their veteran leaders should get the best of the Tar Heels.
Noon ET (BTN) Minnesota (8-3) at No. 11 Michigan State (10-1)
The Gophers had a nice run in getting to 8-2. Unfortunately, they end the year against two top-15 foes. Michigan State is unlikely to run over Minnesota's defense (Wisconsin didn't), but quarterback Connor Cook is quietly getting things done (18 touchdowns, three interceptions). Meanwhile, Shilique Calhoun and the Spartans' top-ranked defense is built to stop a power-running team like the Gophers.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC) Georgia (7-4) at Georgia Tech (7-4)
Does Georgia have anything left in the tank after suffering its most heartbreaking blow yet, quarterback Aaron Murray's career-ending ACL tear? The guess here is no. The Dawgs will lean heavily on tailback Todd Gurley, and he's sure to have a big game. It might not be enough. Georgia's defense has struggled all season, and the Yellow Jackets' relentless rushing attack will eventually wear it down.
3:30 p.m. ET (CBS) No. 1 Alabama (11-0) at No. 4 Auburn (10-1)
No one has been able to slow quarterback Nick Marshall or Auburn's prolific rushing attack (320.3 yards per game) since early in the season. However, none of those opponents had the talent of linebacker C.J. Mosley and his Alabama defensive cohorts. Perhaps more telling, the Tigers have won most of their big games in shootouts. Auburn is unlikely to hold AJ McCarron and his receivers in check.
7 p.m. ET (FOX) Notre Dame (8-3) at No. 8 Stanford (9-2)
Notre Dame has turned in a better season that it's seemed; it boasts victories over current Top 25 teams Michigan State, Arizona State and USC. Yet the Fighting Irish don't excel in any particular area, and their mediocre running game does not inspire confidence. That could be a problem against Stanford's front seven. The Cardinal have been outstanding at home all season and will finish strong.
7 p.m. ET (ESPN2) No. 6 Clemson (10-1) at No. 10 South Carolina (9-2)
South Carolina is an up-and-down team that suffered a bad loss at Tennessee and barely handled a depleted Florida team. Clemson had only one bad game, its lopsided home loss to Florida State on Oct. 19. But for whatever reason, Steve Spurrier's team has had its way with the Tigers, winning the past four meetings. The Gamecocks have won 17 straight at home. The streaks continue.
7:45 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 19 Texas A&M (8-3) at No. 5 Missouri (10-1)
Johnny Manziel and the Aggies met their match at LSU, as Les Miles' team's swarming front four and power-rushing attack proved too much for A&M's defense to handle. Mizzou presents much the same formula -- only with better defensive linemen, like Michael Sam. Manziel and Mike Evans will have better games than they did last week, but Missouri tailback Henry Josey will have a big night, too.
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 22 UCLA (8-3) at No. 23 USC (9-3)
It's a wonder that Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley is still upright after sustaining nine sacks last week against Arizona State. UCLA has allowed 32 on the season. USC's defense, which has 32 sacks on the year, will bring the heat with Leonard Williams and Devon Kennard. Meanwhile, Trojans wideout Marqise Lee will make the most of what will likely be his final game at the Coliseum.
9:30 p.m. ET (Pac-12) Arizona (7-4) at No. 13 Arizona State (9-2)
The Sun Devils need a win to host next week's Pac-12 title game against Stanford. Arizona State's defense has improved over the course of the year, thanks in part to the reemergence of defensive tackle Will Sutton. It will handle Wildcats star Ka'Deem Carey slightly better than it did in last year's meeting, when Carey rushed for 172 yards. Arizona is unlikely to reprise last week's Oregon clinic.
Friday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC) Miami (8-3) at Pittsburgh (6-5)
This is an excellent chance to check out Pittsburgh's Bednarik Award frontrunner and longshot Heisman candidate, nose tackle Aaron Donald (26 tackles for loss). Miami's offensive line is one of the few units talented enough to possibly keep him at bay. But the Hurricanes' defense has fallen off in recent weeks. The Panthers can hold Stephen Morris in check and make just enough plays on offense.
Record Last Week: 7-7               Record This Season: 104-47

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