College Football Week 13 Picks: Conference Races on the Line

Who will win Penn State-Ohio State and more of Week 13's biggest games in college football?
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Ohio State vs Penn State predictions picks college football

We're nearing the end of the college football regular season, with only two Saturdays to go before championship weekend. But first, there's division titles to be settled. Top-10 teams Ohio State and Penn State square off in a game this week that will essentially decide the Big East, and Baylor and Boise State are among teams who can wrap up a spot in their conference championship game with a win. Who will take home a victory in the penultimate week of the regular season? Our writers and editors' picks are in for 11 key matchups.

Season-Long Standings

Pat Forde: 18–6 (75.0%)
Molly Geary: 101–42 (70.6%)
Max Meyer: 101–42 (70.6%)
Michael Shapiro: 101–42 (70.6%)
Laken Litman: 98–45 (68.5%)
Ross Dellenger: 96–47 (67.1%)
Lorenzo Arguello: 45–25 (64.2%)

No. 9 Penn State at No. 2 Ohio State (12 p.m. ET, FOX)

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Laken Litman picks Ohio State: The last three meetings between Ohio State and Penn State have been incredibly intense, with each of those games being decided by three points or less. Given that whoever wins will take control of the Big Ten East, we should expect to see another instant classic. The deciding factor here is going to be the return of Chase Young, who is back after serving a two-game suspension. Had he also sat out this game, the Nittany Lions would have had a better chance. But Young will likely resume his post as the nation’s sack leader after Saturday (with 13.5 this season, he’s half a sack out of the top spot). Give the edge to the Buckeyes.

Illinois at No. 20 Iowa (12 p.m., BTN)

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Molly Geary picks Iowa: That this game is even included here is a testament to the job Lovie Smith has done turning around the Illini after a 2–4 start. Illinois has won four straight, including over Wisconsin and Michigan State, and is unlikely to be a pushover even in the road confines of Kinnick. Iowa is coming off an emotional win over Minnesota and could be vulnerable to a letdown. Still, the Hawkeyes' defense is nasty and hasn't given up more than 24 points all season. Illinois has allowed 31 sacks this year, a major concern with the likes of stud Hawkeyes DE A.J. Epenesa roaming.

Texas A&M at No. 4 Georgia (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

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Ross Dellenger picks Georgia: The Bulldogs were written off after dropping that home game to a South Carolina team that's now 4-7, but here they are, in a position, many agree, to control their own destiny in advancing to the college football playoff. They'll need to get through the Aggies and Georgia Tech (sounds simple enough) before facing LSU in the SEC championship game, a play-in game to the playoff. 

No. 19 Texas at No. 13 Baylor (3:30 p.m. ET, FS1)

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Pat Forde picks Texas: How much helium is still in the Baylor balloon? That's the question after the Bears' undefeated run met a disastrous end in the second half against Oklahoma. The Baylor defense was gassed and its offensive limitations exposed, and now the Bears have to turn around and get back up for the Longhorns. Texas has been a major underachiever this season but still has a chance to make the Big 12 title game if it wins out and gets some help. Almost every Texas game is close, so expect this one to be as well.

No. 15 Michigan at Indiana (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

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Lorenzo Arguello picks Michigan: Michigan fans are probably already setting their sight on the Ohio State game next weekend, but Indiana won’t be an easy out this week. Advanced metrics like S&P+ say IU is one of the more balanced teams in the country, with a top-15 offense and top-40 defense. Of course, Michigan boasts one of the better defenses in the country, regardless of metric. If Shea Patterson plays anywhere near the level he did against Michigan State last week, then the Wolverines should prevail on the road.

SMU at No. 23 Navy (3:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN)

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Lorenzo Arguello picks SMU: SMU-Navy can serve as somewhat of an AAC West elimination game. Memphis currently holds the first-place tiebreaker over the Mustangs and Midshipmen, but if Memphis were to lose its season finale against Cincinnati that would give the Tigers two conference losses and open things up for the winner of this matchup, if that team wins out. So plenty of stakes to play for, even New Year’s Six stakes. Expect a lot of points thanks to SMU’s leaky defense, the difficulties of stopping a triple-option offense like Navy’s, and Shane Buechele’s arm. I think SMU’s offense will be able to do just a little more than Navy’s on Saturday.

Pitt at Virginia Tech (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

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Ross Dellenger picks Virginia Tech: Remember when the Hokies were left for dead? They began the season with a loss at Boston College, looked terrible in close wins over Furman and Old Dominion, got crushed at home against Duke and ... then went on a tear. They've won five of six, their only loss a one-pointer at Notre Dame. The winner of this one remains alive along with Virginia to win the ACC Coastal. Tech-UVA a week later could decide the Clemson's opponent. 

Temple at No. 17 Cincinnati (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

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Pat Forde picks Cincinnati: The Bearcats are wobbling, with narrow wins over bad East Carolina and South Florida teams this month. But the power of Nippert compels them—Cincinnati has won 12 straight at home in Nippert Stadium, one of the most underrated venues in college football. (Last home loss was the last time Temple visited, in 2017.) These two teams are stylistically similar, so expect a low-scoring, defense-dominated game that probably goes well into the fourth quarter before being decided.

No. 6 Oregon at Arizona State (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

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Max Meyer picks Oregon: Normally a ranked team traveling to the desert spells trouble in the Pac-12. And despite Arizona State’s recent struggles, I have a weird feeling this game is close. But the Sun Devils’ defense has fallen off a cliff recently, and going up against Justin Herbert isn’t the best remedy for those struggles. While I think true freshman QB Jayden Daniels & Co. will be able to move the ball against an Oregon defense that has shown signs of vulnerability this season, I trust the Ducks to avoid this trap and continue their CFP push.

TCU at No. 10 Oklahoma (8 p.m. ET, FOX)

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Michael Shapiro picks Oklahoma: The Sooners’ Playoff hopes are still alive after a thrilling comeback in Waco last week, and don’t expect Lincoln Riley’s squad to slip before the Big 12 championship. Electric receiver CeeDee Lamb may return to the field after missing Oklahoma’s win over Baylor, and even without Jalen Hurts’ top target, it’s hard to imagine the Sooners getting outscored by TCU’s middling offensive attack. Horned Frogs quarterback Max Duggan shredded Texas Tech last week. He combined for six interceptions in his prior two starts. A repeat on Duggan’s performance in Lubbock is unlikely as TCU aims to become bowl eligible for the sixth straight season.

No. 21 Boise State at Utah State (10:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN)

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Michael Shapiro picks Boise State: Boise State can clinch the Mountain West Mountain Division title with a win on Saturday, but let’s pick the Aggies for an upset in Logan. The Broncos are banged-up for the matchup, losing Mountain West career sacks leader Curtis Weaver last week to injury along with a pair of starting offensive lineman. Both starting quarterbacks are questionable for the matchup. Boise State’s Hank Bachmeier is battling a shoulder injury, and Utah State’s Jordan Love exited Utah State’s win over Wyoming last week in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury. The Aggies are well-positioned to win a ground-and-pound affair.