By Stewart Mandel
November 24, 2011
College Football Pickoff: Week 13
Thursday, Nov. 24
8 p.m. ET (ESPN) Texas (6-4) at Texas A&M (6-5)
Spite, jealousy and callous disregard for tradition may make this the last installment of the 117-year-old rivalry for the foreseeable future. Both teams need a win to salvage otherwise disappointing seasons. Quarterback Case McCoy will help reinvigorate an ailing Longhorns offense, while Texas' defense will put the clamps on Aggies quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Friday, Nov. 25
2:30 p.m. ET (CBS) No. 3 Arkansas (10-1) at No. 1 LSU (11-0)
The Razorbacks have given Les Miles' teams fits in recent years, winning three of the last four meetings. But this LSU team is on another level from its predecessors, particularly on defense. The Tigers will do what Alabama did to Arkansas on Sept. 24: Stuff the run and render its offense one-dimensional. Hogs quarterback Tyler Wilson can't win this one on his own.
Noon (FSN) No. 8 Houston (11-0) at Tulsa (8-3)
Tulsa has quietly cruised through Conference USA with the same 7-0 record as Houston. It will present Houston's toughest challenge to date, as quarterback G.J Kinnie can inflict damage both running and passing. But the Hurricane won't be able to stop the relentless attack of Case Keenum (4,269 yards, 38 TDs, three INTS), who will help Houston survive an early scare.
Saturday, Nov. 26
3:30 p.m. ET (CBS) No. 2 Alabama (10-1) at Auburn (7-4)
Auburn's young defense never did grow up this season, which is a shame, because last year's Iron Bowl thriller sure merited a more equitable encore. The Tide, already smacking for revenge after last year's result, will play their usual suffocating defense. Auburn's defense will put up a fight for a bit, but can't hold down Trent Richardson for 60 minutes.
8 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 22 Notre Dame (8-3) at No. 4 Stanford (10-1)
The Irish are limping to the finish, coming off a lackluster 16-14 win over Boston College in which they lost running back Jonas Gray for the season. The banged-up Cardinal have been trending downward as well, losing 53-30 to Oregon and struggling to put away Cal. But with the Heisman race increasingly tightening up, Andrew Luck will put on a show in his final home game.
7:45 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 18 Clemson (9-2) at No. 14 South Carolina (9-2)
It's starting to look like Clemson's offense peaked around mid-October. It doesn't help that game-breaking receiver Sammy Watkins is hobbled. South Carolina hasn't been the same either since losing star tailback Marcus Lattimore, but its swarming defense, led by defensive ends Melvin Ingram and Jadeveon Clowney, can put pressure on Tajh Boyd and force game-turning plays.
3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) No. 20 Penn State (9-2) at No. 15 Wisconsin (9-2)
The Nittany Lions broke out a nice wrinkle last week with the Wildcat, but their offense is still fairly limited. The Badgers, on the other hand, still boast the nation's best quarterback-running back tandem in Russell Wilson and Montee Ball. Penn State's dominant defense won't let Wisconsin run all over it, but the Lions' offense won't produce enough to keep pace.
10 p.m. ET (FSN) UCLA (6-5) at No. 10 USC (9-2)
While the Trojans have no postseason bid to play for, the Bruins are playing for a spot in the Pac-12 championship game. Seriously. Win, and they're in -- with a 6-3 conference record. But don't expect USC to suffer much of a letdown after last week's big Oregon win. In what might be Matt Barkley's last game at the Coliseum, the Trojans will score often.
Noon (ABC) Ohio State (6-5) at No. 17 Michigan (9-2)
Interestingly, the Columbus Dispatch this week removed its "Days since Michigan last beat Ohio State" ticker. For the first time in eight years, Michigan seems the more polished product, but the Buckeyes will not go down easily. Their defense will contain Denard Robinson, but the Wolverines will wreak havoc on Buckeyes counterpart Braxton Miller.
7 p.m. (ESPN2) Florida State (7-4) at Florida (6-5)
An FSU-Florida game with both teams unranked is about as common as Haley's Comet. The Seminoles' offense disappeared last week against Virginia, but for the most part they've been productive since quarterback E.J. Manuel returned. Florida, on the other hand, has struggled mightily against upper-echelon defenses. The 'Noles rank seventh nationally in yards allowed.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC) No. 4 Virginia Tech (10-1) at No. 24 Virginia (8-3)
UPSET SPECIAL: By now we should know better than to pick against Mike London, or to go with the favorite in a game broadcast by Joe Tessitore -- who took down both Oklahoma State and Oklahoma last week. The teams are eerily similar; both run the ball well and stop the run. By slowing down Hokies star David Wilson, the Cavs will eek out another ugly win and head to Charlotte.
Noon (ESPN) No. 13 Georgia (9-2) at No. 25 Georgia Tech (8-3)
UPSET SPECIAL II: Oftentimes this rivalry comes down to which team has bigger things ahead. The Dawgs wrapped up a spot in the SEC championship game last week; they're already hearing buzz about upsetting LSU or Alabama and crashing the BCS. The Jackets have no shot at the ACC title game; this contest will define their season. Their defense will perform accordingly.
Record Last Week: 5-5               Record This Season: 77-43
Week 13 Preview
Source:SI previews the key Week 13 action, including No. 1 LSU vs. No. 3 Arkansas and No. 6 Stanford vs. No. 22 Notre Dame.

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