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2016 College Football Picks: Week Thirteen

Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
2016 College Football Picks: Week Thirteen
Current Record: 73-23

2 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. 3 Michigan Wolverines
While this college football season has seen plenty of big and exciting games, it is likely no game will have as big of an impact on the College Football Playoff as this hated rivalry. Ohio State comes in ranked second in the land and riding a wave of momentum since a mid-season loss to Penn State. They will be eager to defend their home turf against the Wolverines, who are going the opposite direction. Since a dominant start, UM has faded as of late, including a loss to Iowa and a poor showing against Indiana. Michigan still has questions at quarterback, as Wilton Speight's status is up in the air going forward. There were reports Speight was done for the year due to a broken collarbone, but others argue he may still be able to go. Former Houston transfer John O'Korn started the Wolverines' last game and was okay. O'Korn has had success against elite defenses at times, but the speed and athleticism of the Ohio State secondary presents a great challenge. No matter what happens at quarterback, Michigan will lean on a deep stable of running backs, including veteran De'Veon Smith and young stud Chris Evans. They will also turn to reliable tight end Jake Butt and a solid offensive line, which will have their work cut out for them. The Buckeyes' pass rush has been absolutely terrifying at times in 2016, thanks in large part to true freshman Nick Bosa and lengthy Sam Hubbard. The Michigan offense will have to go toe-to-toe with Ohio State on that side of the ball, and that could be worrying. While they have struggled with consistency, OSU has proven their offense can be dominant as well. Quarterback J.T. Barrett has a huge arm and is an excellent leader, but he has had some problems in big games. He will also have a tough defense to deal with, as the Wolverines' also bring plenty of playmakers on that side of the ball. Do-it-all Jabrill Peppers could see action offensively, but his strength is on defense, where he is a fantastic coverage weapon and can pressure the quarterback. Paired him with will be a defensive line full of veterans (defensive coordinator Don Brown loves to pressure the quarterback) and All-American corner Jourdan Lewis. The Buckeyes have a ton of weapons to work with offensively, namely rising back Mike Weber (1,046 yards on the campaign) and versatile H-back Curtis Samuel. Their O-Line has had some issues at times, which could lead to some serious issues as Barrett hasn't seen a defense with this elite talent really this entire season. The amount of talent in every aspect of the game is truly insane, and this rivalry will play a huge role on each season as long as Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh are on the sidelines. Both teams have clear strengths and weaknesses, and the game could go either way. However, it is hard for me to get behind a Wolverines team that will likely need a backup quarterback to go on the road and have the game of his life. My bet is on the Buckeyes, who will very likely lock down a Playoff berth with a win, even though that would mean not playing in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Ohio State, 31 Michigan, 24

1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. 13 Auburn Tigers
Despite plenty of tough teams in their way, Alabama has taken every lump and continues to dominate, sitting at a flawless 11-0 before facing in-state rival Auburn. The Tigers still have plenty to play for despite being out of the conference title or Playoff race. They could not only ruin Alabama's season a victory would put them in strong position for a New Year's Six Bowl. In order to do so, the Tigers will have to tame the plethora of offensive weapons Alabama possesses, while also finding a way to score against a great defense. Auburn will need to stop the explosive true freshman Jalen Hurts, who has been masterful in his first year as 'Bama QB. Hurts, who is a terrific athlete, will be joined by a powerful Damien Harris at tailback, and a great cast of receivers, namely Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart. Long known as a power, run-first football team (something they certainly can still do) Alabama has shown a willingness to stretch the field under OC Lane Kiffin. They will test Auburn's secondary early and often in this one, and should be able to find some success against a mediocre defensive backfield. While Alabama will likely put up some points, they can also completely smother you on the other side of the ball. Auburn's offense has had some moments, but is looked lost two weeks ago against Georgia in a loss, and the QB situation is worrying. Starter Sean White may miss the game, which could leave the job to Jeremy Johnson or John Franklin III. Johnson was the starter in 2015 before losing the gig, while Franklin can run but his arm has been questioned. They will hopefully have back Kamryn Pettway returning, as he has missed some time but is dangerous when healthy. Even with his return, it still is a mystery how Auburn will move the ball. Their offensive line isn't great, and will be tasked with stopping Jonathan Allen, Tim Williams and company. Plus, the Tigers' passing game is far from great, but will likely need to make some big plays with how stout 'Bama is up front. With Minkah Fitzpatrick and Marlon Humphrey lurking, that could be a recipe for plenty of turnovers. It is the Iron Bowl, which means plenty of hate between these two teams, and plenty of talent. Alabama is fantastic, but they are not invincible as a number of teams have pushed them throughout 2016. If Auburn can shut down Hurts and maybe get some luck on their side, they have a chance. Yet, I still lack any reason to not continuing to pick the rolling Tide.
Alabama, 35 Auburn, 23

5 Washington Huskies vs. 23 Washington State Cougars
While the Apple Cup has been played for a long time, it usually doesn't impact the conference championship race too much. That changes this season, as 10-1 Washington and 8-3 Washington State will clash for the Pac-12 North title. The Cougars started off the season with a loss to an FCS squad, but has responded by winning eight straight towards the middle of the year. Meanwhile, the Huskies started off '16 flaming hot, blowing out anybody that stood in their way. That changed in a Week 11 loss to scorching USC Trojans. The loss hurt Washington's Playoff chances but a win this week would certainly help them in a big way. Sophomore quarterback Jake Browning is likely no longer a Heisman threat, but he has still proven he can change games. Joined by back Myles Gaskin, Biletnikoff candidate John Ross III, and plenty of others, UW shouldn't struggle to score the ball, particularly against a weak Washington State defense. Mike Leach has long been known as an offensive coach, and the Cougars fit that role. Junior Luke Falk knows how to spread the ball to an abundance of offensive threats, namely River Cracraft and Gabe Marks. However, the Cougars have not seen a defense with the talent of Washington all season long, especially in the pass-happy Pac-12. Sidney Jones and Budda Baker are two of the top talents in the conference and should help contain Wazzu's wide outs. While that Huskies' defense has been terrific, they are beat up. Top pass rusher Joe Mathis is done for the year, while linebacker Azeem Victor is also done. The loss of those two was clearly an issue, and it showed in the loss to USC. Victor was a great coverage linebacker over the middle, and Mathis played a huge role. If the rest can't pick up the slack, Falk could have a field day. With Washington averaging 44.7 points per game and WSU averaging 41.9 one thing is sure: scoring will not be an issue in what should be a Friday night shootout. Which ever team plays better defense and actually records some stops should obviously win the game. Considering the Huskies have proven more consistent in that aspect, they are my selection and should battle to a huge Pac-12 Championship Game meeting with likely Colorado.
Washington, 44 Washington State, 38

Other Picks
9 Colorado, 28 22 Utah, 20
14 Florida State, 31 15 Florida, 21
6 Wisconsin, 24 Minnesota, 13
7 Penn State, 33 Michigan State, 24
4 Clemson, 37 South Carolina, 27

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