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College Football Picks 2018: Week Thirteen

Karan Higdon, Michigan
(#4) Michigan Wolverines @ (#10) Ohio State Buckeyes
For the first time in years and years, Michigan is not only a favorite against Ohio State, but a favorite on the road. The Wolverines have won ten consecutive games, and have asserted themselves as the clear favorite in the Big Ten. With that being said, there is nothing quite like the UM-OSU rivalry, and the Buckeyes will be ready. Ohio State needs to find a solution to their defensive woes, which were especially evident last weekend against Maryland. Ohio State will have to contain a Wolverines' rushing attack led by backs Karan Higdon and Chris Evans, while also figuring out a way to contain QB Shea Patterson. Patterson has been incredibly efficient over the course of this season, and he has some real weapons on the perimeter, namely Donovan Peoples-Jones and a healthy Tarik Black. This Michigan team will still play physical and run the ball, but expect Jim Harbaugh to try and attack this precarious OSU secondary. If they can get some big plays on the outside, the Buckeyes are really going to be in a tough position keeping up offensively. Either way, Ohio State will need a big day from record-setting quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. Haskins has put up big numbers all season long and has benefitted from a very deep and talented receivers corps, but this game will be a tough challenge for the redshirt sophomore. UM plays a lot of physical man-to-man coverage, and coordinator Don Brown is one of the most creative defensive minds in the sport. He is going to bring the blitz early and often, and force Haskins to beat him over the top. A major factor to watch in this one has to be the health of All-American defensive end Chase Winovich; Winovich was beat up in a victory against Indiana last weekend, but there is still hope he can play in this one. Even if he can't go, the Wolverines will get plenty of pass rushing help from a healthy Rashan Gary and linebacker Devin Bush. Ohio State is also going to need to find a way to get their rushing attack going, which has been surprisingly mediocre throughout 2018. J.K. Dobbins has the talent to do serious damage and he played well a year ago, but the Buckeyes still lack a consistent rushing attack. If they can figure that out, they should have enough offensively to deal with their serious defensive problems. Michigan has not beat the Buckeyes in Columbus in nearly two decades, but this game just has a different feeling this season. Haskins should be enough to keep OSU in it, but this Michigan team is much better up and down their roster, and they enter with all the momentum. Picking the Wolverines to do something they haven't done in 18 years may be borderline crazy, but I'm just that confident in this year's UM squad.
The Pick: Michigan, 38 Ohio State, 28

Auburn Tigers @ (#1) Alabama Crimson Tide
Few rivalries in college football are as intense as the annual Iron Bowl, and things should be especially crazy this season with Alabama searching for vengeance after last year's loss to Auburn. This year, the Tide are the unquestionable favorite, but they still won't get anything easy against the Tigers. Alabama is led by an explosive offense, with QB Tua Tagovailoa, a deep running back core and some potent receivers, including Biletnikoff Finalist Jerry Jeudy. This offense has balance, experience and playmaking at every level, and Tagovailoa has not shown any signs of stopping. He will face off against a strong Auburn defensive front, that has a number of future NFL defenders, but that hasn't intimidated the sophomore before, and Auburn's secondary has been streaky all season long. This could be the icing on the cake for Tagovailoa's Heisman candidacy with a huge day. For the Tigers, any hopes of an upset will include a big day from their offense, namely quarterback Jarrett Stidham. Stidham played superb football in the Tigers' upset win over 'Bama a year ago but he has had a streaky 2018, and he faces a fearless Alabama defense. That Alabama defense has stars at every single level, beginning with the defensive front, spearheaded by Raekwon Davis and Quinnen Williams, who will very soon be playing on Sundays. On the back-end, the Tide feature rangy linebackers Mack Wilson and Dylan Moses while the secondary has some really impressive young talent, including rapidly improving true freshman Patrick Surtain Jr. Auburn needs some help from their ground game, which has been pretty disappointing for much of the year. JaTarvious Whitlow and company have had some moments, but they'll need to break open up some big runs to really open up this game. I never think rivalry games are going to be blow outs because the emotion and passion usually means the games end up being close. With that in mind, I think Auburn can keep this competitive but upsetting the Tide on the road? That just isn't going to happen in 2018.
The Pick: Alabama, 42 Auburn, 27

(#7) LSU Tigers @ (#22) Texas A&M Aggies
Neither LSU nor Texas A&M will be playing for an SEC Title or anything similar when they meet up tomorrow, but the two still hope to end their regular season with some much-needed momentum. LSU still has a great shot to end their season with double-digit victories, which seemed like a lofty goal entering 2018 with their schedule. Quarterback Joe Burrow was unable to get LSU over the top to beat Alabama, but he has still proven himself all of 2018. He continues to play efficient football, and has shown he can get this offense rolling when needed. Texas A&M will need to find a way to contain running back Nick Brossette, who has 861 yards and 13 scores on the season. The Aggies have seen massive improvement on the defensive side of the ball under the leadership of new coordinator Mike Elko, but this could still be a tough matchup for them. A&M will also have to contain LSU's plethora of receiving options, namely veteran Justin Jefferson. For LSU, the key will be containing the Aggies' ground game, especially running back Trayveon Williams. Williams has excelled in Jimbo Fisher's new pro-style attack, rushing to the tune of 1,326 yards on the season. The Tigers will counter with their fabulous front seven, including All-American linebacker Devin White, and their ball-hawking secondary. Texas A&M is going to need quarterback Kellen Mond to make some difficult throws. Mond has had some moments so far in 2018, but this LSU secondary may very well be the toughest he has seen all year long, with the lone exception being Alabama. The Tigers feature future first-round NFL Draft selection Greedy Williams at corner, along with safeties John Battle and Grant Delpit. The key for A&M will be not turning the ball over and maintaining possession, something they've done well in each of their seven victories in '18. This game is not as heated as a rivalry as some of the other ones sure to be exciting this weekend, but it should still be a hard-fought, close battle. I'll stick with LSU to avoid a road upset here; the defense is strong enough to stop the Aggies and Burrow should be just enough to help the Tigers come away with their tenth win of the year.
The Pick: LSU, 28 Texas A&M, 24

Other Picks
South Carolina @ (#2) Clemson: Clemson, 38 South Carolina, 21
(#3) Notre Dame @ USC: Notre Dame, 33 USC, 20
(#11) Florida @ Florida State: Florida, 27 Florida State, 17
Georgia Tech @ (#5) Georgia: Georgia, 35 Georgia Tech, 20
Minnesota @ Wisconsin: Wisconsin, 24 Minnesota, 21

Current Picks Record: 67-21

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