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College Football Picks 2019: Week Thirteen

K.J. Hamler, Penn State
Current Picks Record: 68-28 (6-7 Upset)
(#8) Penn State Nittany Lions @ (#2) Ohio State Buckeyes
The last three seasons, Ohio State-Penn State have given us some of the most exciting games of the college football season, and games that have essentially decided the Big Ten East. That should be the case once again this Saturday, as the winner will assert themselves as the favorite in the division, and in turn, the conference. The Buckeyes are the clear favorite, playing terrific football on both sides of the ball, well Penn State has been up-and-down the last few weeks. Containing Ohio State's explosive offense will be a stiff challenge for the Nittany Lions. Justin Fields remains a serious Heisman candidate, playing extremely confident behind center and boasting a 31-1 TD-INT ratio. He is joined in the backfield by Doak Walker Award candidate J.K. Dobbins, who has responded to a disappointing sophomore season by rushing for 1,289 yards so far in 2019. Ohio State is really good at finding ways to get both of their top weapons comfortable and confident, and Fields has a ton on the outside to work with. Receivers Chris Olave, K.J. Hill and Binjimen Victor are a load to handle for any defense, but especially for a Penn State secondary that has really struggled as of late. If Penn State has any chance of keeping OSU in check, it will have to start with a pass rush that has seemingly disappeared. Yetur Gross-Matos, Shaka Toney and Robert Windsor have to find a way to create chaos, which simply hasn't happened against Minnesota & Indiana. On offense, Penn State has loads of talent, but they've been incredibly streaky. Quarterback Sean Clifford has had his moments, but he can't turn the ball over if the Nittany Lions want to pull the upset. It would also help if PSU receivers could hold on to the ball, as they've struggled with drops all season. The rushing attack has been handled by a committee this season for Penn State, although Journey Brown and Noah Cain have separated themselves from the group. James Franklin is hopeful Cain can go in this one, after missing the last few games. He is the guy this offense likes to lean on when they're struggling to get things going. K.J. Hamler is also going to get opportunities to open things up, and he was dominant against the Buckeyes last fall. He is the top priority for this Ohio State defense. Another important thing to watch: Chase Young. The most dominant defender in college football is back from his suspension and should be extra motivated. He basically won this one for the Buckeyes in 2018 with a huge tackle for loss, and the PSU O-Line has to be ready. Penn State is a good football team, and I think they have enough on offense to keep things interesting. With that being said, the Buckeyes are the most well-rounded team in college football, and they get the Nittany Lions at home. They shouldn't have much difficulty pulling away here.
The Pick: Ohio State, 38 Penn State, 27

(#13) Michigan Wolverines @ Indiana Hoosiers
Even though this season has been somewhat of a disappointment in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines enter the final two weeks of the season poised as a spoiler. A win this weekend in Bloomington could provide them with the momentum they need to take down Ohio State at home next weekend. The thing is, this Indiana team is the best they've had in some time, and they aren't going to be a pushover. The Hoosier offense is actually extremely underrated, with a lot of ways to move the ball. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been a revelation in 2019, but an injury to his shoulder forces Indiana to turn to veteran Peyton Ramsey. Ramsey is a solid quarterback and a dual threat that could give this Michigan defense some issues. He is aided by tailback Stevie Scott, as well as wide out Whop Philyor. Philyor is working with his way through the concussion protocol, but if he is healthy, the Hoosiers have a real weapon that can hurt defenses in a variety of ways. Head coach Tom Allen is also well known for trying creative things to engineer yards, so the Wolverine defense will have to be properly prepared. The good news for UM is that their defense has been playing wonderful after a slow start to the season, particularly their secondary. Their offense also has been playing with more confidence, finally starting to gel under new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis. Quarterback Shea Patterson in particular is really starting to get things going. He is coming off a 384-yard, 4 touchdown performance against a really good Michigan State defense, and he'll have chances against the Hoosiers. Ronnie Bell and Nico Collins have emerged as elite playmakers on the perimeter, while the ground game has a variety of options to pound the ball with. It will be interesting to see whether it is Zach Charbonnet, Hassan Haskins or Tru Wilson getting the bulk of the carries. I also think that special teams is going to be a more important component of this matchup than most realize. Michigan has had issues with kicking in the past, which can't happen here if they want to avoid a possible upset. The Wolverines have escaped Bloomington with close victories in the past, but it seems like Indiana is due a win at some point. I think it should be a close game, but the absence of Penix for the Hoosiers swings this in UM's favor.
The Pick: Michigan, 28 Indiana, 24

Texas Longhorns @ (#14) Baylor Bears
Their undefeated season may be over following last Saturday's comeback loss to Oklahoma, but Baylor still remains a Playoff candidate if they can run the table. On the other side, Texas has experienced a frustrating 2019 campaign, but could still work their way into a favorable bowl if they win their final two. Baylor is hopeful their first half offense from last weekend can carry over into this one. QB Charlie Brewer has had his moments, but he must play with confidence. The Longhorn secondary is talented, but injuries and inexperience have really plagued them. It will be a tall task stopping Brewer and the rest of the Baylor pass offense. Wide out Denzel Mims has five touchdowns in his last three games, but is probable for this one. If he does play, Baylor gets a real matchup nightmare who the Longhorns will struggle to match up against. The real key for Baylor is going to be figuring out a defense that was so good in the first half against Oklahoma, then completely collapsed. The pass rush has some really good pieces, namely James Lynch and James Lockhart, but they really lost their energy down the stretch. If they can keep things up for the entire sixty minutes and the defense can force turnovers, the Bears are going to be in a good spot. Sam Ehlinger presents a real challenge for Baylor after what Jalen Hurts did to them last weekend. Although the rest of his offense has struggled through injuries, Ehlinger has 32 total touchdowns on the year. He's a much harder runner than Hurts as well, which is going to force Baylor to tackle well in space. I think this game could turn into a shootout with the weapons both teams can throw at you, and the way these types of November Big 12 games can turn out. I lean Baylor because of the home crowd factor, but this Texas team is probably better than a 6-4 team. I think they could end the season playing really strong football.
The Pick: Baylor, 35 Texas, 31

Other Picks
UCLA @ (#23) USC: USC, 34 UCLA, 24
(#6) Oregon @ Arizona State: Oregon, 30 Arizona State, 20
Arkansas @ (#1) LSU: LSU, 52 Arkansas, 21
Texas A&M @ (#4) Georgia: Georgia, 35 Texas A&M, 17
Upset: Utah State, 28 Boise State, 24

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