By Matt Straub and Brad Carroll
If you were disappointed in the lack of big-time matchups in college football last week, your faith will be restored this week. There are two gigantic matchups Saturday afternoon, one featuring No. 1 Alabama at No. 6 Auburn and the other No. 8 Ohio State at Michigan. If that wasn’t enough, three other teams in the running for the final four tournament will be in action, looking to improve their standing as the regular season winds down, even while one of them deals with a Heisman favorite not starting.
Our four college football experts preview and pick against the point spread the biggest games from Saturday’s Week 13 afternoon slate of games below. Click here for our six-pack of previews and picks from Thursday and Friday’s games. Click here for our Saturday night game previews and picks here. As always, follow us on Twitter.
No. 7 Georgia at Georgia Tech, 12, ABC
Spread: Georgia -11.5
Matt’s Breakdown: There’s one thing to be sure of in this game. It won’t take long to play. If you thought Navy-Notre Dame was a throwback, watch this one. Georgia loves to run the ball behind its bevy of backs, while Georgia Tech runs an offense which seems almost prehistoric now, but is tough to defend because so few teams see it. A running battle usually means low scoring and closer than you’d think. Georgia has enough talent and motivation to win, but might have a hard time scoring enough to make it a rout.
Brad’s Final: Georgia 42, Georgia Tech 21 (Georgia)
Craig’s Final: Georgia 28, Georgia Tech 20 (Georgia Tech)
Glenn’s Final: Georgia 42, Georgia Tech 28 (Georgia)
Matt’s Final: Georgia 31, Georgia Tech 21 (Georgia Tech)
No. 8 Ohio State at Michigan, 12, FOX
Spread: Ohio State -12.5
Matt’s Breakdown: If you can figure out the Big 10, congratulations. These two teams are the personification of the most inconsistent, unpredictable conference in America. Ohio State throws its season away against Iowa, then routs a red-hot Michigan State team the next week. Michigan looks on track to make this game huge, then scores 10 against Wisconsin, which hadn’t beaten many quality opponents, but made the Wolverines look like anything but one. Michigan can’t score, but its defense is good enough that I can’t imagine giving them almost two touchdowns and sleeping well before the game. Ohio State wins, but it’s close.
Brad’s Final: Ohio State 31, Michigan 17 (Ohio State)
Craig’s Final: Michigan 21, Ohio State 20 (Michigan)
Glenn’s Final: Ohio State 31, Michigan 13 (Ohio State)
Matt’s Final: Ohio State 28, Michigan 17 (Michigan)
Florida State at Florida, 12, ESPN
Spread: Florida State -5
Matt’s Breakdown: This is like a great fight between two boxers that comes three years after their primes. This is a great game in terms of name recognition, but these are two programs who are shells of their former selves. Florida State’s problems run way deeper than an injury to a quarterback, and there’s talk the coach could be on the way out. Florida’s coach already is gone, and the Gators somehow went to Chip Kelly’s house and came back without a signed contract, allowing UCLA time to fire its coach and get in the running. My guess is Kelly realizes it’s much easier to get paid to talk about football and sits tight in Bristol, and Florida State musters enough pride to win.
Brad’s Final: Florida State 34, Florida 14 (Florida State)
Craig’s Final: Florida State 27, Florida 21 (Florida State)
Glenn’s Final: Florida State 28, Florida 20 (Florida State)
Matt’s Final: Florida State 21, Florida 14 (Florida State)
No. 1 Alabama at No. 6 Auburn, 3:30, CBS
Spread: Alabama -4.5
Matt’s Breakdown: I get the SEC isn’t as dominant as it was five years ago, but what exactly has Alabama done to make people want to forget about the Tide? I’ve even heard a theory where a one-loss Alabama team misses the playoff, which is insane for about 1,000 reasons, including television money. Nick Saban’s squad is 11-0 and has played exactly one game which was decided by seven or less. If Auburn is going to have any chance, it will have to run the ball. The Tigers run for almost 250 yards a game, whereas Alabama allows 87 yards a game on the ground. Alabama’s defense is too good for the Tigers.
Brad’s Final: Alabama 33, Auburn 28 (Alabama)
Craig’s Final: Alabama 31, Auburn 21 (Alabama)
Glenn’s Final: Alabama 35, Auburn 24 (Alabama)
Matt’s Final: Alabama 28, Auburn 21 (Alabama)
No. 5 Wisconsin at Minnesota, 3:30, ABC
Spread: Wisconsin -17
Matt’s Breakdown: P.J. Fleck is my favorite coach in college football. A lot of coaches try to act like he does, but Fleck’s act seems more genuine. I think he’s going to turn Minnesota into an above-average team in the Big 10 before too long. For now, however, there’s not much he can do against a team from Wisconsin which is significantly more talented and needs a convincing win to stay in the CFP picture. The Badgers might be hitting their stride at the right time, while Minnesota has cooled off after a good start. The Badgers run right through the Gophers.
Brad’s Final: Wisconsin 42, Minnesota 21 (Wisconsin)
Craig’s Final: Wisconsin 38, Minnesota 2 (Wisconsin)
Glenn’s Final: Wisconsin 31, Minnesota 28 (Minnesota)
Matt’s Final: Wisconsin 35, Minnesota 14 (Wisconsin)
West Virginia at No. 3 Oklahoma, 3:45, ESPN
Spread: Oklahoma -23
Matt’s Breakdown: If Will Grier was playing, I would be all over the Mountaineers here, until I remembered my vow to never pick them again and backed out at the last second. Oklahoma isn’t starting Baker Mayfield, who is quickly turning himself into this year’s good quarterback who falls during the draft because of character issues, but he’ll play enough to impact the game. Whatever distraction he caused this week, plus the time he missed, would make me fear a bad effort from the Sooners, but West Virginia can’t be trusted even with Grier in there, never mind with him out. Oklahoma rolls.
Brad’s Final: Oklahoma 56, West Virginia 31 (Oklahoma)
Craig’s Final: Oklahoma 59, West Virginia 30 (Oklahoma)
Glenn’s Final: Oklahoma 42, West Virginia 38 (West Virginia)
Matt’s Final: Oklahoma 42, West Virginia 17 (Oklahoma)
No. 21 Michigan State at Rutgers, 4, FOX
Spread: Michigan State -13.5
Matt’s Breakdown: Michigan State has bounced back nicely from its meltdown against Ohio State, and should have enough confidence going to pound an inferior team. Rutgers has lost its last two games by a combined score of 76-6, and recent scandals within the athletic department have caused the Scarlet Knights to fail to gain any traction, despite playing in an underrated state for recruiting like New Jersey. Rutgers should be at least competitive every week, but it just isn’t. This will be no exception.
Brad’s Final: Michigan State 28, Rutgers 10 (Michigan State)
Craig’s Final: Michigan State 27, Rutgers 10 (Michigan State)
Glenn’s Final: Michigan State 28, Rutgers 13 (Michigan State)
Matt’s Final: Michigan State 42, Rutgers 17 (Michigan State)
No. 23 Northwestern at Illinois, 4, FS1
Spread: Northwestern -16.5
Matt’s Breakdown: There are people who think the Illini are going to be an improving program in the next few years. This may be true, but in the present they are a very bad team. Illinois can’t throw and doesn’t run it terribly well. Northwestern is tough against the run and passes well. If Illinois tries to make it a shootout, it loses. If they try and play keep-away, the Illini get stuffed. Either way, it’s a good matchup for the Wildcats.
Brad’s Final: Northwestern 45, Illinois 20 (Northwestern)
Craig’s Final: Northwestern 34, Illinois 20 (Illinois)
Glenn’s Final: Northwestern 38, Illinois 20 (Northwestern)
Matt’s Final: Northwestern 38, Illinois 14 (Northwestern)