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College football ’18: Week 13 previews

Week 13

It’s the final full week of the college football season, and The Game Haus will offer previews of every college football game featuring teams in The Associated Press Top 25. We’ll also give an expanded look at three Top 25 matchups especially worth watching.

Here we go with those Top 25 previews for Week 13 (all times Eastern):

Key Games

No. 6 Oklahoma (10-1) at No. 12 West Virginia (8-2), 8 p.m., Friday

Scouting the Sooners: They lead the Big 12, but this is a must-win in Week 13. Their defense is still a liability, but when you’re scoring 49.5 points per contest with Kyler Murray at quarterback, there’s always a chance.

Scouting the Mountaineers: West Virginia has dropped six in a row against Oklahoma, but is 5-0 this season at home entering this contest. The Mountaineers have to believe their high-powered offense can win a shootout.

Winner: West Virginia

No. 16 Washington (8-3) at No. 7 Washington State (10-1), 8:30 p.m., Friday

Scouting the Huskies: They’ve dominated the Apple Cup for years, winners of five straight and eight of the last nine. However, Washington is the underdog this time around and their talented defense will be put to the ultimate test.

Week 13
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Scouting the Cougars: In line for the Pac-12 North Division title, Washington State couldn’t ask for a better scenario than knocking off its biggest rival en route to the crown. Who would have thought at the beginning of the season we’d be touting Gardner Minshew II for the Heisman instead of Jake Browning?

Winner: Washington State

No. 4 Michigan (10-1) at No. 10 Ohio State (10-1), Noon, Saturday

Scouting the Wolverines: It doesn’t get much bigger than this for either team, but especially Michigan. The Wolverines have more riding on this one with a College Football Playoff berth awaiting. Their defense is dominant and the offense is capable, which sets up nicely for their first win over Ohio State since 2011.

Scouting the Buckeyes: There really isn’t much pressure on the Buckeyes because they are not favored. They have not been the same team since that loss to Purdue, especially defensively, but still take a three-game winning streak into Week 13.

Winner: Michigan

The Rest

No. 22 Mississippi State (7-4) at Mississippi (5-6), 7:30 p.m., Thursday

The Skinny: It’s Egg Bowl time again. A Thanksgiving tradition like turkey and green-bean casserole. The Bulldogs are the better team this season, but have dropped four of the last six meetings between the rivals entering Week 13.

Winner: Mississippi State

No. 11 Texas (8-3) at Kansas (3-8), Noon, Friday
Week 13
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The Skinny: The Longhorns seem confident injured quarterback Sam Ehlinger will be able to go in Week 13. That’s potentially huge for a Texas team aiming for a spot in the Big 12 title game. The good for news for Kansas: Come Saturday, it’s Les Miles’ program.

Winner: Texas

No. 8 UCF (10-0) at South Florida (7-4), 4:15 p.m., Friday

The Skinny: The Knights are up to ninth in the College Football Playoff rankings, which if a number of different scenarios occur, it’s possible they could be one of the final four teams standing. The Bulls, however, would like to have a say in things while trying to end a four-game slide.

Winner: UCF

No. 19 Syracuse (8-3) at Boston College (7-4), Noon, Saturday

The Skinny: With a bowl game set, it is possible the Orange will choose to sit out injured quarterback Eric Dungey? Then again, Syracuse should give itself the best chance to rid the bad taste left from that ugly loss to Notre Dame last weekend at Yankee Stadium.

Winner: Boston College

Georgia Tech (7-4) at No. 5 Georgia (10-1), Noon, Saturday

The Skinny: Kirby Smart has lamented how his Bulldogs need to be weary of the Yellow Jackets in Week 13. Considering Georgia has dropped the last two at home in the series, there’s reason to buy that. Then again, it’s hard to believe that will happen for a third straight time.

Winner: Georgia

No. 13 Florida (8-3) at Florida State (5-6), Noon, Saturday
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The Skinny: It comes down to this in Week 13 for the Seminoles, whose 36-year bowl streak is on the line. Did we mention Florida State has won the last five meetings? That’s a lot of pressure, but call it a hunch, Florida State will live to see another bowl.

Winner: Florida State

Auburn (7-4) at No. 1 Alabama (11-0), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Though Alabama went on to win the national championship last season, losing the Iron Bowl to Auburn probably still doesn’t sit well with Nick Saban’s program. That’s enough motivation to believe the Crimson Tide are poised to make sure business will be taken care of in 2018.

Winner: Alabama

No. 24 Pittsburgh (7-4) at Miami, FL (6-5), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: A date with Clemson in the ACC title game awaits the Panthers, who will look to close out the regular season with five straight victories. However, Pitt has just one win in its last six on the road against the Hurricanes.

Winner: Miami

Illinois (4-7) at No. 20 Northwestern (7-4), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Don’t think for a minute the Wildcats will be looking ahead to the Big Ten championship game. That’s not their style. Instead, Northwestern will try to extend its league winning streak to seven games. It’s outscored Illinois 108-42 during a three-game series run.

Winner: Northwestern

Maryland (5-6) at No. 15 Penn State (8-3), 3:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: A third consecutive victory to end the regular season should give the Nittany Lions a good chance at earning a New Year’s Six bowl. Despite all that’s gone on in and around the Maryland program, the Terps still have a chance at bowl eligibility.

Winner: Penn State

South Carolina (6-4) at No. 2 Clemson (11-0), 7 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: The Tigers are rolling along with an eye on the ACC championship game – and beyond. They will try for a fifth consecutive victory over South Carolina, which has been outscored 162-66 in the last four meetings between the teams.

Winner: Clemson

Kansas State (5-6) at No. 25 Iowa State (6-4), 7 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Iowa State looks to make back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time since 2011-’12. Before that happens, the Cyclones would like to snap a 10-game losing streak to Kansas State.

Winner: Iowa State

No. 17 Kentucky (8-3) at Louisville (2-9), 7 p.m., Saturday
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The Skinny: The Wildcats have won once in the last seven meetings with their bluegrass rivals, but that trend seems almost certain to change this season. Kentucky has not won nine regular-season games since 1977.

Winner: Kentucky


No. 8 LSU (9-2) at Texas A&M (7-4), 7:30 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: LSU is No. 7 in the College Football Playoff rankings, so apparently more than one person on the committee thinks highly of the two-loss Tigers. This won’t be an easy task for the visitors, but the Tigers have won seven straight over the Aggies.

Winner: LSU

No. 3 Notre Dame (11-0) at USC (5-6), 8 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: Notre Dame needs to win to stay in the College Football Playoff. USC needs a victory to become bowl eligible and possibly keep coach Clay Helton from being fired. Just another game between old friends.

Winner: Notre Dame

BYU (6-5) at No. 18 Utah (8-3), 10 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: It’s a healthy, respectful rivalry, but one the Utes have dominated for a while now. They’ve won seven in a row in the series, and allowed 20 or more points twice during that run.

Winner: Utah

No. 14 Utah State (10-1) at No. 21 Boise State (9-2), 10:15 p.m., Saturday

The Skinny: A division title in the Mountain West is at stake for the league’s two hottest teams. Utah State has not lost since August while Boise’s most recent setback came in early October. The Broncos have won eight straight at home against the Aggies.

Winner: Utah State

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