College football is 12 weeks into a great season. Now that more is known about all teams involved, fans can know what to watch for in the coming weeks. This list will narrow it down to five things to watch for in week 13.
1. The Game
This is a constant on things to watch in the last things of the season. This year, there is more on the line, as Michigan and Ohio State still have College Football Playoff hopes. Michigan will be favored on the road, but Ohio State has won 13 of the last 14 matchups between the two teams. The winner will go to the Big Ten Championship Game with their dream still alive.
The Wolverines have one of the best defenses in college football. They have talent and defensive coordinator Don Brown is great at creating defensive game plans week in and week out. They allow just 13.5 points per game and will pose problems for any offense. The difference for this Michigan team though is their offense. Running back Karan Higdon has brought a good ground game with his 1,159 rushing yards on 5.3 yards per carry. The real x-factor is quarterback Shea Patterson, who has been the best at the position under Harbaugh. Patterson will have to help exploit Ohio State’s defense for Michigan to win.
Ohio State has not looked great this season, but currently has a 10-1 record. Last week they needed overtime to beat a Maryland team that may not make it to a bowl game this season. Their defense has not played well this season and allow 24.6 points per game. Michigan isn’t the toughest test, so they may not be challenged, but if the Buckeyes play like they did against Maryland, they will lose. Luckily on offense, they have quarterback Dwayne Haskins who is breaking a lot of single-season passing records. He’ll need to have a career game for Ohio State to win.
2. Can Gus Malzahn exploit Alabama’s defense?
Alabama is a much better team than Auburn, so it is going to take a lot for the Tigers to beat the Crimson Tide. Against The Citadel, Alabama struggled in the first half with their option offense and the way they controlled the clock. Gus Malzahn will have to use some of the principles that the Citadel used to have a shot to win.
While Auburn doesn’t run a triple option offense like the Citadel, they do run a unique offense that could use some of the ideologies of that offense. Malzahn is an offensive genius who has experience making tweaks including running read options, quarterback powers and multiple other plays based on his personnel and the game plan. The Tigers haven’t had the best offensive season, averaging 29.1 points per game. Auburn will have to run the ball well and have quarterback Jarrett Stidham complete key third down passes.
The Crimson Tide did play very well in the second half of the Citadel game, but through the game showed weaknesses that other teams can exploit. Their players will need to stay disciplined on Auburn’s option plays. If they execute their roles and don’t try to do too much, Alabama should be able to win this game easily.
3. Big XII Clash
The Big XII Championship Game is yet to be set. This weekend two of the best teams will play each other in what could be a rematch a week later in the Big XII Championship Game. West Virginia and Oklahoma will square off with a lot on the line.
West Virginia lost this week to Oklahoma State to give them two Big XII losses, but they are still alive in the Big XII championship race. Quarterback Will Grier has had a great season and will have a chance to have a career day against an Oklahoma defense that just surrendered 40 points to Kansas. He has 3,325 passing yards on the season and after this week will be near 4,000 yards. They are fully capable of winning this game and the Big XII.
Oklahoma still has only lost to Texas on the year and are in contention for the College Football Playoff. Their offense is one of the best in the country, as Kyler Murray makes a lot of plays with his arm and his feet. If they do lose the rest of this season, it will be because of their horrendous defense, that allows over 30 points a game. They’ll have to force turnovers to be able to win this game.
4. The Apple Cup
The Apple Cup features Washington and Washington State. In the past few years, this has been a great game for rivalry week and this year is no different. Washington State has to keep winning if they want a shot at the College Football Playoff, but beating Washington will not be easy.
Washington was supposed to be the team from the Pac-12 competing for a championship, but they did not live up to expectations. They still only have three losses on the season and have a great defense. There is still hope for Washington to make the Pac-12 Championship Game and a New Year’s Six Bowl with a win, so they will bring their best for this one.
The Cougars are 10-1 and have a great passing attack led by quarterback Gardner Minshew. They can outscore any team in the country, but their defense is also solid. Given that they always throw, giving up 22.6 points per game is good enough to win most games. If Mike Leach can win this game and the Pac-12 Championship Game, they will be one of the debated teams to be in the College Football Playoff.
5. Florida State’s bowl streak
Florida playing Florida State usually has a lot more on the line. Still though, it will be a game that gets the juices flowing. The Seminoles will want to make sure they get a win so that they become bowl eligible, something they have been every year dating back to 1982.
The Gators have lost three games in the first season with Dan Mullen as head coach. As usual, the defense is above average, but the offense has been inconsistent. Their defense should be able to win them the game, but Feleipe Franks will have to make some plays from the quarterback position.
Florida State is 5-6, but just picked up a big win over a ranked Boston College team. The talent is there at the skill positions, but the offensive line has not played well this season. Their defense has also struggled despite having some good players, allowing 30.6 points per game. They’ll have to be more physical than Florida to win this game which is a tall order.
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