Hopefully everyone had a wonderful holiday, stayed safe and healthy, while also enjoying a delicious meal with some close friends and family. Well today we are back at it with a pretty good week 13 Slate. This week is being called the “rivalry week” even though there is no Michigan versus Ohio State and Bedlam was played last weekend. The Iron Bowl will be played on Saturday in Tuscaloosa. Before we dive into the games, let’s go over some news and notes from the holiday week:
- The New Era Pinstripe Bowl has been cancelled, citing coronavirus fears. This game has been played annually since 2010. The original date to play the game was December 29th, 2020.
- Colorado at (18) USC, would have been a sneaky trap game for USC, as Colorado is solid this year. However, we won’t get to see the match-up on Saturday, as USC has too few scholarship players on the offensive line to play the game. Instead, Colorado will host San Diego State on Saturday at 3 PM Eastern.
- Shane Beamer, son of legendary Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, is garnering more and more support to fill the head coaching vacancy at South Carolina. He is receiving report from alumni and current NFL player Melvin Ingram.
- Nick Saban, Alabama head coach will miss the Iron Bowl this year, as he tested positive this week, and is showing signs of COVID-19. Best Wishes to coach Saban!
- Kentucky will be down 18 players when they take on Florida on Saturday. Wildcats coach Mark Stoops on Wednesday said the team “can’t afford any more” personnel losses as it goes through another round of COVID-19 testing on Thursday morning. (ESPN)
- Finally, Oklahoma vs West Virginia has been cancelled due to a virus outbreak in Norman. The Sooners halted all football activities.
“Rivalry Week” Games/Week 13 Slate
(13) Iowa State at (17) Texas: This is the biggest game the Cyclones have played in in a while. On Saturday, if Iowa State can beat Texas, they will punch their ticket to the Big 12 Championship. Sam Ehlinger is not having the year he would have wanted, but has still been the catalyst for some big Longhorn wins. Breece Hall, who should be the front-runner for the Doak Walker Award, has been fantastic this year. He’s rushed the ball 180 times, for 1,169 yards, and 15 touchdowns. That is 6.5 yards per carry, while only running the ball 22-23 times a game. This game should come down to the wire, but in the end, Matt Campbell and the Cyclones punch their ticket with a 31-27 victory over the Longhorns and head coach Tom Herman, who’s seat is getting hotter by the day. (JB Pick: The line is even, so I’ll take Iowa State outright).
(2) Notre Dame at (19) North Carolina: This is a very dangerous game for Notre Dame, who is favored by only six in Chapel Hill. North Carolina has been an up and down team all year. They started the season very well, and climbed into the top-10 of the rankings. However, they were also shocked by Virginia and Florida State on the road. When the Tar Heels play within the city limits of Chapel Hill, they are a much better team. Notre Dame’s defense will be key for the Irish on Friday, as they allow 100 less yards than North Carolina. Look for Kyren Williams and Ian Book to have big games for Brian Kelly and the Irish. If North Carolina wants to pull the holiday upset, sophomore quarterback Sam Howell needs to play like he did versus Wake Forest last weekend. He also has two great receivers to throw to in Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome, who have 12 touchdowns combined. (JB Pick: I would stay away from this line, it’s very tricky, so I’ll take the under at 68. But if I had to take the line, I would take North Carolina +6)
(15) Oregon at Oregon State: Weird things tend to happen in this game in Corvalis. This rivalry used to be named the “Civil War,” but that’s not appropriate, so its just a regular rivalry game. Through three games, Ducks quarterback Tyler Shough has been a game manager. He’s 57-86 for 873 yards, eight touchdowns, and two picks. The Ducks backfield is full of talent, including running backs C.J Verdell and big-play threat Travis Dye. They also have a balanced receiver group, so Oregon should be able to flat-out out score the Beavers. Look for the Beavers to stay withing reach of the lead throughout the first three quarters. (JB Pick: Oregon State +13.5)
(4) Ohio State at Illinois: Ohio State got a reality check last weekend versus Indiana. Hoosiers quarterback Michael Penix Jr, threw for almost 500 yards and 5 touchdowns against a slow Ohio State defense. However, expect this weekend to be much different. Justin Fields had his worst game of his career last week, as he threw three interceptions, the total amount he threw last year. Ohio State is mad, and Illinois will be on the receiving end of that punishment. Look for Fields to throw for over 250 yards and have 4+ scores. (JB Pick: OSU -28)
Kentucky at (6) Florida: As you read above, Kentucky is already down 18 players and staff because of a coronavirus outbreak. As if beating Florida in The Swamp wasn’t hard enough, it just got way more difficult. Look for Kyle Trask to have another great game against a week defense. After this week, don’t be surprised if Trask is the front-runner for the Heisman. (JB Pick: Florida -25)
Maryland at (12) Indiana: After last week’s disappointing loss to Ohio State, the Hoosiers are looking for someone to take their anger out on. However, that won’t happen this week, as Maryland is back on the field, with one of the better squads they’ve had in years. Terrapins quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, younger brother of Dolphins signal caller Tua Tagovailoa, has shown flashes of greatness this year in College Park. On the year he is 58-86 for six touchdowns and four interceptions. Running back Jake Funk averages over 100 yards per game, and has two touchdowns this year. Look for Indiana to put the game away in the fourth quarter. (JB Pick: Maryland +12)
(8) Northwestern at Michigan State: After a huge victory last weekend over Wisconsin, Northwestern and coach Pat Fitzgerald are riding the wave. Northwestern’s defense is the real deal, as they only allow about 13 points per game. The Wildcats force turnovers and don’t give up big plays. Michigan State is very hard to judge this year under new head coach Mel Tucker. They have a 1-3 record, but their one win came in Ann Arbor, which is no easy place to play, even without fans. I would expect this to be a very low scoring game, with Northwestern blanking the Spartans. (JB Pick: Northwestern -13, but I really love the under of 41.5.)
Game of the Week: (22) Auburn at (1) Alabama: As we’ve stated before in articles and on the podcast, Auburn at home is a tough out, but on the road they struggle mightily. As stated before, Nick Saban will be absent for this game, as he tested positive for COVID. It shouldn’t make much difference, because Alabama is a well-oiled machine. Look for Alabama to jump out to an early lead, then coast to the finish line. (JB Pick: Auburn +24.5, it is still a rivalry game)
JB Official Picks:
- North Carolina +6
- Ohio State -28
- Maryland +12
- Northwestern -13
- Auburn +24.5
- Texas Tech vs Oklahoma State Over 54
- Ohio State vs Illinois under 71.5
- North Carolina +6
- Iowa State Outright
- Northwestern/Michigan State Under 41.5
Players To Watch:
- Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina: Howell is a true sophomore, and has been compared to a young Kyle Trask. He has been up and down all year, but if North Carolina wants any chance to beat the Fighting Irish, he needs to play excellent. Last week in the Tar Heels shootout win over Wake Forest, Howell was 32-45 for 550 yards and six touchdowns to only one interception. If he plays like that again, and the defense can find a way to get some stops down the stretch, UNC could very well win this game outright.
- Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State: Hall will be to focus of the Iowa State offense in their biggest game in years. He carries the ball 22-23 times a game for over 100-yards per game and 15 touchdowns. I said it before, but I’ll say it again, Breece Hall should be the favorite for the Doak Walker Award.
- Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State: This is more of a game to see how well Fields can bounce back after his awful performance last weekend. He was 18-30 for 300 yards and 2 touchdowns. His fatal flaw was that he threw three interceptions, which helped keep the Hoosiers in the game. At this point, I’d say he’s not in the top-four or five in the Heisman race, but with a couple great bounce back games, he can plan on joining in on the race.
Well there you have it, another college football weekend is on the horizon. The slate on Friday, is just as great, if not better than Saturday’s. Make sure to tune into The Fourth & Long Podcast today at 1:15 PM Eastern Time. We will react to the first college football playoff rankings, preview the weekend slate, give you our winners, and go over some players to watch this weekend. On top of that we will have a festive One-Minute Debate, Jake will test me out on two truths and two lies, we give you our hot takes, go over “today in sports history,” and of course everyone’s favorite: Trivia. Make sure to follow all of us on Twitter, and an Instagram should be coming soon!
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See you at one o’clock this afternoon!