"Virginia Tech Hokiebird" by Katie (alaskahokie) is licensed under CC BY 2.0
College

College Football Week 13 Picks

College Football: Week 12 was a winner. After a slow 0-2 start from the Texas and UMASS games, we won the final three to close the week 3-2. On the season, we are now 29-27.

We finally busted-out on UMASS and Texas again led us astray, but Oklahoma, Old Dominion, and Appalachian State won relatively easily. Starting 0-2 on the week is a little unnerving, but to close in the fashion we did was a lot of fun.

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A Look Ahead to Week 13

Week 13 is full of rivalry games and critical season-defining matchups. #9 Ole Miss downed the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Starkville on Thanksgiving in the Egg Bowl, #1 Georgia plays Georgia Tech Saturday. #3 Alabama plays Auburn in the Iron Bowl, while #11 Oregon plays Oregon State. The highlight of the week will be the best rivalry in the land when #2 Ohio State travels to Ann Arbor to play #5 Michigan.

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

 

Army +3.5 at Liberty

UMASS finally caught our hand in the cookie jar last week. It was only a matter of time, but UMASS managed to keep the game from getting out of hand a few times, eventually losing by only 18 to Army. Now, we are going with Army against the Liberty Flames. Army’s triple option is very challenging to defend against and Liberty is very vulnerable against strong rushing teams.

One positive for Liberty is how Army struggled so greatly to stop Wake Forest and Sam Hartman. Liberty runs a similar offense to Wake Forest, so there’s a chance this game has potential to be a track meet. Judging by the Over/Under of 53.5, if you like Liberty in this game, you should parlay it with the Over, because that’s the most likely scenario if Liberty does win.

Liberty has had a major issue protecting Malik Willis over the past few games. They gave up seven sacks to Ole Miss in just the first half of their game a few weeks ago. That could be the issue that’s keeping this line both close, as well as such a low point total. Army is a fast, organized team who matches-up well with Liberty in the trenches. Expect Army to win that battle.

Army 28 Liberty 24

 

Navy -12.5 at Temple

Navy hasn’t been good this season. Compared to the last 15 years of Navy Football, this has been one of their worst seasons. Despite their awful record, the Midshipmen haven’t been completely awful. Six of their last eight games have been one score games (2-6 over that stretch). This line is 12.5, which seems to be more of a trap line. In reality, Navy matches up very well against Temple here.

Temple has had a rough go of things this season. After a 3-2 start to the season (including a 34-31 upset of Memphis), Temple has been held under 14 points in each of their last six games. Over that span, they’ve yet to allow less than 34 points. They are dead last in defense in the American Conference and surrender an average of 220 yards per game on the ground. This is a nightmare matchup.

Navy passes the ball an average of just four times per game. Their triple option isn’t what it used to be, but should still be enough to give Temple serious fits. With Navy’s secondary their primary issue on defense, they won’t have to worry much about that this week, as Temple is not at all proficient through the air. Expect a very slow boat race victory for the Middies.

Navy 28 Temple 10

 

Virginia Tech +7 at Virginia

Rivalry games are funny. Sometimes, you get crazy upsets and other times, you get blowouts. More often than not, you get an emotionally charged game where a lot of players step up. From a talent perspective, Virginia Tech is probably slightly better overall. However, Virginia has the better QB. With both these teams neck and neck in the standings, this should be a close, close game.

Virginia Tech has had a roller coaster of a season. It started well, as the Hokies beat #10 North Carolina to start the season. Since then, the Hokies have gone just 4-6, with a stretch in the middle of three consecutive losses. Now, they’re fighting for a bowl bid against their bitter rivals on the road. Following a 38-26 defeat at Miami, the Hokies need this win to play in December.

Virginia started out 6-2, before dropping their last three games. Their QB (Brennan Armstrong) has a whopping 40 TDs and 9 INTs on the season, with over 4,000 yards passing. The problem with this matchup is the Hokies pass defense. Their defense allows just 201 yards through the air each game. If they want to win this game, they’re going to need to balance their attack with the run.

The rub here is the Virginia Tech rushing offense and pass defense against the Cavaliers’ poor run defense and amazing pass offense. The matchups align well for the Hokies. As long as the Hokies stay close and aren’t forced into throwing the ball in a comeback scenario, I love for the Hokies to cover in what should be a very close game.

Virginia 30 Virginia Tech 27

 

Texas A&M -6.5 at LSU

Texas A&M is much better than their record indicates. Despite the poor first half both offensively and defensively against Ole Miss, the Aggies have so much talent on both sides of the ball. If not for the inconsistent play of their QB, this team could easily be undefeated. After eating a cupcake last week, the Aggies get to close their season against the dying star of the SEC, LSU.

The LSU defense has made some impressive strides since the drubbing they suffered against Ole Miss. Offensively, they’re not threatening. Since the win over Florida (who we now know is actually terrible), they’ve only surpassed 17 points in one of their last four games (27 vs ULM). They are a big name, galivanting around the SEC in the same obnoxious manner as their morally flexible head coach.

This game smells like a grind. This matchup reminds me of the Auburn game for A&M. I don’t see LSU abusing the Aggies through the air or on the ground, but if the Tigers can balance the two (like Ole Miss did), they can take down the Aggies. The reality of that scenario is that Max Johnson isn’t Matt Corral. He’s been efficient this season, but he’s not the guy who will solve this tough A&M defense.  

Texas A&M 27 LSU 13

 

Tulane at Memphis -6

Tulane is just so far from the team they were early in the season. Since nearly upsetting Oklahoma, Tulane got a rough reality check in their blowout loss to Ole Miss (61-21). Since then, Tulane has lost eight of their last nine. Last week, they managed to blow the doors off USF, 45-14. Unfortunately, USF is so putrid, it doesn’t do much other than shrink the line in this game.

Memphis started out the season very promising. After Week 3, the Tigers were on the edge of the Top 25, following a win over Mississippi State. Since then, the Tigers have lost six of their last eight games. Offensively, the Tigers aren’t bad, but it’s really more about how bad their defense has been this season. Memphis has allowed at least 25 points over the last three games.

The key here is to get pressure on the Tulane QB. Michael Pratt has a passer rating of just 37.0 under pressure this year. It’s a simple and clear strategy to take down Tulane, and I think Memphis is competent enough to make this their primary defensive strategy.

Memphis 27 Tulane 17

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