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Friday, 24 November 2017

College Football Week 13 Picks 2017 (November 23-25)

It is the start of rivalry week in the College Football regular season and this is the last chance for many teams to impress or knock off a rival bidding for big things in the remainder of the year.

We have only got a couple of the Championship Games set in stone and a number of Divisions will be decided with the two contending teams facing one another in Week 14 with the big one in the Iron Bowl that will decide the SEC West.

It's going to be a really fun week which covers three days as the Thanksgiving Weekend gives the Colleges a chance to play Friday day football as well as on Saturday.

The College Football Week 13 Picks will be on this thread and come out over the next couple of days.

Miami Hurricanes @ Pittsburgh Panthers Pick: The ACC Championship Game has already been set when the Miami Hurricanes take on the Clemson Tigers, but there are other big prizes in play for the Hurricanes. Winning out would mean a spot in the College Football Play Off next month and the Hurricanes have shown they have plenty of heart and desire when coming from a big hole to knock off the Virginia Cavaliers last week.

The Hurricanes can't make another poor start against the Pittsburgh Panthers who have improved in recent weeks and only narrowly were beaten by the Virginia Tech Hokies in Week 12. They put in a big effort into that game as they needed to win out to have a chance of becoming Bowl eligible, so I do wonder if the Panthers may just have lost some focus for the final game of the regular season.

Being able to spoil a season for an opponent should at least make the Pittsburgh players want to perform in their final home game, but emotionally they have had a big let down missing out on a Bowl game for the first time in a decade. Now they also have to play against one of the better Defensive teams in the ACC and one who have thrived on being able to spark the rest of the team.

It was a big Defensive effort which helped the Hurricanes turn around their deficit to Virginia last week and Pittsburgh should find themselves in some tough spots in this one too. The Panthers had some difficulty running the ball last week and the Miami Defensive Line have prided themselves on being able to force teams into third and long situations when their Defense can really begin to make some big plays.

Darrin Cole has had a strong season at Running Back, but it may be difficult to end his home campaign with another big day if the Hurricanes show up on the Defensive Line. It could mean pressure on Kenny Pickett who may take over from Ben DiNucci at Quarter Back from the start after coming in and performing respectively last week.

Pickett is being faced by a strong Miami Secondary who have been able to make some big plays and turn the ball over, and that has to be a concern with the inexperience the Panthers could be going with. Playing from third and long will also mean the struggles of the Pittsburgh Offensive Line in pass protection could show up with Miami very capable of getting to the Quarter Back. That pressure has led to the mistakes that the Secondary have picked off and all in all it feels like a tough day in the office for the Panthers.

Where Pittsburgh may feel they have a chance to at least keep this competitive is the way they have been playing Defensively in recent games. They've found the formula up front to stop the run after struggling for much of the season while that has also meant an improvement in the pass Defense with the Secondary capable of making a few stops from third and long.

The run Defense will be challenged this week though as the Miami Hurricanes continue to churn out plenty of yards on the ground thanks in part to having a mobile Quarter Back who is willing to make plays with his legs. It could be the key to the entire outcome of this game as the team who dominates the line of scrimmage on this side of the ball are likely going to have the success in the overall game.

If Miami are able to get the run going as they have been all season, I think the Hurricanes can pull away with their strong Defensive efforts likely to lead to a couple of turnovers. Running the ball also keeps Malik Rosier in manageable down and distance and I think that is a key for the Quarter Back who showed he can make plays through the air when not forced into tough downs and distance.

Rosier has to take care of the ball, but he has shown he can exploit some of the holes that still remain in the Pittsburgh Secondary and I like the Hurricanes here.

Playing in the cold conditions is a difficult challenge for Miami at this time of the year, but a team who can run the ball and stop the run as well as they can are built to play in December and January. The Panthers also have to deal with being knocked out of Bowl eligibility last week and the Hurricanes are 4-0 against the spread in their last four visits to Pittsburgh.

The Panthers also 1-5 against the spread in their last six hosting a team with a winning record on the road and 7-19 against the spread in their last twenty-six at home. I will back the Miami Hurricanes to win this one by a couple of Touchdowns and cover the spread.

South Florida Bulls @ UCF Knights Pick: This is a big rivalry game and it is going to determine whether the South Florida Bulls or the UCF Knights are playing in the American Athletic Conference Championship Game next week.

The Knights have the better record and also have the chance of appearing in one of the big Bowl Games in the next month if they can win out.

However I do think the Bulls have the ability to challenge them on both sides of the ball. With that in mind I think South Florida are under-rated here and are receiving far too many points.

They should be able to run the ball effectively to control the clock and I think the Bulls can play enough solid Defense to rattle the Knights. I actually think there is every chance South Florida wins this game outright so taking them with the points is the way to go.

Georgia Bulldogs @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Pick: There is a lot on the line for both of these teams with the Georgia Bulldogs hoping to remain in contention for a College Football Play Off berth and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets still trying to earn the one win which will make them Bowl eligible.

The rivalry just adds spice to this game in the final week of the regular season.

Expect to see both teams looking to run the ball for much of the afternoon and the ones who are able to do that more effectively are going to win the game. The Yellow Jackets have a triple option Offense which can be difficult to prepare for, but the Georgia Bulldogs play them every season and that should give them every chance to win the battle at the lie of scrimmage.

It is never an easy game when you play a rival who wants to play spoiler and that is where the Bulldogs have to be careful. That issue becomes more difficult with the Georgia Tech players desperate to get to the Bowl game of their own and it will be up to the Bulldogs Defensive Line to play at a high level and make sure they limit the damage done through the air.

On the other side of the ball I would expect the Bulldogs to establish both Nick Chubb and Sonny Michel against a Yellow Jackets team who have struggled against the run all season. Now they face one of the best rushing teams in the nation and I do think Georgia should be able to move the ball up and down the field for much of the day as they did against the Kentucky Wildcats last week.

Neither Quarter Back will be hoping to be too involved in this one as both teams look to run the ball as much as possible, but that is where Georgia do still have the edge and I like the Bulldogs even as a big road favourite.

Georgia are 8-0 against the spread in their last eight games at Georgia Tech. They are also 7-1 against the spread in their last eight on the road, and while the Yellow Jackets have some strong numbers of their own I do like the Bulldogs here.

The Clemson Tigers won by 14 here and I think Georgia Tech have had some disappointing losses of late which has to have affected the confidence. I will look for the Georgia Bulldogs to cover the spread in their march towards the SEC Championship Game and keep alive their hopes of making it into the top four of the College Football Play Off Rankings.

Alabama Crimson Tide @ Auburn Tigers Pick: The SEC West Division is up for grabs in the Iron Bowl on Saturday and this will also mean a chance to play for the SEC Championship and a shot to get into the College Football Play Off. It is quite a simple situation for both Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers with the losing team likely out of contention for a final four berth.

There is no love lost between these teams and this has the makings of another classic to rival the 2013 game which was won on a returned Field Goal attempt by the Auburn Tigers. That was the last time Auburn won in this series, but they are at home, playing well and I like the Tigers to keep this one close.

The key to the outcome of this game is going to be on the line of scrimmage where both Alabama and Auburn have been able to run the ball very well, but face strong Defensive Lines who pride themselves on shutting down teams on the ground. I think both teams will feel they can have some success running the ball, but I am not sure there will be much consistency despite the fact that both teams will continue trying to establish a run game.

Out of the two teams, I do think Auburn may have slightly better success on the ground against the injuries that the Crimson Tide have suffered on the Defensive side of the ball. That is going to be so important for them because I give the considerable edge to the Crimson Tide when it will come to throwing the ball.

Jalen Hurts is a Quarter Back that doesn't make many mistakes and he is mobile enough to make some plays on the ground too. However the Offensive Line has made it difficult to give Hurts a lot of time and the Auburn pass rush should be able to rattle him if they can keep the Crimson Tide in third and long spots for much of the day.

It has been much harder to pass on the Alabama Secondary than it has on the Auburn one and that is why the task for the Tigers is to make sure the run is established.

Alabama are 4-2 against the spread in the last six against Auburn, but I do like the home underdog who have knocked off the unbeaten Georgia Bulldogs here two weeks ago. Now they should be plenty confident of beating the Alabama Crimson Tide considering the injuries the Crimson Tide are dealing with.

I can only see this being a close and competitive game and I will back the Auburn Tigers with the points in this one.

Wisconsin Badgers @ Minnesota Golden Gophers Pick: Things are beginning to become clear for the Wisconsin Badgers who may be unbeaten but have not had the faith of the Play Off Committee when it comes to their Ranking. No one in Wisconsin should be overly concerned about that because they have been punished for what is perceived to be a weak schedule, but they have already confirmed their spot in the Big Ten Championship Game and winning out will result in a Play Off berth.

Putting together impressive wins will help and the Badgers have been doing that in recent weeks and I do think they have every chance of putting another in the books this week.

There will be plenty of motivation in the Minnesota Golden Gophers side of the ball too as they are still a win away from becoming Bowl eligible. However it has been a tough road over the last few weeks for the Golden Gophers in PJ Fleck's first season as Head Coach and that has seen Minnesota drop six of their last eight games.

It is going to be a real challenge for the Golden Gophers to do enough Offensively to give Wisconsin something to worry about. Playing against one of the best Defensive units in the nation won't help and the problems begin up front as the Golden Gophers are unlikely to be able to run the ball even close to as efficiently as they have in recent games.

Being unable to run the ball is not going to end well for Minnesota whose Offensive Line has had problems in pass protection and now face one of the strongest pass rushes out there. It feels like Minnesota will struggle for any Offensive consistency and turnovers could also be an issue for them.

On the other line of scrimmage, the Wisconsin Badgers Offensive Line is likely going to push around the Minnesota Defensive Line and that should see them rip off plenty of long gains on the ground. The Badgers have been very strong rushing anyway and Minnesota have allowed 5.7 yards per carry over their last three games with almost 240 yards per game given up on the ground.

That will just ease the pressure on Alex Hornibrook who has not played well at Quarter Back but who has seen his mistakes papered over by this run. While Hornibrook can make some plays, he is very much going to be an afterthought in this game with the Badgers expected to keep most of the plays on the ground and play some strong Defense to win this one.

In recent years the underdog has gotten the better of this series, but I don't think that will happen here. Wisconsin need to keep winning and impressing so I don't think they take the foot off the gas in this one and they are 9-1 against the spread in the last ten road games.

PJ Fleck has gotten players up for these games as the underdog, but it is a work in progress at Minnesota and I will look for the Wisconsin Badgers to make some big plays and cover a big number on the road.

The rest of the Week 13 Picks can be found below.

MY PICKS: Miami Hurricanes - 12 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
South Florida Bulls + 9.5 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Georgia Bulldogs - 11 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Auburn Tigers + 4.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Wisconsin Badgers - 17 Points @ 2.00 Coral (1 Unit)
Northwestern Wildcats - 16.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Clemson Tigers - 13.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Colorado Buffaloes + 10.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)

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