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College Football 2018 Week 13 Preview
Friday, 2018 November 23 - 12:29 pm
The Game is on. N.C. State plays UNC. Penn State hosts Maryland.

Michigan at Ohio State, 12:00 PM Fox
Here it is. It's all on the line again. Michigan and Ohio State are both 10-1 and in contention for both a conference title and a national title. Throw away all the analysis, because historically we've seen that just about anything could happen. It could be a rout in one direction or another, or it could be one of those instant classics that comes down to a last-second play.

This is one of the few times in recent history that Michigan has come into this game as the favorite. Michigan appears to be the better team all around, as Ohio State has been prone to giving up big plays and lots of points on defense, and has often been one-dimensional on offense. But Michigan is not without its weaknesses either; Michigan safety Tyree Kinnell was picked on by Indiana, and Ohio State's excellent receiver corps will probably look to repeat that game plan. And while OSU's DL is not as fearsome as it once was (party due to DE Nick Bosa's decision to sit out the year before going off the NFL), it's still a formidable front.

I think Ohio State has only played a defense close to Michigan's caliber once this year, and that's the game against MSU where OSU only had 17 points from their offense, on 347 yards. There's little reason to expect Michigan's defense to do much worse than that.

I'm hesitant to predict a Michigan win here for fear of jinxing the team, but in my head and my heart, I feel like this is the year.

Prediction: Michigan 27, Ohio State 13.

N.C. State at UNC, 12:20 PM ACC Network
N.C. State is surprisingly just a seven point favorite over 2-8 UNC. Is this because it's a rivalry game? Or because it's a road game? It's true that UNC has played a lot of teams close, and they beat Coastal division champ Pitt in one of their two wins this year. So maybe the oddsmakers are smarter than they look.

But it's hard to see how UNC's porous defense stops Ryan Finley. UNC has been giving up 34.6 points and 451 yards a game. They've only kept their games close thanks to heroic efforts from quarterback Nathan Elliott, who has 2169 yards passing on the season (but has also thrown 9 interceptions).

It might shape up to be something like the Syracuse game, a scoring fest where the last team with the ball wins. But if NCSU can put together some semblance of a running game and a little bit of defense, then watch out.

Prediction: NCSU 56, UNC 35.

Penn State vs. Maryland, 3:30 PM ABC
We just saw Maryland take Ohio State to the brink, but I think that speaks more to how bad OSU's defense is than anything else. Against any kind of real defense, Maryland has been sluggish: they lost 42-21 against Michigan, 24-3 against Michigan State, and 23-0 against Iowa. Penn State's defense has been playing well and should be up to the task against Maryland's crazy Matt Canada offense.

The Penn State offense will need to step it up, though. 20 points against Rutgers was worrisome. The passing game hasn't been clicking; that's as much on the drop-prone receiving corps as it is on McSorley, and there isn't enough firepower in the rushing game to make up for it. PSU will probably need to run with McSorley quite a bit to keep drives alive, and hope that they can keep him healthy throughout the game.

Prediction: Penn State 22, Maryland 17.

Games to Watch on TV
There are a raft of Friday games on this holiday weekend. The most notable ones are in the evening: #6 Oklahoma plays at #13 West Virginia for a spot in the Big-12 championship game at 8:00 PM on ESPN; #16 Washington plays at #8 Washington State for a spot in the Pac-12 championship game on Fox. Both games should be compelling.

But on Saturday, The Game (#4 Michigan vs. #10 Ohio State) is the obvious Game of the Week; it's at noon on Fox. Also at noon-ish is NCSU at UNC on the ACC Network. #11 Florida plays Florida State on ABC, though this rivalry game doesn't quite have the same luster as in years past.

At 3:30, Auburn plays #1 Alabama on CBS, though most are expecting a blowout. Maryland vs. #12 Penn State is on ABC.

The evening games feature #7 LSU at #22 Texas A&M on the SEC network at 7:30, but that's a bit of a yawner since the SEC title game is already locked up. LSU has an outside chance at a CFP bid, though.

#3 Notre Dame plays USC on ABC at 8:00. Could USC pull off a stunning upset here? Hard to say whether that hurts or helps Michigan; probably doesn't matter much either way, so I guess it's safe to root for USC.

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