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CFB: Previews And Predictions For the Top Games of Rivalry Week

                                         Photo by gamedayr.com

It's rivalry week in college football and as usual there are some huge matchups around college football.  Let's take a look at the top games this week.


#2 Florida State (11-0) vs. Florida (4-7)      


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Location: Gainsville, FL

When: Saturday, 12 PM

TV: ESPN

Preview:  What a surprise season its been for both of these programs.  The Will-Muschamp-led Florida Gators had national title hopes this season, but those goals have certainly been bashed. The Gators are an attrocious 4-7.  Their struggles in 2013 are due in part to numerous injuries and a lowsy offense.  The one bright spot for the Gators is their defense which despite the loss of multiple playmakers in LB Antonio Morrison, DL Dominique Easley, etc, boast the seventh best defensive unit in the country.  Will Muschamp is difficult to figure out.  He is the Rex Ryan of college football.  He has a great defense every year but a mediocre offense.  Florida does boast a competent running game led by backs Kelvin Taylor and Mack Brown.  

About 150 miles down the road, Jimbo Fisher's Seminoles have had a tremendous season and have succeeded expectations.   This sucess is due in large part to the emergence of arguably the best player in college football in true freshman QB Jameis Winston.  Famous Jameis is a dynamic player, a great athlete, and a true dual-threat.  Winston has passed for over 3,100 yards and 32 touchdowns.  Winston also has a slew of offensive weapons around him including RB Devonta Freeman, WR Rashad Greene, WR Kelvin Benjamin, and WR Kenny Shaw.  The Seminole's also have a dominating defense which is the fifth best in the nation. 

Prediction:  Florida will try to establish its running game and keep Jameis and the FSU offense on the sideline.  That won't happen.  FSU has an outstanding defense.  They only gave up two touchdowns to Clemson's lethal offense.  Jimbo's Crew will destroy the Gators and put Muschamp on an even warmer seat.  FSU 45-UF 10


#3 Ohio State (11-0) vs. Michigan (7-4)


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Location: Ann Arbor, MI

When: Saturday, 12 PM

TV: ABC

Preview: Braxton Miller and the Bucks are coasting through the Big 10.  Head Coach Urban Meyer has done an outstanding job in Columbus.  He doesn't have a loss at Ohio State.  Think about that.  Ohio State has a high-scoring offense led by Heisman worthy, dual-threat QB Braxton Miller, big and physical RB in Carlos Hyde, and a capable receiving corps.  The Buckeyes boast the #7 offense in college football.  Ohio State also quietly is #8 in scoring defense.  

In Ann Arbor, Head Coach Brady Hoke has somewhat struggled in his 3 years at the Michigan helm.  The Wolverines started 2013 with a bang by winning 5 straight but lost 4 of the last 6 games.  The Wolverines have an underrated QB in Devin Gardner who is a threat in the passing game and the ground game.  Michigan's O is also led by big, physical RB Fitz Toussaint, TE Devin Funchess, and dangerous reciever Jeremy Gallon.  

Prediction: The Big House can get crazy, but it won't rattle Braxton Miller too much.  It will be close for 3 quarters then the Wolverines will roll over.  Ohio State 45-Michigan 28


Minnesota (8-3) vs. #11 Michigan State (10-1)


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Location: East Lansing, MI

When: Saturday, 12 PM

TV: Big 10 Network

Preview: Head Coach Mark Dantonio has done a great job at the helm of Michigan State.  Sparty is a national power led by a physical running game and a rugged, SEC-style defense.  The Spartans D is ranked first in the nation and are only allowing opponents an average of 12.5 points per game.  On the offensive side of the ball, Michigan State is spear-headed by RB Jeremy Langford who has rushed over 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns.  

In Minneapolis, the Golden Gopher fan base is happy as ever.  Jerry Kill has done a great job at  the head coaching position at Minnesota.  In his third season, he has coached Minnesota to 8 wins for the first time since 2002.  The Golden Gophers are led by RB David Cobb who has run for 1,010 yards and 7 touchdowns.  Minnesota isn't flashy by any means, but they have found a way to add to the win column.  

Prediction: Michigan State 35-Minnesota 14


Penn State (6-5) vs. #15 Wisconsin (9-2)


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Location: Madison, WI

When: Saturday, 3:30 PM

TV: ESPN

Preview: The 2013 Wisconsin Badgers have not looked back after losing head coach Bret Bielema to Arkansas.  Gary Patterson has done a good job with the Badgers who are not straying from exactly what they did in the Bielema regime.  Wisconsin has a strong running game led by RBs Melvin Gordon and James White who have both rushed for over a 1,000 yards each and have led the Badgers to a top ten rushing attack in college football.  The offense is also led by QB Joe Stave and superstar receiver Jared Abbrederis.  The Badgers also boast the #6 defense in the nation and have only given up 13.4 points per game.  

In State College, PA, on the other hand, the Nittany Lions have not had as successful of a season as their foes in Madison.  Bill O'Brien has inherited a tough situation at Penn State due to the Jerry Sandusky scandal and NCAA punishment.  The former New England Patriots offensive coordinator took over the football program in 2012 and led them to an unprecendented 8-4 record.  In 2013, Penn State has had a somewhat dissappointing year after losing former starting QB Matt McGloin to the NFL.  Their offense is led by promising true freshman QB Christian Hackenberg who has passed for 2,616 yards and 16 touchdowns, RB Zach Zwinak, and WR Allen Robinson.  The Nittany Lions are without 796 yard rusher Bill Belton this week due to injury.  

Prediction: Wisconsin 35-Penn State 24


#1 Alabama (11-0) vs. #4 Auburn (10-1)


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Location: Auburn, AL

When: Saturday, 3:30 PM

TV: CBS

Preview:

Prediction:  Alabama looks better than ever.  Nick Saban is arguably one of the greatest college football coaches of all time.  It's going to take a lot to keep Alabama from winning their third straight BCS title.  Alabama is led by a very talented yet underrated QB in A.J. McCarron.  You don't think he is very good.  Look at his jewelry.  The Tide are always led by a tough rushing attack led by T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake and a strong pass catching unit with guys like Kevin Norwood, Amari Cooper, and Christion Jones (also a special teams ace).  On the defensive side of the ball, Kirby Smart is one of the top defensive coaches in the nation.  The Tide annually boasts a top ten defense and the #3 defense in 2013 despite the everchanging landscape of college offenses.  

Let's look to the Plains.  What a change for the better at the Auburn athletic department.  Gus Malzahn was hired as head coach in the offseason and has taken a 3-9 squad to 10 wins and one lone loss with mostly the same players.  Auburn boasts a dominant running game led by backs Tre Mason, Cameron Artis-Payne, and Corey Grant.  QB Nick Marshall is one of the top dual-threat QBs in the SEC and is second in rushing at Auburn.  Don't be fooled he is also a great passer but has not had to throw much due to Auburn's rushing prowess.  The Tigers are exceptional at controlling the clock and keeping opposing offenses off the field.  

Prediction: Jordan Hare will be rocking on Saturday afternoon.  This game will decide who will reach the SEC Championship from the West.  Auburn will play at their best and this game will be another thriller.  Alabama sneaks by with a close win 38-35.  


#6 Clemson (10-1) vs. #10 South Carolina (9-2)


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Location: Columbia, SC

When: Saturday, 7 PM

TV: ESPN2

Preview: It's gonna be loud in Columbia on Saturday night.  It will be Jadeveon Clowney's last game at the Cockpit versus a lethal offense in Clemson.  Pass the popcorn.  Steve Spurrier, aka the 'Ole Ball Coach, certainly knows his craft.  He has taken SEC-cellar dwelling South Carolina and transformed them into SEC title contenders.  If Texas A&M upsets Mizzou this weekend, the Cocks will play in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta no matter the outcome of this game.  That being said, don't look for the Gamecocks to overlook this game against their hated rivals.  South Carolina is led by underatted QB Conner Shaw, the power run game of talented RB Mike Davis, and WRs Damiere Byrd, Bruce Ellington, and Shaq Roland.  Lorenzo Ward's defense is an underrated unit that is a top 20 defense despite the struggles of star DE Jadeveon Clowney.

Clemson has a prolific offense led by veteran, dual-threat signal-caller Tajh Boyd, RB Rod McDowell, and pass-catchers Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant, and Adam Humpries.  Clemson boasts the #10 offense in the country.  The Tigers also have the 18th best scoring defense in the nation only giving up an average of 20.2 points per game.   

Prediction:  Williams Brice will be rocking on Saturday.  It won't stop Clemson this time, but it will be close.  Clemson 35-South Carolina 28. 


#21 Texas A&M (8-3) vs. #5 Missouri (10-1)


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Location: Columbia, MO

When: Saturday, 7:45 PM

TV: ESPN

Preview: This game in Columbia has huge ramifications in the SEC race.  Like previously stated, if Mizzou beats A&M they will go to ATL.  If the Aggies win, South Carolina will be the SEC East representative in the SEC Title game.  Missouri is led by dual-threat QB James Franklin, RB Henry Josey, leading receiver L'Damian Washington, the former #1 high school prospect in WR Dorial Green Beckham, and WR Marcus Murphy who is also the Tiger's third leading rusher.

This game will be arguably the last regular season game of Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M.  This guy is truly special.  He is the leading passer and rusher at Texas A&M.  Along with Manziel at QB, the spread offense of the Aggies is led by RB Ben Malena and stud WR Mike Evans.  Evans and Manziel are both Heisman candidates.  

Prediction:  This game should be a shootout. But Mizzou's defense can get stops but Texas A&M's D is atrocious.  Mizzou 45-Texas A&M 42


#22 UCLA (8-3) vs. #23 USC (9-3)


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Location: Los Angeles, CA

When: Saturday, 8 PM

TV: ABC

Preview: This ABC primetime showdown will feature a two talented teams.  USC fired Lane Kiffen earlier this season, and it has payed off as the Trojans have new life under interum head coach Ed Orgeron.  The Trojans are led by QB Cody Kessler, the RB duo of Tre Madden and Javorius Allen, and WRs Nelson Agholor and Marqise Lee.  USC also has the 14th ranked defense in America.

Their rivals in Pasadena had national championship aspirations this season but have been dissapointed by losses to Stanford, Oregon, and Arizona State.  The Bruins are led by outstanding QB Brett Hundley, RBs Paul Perkins and Jordon James, and receivers Shaquelle Evans and Devin Fuller.  

Prediction: USC pulls off another upset at the LA Coliseum.  USC 38-UCLA 35


Arizona (7-4) vs. #12 Arizona State (9-2)


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Location: Tempe, AZ

When: Saturday, 9:30 PM

TV: Pac-12 Network

Preview: Arizona pulled off the impossible.  They simply man-handled and ran all over Oregon.   Rich Rodriguez has seen decent success at Arizona after the Michigan debacle.  The Wildcats are led by dual-threat QB B.J. Denker and the 2nd leading rusher in the FBS in Ka'Deem Carey.  

Arizona State is led by QB Taylor Kelly, who has passed for over 3,000 yards and rushed for 411 more, RB Marion Grice, and WRs Jaelen Strong and D.J. Foster.  

Prediction: Arizona 42-Arizona State 35

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