Week 13 picks: Arkansas upsets No. 8 Ole Miss, FSU dominates & more
Editor’s note: Every Thursday during the season, Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel will present their picks for the week.
Below are Week 13’s selections (all times ET). Enjoy.
No. 25 MINNESOTA (+10.5) at No. 23 NEBRASKA (Noon, ESPN)
Mandel: It appears Vegas is not nearly as high on the 7-3 Gophers as the selection committee. Given just how badly Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon torched Nebraska’s defense last week it’s certainly plausible that Minnesota star David Cobb — who averages 135 yards per game — will have his own big day. But Wisconsin’s top-ranked defense had plenty to do with last week’s outcome as well. Also, the last time the Gophers played a road game they lost to Illinois. Nebraska 27, Minnesota 24.
Feldman: Bo Pelini’s team was embarrassed last week at Wisconsin. I expect the Huskers to bounce back against a Gopher team that is just 1-2 on the road this season, and one of those two L’s came against Illinois. Nebraska 30, Minnesota 17.
BOSTON COLLEGE (+19) at No. 3 FLORIDA STATE (3:30, ABC)
Mandel: I’ll believe FSU can blow an opponent off the field when I see it, but this matchup may be favorable enough for the ‘Noles to do it. The 6-4 Eagles can run the ball and shorten the game but they’ll struggle to stretch the field. And their defense is not likely to cause the kind of problems for Jameis Winston that the Heisman winner’s suffered from repeatedly in first halves. If FSU digs itself a hole in this one it won’t last for long. Florida State 38, Boston College 17.
Feldman: Steve Addazio’s Eagles were one of the few teams that hung around against the ‘Noles last season. They’re a scrappy bunch and won’t be intimidated, but the ‘Noles have too much speed for them and they’ll be out to show some measure of game control this week. Florida State 34, Boston College 17.
No. 16 WISCONSIN (-9.5) at IOWA (3:30, ABC)
Mandel: Iowa is 7-3. That’s pretty good, right? Actually, the highest-rated team the Hawkeyes have beaten in Jeff Sagarin’s ratings is No. 58 Northern Iowa — their season-opening FCS foe. Iowa’s six FBS conquests to date have a combined record of 22-38 and none of them have a winning record. So . . . Wisconsin 42, Iowa 7.
Feldman: The Hawkeyes have faced a few stud RBs before — Pitt’s James Conner went for 155 yards and Indiana’s Tevin Coleman went for 219. I think Melvin Gordon breaks a few long runs and sparks the Badgers, winners of five in a row, to another Big Ten win. Wisconsin 28, Iowa 14.
No. 8 OLE MISS (-3.5) at ARKANSAS (3:30, CBS)
Mandel: The Rebels get back a key player from injury, standout OT Laremy Tunsil, but this will be their first real test without top WR Laquon Treadwell. The Razorbacks showed last week they can win with defense, completely shutting down LSU, and while Rebels QB Bo Walllace is far more capable than Anthony Jennings, Bret Bielema’s team has been salty in Fayetteville. Arkansas 27, Ole Miss 24.
Feldman: Bret Bielema’s team finally got its first SEC win, and I think they’re ready to make it two in a row when the Rebels, a team that’s lost their last two FBS games, visit. Arkansas 20, Ole Miss 17.
No. 24 LOUISVILLE (+3.5) at NOTRE DAME (3:30, NBC)
Mandel: The wheels have come off Notre Dame’s defense, which showed promise early but has now allowed at least 39 points in four of their past five games. Meanwhile, QB Everett Golson’s maddening turnover rash (19 in seven games) continually puts the Irish in holes. But Louisville suffered a major setback with QB Will Gardner’s season-ending knee injury. Freshman Reggie Bonnafon is more of a runner. It’s asking a lot for him to go on the road and beat the Irish. Notre Dame 31, Louisville 24.
Feldman: After dropping three of their last four, Notre Dame’s defense has been dreadful and now they’ll also be without top pass rusher Sheldon Day, but the Cards also are without starting QB Will Gardner. Even though freshman Reggie Bonnafon has been impressive in limited action, I’ll go with the home team to respond and avoid the free fall. Notre Dame 24, Louisville 20.
No. 15 ARIZONA (+4) at No. 17 UTAH (3:30, ESPN)
Mandel: Both teams have had a penchant for winning close games. Arizona is 4-1 in one-score games, Utah is 4-2. And this is likely going to be a close game. We’re also going to see two of the nation’s most disruptive defenders, Utah’s Nate Orchard (16.5 sacks) and Arizona’s Scooby Wright (22 tackles for loss). I like the Utes’ chances of slowing down Wildcats QB Anu Solomon and in turn playing the game at their preferred tempo. Star RB Devontae Booker leads Utah to the win. Utah 23, Arizona 20.
Feldman: The Utes will have another one go down to the wire, where six of their past seven have been decided by six points or fewer. They’re 4-2 in those games, while the Cats are 5-1 in games decided by a TD or less. I’m tempted to pick the home team, but I’ll stick with Scooby Wright and Co., who earlier in the season won at Autzen, the Pac-12’s toughest place to win. Arizona 24, Utah 23.
STANFORD (-5.5) at CAL (4, FS1)
Mandel: Is the worst Stanford team in six years capable of beating an improving but still mediocre Cal team in the Big Game? The Cardinal never figured out their offensive identity this season and are 5-5 because of it, but they still boast the nation’s No. 2 defense (4.1 yards per play allowed). Cal’s Bear Raid offense is well-established but its defense is dreadful. Stanford’s pass rush is generally effective against pass-heavy teams, and it can score points for once this week. Stanford 30, Cal 24.
Feldman: As much as the Cardinal have struggled, Stanford still is the much more physical team and has enough athletes on offense to give the undermanned Bears D too many headaches. Stanford 27, Cal 17.
No. 20 MISSOURI (+3.5) at TENNESSEE (7:30, ESPN)
Mandel: In their first of three do-or-die games to clinch the SEC East, the Tigers’ offense exploded against Texas A&M in College Station. But that seems to happen with a lot of teams that play the Aggies’ defense. Now Mizzou must turn around and visit rapidly improving Tennessee, which has looked like a different team since QB Josh Dobbs took over. This week’s suspension of star LB A.J. Johnson doesn’t help the Vols’ cause, but the atmosphere is going to be raucous. Tennessee 33, Missouri 28.
Feldman: Ever since Josh Dobbs got into the lineup, the Vols have been a much different team. The Vols are averaging 38 points per game in their last three SEC games, while they were averaging just 15 points per game in the first three without Dobbs. The Tigers’ outstanding D-line will cause the Vols plenty of problems, but I think they have enough athletes at the skill spots to make some big plays and DE Derek Barnett has been a big impact guy on their D. Tennessee 31, Mizzou 24.
No. 19 USC (+3.5) at No. 9 UCLA (8, ABC)
Mandel: The committee sure was impressed by the 7-3 Trojans’ win over Cal last week, but not as much as they’ve been impressed with UCLA throughout. The Bruins have risen 13 spots in the four weeks since the rankings began. QB Brett Hundley is 2-0 so far against USC. He’s got a tougher adversary this time in Cody Kessler, who’s quietly put up an impressive 29-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. This game is basically a toss-up. I’ll go with the home team. UCLA 44, USC 40.
Feldman: Brett Hundley wrecked the Trojans last season with his legs and arm, and he was very sharp in carving up USC two years ago. Despite how well Cody Kessler, Nelson Agholor and Buck Allen are playing, my hunch is the Bruins have enough athletes on defense to contain them to get away with a win. UCLA 31, USC 30.
MIAMI (-6) at VIRGINIA (7, ESPN2)
Mandel: It’s the classic letdown game. Virginia has dropped four straight to fall to 4-6, but it’s been competitive in all but one of those games and is coming off a bye week. Miami is coming off a disappointing loss to rival Florida State in which it wasted an early 16-0 lead. I can’t imagine the 6-4 ‘Canes are amped up for their trip to Charlottesville. Virginia 27, Miami 24.
TEXAS TECH (+1) at IOWA STATE (3:30, FSN)
Feldman: I was tempted to go with UAB as a 20-point underdog against Marshall but just couldn’t do it. Instead I’ll take the Red Raiders to rally after another week of drama. Texas Tech 38, Iowa State 30.
Mandel through Week 12: 85-48 straight-up, 65-68 vs. spread
Feldman through Week 12: 85-48 straight-up, 67-66 vs. spread
No. 12 KANSAS STATE (+2) at WEST VIRGINIA
Result: Kansas State 26, West Virginia 20
Mandel: Morgantown on a Thursday night is not an ideal place for visitors, even ones ranked as highly as K-State. We’ll find out who made better use of their bye weeks, both coming off blowout losses the last time they played, but I’m inclined to think Mountaineers QB Clint Trickett will do much the same thing to the Wildcats’ D as TCU’s Trevone Boykin a couple weeks back. West Virginia 35, Kansas State 24.
Feldman: The Mountaineers have lost two in a row, but I like their chances with the edge in speed and the fact that this will be the home finale for QB Clint Trickett. I think his teammates make sure he goes out a winner here. West Virginia 27, K-State 23.