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Week 13 College Football Picks

NCAA football predictions for every FBS game
By Eric Schmoldt and Paul Bessire, WhatIfSports.com
November 23rd, 2009

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Each Monday morning, we will preview every college football DI FBS game of the upcoming week. All of our college football content, including our most recent power rankings and links to the pre-season preview are located here.

The inputs to the 10,000 simulations of these games are based on a rigorous analysis of each team that considers strength-of-schedule-adjusted team and player ratings and then makes modifications for injuries and depth at each position. To see other picks like our Upset and Locks of the Week, as well as our season-to-date performance, click here.




Game of the Week: #30 Nevada 33 @ #7 Boise State 45
The Boise State Broncos almost surely aren't going to be playing for a national championship. They might even get shut out of a Bowl Championship Series bowl game. They won't have to worry about either of those things if they can't finish off their unbeaten season.

Just two more hurdles stand in Boise State's way of a perfect 12-0 season. Unlucky for the Broncos, this week's just happens to be their toughest opponent in weeks - a record-setting offense and a Nevada team that has won eight games in a row and will be looking for a perfect season of its own - in Western Athletic Conference play that is.

Which unbeaten season remains intact over the final week?

Boise State took care of business against Utah State on Friday and have now won five straight games by double digits. The Broncos have scored at least 45 points in eight of 11 games and scored 81 combined in the three games they didn't reach 45. Sophomore quarterback Kellen Moore has been about as good as any signal-caller in the country, completing two-thirds of his passes for nearly 2,800 yards, 33 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Gaining 8.33 yards per pass attempt, the Broncos' passing game ranks in the top 10 in the nation. Their ground game, mostly behind feature back Jeremy Avery and goal-line threat Doug Martin, isn't far behind. They pick up 5.22 yards per carry, giving them one of the country's most prolific offenses at 6.66 yards per play.

We know the Broncos can play offense, but will they be able to stop - or at least slow down - another one of the nations' most dynamic offensive units? Nevada specializes in its ground attack and the Broncos are run-of-the-mill at stopping the run. Opponents average 3.80 yards per carry against Boise State. That said, since giving up more than 300 yards rushing against Fresno State, they held five opponents under 100 yards on the ground before giving up 209 to Idaho. Against the pass, the Broncos are amongst the nation's best in terms of interceptions. They are one of just 16 teams giving up less than six yards per pass attempt.

After losing three consecutive non-conference games to start the season, the Wolfpack has bounced back in a big way and they rolled New Mexico State last week for their eighth consecutive victory. A victory at Boise State would give them a perfect 8-0 league season and the WAC championship. They'll try to get there by using their stunningly successful ground attack that has seen Nevada become the first team in NCAA history to post three 1,000-yard rushers in one season. Vai Tua leads the way with 1,185 yards and is followed closely by quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Luke Lippincott. None of them average less than 7.7 yards per carry and the team nearly averages that same number, making the Wolfpack far and away the best rushing offense in the nation. Kaepernick hasn't been bad through the air when they've needed to go that route, either. They rank outside the top 100 in terms of passing yards per game, but still average a respectable 7.32 yards per pass attempt.

But can Nevada slow down Boise's offense in what figures to be a track meet? For as good as the Wolfpack has been on the ground offensively, they've been pretty good at stopping opponents. Nevada gives up just 3.53 yards per carry. The Broncos should, however, be able to have their way through the air. Nevada ranks second-to-last amongst 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams against the pass in terms of yards per game and are in the bottom five in yards per attempt, giving up 8.85 yards.

Both teams have phenomenal offenses that should be able to find the gaps in each teams' defense, but who does it better? Well, which school from a non-BCS conference school has done it better than just about any other since the BCS' inception?

Boise State takes care of Nevada, capturing the WAC championship and keeping its dream season alive. In 10,001 simulations, the Broncos move to 11-0 79.5% of the time and by an average final score of 45-33.

Other Notable Games in Week 13
Here's what we already know: Ohio State has won the Big Ten; Florida and Alabama will play for the SEC championship; Nebraska and Texas will do the same in the Big 12; Clemson and Georgia Tech will battle for the ACC crown; and TCU has already won the Mountain West Conference. We also know that Oregon and Oregon State will vie for the Pac-10 title, but that won't come until next week.

All of that means that there isn't a whole lot on the line this week.

Outside of the WAC, the biggest game comes from the Big East, where Pittsburgh travels to West Virginia. The Panthers are hoping to remain unbeaten in conference play heading into next week's game with Cincinnati and do so 57.6% of the time by a score of 29-27. The Bearcats move to 11-0 86.1% of the time against Illinois.

As for the other unbeatens: Florida takes care of Florida State at an 82.5% clip; Alabama heads into the aforementioned title game with the Gators unbeaten 86.8% of the time at Auburn; Texas closes out a perfect regular season 94.7% of the time at Texas A&M; and TCU cruises to 12-0 95% of the time against one-win New Mexico. In total, there is a 44.1% that all six current FBS undefeated teams win this week. In other words, there is a 55.9% chance that at least one undefeated team loses.

In the preseason, we had Oklahoma and Oklahoma State squaring off in our predicted Game of the Week. But with Bradford out and only the Cowboys clinging to BCS hopes, that game skipped the back seat and went straight to the trunk. Oklahoma State does win that matchup 63.6% of the time.

In the Charlie Weis Watch - presumably for one more week - Notre Dame loses at Stanford 71.5% of the time by two scores.

To see other picks like our Upset of the Week and Lock of the Week, as well as our season-to-date performance, click here.


College Football Week 13
MatchupWin%Avg Score
Georgia Bulldogs14.622
@ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets85.438
Wake Forest Demon Deacons68.923
@ Duke Blue Devils31.118
Boston College Eagles80.121
@ Maryland Terrapins19.914
North Carolina Tar Heels86.823
@ North Carolina State Wolfpack13.210
Virginia Tech Hokies94.732
@ Virginia Cavaliers 5.314
Illinois Fighting Illini13.924
@ Cincinnati Bearcats86.140
Syracuse Orange22.514
@ Connecticut Huskies77.528
Pittsburgh Panthers57.629
@ West Virginia Mountaineers42.427
Rutgers Scarlet Knights66.921
@ Louisville Cardinals33.119
Miami (FL) Hurricanes66.930
@ South Florida Bulls33.125
Northern Illinois Huskies17.917
@ Central Michigan Chippewas82.130
Eastern Michigan Eagles27.212
@ Akron Zips72.822
Ball State Cardinals37.716
@ Western Michigan Broncos62.323
Toledo Rockets61.624
@ Bowling Green Falcons38.422
Buffalo Bulls68.221
@ Kent State Golden Flashes31.816
Temple Owls72.824
@ Ohio Bobcats27.217
UCLA Bruins19.918
@ USC Trojans80.130
Washington State Cougars27.814
@ Washington Huskies72.224
Notre Dame Fighting Irish28.526
@ Stanford Cardinal71.537
Arizona Wildcats84.826
@ Arizona State Sun Devils15.216
Florida State Seminoles17.222
@ Florida Gators82.837
Arkansas Razorbacks33.821
@ LSU Tigers66.228
Tennessee Volunteers60.322
@ Kentucky Wildcats39.719
Clemson Tigers74.824
@ South Carolina Gamecocks25.217
Alabama Crimson Tide86.830
@ Auburn Tigers13.216
Mississippi Rebels90.136
@ Mississippi State Bulldogs 9.918
Nevada Wolf Pack20.533
@ Boise State Broncos79.545
Utah State Aggies24.527
@ Idaho Vandals75.537
New Mexico State Aggies45.714
@ San Jose State Spartans54.317
Navy Midshipmen76.233
@ Hawaii Warriors23.823
Oklahoma State Cowboys63.623
@ Oklahoma Sooners36.421
Missouri Tigers82.134
@ Kansas Jayhawks17.924
Nebraska Cornhuskers90.728
@ Colorado Buffaloes 9.313
Texas Longhorns94.736
@ Texas A&M Aggies 5.313
Texas Tech Red Raiders95.037
@ Baylor Bears 5.015
Rice Owls 5.018
@ Houston Cougars95.047
Tulane Green Wave 6.613
@ Southern Methodist Mustangs93.433
Memphis Tigers34.421
@ Tulsa Golden Hurricane65.627
Southern Miss Golden Eagles59.628
@ East Carolina Pirates40.428
UCF Knights60.326
@ UAB Blazers39.724
Marshall Thundering Herd77.526
@ UTEP Miners22.518
New Mexico Lobos 5.08
@ TCU Horned Frogs95.045
Utah Utes45.727
@ Brigham Young Cougars54.329
San Diego State Aztecs49.018
@ UNLV Rebels51.020
Wyoming Cowboys64.219
@ Colorado State Rams35.816
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers17.217
@ Florida Atlantic Owls82.835
North Texas Mean Green38.416
@ Arkansas State Red Wolves61.625
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders44.419
@ Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks55.622
Troy Trojans92.732
@ Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns 7.315

Ever wanted to be in be in charge of your own college football program? With Gridiron Dynasty from WhatIfSports.com, you have a chance to do just that. From recruiting and running practice to gameplanning and scheduling - it is all under your control. Start at DIII and try to work your way up to winning the DI championship at your favorite school.

Eric Schmoldt is a writer and Paul Bessire is the Product Manager of Content and Quantitative Analysis for WhatIfSports.com, a division of FOX Sports Interactive specializing in NCAA Matchup analysis and college football sim games. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, Paul and Eric can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com. Thanks!

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