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College Football Week 13 Preview
By Jonathan Hull

Two weeks ago, I had my best performance of the season picking games, going 18-2. I followed that up with my worst performance of the season, finishing 11-9 last week. That makes me 149-71 on the season, dropping me to a 68 percent win percentage.

But there were plenty of upsets few predicted last weekend, which is my defense. Now it's rivalry week and more upsets are surely to follow. Here's hoping I can pick the right games for upsets.

1. No. 3 Arkansas (10-1) at No. 1 LSU (11-0)
Time/TV: 2:30 p.m. Friday, CBS
Last game: Arkansas 44, Mississippi State 17; LSU 52, Ole Miss 3
Last meeting/series: Arkansas 31, LSU 23 (2010); LSU leads all-time series 33-20-2.
Analysis: Don't expect a blowout. Regardless of the two teams' records, the last six meetings between LSU and Arkansas have been decided by 8 points or less. The Battle for the Golden Boot has provided some of the best drama we see each season. This is Arkansas' most important rivalry, but this game has never meant what it does this season. A berth into the SEC title game is on the line. In turn, the opportunity to potentially play for a BCS Champinship is also in play. There has not been a defensive unit in the country more impressive that LSU's. It's the depth of the Tigers that ultimately sets them apart. Arkansas' receivers matched up against a talented LSU secondary featuring the best CB tandem in the country with Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne. The Razorbacks are likely to use four-receiver sets on offense, but LSU's third and fourth CBs Ron Brooks and Tharold Simon have plenty of playing experience and would likely be starters on most teams. Not to mention the Tigers have one of the nation's best safeties in Eric Reid. The matchups are wonderful all over the field. But expect Arkansas to score more than the mere nine points Alabama managed against the Tigers a couple weeks ago. The key here is how well Arkansas' defense can hold LSU from scoring. If the Razorbacks can manage to get off to a strong start and grab a two-score lead, then an upset might be in order. That's a might big if, though.
Prediction: LSU 31, Arkansas 28

2. No. 2 Alabama (10-1) at No. 24 Auburn (7-4)
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, CBS
Last game: Alabama 45, Georgia Southern 21; Auburn 35, Samford 16
Last meeting/series: Auburn 28, Alabama 27 (2010); Alabama leads all-time series 39-29-1.
Analysis: The Iron Bowl has been the most relevant big-time rivalry in the country in the last two years. This is a meeting of the last two national champions. Auburn won the BCS Championship last season, but needed a miraculous comeback to pull off a 28-27 victory against the Tide. Alabama won the title in 2009, but got a major scare from Auburn, 26-21, en route to that championship. While tensions off the field have cooled in recent years, there's no love lost on the field. Alabama has a chance to sneak in the SEC Championship, but even if the Tide miss out on that chance, they could still be playing the BCS Championship at season's end. That puts a big upset in the mind of Auburn. The Tigers aren't nearly as talented as last season, and there's no Cam Newton to lead an inspirational comeback this season. But this is a true rivalry game in that the records are thrown out. By no means should anyone expect Alabama to run away with this one, but it's hard not to believe the Tide aren't going to escape Jordan-Hare Stadium with a victory.
Prediction: Alabama 23, Auburn 17

3. No. 19 Penn State (9-2) at No. 16 Wisconsin (9-2)
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN
Last game: Penn State 20, Ohio State 14; Wisconsin 28, Illinois 17
Last meeting/series: Penn State 48, Wisconsin 7 (2008); Wisconsin leads all-time series 8-6.
Analysis: This one is for the right to represent the Legends Division in the first ever Big Ten Championship against Michigan State. The argument could be made that it's best for Penn State to be on the road, allowing the Nittany Lions to escape the current distractiosn in Happy Valley. The intangibles are certainly on their side. But Wisconsin is a couple of Hail Marys away from being an undefeated team and being in the BCS Championship conversation. This is going to be classic Big Ten football with two defenses ready to slug it out. But when it comes time to make plays, the Badgers have Russell Wilson, Nick Toon and Montee Ball. Penn State doesn't have a playmaker on offense near the caliber of that trio.
Prediction: Wisconsin 21, Penn State 10

4. No. 22 Notre Dame (8-3) at No. 6 Stanford (10-1)
Time/TV: 8 p.m. Saturday, ABC
Last game: Notre Dame 16, Boston College; Stanford 31, Cal 28
Last meeting: Stanford 37, Notre Dame 14 (2010): Notre Dame leads all-time series 17-8.
Analysis: Stanford currently has its first two-game win streak in this series. This is a big stage for Andrew Luck, who could use a strong performance to cement his Heisman hopes. Notre Dame's defense has been much better in the last four weeks, but the Irish haven't seen anything like Luck and the Cardinal in that span. The last time Notre Dame faced a similar offense, USC ripped the Irish for a 31-17 victory. Expect a similar outcome here with the Legends Trophy staying in Stanford for a third straight year.
Prediction: Stanford 34, Notre Dame 20

5. No. 5 Virginia Tech (10-1) at Virginia (8-3)
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, ABC or ESPN2
Last game: North Carolina 24, Virginia Tech 21; Virginia 14, Florida State 13
Last meeting/series: Virginia Tech 37, Virginia 7 (2010); Virginia Tech leads all-time series 50-32-5.
Analysis: To say Virginia Tech has dominated the Battle for the Commonwealth is an understatement. The Hokies have won 11 of the last 12 meetings with Virginia. They have won by a double-digit margin in all of those games but one. Virginia's only win in that span came in 2003, 35-21. Va. Tech comes in ranked fifth in the nation, but I can't help but feel the Hokies are a weak No. 5. Meanwhile, Virginia might be the most underrated team in the ACC. Very quietly the Cavaliers have battled into a position to play in the ACC Championship with a win against Clemson. This is the most relevant regular season game the Cavs have played in recent memory. Expect a defensive battle, but Va. Tech RB David Wilson is the difference.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 20, Virginia 13

6. No. 17 Clemson (9-2) at No. 12 South Carolina (9-2)
Time/TV: 7:45 p.m. Saturday, ESPN
Last game: NC State 37, Clemson 13; South Carolina 41, Citadel 20
Last meeting/series: South Carolina 29, Clemson 7 (2010); Clemson leads all-time series 61-37-4.
Analysis: Clemson is coming off its worst loss of the season as NC State's defense kept the Tigers off balance and ran away with a big upset. Struggling against NC State's defense is bad news for the Tigers because last week's opponent doesn't compare to the caliber of defense they'll see against South Carolina. The Gamecocks are winning with defense. They have the best defensive line in college football and playmakers in the secondary. Ever since South Carolina lost Marcus Lattimore for the season, the defense has stepped up and played lights out in every game except one -- a 44-28 loss to No. 3 Arkansas three weeks ago. That trend should hold agaisnt Clemson as South Carolina keeps the Hardee's Trophy for a third straight season in the Battle of the Palmetto State.
Prediction: South Carolina 27, Clemson 22

7. No. 13 Georgia (9-2) at No. 23 Georgia Tech (8-3)
Time/TV: Noon Saturday, ESPN
Last game: Georgia 19, Kentucky 10; Georgia Tech 38, Duke 31
Last meeting/series: Georgia 42, Georgia Tech 34 (2010); Georgia leads all-time series 57-38-5.
Analysis: Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate. It's one of the best nicknames for a rivalry game that I'm surprised hasn't been dumbed down and made more politically correct. After all, we're not supposed to teach kids about hate. But hate exists during rivalry week. Georgia has been playing like a top 10 caliber team since the third week of the season after opening the year with losses to Boise State and South Carolina. The Bulldogs have a lot of momentum heading into this rivalry game and pick up even more with a win, giving them a 10 game win streak heading into the SEC Championship. This isn't a good matchup for Georgia Tech this season. The triple-option doesn't seem like a viable way to attack the nation's second best run defense. Watch out for an upset next week when Georgia faces the top ranked team in the country in the SEC Championship, whether its LSU, Alabama or Arkansas.
Prediction: Georgia 32, Georgia Tech 17

8. No. 8 Houston (11-0) at Tulsa (8-3)
Time/TV: Noon Friday, FSN Affiliates
Last game: Houston 37, SMU 7; Tulsa 57, UTEP 28
Last meeting/series: Tulsa 28, Houston 25 (2010); Houston leads all-time series 19-17.
Analysis: The last time Case Keenum led Houston into a game at Tulsa, he took the Cougars to a thrilling 46-45 victory in 2009. Keenum missed last season with injury and Tulsa knocked off Houston 28-25. Everyone knows about Keenum and all the NCAA passing records he holds, but Tulsa QB G.J. Kinne is a prolific passer in his own right and has plenty of experience. The Golden Hurricane have won seven straight games and sit 7-0 in Conference USA play, just like the Cougars. The winner likely meets Southern Miss in the C-USA Championship next week. But there's more on the line than just a bid into the conference title game for Houston. Keenum has the Cougars on the brink of going somewhere they've never been before -- a BCS bowl. Two more wins and that dream will become a reality.
Prediction: Houston 51, Tulsa 47

9. No. 25 Texas (6-4) at Texas A&M (6-5)
Time/TV: 8 p.m. today, ESPN
Last game: Kansas State 17, Texas 13; Texas A&M 61, Kansas 7
Last meeting/series: Texas A&M 24, Texas 17 (2010); Texas leads all-time series 75-37-5.
Analysis: This is Texas A&M's final Big 12 regular season game and it appropriately comes against its biggest rival in the Lone Star Showdown. The Aggies nearly caused the Big 12 to completely break up after their administration put its foot down and refused to be bullied by the more powerful Longhorns administration. This is the final meeting for the foreseeable future between the Aggies and Longhorns. (A topic I wrote about for my full-time job.) It's sad to see this game go away for many Texans, including this writer. Watching the Aggies and Horns go at it on Thanksgiving is a tradition in the Lone Star State. It's a tradition that will hopefully be revived some time in the near future. As for this game, the Aggies have a statement to make and have some momentum after finally having an easy win this season last week against Kansas. Expect A&M to pull away late.
Prediction: Texas A&M 35, Texas 24

10. Ohio State (6-5) at No. 15 Michigan (9-2)
Time/TV: Noon Saturday, ABC
Last game: Penn State 20, Ohio State 14; Michigan 45, Nebraska 17
Last meeting/series: Ohio State 37, Michigan 7 (2010); Michigan leads all-time series 57-44-6.
Analysis: Perhaps the most storied rivalry in college football is taking a major back seat this season. The Buckeyes are irrelevant as they have made bigger headlines off the field rather than on it all season. Meanwhile, Michigan took a major step forward in resusciatating the football program and making it once again relevant on the national level. But there are two more steps within reach on the Wolverines' rebuilding path. The first is to end a seven game losing streak to Ohio State in The Game. By achieving that the Wolverines could also sneak into the BCS as a result.
Prediction: Michigan 37, Ohio State 21

11. Iowa (7-4) at No. 21 Nebraska (8-3)
Time/TV: Noon Friday, ABC
Last game: Iowa 31, Purdue 21; Michigan 45, Nebraska 17
Last meeting/series: Nebraska 42, Iowa 13 (2000); Nebraska leads all-timer series 22-8-1.
Analysis: In the 1930s and 1940s, this was a rivalry game that was played on a yearly basis. But since 1946, this rivalry has been much more talk than action. That changes with the introduction of the Heroes Trophy this season. When Nebraska joined the Big Ten, no team was clamoring more for the right to play the Huskers in a yearly rivalry game than the Hawkeyes. This should be the beginning of an intense rivalry for years to come. Give the more talented Huskers the edge in the initial renewal.
Prediction: Nebraska 26, Iowa 17

12. Pitt (5-5) at West Virginia (7-3)
Time/TV: 7 p.m. Friday, ESPN
Last game: Pitt 21, Louisville 14; West Virginia 24, Cincinnati 21
Last meeting/series: West Virginia 35, Pitt 10 (2010); Pitt leads all-time series 61-39-3.
Analysis: The Backyard Brawl is another classic rivalry game potentially on the chopping block thanks to realignment. West Virginia is headed to the Big 12, while Pitt will eventually exit the Big East for the ACC. But both schools seem committed to trying to work out the continuance of this rivalry, which is one of the oldest in the country. As for this season, Pitt is in real danger of being bowl ineligible in Todd Graham's first year at the helm of the program. The Panthers haven't exactly been a mirror of consistency, which doesn't bode well on the road against the Mountaineers.
Prediction: West Virginia 37, Pitt 17

13. Florida State (7-4) at Florida (6-5)
Time/TV: 7 p.m. Saturday, ESPN2
Last game: Virginia 14, Florida State 13; Florida 54, Furman 32
Last meeting/series: Florida State 31, Florida 7 (2010); Florida leads all-time series 33-21-2.
Analysis: Another storied rivalry game that's taking a real back seat this season. But the Sunshine Showdown promises to be entertaining at the very least. That is if you prefer a defensive style of game. The Gators have scored more than 20 points against a Division I FBS opponent once -- a 26-21 victory against Vanderbilt -- in October and November. The Seminoles had been on a roll until they ran into an upstart Virginia squad that managed to pull off an upset. But Florida State has certainly been the more consistent team since getting healthy, while health remains an issue for the Gators.
Prediction. Florida State 20, Florida 17

14. Texas Tech (5-6) vs. No. 18 Baylor (7-3)
Time/TV: 7 p.m. Saturday, FSN Affiliates
Last game: Missouri 31, Texas Tech 27; Baylor 45, Oklahoma 38
Last meeting/series: Texas Tech 45, Baylor 38 (2010); Texas Tech leads all-time series 36-32-1.
Analysis: Both teams have beaten Oklahoma this season. Baylor is hoping to avoid the same elongated hangover Texas Tech has experience since knocking off the Sooners. The Red Raiders have dropped four straight games since their upset win against OU and are now in danger of failing to qualify for a bowl game for the first time since 1993. Meanwhile, Baylor QB Robert Griffin III is garnering plenty of Heisman hype for his overall season, but in particularly for his play in the win against Oklahoma last week, which was the first in Baylor's history. As long as Griffin can continue to build on that performance, the Bears should elimate Texas Tech from postseason play and end a 14-game losing streak to the Red Raiders.
Prediction: Baylor 48, Texas Tech 42

15. Iowa State (6-4) at No. 9 Oklahoma (8-2)
Time/TV: Noon Saturday, FX
Last game: Iowa State 37, Oklahoma State 31; Baylor 45, Oklahoma 38
Last meeting/series: OKlahoma 52, Iowa State 0 (2010); Oklahoma leads all-time series 68-5-2.
Analysis: Oklahoma has historically dominated this series that dates back to 1928. Iowa State has won just five games against the Sooners in that span and currently hold a 12-game losing streak to OU. But Iowa State is coming off an improbable win against Oklahoma State, while Oklahoma is coming off an improbable loss to Baylor, which is another team the Sooners had always historically dominated. I consider this to be a matchup of the two best coaches in the Big 12 with Paul Rhoads at Iowa State and Bob Stoops at Oklahoma. Oklahoma's obviously got more talent, but that hasn't meant much for the Sooners this season. It's hard to believe they can be upset two weeks in a row, though, especially with Bedlam looming.
Prediction: Oklahoma 47, Iowa State 20

16. Wyoming (7-3) at No. 7 Boise State (9-1)
Time/TV: 2 p.m. Saturday, MTN
Last game: Boise State 52, San Diego State 35; Wyoming 31, New Mexico 10
Last meeting/series: Boise State 51, Wyoming 6 (2010); Boise State leads all-time series 5-0.
Analysis: Boise State actually still has BCS aspirations. That fact seems to be lost after the Broncos were upset by TCU. If Houston happens to lose once in its next two games, then the Broncos should definitely be headed back to the BCS even with one loss. That's all the urgency they need to handle Wyoming.
Prediction: Boise State 53, Wyoming 14

17. No. 14 Michigan State (9-2) at Northwestern (6-5)
Time/TV: Noon Saturday, Big Ten Network
Last game: Michigan State 55, Indiana 3; Northwestern 28, Minnesota 13
Last meeting/series: Michigan State 35, Northwestern 27 (2010); Michigan State leads all-time series 36-12.
Analysis: The Spartans are already in the first ever Big Ten Championship, which makes this a potential trap game. Northwestern can put points on the board in a hurry with QB Dan Persa. However, Michigan State ranks in the top 10 in ever defensive category, including fourth in pass defense.
Prediction: Michigan State 31, Northwestern 21

18. UCLA (6-5) at USC (9-2)
Time/TV: 10 p.m. Saturday, FSN Affiliates
Last game: UCLA 45, Colorado 6; USC 38, Oregon 35
Last meeting/series: USC 28, UCLA 14 (2010); USC leads all-time series 45-28-7.
Analysis: Since 1999, the Victory Bell has taken up residence on USC's campus every season except one as the Tronjans have dominated UCLA in the Crosstown Showdown. USC can't play in any postseason games or else the Trojans would be preparing for a rematch with Oregon or Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship next weekend. USC has had only pride to play for this season and have done so admirably with its only losses coming against Stanford and Arizona State. This is also Matt Barkley's final chance to make his case for the Heisman. Meanwhile, Rick Neuheisel's coaching seat remains warm, despite getting the Bruins bowl eligible. Nothing could say job security like an upset win against the Trojans. Looks like the UCLA job might still open up.
Prediction: USC 49, UCLA 20

19. Vanderbilt (5-6) at Wake Forest (6-5)
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPNU
Last game: Tennessee 27, Vanderbilt 21; Wake Forest 31, Maryland 10
Last meeting/series: Wake Forest 34, Vanderbilt 13 (2010); Vanderbilt leads all-time series 7-6.
Analysis: Wake Forest got bowl eligible with a win against Maryland last week. Vanderbilt is hoping to achieve the same feat against the Demon Deacons on Saturday. Vandy has been impressive this season and could have easily picked up victories against the likes of Georgia, Arkansas, Florida and Tennessee this season. Coach James Franklin should be the SEC Coach of the Year ahead of Nick Saban, Les Miles and Bobby Petrino. Franklin is determined to make Vandy relevant in the nation's top conference. He should get them qualified for the bowl season Saturday as Wake Forest should feel like a minor challenge compared to what the Commodores have been through this season.
Prediction: Vanderbilt 34, Wake Forest 13

20. Cincinnati (7-3) at Syracuse (5-5)
Time/TV: Noon Saturday, ESPN GamePlan
Last game: Rutgers 20, Cincinnati 3; South Florida 37, Syracuse 17
Last meeting/series: Syracuse 31, Cincinnati 7 (2010); Cincinnati leads all-time series 6-5.
Analysis: Syracuse is trying to get bowl eligible in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1998-1999. But the Orange have a tough road in trying to do so with games against Cincinnati and Pitt remaining on the schedule. Next week's game against Pitt is turning out to be an elimination game.
Prediction: Cincinnati 31, Syracuse 27

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