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November 24, 2011

Week 13 primer: More chaos?

It's hard to imagine more chaos than what ensued in Week 12, but since this is "Rivalry Week," perhaps no broad declarations should be made.

The biggest game is Friday, when No. 1 LSU takes on No. 3 Arkansas. The Hogs have won three of the past four in the series, and another Arkansas victory would lead to more BCS chaos.

[The Forde-Yard Dash: Healthy holiday hatred with rivalry games]

The weekend starts Thanksgiving night, when Texas travels to rival Texas A&M. It will be the 118th time the teams have met, but with A&M moving to the SEC, this rivalry could wither on the vine.

Another game to pay attention to on Friday is unbeaten Houston's visit to Tulsa (8-3). A victory by the Cougars keeps them on track for a BCS bid.

Here's a look at each game involving a FBS team this weekend.


Louisville (6-5) at USF (5-5), 11 a.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: USF still needs one more win for bowl eligibility, but likely will be without starting QB B.J. Daniels (shoulder). And how bad is the Big East? A win in this one and Louisville has a great shot at earning the league's automatic BCS bid. USF is 4-0 all-time against Louisville at Raymond James Stadium.
THE LINE: USF by 3 THE PICK: Louisville 20-17

Eastern Michigan (6-5) at Northern Illinois (8-3), 11 a.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: You want an example of bowing to the gods of TV? This game kicks off at 10 a.m. local time, so forgive the players if the first half is a bit sloppy. NIU clinches the MAC West division title with a victory, while EMU - which has won twice over FCS opponents - must win to become bowl-eligible. EMU is aiming for its first seven-win season since 1989; this will be the Eagles' first non-losing season since 1995.
THE LINE: NIU by 19.5 THE PICK: NIU 49-27

Iowa (7-4) at Nebraska (8-3), noon, ABC
THE BUZZ: This is the first meeting since 2000 in what should develop into a good rivalry (we can see it now, the schools playing for the "Corn Cob Trophy"). This is big in terms of Big Ten bowl positioning. Iowa's run defense has been shaky, and the Huskers need to exploit that if they're to win.
THE LINE: Nebraska by 9.5 THE PICK: Nebraska 27-20

Houston (11-0) at Tulsa (8-3), noon, Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: This is for the Conference USA West Division title. Additionally, it's a chance for Houston to stay alive in the hunt for a BCS bid. Both have high-powered offenses and shaky defenses. In the past four meetings, Tulsa has averaged 39.8 points and Houston has averaged 37.0.
THE LINE: Houston by 3.5 THE PICK: Houston 45-42

Bowling Green (4-7) at Buffalo (3-8), noon
THE BUZZ: The loser finishes sixth in the seven-team MAC East. But there are some individual stars, most notably BG WR Kamar Jorden and Buffalo TB Branden Oliver.
THE LINE: Buffalo by 2 THE PICK: Bowling Green 33-28

Kent State (5-6) at Temple (7-4), noon
THE BUZZ: These are two of the best defensive teams in the MAC, but while Temple has a solid rushing attack, Kent State struggles to run and neither team can throw. Kent State needs to win to become bowl-eligible, while a victory would help Temple in its quest to secure a bowl bid.
THE LINE: Temple by 16.5 THE PICK: Temple 27-14

Akron (1-10) at Western Michigan (6-5), 1 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Akron is staring at its second consecutive 1-11 finish. The Zips have been outscored 121-16 in their past three games.
THE LINE: Western Michigan by 28 THE PICK: Western Michigan 56-21

Toledo (7-4) at Ball State (6-5), 2 p.m.
THE BUZZ: If Northern Illinois were to lose to Eastern Michigan, Toledo can win the MAC West with a victory over Ball State. The Rockets have scored at least 40 points in four consecutive games and Ball State has surrendered an average of 39.0 points in its past three games.
THE LINE: Toledo by 13.5 THE PICK: Toledo 45-30

Arkansas (10-1) at LSU (11-0), 2:30 p.m., CBS
THE BUZZ: LSU wins the SEC West with a victory. An Arkansas win, on the other hand, makes things mighty interesting - in the SEC and in the BCS. Arkansas has won three of the past four in the series.

Boston College (3-8) at Miami (6-5), 3:30 p.m., ABC
THE BUZZ: Miami announced Sunday it had self-imposed a bowl ban because of the Nevin Shapiro affair, which means this is the final game for the Hurricanes this season. BC self-imposed a bowl ban a few weeks ago, in a way, with its poor play.
THE LINE: Miami by 14.5 THE PICK: Miami 27-10

Colorado (2-10) at Utah (7-4), 3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: The Pac-12's newcomers meet to close out the regular season. Frankly, Colorado probably wishes the season already was over. Utah TB John White has 14 rushing TDs and needs one more to set a school record.
THE LINE: Utah by 21.5 THE PICK: Utah 47-21

Pittsburgh (5-5) at West Virginia (7-3), 7 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: Pitt needs one more win for bowl eligibility. These teams first met in 1893 and have played every season since 1943. Pitt is 4-0 when scoring at least 35 points but 1-5 when it has been held to fewer than 35 points. Expect WVU to have some extra spring in its step if Louisville loses earlier Friday; a loss by the Cardinals would be a huge boost to WVU's BCS hopes.

UTEP (5-6) at UCF (4-7), 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network
THE BUZZ: A victory means UTEP will be going bowling. UCF is the biggest disappointment in Conference USA this season. This is just the third meeting between the teams, and each has won once.

California (6-5) at Arizona State (6-5), 10:15 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: If Arizona State wins this and UCLA loses to USC on Saturday, the Sun Devils win the Pac-12 South title. But the Sun Devils have lost three in a row, and their defense has been shaky.
THE LINE: Arizona State by 5.5 THE PICK: Arizona State 24-20


Ohio State (6-5) at Michigan (9-2), noon, ABC
THE BUZZ: Michigan folks have to be giddy with anticipation regarding this one. Ohio State has won seven in a row in this fierce rivalry, but the Buckeyes can't throw and are one-dimensional offensively. In addition to the possibility of snapping a record losing streak to its archrival, Michigan also knows it will be in great shape for a BCS at-large bid with a victory.
THE LINE: Michigan by 7.5 THE PICK: Michigan 24-13

Georgia (9-2) at Georgia Tech (8-3), noon, ESPN
THE BUZZ: This is a perfect example of the "irresistible force meets immovable object" storyline - Georgia Tech is No. 2 nationally in rush offense (323.6 ypg) and Georgia is No. 2 nationally in rush defense (81.3 ypg). Tech has won four of the past six when both have been ranked, as they are this week.
THE LINE: Georgia by 6 THE PICK: Georgia Tech 28-24

Rutgers (8-3) at Connecticut (4-6), noon, ESPN2
THE BUZZ: Rutgers has won three in a row and five of the past six in this series. Rutgers is third nationally with 30 takeaways, and UConn is sixth nationally in rush defense (93.5 ypg).
THE LINE: Rutgers by 3 THE PICK: Rutgers 24-17

Iowa State (6-4) at Oklahoma (8-2), noon, FX
THE BUZZ: This is one of the more one-sided "rivalries" in the nation; this will be the 76th meeting, and the Sooners lead 68-5-2, including 35-3-1 at home. OU has won 12 in a row over the Cyclones, who last beat the Sooners in 1990. The teams have met seven times as Big 12 members, and Iowa State has managed just 50 points total and only 26 in the past five. Iowa State was a 27-point home underdog when it stunned Oklahoma State last week.
THE LINE: Oklahoma by 28 THE PICK: Oklahoma 45-20

Rice (4-7) at SMU (6-5), noon, Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: These Texas private schools have met every season since 1926 except when SMU dropped football in 1986 and '87. The winning team has scored at least 31 points in each of the past five meetings and seven of the past eight; the winner has scored at least 41 five times in that eight-game span.
THE LINE: SMU by 13.5 THE PICK: SMU 31-21

Michigan State (9-2) at Northwestern (6-5), noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: Michigan State already has clinched a berth in the Big Ten championship game. But Northwestern has won seven consecutive regular-season finales at home. This is the second season in a row these teams are meeting in Evanston.
THE LINE: Michigan State by 7 THE PICK: Michigan State 28-23

Cincinnati (7-3) at Syracuse (5-5), noon, Big East syndication/MASN/Sportsnet New York/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Syracuse needs one more win to become bowl-eligible, while Cincy needs a win to stay in the hunt for the Big East's BCS bid. Syracuse comes in on a three-game losing streak and Cincinnati has lost two in a row.
THE LINE: Cincinnati by 2.5 THE PICK: Syracuse 23-21

Tennessee (5-6) at Kentucky (4-7), 12:20 p.m., SEC syndication/MSG network/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Tennessee has to win to become bowl-eligible. The Vols have to like their chances for a victory, considering they have won 26 consecutive games over the Wildcats. In addition, Tennessee hasn't lost in Lexington since 1981 - when current UK coach Joker Phillips was a Wildcats freshman wide receiver.
THE LINE: Tennessee by 7.5 THE PICK: Tennessee 35-17

Maryland (2-9) at N.C. State (6-5), 12:30 p.m., ACC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Because it has two wins over FCS teams, NC State has to win this to become bowl-eligible. This is the 68th meeting, and the Terps lead the series 32-31-4.
THE LINE: N.C. State by 12.5 THE PICK: N.C. State 41-24

Troy (3-7) at Western Kentucky (6-5), 12:30 p.m., Sun Belt syndication/Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Troy is suffering through its first losing season since 2005. Western, meanwhile, had won just four games in the previous three seasons.
THE LINE: Western Kentucky by 6 THE PICK: Western Kentucky 30-17

Wyoming (7-3) at Boise State (9-1), 2 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: This is the first time Wyoming has won as many as seven regular-season games since 1999. Boise State QB Kellen Moore has thrown multiple TD passes in 23 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the country.
THE LINE: Boise State by 32.5 THE PICK: Boise State 49-20

Nevada (6-4) at Utah State (5-5), 2 p.m., WAC syndication/Altitude/Comcast Sports Net California/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Utah State needs one more win to become bowl-eligible; the Aggies finish the regular season next week with New Mexico State. Nevada, which has won six in a row in this series, still has a shot at sharing the WAC title but can't afford a loss.
THE LINE: Utah State by 1.5 THE PICK: Nevada 35-30

Penn State (9-2) at Wisconsin (9-2), 3:30 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: This is for the Big Ten Leaders Division title. Penn State's run defense will get a huge test from the Badgers' ground attack, which leads the Big Ten and is 10th nationally (245.1 ypg). In the Badgers' two losses, they surrendered more than 350 yards both times - the only times this season they've given up at least 350. Penn State averages 355.6 yards per game.
THE LINE: Wisconsin by 14.5 THE PICK: Wisconsin 24-13

Alabama (10-1) at Auburn (7-4), 3:30 p.m., CBS
THE BUZZ: Alabama is No. 2 in the BCS standings and would seem to be a safe pick to play for the national title if it can win the "Iron Bowl." Auburn has won seven of the past 10 in the series. Five of the past eight meetings have been decided by seven or fewer points.
THE LINE: Alabama by 21 THE PICK: Alabama 33-13

Virginia Tech (9-2) at Virginia (8-3), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN2
THE BUZZ: This is for the ACC Coastal Division title. The Hokies are 7-0 against the Cavs since joining the ACC, and the Cavs have scored a total of just 79 points in those seven contests.
THE LINE: Virginia Tech by 4.5 THE PICK: Virginia Tech 23-17

Oregon State (3-8) at Oregon (9-2), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN2
THE BUZZ: The Pac-12 North title is on the line for the Ducks in the "Civil War." This has been a lost season for Oregon State, but an upset of their archrival would send the Beavers into the offseason with a smile on their faces. Oregon has won three in a row in the series and has averaged 46.3 points in that span.
THE LINE: Oregon by 28 THE PICK: Oregon 48-23

Kansas (2-9) vs. Missouri (6-5) in Kansas City, 3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: This will be the 120th meeting in the second-most played rivalry in the nation (only Minnesota-Wisconsin, at 121, has been played more). But with Missouri's pending move to the SEC, this could be the last meeting for the foreseeable future. The series is tied 55-55-9, and Mizzou has won four of the past five. This is the fifth consecutive season the game has been played in Kansas City.
THE LINE: Missouri by 23.5 THE PICK: Missouri 45-24

Vanderbilt (5-6) at Wake Forest (6-5), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: Vandy has to win this for bowl eligibility; the Commodores have been to just one bowl since 1982. This is Wake's sixth game against another private school this season; the Demon Deacons are 3-2 thus far.
THE LINE: Vandy by 1.5 THE PICK: Wake Forest 28-24

East Carolina (5-6) at Marshall (5-6), 3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
THE BUZZ: The winner becomes bowl-eligible and will snag one of Conference USA's six bids. ECU is 9-3 against the Herd all-time, with three wins in a row. One of Marshall's wins came in the 2001 GMAC Bowl, a 64-61 double-overtime thriller.

Purdue (5-6) at Indiana (1-10), 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: This is the 114th meeting, and the teams play for the "Old Oaken Bucket." Purdue becomes bowl-eligible with a victory. Purdue has won 11 of the past 14 in the series, but IU won last season and is looking for its first back-to-back victories in the rivalry since 1993-94.
THE LINE: Purdue by 7.5 THE PICK: Purdue 30-21

Illinois (6-5) at Minnesota (2-9), 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: Illinois is in a free-fall, having lost five in a row. The Illini lost at home to the Golden Gophers last season.
THE LINE: Illinois by 10.5 THE PICK: Illinois 28-20

Duke (3-8) at North Carolina (6-5), 3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Florida/Fox Sports South/Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic/Prime Ticket/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Duke (then coached by Steve Spurrier) blasted the Tar Heels 41-0 in 1989 to clinch a portion of the ACC title. But the Heels have won 20 of the 21 games played between the rivals since then. The matchups have been close of late: Seven of the past nine meetings have been decided by eight or fewer points.
THE LINE: UNC by 12.5 THE PICK: UNC 31-21

Florida International (7-4) at Middle Tennessee (2-8), 3:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: With last week's victory over Louisiana-Monroe, FIU set a program record for regular-season wins in a season. The Golden Panthers are 0-3 all-time at MTSU.
THE LINE: FIU by 8.5 THE PICK: FIU 37-21

Memphis (2-9) at Southern Miss (9-2), 4 p.m., Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast
THE BUZZ: Southern Miss needs to win (or for Marshall to lose) to clinch the C-USA East Division crown. These schools have met every season except one since 1952.
THE LINE: Southern Miss by 35.5 THE PICK: Southern Miss 41-14

New Mexico State (4-7) at Louisiana Tech (7-4), 4 p.m., Altitude2/MASN/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Louisiana Tech, which won at Nevada last week, clinches at least a tie for the WAC title with a victory. The Bulldogs have won six in a row and haven't won seven in a row since 1974.
THE LINE: Louisiana Tech by 19 THE PICK: Louisiana Tech 38-16

Louisiana-Lafayette (8-3) at Arizona (3-8), 4 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Unquestionably the strangest regular-season finale for any Big Six team. ULL has been one of the nation's biggest surprises and is bound for the New Orleans Bowl. Arizona has been a disappointment, and this is the Wildcats' final game before Rich Rodriguez takes over as coach.
THE LINE: OFF THE PICK: Arizona 30-21

UAB (3-8) at Florida Atlantic (0-10), 4 p.m.
THE BUZZ: The hounds decide to spend Thanksgiving weekend near the beach, as this is the dog of the week. FAU is the lone winless team in the FBS ranks.

Air Force (6-5) at Colorado State (3-7), 6 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: Because it has two wins over FCS opponents, Air Force has to win this to become bowl-eligible. Air Force has won five in a row in the series, by an average of 17.6 points.
THE LINE: Air Force by 16.5 THE PICK: Air Force 35-17

Florida State (7-4) at Florida (6-5), 7 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: This rivalry has lost a ton of national luster. This is the first time since 1986 that neither team is ranked at kickoff; each season from 1990-200, both were in the top 10 when they met. FSU's victory last season snapped Florida's six-game winning streak in the series. Florida is 5-1 at home this season, and FSU is 2-2 on the road.
THE LINE: FSU by 1.5 THE PICK: FSU 27-16

Ole Miss (2-9) at Mississippi State (5-6), 7 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: Mississippi State has to win if it wants to go to a bowl. This is the final game for Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt. The Rebels have been playing football since 1893 and never have had a 10-loss season.
THE LINE: Mississippi State by 17 THE PICK: Mississippi State 31-17

Baylor (7-3) vs. Texas Tech (5-6) in Arlington, Texas, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: Texas Tech must win if it wants to go bowling; the Red Raiders have dropped four in a row since their stunning upset of Oklahoma on Oct. 22. The Red Raiders have won 15 in a row in the series. Baylor is the only team in the nation averaging 300 passing yards and 200 rushing yards.
THE LINE: Baylor by 12.5 THE PICK: Baylor 47-38

Washington State (4-7) at Washington (6-5), 7:30 p.m., Versus
THE BUZZ: This is the first time since 1980 "The Apple Cup" has not been played at an on-campus venue; because Husky Stadium is being renovated, this is being played at CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks. Washington needs to be worried about bowl positioning; the Huskies have lost three in a row and four of their past five.
THE LINE: Washington by 7.5 THE PICK: Washington 27-21

Clemson (9-2) at South Carolina (9-2), 7:45 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: South Carolina is looking for its first three-game winning streak in this nasty rivalry since 1968-70. This is the 110th meeting, but only the fourth when both have been ranked (1979, '87 and 2000 are the others).
THE LINE: South Carolina by 4 THE PICK: Clemson 23-20

Notre Dame (8-3) at Stanford (10-1), 8 p.m., ABC
THE BUZZ: This will be the 22nd meeting in the past 24 seasons. The Irish lead the all-time series 17-8; the first meeting was the Rose Bowl after the 1924 season, when the "Four Horsemen" led Notre Dame to a perfect season. Stanford has posted back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time in school history.
THE LINE: Stanford by 7 THE PICK: Stanford 34-24

San Jose State (4-7) at Fresno State (4-7), 8 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Fresno State has won 16 of the past 17 in the series. San Jose State has lost 11 consecutive WAC road games.
THE LINE: Fresno State by 6.5 THE PICK: Fresno State 34-24

UCLA (6-5) at USC (9-2), 10 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: UCLA wins the Pac-12 South title if they beat the Trojans. USC, which is going for its eighth 10-win season in the past 10 years, has won four in a row and 11 of the past 12 in the series.

San Diego State (6-4) at UNLV (2-8), 10 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: San Diego State has won seven of the past nine in the series. The Aztecs' defense hasn't allowed more than one second-half TD in any game this season.
THE LINE: San Diego State by 15 THE PICK: San Diego State 35-17

Tulane (2-10) at Hawaii (5-6), 11 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Hawaii has to win out over Tulane and BYU to become bowl-eligible. Tulane hasn't been to a bowl since 2002 (ironically, a win over Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl), but a Thanksgiving weekend trip to the islands isn't a bad reward for a brutally bad season.
THE LINE: Hawaii by 16.5 THE PICK: Hawaii 38-23


Texas 27, Texas A&M 25
THE PICK: Texas A&M 30-24


44-14 straight up, 27-24-1 against the spread.


521-177 straight up, 283-310-3 against the spread (no spread on games involving FCS schools)

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

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