Top College Football Games: Week 14

It’s the unofficial final week of the regular season, as most conferences play their championship games next week. Only the Army-Navy Game on December 14th remains for Week 16. But there sure are some awesome games this week with BCS Bowl implications, and any decent college football fan has good reason to be excited.

#6 Clemson (10-1) @ #10 South Carolina (9-2) – 7:45 pm Saturday

The Battle of the Palmetto State has recently favored South Carolina, with the Gamecocks winning the last four matchups against Clemson. This year, Clemson comes into the matchup as the higher-ranked team, but the two teams are combined for their best ranking in this matchup’s history (the previous record came in 1987, when #12 USC defeated #8 Clemson). Tajh Boyd is the ACC’s all-time leading touchdown passer, but he faces a big challenge in South Carolina DE Jadaveon Clowney, one of the top prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft. Clemson’s lone loss came to then #5 Florida State, while South Carolina has lost to #11 Georgia and Tennessee. Look for South Carolina to feed off an energetic crowd and continue their push towards a BCS bowl bid. The Gamecocks will win the SEC East if Missouri loses to Texas A&M.

Prediction: South Carolina 27, Clemson 21

#3 Ohio State (11-0) @ Michigan (7-4) 12:00 pm Saturday

Ohio State has won 8 of the last 9 in “The Game” against their archrivals from Michigan. The Wolverines started the season ranked 17th, but have lost 4 of their last 6 matchups, three of them to unranked teams. Ohio State, on the other hand, has won every game it has played under head coach Urban Meyer and is trying to leapfrog Florida State to get into the BCS National Championship Game. The Buckeyes have a dynamic offense led by QBs Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton and RB Carlos Hyde, which should overpower the Michigan defense. The question is though, will this game be enough for Ohio State to inch closer to Florida State in the BCS standings? Or will Ohio State get some help (see below)?

Prediction: OSU 41, Michigan 21

#1 Alabama (11-0) @ #4 Auburn (10-1) 3:30 pm Saturday

The Iron Bowl. The SEC West Championship Game. The Biggest Game of the Year. Call it whatever you want, but this matchup of Alabama foes will determine a lot about the BCS Championship picture. The winner of this game will advance to the SEC Championship Game against either Missouri or South Carolins (if Mizzou loses this week). On one side, you have the two-time defending champs who have looked strong from day 1. On the other hand, you have an upstart Tigers team under first year head coach Gus Malzahn who have looked impressive. Auburn QB Nick Marshall is good, but Alabama beat a more dynamic Texas A&M offense earlier this year on the road, and I believe they can do it again. Nick Saban will have the Tide rolling on Saturday.

Prediction: Alabama 34, Auburn 24

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2013 College Football Preview: ACC

All eyes are on Tajh Boyd to lead the Clemson Tigers in 2013.

All eyes are on Tajh Boyd to lead the Clemson Tigers in 2013.

Okay, it’s been a basketball conference for decades now, but this year the ACC has some interesting storylines. First, Pittsburgh and Syracuse join the ACC this year to expand the league to 12 teams, and Louisville will replace Maryland next season. Each division has its own unique path to the ACC Championship Game in December.

The Atlantic Division should be decided October 19, when preseason #11 and defending ACC Champion Florida State visits preseason #8 Clemson at Memorial Stadium. The winner of that game has won the Atlantic Division the last five seasons, so that game will have monumental consequences.

Conversely, the ACC Coastal Division is wide open. Last year, North Carolina, Miami, and Georgia Tech tied for the division crown at 5-3, with North Carolina unofficially winning the division. But the Tar Heels and Hurricanes were ineligible for postseason competition, so the Yellow Jackets advanced. Each team features a unique offensive style. Georgia Tech will continue their triple option, run-laden offense that obliterated the Tar Heels last season (68-50), North Carolina returns its senior QB Bryn Renner to run a fast-paced spread, and Miami QB Stephen Morris and RB Duke Johnson will lead a pro-style offense. Also look for Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas to impress in his final year in Blacksburg. Needless to say, it’s wide open in the Coastal Division.

Heisman Watch

Tajh Boyd threw for 3,900 yards and 36 touchdowns last season for the Clemson Tigers. He was named first team All-ACC and All-American for his efforts, and his stats in 2013 should only improve. Now a senior, Boyd is the unquestioned leader of the Tigers, a team that has top 10 talent, as evidenced by their #8 preseason ranking. He also improved his rushing total from 218 yards his sophomore year to 514 last season. In Dabo Swinney’s high-powered spread offense, Boyd is dangerous. And Clemson should have no problem giving Boyd the ball for more production. Only an intimidating Thanksgiving weekend matchup at South Carolina could hurt Boyd’s chances of winning the Heisman Trophy (See: Jadeveon Clowney).

Championship Pick

As much as I would like to pick North Carolina to win the ACC, I don’t see it happening. The Coastal Division is tough to predict, but I think Miami will prevail. They play nine of their twelve games in the state of Florida, and will not leave the Sunshine State until their October 17 matchup at North Carolina. Stephen Morris and Duke Johnson pack a powerful 1-2 punch for the Hurricanes, and now that they are free of NCAA sanctions, look for Miami to return to power.

Like I said previously, the winner of the Atlantic Division will be the winner of the Clemson-Florida State game on October 19. The road team is that matchup is 1-10 in the last 11 years. Sorry Florida State, but it’s not your year in 2013. Look for Clemson to win the Atlantic Division and defeat Miami in a tough matchup in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte.