• Previews of College Football’s Biggest Games of Week 13: Tulanecincinnati, MichiganState of Ohio, South CarolinaClemson, OregonOregon State and Notre-DameU.S.C.

• Game of the year: Second-placed Ohio State meets third-placed Michigan in a game with massive playoff impact.

• USC faces its toughest test yet: The sixth-ranked Trojans are trying to keep their playoff hopes alive against No. 15 Notre Dame, a top-five team Power Rankings by PFF.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

This Saturday marks the end of the 2022 college football regular season. While that thought may be disturbing, the sentiment is at least bittersweet as Rivalry Week features a slew of juicy matchups, including the biggest game of the year at No. 2 State of Ohio versus #3 Michigan.

Here are the storylines you should know about, matchups you should watch and predictions for the top five games of week 13.


#19 Tulane Green Wave at No. 24 Cincinnati Bearcats

How to watch: 12 p.m. ET on ABC (Friday)

Storyline to know: A New Year’s Eve six bowl game could be at stake

The highest-ranking Group of Five champion is guaranteed a spot in one of New Year’s Six Bowl games. As of now, the three schools ranked in the group of five are all in the American Athletic Conference: #19 Tulane, #22 UCF and No. 24 Cincinnati.

This game determines who will host the AAC title game. The loser won’t play in the championship game at all, meaning a New Year’s six is ​​out of the question.

Matchup to watch: Tulane’s Run Game vs. Cincinnati’s Run Defense

The Green Wave plays in over 57% of their plays, the second highest rate in the AAC. In those attempts, Tulane has made a first down or a touchdown 31% of the time, the fourth-highest rate in the Group of Five. Tyjae Spears is the most valuable group of the five running back this season, according to PFF’s above-average wins.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati has the third most running stops in the country this season (241). The leaders of this unit are central defenders Dontay Corleone and linebackers Ivan Pace Jr. Corleone’s run defense score of 94.8 is two points higher than any other defender in college football. Pace’s 15 tackles for loss or no win is the sixth most common among FBS linebackers.

Prediction: Cincinnati 27, Tulane 23

The Bearcats eke out the win and near their third straight New Year’s Six Bowl game.


#3 Michigan wolverines at #2 Ohio state horse chestnuts

As seen: 12 p.m. ET on FOX

Getting to Know Storyline: Game of the Year

Not only is Ohio State vs. Michigan arguably the best rivalry in college football, but this year’s game is also the biggest of the season.

The winner of this colossal showdown essentially secures a berth in the college football playoffs, making this matchup a pseudo-playoff game. The loser still has a chance of making the final four but needs some help in the form of a TCU loss and/or a U.S.C Loss.

Matchup to Watch: Will Blake Corum dress up?

Blake Corum is Michigan’s offense. The junior running back is the most valuable non-quarterback in the country this season, according to PFF’s above-average wins. His 96.1 grade surpasses all of college football and would also set the PFF college record for the highest-rated season by a Power Five player if he holds.

Top-rated seasons by a Power Five player in the PFF college era (since 2014)

However, Corum may not be able to match his record grade this weekend. During last week’s win Illinois, he suffered a right knee injury. He was able to come back for a carry before finally folding.

If Corum can’t leave, Michigan might not stand much of a chance.

Prediction: Ohio State 31, Michigan 24

Corum is holding out, but he’s not 100%. Ohio State gets revenge on last year’s loss to secure a berth in the college football playoffs while Michigan sits at home and wreaks havoc.


South Carolina gamecocks at #8 Clemson Tiger

As seen: 12 p.m. ET on ABC

Storyline to know: Can South Carolina eliminate two straight playoff contenders?

Last week, South Carolina dismantled what was then No. 5 Tennessee, 63-38. The Gamecocks averaged .486 expected extra points per game, the most of any team in Week 12. With the loss, the Volunteers went from a legitimate playoff contender to one that had no chance of getting in.

Clemson needs some help to reach the playoffs in a U.S.C loss, etc TCU loss and one LSU Loss. That’s a moot point, however, when South Carolina plays as well as it did last Saturday and defeated the Tigers.

Matchup to watch: Which version of Spencer Rattler appears on Saturday?

Spencer Rattler moved to South Carolina for a fresh start after benching in Oklahoma last season. In the first 11 weeks it didn’t look like much had changed. His 61.7 grade over that span ranked only 115th among FBS quarterbacks.

But something certainly clicked against Tennessee in Week 12.

Rattler’s passing grade of 92.9 was the highest among any FBS quarterback for the week. The redshirt junior threw five big shots and no turnover-worthy plays in the excitement. To be fair, the Volunteers have the eighth-lowest defense of the Power Five in passing plays this season. Clemson, meanwhile, is eighth best.

If Rattler continues his elite play, the Gamecocks could pull off their second big upset in as many weeks.

Prediction: Clemson 31, South Carolina 17

Clemson’s defense is holding off Rattler much better than Tennessee, and the Tigers are keeping their playoff dreams alive.


#9 Oregon ducks at No. 21 Oregon State Beaver

As seen: 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC

Storyline to know: Can Oregon secure a berth in the Pac-12 championship game?

#6 U.S.C becomes half of the Pac-12 championship game after his 48-45 win over then-No. 16 UCLA last week.

Oregon will lose the other half. If the Ducks defeat Oregon State No. 21, they win a trip to the Pac-12 championship game. A loss opens the door for either #13 Washington or No. 14 Utah.

Oregon is not eliminated with a loss, however. The Ducks would also need No. 13 Washington to lose to the rival Washington on Saturday night to make that happen.

Matchup to Watch: Oregon’s running game vs. Oregon State’s running defense

Oregon runs back Bucky Irving has forced a missed tackle on 44% of his attempts, which would have ranked third among FBS running backs in the PFF College era.

Highest Forced Missed Tackle % in PFF College Era (since 2014, min. 100 attempts)

*Subject to change

On the other hand, Oregon State carries the highest running defense score in the Pac-12 with over seven points. James Rawls has eight tackles for loss or no win, the most among Pac-12 central defenders.

Prediction: Oregon 31, Oregon State 28

The Ducks win a trip to the Pac-12 championship game with a narrow win over the Beavers.


No. 15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at USC Trojans No. 6

As seen: 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC

Storyline to know: Can USC pass the toughest test of the season?

Sixth-ranked USC is about to make the program’s first-ever playoff appearance. All the Trojans have to do is win their next two games and they will most likely be there.

Easier said than done, though – especially this weekend. USC meets Notre Dame, a top-five team in Power rankings by PFF. The Trojans are 2-1 against teams currently in the top 50, with all three competitions decided by three points or fewer. This game should be on point.

Matchup to watch: USC’s offensive line vs. Notre Dame’s pass rush

USC field one of the best offensive lines in college football, scoring an 89.4 as the third-best unit in the nation. The Trojans have only allowed a sack or quarterback hit on 1.3% of their pass-blocking snaps, the second-lowest rate in the country. Four of USC’s five starting offensive linemen are among the top 10 rated for their position in the Power Five. With those clean pockets throughout, quarterback Caleb Williams has the highest average throwing time in the country (3.29 seconds).

Notre Dame has the seventh-best pass rushing grade in the Power Five (85.2). The Fighting Irish pair with the 5th best pass rush win rate (56.4%) in the Power Five. The stars of this unit are linebackers Jack Kiser and edge defenders Isaiah Foskey. Kiser’s pass-rushing rating of 88.9 is the third-highest among Power Five linebackers, while Foskey is No. 27 PFF’s 2023 NFL Draft Big Board.

In order for Notre Dame to upset USC, the Fighting Irish must consistently pressurize Williams.

Forecast: Notre Dame 33, USC 30

USC has played with fire in a number of games this season. The Trojans are burned by the Fighting Irish, ending their playoff ambitions.

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