Week 13 Predictions – 2020
Last Week: Indiana played a great game, they are a great team and took Ohio State to the wire. In the end though, the Buckeyes prevailed for a 42-35 victory. At the end of the season I hope the playoff committee gives the Hoosiers the credit they deserve. OSU has some things to tighten up on defense but they have the coaching staff to make it happen. Our staff predictions last week was very strong once again and as the dust settles, Dr Mark, Coach Rick and Dave were on top the charts with a 20-4 record on the season.
This Week’s Games: Ohio State travels to Champaign this week to take on the Illini. We really miss this game as Illinois has ALWAYS supported Buckeye50.com and credentialed us for the game. We watch another one from the couch, but will Justin Fields clean up the interceptions and dominate in the house that Red Grange built? …. Notre Dame heads into this weekend as the #2 team in the country, it is clear if they win out they will be playoff bound. They face Coach Brown and the Tarheels in what should be their last challenge before the ACC championship game. Can North Carolina find enough magic to pull off an upset? …. The annual Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama is this weekend and quietly the Tigers have won two of the last three in this series. But the Tide is #1 in the land and Auburn is over-rated at #22. Can they pull off what would be the biggest upset of the season so far? …. Clemson is back and Trevor Lawrence is back, and Pittsburgh is thinking, lucky us. The Panthers had the Tigers on the ropes a couple years ago, can they finish the job and get a win this year? …. The Pac-12 originally offered us Colorado vs USC, but the game was called for COVID.
Buckeye Greats: As with the past, we will continue to include former Buckeye players in our prediction fun and we are thrilled to have Vaughn Broadnax back with us as a regular participant for the sixth straight year.
Here we go with our Week 13 Picks – Good Luck to All – Gregg
(4)Ohio State @ Illinois
Andy: This matchup should be a more simple one for Ohio State this week. Illinois has one of the worst defenses in the power 5 this year, giving up an average of over 6.6 yards per play and allowing 18 touchdowns in just 4 games this season. The Buckeyes finally found the running game they were looking for against one of the better defenses in the Big Ten, gaining 301 rushing yards and averaging over 6 yards per carry on Saturday. Justin Fields despite having his worst game in college was still highly effective throwing for over 300 yards and 2 touchdowns. The one glaring weakness for Ohio State that has emerged is their play in the defensive secondary. Seyvn Banks and Marcus Hooker look like true freshmen out there, and are part of the reason so many teams are ripping off massive passing plays against Ohio State. Those two aren’t solely to blame though, the one high Safety look is not working this year due to the loss in personnel from last season. I personally would love to see Ohio State adopt a Tampa two coverage moving forward, this way the Safeties play further back and can come up to make the play. I don’t believe Illinois will be able to get into an offensive shootout with Ohio State and I think the big mismatch to watch is at the line of scrimmage. I expect Ohio State to dominate in the trenches, establish the run on offense and get a ton of pressure from the defensive line. Ohio State 54 – Illinois 24
Coach Rick: This is not going to be much of a game. OSU will win by 28 points.
Cory: A lot of Ohio State fans are going to be looking for answers on defense after last week’s win over Indiana. It’s unlikely they will get any answers this week against Illinois. The Illini are coming off a pair of wins after starting the season 0-3, but they don’t pose quite the same challenge as the Hoosiers did. Simply put – Illinois cannot throw the ball. They’ve used four different quarterbacks and those players have combined for a 51.3 completion percentage and just four passing touchdowns. Illinois does most of their damage on the ground with running backs Chase Brown and Mike Epstein. As a team Illinois has rushed for over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns. The Buckeyes are much better at stopping the run than the pass. As long as Justin Fields doesn’t commit three turnovers again this should be an easy Ohio State win. Ohio State 42, Illinois 14
Dave: Ohio State 48 Illinois 24
Dr. Mark: OSU 48-17 — Lovie and his boys wont be able to keep up but they seem to be improving. Not sure what to say about the secondary but not sure how guys can repeatedly be that wide open- would be interesting to actually study the tapes and see what led to so many open receivers for Hoosiers.
Gregg: Style matters and unfortunately, the message from the playoff committee this week was that Ohio State can win out and still not get into the playoffs, go figure. The Buckeyes have the misfortune of playing a bunch of teams with bad records and they still have the Michigan teams to play. This week against Illinois should not be much of a challenge for a team that is getting better every week. So go for the style points OSU and play for the playoffs. Ohio State 55 Illinois 10
Josh: Maybe Indiana was better than we thought, but we for a win, and that is all that matters with that, because it now gives the Buckeyes a 1 game cushion to represent the East in the Big Ten Championship game, and all that is left ahead is Illinois, Michigan State, and Michigan, who have a combined 5 wins between then. Ohio State should be good on offense, and Master Teague separated himself as the top running back. We need both him and Sermon to keep healthy. I want to see Wilson tie Chris Carter’s consecutive 100 yard receiving game record in this one, and if the wind is in our favor, Fields should look more like he did against Nebraska, and not like he did last week. The secondary needs help, but the defensive line needs to get more pressure on Brandon Peters to force errors, and get the Illini offense off the field as much as possible. I expect the Buckeyes to be focused and win big. Ohio State 56 – Illinois 10
John: Ohio State
PJSBuck: FIRST, I told (anyone who would listen to me), that when Kerry Coombs was re-hired I thought it had a good chance of problems as I have not been impressed with Kerry’s leadership track record. You can be all fired up and juice your team that way but it doesn’t last. What lasts is great coaching and development. When he was here before our secondary ALWAYS played soft and left the middle open (sound familiar, Indiana?). Is it just me or did our defense last week look like Jim Tressel inspired play? We, OFFICIALLY have a big problem on defense, but let’s see if it was a one-time aberration or not! The second half breakdown against Indiana was probably the worst I have seen in following the Buckeyes for over 40 years. Oh well, I told Mark I would be nicer this week! Illinois beat Nebraska and Rutgers, which is not an impressive resume but we will need to pay attention this week for if we play like we played against IU the second half, we will need to score a lot of points on offense. On offense, their QB is Brandon Peters. Sound familiar? It should – he was QB at Michigan and then transferred to Illinois. He is 23 years old and will be applying for Medicare shortly. Look for significant improvements on offense and hold your breath on defense. We should be able to get to this guy, providing we blitz more than twice during the game. Oh well, Ohio State 48 Illinois 31
John: Ohio State
Steven: OK kids, what the heck is happening with the second half of games? We have been letting our foot off the pedal which is unacceptable. Against good teams that will kill us. Luckily, we won’t play another good team until the Big Ten Championship, (although UM FINALLY finding a QB in Caden McNamara makes that game potentially more interesting). Who knows, maybe by showing a few chinks in the armor we stay at 3, which keeps us in a pretty favorable CFP matchup with Notre Dame. Illinois is coming off a solid win over Nebraska. Unlike the Hoosiers, the Illini are much more of a ground and pound offense. Michigan transfer QB Brandon Peters took over for Illinois and brought a veteran calm with him. After being sidelined for 3 weeks with a positive Covid test, last week’s win over Nebraska was a welcome comeback. Even so, he’s not anywhere near the slinger Michael Penix is. So the blueprint is stack the line against the run and make those QB pressures count, something we didn’t do against the Hoosiers. No one will be able to exploit our back end like Indiana until the CFP, so it gives us time to improve, which is desperately needed. On offense, the maturing run game should help Justin Fields stay off the ground. Run until it hurts. It may not look flashy. It may not make Fields the Heisman front-runner, but if you run it down their throat, it limits the chances where Fields tries to do too much. OSU wins handily and hopefully shores up all the back end problems of last week. OSU 55-24.
Trout: Ohio State should have no trouble with Illinois. They are not a good football team. Even with the COVID issues that the Buckeyes are dealing with this week, I don’t think they will have any trouble moving the ball against the Illini. I do think Illinois will get a few scores on the Bucks. The secondary for the Buckeyes has been exposed, and is clearly a huge issue that needs to be fixed before they make it to the playoffs. Even with the issues the Buckeyes are facing this week, this should be an easy win. (Ohio State, 42-17)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): When the Buckeyes travel to Illinois it is not a loss that worries me, but the interaction with the Illini players. At this point of the season I am getting paranoid about COVID-19. Hopefully, the game will be put out of reach and our young pups finally get an opportunity to play and limit our starters playing time. Buckeyes defeat Illinois 54-21.
Final Score: GAME CANCELLED
(2)Notre Dame @ (19)UNC
Andy: This game has the potential to play the spoiler for Notre Dame’s perfect season. Its on the road in November against a Tar Heel team on the rise. Notre Dame has been one of the most balanced offenses in the country this year, quarterback Ian Book has been incredibly efficient throwing 11 touchdowns to 1 interception. Irish running backs Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree have run for over 1,100 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns in 8 games. Kyren Williams has been explosive for the Fighting Irish averaging nearly 6 yards per carry on the season. North Carolina’s defense has struggled this season, giving up an average of 5.7 yards per play and allowing 31 offensive touchdowns in 8 games. Despite being on the road against a an up and coming Tar Heels team I expect Notre Dame to pull this one out. Notre Dame 45 – North Carolina 28
Coach Rick: Luckily North Carolina has some good recruiting class coming in, but they are not here now. Notre Dame by 21
Cory: This is a game that should matter, and yet it likely won’t. North Carolina was a top 10 team at one point this season but the Tarheels lost to Virginia, and somehow to Florida State. There is little doubt North Carolina has a terrific offense. They’ve got two running backs averaging over seven yards a carry, and a quarterback in Sam Howell that many think has big NFL potential. So what’s wrong with North Carolina? They can’t stop anybody. I’m sorry but if you give up 53 points to Wake Forest you are not an elite team. Both teams come into this game with an extra week of rest as they both had byes last week. As great as it would be to see Notre Dame get upset this week, it’s hard to see it happening. Notre Dame 45, North Carolina 31
Dave: Notre Dame 28 North Carolina 24
Dr. Mark: ND 31-28 – This game could go many ways. Tar Heels can look great —or bad- Irish pretty steady
Gregg: Congratulations to the Irish for their #2 ranking in the first 2020 playoff poll. As a Buckeye fan you can’t really argue this but it does not make you happy about it to be ranked all the way down to 4th. This game might be a challenge for a half but in the long road, UNC is a one man show with Sam Howell and if they could figure out how to slow down the Clemson running game, they will figure out North Carolina too. Coach Kelly and staff is on a one way road to the ACC championship and a rematch with the Tigers. This will be a small speed bump for the Irish but they will win again, the Tarhells are just another overrated 2 loss team in the top 25. Notre Dame 40 North Carolina 24
John: Notre Dame
Josh: Notre Dame is coming off a bye week, and had some time to rest after taking care of Boston College two weeks again. For the most part, it seems that they found a confidence after beating Clemson, and that should continue into this week. North Carolina does have Mac Brown on their sideline and a Sam Howell who can make plays to keep the Tar Heels in this game, but I think Notre Dame will win, and hopefully continue to win, so that this creates an opportunity for the Buckeyes to play them in the playoff. Notre Dame 35 – UNC 24.
PJSBuck: This SHOULD be a really fun game to watch or tape. If there is any team used to adversity over the years it should be ND and they get EVERYONE’S best shot. I would love to see Carolina upset them but I think ND is too fast and has too much in the tank. ND by 21
Steven: This will be Notre Dame’s last chance at an upset until a rematch with Clemson where they will most likely be an underdog. The Tarheels will have to lean on ball control and play keep away to limit Irish possessions. The Irish offense is efficient and their defense is stingy. The Tarheel defense is pretty stout against the run so their best bet is to force Irish QB Ian Book into some ill-advised throws. Book has an 11 to 1 TD to INT ratio so there are not a lot of mistakes upon which to capitalize. He’s not passing a ton, but he’s smart and will run when necessary. Can the Tarheel defense step up? I have my doubts, so I’ll take the Irish on the road ND 35-28.
Trout: The Tar Heels have been a pretty good team under Mack Brown . But I don’t think they will have enough to beat the Irish. It doesn’t seem real, but Notre Dame might actually be for real this year. I don’t know if they can beat Alabama or Ohio State when it comes to the playoff, but they have proved to be one of the best teams in the ACC. granted, that’s not saying much. But Notre Dame is still relevant in late November. I see the game being close for a while, but the Irish offense will pull away towards the end. The Irish win by a couple scores. (Notre Dame, 36-21)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): Notre Dame beats North Carolina 42-28.
Final Score: Notre Dame 31 UNC 17
(22)Auburn @ (1)Alabama
Andy: The IRON BOWL! This game each year usually offers a physical tough matchup for both teams. Alabama’s offense has been potent this season despite losing their top 4 play makers from last season. Quarterback Mac Jones has been excellent this year, completing over 77% of his passes, throwing 18 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions. Beside Mac Jones this Crimson Tide rush offense has been very potent, backs Najee Harris, Trey Sanders and Brian Robinson have combined to rush for nearly 1,200 yards and 19 rushing touchdowns in 7 games this season. The question in this game will be whether the Auburn offense will be able to move the ball effectively against a Rising young Tide defense. Sophomore Quarterback Bo Nix is the biggest threat to this Alabama defense, but I don’t believe he alone will be able to turn the Tide. I expect Alabama to take over in the second half and win by three scores or more. Alabama 45 – Auburn 21
Coach Rick: Auburn has 2 losses and they will double that in the next 2 weeks. Bama by 14.
Cory: We tend to think Alabama has been the dominant team in this series, however, Auburn has won two of the last three Iron Bowls. Could they make it a third? Last year Auburn was able to run out the clock after a penalty for too many players on the field by Alabama gave the Tigers a first down. Nick Saban was furious about that call, and the result of the game, and is not going to take it easy this week. Auburn has an OK team with an improving offense, but right now they just cannot match the talent of Alabama. The Crimson Tide have Mac Jones at quarterback, Najee Harris at running back, and Devonta Smith at wide receiver and it seems likely all three of those guys will be first round picks. Hopefully Auburn can make the game interesting, but it’s hard to seem them pulling off an upset in Tuscaloosa this week. Alabama 28, Auburn 14
Dave: Alabama 32 Auburn 28
Dr. Mark: Bama 45-27 – Would be nice to see Auburn pull out another upset- their QB is a good player but Bama matches up much better.
Gregg: Auburn took care of business last year and defeated the Tide, knocking them out of the playoffs for the first time in the playoff era. But this year, Alabama’s quarterback is at full strength for the game and playing very well. There does seem to be a question of if Coach Saban will be available for the game but they can win without him. Alabama 38 Auburn 17
Josh: Auburn was able to beat Alabama last year, with Mac Jones leading the Tide, be he his much better this year, and Bo Nix is still growing into the Auburn offense. I think this game will be close for a while, but Saban knows what is ahead of him, and is most likely gearing up for his farewell tour. I think Alabama pulls away in the 4th quarter, making it look like a better win than the game actually will be. Alabama 28 – Auburn 17.
PJSBuck: Who cares. Bama wins
Steven: This year’s Iron Bowl is unfortunately a little more of the Lead Balloon bowl. Auburn won’t be able to hang with the Crimson Tide. Bo Nix is a serviceable QB, but he’s going to have a tough time completing passes from his back. Alabama should be able to rush only and still account for multiple sacks. Alabama QB Mac Jones can solidify his bid for the Heisman with a solid performance since bad matchup or not, the Iron Bowl still draws a lot of viewers. Expect Alabama to allow him multiple shots to swing for the fences with huge bombs to DeVonta Smith. At least a couple of these bombs should make the end zone. The fact that Auburn is in the top 25 is ridiculous. After this week they are permanently banished to “Others Receiving Votes”. ‘Bama 42-24.
Trout: I think the Crimson Tide wins this game big. I just think that the Tigers are just too inconsistent. Also Mac Jones has been playing really well for Alabama, and that offense seems to be firing on all cylinders. I think it’ll be a close game. It’s a rivalry game, so both teams will be fighting with all that they can give. But, I don’t see Auburn pulling the upset. I just think Alabama is the better team. The Crimson Tide win the Iron Bowl, in a tough gritty game. (Alabama, 28-24)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): Alabama slaps Auburn silly 48-10.
Final Score: Alabama 42 Auburn 13
Colorado @ (18)USC
Andy: USC has one of the most talented rosters in college football, even if they sometimes don’t play like it. Trojan quarterback Kedon Slovis has been excellent for SoCal the past two seasons completing 72% of his passes last season alone to along with 30 passing touchdowns. Colorado’s defense has been unimpressive in their two games this season allowing an average of over 437 yards per game and 9 touchdowns in just 2 games. I expect USC to try and make a statement so they can try to start building their resume for the college football playoffs this year. USC 48 – Colorado 27
Coach Rick: I am not sure about this game. What I know is that this will be a high scoring game. I will give it to the home team and have USC by 4.
Cory: As of Tuesday evening, a USC player that played last week and practiced with the team this week tested positive for COVID-19. Contact tracing and additional testing is still being completed, but you would have to think that puts this week’s game with Colorado in jeopardy. Many other PAC 12 games have already been postponed or canceled and it wouldn’t be a surprise if this one was as well. It’s a shame because this game has potential to be good. Both teams are undefeated, and Colorado enters with a pair of single-digit wins over UCLA and Stanford. USC also opened with a pair of close wins before winning at Utah 33-17 last week. The chances of this game being played seem low, but if it is I will the slight edge to the home team. USC 31, Colorado 27
Dave: Colorado 28 USC 21
Dr. Mark: USC 31-24 – Should be a close game Maybe Colorado wins if weather is bad.
Gregg: I had a nice write-up for this game of course the Pac-12 teams cannot get out of their own way. For whatever reason, COVID-19 takes another victim and it will cost one of the conference’s best teams another game. This season can’t end soon enought!
Josh: This game should give the winner a boost for the PAC-12 South. USC has been fortunate to win 2 games, and Clay Helton is playing for his career. Colorado will need to find a way to slow down the Trojan passing attack, but they have a good run game to try and control the time of possession and limit offensive snaps for USC. I think this is the game the magic runs out, and Colorado upsets USC in LA. Colorado 31 – USC 28
PJSBuck: Should be another fun game to watch. It’s hard to say too much as they have only played one game. BUT, the USC QB looks like an NFL star QB already. USC by at least 17
Steven: USC reminds you a little bit of a West Coast Indiana, and that isn’t a slight, certainly not this year. They are passing the ball a ton. With a QB like Kedon Slovis, why the heck not? Colorado is a great matchup for the Trojans, as they are giving up over 300 yards passing per game and currently 109th of 127 in scoring defense. Their only hope will be to make this a shootout. If they do they have a chance, however slim. Trojans win easily and bring a smile to Dr. Mark’s cheery face. USC 38-31.
Trout: It’s hard to tell with the PAC 12 who is good or not. The conference hasn’t really been relevant since the 2014 season with Oregon. Plus, the sample size of games for them this year is so small, even compared to the truncated Big Ten schedule. Having to pick between the two, I will have to go with the Trojans. I feel like they tend to be the better team most years. I think it’ll be close. USC wins in a game that is most likely a sloppy, low scoring affair. (USC, 17-14)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): USC edges Colorado 31-24.
Final Score: COVID-19 100 PAC-12 0
(3)Clemson @ Pittsburgh
Andy: This game could get interesting for one simple reason, the Panthers defense has been amazing this season. Through 8 games this season they’re only giving up and average of 296 yards per game and 1.6 touchdowns per game. Clemson’s offense though has been very potent, gaining an average of over 503 yards per game and 5.5 offensive touchdowns per game. Led by Quarterback and Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne I expect the Tigers offense to open up against this stout Panther defense. Clemson 41 – Pittsburgh 21
Coach Rick: What has happened to Pitt in the last few weeks? Their losing streak continues and Clemson wins by 17.
Cory: As an innocent bystander it’s been funny to watch Clemson coach Dabo Swinney rage about last week’s game with Florida State being canceled. If you were Clemson fan, however, you would have to be a bit concerned that Swinney might not be putting the proper focus on Pittsburgh this week. Normally these two teams are not on the same planet, however, Pitt tends to play tough at home and Clemson hasn’t won in three weeks. While it’s nice to think Clemson could be upset again this week, it’s unlikely to happen. The two-headed monster of Trevor Lawrence at quarterback and Travis Etienne at running back is so hard to stop that Pitt would have to win in a shootout to pull off the upset, and the Panthers just don’t have the type of firepower on offense to compete. Clemson 38, Pitt 20
Dave: Clemson 42 Pittsburgh 14
Dr. Mark: Clemson 52-20 – Lost something when Dabo spouted off about FSU game cancellation. I like him but that was very poor. He forgets that FSU was 20-8 against Clemson before he turned Tigers around
Gregg: Trevor Lawrence will be run the show in the first half and build a huge lead. Then we will see if Dabo brings in his bench or pours it on the Panthers. He is still stewing over the game postponement from last week. Either way the game will be lopsided enough for the Tigers will forever suffer the wrath of Mark May. Clemson 66 Pittsburgh 3
Josh: Clemson will be fired up, if Dabo Swinney is a barometer for his teams outlook. He has definitely ran his mouth this past week to the point of annoying. This will be Lawrences first game back after having to sit due to COVID, and the Tigers had to postpone last weeks game against Florida State. Pittsburgh has a good passing attack which is the weakness of Clemson, but is the game against Notre Dame is any indication, this one might be a blowout. Clemson wins after a slow first quarter. Clemson 45 – Pittsburgh 17
PJSBuck: Should be another fun game to watch. How can I say this? Pitt should get creamed! Clemson by at least 28
Steven: Clemson is scoring 2 touchdowns more per game than Pitt. Against Pitt, they should stretch that to 3, or 4, maybe 5. Expect QB Trevor Lawrence to sling it to help reestablish himself in the Heisman race. Pitt is in for a huge can of whoop ass. Lawrence could still be sidelined and the Panthers would lose by 21 or more. Clemson 49-10.
Trout: I think Clemson wins big. Trevor Lawnrece is finally back on the field, and will want to prove himself. Plus, Pitt is not a very good football team. I just see Lawrence and Etienne having a field day with the Panther defense. Clemson scores early and often in a big blow out win. (Clemson, 63-13)
Vaughn Broadnax (OSU 1980-83): Clemson takes out there frustration on Pittsburgh 49-13