Big Ten & SEC Week 13 Preview: Bowl Favorites look to finish strong
In the 13th week of the college football season, members of the Florida Citrus Sports Team Selection Committee are making visits throughout Big Ten and SEC country, meeting with fans across both conferences in advance of the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day.
Here’s a look at some of the most highly-anticipated games on the schedule this week:
No. 11 Florida (8-3, 6-3 SEC) at Florida State (5-6, 3-5 ACC) – 12 p.m. on ABC
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: No. 13 Florida trying to end 5-game slide against rival FSUhttps://t.co/StJDxyDWrL pic.twitter.com/NThkOfn46S
— Lake City Sports (@LCR_Sports) November 20, 2018
The Gators travel to Tallahassee on Saturday looking to end their in-state rival’s winning streak in the series, now at five consecutive games. Though Florida is favored in this year’s contest, the Seminoles have won 15 straight non-conference home games, the 9th-longest active streak among Power 5 programs and 3rd longest in the ACC.
The Seminoles are coming off their first win over a ranked opponent (Boston College) since 2016, and must win to extend the nation’s longest bowl streak to 37 seasons.
Florida coach Dan Mullen has been one of the most impressive first-year head coaches. Mullen is one of three new head coaches this year to have a team in ranked in the AP Top-25. Josh Heupel (No. 8 UCF), and Joe Moorhead (No. 22 Miss. State) are the only other first-year coaches with teams in the AP Top 25. The improvement under Mullen is perhaps most evident in the rushing game, where the Gators have seven 200-yard rushing games this season, one fewer than they tallied from 2015-17.
No. 15 Kentucky (8-3, 5-3 SEC) at Louisville (2-9, 0-8 ACC) – 7 p.m. on ESPN2
For the 25th edition of the Governor’s Cup, Louisville hosts a Kentucky team seeking its highest regular season win total since 1977.
The UK defense, led by senior pass rusher Josh Allen, has been impressive this year and will look to stymie a Louisville offense that has struggled throughout the season. The Cats ranks 12th nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 16.8 points per game. They also rank 24th nationally and fourth in the SEC in total defense yards per game (328.2), 38th nationally in team passing efficiency defense (120.3 rating points), and 27th in pass yards allowed (190.6).
Despite dropping their eighth-straight game last week to NC State, the Cardinals rushed for a season high 254 yards, their most productive day on the ground since running for 346 yards in last year’s Governor’s Cup en route to a 44-17 win.
No. 7 LSU (9-2, 5-2 SEC) at No. 22 Texas A&M (7-4, 4-3 SEC) –7:30 p.m. on SEC
Texas A&M is looking to beat LSU for the first time since 1995. I dug up some of our footage from that victory. Lots of 'Lectric Leeland on that day. pic.twitter.com/hg3sdOZmOo
— Cody Coil (@codycoil) November 20, 2018
LSU and Texas A&M meet for the 58th time this Saturday. The Tigers head to College Station with a 33-20-3 advantage in the series, having won the last seven meetings. That includes a 6-0 record against the Aggies since A&M joined the SEC in 2012.
The Tigers are also looking to knock off their fifth Top-25 opponent this year. LSU has more Top 25 wins (4) and more Top 10 wins (3) than any team in college football this year. A victory would also give the Tigers their first 10-win season since 2013.
The Tigers are 7-0 this year when outrushing their opponent. The Tiger run game is led by Trayveon Williams, who has 1,326 yards on the season and leads the SEC in rushing. Williams is also tied for first in the SEC with 13 rushing touchdowns.
The Aggies are looking to secure a winning record in conference play and lock in a second-place finish in the SEC West – their best since finishing 6-2 in their debut season in the conference.
The Aggies will look to contain Williams with a stout run defense that has been shutting down running backs all season. The Aggie defense is holding opposing offenses to 82.8 rushing yards per game, which is the best in the SEC and second in the nation behind Michigan State (78.9).
Illinois (4-7, 2-6 Big Ten) at No. 19 Northwestern (7-4, 7-1 Big Ten) – 3:30 p.m. on BTN
Northwestern hosts Illinois in the battle for the Land of Lincoln Trophy this Saturday as the Wildcats will look to make it four consecutive victories over their in-state opponent and match their longest winning streak in the series
The Wildcats are coming off their 10th-straight victory over a Big Ten West Division opponent, making them a perfect 5-0 against divisional foes this season. Northwestern also improved to 7-1 in Big Ten play for the first time since 1995.
Northwestern will face a strong Illini running game led by running back Reggie Corbin. The Illini are averaging 251.1 rushing yards per game this season (12th-best in FBS) and in November, rank third in the nation in rushing yards per carry (7.46), behind only Clemson and Georgia, fourth in rushing touchdowns (10), and sixth in rushing yards (315.7 ypg).
Maryland (5-6, 3-5 Big Ten) at No. 12 Penn State (8-3, 5-3 Big Ten) – 3:30 p.m. on ABC
Maryland hits the road to take on Penn State as the Terrapins will need to upset the Nittany Lions to secure a sixth win and become bowl eligible. Penn State has dominated the series, posting a 38-2-1 record against Maryland.
The Maryland offense has been deadly in the red-zone this season, converting on 97% of their red zone opportunities (28 of 29), the third best mark in the country and the best in the Big Ten.
Penn State’s offense includes a dangerous run game led by running back Miles Sanders, who is averaging 99.5 rushing yards a game, and quarterback Trace McSorely. The Nittany Lions are averaging 199.4 yards per game on the ground.
Here are some other games across the Big Ten and SEC this week:
No. 18 Mississippi State (7-4, 3-4 SEC) at Ole Miss (5-6, 1-6 SEC) –7:30 p.m. on ESPN
Arkansas (2-9, 0-7 SEC) at Missouri (7-4, 3-4 SEC) –2:30 p.m. on CBS
Nebraska (4-7, 3-5 Big Ten) at Iowa (7-4, 4-4 Big Ten) –12 p.m. on FOX
Georgia Tech (7-4, 5-3 ACC) at No. 5 Georgia (10-1, 7-1 SEC) – 12 p.m. on SEC
Indiana (5-6, 2-6 Big Ten) at Purdue (5-6, 4-4 Big Ten) – 12 p.m. on ESPN2
No. 4 Michigan (8-0, 10-1 Big Ten) at No. 10 Ohio State (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten) – 12 p.m. on FOX
Minnesota (5-6, 2-6 Big Ten) at Wisconsin (7-4, 5-3 Big Ten) – 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2
Auburn (6-4, 3-4 SEC) at No. 1 Alabama (11-0, 7-0 SEC) – 3:30 p.m. on CBS
Rutgers (1-10, 0-8 Big Ten) at Michigan State (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten) – 4 p.m. on FOX
Tennessee (5-6, 2-5 SEC) at Vanderbilt (5-6, 2-5 SEC) – 4 p.m. on SEC
South Carolina (6-4, 4-4 SEC) at No. 2 Clemson (11-0, 8-0 ACC) – 7 p.m. on ESPN
Click here to check out previews of games from earlier this season.