Week 13 of the college football season is loaded with a lot of obvious situational spots. In some way, shape, or form, every game on the board could find its way into this article. There are a lot of games that mean something for one team and nothing for another. There are a lot of games that have coaching considerations or Senior Day/Night festivities.
In the interest of time and space, I’ve tried to pick out the best ones and the ones that have the most compelling and potentially actionable angles. All rivalry games are situational spots, so only the ones that have something extra to them are going to be mentioned this week.
We won’t have one of these situational articles next week because there are a lot of makeup games and conference championship games. We’ll be back with some bowl game situational spots once those are announced.
In the meantime, here are the college football situational spots for Week 13:
Ball State at Miami of Ohio – Ball State scored a big win for the program by knocking off Western Michigan last week thanks to a goal-line stand on a two-point conversion. That may have been the last gasp for the Cardinals. Miami of Ohio certainly hopes so, as the RedHawks can put pressure on Buffalo to beat Bowling Green to win the MAC East. The RedHawks would also get to six wins for a bowl game and possibly save Chuck Martin’s job, if the seat is actually that hot.
Mississippi State at Ole Miss – This is a big-time rivalry game affectionately known as the Egg Bowl, but this is also a chance at revenge for the Bulldogs. Mississippi State held a big yardage edge in this game last year, but lost. Nick Fitzgerald suffered a gruesome leg injury in the first quarter of this game last year. You can bet that the senior quarterback is fired up for this one and so are his teammates.
Akron at Ohio – Ohio won’t have much to play for with a Miami of Ohio win on Tuesday, but the Bobcats were kept out of the MAC Championship Game last season because of a loss to Akron. This is a terrible, awful, no good Akron team that appears to be in line for a beating. The line is only going up and may keep going that way given the spot for the Bobcats.
Buffalo at Bowling Green – The Bulls have struggled of late, but still control their own destiny in the MAC East. Buffalo will have a date in Detroit with a win. Bowling Green has won two in a row and has circled the wagons a little bit behind interim head coach Carl Pelini. This one may not come as easy as it would have a few weeks ago.
Coastal Carolina at South Alabama – This isn’t just your run-of-the-mill spot with a five-win team. Coastal Carolina has never been to a bowl game at the FBS level. Head coach Joe Moglia missed last year to focus on his health. Coastal has been stuck on five wins for a while, but now draws arguably the weakest team in the Sun Belt. As the line suggests, it still won’t be easy for the Chanticleers, who could win six games and still be kept out of a bowl game depending on how things shake out, but few teams in the country will be as motivated as the Chants this week.
Houston at Memphis – The Cougars have to go into battle without D’Eriq King, who tore his meniscus in last week’s game against Tulane. This game is a winner-take-all for the AAC West Division and Houston’s second-best player won’t be available. Some of these blurbs will be short and sweet, considering the spots are pretty obvious.
Virginia at Virginia Tech – How things have changed for these two programs. Virginia has lost 14 in a row to Virginia Tech and 18 of the last 19. The last win in this rivalry for the Cavaliers came in 2003 in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers haven’t won in Blacksburg since 1998. They’re favored to do so this week. Virginia being favored is rare. Virginia being favored on the road is even rarer.
Oklahoma at West Virginia – There’s a lot happening here, but it’s pretty simple to describe. The winner will go to the Big 12 Title Game. The loser will have to hope Kansas beats Texas (they won’t). Oklahoma is also the Big 12’s only hope at having a playoff team, so there’s a lot on the line for the conference this weekend in Morgantown.
Washington at Washington State – The winner of the Apple Cup will go to the Pac-12 Championship Game. Like the Big 12, Washington State is the only playoff hope for the conference and even that looks like a long shot. The Huskies have won five straight in this series and eight of the last nine. Washington State has not scored more than 17 points in the last five meetings against the Huskies. Washington has scored at least 41 points in each of the last three games.
Pitt at Miami (FL) – This is an interesting one. Pitt has nothing to play for with Clemson on deck in the ACC Championship Game. Miami has revenge to play for after losing to Pitt last season. That was Miami’s first loss of the season and it came in this very spot that Pitt is in. It was the week before the ACC Title Game. Pitt isn’t undefeated, but still. It started a three-game losing skid for Miami that crippled their national perception. They’re out for revenge to say the least.
Kentucky at Louisville – Louisville has dominated this rivalry since 2011 with six wins and just one loss. Last year, the Cardinals won 44-17. This year, the Cardinals haven’t scored 44 points in a game, fired head coach Bobby Petrino, and look as lifeless as possible. Kentucky hasn’t been good in a big favorite role and has really not been good in this season, but Lamar Jackson isn’t coming through that door to start on Saturday for the Cardinals.
Marshall at FIU – This one is simple. If FIU wins, the Panthers win the Conference USA East Division title and face UAB in Birmingham next week. If the Panthers don’t, they’ll need help from UAB against Middle Tennessee State.
That Team Up North at Ohio State – This one is also simple. The Big Ten East and a potential spot in the College Football Playoff are on the line in Columbus. The Buckeyes are a home dog to TTUN for the first time since 2004. They’ve certainly earned it with their play this season.
Georgia Tech at Georgia – There are four teams playing rivalry games with a look-ahead to the conference championship game. Clemson is one against South Carolina, but the Tigers are favored by 26.5 and are clearly the second-best team in the country. Georgia has to face the Tech triple option, which does take a lot of planning to face. This is a big number and this head-to-head series is 2-2 over the last four years. Georgia has only won by more than 17 points twice since 2002.
New Mexico State at Liberty – This one is kind of fun. These two teams played in Las Cruces earlier in the season. That was one hell of a spot for Liberty. The Flames played New Mexico the week before, flew home, and then flew back to New Mexico to play the Aggies. Now New Mexico State makes the long trip to Lynchburg, Virginia. Liberty was a three-point road favorite in that role and lost 49-41. This is the first home game after three straight on the road for Liberty. Though the Flames are in a transitional phase and cannot be bowl-eligible, they play Norfolk State next week. With a win here, they can finish 6-6 in their first season as an FBS member. That means something to those kids.
Utah State at Boise State – Here’s another obvious spot. Utah State and Boise State play for the Mountain Division crown. Fresno State awaits next week in the MWC Championship Game. The host team is the one with the highest College Football Playoff ranking, which will be the winner of this game.
BYU at Utah – The Holy War is in Salt Lake City this year between BYU and Utah. This was a regular thing from 1922 until 2013 when the series fell apart because of scheduling conflicts with Utah in the Pac-12. It started up again in 2015 by accident because of the Las Vegas Bowl and has been a thing the last two years. With the one-year delay factored in, BYU hasn’t won this game since 2009 and has lost seven straight. Utah is a big favorite, but this is a big rivalry and one that has been very one-sided of late.
Florida at Florida State – All of the talk this week will be about Florida State continuing its 36-year bowl streak. How about some talk on much Florida would love to end that streak? The Gators are a growing road favorite in this spot. The Seminoles took advantage of a wounded Boston College team with quarterback injuries, which may have led to a little too much optimism about this spot.
Maryland at Penn State – It has been a remarkably tough year for the Terrapins. The death of Jordan McNair tore apart the university and the athletic department, but seemingly bonded most of the team. After giving everything and then some last week in the overtime loss to Ohio State, how much does Maryland have left in the tank for this week’s game against Penn State? My guess? Not much.
Kansas State at Iowa State – Will this be the final game for Bill Snyder at Kansas State? The Wildcats took advantage of bad weather conditions and bad QB play to down Texas Tech last week in what was thought to be Snyder’s last home game. Is this the end for the storied coach? We’ll have to wait to find out, but his kids may play like it is.
Purdue at Indiana – This is fun. Both Purdue and Indiana have five wins. Purdue beat Indiana last year to keep the Hoosiers from going to a bowl game. Indiana can do the same and make a bowl game of their own. Jeff Brohm is probably gone to Louisville, so how excited will the Boilermakers be for this game? Indiana has everything to gain and then some. Purdue is staring at 12-15 practices with an interim head coach. Advantage Indiana.
Louisiana at Louisiana Monroe – It’s been a little while since this game mattered as much as it does. If Louisiana wins on the road in the Battle on the Bayou, the Ragin’ Cajuns will play in the first-ever Sun Belt Championship Game. If Monroe wins, they’ll need an Arkansas State loss. Monroe won 56-50 in double overtime last year to snap a three-year skid.
Notre Dame at USC – Even though the strength of schedule wound up not being there for Notre Dame, a win here means a spot in the College Football Playoff. USC can go to a bowl game with an upset, but Clay Helton should be fired and the idea of a low-level bowl game doesn’t seem great for USC.
Auburn at Alabama – This is the biggest spread ever in this rivalry and Alabama is laying an enormous number. The Crimson Tide have Georgia on deck in the SEC Championship Game, but you can bet that Alabama is not looking past the chance to put a beatdown on Auburn.
Arizona State at Arizona – Rivalry games with two new head coaches are always interesting. They have to get into the flow of the rivalry and make sure it means something to everybody involved. This year’s Territorial Cup features a head coach in Herm Edwards that has never been in a rivalry situation and a coach in Kevin Sumlin that didn’t really have a true rival at Texas A&M. This should be a fun one.