The Week 13 college football schedule features an underhyped matchup in Kalamazoo, Michigan between Western Michigan and Toledo.
There are no rivalries that inspire a century’s worth of vitriol and hate, such as the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn. And the outcome of their games won’t impact the playoff chase, like it will when Michigan travels to Columbus and Washington State hosts Washington. Still, the following beneath-the-radar gems are crammed with enough juicy storylines and compelling subplots to warrant your time and attention in Week 13.
6. Tennessee (8-3) at Vanderbilt (5-6), Nov. 26, 7:30 ET, SEC Network
Big game for the players in this rivalry. Even bigger for the staffs.
Butch Jones needs this W to end the regular season with a four-game winning streak that would somewhat quell the notion that 2016 was a disappointment. It would also keep alive the possibility of Tennessee’s first 10-win season in nine years, which ought to count for something on Jones’ behalf. For Derek Mason, beating the Vols could redirect the trajectory of his career in Nashville. It would be his first win over his chief rival, as well as the bowl-eligibility needed to carry stability and momentum into next season. UT rung up 63 points last Saturday, but its D is in shambles.
5. TCU (5-5) at Texas (5-6), Nov. 25, 3:30 ET, FS1
The winner becomes bowl-eligible. But that’s not why you’ll be watching this Friday.
Barring some unforeseen, 11th-hour reprieve from the governor, this will be Charlie Strong’s last game as the Longhorn head coach. He’s twisted in the wind since last Saturday’s unforgivable collapse to Kansas, and the stage could be set for a tear-jerking sendoff from a collection of players who realize the fate of their beloved coach. It also might be the last time to watch Texas RB D’Onta Foreman bludgeon opposing defenders as an unpaid amateur. The Doak Walker Award finalist is just 137 yards from eclipsing the 2,000-yard mark in his junior year.
4. Georgia Tech (7-4) at Georgia (7-4), Nov. 26, 12:00 ET, SEC Network
Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate for the 111th time.
The Dawgs and the Yellow Jackets meet in Athens, both looking to secure no worse than an eight-win campaign. This will be Kirby Smart’s first shot at Georgia Tech as a head coach, and QB Jacob Eason’s first exposure to the rivalry as a player. If the Dawgs, winners of three straight, can close out the season on a five-game winning streak, it’s going to have a carryover effect into 2017. Tech has won four of the last five to get to this point, and a rare upset of Georgia will put to rest any uncertainty regarding Paul Johnson’s future on the Flats.
3. Boise State (10-1) at Air Force (8-3), Nov. 25, 3:30 ET, CBS Sports Network
With just two weekends left in the regular season, the Broncos are the highest ranked Group of Five team. But they’ll need help to get to a New Year’s Six bowl game.
While Boise State has weaved another solid year, it continues to be haunted by last month’s loss to Wyoming. Just to win the Mountain Division of the Mountain West, the Broncos must first beat Air Force Friday and then hope for a Cowboy loss to New Mexico the following night. The Falcons won’t be a pushover, especially at home. They’ve regrouped from a midseason slump to win four straight, fueled by a deep ground game that’s been picking up yards in chunks.
2. Wyoming (8-3) at New Mexico (7-4), Nov. 26, 10:15 ET, ESPN2
The Mountain West’s two biggest surprises of 2016 get together in Albuquerque, with the Mountain Division resting on the outcome.
Wyoming is having its best season of this century, a credit to the work being done by Craig Bohl and his staff. And with a win this weekend, the Cowboys, picked to finish at the bottom of the division in the preseason, will face San Diego State in the league title game. However, New Mexico has blown past expectations as well, led by the nation’s top rushing attack. If the Lobos reach 8-4 with the mild upset and Boise State loses to Air Force, it would result in a three-way tie atop the division, with Wyoming winning the tiebreaker.
1. Toledo (9-2) at Western Michigan (11-0), Nov. 25, 5:00 ET, ESPN2
For the first time in almost two months, Western Michigan’s perfect season—and MAC championship quest—could actually be in jeopardy.
The Broncos, who’ve ripped through the softest part of the schedule, are about to host the conference’s next best thing, Toledo. The Rockets have stumbled twice in Jason Candle’s first season, Sept. 30 at BYU and Oct. 27 against Ohio. However, they’re one of the only teams on Western Michigan’s schedule with the firepower to keep pace. The Broncos average almost 44 points per game, while Toledo sits at 39 behind the running of Kareem Hunt and the passing of Logan Woodside, who’s thrown 40 touchdown passes. It’s going to be a wild scene this week in Kalamazoo.