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November 21, 2013

Week 13 Preview

All eyes will be on No. 17 UCF (8-1, 5-0) as the Knights' game against Rutgers (5-4, 2-3) gets top billing as ESPN's Thursday Game of the Week.

Kickoff from Bright House Networks Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. featuring the network's broadcast team of Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, David Pollack and Kaylee Hartung.


UCF's BCS dreams are still intact following last Saturday's 39-36 come-from-behind victory at Temple. As the league's only unbeaten team, the Knights continue to control their own destiny to win the American and would move one step closer with a win against the Scarlet Knights.

Rutgers has gone through a rough stretch, losing three of their last four games, and have been embroiled in controversy as a former player went public last week accusing defensive coordinator Dave Cohen of bullying.

Another game with possible title implications is Cincinnati's visit to Houston on Saturday. The Bearcats (8-2, 5-1) don't play UCF this season, but could potentially receive the league's BCS bid should they win out and UCF drops one game.

UCF, if they beat Rutgers and Houston beats Cincinnati, could potentially clinch the league title and BCS bid the following week against USF.

Elsewhere in the league, Louisville hosts Memphis, UConn goes to Temple and SMU visits USF, all on Saturday.

Here's a look at every game involving the American, future league members East Carolina, Tulane, Tulsa and Navy, plus UCF's non-conference opponents (Akron, FIU, Penn State, South Carolina).

Yahoo! College Football Scoreboard

Lines are for entertainment purposes only, picks are head-to-head.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21
Rutgers (5-4, 2-3 AAC) at No. 17 UCF (8-1, 5-0 AAC)
7:30 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: Knights vs. Scarlet Knights. Only previous meeting occurred in the 2009 St. Petersburg Bowl, a 45-24 win by Rutgers. For UCF, a win puts them one step closer to capturing the American Championship. Things almost went off track last week at Temple, but the Knights rallied late to come up with a 39-36 walk-off victory. Rutgers has been in a bit of a free fall, losing three of their past four games. Last week's game was especially demoralizing, a 52-17 beat-down adminstered by Cincinnati.
THE LINE: UCF by 17.5
THE PICK: UCF
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22
Navy (6-4) at San Jose State (5-5, 4-3 MWC)
9 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: Navy reached their sixth win needed for bow eligibility last week with a 42-14 win against South Alabama. They've accepted a bid to play in the Armed Forces Bowl. On the flip side, this is a very important game for San Jose State's bowl chances, who need to win one of their last two games. They would like to get it this week seeing that Fresno State comes up next on the schedule.
THE LINE: San Jose State by 2
THE PICK: Navy
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23
Cincinnati (8-2, 5-1 AAC) at Houston (7-3, 4-2 AAC)
12 noon, ESPNews
THE BUZZ: Former C-USA rivals meet again. This will be the 22nd meeting all time in a series that dates back to 1957. Houston leads, 13-8. Cincinnati is still in the hunt for the American Championship. If they win out (they have Louisville next), and UCF drops one game, there would be a tie at the top of the standings. Since the UC and UCF did not play during the regular season, the BCS bid would be determined by the higher BCS ranking, which could favor UC if they've won seven in a row. But before all that, they must get past Houston, who lost a close 20-13 game at Louisville last weekend.
THE LINE: Houston by 3.5
THE PICK: Houston
Memphis (3-6, 1-4 AAC) at No. 21 Louisville (9-1, 5-1 AAC)
12 noon, American Game of the Week / CW18 in Orlando
THE BUZZ: More of a basketball rivalry, the two schools have met 42 times with Louisville holding the 23-19 edge. Memphis has won back-to-back games vs. FCS Tennessee-Martin and USF. Louisville, whose only blemish has been their loss to UCF, remains in the American title hunt, but would need UCF to lose two of their last three games in addition to winning out themselves. The Cardinals rank second nationally in scoring defense (10.8 ppg).
THE LINE: Louisville by 24.5
THE PICK: Louisville
East Carolina (8-2, 6-1 C-USA) at NC State (3-7, 0-7 ACC)
12:30 p.m., ESPN3
THE BUZZ: East Carolina looks to win their second game against in-state ACC foe after previously knocking off UNC, 55-31. Big rivalry game, as the two schools are located less than two hours apart. NC State holds 16-11 lead in the all-time series, but Pirates have won six of the last 10. Former UCF defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable holds the same position at NC State.
THE LINE: ECU by 6.5
THE PICK: ECU
Coastal Carolina (10-1, 4-1 Big South) at No. 12 South Carolina (8-2, 6-2 SEC)
1:00 p.m., ESPN3
THE BUZZ: Done with SEC play, South Carolina finishes the season with two non-conference games. FCS Coastal Carolina is essentially a warm-up game before the rivalry game against Clemson next week. If Missouri slips in one of their last two games (at No. 24 Ole Miss, vs. No. 12 Texas A&M), South Carolina would represent the West Division in the SEC Championship.
THE LINE: South Carolina by 34.5
THE PICK: South Carolina
Nebraska (7-3, 4-2 B1G) at Penn State (6-4, 3-3 B1G)
3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: As expected, Penn State defeated woeful Purdue last week, 45-21. During the game, WR Allen Robinson set the school's single-season receptions mark (breaking the record he set last year with 77). He also holds the single-season receiving yards record. This is the home finale for the Nittany Lions, who are in the second year of a four-year bowl ban.
THE LINE: Penn State by 2
THE PICK: Nebraska
UTEP (2-8, 1-5 C-USA) at Tulane (6-4, 4-2 C-USA)
3:30 p.m., No TV
THE BUZZ: Tulane got bowl eligible, then has dropped back-to-back games (at FAU, at UTSA). Last week's loss, a 10-7 loss to UTSA, was particularly inept. UTEP is pretty bad, but not as bad as FIU, who they beat 33-10 last week.
THE LINE: Tulane by 17
THE PICK: Tulane
Marshall (7-3, 5-1 C-USA) at Florida International (1-9, 1-5 C-USA)
6:00 p.m., No TV
THE BUZZ: If not for Southern Miss (who has lost 22 in a row), FIU would be winless. Outside of a 27-24 loss to UAB in early October, they haven't been competitive in any game, including last week's 33-10 loss to UTEP. There are rumors first-year coach Ron Turner wants out and is looking to go back to the NFL once the season is over.
THE LINE: Marshall by 33
THE PICK: Marshall
UConn (0-9, 0-5 AAC) at Temple (1-9, 0-6 AAC)
7 p.m., ESPN3
THE BUZZ: Two of the last three UConn-Temple have gone to overtime, including last year's 17-14 win by the Owls. Temple, though they don't have the wins to show for it, are improving by leaps and bounds offensively and nearly beat UCF last week. The big reason for that is freshman QB P.J. Walker, who is a playmaker both passing and running. UConn is really bad, particularly offensively, and went to another freshman quarterback starter last week, Casey Cochran.
THE LINE: Temple by 8.5
THE PICK: Temple
SMU (4-5, 3-2 AAC) at USF (2-7, 2-3 AAC)
7 p.m., ESPN3
THE BUZZ: First ever meeting. SMU's bowl chances are slim, but to retain any hope this is a must-win. If they can pull it off, they must beat either Houston or UCF to get to six needed victories. Mustangs QB Garrett Gilbert leads the American in total offense (405.7) and passing average (376.7), and as a team they are tops in total offense (481.6). On the flip side, USF ranks last in total offense (263.7) and passing offense (159.2). USF has lost their past three games, including last week's 23-10 loss to Memphis.
THE LINE: SMU by 4
THE PICK: SMU
Tulsa (2-8, 1-5 C-USA) at Louisiana Tech (4-6, 3-3 C-USA)
7:00 p.m., CBS Sports Network
THE BUZZ: Tulsa looks nothing like the 2012 team that won the C-USA Championship. The Golden Hurricane have played nowhere close to expectations, which was to contend again in the West Division. La Tech, now led by Skip Holtz, could get bowl eligible if they win their last two games. Next week they play UTSA.
THE LINE: Tulsa by 3.5
THE PICK: Tulsa


Bye week: Akron (4-7, 3-4 MAC)


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