College football Week 13 primer: Heisman Watch, upset picks, predictions and more

College football Week 13 primer: Heisman Watch, upset picks, predictions and more

The first set of College Football Playoff rankings is out. Rivalry Week — well, sort of — is here.  

With three weeks left in the regular season, the final stretch is on. Black Friday involves a pair of games between ranked teams. No. 15 Iowa State faces No. 20 Texas on the road. No. 2 Notre Dame travels to No. 24 North Carolina. Those are huge pieces of the conference championship picture.  

MORE: Week 13 picks against the spread

That sets up Saturday’s Iron Bowl matchup between No. 22 Auburn and No. 1 Alabama. There are a few rivalry games sprinkled in, and that’s enough to make Thanksgiving weekend interesting.  

Every week, PoliticSay surveys the landscape looking for Heisman contenders, coaches on the spot, upset alerts and other trends. With that in mind, get ready for Week 13. 

Heisman watch 

Notre Dame’s Ian Book and North Carolina’s Sam Howell should put on a show in their ACC matchup Friday.  

Book leads the undefeated Irish into yet another ACC hurdle. The senior quarterback is on a two-game hot streak during which he’s averaged 296.5 passing yards and 76 rushing yards with five total touchdowns in the victories against Clemson and Boston College. Book has put up a passer rating of more than 100 in every game this season.  

Howell has more than twice as many TD passes as Book, with 23, and he’s coming off a 550-yard, six-TD performance against Wake Forest on Nov. 14. This is the chance for Howell to score his signature victory as a sophomore with the Tar Heels.  

The winner here could sneak in as a Heisman Trophy finalist.  

Coach on the spot 

The Iron Bowl gets its own separate treatment here, so let’s focus on another SEC rivalry that will be played in the same window. Last year’s Egg Bowl ended with a missed extra point one play after Ole Miss receiver Elijah Moore pretended to pee like a dog in the end zone.  

Lane Kiffin and Mike Leach were hired afterward, and those coaches have combined for a 5-9 record. Ole Miss averages 41 points per game, and Mississippi State averages 17.4. Both defenses are bad, so more pressure is on Kiffin in the first matchup.  

The Egg Bowl is always entertaining. It still might be a few years before both teams are ranked heading into this matchup.  

Upset alert 

If Iowa State beats Texas, then is it an upset? The Cyclones beat the Longhorns 23-21 last season, and Iowa State is alone atop the Big 12 standings.  

Texas still is favored, however, and the Longhorns are 14-3 all time against Iowa State. The lone loss at home was in 2010. Sam Ehlinger and Brock Purdy have similar passing numbers. Ehlinger has a few more TD passes, and Purdy is a little more accurate. It should be a fun shootout that comes down to a field goal in the final minutes.  

Texas A&M is a heavy favorite against LSU, and the Aggies will be looking for revenge after losing 50-7 last year. Still, the Tigers picked up a much-needed victory last week, T.J. Finley is coming off his best start and Texas A&M had a two-week layoff.  

Will the Longhorns and Aggies sweep a weekend in which they should be playing each other instead?  


We have mentioned the number of unbeaten teams in the FBS each week, and that number is high because of the staggered start of each of the 10 FBS conferences.  

There are 17 unbeaten teams in college football heading into the final weekend of November.  


No. 1 Alabama (7-0)
No. 2 Notre Dame (8-0)
No. 3 Ohio State (4-0)
No. 7 Cincinnati (8-0)
No. 8 BYU (9-0)
No. 9 Oregon (3-0)
No. 11 Northwestern (4-0)
No. 16 Coastal Carolina (8-0)
No. 17 Marshall (7-0)
No. 19 USC (3-0)
Nevada (5-0)
San Jose State (4-0)
Western Michigan (3-0)
Buffalo (3-0)

Kent State (3-0)
Washington (2-0)
Colorado (2-0)

This number presents some intrigue when compared with the CFP rankings each of the past six years. Here is a look at the past six years of the College Football Playoff, the number of rankings, and the number of unbeatens in the first and last rankings:  

2014 7 2 1
2015 6 11 1
2016 6 5 2
2017 6 5 1
2018 6 4 4
2019 6 7 3
2020 5 ? ?

Typically, the number of unbeaten teams “figures itself out.” Will there be enough time for that in 2020?  

Think about it … 

We’re tired of talking about Jim Harbaugh and James Franklin, so we’ll break down the battle between Michigan (2-3) and Penn State (0-5) in three sentences.  

Franklin isn’t getting fired after last year’s monster extension. Harbaugh likely won’t go anywhere unless he chooses to. The defensive coordinators might want to touch up their resumes.