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Most compelling matchups from college football Week 13

Jesse Reed

We’re finally going to find out if the Ohio State Buckeyes are for real in college football Week 13, which features a handful of significant games.

Teams at or near the top of the College Football Playoff rankings are running out of time to impress the selection committee. It’s now or never, with just two games left for most teams until conference championships.

With that in mind, we’re taking a look into the five most compelling matchups in college football Week 13.

No. 8 Penn State vs. No. 2 Ohio State

The biggest game of Week 11 is taking place early on Saturday when the Buckeyes host the Nittany Lions at the famed Horseshoe in Columbus.

Ohio State is one of three remaining undefeated powerhouses in the nation, while Penn State is just one game back in the Big Ten East standings with a record of 6-1 in conference play. After Saturday’s game, Penn State gets to finish off the season against Rutgers — a gimme win if there ever was one. Contrarily, the Buckeyes will turn around and hit the road for a season finale against Michigan.

For both teams, winning this game keeps them in the running to make the Playoff. A loss, however, could mean the end of that dream. Ohio State can clinch a Big Ten Championship Game berth with a win as well.

As for the on-field matchups, we fear for Penn State’s defense in this game. The Nittany Lions have been getting roasted the past two games against teams that don’t compare to Ohio State in the offensive firepower and scheme departments.

No. 10 Minnesota vs. Northwestern

When Minnesota lost to Iowa last Saturday, it opened the door for Wisconsin to win the Big Ten West. These two top teams will finish the season against one another in Minneapolis, but before that the Golden Gophers have to shake off the disappointment of their first loss quickly with a road trip against Northwestern this Saturday.

On paper, Minnesota should win handily. The Wildcats haven’t won a conference game this year and struggle to put points on the board — averaging just 14.5 per game. Still, this game is utterly crucial for P.J. Fleck’s team. Sometimes teams respond to big losses with another disappointing outing. If that were to happen, they we can probably pencil in the Badgers for the Big Ten Championship Game.

Texas A&M vs. No. 4 Georgia

Georgia has already clinched an SEC Championship Game berth winning the SEC East. But with one defeat already on record, a second loss ahead of what seems to be an inevitable clash against LSU in that title game could sink the Bulldogs’ Playoff chances.

Texas A&M has lost all three games it’s played against top teams thus far this season, but the Aggies haven’t gone down without a fight in any of them. Jimbo Fisher has his team on a four-game winning streak coming into this huge game.

The big key in this one will be whether Jake Fromm is sharp. He’s had a few stinkers this season. And if he’s off his game Saturday, the Aggies will have a chance to pull off a huge upset.

Texas vs. No. 14 Baylor

Baylor needs to bounce back after what transpired last Saturday when it blew a 28-3 lead to Oklahoma and had its Playoff dreams crushed. There’s still a minuscule chance that the Bears could sneak in if they win out and then beat the Sooners in the Big 12 Championship Game. But all that goes out the window if the Longhorns hook ’em in Waco Saturday.

The good news for Baylor is that Texas has struggled all year on the defensive side of the ball. The bad news for Baylor is that Sam Ehlinger keeps the team in just about every game. Both offenses have big-play stars, and this game should be a ton of fun to watch.

TCU vs. No. 9 Oklahoma

The late game on FOX (8 p.m. ET) should be a blast. It’s also a must-win game for the Sooners, who are still in the Playoff conversation thanks to Jalen Hurts’ heroics last Saturday against Baylor.

The Horned Frogs are a mediocre team in the standings, but this squad has given Baylor and Oklahoma State a run for their money and beat Texas last month. TCU quarterback Max Duggan has been one of the most entertaining first-year players to watch this year, and he’s getting better on a weekly basis.

If Oklahoma’s defense continues to struggle as it has the past month, the Horned Frogs will absolutely have a chance to pull off a huge upset in Norman. It may just come down to Hurts once again, and that is always must-see television.