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2023 College Football Week 13 Sleeper Picks

By Hank Blaine

Week 13 around college football is the last game of the season for schools who aren’t bowl eligible for the most part but some players already are looking ahead to 2024: Utah quarterback Cam Rising, who helped the Utes to consecutive Pac-12 titles before missing this season with a significant knee injury, will return next year for his whopping seventh season of college football. Here are three sleeper picks in Week 13.

Top 2023 College Football Week 13 Sleeper Picks

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Only pride is at stake in this Big Ten matchup as neither can win the West Division – Iowa has clinched that. Wisconsin is bowl eligible at 6-5, but Minnesota needs one more victory at 5-6. Wisconsin has qualified for a bowl game for a 22nd-consecutive season, the 3rd-longest active bowl streak in the nation. With a win at Minnesota, Wisconsin could also secure a winning season for the 22nd-straight season, the longest streak in all of FBS football. Despite being hampered by a lower body injury, RB Braelon Allen returned to form against Nebraska in the Camp Randall finale last Saturday in a 24-17 win. After rushing for 62 yards and 2 scores against Nebraska, Allen ranks 2nd in the Big Ten with 81.9 rushing yards per game and 10 rushing scores. QB Tanner Mordecai has returned to start back-to-back games after missing 3 due to a broken throwing hand. Mordecai returned just 28 days after breaking the hand in Wisconsin’s Oct. 14 matchup with Iowa. Mordecai directed the Badger offense in the 14-point comeback win over Nebraska. He ran for 51 yards, the most for a Badger QB since 2013. WR Will Pauling ranks 2nd in the Big Ten with 64 catches this season. With 2 games to play, Pauling needs 14 catches to match the Badgers’ all-time single-season reception record (78 – Jared Abbrederis, 2013). Defensively, Wisconsin has allowed only 730 passing yards (66.4/game) in the second half of contests this season. That’s the fewest in the country. UW has not allowed a 2nd-half TD in the month of November.

Minnesota lost its third game in a row Saturday, 37-3 at Ohio State. Dragan Kesich is having one of the best seasons by a kicker in Minnesota program history. A semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award in his first season as the primary kicker, Kesich is 21-of-25 on field goals, good for an 84.0 percent conversion rate. His 2.10 field goals per game lead the Big Ten and rank second nationally. Kesich’s 8.5 points per game are second in the Big Ten (first among kickers), and his field goal percentage is fourth in the conference. The most played FBS rivalry in college football history at 132 games, with an even mark of 62-62-8 between the schools, Saturday will be the 10th straight year that the Gophers and Badgers face off in the regular season finale. The all-time series has been played 132 times, but Saturday marks the 75th battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. Despite the Gophers claiming a victory in each of the last 2 seasons, the Badgers have secured the Axe 16 times over the teams’ last 19 meetings.

2023 College Football Week 13 Pick: Minnesota

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Auburn Tigers

Auburn isn’t winning this Iron Bowl showdown but can keep it close. The Tide of course have the SEC title game against Georgia next Saturday. This past Saturday’s rout of Chattanooga was the Tide’s 16th consecutive 10-win season, adding to Alabama’s NCAA record for the most 10-win seasons in a row. The previous record was 14 straight 10-win campaigns by Florida State and head coach Bobby Bowden from 1987-2000. Alabama has now won 19 straight against unranked opponents and improved to 123-4 (.969) against unranked opponents under head coach Nick Saban. QB Jalen Milroe has responded in a big way the last eight weeks since losing his starting job for the USF game. The redshirt sophomore has led Alabama to eight straight victories, including seven SEC wins, three of which came against top-25 teams. Since his return to the lineup, Milroe is averaging 227.3 passing yards per game (1,818 total) while completing 68.1 percent (115-169) of his passes and accounting for 24 total touchdowns (14 passing).

Auburn is seeking their 800th win in program history; they would be just the 13th FBS team to reach that mark. Auburn is 799-465-47 in 131 years of football. Auburn leads the SEC in red zone defense (.778). Auburn is third in the SEC in third-down defense (.309) and fourth in scoring defense (21.5) and pass efficiency defense (127.84). Lou Groza Award semifinalist Alex McPherson’s current string of 18 consecutive made field goals broke Daniel Carlson’s Auburn record (16). Alabama and Auburn will meet for the 88th time with the Tide owning a 49-37-1 all-time advantage in the series, which is the oldest in program history, dating back to 1893. Saturday’s matchup will be just the 17th overall pairing on the Plains, with the Tigers holding a 10-6 advantage on their campus. Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze is 2-3 for his career against UA with all five matchups coming during his time at Ole Miss.

2023 College Football Week 13 Pick: Auburn

Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. Syracuse Orange

The Syracuse players figure to be going through the motions after head coach Dino Babers was fired over the weekend with a 41-55 record over the past eight seasons. The Orange (5-6) have lost six of their past seven games, marking the second consecutive year that featured a precipitous slide to end the season. Last year, Syracuse lost six of its last seven games. His ACC record is 20-45. No ACC school has qualified for fewer bowl games than Syracuse over the past eight seasons. Out of 130 teams that have competed in college football’s highest subdivision throughout Babers’ tenure, Syracuse ranks in the bottom third in wins and in winning percentage since he was hired. That decline has come after Babers’ hallmark 10-3 season in 2018, which included a near-upset of No. 3 Clemson and a bowl win over West Virginia. Syracuse tight ends coach Nunzio Campanile was named interim coach. He was previously the interim coach at Rutgers, leading the Scarlet Knights for eight games after Chris Ash was fired in 2019. The Orange need a win to become bowl eligible for the second-straight year. It would be the first time Syracuse has gone to a bowl game in back-to-back seasons since 2012 and 2013. RB LeQuint Allen Jr. is averaging 121.7 rushing yards in his last three games and his 918 yards rank third in the ACC. Syracuse is playing its first Saturday home game since hosting Clemson on September 30. The 56 days between Saturday home games trails only New Mexico State’s 63 day stretch without a Saturday home game for the longest such streak in the FBS.

Wake Forest will play its finale as it has a 4-7 record and thus can’t get bowl eligible. The Deacons and Orange are the only two schools with just a single ACC victory. The Demon Deacons own the second-longest bowl streak in the ACC at seven in a row, which also is tied for the 11th longest streak in the nation. Wake Forest is the only program in the ACC to average at least 30.0 per game in each of the last six seasons, the fourth longest streak in ACC history. Kicker Matthew Dennis is tied for 38th in the nation with 1.27 field goals made per game and tied for 37th with 14 field goals made while also having a 70.0 FG pct. Dating back to last season, Jasheen Davis has recorded 28.5 tackles for loss in the last 16 games and 12.5 tackles for loss. He has at least 0.5 tackles for loss in every game this season and in 19 of the last 20 games. Syracuse and Wake are tied 6-6 all-time in the series. Three of the previous 12 contests between the schools have been decided in overtime, including two of the last four. The Deacs are on a three-game winning streak against the Orange since 2020. Wake Forest has averaged 41.0 points per-game against Syracuse during that span.

2023 College Football Week 13 Pick: Wake Forest

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READ MORE: 2023 College Football Week 13 Odds, Overview & Picks