On3’s Mike Huguenin and Matt Zenitz spotlight six games with interesting coordinator matchups each week. The proverbial “chess match” between the coordinators very well could determine the outcome.
Here are the six in Week 13. All games Saturday unless noted.
No. 19 Tulane at No. 24 Cincinnati
Time/TV: Noon Friday, ABC
The coordinator matchup: Tulane OC Jim Svoboda vs. Cincinnati DC Mike Tressel
The buzz: The winner takes the AAC regular-season title and hosts the league championship game. Svoboda, in his first season at Tulane, has revved-up the rushing attack, and Tressel’s first order of business figures to be stopping the run. Tulane’s Tyjae Spears has had five consecutive 100-yard games. Cincinnati has been strong against the run, but in their two losses, the Bearcats surrendered 482 yards (that’s one-third of their season total). Tulane QB Michael Pratt makes good use of the fake play and has nine rushing TDs himself.
Florida at No. 16 Florida State
Time/TV: 7:30 p.m. Friday, ESPN
The coordinator matchup: Florida State coach Mike Norvell vs. Florida D.C. Patrick Toney
The buzz: Florida State has rushed for 200 yards in six consecutive games, the first time that has happened since Warrick Dunn was running around in the Seminoles’ backfield in 1995. Florida’s running defense isn’t good; the Gators have surrendered 21 rushing TDs (101st nationally) and are allowing 4.45 yards per carry (95th nationally). To make matters worse, Florida LB Ventrell Miller The team’s best defensive player will miss the first half because of a targeting call last week’s loss to Vanderbilt. FSU QB Jordan Travis is a vastly improved passer this season, but Toney still has to find a way to make the Seminoles go to the air. If FSU runs like it has been, this will be ugly.
No. 3 Michigan at No. 2 Ohio State
Time/TV: Noon, Fox
The coordinator matchup: Ohio State coach Ryan Day vs. Michigan DC Jesse Minter
The buzz: Both teams have injury issues at running back, and that will impact Michigan’s offense more than Ohio State’s. Still, it will be interesting to see how Minter attacks if the Buckeyes are missing Treveyon Henderson and Miyan Williams. Michigan shut down Ohio State’s passing attack last season, with some help from the weather; there is no snow forecast Saturday and this is a different coordinator. Maryland’s Taulia Tagovailoa has the season-highs in passing yards (269 yards) and TD passes (two) against the Wolverines. Ohio State QB CJ Stroud He has thrown zero or one TD passes in three of the past four games, which adds another layer of intrigue.
Iowa State at No. 4 TCU
Time/TV: 4 pm, FS1
The coordinator matchup: TCU OC Garrett Riley vs. Iowa State DC Jon Heacock
The buzz: This has been a disappointing season for Iowa State, but the Cyclones’ defense has played well. Iowa State is 12th nationally in yards-per-play defense (4.64). TCU is at its best when its rushing attack gets cranked up and it’ll be interesting to see how Riley chooses to do things early. Will TCU rely heavily on RB Kendre Miller early, or will the Horned Frogs look to air it out with QB Max Duggan? Iowa State is last in the Big 12 in sacks, but the Cyclones need to at least make things uncomfortable for Duggan.
No. 15 Notre Dame at No. 6 USC
Time/TV: 7:30 pm, ABC
The coordinator matchup: Notre Dame OC Tommy Rees vs. USC DC Alex Grinch
The buzz: While Notre Dame’s defense has stiffened up in the second half of the season, USC will have success moving the ball against the Irish. Rees has to find a way Notre Dame’s offense can keep pace. That might not be that hard: USC has allowed at least 35 points and at least 469 yards in four of its past five games; the Trojans allowed 500-plus in three of those. But the one thing Grinch’s unit has done at an incredibly high level is force turnovers: USC has a plus-20 turnover margin, thanks to the Trojans forcing 24 turnovers (18 picks, six fumbles). The Irish have committed 13 turnovers.
Kansas at No. 12 Kansas State
Time/TV: 8 p.m., Fox
The coordinator matchup: Kansas OC Andy Kotelnicki vs. Kansas State DC Joe Klanderman
The buzz: K-State clinches a spot in the Big 12 title game with a victory. Kansas’ defense isn’t much, so the Wildcats’ offense figures to have a lot of success. That means Kotelnicki’s unit needs to come through. Kansas RB Devin Neal has rushed for 465 yards in the past three games, and K-State has had issues at times stopping the run. K-State has allowed just eight rushing TDs all season, but five of those came in the Wildcats’ three losses.