College football picks, Week 11: Will Bama, Clemson finally be challenged?
We’re on into the second week of November, and we have several games that could have an effect on the next round of College Football Playoff rankings — if the favored teams lose.
The three big games this week are No. 8 Ohio State at No. 22 Michigan State, No. 18 Mississippi State at No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson at No. 17 Boston College. Can we expect a clean sweep from the favorites, or will chaos reign supreme in Week 11?
MORE: Week 11 bowl game projections
Sporting News has picks for those games and more this week, including a reunion between Florida State and No. 3 Notre Dame and the always-exciting Bedlam matchup between rivals Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
SN is 57-23 in its picks this year after going 7-1 last week. That said, here are the picks for Week 11 (lines reflect Consensus picks from Vegasinsiders.com as of Monday):
No. 16 Fresno State (-3) at Boise State
This Friday night game could be a preview of the Mountain West Conference championship game later this season. It’s a lot more interesting considering these two teams split meetings in back-to-back weeks last year: The Bulldogs won 28-17 in the regular-season finale before losing the rematch in the MWC championship game in Boise the following week. That will definitely be on the Bulldogs’ minds as they look for revenge. The quarterback battle between Fresno State’s Marcus McMaryion and Boise State’s Brett Rypien should be fantastic, but we’ll go with the team with the more proven defense — and a chip on its shoulder. Fresno State 31, Boise State 27
No. 15 Texas (-1) at Texas Tech
Can the Longhorns get it together long enough to take down a Red Raiders squad that gave Oklahoma everything it could handle on Saturday? Both teams are coming off heartbreaking losses (Texas’ 42-41 loss to West Virginia and Texas Tech’s 51-46 loss to Oklahoma), and both would love to get back on track with a win over an in-state opponent. It’s likely the Longhorns will have to take on quarterback Jett Duffey with Alan Bowman still in the hospital due to a partially collapsed lung — something that doesn’t bode well for a Texas team that ranks 48th nationally in rush defense and 103rd in pass defense. That said, Texas’ defense has given up 80 points the last two weeks … compared to Texas Tech’s 91. That may be the difference — however small — in this game. Texas 49, Texas Tech 45
MORE: Week 11 Playoff picture
Auburn at No. 5 Georgia (-14.5)
You can never discount a rivalry game, especially not after Auburn’s gritty comeback win against Texas A&M on Saturday, but it sure looks like the Bulldogs will come away with a win in this one. Georgia bullied SEC East runner-up Kentucky 34-17 on Saturday, putting up 331 yards on the ground while limiting the Wildcats’ terrific rushing duo of Terry Wilson and Benny Snell to a paltry 85 yards. Compare that to the Tigers, who managed just 19 yards on 21 carries last week. Auburn can’t afford to become one-dimensional. If it can’t get it going on the ground, it may have no choice. Look for Georgia to take advantage of that. Georgia 31, Auburn 13
Oklahoma State at No. 6 Oklahoma (-17.5)
Could this game possibly match the high-scoring affair we saw in last year’s game? Maybe not, but Bedlam is always worth tuning in to watch, especially with two top-10 offenses taking the field. It’s easy to point out the quarterback battle between Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray (3,263 total yards, 38 touchdowns) and Oklahoma State’s Taylor Cornelius (2,854 total yards, 27 touchdowns), but pay attention to the battle between running backs Trey Sermon (722 yards, eight touchdowns) and Justice Hill (895 yards, eight touchdowns). They’ll need to get going to give their team a potential edge late. Oklahoma 52, Oklahoma State 42
MORE: SN’s updated Power Rankings
Florida State at No. 3 Notre Dame (-18)
It’s not quite the same matchup we enjoyed in 2014, when these teams were both ranked in the top five nationally, but it’s still worth watching, even for the simple fact it’s the 25th anniversary of their legendary No. 1-vs.-No. 2 matchup from 1993. Notre Dame isn’t exactly on upset watch, but the Irish shouldn’t look ahead to next week’s matchup at No. 13 Syracuse. If the Irish perform like we expect, then Ian Book should carve up a Seminoles defense that ranks 120th nationally in pass defense. It’s unlikely Florida State’s 107th-ranked offense will be able to muster enough scoring to keep up with that. Notre Dame 42, Florida State 14
No. 8 Ohio State (-3.5) at No. 24 Michigan State
Are the Buckeyes on upset alert this week? The Buckeyes barely beat a two-win Nebraska team on Saturday while the Spartans handled their business against Maryland. Michigan State ranks first nationally in rush defense (71.7 yards per game), though that could be due in part that its pass defense is 98th, surrendering 254 yards a game through the air. That should be fine for the Buckeyes, whose third-ranked passing offense vastly out-produces their running game. A loss for the Buckeyes here would likely clinch the Big Ten East for rival Michigan — that may be enough for a more talented roster to pull out a close win. Ohio State 28, Michigan State 27
MORE: Would you bet against Alabama-Clemson IV?
No. 18 Mississippi State at No. 1 Alabama (-26)
Top-ranked Alabama is basking in its win over No. 3 LSU (or at least, as long as Saban will allow), but has to turn right around and face another ranked opponent in Mississippi State, which is considerably more dangerous on offense than the Tigers. The player to watch for the Bulldogs will be quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, who ranks third among quarterbacks and fourth in the SEC with 839 rushing yards this season. Conversely, the Tide have given up up 36 rushing yards to quarterbacks this year (though they did give up 98 on the ground to Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond). It will also be interesting to see how Alabama’s high-paced offense fares against a Bulldogs defense that rank seventh nationally in yards allowed. Alabama 42, Mississippi State 20
No. 2 Clemson (-18) at No. 17 Boston College
Clemson’s game against Boston College on Saturday is likely its last real competitive matchup of the regular season, including whatever team the Coastal Division sends to the ACC championship. It’s no secret the Eagles’ offense runs through talented running back AJ Dillon (897 rushing yards, eight touchdowns), but how will he fare against that loaded front seven for Clemson, who are limiting opposing teams to 90 rushing yards a game? Couple that with Clemson’s 32 sacks (tied for second nationally) and emergence of quarterback Trevor Lawrence, and it looks like the Tigers will simply be too much for the Eagles to handle. Clemson 45, Boston College 17
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