Glad to be back in the positives following two rough weeks in a row. In Week 10, I went 4-2 – bringing the total record on the season to 20-22. The wins: Over 71 in SMU/Memphis, Tennessee (-12), Oregon (-4.5), Utah (-3.5). The losses: Over 54 Kansas/Kansas St., Over 45 Florida/Georgia. The two losses were both one touchdown away from hitting the over, which is unfortunate, but that’s just how it goes sometimes. Feeling good again this week, I’m really liking the betting boards, so let’s get into my picks for Week 11.
Spread: Penn State (-7) at Minnesota
If you saw the Playoff Committee’s rankings, you’d understand where I’m coming from with this pick. The Committee had Penn State at #5 in the country, ahead of Clemson, which is noteworthy of how highly they view the Nittany Lions. It also had Minnesota at #17, behind multiple two-loss teams despite being in the same conference as PSU – who also remains undefeated. Clearly, there’s a big difference in how the Committee views these teams and I agree wholeheartedly. Minnesota, while undefeated, has not played an FBS Power 5 team with a winning record other than Illinois. Penn State, on the other hand, has beaten #18 Iowa and #14 Michigan. I just think Penn State is a far better team and should be favored by about 14 points and will come out and whoop up on the Golden Gophers a little bit. Yes, Minnesota has won all of their games, but they haven’t played anybody better than Illinois to date and this is the week I think they get exposed a little bit.
The Pick: Penn State (-7)
Spread: Baylor (-2.5) at TCU
I liked this pick a lot even before I dug into each team, and then I liked it even more when I had finished my research. Baylor and TCU rank 31st and 25th, respectively, in Total Defense this season, so I don’t mind the under play here either (Over/Under set at 48). However, I do feel better about the Baylor cover here. TCU’s quarterbacks are very banged up with their starter and backup QB being questionable for this game. Further, TCU has struggled on offense all year even with healthy QBs, so I don’t see them being able to put up many points against this stout Baylor Bears defense, even if one of those two QBs is able to go. Baylor’s junior quarterback Charlie Brewer is a very good college QB with a 67% completion percentage, 14 touchdowns and 3 interceptions with a passer rating of 166.8. All very good numbers thus far into the season and I don’t think he’ll have his best game of the year this week by any means, but I do think he can move the ball down the field effectively and avoid costly turnovers to set up TCU’s offense with a short field.
The Pick: Baylor (-2.5)
Spread: Alabama (-6) vs. LSU
The biggest question mark going into this game is centered around the health of Alabama’s star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. All signs currently point to him being able to play, but how healthy will he really be and will he have that same pocket mobility that’s a big part of his game? I don’t think he does have that some mobility, because this was the same surgery he had last year between the SEC Championship game and the CFB Playoffs. However, that was a four-week recovery and he still didn’t seem to have the same mobility as he normally does and, afterwards, he had admitted to the press that he had been feeling about 80% on his ankle. This time around, with the same procedure, he has had 16 days to recover and given how it went last year on the other ankle, he likely will be at less than 80% for this game – which I think is a big deal for this Alabama offense. Both of these offenses are very explosive with playmakers littered all over the field and I do expect a lot of scoring in this game. The difference to me is going to be this injury to Tua. I think LSU has a real shot at winning this game – even in Tuscaloosa – and if they’re giving me a six-point spread on top of that, I’ll absolutely take it.
The Pick: LSU (+6)
Spread: Wisconsin (-9) vs. Iowa
If you compare these two teams statistically, they’re almost the exact same team. Total Defense: Wisconsin (1st), Iowa (6th). Total Offense: Wisconsin (62nd), Iowa (81st) (with a total yardage difference of about 10 yards per game). Scoring Defense: Iowa (3rd), Wisconsin (4th). Take all that in for a second, and then consider how Wisconsin has struggled when teams can relatively contain Johnathan Taylor (which has happened their last two games). I do think Wisconsin is slightly better on offense, but Iowa is the type of team than can stack the box successfully against this Badger offense. Neither quarterback is lighting up the Big Ten by any means, but with all of the experience that Nate Stanley has, I give him a slight edge in this game over the younger QB Jack Coan. I think this is a prototypically tough, hard-nosed Big Ten game that comes down to a stop or two at the end. I’m not convinced Iowa will win this game but I think it’s certainly possible and the spread is just way too big for me not to take the Hawkeye’s side on this one.
The Pick: Iowa (+9)
Spread: Clemson (-32.5) at NC State
Pretty simple pick here. I’m not sure what the oddsmakers are thinking on this one. Wake Forest, while certainly a good team, just beat this NC State team by 34 points. Imagine what the Clemson Tigers will now do to them just one week later. Easy pick for me: I’m taking Clemson all the way and feel really good about doing so.
The Pick: Clemson (-32.5)
Spread: Over/Under 53.5 Clemson and NC State
Going into the second pick for this game, I also really like the Over 53 here. Clemson can pretty much pick whatever score they want to against this reeling NC State defense and while Clemson’s defense is elite, the Wolfpack can score at least 7-10 points – possibly just in garbage time – against this defense. I foresee this game going something like 56-10 in a Tiger victory. I feel good enough about it to take the Over 53 here.
The Pick: Over 53.5
Spread: Notre Dame (-8) at Duke
The vultures are circling this Brian Kelly squad a little bit and I think it’s mostly unwarranted and an over-reaction. Yes, they recently got stomped by Michigan and then struggled again last week – ultimately needing a last-minute touchdown by Ian Book to survive Virginia Tech. However, if you watched the game or saw the highlight clip, the Irish were up 14-7 with less than two minutes left in the first half and had the ball on the Virginia Tech goal line. They then fumbled the ball on the goal line where the Hokies then recovered the ball and returned it for a 97-yard touchdown to tie the game and stun the crowd just before halftime. This play was huge for the momentum in this game and kind of masks how Notre Dame was controlling the game up until that point. This felt like more of a deflated team – following the beatdown they received in Ann Arbor – who didn’t fully recover from that loss before playing the Hokies last Saturday. I do think the last-minute comeback win will be a good reminder that this team is still playing for a potential BCS Bowl and can still realistically finish the season with 10 wins. I think Notre Dame has a get-right game here against the Blue Devils and wins by over two touchdowns.
The Pick: Notre Dame (-8)
- Penn State (-7)
- Baylor (-2.5)
- LSU (+6)
- Iowa (+9)
- Clemson (-32.5)
- Over 53.5 Clemson and NC State
- Notre Dame (-8)