College Football Picks: Week 11 Predictions for Every Game
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College Football Picks: Week 11 Predictions for Every Game

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    There’s no easing into Week 11. All three midweek games include ranked teams, and five more have noon kickoffs on Saturday.

    On the whole, though, the matchups themselves are a bit underwhelming.

    The weekend still has Alabama hosting Mississippi State, Clemson traveling to Boston College and Ohio State fighting for its College Football Playoff life at Michigan State.

    While upsets may be at a minimum, they’ll still happen somewhere. We’ve highlighted those possibilities among every other Week 11 contest involving a Football Bowl Subdivision team.

    Note: The team rankings are the latest from the College Football Playoff selection committee.

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    Chris Seward/Associated Press

    Wake Forest (4-5) at No. 14 NC State (6-2), Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET

    North Carolina State recovered from a couple of miserable defensive showings and toppled Florida State last week. Wake Forest has decent scoring potential, but the Demon Deacons probably won’t be able to contain the Wolfpack in their home stadium.

    Prediction: NC State 44, Wake Forest 31

    Louisville (2-7) at No. 13 Syracuse (7-2), Friday, 7 p.m. ET

    If this ACC clash is remotely contested, it’ll be stunning. Three of Louisville’s last four opponents hit 56 points, and Syracuse only has two games below 37 this season.

    Prediction: Syracuse 49, Louisville 21

    No. 23 Fresno State (8-1) at Boise State (7-2), Friday, 10:15 p.m. ET

    Can the Broncos solve this defense? The visiting have ceded just 36 points in five games since the beginning of October. Boise State QB Brett Rypien has mostly been fantastic this season, but his least-efficient games happened opposite the two toughest defenses (San Diego State and BYU). And Fresno State is better than those teams.

    Prediction: Fresno State 27, Boise State 24

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    Tim Warner/Getty Images

    TCU (4-5) at No. 9 West Virginia (7-1), Noon ET

    Excluding losses to Ohio State and Oklahoma, TCU has surrendered just 4.2 yards per snap this season. The defense can frustrate WVU quarterback Will Grier and keep the Horned Frogs in the game, but it feels irresponsible to pick a stumbling TCU offense on the road.

    Prediction: West Virginia 34, TCU 17

    No. 10 Ohio State (8-1) at No. 18 Michigan State (6-3), Noon ET

    Consider this a pick against MSU more than a vote of confidence for Ohio State. Despite knocking off Maryland 24-3 last week, quarterback Brian Lewerke (11-of-20 for 87 yards) continued to struggle while dealing with a shoulder injury. The Buckeyes are reeling, but MSU is more.

    Prediction: Ohio State 24, Michigan State 16

    Navy (2-7) at No. 12 UCF (8-0), Noon ET

    UCF has scored 30-plus points in every contest this season and 21 straight games overall. Navy has ceded the mark five times during its six-game losing streak. Let’s not think too hard.

    Prediction: UCF 45, Navy 21

    South Carolina (5-3) at No. 15 Florida (6-3), Noon ET

    Heading into the Spurrier Bowl, Florida might have a quarterback dilemma. However, a bigger concern for the Gators is subpar defense since the upset over LSU in Week 6. They should be able to handle South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley after his Ole Miss-caused spike (the Rebels are 124th out of 130 teams in passing defense), but this pick isn’t as confident as it would’ve been in October.

    Prediction: Florida 27, South Carolina 24

    Wisconsin (6-3) at No. 20 Penn State (6-3), Noon ET

    This Wisconsin defense is uncharacteristically average, especially against the run. Add in the potential absence of quarterback Alex Hornibrook due to a head injury, and Penn State should be able to recover from its embarrassing 42-7 loss at Michigan.

    Prediction: Penn State 34, Wisconsin 20

    Lafayette (3-6) at Army (7-2), Noon ET

    Army has earned a place in the “Top Games” section thanks to a five-game winning streak that followed an overtime loss to Oklahoma. This is a program on a remarkable rise, and lower-division Lafayette won’t be stopping the Black Knights this weekend.

    Prediction: Army 52, Lafayette 17

    Troy (7-2) at Georgia Southern (7-2), 1 p.m. ET

    This matchup might decide the Sun Belt East Division and is a fascinating battle of strengths. Georgia Southern has posted 6.2 yards per carry at home, yet Troy has ceded only 3.2 all season. We’ll lean on the home team, but Troy absolutely has a chance.

    Prediction: Georgia Southern 24, Troy 19

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    Jim Lytle/Associated Press

    Ole Miss (5-4) at Texas A&M (5-4), Noon ET

    Texas A&M has dropped two straight games, but the Ole Miss Effect should get head coach Jimbo Fisher’s club back on track. Although the Rebels have a high-powered offense, they’ve allowed 6.4 yards per snap this season (111th in the nation). A little bit of defense will go a long way for the Aggies.

    Prediction: Texas A&M 41, Ole Miss 34

    Vanderbilt (4-5) at Missouri (5-4), Noon ET

    On the bright side for Vandy, it wrecked a bad Arkansas team. However, a coverage unit that has ceded a 63.5 percent completion clip and 15 touchdowns to seven interceptions is a major concern against Drew Lock and a Missouri passing game that thrives at home.

    Prediction: Missouri 42, Vanderbilt 28

    Illinois (4-5) at Nebraska (2-7), Noon ET

    There probably won’t be much defense played in Lincoln, considering Illinois and Nebraska own the Big Ten’s two worst scoring averages allowed. We’ll trust a developing Nebraska attack more than a volatile Illinois unit, but this has 80-point potential.

    Prediction: Nebraska 48, Illinois 38

    Maryland (5-4) at Indiana (4-5), Noon ET

    The trend continued in Week 10; Maryland is now 1-4 when failing to average five yards per carry and 4-0 otherwise. Indiana is riding a four-game losing skid, but the Hoosiers have kept eight of nine opponents below the mark. Long live the trend.

    Prediction: Indiana 31, Maryland 24

    North Carolina (1-7) at Duke (6-3), 12:20 p.m. ET

    Duke won a sloppy clash in Miami thanks to a strong second half. Those in-game adjustments will be vital against North Carolina, which has four straight losses of 10 points or fewer. Even short of a blowout, though, the Blue Devils should control the game.

    Prediction: Duke 30, North Carolina 22

    North Texas (7-2) at Old Dominion (2-7), 2 p.m. ET

    Old Dominion’s upset of Virginia Tech is squarely in the past, right? Each of the Monarchs’ last five opponents have put up 34-plus points, and their pass defense ranks 105th. North Texas quarterback Mason Fine has 21 touchdowns to one interception this year.

    Prediction: North Texas 48, Old Dominion 21

    UCLA (2-7) at Arizona State (5-4), 2 p.m. ET

    Arizona State is 4-1 at home, only falling to Stanford. Though UCLA surprised the college football world with victories over California and Arizona, Utah and Oregon put up 40-plus points in the last two weeks. Arizona State won’t score that much, but the Sun Devils roll.

    Prediction: Arizona State 34, UCLA 17

    Liberty (4-4) at Virginia (6-3), 3 p.m. ET

    Liberty’s hopes of an upset depend on the running game. Virginia has ceded 5.3 yards per carry in losses but only 3.2 during wins. Unfortunately for the Flames, their average of 3.8 yards per rush is 102nd nationally.

    Prediction: Virginia 41, Liberty 17

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    Tulsa (2-7) at Memphis (5-4), Noon ET

    Since holding lower-division Central Arkansas to 82 rushing yards, Tulsa has given up at least 191 yards on the ground to all eight opponents. Six of them topped five yards per carry. That’s the long way of saying that Memphis and its No. 3 rushing attack will thrive.

    Prediction: Memphis 52, Tulsa 28

    Akron (4-4) at Eastern Michigan (5-5), Noon ET

    I don’t mean to alarm you, but Eastern Michigan hasn’t finished with a one-possession margin in three straight games. That hasn’t happened since the beginning of 2016. Make it four in a row opposite an inefficient Akron offense.

    Prediction: Eastern Michigan 31, Akron 20

    SMU (4-5) at UConn (1-8), Noon ET

    Following a 0-3 start, SMU is surging toward bowl eligibility. Thanks to the upset of Houston in Week 10, SMU only needs to defeat UConn and Tulsaa combined 3-15to reach six wins. As is typical, the Huskies won’t do much on the point-prevention side of the game.

    Prediction: SMU 45, UConn 28

    BYU (4-5) at Massachusetts (4-6), Noon ET

    Few teams are more frustrating to predict than UMass, which has five games of 24 points or fewer and five of 42 or more. BYU typically plays decent defense, but it won’t have enough firepower to keep up if the good version of the Minutemen appear at home.

    Prediction: UMass 31, BYU 21

    Kansas (3-6) at Kansas State (3-6), Noon ET

    Kansas has quietly tallied the most takeaways of any power-conference team. Kansas State, despite ranking 89th nationally with 15 giveaways, has zero turnovers in two Big 12 games at home. Protect the ball, and the Wildcats can muster a 10th straight series win. Ugly though it may be.

    Prediction: Kansas State 20, Kansas 17

    Charlotte (4-5) at Marshall (5-3), 2:30 p.m. ET

    Defense has been a strong suit for Charlotte lately, but its offense is one of the worst at generating explosive plays. Without those against a mostly sturdy Marshall secondary, an upset won’t happen.

    Prediction: Marshall 24, Charlotte 16

    Middle Tennessee (6-3) at UTEP (1-8), 3 p.m. ET

    UTEP is on the board! The Miners toppled Rice in Week 10 and snapped a 20-game losing streak. Middle Tennessee rarely dominates any opponent, but the Blue Raiders should put enough points on the board to navigate an underwhelming UTEP offense.

    Prediction: Middle Tennessee 28, UTEP 17

    Bowling Green (1-8) at Central Michigan (1-9), 3 p.m. ET

    Both teams are bad. But at least Bowling Green can score a bit, averaging 28.3 per game since the beginning of October. Central Michigan, meanwhile, has 27 points over its last three games.

    Prediction: Bowling Green 24, Central Michigan 13

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    No. 16 Mississippi State (6-3) at No. 1 Alabama (9-0), 3:30 p.m. ET

    This is a Nick Fitzgerald appreciation moment. After a brutal four game-stretch, the senior quarterback has accounted for 679 yards and eight touchdowns over the last two weekends. He’s reclaimed a hold on the starting job to end his career. But Alabama wins.

    Prediction: Alabama 41, Mississippi State 17

    No. 4 Michigan (8-1) at Rutgers (1-8), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Rutgers is terrible. Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh still praised the Scarlet Knights while speaking to reporters, commending them for having the nation’s second-lowest kick-return average allowed. That was kind of him.

    Prediction: Michigan 49, Rutgers 7

    Oklahoma State (5-4) at No. 6 Oklahoma (8-1), 3:30 p.m. ET

    During the last 15 years, Oklahoma has earned 13 victories against its in-state rival. The Sooners will continue that trend as long as they protect the football, which cost them against Texas and put them in a 14-point hole at Texas Tech.

    Prediction: Oklahoma 52, Oklahoma State 31

    No. 8 Washington State (8-1) at Colorado (5-4), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Washington State has played six Pac-12 games, and it has limited its opponents to 4.8 yards per snap or fewer three times at home. On the road, though, that average has climbed to 6.2-plus in each contest. Colorado’s four-game skid suggests this shouldn’t be close, but the offense still has decent upside. There’s always a wild upset for a ranked team on the road; it’ll happen in Boulder.

    Prediction: Colorado 38, Washington State 30

    No. 11 Kentucky (7-2) at Tennessee (4-5), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Although the Wildcats are no longer in the SEC race, they’re still having one of the best seasons in program history. There’s plenty at stake for Kentucky. Tennessee won’t be able to score enough if a motivated Wildcats roster shows up.

    Prediction: Kentucky 27, Tennessee 17

    Baylor (5-4) at No. 22 Iowa State (5-3), 3:30 p.m. ET

    It’s perhaps a surprise to some, but Iowa State has a decent chance to slide into the Big 12 Championship Game. Winning Saturday before heading to Texas in Week 12 is imperative, and the Cyclones will be able to overpower a middling Baylor defense.

    Prediction: Iowa State 42, Baylor 28

    Northwestern (5-4) at No. 21 Iowa (6-3), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Does any team do a better (or worse) job of playing to its competition than Northwestern? While we anticipate the Wildcats will struggle to move the ball opposite a stout Iowa defense, a blowout feels unlikely for the important Big Ten clash.

    Prediction: Iowa 29, Northwestern 24

    Purdue (5-4) at Minnesota (4-5), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Two weeks ago, Purdue’s passing game disappeared at Michigan State following a torrid four-week stretch. David Blough’s 333-yard, four-score effort to dispatch Iowa should quell the concerns of a repeat letdown on the road. Besides, Minnesota has allowed 14 passing scores over the last five weeks. 

    Prediction: Purdue 41, Minnesota 28

    Virginia Tech (4-4) at Pitt (5-4), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Pitt is a victory in this contest from taking a commanding edge in the ACC’s mercurial Coastal Division. So, naturally, that won’t happen, right? Virginia Tech must contain a surging Pitt rushing attack, but the Hokies are due for a bounce-back day on defense.

    Prediction: Virginia Tech 26, Pitt 19

    San Jose State (1-8) at Utah State (8-1), 4 p.m. ET

    After a horrendous opening half to the campaign, San Jose State has played three relatively competitive games in a row. However, that’s likely more a product of competition level (and SDSU’s poor offense) than enough improvement to compete with Utah State’s prolific 14th-ranked offense.

    Prediction: Utah State 45, San Jose State 14

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    Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

    New Mexico (3-6) at Air Force (3-6), 3:30 p.m. ET

    Air Force doesn’t throw often, but the passing game can be explosive. Considering New Mexico has surrendered 240-plus yards in four straight contests with nine touchdowns allowed and zero interceptions gained, that may be Air Force’s strength Saturday.

    Prediction: Air Force 38, New Mexico 27

    Appalachian State (6-2) at Texas State (3-6), 4 p.m. ET

    Two weeks ago, Georgia Southern rushed all over what had been a terrific Appalachian State squad. The Mountaineers recovered from that forgettable day, holding Coastal Carolina to 178 total yards last Saturday. That defense will lead App State to a tough road victory over an improving Texas State offense.

    Prediction: Appalachian State 31, Texas State 23

    East Carolina (2-6) at Tulane (4-5), 4 p.m. ET

    Tulane’s results are tied to the success of its running game. The Green Wave are 4-0 when tallying five-plus yards per carry compared to 0-5 below the mark. East Carolina’s defense averages the third-most tackles for loss in the country, so this is a bad matchup for Tulane despite its home-field advantage.

    Prediction: East Carolina 27, Tulane 22

    Western Kentucky (1-8) at Florida Atlantic (4-5), 5 p.m. ET

    No matter the quarterback, FAU is the pick. Chris Robison has started most of the year, but De’Andre Johnson sparked the Owls in Week 10. Western Kentucky has only topped 20 points on one conference foe, so FAU won’t need much to win.

    Prediction: Florida Atlantic 31, Western Kentucky 20

    Arkansas State (5-4) at Coastal Carolina (5-4), 5 p.m. ET

    In the last three games, Arkansas State has averaged 44 points. Given that Coastal Carolina has the nation’s fourth-worst defense as measured by yards per play, this shouldn’t be close. An inconsistent Arkansas State run defense might allow CCU to hang around, though.

    Prediction: Arkansas State 38, Coastal Carolina 28

    Georgia State (2-7) at Louisiana (4-5), 5 p.m. ET

    Georgia State’s defense is a wreck. The Panthers have dropped four straight games despite scoring at least 30 points in each of the last three. Louisiana has at least one turnover in six consecutive outings, but there’s enough offensive firepower to atone for a giveaway or two.

    Prediction: Louisiana 37, Georgia State 33

    UL Monroe (5-4) at South Alabama (2-7), 5 p.m. ET

    Throw out the victory over lower-division Alabama State, and each of South Alabama’s last five opponents put up 38 points or more. Though Caleb Evans isn’t the most reliable quarterback, he gives UL Monroe 40-point potential at his best.

    Prediction: UL Monroe 42, South Alabama 24

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    Thomas Boyd/Associated Press

    Oregon (6-3) at Utah (6-3), 5:30 p.m. ET

    Had a broken collarbone not ended quarterback Tyler Huntley’s season, Utah would be in excellent position to upend Oregon. However, as much as the Utes will frustrate QB Justin Herbert and Co., the Ducks should survive a low-scoring affair.

    Prediction: Oregon 27, Utah 20

    No. 24 Auburn (6-3) at No. 5 Georgia (8-1), 7 p.m. ET

    Georgia shut down Kentucky because it controlled the line of scrimmage. If Auburn can run the ball effectively, this matchup will change in a hurry. But if not, the Dawgs and their outstanding secondary should quiet Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham.

    Prediction: Georgia 27, Auburn 17  

    South Florida (7-2) at Cincinnati (8-1), 7 p.m. ET

    Following a 7-0 start, USF has dropped two games in a row while giving up 1,108 yards and 98 points. As if that’s not enough of a problem, Cincinnati boasts the country’s sixth-best scoring defense. The Bearcats will silence the USF offense and set up an enormous showdown with UCF on Nov. 23.

    Prediction: Cincinnati 37, USF 20

    Florida State (4-5) at No. 3 Notre Dame (9-0), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Perhaps the ‘Noles will have a more productive offense now that head coach Willie Taggart has given up play-calling duties, but there’s no evidence to project that with confidence. We’ll trust a Notre Dame defense that hasn’t ceded more than 23 points since mid-September.

    Prediction: Notre Dame 38, Florida State 19

    No. 7 LSU (7-2) at Arkansas (2-7), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Quantifying an “angry football team” is impossible. LSU will not be a pleasant adversary Saturday, though. The shutout loss to Alabama eliminated the Tigers from SEC and national title contention, but they’re still aiming for a major bowl. Expect a smackdown on a program that’s peeking toward 2019.

    Prediction: LSU 37, Arkansas 13

    No. 19 Texas (6-3) at Texas Tech (5-4), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Texas Tech isn’t the same without Alan Bowman at quarterback. However, a second occurrence of a partially collapsed lung is scary. Hopefully, the Red Raiders don’t rush his return. But that means the Longhorns should be considerable favorites.

    Prediction: Texas 42, Texas Tech 27

    Southern Miss (4-4) at UAB (8-1), 7:30 p.m. ET

    Good news: Southern Miss knocked off Marshall even though it mustered only 222 yards of offense. The Golden Eagles took advantage of four takeaways to earn the 26-24 win. Bad news: UAB’s defense is stellar, and the Blazers rarely commit multiple turnovers.

    Prediction: UAB 35, Southern Miss 14

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    Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

    Miami (5-4) at Georgia Tech (5-4), 7 p.m. ET

    For a couple of weeks, we’ve put misplaced trust in Miami because of its elite defense. But it seems foolish to pick the ‘Canes until they score more than 14 points again, which they haven’t done in a month. Georgia Tech is difficult to trust, but a surging rushing attack might be enough to outdo a laboring Miami offense.

    Prediction: Georgia Tech 23, Miami 17

    Florida International (6-3) at UTSA (3-6), 7 p.m. ET

    Since a three-game winning streak over middling competition, UTSA has mustered just 23 points during the last three contests. FIU had an uncharacteristically horrid day against UAB in Week 10, yet there’s little concern about the Panthers on the road.

    Prediction: FIU 34, UTSA 14

    Rice (1-9) at Louisiana Tech (6-3), 7 p.m. ET

    Not only is Rice 0-5 on the road, but the closest margin was 14 points. The key advantage for the Owls is Louisiana Tech had a physical clash with Mississippi State last week. This might be closer than expected, though the Bulldogs will eventually pull away.

    Prediction: Louisiana Tech 27, Rice 16

    Temple (5-4) at Houston (7-2), 7 p.m. ET

    Houston surged into the nation’s consciousness by throttling South Florida but exited just as quickly after falling at SMU. Temple has a feisty defense, but the high-powered Houston offense should return to its knockout efficiency.

    Prediction: Houston 45, Temple 37

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    No. 2 Clemson (9-0) at No. 17 Boston College (7-2), 8 p.m. ET

    If the earlier clash with Miami is any indicationand it probably isBoston College will lean heavily on misdirection and trick plays. But as well-rounded as the Eagles are, their only losses happened against the two best quarterbacks they’ve faced this season: Purdue’s David Blough and NC State’s Ryan Finley. Neither is on the same plane as Trevor Lawrence.

    Prediction: Clemson 36, Boston College 24

    Oregon State (2-7) at Stanford (5-4), 9 p.m. ET

    Stanford has not reached 200 yards rushing in 16 straight outings. Even if that doesn’t change opposite an abysmal Oregon State defense, the Cardinal can control the game through the air. The Beavers have surrendered 8.1 yards per pass and 25 touchdowns.

    Prediction: Stanford 34, Oregon State 21

    Cal (5-4) at USC (5-4), 10:30 p.m. ET

    Washington and Washington State combined to score 29 points against Cal over the last two weeks. If only the Golden Bears could score with any consistency. That ineffective offense will be their downfall in a battle to clinch bowl eligibility.

    Prediction: USC 24, Cal 16

    UNLV (2-7) at San Diego State (7-2), 10:30 p.m. ET

    San Diego State has played seven straight one-possession games, yet the Aztecs are 6-1 during that stretch. That’s a testament to a superb defense, and one that should smother a UNLV squad that trudged to three points in a loss to Fresno State last week.

    Prediction: San Diego State 31, UNLV 14

    Colorado State (3-6) at Nevada (5-4), 10:30 p.m. ET

    Although the Rams are right to focus on the future by putting Collin Hill at quarterback, he tosses another volatile element into a struggling offense. Nevada is somewhat fickle, but an improving defense is slightly more trustworthy, particularly at home.

    Prediction: Nevada 38, Colorado State 28

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November 8, 2018

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