Week Eleven Predictions
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This may be the most challenging week of picks we have faced yet this season. As I typed these predictions, one game after the next had me scratching my chin over the keyboard, pondering the pro's and con's of each team about who to go with for the win. Alabama, Oregon, Baylor and Stanford all put national title aspirations on the line this weekend.
Here are my picks for the games of week eleven...
#10 Oklahoma (7-1) at #6 Baylor (7-0) - 7:00 - FOX Sports 1 - I am not yet sold on Baylor being a true top ten team, but I think they do rally and get a win here in what is (by far) their biggest game yet of 2013. Oklahoma is a god team, but I think Baylor pulls out all the stops for an emotional win in Waco. The Bears will have many more chances to go down as we go down the stretch of the season, but I think they manage to get past their first big test. Baylor, 42-27.
#3 Oregon (8-0) at #5 Stanford (7-1) - 9:00 - ESPN - The key to this game wil be the Oregon defense (eighth nationally at 16 ppg). The Ducks will score - we know this (second nationally at 56 ppg) . If they can stop Stanford a few times I think that is all they will need to get the win. On top of this, I think Oregon plays with an attitude following last year's 17-14 OT defeat at home to knock the Ducks from the national title picture. This time around, i think Oregon is careful with every single play and comes out of Palo Alto clearly the class of the Pac-12. This game will be very intriuing to watch unfold. Oregon, 38-30.
#9 Auburn (8-1) at Tennessee (4-5) - 12:00 - ESPN - In a battle of first year head coaches, the Vols could get to .500 in Butch Jones' first season with a big win over Auburn here. Gus Malzahn, though, is having none of that as his top ten squad is thinking big things down the stretch. Tennessee is a team with two faces, getting their brains beat in to Oregon and Alabama, yet defeating a very good South Carolina team in between. I am tempted to pick them to pull another upset here over Auburn but something is holding me back. In a thriller, I will take the visitors. Auburn, 30-28.
Penn State (5-3) at Minnesota (7-2) - 12:00 - ESPN2 - The Golden Gophers have had a good 2013 season so far and I think they add to it on Saturday with a win over the visiting Nittany Lions. Minnesota is 4-1 at home this year so far with the lone loss coming to Iowa in week five. Penn State has had a better year than expected, also, but a recent 63-14 trouncing from Ohio State tells me they have some serious issues in multiple places. This is a tough pick, but per my standard procedure, I pick the home team at home in the toss-ups. Minnesota, 27-21.
Arkansas (3-6) at Ole Miss (5-3) - 12:21 - ESPN3 - The Rebels faced the toughest schedule in the nation over the first half of the season. Now that they have emerged from that slate with a pretty good record, it is time for Ole Miss to put the exclamation point on a very encouraging season. Arkansas has some players, and Bret Bielema will get it all together at some point, but as of right now, I think UM is better, and at home, so I will pick them in this one. Ole Miss, 36-24.
Nebraska (6-2) at Michigan (6-2) - 3:30 - ABC regional - I have no mercy in Bo Pelini in my articles of late, so here is his chance to jump up and bite me back. My prediction is that the Wolverines handle Nebraska in the Big House Saturday afternoon. But do not be surprised if Nebraska rallies around their embattled coach and steals a big road win. I am picking Michigan, but am hesitant. Nebraska is 20th nationally in points scored (38.3 ppg), so QB Devin Gardner will have to guide UM to many scores. Nervous pick here. Michigan, 36-31.
BYU (6-2) at #24 Wisconsin (6-2) - 3:30 - ESPN - I like the Badgers here to take out a little bit of frustration at home. Wisconsin has lost close on the road twice, Arizona State and Ohio State, with the ASU loss being a complete screw job by the Pac-12 refs. UW would be in the national top ten if not for those two games, and my thoughts are that they close out 2013 on a winning streak, playing in a very nice bowl. Wisconsin, 38-23.
#22 Arizona State (6-2) at Utah (4-4) - 4:00 - Pac-12 Network - Utah beat Stanford at home for a big upset back on October 12th, can they do it again here in this one? Since that win over the Cardinal, Utah has lost two road games (Arizona and USC). They now return to the comforts of home to face a Sun Devil team that is sixth in the country in scoring (46.6 ppg) and has put 53 or better up in each of the last three games. Will the Utes slow them down? The Utah defense is so-so, giving up 26 points per contest. I want to pick the Utes to do it again, but I think ASU will out shoot 'em. Arizona State, 41-28.
NC State (3-5) at Duke (6-2) - 4:00 - ESPNU - I feel like David Cutcliffe's guys at Duke play better football than Dave Doeren's first team at NCSU. You would think that the Pack would have superior players here, but even if they do, I like what Cutcliffe does with what he has. Look out, y'all, Duke is looking at back-to-back bowl seasons! Duke, 27-17.
Virginia Tech (6-3) at #11 Miami (7-1) - 7:00 - ESPN - One side of me thinks VT will rally around Frank Beamer, scrape itself up off of the turf, and walk into Miami dealing the 'Canes their second loss in two weeks. The other side of me sees that the Hokies have some serious issues on the field right now. This is a tough pick as running back Duke Johnson is gone for the season for UM (ankle injury). He was a leader on the field, but Miami does get to put another player out there in Johnson's place, and Dallas Crawford will be ready to carry more of the load (he has nine TDs already). Miami, 36-27.
Houston (7-1) at #21 Central Florida (6-1) - 7:00 - ESPN2 - UCF's lone loss on the season so far was in a good game with South Carolina a month ago. This is a team with several players who will play on Sundays later in their careers. I like what Houston has done this season (their lone loss was to BYU, 47-46), but I have to go with the Knights at home here. Central Florida, 30-20.
Texas (6-2) at West Virginia (4-5) - 7:00 - FOX - Ever since the heat was turned up on Mack Brown with a 1-2 start to the season, Brown's team has responded with five straight wins. This Saturday, they travel to the mountains of West Virginia to face underdog WVU. Just like Pitt hosting ND, it is tough not to pick the home guys for the upset. But just like that pick where I stuck with the visiting favorite, I will also pick Texas in this one to come in and take care of business. The Mountaineers are 94th in the country in scoring, and I am depending on those struggles to continue this weekend. Texas, 31-21.
#13 LSU (7-2) at #1 Alabama (8-0) - 8:00 - CBS - Over the last decade, this has been one of the fiercest rivalries in college football. These two teams have won five of the last ten national titles and, once again, one of the teams is in the thick of it to do it again. LSU, the team not in the national title talks, is ready to ruin Bama's shot as they roll over from the Bayou with a mean look on their face. The Tigers have great athletes and are rejuvenated on offense (scoring 40.2 ppg), but for me to pick against Nick Saban - at home in a huge game - is just too far of a stretch. Of course LSU is capable of the upset, everyone knows that, but this one goes for the home guys and their #1 ranked defense (just 9.8 ppg). Alabama, 37-24.
#23 Notre Dame (7-2) at Pittsburgh (4-4) - 8:00 - ABC - I pondered over this game for a good while. Notre Dame, on paper, is statistically much better. But there are always those intangibles in college football such as being at home and being an underdog and being on national TV in prime-time. It is very tempting to take Pittsburgh here in the upset, but I think ND is the better team. Notre Dame, 27-21.
#19 UCLA (6-2) at Arizona (6-2) - 10:00 - ESPN - Quarterback Brett Hundley of UCLA (1,998 yards passing, 431 yards rushing, 22 total TDs) and running back Ka'Deem Carey of Arizona (1,072 yards and 10 TDs) square off in Tuscon in a key Pac-12 matchup. I have liked UCLA all season and will stick with them now to get their first win in the desert in their last four trips. UCLA, 36-28.
* All rankings BCS, all times EST
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