Wednesday, November 6, 2013

College Football Picks (Week 11)

The best Thursday night in the history of college football, without a doubt. I guess the NCAA doesn't like making money, because if they did one of these games would be primetime Friday night, and another couple on Saturday. But I'll be watching anyways, and so should you, because this is the best week in college football this season. Here are the 5 biggest games, and my picks.

(In terms of predictions, I repeat my philosophy that fortune favors the bold. So if you see unorthodoxy here, or strangely specific calls, I don't expect to get them all right, it's just what I see possibly happening. A fair amount of analysis and statistics go into these, but for the most part I can only hope to be close.)

Stanford defense doing what they do best
2 Oregon @ 6 Stanford: This is going to be great Thursday night football, with the Ducks excited to demolish another wanna be PAC 12 champion (ahem, UCLA) and an incredibly tough, physical Stanford front 7 looking to put a certain Heisman frontrunner on his back. These guys are a scary group, but I believe Oregon's offensive line will rise to the occasion. We all remember the Cardinal's 17-14 OT win last year, the only thing keeping Oregon from a national championship. This looks to be another great game, with a more mature Mariota leading the Duck's charge. If Stanford wins this game it will be with huge defensive play, though that goes without saying. You can't beat the Ducks without defense, because they'll drop 28 on you in a half, no sweat. Between Byron Marshall and, of course, DeAnthony Thomas at running back and everyone's favorite Hawaiian at quarterback, I don't see even Stanford stopping this squad from scoring early and often. Stanford has been great against the run all year, and in total they've allowed only 19 points per game, but that won't stop me from betting the farm on the best offense in the country. Especially when headed by Mariota, who is looking for a big Heisman moment after a bye week. You can also count on Oregon's defense (a seriously underrated group) to not miss many tackles and not to blow much coverage. Oregon 31 Stanford 10

12 Oklahoma @ 5 Baylor: I have had Bryce Petty in my Heisman rankings for 3 weeks now, and it's getting kind of boring to see him score 60 points a game against 9 year old girl flag football teams. I am very excited to see if he can do it (and by "it" I mean score at least 35) against a team that can play some serious football, and Oklahoma is fielding just that. After an "out-of-nowhere-but-didn't-we-kinda-expect-that"loss in the crazy Red River rivalry to an unranked Longhorn team, Oklahoma has looked really, really good. I pick the Bears here because I'm Petty's biggest fan, but not by much. They win this one in a squeaker and a shootout. If both teams score their average points, this game will end with almost 100 points on the board. Of course that won't happen, but it'd be nice to see Baylor actually play some defense, and though this will be a high scoring game it will be the Bear's defense who wins it late, in their first big stand of a high scoring game. I'll be watching this during Oregon Stanford commercials, and I expect to see Baylor 42 Oklahoma 38

Jarvis Landry has almost 900 yards this season
10 LSU @ 1 Alabama: Could it be? Could this be the week we see the Tide tumble? No, it won't be. But I think this week many people will learn that this is not a perfect football team, by any stretch of the imagination. People always assume that without question Alabama's defense is flawless, but they have looked bad at times this season. Remember, they let Manziel score 42 against them earlier this season, and their secondary in particular has been at times suspect. This is a match made in heaven, then, because Zach Mettenberger (a good SEC quarterback who is always forgotten, somehow) has two explosive threats on the outside; Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. These two are his top targets, and I see both of them, especially Landry, teaming up with Metts to expose 'Bama's at times unexperienced secondary. Obviously this is a huge rivalry game, and the atmosphere alone should be reason enough to watch. In the end, however, this one will again be about AJ McCarron and his talented receiving core, TJ Yeldon and his money sign double throat slash, and Nick Saban and his creepy ability to outcoach anyone, even Les Miles. Tune in Saturday night to see an incredible football game. Alabama 31 LSU 24

Virginia Tech @ 14 Miami: Now three weeks ago this could easily have been a top 10 matchup, but just because both teams (in particular the Hokies) have gotten spanked recently doesn't mean this one won't be worth watching. I also just like the ACC, and like the idea of their being a relevant conference in college football. Between the 'Noles, Tigers, and 'Canes, even the SEC fans have to admit that some teams here can play. Logan Thomas has looked terrible in two losses to Duke and BC, but here's hoping he steps up against a humbled Miami team. 7 was the highest ranking in a long time for the Hurricanes, but an second half egg laying against FSU (they were down 21-14 after the first half, but ended up losing 41-14) banished them way down the rankings. This will be a better game than people expect, and a quarterback desperate to improve his spiraling draft stock in Logan Thomas will make some big plays, leading the Hokies to a big upset win, their first in 3 weeks. Virginia Tech 23 Miami 17

Nebraska @ Michigan: Two perennial Pac 10 powerhouses go at it Saturday afternoon, but it must be said that I hate to put a game between two unranked teams in my top 5. However these squads started the season ranked 18th and 17th, respectively, which shows the type of talent that will be on display this week. Nebraska is coming off a Hail Mary win against Northwestern, while Michigan looks to beat a conference rival. Both teams are limping into this game, as Nebraska's season was declared a wash after a loss to Minnesota and Michigan has lost twice this season, while barely beating Akron and UConn. Each squad has their fair share of injuries as well. Although things haven't gone as planned this season for either team, both are looking for defining moments here, and for both teams this would be one of the biggest wins of the season. This is a rematch of a great Sugar Bowl from a couple of years back, and this time around I see Devin Gardner coming back after a 7 sack day (not fun) against MSU and having a big game. Both teams are resilient, both will respond, making this fun to watch. Michigan 28 Nebraska 20

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