2013 NCAAF Week 11 Weekend Preview

November 5, 2013

I finally got back on the winning track last weekend.

By beating Neil by one game, I managed to stretch my lead in the prediction game to four games overall. This is important because Week 11 is THE defining week in college football this season.

I know that’s a difficult distinction to make, but this week’s games will be huge in determining who has a shot at the national title game. Three huge matchups occur between Thursday and Saturday night, and when all is said and done, I don’t think we’ll still be talking about seven unbeaten teams.

Just for clarification:

K. Becks: 34-16

Guests: 30-20

This week, my buddy Zac Lackey will be the guest prognosticator. In preparation for a race we’re both running this weekend, Zac and I have been doing intervals the last several weeks. Since Zac is kicking my butt in those intervals, I’d hope that I can return the favor in the head-to-head prediction game this weekend.

Just  in case I don’t, I’ve built that four game cushion.

Here is a list of my top five games to watch this week, as well as five more to keep an eye on.

5 Games to Pay Attention to This Week

#12 Oklahoma at #5 Baylor (Thursday, 7:30 PM ET)

Two years ago, the No. 22 Bears ended the national title hopes of the No. 5 Sooners by shocking Oklahoma 45-38 in Waco, Texas. While the win was the first ever for Baylor over the Sooners, not many people would have predicted this is where the two teams would be now. In 2013, the college football world has experienced a 180 degree spin, as the Bears are now the team with the national title aspirations and the Sooners are the squad looking to play spoiler. The only difference is the underdog must go on the road to win this one.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a knowledgeable college football fan who believes what the Baylor offense has done this season is anything short of amazing. In seven games this season, the Bears are averaging an astounding 717.3 total yards per game, which makes the national runner-up in the category, Oregon, look like nothing special at 632.1 average yards per contest. Based on the way people having been talking about Marcus Mariota and the Ducks, we know that is not true. So for Oklahoma to beat Baylor, the defense is going to have to step up in a major way. Playing to the opponent’s strength, as the Sooners did against Texas Tech two weekends ago, is a recipe for getting run out of Floyd Casey Stadium by halftime.

However, the Sooners do have this to take solace in: Baylor may be racking up offensive yards and points like mad men, but against poor competition. The best defense the Bears have faced thus far, Kansas State, held Baylor to just 35 points in a fairly close 10 point defeat. Oklahoma is the No. 10 overall defense in the nation in terms of yards given up per game. We said this about the Sooners two weeks ago, though, when they were the No. 1 overall defense. Baylor will be able to deal.

My Pick: 44-35 Baylor

Zac’s Take: Oklahoma 38 Baylor 34. Baylor gets its first loss in a typical Big 12 shootout.

#3 Oregon at #6 Stanford (Thursday, 9 PM ET)

The last time that Oregon lost, the Ducks sat on their home turf at Autzen Stadium wondering how the Stanford Cardinal got the better of them in overtime. The last time Stanford lost at home, it came at the hands of Chip Kelly’s Oregon Ducks. Needless to say, Oregon and Stanford have become the juggernauts of the Pac-12, and when one team loses, there is pretty good chance that the other is the culprit. We will revisit this increasingly nasty rivalry on Thursday night, as the Ducks will try to gain some ground in the BCS standings with a victory over Stanford, which technically still have an outside shot at the national title game if chaos ensues at the top of the pack.

As the weeks pass by, it becomes more and more amazing that Stanford stumbled on the road at Utah (and a forewarning to fan bases that believe their team cannot lose from here on out). The Utes have dropped two straight since beating the Cardinal, and Stanford has followed up the loss with consecutive victories over ranked teams. The only explanation is that the loss highlights the fact that in order to be successful, David Shaw’s offense must control the flow of the game. That will never be truer than against Oregon on Thursday night, whose offense has looked dominant against any and all challengers. Ducks running back De’Anthony Thomas thinks his team should “at least put up 40” against the Cardinal, and you know what? Who is going to disagree, based on what they’ve done this season?

That would be me, De’Anthony (hit me up on Twitter – @KBecks_ATC – to start a rally of comments, bro). Despite your opinion, statistically you guys aren’t all that much better offensively than last year. Do you remember the Cardinal coming into your building and holding you guys to seven points in the first half last season? Because I do. And I’d also like to point out that as injured as Stanford may be on defense, they’re getting defensive end Henry Anderson back for the game. He gave you guys a lot of problems last year. So no, you won’t put up at least 40 points. I don’t think you’ll even win the game.

My Pick: 31-28 Stanford

Zac’s Take: Oregon 37 Stanford 24

#7 Auburn at Tennessee (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Tennessee just can’t seem to get over the “mediocre” hump. After nearly beating Georgia and then following up that performance with a victory over South Carolina, the Vols have dropped two straight uncompetitive games to Alabama and Missouri. Butch Jones’s team will get another chance to validate their status as a team that has been on “Spoiler Watch” for most of the season when they take on the No. 7 Auburn Tigers at home.

No one expected Auburn to be this good this season. After finishing 3-9 and firing head coach Gene Chizik, the Tigers brought Gus Malzahn back to coach the team after the 2012 season. It has proven to be a great decision. Malzahn has transformed the team into a rushing yards factory, pumping out an average of 306.2 yards per game on the ground. This week, the Tigers will be licking their chops as they go up against the SEC’s worst run defense. The Volunteers give up over 200 yards per game on the ground, which is one of the main reasons why the team didn’t stand a chance against Alabama two weekends ago.

Tennessee’s offense isn’t consistent enough to take advantage of every opportunity Auburn’s defense allows, so in order for the Volunteers to win this game, something is going to have to change on the defensive end. I don’t have a lot of faith in that happening, so I think this could be a long day in Knoxville for the home team. With the way Auburn’s offense has been operating, it’s no surprise that they’ve been so good this year.

My Pick: 35-21 Auburn

Zac’s Take: Auburn 17 Tennessee 21. Despite their losing record, I think they win a close one.

Virginia Tech at #14 Miami (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

Miami might not have given Florida State much of a game, but the same can be said for every other team that has faced the Seminoles this season. Despite the obvious disappointment that comes with falling out of the National Championship hunt, the Hurricanes must come out ready to play in this game if they don’t want to lose even more. When Virginia Tech squares off with Miami Saturday night, a loss by the Hurricanes could mean relinquishing the ACC Coastal Division lead.

As much as people hate hearing this kind of thing, the 2013 Virginia Tech Hokies football team resembles a typical Frank Beamer coached squad. The team generally plays to the level of its opponent, rarely blowing out teams it should beat badly but also rarely losing by a large margin to even the best teams. The defense is also strong, with the Hokies leading the ACC in all the major defensive statistical categories. This is the advantage that Virginia Tech has over Miami. The one area where Miami may not look like itself for the rest of the year is in the run game, due to Duke Johnson’s unfortunate ankle injury which will keep him out for the remainder of the season. Without Johnson, Miami’s offense becomes much easier to decode.

I don’t expect the Hurricanes to experience that much of a hangover effect. I just don’t think they will be the same team without Johnson. That will be highlighted by Virginia Tech’s stingy defense, and even if the Hokies don’t win, they’ll keep it very close.

My Pick: 21-18 Virginia Tech

Zac’s Take: Virginia Tech 27 Miami 30

#10 LSU at #1 Auburn (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

For the first time in a long time, the Alabama/LSU matchup is not the best game of the week, let alone the best of the entire year. While it is definitely the best game on Saturday, it is overshadowed by perhaps the most exciting Thursday night college football has ever seen. Of course, this is all based on pregame hype. Watch. What happens in this game on Saturday will end up being the most entertaining part of Week 11. It’s the SEC way, you know…

Last year, LSU nearly dethroned the defending champion Crimson Tide thanks to a great game by quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Then a rather inconsistent play caller, Mettenberger has transformed into a mature, reliable leader for the Tigers. Unfortunately, Les Miles had that last year as well and was unable to capitalize at home against Alabama. The difference between the number of yards the Crimson Tide’s defense gives up through the air in 2013 compared to 2012 is minimal. In essence, LSU gave Alabama its best shot last year and came up short. It’s hard to envision a different ending in the 2013 version.

If LSU’s defense steps up in a big way, it has the offensive firepower to shock the Crimson Tide. But the defense has already doomed the Tigers twice this season, and one of those times came against a team that Alabama shut out. I’ll let you refer to Zac’s interesting statistic to solidify our picks…I can’t say anything more persuasive.

My Pick: 27-17 Alabama

Zac’s Take: LSU 10 Alabama 27. The only two times Alabama has lost with over a week to prepare since 2008 were at the hands of LSU, both by only 3 points. This game will not be the third.

5 Games to Flip To

Nebraska at Michigan (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The way these two teams have performed this season is why the Big Ten has been getting a bad rap. The winner of this game needs to win out, for reputation’s sake.

BYU at #21 Wisconsin (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen is well aware of BYU capabilities, as he coached against the Cougars when he was at Utah State. Expect Wisconsin to be ready for what is usually a shock to most teams.

Texas at West Virginia (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

Based on the way Texas started the season, they don’t deserve to be ranked…yet. But if the Longhorns keep winning, they’ll get there. They currently lead the Big 12.

#24 Notre Dame at Pittsburgh (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

Last week, Notre Dame barely escaped Navy. Two weeks ago, Pittsburgh barely lost to Navy. This game should be close, per the transitive property.

#16 UCLA at Arizona (Saturday, 10 PM ET)

Arizona presents a potential matchup problem for the Bruins, who have had trouble against the run this year and must stop Heisman dark horse Ka’Deem Carey. This one should be exciting.

If you would like to become a guest prognosticator like Zac did this week, please let me know in one of the following ways: email me at kbecks@aroundthecorn.com, send me a message on Around The Corn’s Facebook page, post a comment under this article or send me a tweet @KBecks_ATC. Opportunities to become a guest prognosticator will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Thanks everyone.

– K. Becks

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