2017 Week 11 NCAAF Weekend Preview

November 10, 2017

Can we just take a minute to remind ourselves that we don’t have any idea what is going to happen in college football over the next four weeks?

After last Saturday’s implosion of the Big Ten’s top two teams, many figured that the conference had cannibalized itself right out of the Playoff picture. Fast forward to Tuesday, however, and the Big Ten still boasts four of the top 15 squads.

Plenty of time and plenty of teams to remain in the hunt.

And speaking of the Pac-12, there’s Washington and Southern Cal sitting at No. 9 and 11, respectively. I don’t know who the Trojans are paying off to remain in contention, but the conference isn’t complaining after foolishly being written off after Week 8 or so.

All of this uncertainty is great for teams that still have work to do. And that goes for me as well, in the head-to-head prediction game. I finally had a good week, besting Colin by two games and cutting the overall deficit in half. The standings now look like this:

K. Becks – 32-18

Guests – 34-16

This week my buddy Ryan joins the blog for the first time to make picks. This week scares me, because Ryan will know what the hell he’s talking about and generally speaking, I’m a parrot. But as my fantasy football quarterback and history buff (who knew?!) Cam Newton would say, the titanic must go on.

Here’s to re-writing the script, Cam. Let’s look at the top games in college football this weekend.

5 Games to Pay Attention to This Weekend

#20 Iowa at #8 Wisconsin (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Iowa were world beaters last Saturday afternoon, destroying the Buckeyes on home turf in a game in which things were falling into place for the Hawkeyes from the first minute on. By Iowa football standards Kirk Ferentz justified his outrageously large contract last week, but can he do it again against the Badgers? The Hawkeyes are 5-1 at home but just 1-2 on the road this season, and Madison is just as hard a place to escape with a road win as anywhere in the country. Additionally, if Wisconsin learns from Ohio State’s mistakes, it has a major advantage over Iowa.

The Badgers lead the Big Ten in rushing attempts per game and won’t shy away from taking it straight to Iowa defensive front. Whereas Ohio State chose not to utilize its two stud running backs when the passing game isn’t working, there is almost no doubt that Wisconsin will employ a heavy dose of the run. Iowa’s run defense is just average, and if you keep the offense off the field, there’s little chance that the Hawkeyes post 55 in consecutive weeks. Although Coach Ferentz has fared well against the top Big Ten competition this year, Wisconsin feels slighted by the national media and will be just as pumped to play at home as Iowa was last weekend. Fairly easy victory for the Badgers.

My Pick: 27-17 Wisconsin

Ryan’s Take: This is one of those BIG 10 matchups that really gets the blood flowing. Get your crew neck sweatshirts ready and take a drink every time you hear the words “now that’s football” at the bar while this game is on. These corn fed, heartland bred teams are going to run under center so much that Woody Hayes is going to blush in his grave. Even with the momentum coming off of an unexpected stomping of Ohio State, the Hawkeyes are going to have their work cut out for them going into Madison, seeing 80,000 drunk college students jumping around and playing the last undefeated team in the BIG 10. I’m taking Iowa to cover (12.5) but Wisconsin is going to pull this one out 24-21.

#1 Georgia at #10 Auburn (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

It’s really quite interesting how quickly Kirby Smart has transformed Georgia into a literal copy of the Alabama program that he used to be a part of as defensive coordinator. The Bulldogs are winning games with superior defense, a run first offensive style and with a young quarterback that is doing a terrific job playing within himself. It’s almost not surprising that the team has assumed the top spot in college football, except for the fact that Alabama did nothing to lose it. Perhaps this weekend the Crimson Tide will get a little help from their most hated rival, though, as the Tigers put a formidable product on the field and have an offense capable of giving Georgia fits.

Junior running back Kerryon Johnson will have a good chance to increase his SEC leading 15 rushing touchdown total in this game regardless of the score, but to win the Auburn running game will need to do more than just put the ball in the end zone. Georgia leads the conference in time of possession and has been adept at limiting the offensive possessions of the opponent. It’s really one of the main reasons why the defensive numbers are so good. So, the game plan for Auburn is fairly simple: keep the Georgia defense on the field, and things will go well. I see that happening and the home crowd giving the Tigers a major boost. Get ready, because this one has “upset” written all over it.

My Pick: 33-31 Auburn

Ryan’s Take: Has Kirby Smart finally figured it out? Is Georgia football going to string an entire football season together? A couple of quality wins this season and blowouts against the shit teams on the schedule seems to point that way, but none of that matters because it’s Saban’s world and Kirby is just living in it. This is going to be a defensive game that is won by one or two big plays. However, I think Auburn is a classically overrated SEC team that doesn’t have a quality win to their name and yes, I include Miss State in that. Georgia is going to cover (-3) and end up winning 21-10.

#2 Alabama at #16 Mississippi State (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

Playing in the SEC really is a blessing and a curse for programs not named Alabama. Just ask Mississippi State. When you thoroughly beat a team like LSU one week, you’re the surprising dark horse and shoot up the rankings. But you can just as easily follow up that victory with gross performances against Georgia (31-3 loss) and Auburn (49-10 loss) that leaves the voters with no choice but to forget all about the fact that it’s nearly impossible to get through that stretch unscathed. Fortunately, when you play in the SEC West you get a chance to make all of those bad memories go away thanks to a shot at beating Alabama. Did I say fortunately? Hey, I’m an optimist.

The bottom line is, Mississippi State’s offense is going to run into a brick wall this weekend. There isn’t enough balance for the Bulldogs to be able to keep pace with Alabama, which will score between 20 and 40 points every game depending on what is necessary. The Crimson Tide are going to limit the opportunities in the run game and force Nick Fitzgerald to be the hero. Nick Fitzgerald will not be the hero, with his 10 interceptions proof that putting too much on his shoulders is a recipe for disaster. There may be chaos in the SEC this weekend, but it won’t be occurring in Starkville, Mississippi.

My Pick: 35-16 Alabama

Ryan’s Take: With a bruiser of a schedule, the Bulldogs are coming off of a barn-burner of a game versus UMass in Week 9 of the season. Other highlights of their tried and true SEC schedule are wins over Charleston Southern, LA Tech, BYU and UK; with that kind of pedigree it’s no wonder this team is ranked No. 16, above Iowa State and Iowa. With that being said, Mississippi State has a decent shot at pulling out a win against the Tide…lol, sike. Saban is going to roll into Starkville, whip out his big ole D fence and slap Mullen’s offense around with it. The Tide covers and rolls 35-0.

#3 Notre Dame at #7 Miami (FL) (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

Are you happy Mike Golic? Your Fighting Irish will be the featured game this weekend, and College GameDay is coming to cover it. Sure, it may not be on the hallowed grounds of God’s team, but Notre Dame is going to win anyway, just as He would want it. I’m slightly less confident that the Hurricanes will blow this one after Mark Richt’s squad drove Josh Jackson into the turf time and time again last Saturday night, but Brandon Wimbush won’t stand in the pocket as long as Jackson. More likely is that Wimbush will take advantage of a soft run defense, which has been the bane of Richt coached teams since his days between the hedges.

If Miami is going to stay undefeated, the best thing it can do is keep Notre Dame’s offense off the field. The Fighting Irish will eat up far too much clock on scoring drives and the Hurricanes will be too tired defensively by the fourth quarter if they let those drives happen early in the game. Malik Rosier can have success against Notre Dame’s questionable secondary, so the more he is on the field, the better chance Miami has to win. I just don’t see Miami’s defense having as much success this weekend, which will be so important in this game.

My Pick: 37-34 Notre Dame

Ryan’s Take: As someone who was raised Catholic and attended Catholic school through high school, I am obviously very biased when it comes to Notre Dame. I hate them. I hate their fans. I hate that their mascot is an Irish guy when their founder was a French priest and the name of the school is French. Rudy sucks. Vince Vaughn is the only good thing about that movie. Everything about Notre Dame is the worst. I cannot wait until Notre Dame is forced into a conference after they miss the Playoff with one loss this year. That loss is coming at the hands of the U this weekend. With the Buckeyes being out of the race and my Bobcats being unfairly pushed out of the conversation just because the MAC isn’t a “Power 5” conference, I am all in on the U. Jumping right on the wagon and playing with the band. Miami has a fairly good rush defense with a high scoring offensive combo that can force ND out of its element and make them throw the ball a bit and then it’s TURNOVER CHAIN TIME BABY!!   Miami pulls this one out 35-31.

#6 TCU at #5 Oklahoma (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

Oklahoma is coming off of the high of yet another Bedlam victory, but it was by no means an easy one. The game last weekend lived up to the expectations set for it, with the Sooners needing a last minute stop after Baker Mayfield made what could have been a critical mistake late in the fourth quarter, giving the Cowboys one last shot at victory. Although TCU has played solid defense for most of the year, anything but a continuation of Bedlam would be a surprise in this one. The Horned Frogs can score, too, and did similarly well against Oklahoma State several weeks ago in Stillwater.

TCU has the Big 12’s best pass defense, which is the equivalent of saying that the Horned Frogs are the prettiest pig. But it’s little more than coincidence that Oklahoma lost to Iowa State and struggled against Texas, the next best pass defenses in the conference. The Sooners still passed for over 300 yards in both of those games and, oddly enough, had their worst outing of the season through the air against Texas Tech, of all teams. In other words, statistics won’t tell the real story of this game. Baker Mayfield may suffer from a combination of Short Man Syndrome and anger management issues, but the kid is on a roll and is one of the few players in college football this season that can literally will his team to victory with his leadership.

My Pick: 52-43 Oklahoma

Ryan’s Take: HAMMER THE OVER. The fact that the over in this game is 62 is a joke even if TCU has a good defense by Big 12 standards. Baker Mayfield is going to come in and put up points. TCU is going to put up points because OU’s defense gives up points like a Big 12 defense should. OU’s lowest total scoring game this year was 47 points vs. Ohio State. Both teams have losses to Iowa State, but I mean their quarterback is also a linebacker so that’s not a surprise at all. Kenny Hill can throw the ball around and I don’t think TCU is getting the credit they deserve with the spread (6.5), but Baker and Lincoln pull this one out in Norman 42-38.

P.S. – I really like Baker Mayfield – he is what NFL scouts wanted Johnny Football to be. Can’t wait to see him in a Steelers jersey slinging balls to JuJu and Brown on Sundays.

5 Games to Flip To

#9 Washington at Stanford (Friday, 10:30 PM ET)

There is still plenty of work to be done, but to suggest that the Pac-12 is already out of the Playoff picture when this Washington team currently sits inside the Top 10 is just plain silly.

#23 North Carolina State at Boston College (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

The Wolfpack were unable to win any of their marquee games this season, suggesting that Dave Doeran’s team is indeed at least a step below elite. Sometimes the effect of coming so close in big games can be negative on these types of teams, which is why Boston College has an opportunity to pounce this weekend.

#15 Oklahoma State at #21 Iowa State (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

The so-called Other Guys of the Big 12 Conference square off to see who will have the inside track to the Alamo Bowl, the league’s ceremonial “you missed by that much” postseason tie-in.

#12 Michigan State at #13 Ohio State (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Is “play for a Big Ten title” really an effective motivator for both of these teams?

#11 Southern Cal at Colorado (Saturday, 4 PM ET)

Now that the Trojans are again in position to get the attention of the national media, it’s time for bad Sam Darnold to take the field.

If you would like to become a guest prognosticator like Ryan 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.

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