2018 NCAAF Week 11 Weekend Preview

November 9, 2018

The balance of power has shifted once again. And on top of that, I think I have the right to ask for the deed to my childhood home.

After Dana Holgorsen’s ballsy call on the road with less than a minute remaining against Texas last weekend, I have re-taken the lead in the head-to-head prediction game. The victory over my father has put the overall records at the following marks:

K. Becks – 34-16

Guests – 33-17

This week, for the first time ever, a colleague at my day job will join the blog to make picks. Brad, whom I owe at least another six pack of Mountain Dew for the work he’s done for me over the past several months, is a big college football guy and definitely makes my lunch hour more entertaining as a result.

But before we get to the previews, here are my “Three Thoughts” from the weekend that was:

  1. Alabama, at this time, does not look like it can be beaten. I don’t normally say something like this, and it’s even more rare happening as early as November, but the Crimson Tide absolutely obliterated a team I felt had the ability to give them a lot of trouble.
  2. Jake Fromm may be my quarterback crush, but Gardner Mishew’s moustache is pristine and will only continue to gain popularity as the Cougars creep up the Top 25 rankings.
  3. The only thing separating Dana Holgorsen from being Danny DeVito’s body double is a pair of black rimmed glasses. Seriously, someone give that dude a hat.

Now let’s take a look at the top games on the slate for Week 11.

5 Games to Watch This Weekend

#10 Ohio State at #18 Michigan State (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

The former Tressel disciple Dantonio has been a thorn in Urban Meyer’s side before, but in reality it’s the Buckeyes themselves that have been the biggest obstacle to their Playoff hopes recently. Ohio State looked very shaky in its 36-31 victory over 2-7 Nebraska last weekend and now must go on the road to face a Spartans squad with little to play for but pride. The weather is expected to be very cold and windy as well, which could complicate things for a Buckeyes offense that hasn’t dominated in the ground game as it should be capable of doing.

Statistically, Michigan State’s rush defense is the best in the Big Ten, allowing just over 70 yards per contest. While Ohio State’s rushing game bounced back last week, racking up 229 yards against the Cornhuskers, doubt began to creep in from Buckeye Nation after Purdue held Ohio State to just 76 yards on the ground. If the Buckeyes want to avoid a second loss, the line needs to get a push and allow Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins some room to work. Otherwise, this could be a very tight game where Michigan State’s blue collar attitude could come in handy. While the Spartans thrive in game atmospheres like the one that should exist Saturday afternoon, the Buckeyes should understand that it’s now or never in terms of gaining brownie points with the Playoff Committee and will respond accordingly.

My Pick: 35-17 Ohio State

Brad’s Take: OSU 47 MSU 17

Northwestern at #21 Iowa (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The only thing stopping Northwestern from marching on to Indy in early December for the Big Ten title game is itself. The Wildcats may have dropped last weekend’s showdown against Notre Dame but still hold a game lead in the West Division of the Big Ten and would own the tiebreaker over second place Wisconsin if they dropped a game. Iowa, on the other hand, has to hope for two losses by the ‘Cats as well as one by Wisconsin in order to have any shot at playing for the conference title.

The Wildcats weren’t able to slow down Notre Dame’s passing game last weekend, which ultimately resulted in an end to their four game winning streak. Iowa’s Nate Stanley has been solid for the Hawkeyes this season, passing for at least 300 yards in three games. Although Kirk Ferentz’s team has lost its previous two games, the Northwestern offense can’t carry Pat Fitzgerald’s squad. Unless it’s a defensive battle, Iowa will win, and Stanley seems poised for a big week.

My Pick: 27-21 Iowa

Brad’s Take: Northwestern 21 Iowa 24

#8 Washington State at Colorado (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Back-to-back victories by less than a touchdown have Washington State fans still trying to catch their breath, but also have some thinking it is a sign of something special. While the victories have been close, they have been secured in very different ways, something that isn’t typical of a Mike Leach led squad. Washington State has shown the ability to win the shootout, thanks to the best moustache in college football, sported by quarterback Gardner Minshew (also a candidate for the All-Name team). It has also shown the ability to win the defensive struggle, evidenced in last weekend’s win over Cal, which boasts the Pac-12’s top pass defense.

Colorado has endured a lot of bad luck this year in the form of injuries, but may finally be getting some key players back to help stop a four game skid. Wideout Laviska Shenault, Jr. was a legitimate Heisman candidate through the first five games of the season before suffering an injury in the middle of the sixth – since that time, the Buffaloes are winless. If Shenault and a couple of his receiver buddies are back in this one, expect a different Colorado offense that will push Washington State’s secondary to its limit.

My Pick: 38-35 Colorado

Brad’s Take: Wash St 37 Colorado 28

#24 Auburn at #5 Georgia (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

Auburn is only back in the Top 25 this week for television rating purposes, but that doesn’t mean that the Tigers aren’t a tough opponent for the Bulldogs. Gus Malzahn’s team is just as capable as LSU of ripping apart the Georgia defensive front and dictating the pace of this game. The problem this season has been Auburn’s consistency. Just which Auburn team will we see – the one that is balanced and nearly beats LSU, or the one that is stifled on the ground and fails to post 10 points on Mississippi State?

On the road against Kirby Smart’s team, which now has a clear path to the SEC title game after dispatching of Kentucky last weekend, expect to see the latter. While Georgia’s run defense may bend, the secondary is superior to LSU’s and will prevent Jarrett Stidham from providing the amount of balance that this offense will need to win. The Bulldogs will take care of business at home.

My Pick: 31-20 Georgia

Brad’s Take: Auburn 17 Georgia 31

#2 Clemson at #17 Boston College (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

College GameDay heads to Boston for what appears to be the final regular season ACC game that anyone outside of the coastal southeast will care to watch diligently. Since the scare against Syracuse over a month ago, no one has come close to shutting down the Tigers offense. Boston College’s scrappy defense, which is tied with the Orange at the top of the ACC with 21 takeaways, hopes it will be able to force Trevor Lawrence into his first poor performance of the season.

While stopping Lawrence will be the key to the game for the Eagles, expect running back AJ Dillon to provide an X-factor if Steve Addazio’s team is indeed able to give Clemson a run. The sophomore is second in total rushing yards in the ACC but is a true workhorse, leading the conference with over 23 carries per game. It’s no secret that Clemson’s defensive front is one of the nation’s best, but with Dillon the big boys in orange will be tested. Unfortunately for the home fans, this approach won’t be enough to compete for all four quarters.

My Pick: 45-24 Clemson

Brad’s Take: Clemson 42 BC 24

5 Games to Flip To

#23 Fresno State at Boise State (Friday, 10:15 PM ET)

An official rivalry that extends back to the programs’ WAC days hasn’t been all that competitive (Boise State has won all but three times since 2001), but the Bulldogs score in bunches and may have a slight edge in the battle for the Milk Can.

Wisconsin at #20 Penn State (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

This is a battle between two teams that were, for lack of a better term, first half giants. If the regular season had ended in mid-October, this could have been a preview of the Big Ten title game.

Oklahoma State at #6 Oklahoma (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The Battle of Bedlam has been a bit hotter ticket in previous years, but there is enough offensive firepower for the Pokes to turn this one into an exciting shootout.

#16 Mississippi State at #1 Alabama (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Normally a November game featuring two teams ranked inside the Top 20 would be a natural inclusion to the “5 Games to Watch” list. But the way Alabama is playing, this one is only worth a quick look to ensure nothing shocking happens.

#19 Texas at Texas Tech (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

Last week’s gutsy call by Dana Holgorsen has left the Longhorns without a shot in the CFP race and behind the eight ball in the Big 12 title game. The hangover effect could be in full force in Lubbock for Texas.

In the past, I’ve asked readers to let me know if they’d like to be guests on Around The Corn to make weekly college football picks. And while that invite still stands (email kbecks@aroundthecorn.com or message me on Facebook or Twitter if interested), the truth is that I’m basically asking friends and family on a weekly basis. Writing is a passion of mine, as is commenting on sports. But sharing those two passions with others are what has always made this worthwhile. So tell me what you think of the site and let me know what could be done better, or what would make you come back without prompting. I’d really appreciate it.

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