College Football Picks Week 11: Breaking Down Clashes Between Top 25 Opponents

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistNovember 7, 2012

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 03:  Quarterback AJ McCarron #10 of Alabama celebratesw after the extra point for the go ahead touchdown against LSU late in the fourth quarter at Tiger Stadium on November 3, 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

After top matchups seemingly came in a never-ending stream the past couple of weeks, the college football takes a bit of a reprieve on Saturday, as just three matchups between Top 25 schools are on the Week 11 schedule. 

While, overall, that's a bit of a break in the action, that just means each of these contests on the schedule carries extra weight. There are still four teams jostling for position atop the BCS standings and almost every loss carries some level of implications for the computer polls.

What's more, nearly every conference championship is still up for grabs. Although some of these squads have no chance of playing on Jan. 7, other BCS bowl games enjoy writing massive checks as well. 

With that in mind, here is a look at my picks for this week's matchups between Top 25 teams. 

No. 11 Oregon State Beavers at No. 14 Stanford Cardinal

Of the most intriguing matchups of the week, this may not be the most exciting to watch, but it could actually turn out to be the best game.

Neither Stanford nor Oregon State come into Week 11 with particularly explosive offenses, as both rank outside the Top 50 in scoring offense. Led by stalwart defenses and pro-style offenses, this actually looks far more like an SEC contest than two teams battling in the Pac-12 North division. 

After a strong start to the season, the Cardinal offense floundered before last week, mostly due to ineffectiveness at the quarterback position. Now entrenched in a controversy after redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan came in and dominated against Colorado, it will be interesting to see what the youngster does against the Beavers.

Meanwhile, the quarterback controversy has seemingly ended for Oregon State, as Cody Vaz continues to impress after usurping Sean Mannion from the lineup.

Mostly for that reason, I'm taking the Beavers on Saturday. Stanford's pass defense has been shaky all season and while its run offense could help out Hogan, he's too much of an unproven commodity to trust in such a big game.

Even if Josh Nunes gets the start, go with Oregon State in this matchup. 

Score Prediction: Oregon State 20, Stanford 17

No. 15 Texas A&M Aggies at No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide

While it could be a one-game blip on the radar, last week's contest against LSU showed that there are cracks to be found in Alabama's vaunted defense.

Oft-criticized Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger picked apart the Tide secondary with ease, completing 24-of-25 passes for 298 yards and a touchdown. For reference, that came just a game after throwing for just 98 yards against Texas A&M and was the first time Mettenberger had completed 50 percent of his passes since September.

It goes without saying that Aggies superstar Johnny Manziel will present a far tougher challenge than Mettenberger on Saturday. The scintillating freshman had yet another brilliant game in last week's 38-13 evisceration of Mississippi State, combining for 440 total yards and two touchdowns. 

Still, if Manziel's past performance against elite defenses is any indicator, it's impossible to pick Texas A&M on the road. Granted, it's a minuscule sample size, but Johnny Football's two contests against elite defenses (Florida and LSU) saw him combine for just 536 yards and one touchdown while throwing three interceptions. 

With Alabama at home and coming off a massive scare against the Tigers, look for the Tide to return to glory on Saturday. It won't be a blowout by any stretch of the imagination, but Nick Saban's squad should get a two-score victory.

Score Prediction: Alabama 24, Texas A&M 14

No. 21 Mississippi State Bulldogs at No. 7 LSU Tigers

The Tigers will try to fend off heartbreak for a second straight week against a Mississippi State team that has made a habit of getting destroyed lately. 

Outscored by a combined 76-20 against Alabama and Texas A&M, the Bulldogs have fallen from national championship contender to fringe Top 25 team in a matter of two games.

There's little (if any) reason to think the string of blowouts will stop on Saturday. Though the Tigers offense is certainly not on the caliber of the Tide's or Aggies', it seemed to find some semblance of rhythm last week.

Mettenberger looked like a completely different quarterback and Jeremy Hill continues to establish himself among the SEC's best running backs.

Let's also not forget that LSU has one of the nation's best defenses. Coupled with the struggles of Mississippi State stars LaDarius Perkins and Tyler Russell, it seems nearly every matchup on the field favors the Tigers.

Of the games between Top 25 opponents, this feels like the biggest lock. Les Miles' squad gets a vital victory to keep its BCS bowl hopes alive.

Score Prediction: LSU 28, Mississippi State 14