Will Texas A&M be able to slow down AJ McCarron, TJ Yeldon and the powerful Alabama offense?
Week 11 of the college football season does not feature the type of marquee matchups that we saw last Saturday when Alabama squared off with LSU, and Oregon battled USC. However, there are still plenty of key games to watch this weekend.
The big SEC showdown between Texas A&M and Alabama is the most intriguing matchup of the weekend. But, there are plenty of other games that could also shake up the BCS standings.
Here are the predictions for how every BCS Top 25 team will fare in Week 11.
Betting lines courtesy of Covers.com
Spread: Alabama (-13.5)
Alabama is coming off a tough, physical and energy-draining 21-17 win over LSU last week. You have to figure that the Tide defense is still going to be tired after being out on the field for 85 plays and over 39 minutes last week.
It will be very interesting to see what kind of damage Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel can do against an Alabama secondary that was just exploited by Zach Mettenberger.
Manziel has been the most exciting freshman in the country this season. The dual-threat signal-caller has thrown for over 2,500 yards and 16 touchdowns and added another 922 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground.
Still, Manziel did struggle mightily against LSU’s defense in a 24-19 loss to the Tigers, and it’s likely that Alabama’s defense can force him to make those same kinds of mistakes.
The Aggies definitely have the talent on both sides of the ball to put a scare into Alabama. However, the Tide should able to wear them down with running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon and ultimately prevail at home.
Pick: Alabama wins, Texas A&M covers
Prediction: Alabama 38, Texas A&M 28
Collin Klein and Bill Snyder
Spread: No Spread (Key injury)
Kansas State’s star Heisman hopeful, QB Collin Klein, was banged up and had to leave last week’s game against Oklahoma State, a game which Kansas State ended up winning 44-30.
Bill Snyder hasn’t seemed too concerned about Klein’s injury this week, however, and all indications are that he’ll be ready to play.
That isn’t good news for TCU's defense. Still, the Horned Frogs have fared surprisingly well on the defensive side of the ball in their first season going up against Big 12 offenses, and defensive guru Gary Patterson should come up with a solid game plan to contain Klein.
TCU has a lot of momentum after a big win over West Virginia in Morgantown last week. If QB Trevone Boykin and WR Josh Boyce can stay hot at home, the Horned Frogs should be able to keep this game close deep into the second half.
Ultimately, though, if Klein is near 100 percent, he should be able to make enough game-changing plays and lead the Wildcats to victory.
Pick: Kansas State wins
Prediction: Kansas State 30, TCU 24
Spread: Oregon (-28)
Oregon is coming off a big statement win over USC last week. The Ducks racked up 62 points and 730 total yards of offense against the Trojans. The problem is, they gave up 51 points and 615 total yards.
Obviously, there are no concerns about Oregon’s offense at this point in the season. QB Marcus Mariota and running backs Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas are arguably the most explosive offensive trio in the country. However, the Ducks defense did show plenty of flaws last week.
Luckily, the defense should have a much easier time on Saturday against Cal. The Golden Bears are averaging just 24 points per game, and they’ve lost their only truly dangerous weapon, star WR Keenan Allen, to a knee injury.
An emotional letdown is to be expected from Oregon, as the Ducks have to head back out on the road for the second straight week after such a big win. However, given the way Cal is playing right now, it’s hard to see Jeff Tedford’s squad keeping this game close.
Pick: Oregon wins and covers
Prediction: Oregon 53, Cal 17
Spread: Notre Dame (-19)
Notre Dame was lucky to survive a tough test from Pitt last week and come away with a 29-26 victory in triple-overtime. The Irish clearly didn’t play well enough to deserve a win, but you have to give them credit for figuring out a way to stay undefeated and stay in the chase for a BCS title.
That game should serve as a wake-up call for the Irish. Hopefully, they realize that they won’t be able to just sleepwalk through the rest of their schedule until their big matchup with USC in the season finale.
Brian Kelly’s squad should put together a much better performance against a 2-7 Boston College team that seems to have packed it in for the season.
Everett Golson may not exactly be the most consistent quarterback, but he should have a relatively easy time picking apart an Eagles defense that is allowing 30 points and 477 yards per game.
Pick: Notre Dame wins and covers
Prediction: Notre Dame 38, Boston College 13
Spread: Georgia (-15)
Georgia manhandled Auburn in last year’s meeting between these two teams. The Bulldogs beat the Tigers 45-7 and outgained them by 333 yards.
Given the way these two teams have played this year, a similar type of blowout game would seem to be expected. However, this game may end up being much closer than many expect.
Auburn has been abysmal this season, winning just two of its first nine games. However, this could be a situation where the Tigers finally put together a strong performance. Plus, the Bulldogs could play tight, knowing that they have to win this game in order to win the SEC East.
If the Auburn defense steps up, and if freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace doesn’t get scared off by Georgia’s fierce defensive front seven, the Tigers may possibly have a chance at a huge upset.
Pick: Georgia wins, Auburn covers
Prediction: Georgia 27, Auburn 24
Spread: Florida (-26)
Florida should give the fans who attended last week’s game against Missouri a full refund for their tickets. The Gators didn’t put any effort into the game, whatsoever, even though they managed to pull off a 14-7 win.
Will Muschamp likely used a stern tone in practice this week to let his players know that their lack of effort and efficiency against the Tigers will not be tolerated.
The Gators should come out and play much more inspired and motivated this week against an overmatched Louisiana-Lafayette team.
Pick: Florida wins and covers
Prediction: Florida 44, Louisiana-Lafayette 10
Spread: LSU (-14)
Mississippi State started the season 7-0. But the Bulldogs have looked like a fraud now that the competition has gotten tougher. They were outscored by an average of 38-10 by Texas A&M and Alabama over the last two weeks.
If the defense doesn’t step up this week against LSU, they’ll get blown out again.
Still, it’s tough to predict what type of effort to expect from the Tigers following such a devastating loss.
LSU usually schedules a nice, easy cupcake school for the game following Alabama, but this year, the Tigers could actually have a fight on their hands from a worthy adversary.
Pick: LSU wins, Mississippi State covers
Prediction: LSU 23, Mississippi State 13
Spread: South Carolina (-14)
South Carolina will be seeking revenge for its three straight losses to Arkansas, and the Gamecocks should be able to get it on Saturday.
The Razorbacks have been trudging their way through a disappointing 2012 campaign, and at times, the players have looked like they just want the season to end.
The Gamecocks may have lost star running back Marcus Lattimore for the season, but they still have one of the fastest and most talented defenses in the nation.
Arkansas has the talent at the offensive skill positions with Tyler Wilson, Dennis Johnson, Cobi Hamilton and Chris Gragg to put up some points on the Gamecocks. But in the end, QB Connor Shaw and the South Carolina offense will make enough plays to pick up the win.
Prediction: South Carolina wins and covers
Pick: South Carolina 48, Arkansas 27
Spread: Louisville (-3)
Louisville has been living on the edge this season. The Cardinals have survived numerous close games, and they've won five games by a touchdown or less. But, this could very well be the week that Charlie Strong’s squad finally gets burned.
Syracuse has the type of passing attack to put some serious stress on Louisville’s secondary.
QB Ryan Nassib and his dangerous receiver duo of Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales should make enough big plays inside the Carrier Dome to come up with the upset victory.
Pick: Syracuse wins outright
Prediction: Syracuse 37, Louisville 34
Spread: Florida State (-14)
It’s hard to trust either of these two teams this season, especially Virginia Tech, which has been one of the most disappointing teams of 2012.
Florida State currently has the top-scoring offense and the top-scoring defense in the ACC. The Seminoles are outscoring opponents by an average of 44-12 this season. However, that’s not really surprising when you look at some of the weak teams they’ve beat up on (Murray State, Savannah State, Wake Forest and Boston College).
Virginia Tech certainly has the talent to compete with Florida State, especially at home on a Thursday night. The big question is: Will the Hokies avoid shooting themselves in the foot with sloppy mistakes?
If QB Logan Thomas actually throws the ball reasonably well for a change, instead of overthrowing his receivers by five yards like he’s been doing most of the time this season, Virginia Tech should make this game interesting.
Pick: Florida State wins, Virginia Tech covers
Prediction: Florida State 31, Virginia Tech 23
Spread: Stanford (-4.5)
Both of these teams could give Oregon a run for its money in the Pac-12 North. But in order to stay alive in the division race with the Ducks, they’ll have to win this game.
Neither of these teams have particularly great quarterbacks, but they both have strong defenses, which means this game could turn out to be a rather low-scoring affair.
Ultimately, Oregon State’s receiver duo of Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton should be able to create enough plays to pick up a big win on the road and stay alive in the division race.
Pick: Oregon State wins outright
Prediction: Oregon State 24, Stanford 19
Spread: Oklahoma (-20.5)
Baylor currently has the most productive offense in the country, averaging 581 yards per game. But the reason that the Bears are just 4-4 is because they have one of the worst defenses in the country. It’s a unit that is giving up an average of 39 points and 527 yards per game.
Oklahoma has one of the most potent offensive attacks in college football. QB Landry Jones, WR Kenny Stills and the rest of the Sooners should have no trouble carving up a Bears defense that hasn’t been able to stop anyone this season.
Pick: Oklahoma wins and covers
Prediction: Oklahoma 59, Baylor 35
Spread: Clemson (-31)
Maryland has somehow compiled a 4-5 record this season, even though the Terrapins rank 108th in the nation in scoring offense, averaging just 19 points per game.
The team’s lack of offense will prevent it from keeping this weekend’s game against Clemson close.
The Tigers’ dangerous offensive foursome comprised of QB Tajh Boyd, RB Andre Ellington and receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins will just be too much for Maryland’s defense to handle.
Pick: Clemson wins and covers
Prediction: Clemson 49, Maryland 10
Spread: Nebraska (-7.5)
This has the chance to be one of the most entertaining games of the weekend, as these two teams are very evenly matched.
You can make the argument that Nebraska has the motivation advantage, since the Cornhuskers know that they need to win this game in order to ensure that they stay atop the Big Ten Legends Division. However, Penn State has been playing very motivated all season long, as they’ve surprised their doubters by amassing a 6-3 record.
Ultimately, this should be a tough, physical game that will likely be decided in the fourth quarter.
The Nittany Lions remember what it was like to lose 17-14 to Nebraska at home last year, and they’ll like to make up for that disappointing defeat with a big win in Lincoln.
Pick: Penn State wins outright
Prediction: Penn State 28, Nebraska 27
David Ash and Joe Bergeron
Spread: Texas (-10.5)
Texas is 7-2 this season, but the Longhorns have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the country. A week after almost getting stunned by Kansas, they showed last Saturday exactly what they’re capable of, as they went on the road and took down Texas Tech 33-21.
It will be interesting to see which Texas team shows up on Saturday against Iowa State.
The Cyclones don’t have the same caliber of athletes and playmakers that the Longhorns do, but they do have plenty of tough, hard-nosed players on both sides of the ball.
If Texas doesn’t take Iowa State seriously, Mack Brown’s squad could be in for a real battle.
Pick: Texas wins, Iowa State covers
Prediction: Texas 30, Iowa State 24
Brett Hundley and Johnathan Franklin
Spread: UCLA (-14.5)
These two teams had drastically different performances last week.
UCLA throttled Arizona 66-10, while Washington State got obliterated by Utah 49-6.
Mike Leach expressed his dissatisfaction with his team’s performance by calling the game a “zombie convention,” according to The Moscow-Pullman Daily News (h/t The Register-Guard).
The Cougars have been pretty terrible this season, and now, they’ll be without their best player, WR Marquess Wilson. But that they may not necessarily be a bad thing, considering Wilson’s been dogging it and going about half-speed the whole season.
Washington State doesn’t have the talent that UCLA has, but the Cougars did step up and play Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford all relatively tough, and they should do the same thing at home against the Bruins.
Pick: UCLA wins, Washington State covers
Prediction: UCLA 38, Washington State 27
Spread: USC (-9)
USC has not come close to living up to lofty expectations this season. The Trojans have struggled to a 6-3 record, and they haven't looked like the national championship contender that they were originally made out to be.
Still, even though they may be out of the BCS title race, the Trojans still have a great shot to win the Pac-12 South division and set up a likely rematch with Oregon in the conference championship game.
Even after a tough loss to the Ducks last week, USC should still be motivated to come out and beat Arizona State on Saturday.
This game definitely has the potential to turn into a high-scoring offensive shootout. In the end, though, the Trojans' definitive talent advantage at quarterback and wide receiver will prove to be the difference.
Pick: USC wins and covers
Prediction: USC 47, Arizona State 31
Colby Cameron and Quinton Patton
Spread: Louisiana Tech (-20)
Louisiana Tech currently ranks second in the nation in scoring offense and third in total offense, averaging 52 points and 570 yards per game.
The Bulldogs have their sights set on a WAC championship this season, and they have two crucial games against the conference’s other top contenders, Utah State and San Jose State, left on their schedule. However, they can’t afford to overlook Texas State on Saturday.
The Bobcats are just 3-5, but they did give both Nevada and San Jose State some tough challenges.
Texas State won’t be able to score enough points to pull off an upset. But the Bobcats may be able to catch Louisiana Tech looking ahead to next week’s game against Utah State and actually make this game closer than it should be.
Pick: Louisiana Tech wins, Texas State covers
Prediction: Louisiana Tech 49, Texas State 35
Spread: Texas Tech (-25)
In each of the last three seasons, Texas Tech has lost the game it's had to play the week after facing Texas. However, that trend will come to an end on Saturday when Kansas comes to town.
The Jayhawks have the least productive offense in the Big 12, and their defense is giving up an average of 6.4 yards per play, which ranks 117th in the country.
The Red Raiders may be bummed about losing to the Longhorns last week. Nevertheless, they shouldn’t have much trouble picking up a bounce-back win at home over a Kansas team that has yet to beat an FBS opponent this season.
Pick: Texas Tech wins and covers
Prediction: Texas Tech 42, Kansas 16
Spread: Rutgers (-18)
Rutgers had a bye week to regroup after being upset by Kent State at home. The Scarlet Knights should now be ready to take out their pent-up frustrations on a two-win Army team that has likely been busy celebrating all week after picking up a huge 42-21 win over rival Air Force last weekend.
Don’t expect a close, competitive game at High Point Solutions Stadium on Saturday.
Pick: Rutgers wins and covers
Prediction: Rutgers 30, Army 7
Spread: Michigan (-11)
Northwestern has been one of the big surprise success stories of the 2012 season. The Wildcats have compiled a 7-2 record behind a powerful rushing offense that’s averaging 236 yards on the ground per game. However, this will be the team’s toughest test of the year on Saturday.
Michigan has one of the stingiest defenses in the country, and the Wolverines should be able to slow down Northwestern’s powerful rushing attack.
The Wildcats have only beaten Michigan twice since the turn of the millennium, but they have the offensive firepower this year to take this game down to the wire.
Pick: Michigan wins, Northwestern covers
Prediction: Michigan 28, Northwestern 25