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Virginia Tech went to Miami feeling very confident about its chances. The Hokies had seen a North Carolina team that had been destroyed in Blacksburg 59-7 take the Hurricanes to the bitter end the previous week before falling 24-19. They undoubtedly felt that they were better than Miami.

 

But Miami claimed control of the ACC Coastal Division with a 28-10 victory, and now Virginia Tech has to regroup and face the option attack of Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are also coming off a loss, 40-36 in Charlottesville against Virginia. At 4-4, with a game cancelled due to Hurricane Irma and No. 1 Georgia coming to Atlanta on Thanksgiving weekend, Georgia Tech's bowl eligibility may hinge on this result.

 

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 11 at 12:20 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ACC Network

Spread: Virginia Tech -3

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. TaQuon Marshall — the good and bad

Overall, the Georgia Tech quarterback has had a very good season and seems to be a great fit for Paul Johnson’s offense. He has rushed for 870 yards and 14 touchdowns, with 143 of those yards and two scores coming last week against Virginia. In the Georgia Tech system, the passing game is about connecting on big plays, and Marshall has averaged more than 18 yards per completion. Completion percentage is not as important for a Jackets quarterback, but it’s hard to ignore the recent trend. In his last two games, he is just 9-of-35 and last week threw his first two picks of the season. He also has fumbled eight times in eight games. A former running back, Marshall is still undergoing refinement, and he needs to eliminate the miscues this week.

 

2. Virginia Tech front seven

Going against an inconsistent Miami offensive line, the Hokies' defensive front was expected to control the action. But Miami more than held its own in this department, a key factor in the Hurricanes’ win. This week brings a different challenge. Virginia Tech is more talented than the Georgia Tech blockers, but the Hokie defenders must be in the right position and be able to get off blocks. Winning first down and putting the Yellow Jackets in bad down-and-distance situations will be very important.

 

3. Virginia Tech’s receivers vs. Georgia Tech’s secondary

Georgia Tech has a strong rushing defense, but the Jackets don’t put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. The Hokies’ offensive line wasn’t great last week but should be able to hold off the Georgia Tech rush and give quarterback Josh Jackson time to throw. That sets up a battle between Cam Phillips (above, right), Sean Savoy and the other Virginia Tech receivers against Corey Griffin, Lawrence Austin and the Georgia Tech defensive backs. Safety A.J. Gray missed last Saturday’s game with an injury and is questionable for this week. He has been one of the Jackets' top defenders this season, and his presence would give them a boost.

 

Final Analysis

 

Virginia Tech put so much mentally into last week’s contest, and now that the division is out of reach, you have to wonder about the team’s psyche going into this week. There is still plenty to play for as a New Year’s Six Bowl is still a possibility, but the Hokies have to get past the loss in Miami. They will face a Georgia Tech squad that has lost three of its last four and also may be desperate at 4-4, needing two more wins to get to a bowl. Kick and punt coverage have hurt the Yellow Jackets immensely, as have mistakes at key moments. Virginia Tech will win the battle up front defensively, and the offense will make enough plays in the passing game to give the Hokies a victory.

 

Prediction: Virginia Tech 27, Georgia Tech 21

 

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

Teaser:
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/texas-tech-red-raiders-vs-baylor-bears-preview-and-prediction-2017
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This week’s Texas Tech-Baylor matchup is one that features two teams who definitely did not see their season turning out in the manner that it has.

 

Tech roared out to a 4-1 start but has now lost four straight games, putting their bowl hopes in jeopardy. Now the Red Raiders will need two wins in their last three games against the Bears, TCU and Texas. Won’t be easy.

 

The Matt Rhule era in Waco has gotten off to a Titanic-like start. Yes, I mean the BAD kind of “Titanic.” After stunning losses to Liberty and UTSA to start the season, the Bears slogged out to an 0-8 start. There have been very few highlights, but last week Baylor was finally able to get everything aligned and pick up the first win of the year, a 38-9 rout of Kansas. (Then again, playing Kansas is a good way for a Pop Warner Pee-Wee football team to get everything aligned too. But I digress.).

 

Baylor was able to scare the bejeezus out of both Oklahoma (No. 3 at the time) and West Virginia (No. 23) to prove it could play with just about anyone, so you could say the Bears are capable of being a dangerous team.

 

Oh, one more thing to keep in mind. One of the few highlights of last season’s 5-7 season for the Red Raiders was ending the bummer of a campaign on a high note with a 54-35 pasting of Baylor.

 

Texas Tech vs. Baylor (Arlington, Texas)

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 11 at 12 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FSN

Spread: Texas Tech -7.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. The youngin’ under center

After sparking a huge rally against West Virginia two weeks ago and going 17-for-27 in relief vs. Texas, freshman QB Charlie Brewer got his first start of the season last week and whaddyaknow, he led the Bears to their first win of the season. Now he’ll go for win No. 2 and the cool, confident newbie will need to remain cool and confident as he leads BU in its second straight game away from Waco. To give the Bears a chance he’ll need to keep spreading the wealth. In the win over KU, Brewer was 23-of-29 for 315 yards, hitting 10 different receivers along the way. Sophomore wideout Denzel Mims is a prime target to keep an eye on as he now has 14 catches of 20 yards or more and seven for 40 yards or more.

 

2. Containing the Coutee (pronounced “Cutie”)

As is usually the case, Texas Tech is once again sporting a potent offense, averaging 507 yards a game. That’s typical of Kliff Kingsbury-coached teams. But wide receiver Keke Coutee has really been a force at times this season, including last week at Kansas State where he caught 12 passes for 189 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It was the third time this season that Coutee has recorded double-digit catches. QB Nic Shimonek has already thrown for more than 3,000 yards and hits on 69 percent of his throws, which is the third-best completion rate in the country. That’s impressive. If he and Coutee can get in a groove it should make this a back-and-forth affair that becomes anyone’s game.

 

3. The better defense

Yes the “D word” is almost like a four-letter word. Tech and Baylor have the Nos. 108 ;and 121-ranked defenses, giving up an average of 929 yards a game between them. Egad! So even though we keyed on Baylor’s Brewer and Tech’s Coutee above, the most important variable in this one will be which team can come up with the most stops, rare though they may be. Tech looks like it’ll be getting middle linebacker Jordyn Brooks back after missing last week with an illness. But if there is an edge out there, it’s Baylor coming off a win where it kept Kansas out of the end zone and is playing with a little more confidence. But rest assured, this is a very slight edge.

 

Final Analysis

 

It’s a tough call as to what is going to happen here. Both are young teams and both have been decimated by injuries. Baylor has had 25 different players miss games due to injury and 10 have been lost for the year. The receiving corps has been hit hard as prime targets like Chris Platt and Pooh Stricklin have been shelved. In fact, 17 true freshmen have played for BU, which is the fourth most in all of the FBS.

 

But injuries be damned, this Baylor team seems to have some rejuvenation behind Brewer and his 67 percent accuracy at the controls. Both defenses for Texas Tech and Baylor are a liability, ranking No. 108 and No. 121 respectively in all of FBS. So whoever gets the hot hand here will ride the momentum to a win.

 

Prediction: Baylor 56, Texas Tech 49

 

— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.

Teaser:
Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Baylor Bears Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 10:20
Path: /college-football/nebraska-cornhuskers-vs-minnesota-golden-gophers-preview-and-prediction-2017
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The upcoming Nebraska-Minnesota game is a matchup of mirror images.

 

These two programs are suddenly beginning to look very much like each other in a couple of ways. Most notably is that both teams will come into this game having already lost more games than a year ago and with identical 4-5 overall records. Whichever team wins this game will be in much better shape for a potential postseason invitation.

 

But these two programs also find themselves in very similar situations: these two grain belters are the only FBS teams in their respective states and they both find themselves as middle-of-the-road programs in the Big Ten. Yes, sad as it may be for Cornhusker fans, the state of the Big Red has dipped below contending status. Both programs have a good season or two every once in a while, eight or nine wins, and then they’ll suffer a losing year here and there. That’s where things are now.

 

The other thing that both programs have in common? Both of their fan bases would love to have Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck as their head coach.

 

Nebraska at Minnesota

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 11 at 12 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FS1

Spread: Minnesota -2.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Play calling

Okay look, I don’t get paid millions of dollars to coach Nebraska football, but some of last week’s play calling vs. Northwestern was beyond a head-scratcher. With a 24-17 lead late in the fourth quarter and a first down at the Wildcat 19-yard line, the Cornhuskers eschewed the running game, which at worse would’ve set up a field goal to go up by 10 and run the clock down. Instead, Tanner Lee throws an interception near the goal line and Northwestern drives down to score the game-tying touchdown before winning in OT. That’s just a microcosm of their problems in CornTown. If head coach Mike Riley and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf don’t string together more sane play calling, dropping to 4-6 is a near certainty, regardless if this was Minnesota or an eight-man football team from some farm town.

 

2. Pressure

The word “pressure” takes on many meanings here in this matchup. For Minnesota, the under-sized but very active front seven on defense will strive to find the weak points and expose the leaks in Nebraska’s offensive line. If the Gophers can push through the Swiss cheese front of the Big Red and get in the grill of Lee, it could cause plenty of poor decisions and turnovers. For Minnesota, sophomore QB Demry Croft (above, right) has proven to have eyes in the back of his head and has done a decent job of ripping off effective runs when the pressure collapses the pocket. He will need to get the passing game cranked up after last week’s 5-for-12, 74-yard performance left the Golden Boys at 13th in the Big Ten in passing. (By the way, Nebraska is 13th in passing defense, so there you go). Also the Gophers’ dangerous wide receiver, Tyler Johnson, was held to one catch last week. C’mon coaching staff, unleash him here.

 

3. Hope for the run game

While Minnesota needs to open up the pass, Nebraska needs to grind it out on the ground. I spent last week chastising Nebraska’s running game in the preview for the Northwestern game. Well things got (a little) better after Devine Ozigbo ran for 72 yards and had a handful of effective carries. Even though NU doesn’t have the O-line that Michigan does, the Wolverines piled up 371 rushing yards vs. these Gophers with Karan Higdon and Chris Evans going for 200 and 191 respectively. Sure, they won’t go all Rozier on the Gophers, but if the Cornhuskers can establish the run, even modestly, it should open up the passing game and make their offense more viable than it’s been.

 

Final Analysis

 

It’s no secret that Mike Riley’s job is on the line. Or maybe it is already doomed. But as mentioned above, Nebraska is 4-5 and will be underdogs vs. Penn State and Iowa after this one. If there is any hope for a 6-6 mark and potential bowl berth, it has to start here. The Gophers will have more winnable matchups with Northwestern and Wisconsin. This game could be a springboard to a really hot finish and leave a positive light shining on the inaugural season under P.J. Fleck.

 

Games between even teams aren’t usually won by the offenses or the defenses. Most of the time it’s the little things. Which makes it important to note that the Gophers are fourth in the Big Ten in turnover margin, while the Huskers are 13th and the Gophers are also the least penalized team in the conference (33 in 10 games) and the Huskers are ninth (59 total). The way things are trending, put your money on the land of 10,000 lakes.

 

Prediction: Minnesota 31, Nebraska 21

 

— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.

Teaser:
Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 10:10
Path: /college-football/georgia-bulldogs-vs-auburn-tigers-preview-and-prediction-2017
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The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is one of college football’s must-see matchups for Week 11, as Auburn looks to keep its SEC West title hopes alive with a victory over No. 1 Georgia. The Tigers are also out to enact revenge on their rival. Auburn was a 10-point favorite and entered the matchup riding a six-game winning streak in Athens last season. However, the Bulldogs held the Tigers to just 164 total yards and seven points in a 13-7 upset.

 

For the second week in a row, Georgia claimed the top spot in the CFB Playoff rankings. The back-to-back No. 1 rank in the selection committee’s top 25 is the first time under coach Kirby Smart that the Bulldogs have reached this level. Smart clearly has this program headed in the right direction in terms of on-field production, and the outlook for Georgia continues to trend up with standout recruiting classes. Despite losing starting quarterback Jacob Eason to a knee injury for a couple of games, true freshman Jake Fromm kept the offense on track and guided the Bulldogs to a 20-19 win over Notre Dame earlier this year. Fromm played well enough to maintain the No. 1 job when Eason returned, with Smart’s team continuing to lean on a standout running game and defense to the No. 1 ranking. Thanks to last week’s win over South Carolina and Kentucky’s loss to Ole Miss, Georgia claimed the SEC East title and will play in Atlanta on Dec. 2.

 

Over the first three years of the CFB Playoff, a two-loss team has never finished in the final four. But that could change in 2017. Auburn is 7-2 through nine matchups, with its only losses coming to Clemson (14-6) and LSU (27-23) after blowing a huge first-half lead. The Tigers checked in at No. 10 in this week’s edition and will have at least two marquee games left on their resume. In addition to Saturday’s game versus Georgia, Auburn still has to play Alabama. If the Tigers beat the Crimson Tide and knock off the Bulldogs, a rematch against Georgia in the SEC Championship could decide a playoff spot. That’s a ways off for coach Gus Malzahn’s team, but the opportunity is there if this team can win out and finish 11-2 with a SEC title.

 

Georgia holds a 57-55-8 series edge over Auburn. The Bulldogs have won five out of the last six in this series.

 

Georgia at Auburn

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 11 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Georgia -2.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. The Quarterbacks

As with any big-time matchup, the quarterbacks are going to be critical to the outcome. But this game features an interesting battle and slight contrast in styles between two first-year starters in the SEC.

 

Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham started his career at Baylor in 2015 and became the starter after a season-ending injury to Seth Russell in late October. Stidham completed 59.2 percent of his passes for 1,526 yards and 13 scores in 10 appearances that year but left the program after Art Briles was dismissed prior to the 2016 season. Stidham spent last year at a junior college and did not participate in a football program. As expected, the sophomore won the starting job over Sean White this offseason and passed for 1,996 yards and 11 scores through the first nine games of the year.

 

Stidham is accurate (66.8 percent), has enough mobility to slide around in the pocket or scramble and brings the big arm that the offense lacked in 2016. The sophomore has connected on 17 throws of 30 yards or more this season, with 15 coming in SEC play. It’s hard to find a weakness on Georgia’s defense, but the secondary – as evidenced against Missouri – can be vulnerable (at times) to big plays on the back end. The Bulldogs rank second in the SEC in pass efficiency defense, but Auburn is the best passing offense this unit has faced in 2017. When Stidham throws, Ryan Davis (48 catches), Darius Slayton (30.9 ypc on 13 receptions), Will Hastings and Eli Stove are the top targets. Can this unit and Stidham connect on big plays downfield? Just how important will a good game from Stidham be on Saturday? In Auburn’s two losses, the sophomore only completed 22 of 50 throws for 244 yards and a 44 percent completion rate.

 

On the other sideline, Georgia’s Jake Fromm has been the SEC’s top freshman in 2017. Jacob Eason opened the year as the starter but suffered a knee injury against Appalachian State that sidelined him for a couple of weeks. While Eason was on the mend, Fromm staked his claim for the starting job and never looked back. The true freshman is completing 63.3 percent of his throws for 1,459 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’s tossed only four picks on 150 attempts and has 13 completions of 30 yards or more.

 

Georgia’s offensive success this year has largely rested on its ground game and offensive line. Fromm isn’t asked to put it in the air a lot, as he has yet to top 30 pass attempts in a game and has only one game of more than 205 passing yards. The Bulldogs don’t need Fromm to throw for 300 yards to win on Saturday. However, with Auburn likely to load up against the run, can the true freshman hit on enough throws to keep the defense off the line of scrimmage and make a couple of key connections on third downs? So far, Fromm has aced every test since taking over the starting job, which includes a win over Notre Dame in South Bend. Saturday afternoon is his biggest test within the SEC since taking over as the starter.

 

Related: Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 11

 

2. Georgia’s Rushing Attack

The unquestioned strength of Georgia’s offense is its rushing attack. The Bulldogs lead the SEC by averaging 279.3 rushing yards per game. The one-two punch of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel at running back is as good as any tandem in college football. Chubb leads the team with 867 yards, with Michel a close second at 710. These two have plenty of additional help in the form of D’Andre Swift (388 yards), Elijah Holyfield (227) and Brian Herrien (184). In addition a deep and talented stable of running backs, Georgia has benefited from better offensive line play this year. Assistant Sam Pittman is one of the best offensive line coaches in college football, and the development of the five starters in the trenches is a big reason why the Bulldogs average 5.8 yards per rush.

 

It’s no secret what Georgia wants to do on offense. The Bulldogs want to establish the run, keep the down and distance manageable for Fromm and prevent third-and-long situations. If Chubb and Michael are consistently churning out yardage, Fromm won’t have to win this game on his right arm and can take shots on favorable downs with play action.

 

While Georgia’s gameplan or blueprint on offense has been successful all year, it will meet some resistance on Saturday in the form of Auburn’s defense. The Tigers rank fourth in the SEC versus the run, limiting opponents to 126.4 yards per game through nine contests. The Tigers are allowing just 3.3 yards per rush and no opponent has eclipsed 175 rushing yards against this defense. Coordinator Kevin Steele’s defense is led by an active group of linebackers, including leading tackler Deshaun Davis and junior Darrell Williams. Additionally, the sophomore tandem of Derrick Brown (tackle) and end Marlon Davidson anchor the defensive line, with hybrid edge Jeff Holland (11 tackles for a loss) creating plenty of havoc around the line of scrimmage.

 

Can Auburn’s defense slow Georgia’s ground game and force this offense into long-yardage situations? Keeping Chubb and Michel in check and forcing Fromm to win through the air is the No. 1 priority and key to victory for Steele’s defense on Saturday.

 

3. Georgia’s Front Seven

Alabama ranks as the SEC’s best defense by limiting opponents to 9.8 points per game, but Georgia isn’t far behind at 11.7 a contest. While the defense certainly wasn’t bad in Smart’s debut last fall, it has made major strides in 2017. The Bulldogs hold opponents to just 4.2 yards per play, allow only 89 rushing yards a game and have surrendered three plays of 40 yards or more.

 

The strength of Georgia’s defense is clearly its front seven, which will have a major impact on how Saturday’s game plays out. While Auburn’s improved passing attack is a key storyline to watch, the Tigers are still one of the SEC’s best on the ground. Malzahn’s offense is averaging 236.7 rushing yards per game and is recording 5.02 yards per rush. Running back Kerryon Johnson leads the team with 868 yards and 15 touchdowns and has eclipsed at least 115 rushing yards in four out of the last five games. Auburn’s offensive line has shuffled its starting lineup a couple of times in 2017, but this group has been solid.

 

Georgia can counter with a front seven that is one of the deepest in the SEC. The Bulldogs have yet to allow a 200-yard rusher and are giving up just 3.1 yards per carry. Linebackers Roquan Smith and Lorenzo Carter anchor this group, with junior Trenton Thompson leading the trenches. In order for Georgia to keep Auburn’s offense in check, it has to win the battle up front. Additionally, maintaining discipline and the edge will be key. The Tigers use a lot of fakes and motion, which are designed to get defenders out of place and help the offense win one-on-one battles in space. Stopping Johnson is priority No. 1, but the front seven also needs to generate pressure on Stidham. Generating pressure hasn’t exactly been a strength for Georgia this season. Through nine games, the Bulldogs have only 17 sacks. This group needs to be more active at the line of scrimmage on Saturday.

 

Final Analysis

 

This game isn’t short on intrigue and should be one of the better matchups in Week 11. Auburn’s offense has to find a way to get Johnson going against the tough Georgia front, allowing the passing attack to take a few chances downfield on favorable down and distance. When the Bulldogs have the ball, establishing the run could be a challenge against Auburn’s defense. The Tigers want to force Fromm to win this game – something he hasn’t had to do on the road in an SEC matchup in 2017. The home crowd and explosive offense are two factors to like an Auburn upset. However, Georgia’s defense keeps the Tigers in check, with Fromm making a couple of key throws to help the Bulldogs remain unbeaten.

 

Prediction: Georgia 24, Auburn 20
Teaser:
Georgia Bulldogs vs. Auburn Tigers Preview and Prediction 2017
Post date: Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/betting-against-spread-nfl-week-10-picks-and-odds-lines-2017
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We have reached the halfway point of the NFL regular season in terms of weeks and we’re starting to see the direction a lot of teams are heading in. There are clearly those that are already playing for next year while others are solely focused on getting into the playoffs.

 

The biggest decisions involve the mediocre teams in the middle. Those that have shown flashes, but we really don't know what they are truly capable of. This week I'm going to ask teams playing over their head to continue to do so.

 

Record: 24-15-3 (2-2-1 Last week; 15-8-2 last 5 weeks)

 

Note: All times are ET and all games are on Sunday, Nov. 12.

 

Minnesota Vikings (6-2) at Washington Redskins (4-4), 1 p.m.

The Redskins had the most improbable win in football last week, beating the Seahawks on the road with a really banged-up squad. Washington is still pretty injured and now gets a Minnesota team that is rolling and fresh off of its bye. The Redskins’ defense is holding up for the most part. They held Seattle to 14 points on the road and are led by Josh Norman and Zach Brown. Minnesota's offense doesn't scare me much with a RB committee and a passing attack led by Case Keenum. The good thing for the Vikings is their defense has held six straight opponents to 17 points or fewer. Minnesota has gone under in 25 of its last 41 contests including 12 of the last 18 on the road. To me, this one is a field position game that will be close and low scoring. SELECTION: Under 42.5

 

Los Angeles Chargers (3-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (5-3), 1 p.m.

The Chargers are heading to Florida fresh off of their bye week to try and solve Jacksonville. The Jaguars are holding their opponents to just 156.4 passing yards per game and 14.6 points per contest overall. Los Angeles is not exactly lighting up the scoreboard with 21 points or fewer in its last three games. Luckily for the Chargers, the defense has kept the team in games. These teams have each played three unders in their last four games. Jacksonville beat the Bengals 23-7 last week without Leonard Fournette, who was benched for a violation of team rules but will be back on Sunday. Los Angeles has gone under in 16 of its last 26 games as an underdog including four of six this season. SELECTION: Under 41.5

 

New York Jets (4-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6), 1 p.m.

No one would have thought that the Jets would have had the better record at this point before the season began. New York has been a pleasant story with Josh McCown leading the offense and the defense doing work as well. The Jets have lost three of four but are coming off of a convincing victory over the Bills last Thursday. Tampa Bay has lost five straight and will be without Jameis Winston (injury) and Mike Evans (suspension). Yet, I still don't feel like I'm ready to back the Jets as a road favorite. Tampa Bay's defense has been awful, but may get cornerback Brent Grimes back. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be under center and still has DeSean Jackson out wide along with some decent running backs. I might be guilty of trying to stay with a bad team too long, but I think the Buccaneers are a live dog. SELECTION: Buccaneers +2.5

 

New Orleans Saints (6-2) at Buffalo Bills (5-3), 1 p.m.

The Saints hit the road to play the Bills in a game that will feature temperatures around 40 degrees. New Orleans has won six straight after an 0-2 start. The Saints have been able to run the ball and take some pressure off of Drew Brees. A negative development is that the offense has started to turn the ball over with four straight games of at least two. The defense is putting up improved numbers, but I'm still not buying in. Over this span, the Saints really haven't seen too many good offenses with the likes of Tampa Bay, Green Bay (sans Aaron Rodgers) and Chicago the opponents. Buffalo lost 34-21 last Thursday to the Jets. Despite that the Bills have won four of their last six. LeSean McCoy should bounce back and this will be the first game for Kelvin Benjamin with this new team. Tight end Charles Clay also is working his back from injury, so it will be interesting to see this offense once all of the pieces are together. I'm not buying the Saints as a road team outside yet, especially in Upstate New York. SELECTION: Bills +3

 

Dallas Cowboys (5-3) at Atlanta Falcons (4-4), 4:25 p.m.

It's almost like I’m calling this "Show Me Sunday" because I don't believe the Cowboys’ defense has suddenly turned the corner and is no longer a bad unit. Dallas held San Francisco, Washington and Kansas City all under 20 points over the last three weeks while registering double-digit victories against each. Dallas will go home to host NFC East leader Philadelphia as the first of the three straight home dates after this, so there's a shot we may not get a focused effort against a desperate Falcons team. Atlanta has lost four of its last five and just finished up a stretch of three straight on the road. Matt Ryan (above, right) got Julio Jones involved more last time out, but it wasn't enough in a three-point loss at Carolina. The best part about locking this in now is that you may get the bonus of Ezekiel Elliott not playing if his latest appeal is denied later in the week. SELECTION: Falcons -3

 

New England Patriots (6-2) at Denver Broncos (3-5), 8:30 p.m.

New England will be fresh and ready for Denver after its bye week. These two teams have played two unders in their last three meetings. Brock Osweiler and the Denver O did not look very good in Philadelphia last time out and figure to struggle against Matt Patricia's defense, which has had two weeks to prepare. Denver's D was embarrassed last week and won't play that badly again. New England has a four-game streak of scoring no more than 24. Tom Brady has not been his best the last few meetings against the Broncos. Denver has gone under in 13 of its last 22 at home. I think this one is an under. SELECTION: Under 46.5

 

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.

Teaser:
Betting Against the Spread: NFL Week 10 Picks and Odds
Post date: Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 09:45
Path: /college-football/washington-huskies-quietly-building-momentum-towards-potential-playoff-berth
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The Washington Huskies have the best defense in the country. Yep, you read that right. Better than Alabama. Better than Michigan. Better than Wisconsin.

 

Led by talented defensive playmakers like Vita Vea, Azeem Victor, Ben Burr-Kirven and Tevis Bartlett, Washington has the No. 1 total defense in the FBS (240.9 yards per game allowed), and has held opponents to just 3.71 yards per carry, which also is tops in the nation. The Huskies have a well-rounded unit that ranks third against the pass (149.8 ypg) and tops the national leaderboard in yards per pass attempt (5.8). Washington also ranks sixth when it comes to stopping the run (91.1 ypg) and sits third in yards per carry (2.58) allowed. The Huskies have 29 sacks (tied for ninth) and the defense has forced 16 turnovers (tied for 31st).

 

Diving even a bit further, the Huskies recently overtook the top spot defensively in Bill Connelly’s defensive S&P+ rankings (13.1), slightly ahead of Alabama (13.6). Thanks in large part to that elite standing, which is paired with a talented (though injury-thinned) offense headed by quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskins, Washington is currently No. 3 in Connelly’s overall S&P+ team rankings.

 

However, Connelly’s rankings aren’t the ones that count, and Washington, 8-1 overall and 5-1 in Pac-12 play, was slotted No. 9 in the most recent College Football Playoff rankings. The committee apparently hasn’t been impressed by the Huskies’ defensive prowess. Perhaps more specifically, the committee hasn’t been impressed with the soft schedule Chris Petersen’s team has played to date.

 

After all, no team the Huskies have played is currently ranked in the Top 25, and that includes Arizona State, which beat Washington 13-7 in Tempe last month. The loss to the Sun Devils is arguably the worst among the one-loss contingent vying for a spot in the playoff.

 

This week’s opponent, Stanford, spent most of the season in the Top 25, including the inaugural playoff rankings last week, but the Cardinal have underperformed and fell out after last week’s loss to Washington State. That means the No. 19 Cougars are the only team on Washington’s regular season schedule currently ranked in the Top 25.

 

Nevertheless, Washington is quietly building a playoff-worthy resume. Non-conference wins over Rutgers and Fresno State are slightly more impressive today given the improvement both teams have made over the course of the season (believe it or not). Rutgers is still alive for a bowl bid and Fresno State (which has already qualified) could even win the Mountain West, which would be a nice boost. As for Pac-12 play, though no past opponent is currently ranked, the only team Washington has played that has been eliminated from postseason contention is Oregon State. Colorado, Cal, Arizona State and Oregon are all one win from bowl eligibility. UCLA needs two – a long shot, but still possible.

 

Looking ahead, the Huskies have an opportunity to make a statement Friday night against Stanford, and then against Utah, yet another conference foe just a win away from bowl eligibility. Assuming the Huskies beat the Cardinal and the Utes, the Apple Cup would provide a marquee matchup in the regular season finale. Should Washington again survive and secure the Pac-12 North Division title, the conference championship game, which would likely feature current No. 11 USC, has the potential to be a top-10 showdown. Therefore, there’s potential for Washington to finish with at least two wins over Top 25 teams, and Stanford could potentially sneak back in. Other than the ugly “1” at the end of Washington’s record, it’s a resume similar to the one Alabama and Wisconsin have at the moment.

 

Furthermore, three teams currently ranked ahead of Washington are guaranteed to lose (Alabama or Georgia, Notre Dame or Miami or Clemson, and TCU or Oklahoma). A few others face very tough tests from fellow playoff contenders meaning the potential for chaos (Auburn could beat Georgia and Alabama, then Georgia again in the SEC Championship Game, for example) exists.

 

Washington is lurking well behind every other one-loss Power 5 team today, but given the strength of the defense, the Huskies have a great shot winning out – while in the process passing its toughest tests at the end of the season when those victories would be fresh on the playoff committee’s minds. Throw in the losses sure to come for teams ranked ahead of them, as well as a regular season schedule that looks stronger as the season wears on; and a 12-1 Washington team would have a solid argument when the dust settles and the playoff committee compiles its final rankings.

 

— Written by Nicholas Ian Allen, a member of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasIAllen.

Teaser:
Washington Huskies Quietly Building Momentum Towards Potential Playoff Berth
Post date: Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-picks-predicting-every-game-week-11-2017
Body:

The Week 11 edition of picking every game on the college football schedule is highlighted by a huge battle in the SEC (unbeaten Georgia visits Auburn) and a throwback to a great rivalry in the 1980s (Miami hosts Notre Dame in a game with huge national implications). Here is every game on the Week 11 slate.

 

Thursday, Nov. 9

 

Ball State at Northern Illinois

Northern Illinois’ chances to win the MAC West are remote after its 27–17 loss last week to Toledo. The Huskies are now one game behind Toledo with three to play — and obviously do not have the tie-breaker by virtue of their head-to-head loss. Northern Illinois 51, Ball State 13

 

Georgia Southern at Appalachian State

Appalachian State has hit a rare rough patch, losing consecutive games (to UMass and ULM) for the first time since 2014 (its first season in the FBS ranks). Georgia Southern remains one of only two winless teams in the nation (UTEP is the other). Appalachian State 44, Georgia Southern 11

 

North Carolina at Pittsburgh

North Carolina, 0–6 in the ACC, hasn’t gone winless in league play since 1989, Mack Brown’s second season in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels have two chances to break into the win column — Thursday night in Pittsburgh or Nov. 25 at NC State. Pittsburgh 28, North Carolina 20

 

Friday, Nov. 10

 

Temple at Cincinnati

Both programs are coming off surprising wins: Temple beat Navy 34–26 (in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicates), and Cincinnati snapped a five-game losing streak with a 17–16 victory at Tulane. Temple is the better team. Temple 27, Cincinnati 23

 

BYU at UNLV

BYU is showing signs of life. One week after a 41–20 win over San Jose State — the school’s first victory over an FBS opponent in 2017 — the Cougars lost at Fresno State by “only” seven points. UNLV, which opened the season with a loss at home to Howard, has won two straight and is making a late-season charge toward bowl-eligibility. UNLV 24, BYU 14

 

Washington at Stanford

Washington has rebounded nicely from its 13–7 loss at Arizona State by beating UCLA and Oregon by a combined scored of 82–

26. The Huskies remain the Pac-12’s best hope to reach the College Football Playoff. Washington 27, Stanford 13

 

Saturday, Nov. 11

 

Arkansas at LSU

Arkansas avoided what would have been perhaps the program’s worst loss in program history — yes, worse than the 1992 loss to The Citadel — by rallying to beat Coastal Carolina 39–38 in Fayetteville. LSU put up a good fight at Alabama … but lost to the Tide for the seventh straight time. LSU 34, Arkansas 21

 

Duke at Army

Army last week won at Air Force 21–0 despite not attempting a single pass. And it was the fifth-straight win for the surging Black Knights, who are now 7–2 on the season. Duke, on the other hand, has lost five straight games after opening the year with four consecutive wins. Army 21, Duke 20

 

Florida at South Carolina

Florida’s season hit rock bottom — we think — with a 45–16 loss at Missouri. The Gators have lost four straight and have failed to score more than 17 point in any of the four games. South Carolina coach Will Muschamp, fired at Florida after the 2014 season, would love to prolong the Gators’ misery. South Carolina 28, Florida 17

 

Indiana at Illinois

Both teams are 0–6 in the Big Ten. It’s not a surprise that Illinois is winless, but Indiana has been a disappointment. Yes, the schedule has been tough — the Hoosiers have played Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin — but this team is too good not to have at least one league win. That will change soon. Indiana 41, Illinois 13

 

Louisiana at Ole Miss

Shea Patterson’s injury hasn’t slowed down the Ole Miss offense. The Rebels have scored 37 points in each of the two games started by Jordan Ta’amu — an excruciating 38–37 loss at Arkansas and a thrilling 37–34 win at Kentucky. Ole Miss 48, Louisiana 21

 

Michigan State at Ohio State

It’s no surprise that Ohio State is tied for the Big Ten lead as we hit the stretch run of the 2017 season. It is, however, rather shocking that Michigan State — not Michigan or Penn State — is the team tied with the Buckeyes. The Spartans, 3–9 last season, already have wins over Michigan and Penn State on their résumé. A win in Columbus would likely send them to the Big Ten title game. Ohio State 23, Michigan State 20

 

NC State at Boston College

Boston College was one of the hottest teams in the nation heading into its bye week. The Eagles have won three straight, at Louisville, at Virginia and vs. Florida State. To make it four straight they will have to knock off a very talented NC State team that went toe-to-toe with Clemson last week. It’s fair to question what mental state the Wolfpack will be in for this visit to Chestnut Hill after the emotionally draining loss to Clemson. NC State 24, Boston College 21 

 

Nebraska at Minnesota

This is not a good formula for success: Minnesota averaged 2.0 yards per carry last week and gave up 10.0 yard per carry. The result, a 33–10 win by Michigan, was not surprising. Minnesota 24, Nebraska 17

 

Oklahoma State at Iowa State

Both teams saw their hopes of a regular-season Big 12 title take a hit over the weekend. This is a huge swing game for Iowa State, which closes the season with trips to Baylor and Kansas State after hosting Oklahoma State. It’s unlikely, but a 6–6 record isn’t out of the question for the Clones. Oklahoma State 38, Iowa State 30

 

Rutgers at Penn State

Rutgers has won three Big Ten games after going 0–9 in 2016. That’s significant progress in Year 2 of the Chris Ash era. Penn State is only one game ahead of the Scarlet Knights in the league standings but is obviously a far superior team — as the point spread (30.5 points) indicates. Penn State 38, Rutgers 13

 

Texas Tech vs. Baylor

Texas Tech let one slip away last week, losing a late lead to Kansas State before falling in overtime. That loss dropped the Red Raiders to a disappointing 1–5 in the Big 12. Baylor broke through with its first win of the season, rolling past Kansas 38–9 in Lawrence. Both of these teams are looking for their first league win against a team not named Kansas. Baylor 41, Texas Tech 40

 

Connecticut at UCF

UCF improved to 8–0 with a 31–24 win at SMU. It was the Knights’ first game that was decided by fewer than 10 points. That won’t happen this week. UCF 48, UConn 10

 

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech

Virginia Tech saw its chance of winning the ACC Coastal Division evaporate with a 28–10 loss to Miami. It was a disappointing performance considering what was on the line. It will be interesting to see how this team responds against a Georgia Tech team that lost at Virginia last week. Georgia Tech 24, Virginia Tech 20

 

Middle Tennessee at Charlotte

Charlotte played in the lowest-scoring game of the season last week, losing 6–0 at Old Dominion. Middle Tennessee regained the services of quarterback Brent Stockstill, who had not played since a Week 2 injury in a win at Syracuse. His return could propel the Blue Raiders toward bowl eligibility. Middle Tennessee 28, Charlotte 10

 

Wake Forest at Syracuse

Syracuse suffered heartbreak on Saturday in Tallahassee when Cole Murphy missed a 43-yard field goal as time expired in the Orange’s 27–24 loss at Florida State. Quarterback Eric Dungey missed some time due to injury but is expected to get the start this weekend. Syracuse 31, Wake Forest 28

 

FAU at Louisiana Tech

The Owls have won five straight and remain in control of the C-USA East race. Louisiana Tech, meanwhile, is 4–5 overall and 2–3 in the league; it’s been quite a drop for a team that went 20–4 in C-USA from 2014-16. FAU 30, Louisiana Tech 20

 

Florida State at Clemson

In the Athlon Sports 2017 preview magazines, we ran a story detailing how the Florida State-Clemson game was now the most important regular-season game on the college football calendar. Not so much in 2017. Clemson 24, Florida State 13

 

Iowa at Wisconsin

Iowa has won 86 games in Kirk Ferentz’s 18-plus seasons at the school, but I’m not sure there has been a victory as surprising as what occurred at Kinnick Field on Saturday. Beating Ohio State was not expected — especially after the Buckeyes’ big win over Penn State the previous week. Scoring 55 points and winning by 29 points were unthinkable. Can the Hawkeyes keep the magic going? The guess here is no. Wisconsin 27, Iowa 20

 

Michigan at Maryland

Maryland’s Week 1 win at Texas seems like a very long time ago. The Terps are 3–5 since and last week lost to Rutgers to fall to 2–4 in the Big Ten. There have been some key injuries, as usual, but it’s not what Maryland fans were expecting in Year 2 of the DJ Durkin era — especially after the win at Texas. Michigan 20, Maryland 10

 

SMU at Navy

Navy’s 5–0 record has turned into a 5–3 record after Thursday’s 34–26 loss at Temple. The Midshipmen were held to 136 yards rushing on a 2.6-yard average — both season lows (by far). SMU’s three-game winning streak was snapped by UCF, but the Mustangs played well in a seven-point loss — well enough to give them hope that they can win in Annapolis this week. SMU 38, Navy 34

 

Georgia at Auburn

Georgia has cruised to a 6–0 start in SEC play with an average margin of victory of 39–10. This will, however, be the Bulldogs’ biggest test (in SEC play) by far. Auburn has two losses but remains in the hunt for a CFB Playoff spot due to what this team could accomplish in the next month — two wins over Georgia and a win over Alabama. It’s a longshot … but it’s possible. That possibility, though, ends if the Tigers don’t win this week. Georgia 24, Auburn 21

 

Southern Miss at Rice

There’s been no announcement, but you’d have to believe that this is the end of the David Bailiff era at Rice. The Owls are 1–8 and have lost seven straight games. Southern Miss 37, Rice 15

 

Virginia at Louisville

Virginia, 3–2 in the ACC, is one win away from securing its first non-losing conference record since 2011, when the Cavs went 5–3 in Mike London’s second season. If they don’t get the win this week, they will have to beat either Miami or Virginia Tech in the final two weeks of the regular season. Louisville 35, Virginia 31

 

West Virginia at Kansas State

West Virginia won a game in which it scored fewer than 38 points for the first time this season, holding off Iowa State 20–16 in Morgantown. The Mountaineers now head to Manhattan, where they could be facing Skylar Thompson, a redshirt freshman QB making his first career start. West Virginia 37, Kansas State 27

 

Georgia State at Texas State

Georgia State is one of the surprises of the Sun Belt. The Panthers are 4–1 in the league and play their final two games at home after this very winnable trip to Texas State. Georgia State 17, Texas State 13

 

Maine at Massachusetts

UMass lost its first six games of the season, all by 10 points or fewer, and then broke through with wins over Georgia Southern and App State. The Minutemen battled Mississippi State into the second half on Saturday before losing 34–23. This is a pretty good two-win team. UMass 38, Maine 13

 

San Jose State at Nevada

The struggle continues in the Silicon Valley. San Jose State dropped to 1–9 with a 52–7 loss at home to San Diego State. The Spartans have not lost a game by fewer than 11 points. Nevada 44, San Jose State 30

 

Kentucky at Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt has won four of the past six in the series, including three straight in Nashville. The winning team hasn’t scored more than 22 points since 2012, when the Commodores won 40–0 in Lexington. There figure to be a lot of points scored Saturday. Vanderbilt 31, Kentucky 27

 

USC at Colorado

It might be related more to the quality of the opponent, but the USC offense appears to be hitting its stride. The Trojans have scored 97 points the past two weeks — wins at Arizona State and vs. Arizona — and should keep it rolling against Colorado on Saturday and UCLA the following week. USC 44, Colorado 28

 

Troy at Coastal Carolina

Coastal Carolina almost pulled off a stunning upset last weekend, losing a late lead en route to a 39–38 loss at Arkansas. True, Arkansas is not good — but neither is Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers are 1–8 overall, with the one win coming in Week 1 over UMass. Troy 28, Coastal Carolina 20

 

Arkansas State at South Alabama

Arkansas State took a huge step toward an outright Sun Belt title last weekend — and the Red Wolves didn’t even play. Appalachian State, the only other undefeated team in league play, lost at ULM, leaving Arkansas State in control of its own destiny. Win the final four games, and the championship trophy heads to Jonesboro. Arkansas State 30, South Alabama 13

 

UTEP at North Texas

It’s the best (North Texas) vs. the worst (UTEP) in Conference USA’s West Division. This will not go well for the Miners. North Texas 41, UTEP 0

 

Washington State at Utah

Washington State still controls its own destiny in the Pac-12 North. If the Cougars can beat Utah in Salt Lake City, they will head to Seattle for a winner-take-all Apple Cup. Utah is hoping to salvage its season with a strong closing stretch. The Utes snapped a four-game losing streak by beating UCLA 48–17 last weekend. They need to win one of the final three games to become bowl eligible. Washington State 28, Utah 23

 

Kansas at Texas

It’s tough to find signs of progress at Kansas. The Jayhawks are 0–8 against FBS teams after losing 38–9 at home to Baylor, a team that had not previously won a game. Texas 34, Kansas 7

 

Western Kentucky at Marshall

Western Kentucky is a relatively soft 5–4 (the wins are over EKU, Ball State, UTEP, Charlotte and Old Dominion), and the Hilltoppers have significant injuries on both sides of the ball. Marshall 34, Western Kentucky 21

 

Alabama at Mississippi State

Alabama continues to look like the best team in the country, but the Crimson Tide will have to play well to win their final two SEC games — at Mississippi State this week and at Auburn on Nov. 25. MSU is 7–2 overall, with its two losses on the road at Georgia and Auburn. This is a good team. Alabama 33, Mississippi State 17

 

New Mexico at Texas A&M

All of the positive momentum gained from its 3–1 start in league play (with the one loss a respectable defeat to Alabama) is gone after Texas A&M lost at home to Mississippi State and Auburn the last two weeks by an average of 18 points. It now seems inevitable that the school will be looking for a new head coach. Texas A&M 34, New Mexico 17

 

Old Dominion at FIU

FAU and Lane Kiffin are stealing the headlines, but FIU is also playing very well under a first-year head coach (Butch Davis). The Panthers have become bowl eligible after consecutive wins over Tulane, Marshall and UTSA — three solid teams. FIU 26, Old Dominion 17

 

Purdue at Northwestern

Northwestern edged Nebraska on Saturday and became the first FBS team to win three straight games in overtime. The Wildcats shouldn’t need overtime this week. Northwestern 27, Purdue 17

 

Tulane at East Carolina

It’s been a rough stretch for Tulane. Since improving to 3–2 with a surprisingly easy 62–28 win over Tulsa on Oct. 7, the Green Wave have lost four straight games to drop to 3–6 on the season. They should win this week at ECU, but it’s tough to envision them beating both Houston and SMU to reach bowl eligibility. Tulane 34, East Carolina 13

 

UAB at UTSA

UAB’s remarkable first season back in action will now include a trip to a bowl game. The Blazers are 6–3 overall with trips to UTSA and Florida followed by a home date with winless UTEP. UAB 34, UTSA 31

 

Tennessee at Missouri

It was a bit surprising to see Missouri listed as a three-point favorite over Florida last week. Well, the boys in Vegas knew what they were doing; the Tigers rolled to an easy 45–16 win over the Gators to win their third straight. Now, they are an 11-point favorite over Tennessee, a team that has failed to score more than 26 points since Week 2. Missouri 34, Tennessee 21

 

Notre Dame at Miami (Fla.)

Raise your hand if had this circled as a game with College Football Playoff implications back in August. Miami is one of four undefeated teams from a Power 5 conference remaining. Notre Dame has only one loss, at home by one point to undefeated Georgia. The winner will remain very much in the thick of the national title race; the loser’s chances of reaching the CFB Playoff will be slim. Notre Dame 27, Miami 25

 

TCU at Oklahoma

The four-team tie atop the Big 12 standings has been whittled down to two teams (for now) — and those two teams meet this week in Norman. Both teams will be a strong favorite to win their final two games (TCU plays at Texas Tech and hosts Baylor; OU visits Kansas and hosts West Virginia), so the winner of this one will emerge as the likely regular-season champ. This is strictly a home-team pick. Oklahoma 34, TCU 27

 

Arizona State at UCLA

UCLA has been ranked in the top 25 at some point in each of Jim Mora’s six seasons on the job — including in the top 10 in three seasons — yet he is only 27–25 in the Pac-12 during that time. Arizona State 30, UCLA 27

 

Oregon State at Arizona

Khalil Tate had his worst game since breaking into the lineup, and the Wildcats’ quarterback still threw for 146 yards and rushed for 161 in a 49–35 loss to USC. Expect a big day against Oregon State. Arizona 44, Oregon State 17

 

Wyoming at Air Force

Air Force won three straight over UNLV, Nevada and Colorado State and scored a total of 124 point in the three games. Then last week, the Falcons lost at home 21–0 to an Army team that did not attempt a single pass. Good luck trying to figure out what’s going to happen in college football. Wyoming 21, Air Force 20.

 

Boise State at Colorado State

This was shaping up to be the Game of the Year in the Mountain West Mountain Division … until Colorado State lost consecutive games to Air Force and Wyoming. Boise State 30, Colorado State 24

 

Fresno State at Hawaii

Fresno State remains in control of the Mountain West West Division but cannot afford to slip up at Hawaii. The Bulldogs are one game up on San Diego State (and own the tie-breaker) with three to play. Fresno State 30, Hawaii 17

 

Teaser:
College Football Picks: Predicting Every Game in Week 11
Post date: Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 09:15
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-week-11-2017
Body:

The Iowa Hawkeyes delivered enough outrageousness this past weekend to last an entire season. Be that as it may, I don't think we've seen the last of the outrageous outcomes in 2017 — and we haven't seen the last of the Hawkeyes, either.

 

Here are this week's OUTRAGEOUS* college football predictions.

 

TCU knocks Baker Mayfield off of the top of the Heisman mountain

Last week we saw J.T. Barrett lay an egg. This week, it's Mayfield's turn, as he faces a Horned Frogs defense that has surrendered a total of 20 points in its last four games combined. That's a far cry from the poor excuse for a defense that Oklahoma State put in front of Mayfield a week ago. Look for TCU to put plenty of pressure on the Sooners' quarterback, forcing him into making several questionable decisions with the football that subsequently lead to several turnovers and a Horned Frogs win.

 

Saquon Barkley vaults back to the top of the Heisman race

Penn State's dynamic running back has fallen off in recent weeks, but now is as good a time as ever for him to re-insert his name back into the Heisman conversation. James Franklin needs to get his team back on the winning track, and the best way to do that is by getting the ball to the best football player in the nation as often as he can. Look for at least 200 rushing yards, 100 receiving yards and at least three touchdowns from Barkley as Penn State stomps Rutgers.

 

Florida State stuns Clemson

Despite their record and downright horrible 2017 season thus far, the Seminoles are still a very talented football team. When you combine that talent, the fact that they have nothing to lose and a Clemson team coming off of an emotionally taxing win, you have all the makings for an upset. I like Florida State to be this weekend's Iowa.

 

Michigan State keeps rolling, Ohio State keeps reeling

The Spartans used their back-alley brawling style to take down Penn State last weekend. Look for more of the same as they face a Buckeyes squad that was downright embarrassed a week ago. Urban Meyer's club is tired and dejected, while Mark Dantonio's Spartans can smell a division title and a trip to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game. Sparty's physicality proves too much for an Ohio State team that is ready to take its ball and go home.

 

Iowa eliminates the Big Ten from the College Football Playoff

I don't believe last weekend was a fluke. I think it was a team full of under-recruited, future NFL players reaching their full potential on the biggest stage. Iowa is loaded with special talent on both sides of the ball, and when it comes together, the Hawkeyes can play with and beat any team. I'm not sure Wisconsin's "rope-a-dope" style of pounding the ball and playing gritty defense is going to carry the Badgers to victory against a team that can't wait to get back on the field and keep it rolling. Down goes Wisconsin, and with the loss, out of playoff contention goes the Big Ten.

 

*Remember, "outrageous" can be defined as “wildly exaggerated or improbable,” and “very bold, unusual, and startling.” These are "outrageous" predictions and should be treated as such.

 

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He also covers the Big Ten for Black Heart Gold Pants, Iowa's SB Nation blog. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.

Teaser:
Outrageous College Football Predictions for Week 11
Post date: Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/louisiana-ragin-cajuns-vs-ole-miss-rebels-preview-and-prediction-2017
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One week removed from being on the losing end of a one-point game to Arkansas, Ole Miss found itself on the other end when wide receiver D.K. Metcalf caught a touchdown with five seconds left to give the Rebels (4-5) a 37-34 win over Kentucky.

 

Louisiana (4-4) heads to Oxford following last week’s 19-14 win at South Alabama. The Ragin’ Cajuns have won three of their last four games and are just two wins away from securing back-to-back bowl appearances.

 

Ole Miss is a perfect 4-0 against Louisiana as the Rebels have dominated the head-to-head meetings for the most part. The last game between these two teams was in 2014 when Ole Miss won 56-15.

 

Louisiana at Ole Miss

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 11 at 12 p.m. ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

Spread: Ole Miss -18.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta’amu
Rebels fans had a collective gasp when it was announced that star sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson would miss the remainder of the season after suffering a knee injury against LSU last month. In stepped Ta'amu (above, right) and the junior college transfer hasn’t disappointed. Last week against Kentucky he finished with 382 passing yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winner to D.K. Metcalf. Prior to that against Arkansas, Ta’amu had 368 yards through the air while adding 76 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

 

Ta’amu should be able to continue his success through the air against a Louisiana defense that’s giving up 252 passing yards per game to rank in the bottom third among FBS teams (tied for 96th).

 

2. Louisiana RB Trey Ragas vs. Ole Miss’ poor run D

Even though interim head coach Matt Luke is now in charge, the Rebels’ run defense is just as porous as it was under Hugh Freeze last year. Entering this game, Ole Miss is 126th nationally against the run at 256 rushing yards per game. Only three other teams have fared worse in this department. Even though the Rebels won last week, Kentucky running back Benny Snell Jr. gashed them for 176 yards and three touchdowns.

 

Ragas is fourth in rushing in the Sun Belt with 626 yards and his seven touchdowns on the ground are good for a tie for third. A freshman, Ragas ran for 84 yards on 17 carries in the Ragin’s Cajuns’ win over South Alabama last week. He has three other games with more rushing yards, including a season-high 130 against Tulsa on Sept. 9.

 

Besides all of the yards, Ole Miss also has surrendered 22 rushing touchdowns. Only 15 other FBS teams have given up more, one of those being Louisiana (25).

 

3. Ole Miss wide receiver A.J. Brown

A star at Starkville High School, Brown decided to stay in the Magnolia State but not close to home when he spurned Mississippi State, among other programs, and signed with Ole Miss. After having a limited impact as a freshman, Brown has blossomed in his sophomore season. He leads the SEC in receiving yards with 830, is tied for first in receptions (84) and tied for second with seven touchdown catches. His yards and yards per game (92.2) are good enough to also place him among the top 15 receivers in the nation.

 

Whether it’s been Patterson or Ta’amu at quarterback, Brown has been a reliable target. He had a team-high seven catches for 65 yards and a touchdown last week against Kentucky. Louisiana has had its issues against the pass and the Ragin’ Cajuns will no doubt have their hands full trying to slow down the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Brown on Saturday.

 

Final Analysis

 

Ole Miss has yet to lose to Louisiana in four previous matchups, yet this is the type of game that can make a coach queasy. The Ragin’ Cajuns still have plenty to play for, needing just two wins to become bowl eligible, and could have a running back in Trey Ragas capable of taking advantage of the Rebels’ underwhelming run defense.

 

With that said, a lot will have to go wrong for Ole Miss to fall victim to an upset at home. Even with no Shea Patterson at quarterback, Jordan Ta’amu has shown himself to be plenty of capable and the Rebels have too much firepower on offense for Louisiana to overcome.

 

Prediction: Ole Miss 31, Louisiana 17

 

— Written by Elton Hayes, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. A sports reporter for The Meridian Star Newspaper, Hayes also has been an invited guest on “The Paul Finebaum Show.” Follow him on Twitter @EHDC12.

 

(Top photo courtesy of www.ragincajuns.com)

Teaser:
Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns vs. Ole Miss Rebels Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: daily fantasy, DFS, Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/draftkings-and-fanduel-best-lineups-week-10-nfl-daily-fantasy-football-2017
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Before we get into the Week 10 Daily Fantasy Football (DFS) core and value plays, let’s take a brief moment to reflect on the week that was. Week 9 was a very nice week for myself and hopefully all of you if you chose to utilize some, or all of my plays.

 

The plan now is to keep the streak alive and to help accomplish this I am employing a new weapon this week. The new site is lineups.com and it has some fantastic data for those of you who want to dig deeper into fantasy stats.

 

Or perhaps you don’t have a lot of time to research, are flipping a coin between two receivers and want to see who has more targets in the red zone. Lineups.com has you covered.

 

I will be focusing more on the cash game strategy, and by default may be intending these posts for the more novice DFS players. I am not a high-stakes tout, nor will I pretend to be and I am not intending for someone to read these posts and enter high entry tournaments expecting a big win.

 

What I will be doing each week is listing some top plays for the week at each position as well as a few value plays to help you start building your DFS lineup(s) for the upcoming week. More often than not I will not focus on the Thursday night games. I will be entering some lineups for those slates as well, but be forewarned this post will not include the Seattle-Arizona matchup.

 

So, now that my synopsis is out of the way let’s get into my Week 10 DFS Picks shall we? If this is one of your first times playing DFS feel free to check out my "10 Tips to Win at DFS."

 

As always any questions, arguments, or glowing praise can be sent to me via Twitter @fantsychillpony.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex

 

Teams on bye: Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland, Philadelphia

 

Week 10 Core Plays

 

These will be my top plays of the week. These are players who I will try to have in as many lineups of mine as possible. If I can, I will use three or all four in one lineup. A reminder that for cash games going with an elite quarterback is typically recommended. If you go value at quarterback he MUST meet value for your loaded lineup to be worth it.

 

QB: Drew Brees, New Orleans at Buffalo ($8,500 FanDuel/$6,900 DraftKings)

It’s back-to-back weeks using Brees but I still like him to light it up once again if the Bills can keep this game close. Last week, Brees threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns, and Buffalo is 26th in the NFL against the pass, which is why I like him for a safe play again this week. Brees has a floor of 19 points on DraftKings, so I am locking him into a majority of my cash lineups and some GPPs too.

 

RB: Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville vs. Los Angeles Chargers ($8,700 FanDuel/$8,400 DraftKings)

Fournette surprisingly was benched last weekend for a violation of team rules, but this week all systems are a go, and the running back is in a tough matchup against a stout Rams defense. He should return to his workhorse role with 20-plus carries and will be the primary red-zone threat for the Jaguars. He may not be a lock for 20-plus fantasy points, but he should remain a safe play for cash lineups this week

 

WR: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh at Indianapolis ($9,300 FanDuel/$9,500 DraftKings)

Brown is facing the Colts and if you don’t trust Leonard Fournette’s matchup, paying up for Le’Veon Bell should be considered as well. Even though the Steelers have not had a great offense this season, Brown and Bell remain top fantasy threats each and every week. Brown is coming off of his bye and Indianapolis is ranked second to last in the league in passing defense. Brown may be the most owned player in DFS this week. But in cash games who cares?

 

WR: Marvin Jones Jr., Detroit vs. Cleveland ($6,400 FanDuel/$6,200 DraftKings)

Jones has been a beast over the last three games, producing 21-plus fantasy points in each, including a 32.7-point performance on DraftKings this past Monday night. This week the Lions get the lowly Browns and their middle-of-the-road secondary. Another 30-plus points probably won’t happen again, but 15 with a much higher ceiling is well within the range of possibility. He’s seen 14, 11 and 11 targets over his last three games. Hop on the Jones bus now.

 

TE: Austin Hooper, Atlanta at Dallas ($4,900 FanDuel/$3,000 DraftKings)

There are some solid tight end options this week and I have not had success using Hooper in DFS, well, ever. This week though I am willing to give him another shot, save some cash for the guys above and hope he can find the end zone at least once. Hooper has seen six or more targets in three of his last four games and two red zone targets in Week 8 alone.

 

Value Plays of the Week

 

QB: Eli Manning, New York Giants at San Francisco ($6,700 FanDuel/$5,100 DraftKings)

As disappointing a season it has been for Manning, this week’s matchup against the 49ers is why you see him mentioned here. I don’t plan on investing heavily in Manning this week, but the price is too good, San Francisco is ranked 23rd against the pass, and Sterling Shepard is back are enough reasons to at least take a chance and see what happens. The line for the game appears to be around 41.5 for now so some scoring should happen. Manning did have two touchdown passes in the blowout loss at home to the Rams, so he may have a higher floor in Week 10.

 

RB: Orleans Darkwa, New York Giants at San Francisco ($5,300 FanDuel/$4,500 DraftKings)

Darkwa is in a very nice spot here facing the NFL’s worst rushing defense. He may be highly owned, but I will still be squeezing him in lineups solely because of volume. He has had 22 and 12 touches in his last few games, and should see a steady diet against this defense. If this game remains close Darkwa should be a 4X candidate. Touchdowns have not been a positive, but he is averaging 8.4 DraftKings points on the season.

 

WR: Adam Humphries, Tampa Bay vs. New York Jets ($4,800 FanDuel/$3,100 DraftKings)

When the targets have been there for Humphries he has been solid. In Weeks 6 and 8 he had six and seven targets respectively. No touchdowns, but this week the Buccaneers will be without their starting quarterback and No. 1 WR (Mike Evans). This makes a player with Humphries’ skill set more appealing since he will likely have more volume, and can be a safety net option for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Humphries is dirt cheap, and I like him for a 2X lock, with 4X upside this week.

 

— Written by Chris Meyers, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the FSWA. Meyers' work appears on many other sites, including socalledfantasyexperts.com. Follow him on Twitter @FantsyChillpony.

Teaser:
DraftKings and FanDuel Best Lineups for Week 10 NFL Daily Fantasy Football
Post date: Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/podcast-college-football-week-11-preview-listen-now-2017
Body:

In the latest Cover 2 podcast, Braden Gall and Mitch Light preview a huge Week 11 slate of college football action. Although the schedule is highlighted by the Notre Dame-Miami clash in South Florida and TCU’s visit to Oklahoma, there are several other enormous games that will impact next week's College Football Playoff ranking.

 

Other topics discussed:

 

• Mitch and Braden break down the latest CFP ranking.

 

• Braden rips on Oklahoma. Mitch defends the Sooners.

 

• How many two-loss conference champions will we have?

 

• Can Iowa play a game with 22 tight ends on the field?

 

• Mitch picks five games against the spread.

 

Send ideas, questions or comments to @BradenGall@AthlonMitch or email [email protected].

 

The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com/podcast, iTunesStitcher and our podcast RSS feed.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 14:38
Path: /fantasy/wide-receiver-rankings-week-10-fantasy-football-2017
Body:

Wide Receiver Rankings Week 9: A.J. Green

It’s Week 10 of the fantasy football season and for many leagues that means there are just four weeks left until the playoffs. Perhaps now more than ever, positional rankings like those for wide receivers can help you make that big push to the finish line.

 

Unfortunately, as the Monday night game showed us, Green Bay’s wideouts may not be able to offer much help towards this goal. The Packers’ offense is a shell of itself without Aaron Rodgers, making it hard to trust Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams or Randall Cobb (as you can see in the rankings below) with Brett Hundley running the show. The big chunk plays just don’t seem to be there.

 

T.Y. Hilton has been known to “own” Houston and he did not disappoint this past Sunday with his best game (5-175-2) of the season. Hilton will likely come nowhere close to this production this week, but Pittsburgh is not a terrible matchup either. But it could be Antonio Brown who puts up a line similar to Hilton’s Week 9 performance against the Colts’ vulnerable secondary, which is the Steelers’ top target is No. 1 (again).

 

And besides Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland and Philadelphia being on bye, Mike Evans will not be available this week either due to a one-game suspension. A.J. Green avoided a similar fate, however, and is among my top three for Week 10.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex

 

Teams on bye: Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland, Philadelphia

 

 

 

— Rankings by Chris Meyers, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the FSWA. Meyers' work appears on many other sites, including socalledfantasyexperts.com. Follow him on Twitter @FantsyChillpony.

Teaser:
Wide Receiver Rankings Week 10
Post date: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 14:00
Path: /fantasy/tight-end-rankings-week-10-fantasy-football-2017
Body:

Rob Gronkowski: Tight End Rankings Week 10

Rob Gronkowski is back from his bye, so of course he returns to the top of the Week 10 fantasy tight end rankings. But the gap seems to be narrowing between him and a few of his peers.

 

Evan Engram plays more like a wide receiver than he does a tight end, and with all the injuries the Giants are dealing with, he has been their best weapon in the passing game. That’s why he’s ranked behind Gronk this week. But with four teams on byes on Week 10, who should you start in place of guys like Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz? Those are some pretty big shoes to fill.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex

 

Teams on bye: Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland, Philadelphia

 

Rk Player Team Opp
1 Rob Gronkowski  NE at DEN
2 Evan Engram  NYG at SF
3 Jimmy Graham SEA at ARI (Thurs.)
4 Kyle Rudolph  MIN at WAS
5 Cameron Brate  TB vs. NYJ
6 Jack Doyle  IND vs. PIT
7 Delanie Walker  TEN vs. CIN
8 Austin Seferian-Jenkins  NYJ at TB
9 Hunter Henry  LAC at JAC
10 Vernon Davis  WAS vs. MIN
11 Jason Witten  DAL at ATL
12 Tyler Kroft  CIN at TEN
13 Austin Hooper  ATL vs. DAL
14 Eric Ebron  DET vs. CLE
15 Charles Clay  BUF vs. NO
16 Ed Dickson  CAR vs. MIA (Mon.)
17 Julius Thomas  MIA at CAR (Mon.)
18 Jordan Reed WAS vs. MIN
19 Garrett Celek  SF vs. NYG
20 Nick O'Leary  BUF vs. NO
21 Coby Fleener  NO at BUF
22 David Njoku  CLE at DET
23 Jesse James  PIT at IND
24 O.J. Howard  TB vs. NYJ
25 Tyler Higbee  LAR vs. HOU
26 A.J. Derby  DEN vs. NE
27 C.J. Fiedorowicz HOU at LAR
28 Marcedes Lewis  JAC vs. LAC
29 Martellus Bennett  GB at CHI
30 Gerald Everett  LAR vs. HOU

 

— Rankings by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.

Teaser:
Tight End Rankings Week 10
Post date: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 14:00
Path: /fantasy/defense-special-teams-rankings-week-10-fantasy-football-2017
Body:

Cameron Jordan/New Orleans Saints: Defense/Special Teams (DST) Rankings Week 10

Even though the New Orleans defense/special teams (DST) scored yet another touchdown in Week 9, they barely crack the top 10 for the Week 10 fantasy rankings. However, the Saints are less than 50 percent owned (43 percent) in Yahoo! leagues and are worth an add for the end of the season. In terms of fantasy points on the season, they trail only Jacksonville, the Los Angeles Rams, Detroit and Baltimore, who are on a bye this week.

 

For those looking to stream DSTs, the Chicago Bears have played great defense at home this year. They face the Green Bay Packers in Week 10, at Soldier Field, and after seeing what Brett Hundley  on Monday night, the Bears (9 percent owned) are a great streaming option.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex

 

Teams on bye: Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland, Philadelphia 

 

 

 

— Rankings by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

Teaser:
Defense/Special Teams Rankings Week 10
Post date: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 14:00
Path: /fantasy/kicker-rankings-week-10-fantasy-football-2017
Body:

Quietly, Greg Zuerlein has been putting together a solid fantasy season. He has the most points out of all kickers in the league (and, yet, is available in 12 percent of Yahoo! leagues). The Rams had their bye in Week 8, so he may have been dropped for that week and not picked back up. If he's available, grab him as the No. 1-ranked kicker for Week 10.

 

For those looking for a kicker who just might be available and should have a solid Week 10 matchup (Justin Tucker or Jake Elliott owners, perhaps), Kai Forbath checks in at No. 11 for Week 10. He's coming off a bye, and is available in 20 percent of leagues. He has the sixth-most fantasy points among kickers (depending on league scoring) and has had double-digit points in the past three games. He has yet to miss a field goal this season (although putting that in writing may have just jinxed him).

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex

 

Teams on bye: Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland, Philadelphia

 

 

 

— Rankings by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

Teaser:
Kicker Rankings Week 10
Post date: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 14:00
Path: /fantasy/quarterback-rankings-week-10-fantasy-football-2017
Body:

Matthew Stafford: Quarterback Rankings Week 10

One of the top-scoring fantasy quarterbacks, Deshaun Watson, is now out for the season. Carson Wentz, who is in the running for MVP, is on a bye in Week 10. The top-ranked quarterback for Week 10 is Matthew Stafford, who faces the Cleveland Browns. The Browns just allowed Case Keenum to throw for 288 yards and two touchdowns in Week 8 before their bye.

 

In Week 9, Jared Goff was the top-scoring quarterback in terms of fantasy points. He faces the Houston Texans in Week 10, who just allowed Jacoby Brissett to throw for 308 yards and two touchdowns. The Texans allow the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Goff ranks within the top five for Week 10 with a great matchup.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex

 

Teams on bye: Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland, Philadelphia

 

 

 

— Rankings by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

Teaser:
Quarterback Rankings Week 10
Post date: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army West Point Black Knights, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, CFB, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, college football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Denver Broncos, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, Eastern Washington Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida A&M Rattlers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, James Madison Dukes, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami (OH) RedHawks, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, Montana State Bobcats, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Dakota Fighting Hawks, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Arizona Lumberjacks, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northern Iowa Panthers, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Oakland Raiders, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Pac-12, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Portland State Vikings, Purdue Boilermakers, ranking, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Troy University, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, uniforms, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-picks-expert-predictions-every-game-week-11-2017
Body:

Week 11 of the 2017 college football season features plenty of intriguing matchups, as conference play is in full effect with just four weeks of games remaining, and Athlon Sports is ready with complete predictions, preview and picks for the upcoming weekend of action. The Week 11 slate kicked off on Tuesday night, as Miami (Ohio) and Buffalo picked up wins in MAC play. The MACtion continues on Wednesday night with three contests, including a potential preview of the conference title game with Toledo taking on Ohio. Thursday night's slate features three games, including Georgia Southern at Appalachian State and North Carolina at Pitt. The schedule also features three more games on Friday, with Washington traveling to Stanford in a critical Pac-12 North showdown. Just like Week 10, the Saturday slate of games for Week 11 is loaded with standout matchups. The first wave of games features Michigan State-Ohio State, Oklahoma State-Iowa State, Arkansas-LSU, Florida-South Carolina and Virginia Tech-Georgia Tech. The action continues into the afternoon with Georgia-Auburn, Florida State-Clemson, Iowa-Wisconsin, SMU-Navy and Virginia-Louisville. At night, Alabama plays at Mississippi State, Tennessee visits Missouri and Miami hosts Notre Dame in a showdown of playoff contenders. 

 

Each week, Athlon Sports’ editors will pick every game in the FBS ranks. Follow us on Twitter: (@AthlonSports)

 

Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 11
 

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

Bryan

Fischer

Eastern Michigan at

Central Michigan

(Wednesday)

Kent State at

Western Michigan

(Wednesday)

Toledo at 

Ohio

(Wednesday)

Ball State at

Northern Illinois

(Thursday)

Georgia Southern at

Appalachian State

(Thursday)

North Carolina at 

Pitt

(Thursday)

Temple at

Cincinnati

(Friday)

BYU at

UNLV

(Friday)

Washington at

Stanford

(Friday)

Georgia State at

Texas State

Troy at

Coastal Carolina

Maine at

UMass

(Fenway Park)

Florida State at

Clemson

Michigan at

Maryland

Texas Tech at

Baylor

(Arlington)

Indiana at

Illinois

Purdue at

Northwestern

UConn at

UCF

Iowa at

Wisconsin

New Mexico at

Texas A&M

San Jose State at

Nevada

Florida at

South Carolina

FAU at

Louisiana Tech

SMU at

Navy

Southern Miss at

Rice

Arkansas State at

South Alabama

Louisiana at

Ole Miss

UTEP at

North Texas

Tulane at

East Carolina

NC State at

Boston College

Virginia at

Louisville

Virginia Tech at

Georgia Tech

Rutgers at

Penn State

MTSU at

Charlotte

Oregon State at

Arizona

Wake Forest at 

Syracuse

Duke at

Army

Tennessee at

Missouri

Wyoming at

Air Force

Arkansas at

LSU

USC at

Colorado

Kentucky at

Vanderbilt

Boise State at

Colorado State

Fresno State at

Hawaii

Michigan State at

Ohio State

Washington State at

Utah

Nebraska at

Minnesota

Kansas at

Texas

WKU at

Marshall

Old Dominion at

FIU

UAB at

UTSA

Arizona State at

UCLA

West Virginia at

Kansas State

Georgia at

Auburn

TCU at

Oklahoma

Oklahoma State at

Iowa State

Alabama at

Mississippi State

Notre Dame at

Miami

Ohio at

Akron

(Tuesday)

Central Michigan at

Kent State

(Tuesday)

 

Teaser:
College Football Picks: Expert Predictions for Every Game in Week 11 2017
Post date: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 13:00
Path: /college-football/arkansas-razorbacks-vs-lsu-tigers-preview-and-prediction-2017
Body:

The SEC offers no breaks during the college football season, providing one tough game after another. When the Arkansas Razorbacks (4-5, 1-4 SEC) travel to Baton Rouge on Saturday to face the LSU Tigers (6-3, 3-2), neither team will have time to lick wounds from a hard-fought Week 10 posting different results but with the same kind of feeling to the respective fan bases.

 

Depending on the outlook, the eternal optimist can boast that the Razorbacks had one of their better offensive games of the season last week, netting 259 rushing yards and 264 yards passing on the way to a 39-38 come-from-behind win over Coastal Carolina. The pessimist will note that Coastal Carolina entered the game with a 1-7 record in its first season at the FBS level. The Chanticleers did not roll over as the homecoming opponent, winning the time of possession and converted 8-of-15 third down opportunities while holding the Hogs to three third down conversions on nine attempts.

 

In Tuscaloosa last week, LSU went head-to-head with No. 2 Alabama before falling 24-10. The Tigers outgained the Crimson Tide in total offense, 306-299, but had difficulties moving the ball into the red zone for scoring opportunities. The Tigers' defense was tough, especially on third downs only allowing conversions on 5-of-14 Alabama chances.

 

Arkansas enters the showdown seeking to get out of the SEC West cellar, while LSU is pushing forward molding a culture for future teams under first-year head coach Ed Orgeron.

 

Arkansas at LSU

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 11 at 12 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: LSU -16.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Productivity in the Arkansas pocket

With senior quarterback Austin Allen hurt in the South Carolina game (Oct. 7), redshirt freshman Cole Kelley has stepped in as the Hogs starter. Even though Allen started the first five games, Kelley is leading the team in passing yards with 1,002 to Allen’s 850 with both tied at eight passing scores. Kelley has completed 60 percent of his passes and is showing signs of improvement, while Allen has connected 56 percent of the time. Allen is now healthy, but Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema has not announced a starter for the LSU game.

 

Whoever gets the start will face a fierce LSU secondary allowing 175 passing yards per game, 12th-best in the country. The Tigers are also one of the best teams in the nation at getting after the quarterback, averaging 3.33 sacks per game. The Hogs cannot protect the passer with 28 total sacks taken this season.

 

2. LSU run defense

If Arkansas has a shot at pulling out a win in Baton Rouge, it must run the ball effectively. If LSU has a weakness on defense, it is against the run, allowing 142 yards per game. The Hogs run game has been inconsistent throughout the season but is showing signs of life, rushing for 171 yards against Auburn and 260 against Ole Miss after being held to 27 against Alabama.

 

Should LSU commit to stopping the run the way it  did against Alabama last week, allowing just 116 yards, this could be a very long game for the Razorbacks.

 

3. The play of LSU’s ground game

LSU’s preseason All-SEC running back Derrius Guice has been slowed for much of the season by a leg injury. After big games against BYU and Chattanooga to start the season, Guice failed to reach the 100-yard mark in the next four games played. The explosion in his runs came back Oct. 21 with a 22-carry 276-yard and one touchdown performance against Ole Miss, but he was then held to 71 yards on 19 carries against Alabama. Junior running back Darrel Williams bailed out the offense against Alabama with 83 yards on seven carries.

 

Statistically, Arkansas has trouble stopping the run, getting ripped for 190 yards per game on average.

 

Final Analysis

 

Fans may be surprised to learn that Arkansas and LSU have split their last 10 meetings. LSU bucked a two-game losing trend to Arkansas in 2016, winning 38-10. The Hogs typically get the benefit of playing LSU after the Tigers have faced a physically tough game against Alabama. Last year the emotional hangover for LSU was avoided. Can the Tigers rise to the occasion again?

 

Arkansas must win at least two of their next three games to become bowl eligible. The Hogs, in theory, are also fighting for Bielema’s job — the motivation to win is there. But the Hogs do not have a quality win this season.

 

Prediction: LSU 38, Arkansas 21

 

— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience and is a member of the FWAA. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and has his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanWrightRNG.

Teaser:
Arkansas Razorbacks vs. LSU Tigers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 12:50
Path: /college-football/indiana-hoosiers-vs-illinois-fighting-illini-preview-and-prediction-2017
Body:

Remember way back in Week 2 when Illinois netted a solid upset over a good Western Kentucky team to start the year 2-0? My, how things have changed since then. The Fighting Illini (2-7, 0-6 Big Ten) are now in the midst of a seven-game losing streak and probably just looking for the season to end at this point with little to play for other than pride.

 

Indiana (3-6, 0-6) on the other hand, does have something to play for as it needs to win out to become bowl eligible. And the Hoosiers have a very good chance to do so, as they close the year with Illinois, Rutgers and Purdue. Winning all three is very attainable, but that has to start this week.

 

Indiana at Illinois


Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 11 at 12 p.m. ET
TV Channel: Big Ten Network
Spread: Indiana -9.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Who starts at QB for Indiana?
Senior Richard Lagow got the start last week in for the injured Peyton Ramsey and played relatively well with 226 passing yards and two touchdowns. The turnover bug bit him yet again — Lagow had two interceptions — but the downfield passing attack is more potent with the senior under center. With Ramsey close to returning, the question remains: Who gets the nod if both players are healthy? “I don’t know yet," head coach Tom Allen said. “That will continue to progress. We would love to be able to get him physically ready to go. We’ll know more as the week unfolds.” Sounds like it will be a game-time decision as to who gets the start on Saturday.

 

2. The future

It is really all about 2018 at this point for the Fighting Illini, so getting some of the younger players on the roster valuable experience in these final weeks should be the primary goal for Lovie Smith and the coaching staff. Not that it hasn’t been happening already for the better part of the year, as Illinois is the youngest team in the FBS, starting 16 true freshmen at some point this season. The offensive side of the ball is littered with young talent, as the team’s leading rusher and receiver are both true freshmen, as are four of the five starters along the offensive line. While the Illini may finish in last place, the future outlook is at least starting to find its shape.

 

3. Who starts at QB for Illinois?

Sophomore Jeff George Jr. (above, right) has gotten the nod at quarterback the previous five weeks, but it was true freshman Cam Thomas who received the majority of the playing time against Purdue, finishing with 159 passing yards and 30 rushing yards in the loss. While not an overwhelming talent, Thomas can provide a much-needed spark to the offense with his dual-threat abilities, as the passing game has yet to work in 2017 no matter who is under center. Look for the true freshman to get the start against the Hoosiers.


Final Analysis

 

Should be pretty simple here — Indiana is the more talented team and has all the motivation to win this game. Illinois cannot seem to generate any semblance of an offense and will struggle once again to score, even against a mediocre Hoosiers defense. Indiana wins comfortably.

 

Prediction: Indiana 27, Illinois 16

 

— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University. Follow him on Twitter @MBainbridgeCFF.

Teaser:
Indiana Hoosiers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 12:40
Path: /college-football/florida-gators-vs-south-carolina-gamecocks-preview-and-prediction-2017
Body:

Florida changed head coaches recently, with former defensive coordinator Randy Shannon taking over for Jim McElwain, but it didn’t change the on-field results.

 

The Gators went to Columbia, Missouri, last Saturday and promptly got drilled 45-16 by the Tigers. Once again, Florida couldn’t get anything going on offense, managing just one touchdown and finishing with 93 rushing yards on 31 carries (3.0 ypc). Unless the canceled game with FCS opponent Northern Colorado is rescheduled, the Gators (3-5, 3-4 SEC) will have to win out to get to the required six wins to become bowl eligible. The first step towards that comes on the road against South Carolina.

 

The Gamecocks (6-3, 4-3) are already bowl eligible and coming off of a 24-10 loss in Athens to No. 1 Georgia. South Carolina also had trouble getting much of anything going on offense, but the Bulldogs’ No. 4-ranked defense had a lot to do with that.

 

Florida leads the all-time series over South Carolina 26-8-3 and beaten the Gamecocks each of the past two seasons.

 

Florida at South Carolina

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 11 at 12 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: South Carolina -7

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Malik Zaire

In his first start of the season, Zaire didn’t improve the Gators’ offense much. Zaire finished 13-of-19 for 158 yards, no touchdowns and one interception in last week’s blowout loss to Missouri, not exactly distancing himself from the guy he replaced, redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks.

 

Florida is last in the SEC and 113th nationally in scoring at 20.6 points per game. The Gators haven’t scored more than 17 in a single game since beating Vanderbilt 38-24 on Sept. 30.

 

Interim head coach Randy Shannon was succinct in summing up his struggling offense. “We just have to get in the red zone and score points,” he said. “We have to score touchdowns.”

 

South Carolina’s defense ranks in the middle of the FBS when it comes to yards allowed per game (388.7, 60th) so there should be some opportunities for Zaire and Florida’s offense to move the ball.

 

2. South Carolina defense

Although the Gamecocks lost last week to Georgia, the defense did a decent job against the Bulldogs’ dynamic duo at running back. South Carolina held Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to 193 combined rushing yards and just one touchdown on 36 carries (5.1 ypc). While that may not seem all that great, consider that for the season Georgia is averaging nearly 280 rushing yards per game and 5.8 yards per carry.

 

“We played pretty good,” Gamecocks linebacker T.J. Brunson said earlier this week. “It came down to a few plays, maybe four or five plays that made the difference in the game. Overall, I think we have some improving to do, but I’m pretty proud of the effort we had.”

 

Next up for South Carolina is a Florida team that is struggling to score points (14 ppg over the last four) and has been nowhere near as productive as Georgia when it comes to running the football. The Gators are 10th in the SEC and 68th nationally with 161.1 rushing yards per game.

 

Despite the recent struggles, Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp isn’t taking Florida lightly.

 

“I told our football team I wouldn’t be sold on what you saw [from Florida] against Georgia and Missouri,” Muschamp said. “At the end of the day, we’re going to see a highly-motivated football team coming in here. We need to prepare well, we need to play well on Saturday to give ourselves an opportunity to win the game.”

 

3. Florida defense

The Gators’ defense has been the strength in recent years, a big reason why Florida won back-to-back SEC East championships under in Jim McElwain’s first two seasons. But that has not been the case this season, as evidenced by the 45 points scored by Missouri last week.

 

The Gators enter this game ranked 47th in the nation in total defense at 372.1 yards per game allowed. Tigers quarterback Drew Lock threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns alone last week against Florida.

 

South Carolina’s offense isn’t near as explosive as Missouri’s, but Florida’s offense still needs to find a way to move the ball and extend drives. Too many three-and-outs will put more pressure on the defense as the Gators are looking to snap their four-game losing streak.

 

Final Analysis

 

The season is definitely on the line for Florida if the Gators have any hope of going to a bowl game. The schedule game against FCS opponent Northern Colorado that was canceled earlier this season because of Hurricane Irma looms large as Florida is 3-5 with just three more games remaining. The Gators will have to win out against South Carolina, UAB and Florida State to get to six wins and become bowl eligible.

 

Although that’s not a daunting slate, especially given the Seminoles’ own issues this season, it’s still tough seeing this Florida team putting three wins in a row together after last week’s 45-16 blowout loss to Missouri. The Tigers entered that game with just three wins and none in SEC play.

 

Look for South Carolina to try and establish the run early with A.J. Turner (above, right). That will take pressure off of quarterback Jake Bentley, who also is capable of making plays with his legs.

 

While the game could be close at halftime, the Gamecocks should pull away in the second half.

 

Prediction: South Carolina 31, Florida 16

 

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.

Teaser:
Florida Gators vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 12:30
Path: /college-football/michigan-state-spartans-vs-ohio-state-buckeyes-preview-and-prediction-2017
Body:

There is an old expression that a picture is worth a thousand words. For the Ohio State Buckeyes, coming off a brutal and demoralizing 55-24 loss at Iowa, the below picture provides a quick summary about what transpired last week in Iowa City...

 

 

Sitting at 7-2, the Buckeyes still have much to play for in 2017. While the dreams of competing for a spot in the College Football Playoff are probably out of reach, they still control their destiny of becoming Big Ten champions. If Ohio State wins the remaining three games on its schedule, the Buckeyes will win East Division, and head to Indianapolis to battle for another Big Ten title on Dec. 2.

 

Standing in the way of Ohio State's goal is a familiar adversary. Coming off a disappointing 2016 season that saw Michigan State finish 3-9, the Spartans have completely rebounded this fall, and come into Columbus with tremendous confidence on the heels of last week's last-second defeat of Penn State. And Michigan State has every reason to be confident for its upcoming matchup, as the Spartans have defeated the Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium every time since the 2011 season.

 

 

Michigan State at Ohio State

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 11 at 12 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Ohio State -15.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Can Ohio State gain ground vs. Michigan State?

The Spartans boast the stingiest run defense in the Big Ten, giving up just 87 yards per game on the ground. The Buckeyes are second in the conference at 235 rushing yards per contest, so something has to give. Will Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer look to senior quarterback J.T. Barrett to lead the ground attack rather than running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber? If he does, hopefully Meyer is aware of this statistic: when the quarterback has more rushing attempts than a running back it usually doesn't lead to good results for the Buckeyes.

 

 

2. Will Michigan State follow Iowa’s blueprint when the Spartans throw the ball?

Last week, Iowa routinely threw the ball to its tight ends and running backs. The end result? Both T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant finished with at least four receptions, averaged better than 13 yards per catch and combined for four touchdowns. Hawkeyes running back Akrum Wadley also got into the act with three catches for 40 yards. No doubt Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio will notice this in the game film, so don’t be surprised if Spartans tight end Matt Sokol gets plenty of targets from quarterback Brian Lewerke.

 

3. The hangover effect

Ohio State was just soundly beaten on the road, in a game that stunned and surprised most of the college football world. On the other hand, Michigan State is coming into Ohio Stadium brimming with confidence, having just defeated a Penn State team that took Ohio State down to the wire a couple of weeks ago. One can argue that the Buckeyes were not ready to play coming off of their thrilling, come-from-behind victory over the Nittany Lions, but all that matters now is how they respond since the division title and a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game are still up for grabs. It will be interesting to watch to see how each team responds at the first sign of adversity.

 

Final Analysis

 

No disrespect to the oddsmakers, but this game has not been a blowout, ever since Urban Meyer's first season as Ohio State's head coach in 2012. Quite commonly, this game comes down to avoiding mistakes, and capitalizing upon the opportunities whenever they are presented. Meyer knows that the skeptics are beginning to whisper about the Buckeyes, and it should make for must-see TV when the ball is kicked off at noon within Ohio Stadium. It should be a tough, traditional, Big Ten-style of game, and Ohio State ekes a close one out at home to keep its division title hopes alive.

 

Prediction: Ohio State 27, Michigan State 24

 

— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He also is writing and podcasting for www.theozone.net. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.

Teaser:
Michigan State Spartans vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 11:40
Path: /college-football/rutgers-scarlet-knights-vs-penn-state-nittany-lions-preview-and-prediction-2017
Body:

After losing back-to-back road games in a most frustrating fashion, Penn State looks to regroup in front of its home fans this weekend when the Nittany Lions host Rutgers in Big Ten play. The stakes for the game have dropped significantly since the last time Penn State played a game in Beaver Stadium, when it thrashed Michigan to make what seemed like a national statement about being a legitimate playoff contender. But after dropping a pair of tough games against Ohio State and Michigan State to fall out of playoff contention, will the motivation still be there to put on a brilliant display?

 

Meanwhile, Chris Ash is feeling better about the direction his Knights are headed after three wins in their last four weeks. Will they be able to give Penn State a battle as the Nittany Lions look to get back in the win column and keep their hopes of a 10-win season in play?

 

Rutgers at Penn State

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 11 at 12 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

Spread: Penn State -30.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. How will Penn State start?

Penn State is the only team in the country to score first in every game this season, and that could very well be the case once again this week. The question is just how much juice the Lions will have at the start of this matchup after having the wind sucked out of their big aspirations for this season. Will they be ticked off and ready to pile on as many points as possible from the jump, or will they be slow out of the gate and struggle to find the drive to take care of business after two emotional losses on the road?

 

2. Rebooting the Saquon Barkley Heisman Trophy run

With Penn State struggling recently, Barkley's Heisman momentum has declined enough to allow Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield to take the lead. If Barkley is going to regain the top spot on voters' ballots, he needs to have a really strong finish to the season and needs to impress in the box score. It may be too late to make up the ground if Mayfield doesn't let up, but now is the time to make sure Barkley stands a chance in the end.

 

3. How can Rutgers gain an edge on Penn State?

It is incredibly difficult to find any area where Rutgers can have the upper hand on Penn State, especially on the road. So it will be imperative for Rutgers to find a way to sustain drives and milk as much clock as possible while managing to put any points on the scoreboard, and then hope for a big break or special teams play. That won't be easy with the Big Ten's 14th-ranked offense and 11th-ranked defense. And if receiver/return man Janarion Grant is unavailable for a second straight week, forget about busting open any big special teams plays.

 

Final Analysis

 

Although the College Football Playoff may be out of reach, there is still an outside chance Penn State can play for the Big Ten championship. That alone should keep the Lions focused. Look for Penn State to find a way to get Saquon Barkley off and running, while Trace McSorley will likely rebound from a rough outing (three interceptions vs. Michigan State) to make some big plays downfield. Penn State should have little problem getting back in the win column and breathe a sigh of relief in doing so.

 

Prediction: Penn State 52, Rutgers 13

 

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook.

Teaser:
Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/duke-blue-devils-vs-army-west-point-black-knights-preview-and-prediction-2017
Body:

Duke and Army West Point are set to meet by the banks of the Hudson River in New York Saturday in a non-conference clash of two teams headed in different directions. After opening the season 4-0, the Blue Devils have lost five in a row, including a stretch of three ACC losses by a single possession before falling 24-3 at Virginia Tech two weeks ago. David Cutcliffe’s team is coming off a bye week and needs a win over the Black Knights to build some late-season momentum and perhaps salvage a bowl bid.

 

Army was the first team to book its ticket to a specific bowl destination when the Black Knights accepted a bid to the Armed Forces Bowl after beating Temple 31-28 in overtime two weeks ago. Jeff Monken’s team followed that win with a dominant showing against Air Force last weekend, winning 21-0 on the road — without attempting a single pass — to stretch its win streak to five.

 

Duke at Army West Point

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 11 at 12 p.m. ET
TV Channel: CBS Sports Network
Spread: Duke -3

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Quarterbacks
Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw doesn’t throw much, and he doesn’t have much success when he does. The senior has completed just 10 of 35 pass attempts (28.9 percent) for 190 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. Nevertheless, Bradshaw is the impact player for the Black Knights on offense. Bradshaw leads the team and ranks 10th nationally with 1,132 rushing yards. Only one FBS quarterback (Navy’s Zach Abey) has more. Bradshaw, who gained 245 yards on the ground last week against Air Force and has surpassed 100 rushing yards five times, also has averaged 7.97 yards per carry and scored eight touchdowns.

 

He’s not as quick as Bradshaw, but Duke quarterback Daniel Jones (above, right) is no statue. Jones’ 282 rushing yards rank third on the squad and he ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns against Northwestern in Week 2, but he operates in a more traditional offense and therefore hasn't head near the rushing attempts as his Army counterpart.

 

After a solid freshman campaign last season, Jones has completed 168 of 314 pass attempts (53.5 percent) for 1,752 yards and eight touchdowns with seven interceptions this year. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound sophomore got off to a terrific start, completing 64.8 percent of his passes and averaging 234 yards with four TDs and just one interception in non-conference play, but has struggled in conference games. Against ACC opponents, Jones has completed 47.8 percent of his passes for 1,050 yards (175.0 yards per game) with four touchdowns and five interceptions.

 

2. Can Duke stop the run?
Bradshaw has been terrific running the football, and he’s not alone. Army leads the nation in rushing offense with 365.4 yards per game, ranks among second in the FBS in rushing touchdowns (34), and fourth in both rushing attempts per game (58.3) and yards per carry (6.26).

 

Despite Army’s gaudy rushing statistics and the unique challenge that comes with defending the option, there’s hope for the Blue Devils. After all, Duke has been quite good against the run this season, ranking sixth in the ACC in at 142.1 yards per game and third in yards per carry (3.88) allowed. Both of those numbers also place the Blue Devils among the top 40 teams in the nation. However, it's worth pointing out that they have gotten progressively worse in this department over the course of the season.

 

Duke allowed a total of 143 rushing yards in three non-conference wins over FCS opponent North Carolina Central, Northwestern and Baylor to start the season — holding those three teams to 47.7 rushing yards per game and just 1.8 yards per carry. The Blue Devils also had success stopping the run in their first three ACC games, limiting North Carolina, Miami and Virginia to 128.3 rushing yards per contest and 3.63 yards per attempt. But over the last three games, the Duke defense has surrendered an average of 250.3 yards per game on the ground alone to Florida State, Pitt and Virginia Tech. Those three teams combined to average more than five yards per carry (5.18) against the Blue Devils. Needless to say, Duke probably isn't too excited to face Army's triple option.

 

3. Rushing the passer
In a normal game, the Duke defense would have an advantage in the front seven, and especially in the pass rush. The Blue Devils have tallied 25 sacks this season, which ranks third in the ACC and among the top 25 teams in the nation. Duke pass rushers have recorded one sack for every 11.5 times an opponent drops back to pass.

 

The problem, of course, is Mike Ramsay (4.5 sacks), Joe Giles-Harris (3.5 sacks), and Drew Jordan (3.0 sacks) might not get many opportunities considering Army has attempted 56 passes all season, just 6.2 per game. The Black Knights' offensive approach essentially neutralizes the Blue Devils' best defensive asset. Meanwhile, Duke has surrendered 21 sacks, or one every 16.6 pass attempts. The Army pass rush 17 sacks thus far — one every 14.3 pass plays — and has recorded multiple sacks in eight of its nine games.

 

Final Analysis


The Blue Devils have averaged just 11.4 points per game during their five-game losing streak and 14.0 per contest against ACC opponents. Therefore, this late-season, non-conference matchup could be a blessing. On the other hand, the Army triple option could pose a major problem for a run defense trending in the wrong direction while neutralizing the Blue Devils’ potent pass rush.

 

Army is coming off a big win over one of its top rivals and already has its postseason plans set. Duke has its backs against the wall, fighting to reach a bowl game. The home-field advantage is important for Army, but expect David Cutcliffe and the Blue Devils to find a way to escape West Point with a win.

 

Prediction: Duke 21, Army 20

 

— Written by Nicholas Ian Allen, a member of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasIAllen.

 

(Top photo courtesy of @ArmyWP_Football)

Teaser:
Duke Blue Devils vs. Army West Point Black Knights Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 11:20
Path: /college-football/nc-state-wolfpack-vs-boston-college-eagles-preview-and-prediction-2017
Body:

There is still hope for the NC State Wolfpack as they travel to face the Boston College Eagles.

 

A preseason dark-horse candidate to win the ACC's Atlantic Division, the Wolfpack have come about as close to that expectation as possible, as their narrow defeat to Clemson last week has them tied in the loss column with the defending national champion Tigers.

 

Now, the Wolfpack (6-3, 4-1 ACC) need win out against Boston College, Wake Forest and North Carolina and have Florida State upset at Clemson to get a shot at the program's first ACC title since 1979.

 

That first step won't come easy, as BC has won three straight and will enjoy the benefit of coming off a bye week, while the Wolfpack are coming off back-to-back losses to College Football Playoff contenders Notre Dame and Clemson, two of the most physical teams in the country.

 

The Eagles (5-4, 3-3 ACC) are playing their best football under head coach Steve Addazio since 2014, and have finally seemed to have found an offensive identity after struggles with injuries and coaching turnover on that side of the ball stunted its development.

 

Bowl eligibility is still in sight for the Eagles, but so is a chance for the program's best win total since 2008, when the Eagles went 9-5.

 

NC State at Boston College

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 11 at 12 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ABC/ESPN2

Spread: NC State -3

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Getting edgy

Even with Boston College defensive end Harold Landry (above, right) questionable with an ankle injury that kept him out of the team's win over Florida State two weeks ago, the Eagles' pass rush has remained in good hands in part due to the emergence of junior end Zach Allen. The 6-foot-5, 285-pounder has had a breakout season with four sacks and a team-high 9.5 tackles for a loss. For NC State, defensive end Bradley Chubb has had a tremendous season and seen his stock soar for the 2018 NFL Draft. With 7.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for a loss, he will be a major challenge for a BC offensive line that has been much improved this season despite a heavy dose of the injury bug.

 

2. Passing fancy

Although the two players are far apart along their development, NC State quarterback Ryan Finley and Boston College signal-caller Anthony Brown have both been positives for their respective teams this season. Finley has completed 65.7 percent of his passes to go along with 15 touchdowns and three interceptions and, like Chubb, has seen his NFL draft stock get better with each passing week. Brown is still just a redshirt freshman, and while his numbers yo-yo a bit from week to week, his progress is notable. Not only has Eagles offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler done a nice job of rolling the pocket to take advantage of Brown's mobility, but he youngster has gained confidence in throwing downfield to a group of receivers that has better speed than your typical BC outfit.

 

3. Dash of Dillon

While Brown poses a threat, he's not quite consistent enough to rely on if the BC running game falls flat. NC State comes in ranked 31st in the country in run defense, and if the Eagles can't establish the ground game, it severely limits what the Eagles like to do, which is wear opponents down with its big offensive line and use it to set up play-action and bootlegs. That's where true freshman running back AJ Dillon comes in for the Eagles. In the four games in which the 6-foot, 240-pounder has carried the ball 24 or more times, the Eagles own wins over Central Michigan, Louisville, Virginia and Florida State. In other words, BC's momentum is directly correlated to Dillon's emergence as one of the top young backs in the nation. Mixed in there, though, is a Virginia Tech game where the Hokies limited Dillon to 35 yards on 10 carries. The Eagles lost that game, 23-10. It may be a bit of an oversimplification to say that the Wolfpack will come out victorious if they contain Dillon, but it would certainly tip things in their favor if they did.

 

Final Analysis

 

Harold Landry's status is still up in the air, so if he plays, that could alter things a bit, but right now, these two teams look fairly evenly matched. A year ago, Boston College began to turn its season around with a win over the Wolfpack in Raleigh, so while NC State is favored, the Eagles know this is a team they can beat. Combined with the fact that the Eagles had a chance to recharge their batteries with a bye week while the Wolfpack were suffering their second straight loss to a College Football Playoff contender, it feels as if BC is catching NC State at the right time.

 

Prediction: Boston College 27, NC State 26

 

— Written by Adam Kurkjian, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and is a reporter for the Boston Herald. He has covered the World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup playoffs, Boston Marathon and Little League World Series, among other events from the high school, college and pro ranks. Follow him on Twitter @AdamKurkjian.

Teaser:
NC State Wolfpack vs. Boston College Eagles Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 11:10
Path: /college-football/byu-cougars-vs-unlv-rebels-preview-and-prediction-2017
Body:

Remember the scene from the movie, The Hangover, where Alan is tasered and humiliated by a bunch of elementary-aged children? Alan is BYU football in 2017. The Cougars (2-8) are taking these losses... in the face! It hasn’t been pretty for a program that has prided itself on a winning tradition, which would more resemble the character, Phil, from the same movie. BYU wants to get back to classic Phil. Just like Alan wanted classic Phil hair. But sometimes, you can’t always have what you want.

 

BYU will seek its classic Phil look again by taking the Cougar pack down to Sin City to face the UNLV Rebels (4-5), who are currently on a two-game heater, and seeking their first bowl bid in the Tony Sanchez era.

 

Will the Cougars feel an upset in the air on Friday night, or will the Rebels get their first victory over their old Mountain West foe since 2004?

 

BYU at UNLV

 

Kickoff: Friday, Nov. 10 at 10:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN2

Spread: UNLV -4

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Who will play quarterback for BYU?

The injuries continue to pile up for the Cougars, the latest season-ending one to junior quarterback Tanner Mangum, who suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon. It’s the sixth season in the last eight years that BYU has lost its QB to a season-ending injury, but the beat goes despite not having a bowl game on the table anymore.

 

The Cougars will have three options at quarterback in sophomore Beau Hoge, who has started two games this year, and then a pair of true freshmen in Joe Critchlow and Kody Wilstead. Wilstead as of three weeks ago was not on the travelling roster with the team, but recently made it known to the coaching staff he wanted to help and have an opportunity to play. Don’t be surprised if Wilstead ends up getting the start as Hoge is still battling how own injuries.

 

2. UNLV’s ground attack led by QB Johnny Stanton

This will be a fascinating matchup in terms of the quarterback play alone. UNLV’s starting quarterback this week, Johnny Stanton, was a linebacker for the Rebels just three weeks ago, racking up six tackles in a loss to Utah State. Stanton, a former Nebraska Cornhusker, took over at quarterback after a handful of injuries at the position, including to starter Armani Rogers. Stanton stepped in and has led the Rebels to a pair of consecutive victories. Rogers is available to play this week, and he will see time, but he’s getting second-team reps. This is Stanton’s offense and it’ll be a tall order for BYU’s rush defense to stop the Rebel ground game that is currently 13th in the country as they average 252 rushing yards per game.

 

The main cog to UNLV’s ground game is running back Lexington Thomas. The junior is 16th in the nation with 118.1 rushing yards per game and tied for fifth with 14 rushing touchdowns. He has four 100-yard games and is averaging a robust 6.6 yards per carry. Slowing down Thomas alone will be a tough task for the Cougars, who have not fared that well against teams that like to run the ball. Mississippi State (306 rushing yards vs. BYU) and Wisconsin (235) have had similar production on the ground this season compared to the Rebels.

 

3. Which team has the edge on special teams?

The forgotten aspect of any football game is special teams. Neither BYU nor UNLV has been particularly spectacular in special teams this season. The Rebels are dead last in the nation (129th) in net punting, while the Cougars are 127th in the country in punt returns. Whichever side can gain an edge in the third phase of the game could set up their team to pull off a much-needed win.

 

Final Analysis

 

This is the 20th all-time meeting between BYU and UNLV, and it’s the first time that the Rebels are a favorite in this series that pits two old WAC and Mountain West rivals together again for the first time since 2014. It’s been that kind of year for BYU. The Cougars aren’t going to a bowl game for the first time since 2005. What will the Cougars have to play for? This season has already gone down the drain for BYU, while UNLV is starting to play its best football of the season and has battled back after that horrible opening loss to FCS opponent Howard. Look for UNLV’s ground attack with quarterback Johnny Stanton and running back Lexington Thomas to have a field day on BYU’s depleted defense en route to Tony Sanchez’ first three-game winning streak in his tenure with the Rebels.

 

Prediction: UNLV 27, BYU 10

 

— Written by Mitch Harper, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Harper is BYU Insider for ESPN 960 Sports and Publisher of Cougar Nation, part of the Rivals network. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch_Harper.

Teaser:
BYU Cougars vs. UNLV Rebels Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 11:00

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