It’s a new week of college football, and I just know it’s going to be a good one. Things are starting to heat up for the College Football Playoff picture, the Heisman is still not solidified, and bowl eligibility is now a factor. Here’s what I like for Week 11.
Best bet: South Alabama (+22.5) at Appalachian State
UCF (+7.5, +240 ML) at SMU
Do the Knights have a good defense? Aside from losing to Cincinnati, UCF has held opponents to 16 points or less in four of its last five games since losing QB Dillon Gabriel, and it is currently sitting in the top 20 in passing defense. The Mustangs are entering this game off back-to-back losses with four combined turnovers. It’s not a fluke.
The Mustangs are bottom 30 in giveaways. QB Tanner Mordecai has nine interceptions and the team has eight fumbles. The UCF defense is 16th in takeaways and has a top 30 pass rush led by DL Big Kat Bryant. After being sacked zero times in the first five games, Mordecai has been sacked 10 times in the last four.
Louisiana at Troy (+7, +210 ML)
The Ragin’ Cajuns are a run-only team. Troy is top 20 against the run. The Trojans are a pass-only team. Louisiana is top 10 against the pass. Which gives? The key could be turnovers. Troy is 11th best in takeaways. If Louisiana can’t run against this defense, then QB Levi Lewis will be forced to turn to the pass and he has just four interceptions.
However, Lewis will now face defensive linemen Javon Solomon and Richard Jibunor, who have combined for 17.5 sacks for a unit ranked second-best in QB pressure in the FBS. Troy’s defense also has forced 14 interceptions and two fumbles. Against South Alabama, a team with a comparable pass rush and defense, Lewis threw zero touchdowns and went 9-of-20 for 49 passing yards, his worst performance of the season. Lewis’ squad still found a way to win in a 20-10 victory. I’ll take the full touchdown with the home team that has a strong defense.
NC State at Wake Forest (-120 ML)
The Wolfpack are getting a lot of love with the line opening Wake Forest -2.5 and dropping to -1.5. Hey, I’ll gladly take the discounted price.
Demon Deacons QB Sam Hartman is one of the best in college right now, ranking eighth in passing yards and averaging 9.4 yards per pass attempt and 15.4 yards per completion. Hartman is also fifth in the nation in passing touchdowns with 27.
“NC State is a top 25 defense, though,” many say. Dave Doeren’s squad has really only been tested twice against somewhat comparable offenses, and it failed both tests, losing to Mississippi State 24-10 and Miami 31-30. Against Miami, NC State allowed four passing scores and 9.8 yards per pass.
“Wake Forest couldn’t beat North Carolina, though.” UNC was able to win because the Tar Heels offense executed exactly how I predicted, using mobile QB Sam Howell and the run game. North Carolina produced 330 rushing yards against Wake Forest with RB Ty Chandler and QB Sam Howell. Wolfpack QB Devin Leary is not a dual-threat, and NC State is 94th in rushing yards. With a one-dimensional passing offense and facing a Wake team that is 50th against the pass, I can see NC State eventually losing steam.
Texas A&M at Mississippi (Under 57)
If you’re looking for an ATS prediction, you can hear my full breakdown here.
This matchup is about Aggies QB Zach Calzada against Rebels DL Sam Williams. Ole Miss has a top-five pass rush led by Williams, who leads the FBS with 10.5 sacks. What stops offensive drives and points from being scored? Quarterback pressure. Put the ball in the hands of A&M RB Isaiah Spiller and run the clock.
Heisman contender Matt Corral is clearly a stellar QB, but A&M is still a top-15 defense that held both Mississippi State and Arkansas to 26 points or fewer. The Aggies are top 20 in both opponent red-zone attempts and red-zone scores allowed, and are fourth best in opponent offensive touchdowns allowed, behind Georgia, Wisconsin, and Penn State.
I have two additional plays that I have penciled in for the late-night slate. Be sure to follow me on Twitter for those plays.