Every week throughout the season we’ll give you a college football viewing guide by highlighting the five best games of the coming weekend. We will pick those five games against the spread and highlight some other matchups that caught our eye from a betting perspective.
Week 10 of the college football season was full of marquee games, highlighted by Notre Dame’s big upset over No. 1 Clemson. Week 11 looks a lot different.
As of this writing, eight games have either been postponed or outright canceled, including four from the SEC, due to COVID-19 cases. Five of those games feature a ranked team, including No. 1 Alabama’s trip to LSU and No. 3 Ohio State’s game at Maryland.
On paper, the weekend’s slate looks a little underwhelming. But that’s what is so great about college football. More often than not, when you think a dull weekend is on the way a bunch of upsets emerge out of nowhere.
Let’s hope Week 11 comes through with some surprises.
(Note: All times ET, point spreads/totals from BetMGM)
No. 9 Miami at Virginia Tech
Time: Noon | TV: ESPN2 | Line: Virginia Tech -2.5 | Total: 66.5
Though it lost to Clemson, Miami is still in contention to reach the ACC title game. The Hurricanes were missing some key players, but were able to improve to 6-1 with a 44-41 victory over NC State last Friday. D’Eriq King carried a heavy load, finishing the game with 430 yards and five touchdowns passing along with 105 yards rushing. Miami doesn’t have Notre Dame on its schedule, so it will need Clemson to lose another game (or Notre Dame to lose two) in order to slide into the No. 2 spot in the conference. Of course, Miami has to win its own games, too.
Virginia Tech has had an up-and-down year. The Hokies opened the season with two wins and have alternated — loss, win, loss, win, loss — ever since. Last week’s loss, a last-second defeat to Liberty, was the second time this year the Hokies have lost outright while favored by more than 10 points. The game had a wild finish that featured a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown getting taken off the board because of an ill-timed Justin Fuente timeout. How will the Hokies respond?
Sam Cooper: Miami +2.5, Nick Bromberg: Miami +2.5
Other noon games to watch: No. 10 Indiana at Michigan State (ABC), Penn State at Nebraska (FS1), TCU at West Virginia (FOX)
No. 2 Notre Dame at Boston College
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: Notre Dame -13.5 | Total: 49.5
Notre Dame is coming off its first win over a top-ranked opponent since 1993 and will be looking to avoid a letdown on the road against Boston College. The Irish led most of the way against Clemson, but needed a touchdown in the final minute to force overtime. Ian Book played arguably the best game of his career, and Kyren Williams finished the night with 140 yards and three touchdowns. Now ranked No. 2 and sitting with a 7-0 record, the path to the ACC championship and College Football Playoff is clear. The Irish just has to avoid a regular season slip-up with a rematch with Clemson possibly on the horizon in the ACC title game.
Boston College, in its first year under Jeff Hafley, has been one of the ACC’s surprise teams. Many projected the Eagles as a team that would finish toward the bottom of the conference standings. Instead, Boston College sits at 5-3 with two of its losses coming by just one possession. One of those losses was the Oct. 31 trip to Clemson. It was a near-upset, but the Tigers stormed back and eventually won 34-28. After such a close game, BC was a bit sluggish in a 16-13 win over Syracuse last week. With another chance for a huge upset, it’s hard to envision BC coming out sluggish this week.
Sam: Notre Dame -13.5, Nick: Boston College +13.5
Other afternoon games to watch: No. 20 USC at Arizona (FOX), Colorado at Stanford (ESPN2)
No. 22 Northwestern at Purdue
Time: 5 p.m. | TV: BTN | Line: Northwestern -2.5 | Total: 50.5
Northwestern had a miserable 2019 season but is off to a strong 3-0 start in 2020. With a new offensive coordinator (Mike Bajakian) and new quarterback (Indiana transfer Peyton Ramsey), the Wildcats are looking far more competent on offense. It’s not the most explosive unit in the Big Ten, but it has moved the ball well enough to win its first three games and sit in first place in the Big Ten West.
Behind Northwestern in the standings is Purdue, which is 2-0. The Boilermakers opened the year with wins over Iowa and Illinois behind big performances from sophomore receiver David Bell, who has 22 catches for 243 yards and four TDs. Last week’s game vs. Wisconsin was canceled due to UW’s COVID issues. With UW now off of its schedule, Purdue has a real shot to make a run at the division title. And if Rondale Moore returns from his mysterious absence, the Purdue offense could put up some big numbers.
Sam: Purdue +2.5, Nick: Purdue +2.5
Arkansas at No. 6 Florida
Time: 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN | Line: Florida -17.5 | Total: 62.5
Arkansas has been one of the stories of the season. The Razorbacks won a combined four games over the past two seasons and entered the year on a 20-game SEC losing streak. In Sam Pittman’s first year, the Razorbacks are off to an impressive 3-3 start. Pittman, though, won’t be on the sideline Saturday after testing positive for COVID-19. A key to Arkansas’ resurgence has been QB Feleipe Franks, a Florida transfer. In an Arkansas uniform, Franks has thrown for 1,428 yards and 14 TDs with just three interceptions. He’s also completed 67.2% of his throws, just behind the man who replaced him as UF’s starter, Kyle Trask (68.7%).
Trask and the Florida offense are coming off a monster performance last week against Georgia. In a 44-28 win that put the Gators in first place in the SEC East, Trask threw for 474 yards and four touchdowns. In all, UF amassed 571 yards of offense in the win. With a path to the SEC East title and a berth in the SEC championship game laid out, Dan Mullen’s task will be to keep his team locked in. It was a big deal that UF snapped its four-game losing streak to the rival Bulldogs. Like Notre Dame, Florida now has to avoid a letdown.
Sam: Florida -17.5, Nick: Arkansas +17.5
No. 13 Wisconsin at Michigan
Time: 7:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: Wisconsin -4.5 | Total: 53.5
Wisconsin’s season got off to a sizzling start, and then it came to a crashing halt. The Badgers blew out Illinois 45-7 behind a stellar five-touchdown performance from quarterback Graham Mertz in his first career start. A few days later, rumblings of a COVID-19 outbreak emerged. At one point, the Badgers had 27 active cases in the program, including coach Paul Chryst. UW’s next two games were canceled, but the team is on track to make the trip to Ann Arbor on Saturday. What players UW will have available remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, Michigan is off to a rough start to its 2020 season. The Wolverines blew out Minnesota to open the year, but have since lost back-to-back games to Michigan State and Indiana. The defense has been a major disappointment and the inability to run the ball has doomed Joe Milton and the offense in recent weeks. Jim Harbaugh’s future is becoming a bigger and bigger storyline. Perhaps Harbaugh’s Wolverines can get back on the right track against what could be a depleted Badgers team.
Sam: Wisconsin -4.5, Nick: Wisconsin -4.5
Other night games to watch: No. 11 Oregon at Washington State (FOX), No. 19 SMU at Tulsa (ESPN2)
Head-to-head ATS: Sam: 22-22, Nick: 18-26
Week 11’s best bets
Nick Bromberg (Last week: 3-0, Overall: 16-9-1)
Vanderbilt at Kentucky: Vanderbilt has been more than a two-touchdown underdog in every game so far this year and the Commodores are 2-3 against the spread. I think it moves to 3-3 this weekend. The Kentucky offense has struggled over the past two games with a combined 13 points in losses to Missouri and Georgia. The Wildcats win, but not by more than 14. Pick: Vanderbilt +17.5
Army at Tulane: The Black Knights enter this game on a four-game win streak but have not played since a 49-3 win over Mercer. That means it’s been almost a month since Army last played an FBS team. Even with the long layoff I think it’s crazy that Army is entering this game as an underdog, so I’m taking the team with the better record and the points. Pick: Army +5.5
Baylor at Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are just 2-4 against the spread this year. Tech has only covered at home against Texas and at home against West Virginia. I think this line is artificially deflated as a result. Baylor may be the worst team not named Kansas in the Big 12 and the Red Raiders should win this game by a touchdown. Pick: Texas Tech -1.5
Sam Cooper (Last week: 1-0, Overall: 17-13)
Iowa at Minnesota: Iowa lost its first two games by a combined five points before destroying Michigan State last week, 49-7. Minnesota allowed a combined 94 points in losses to Michigan and Maryland before rebounding with a 41-14 win over an Illinois team playing its fourth-string QB. Though it held Illinois under 300 yards, this is still the same Minnesota defense that gave up 481 yards to Michigan and 675 yards to Maryland. There’s also a trend I like: Iowa is 14-5-1 ATS in its last 20 games as a single-digit road favorite. Pick: Iowa -3.5
No. 20 USC at Arizona: Even though USC had 556 yards of offense last week, I think this total is too high. In the Clay Helton era, the under is 8-17 in games where USC is favored by at least seven points, including a 6-1 mark on the road. During Kevin Sumlin’s two-year tenure at Arizona, the under is 6-2 in games where Arizona is an underdog of at least seven points. Pick: Under 67.5
Southern Mississippi at Western Kentucky: WKU has one of the worst offenses in the country, averaging only 15.3 points and 272.8 yards per game. Southern Miss is a team on its third head coach of the season and is dealing with injuries at the quarterback position. I’d be shocked if this wasn’t a very, very low-scoring game. Pick: Under 49.5
For other Week 11 picks from Sam Cooper, click here.
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