Fearless Predictions: Week 11
No. 23 South Carolina at No. 22 Florida (-6.5), 7:15 p.m.: This game will decide the East title and a trip to the SEC championship game. The Gamecocks have gone 2-2 since the close loss at Auburn and upset win over then-No. 1 Alabama. South Carolina lost 41-20 at home to Arkansas last week. It will be interesting to see how South Carolina comes out in The Swamp. South Carolina must have offensive balance in this game with Marcus Lattimore – if he’s healthy – running and Stephen Garcia connecting with Alshon Jeffery. The big question for Florida’s offense is whether John Brantley or Jordan Reed can attack South Carolina’s secondary, one of the worst statistically in the country (109th nationally). But with Florida being at home and South Carolina not having a lot of recent success against the Gators, Florida wins it.
The pick: Florida 24, South Carolina 21
Other key games on Saturday:
No. 13 Iowa at Northwestern (+10), 12 p.m.: If Northwestern could figure out how to finish off teams, the Wildcats could be undefeated. Northwestern will likely come out fired up after blowing a 21-point lead last week at Penn State. But look for Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi to attack a weak Wildcats secondary. Iowa looked shaky against Indiana last week so don’t expect an easy Hawkeyes win.
The pick: Iowa 30, Northwestern 20
No. 24 Kansas State at No. 17 Missouri (-13), 12:30 p.m.: Missouri has lost two straight since the Oklahoma upset. Kansas State is riding high after destroying Texas. The Wildcats’ rushing attack has been strong this season and Daniel Thomas has three straight 100-yard games. But look for the Tigers to snap the losing streak and pull this one out at home.
The pick: Missouri 31, Kansas State 24
Penn State at No. 9 Ohio State (-18), 3:30 p.m.: Ohio State has dominated November under Tressel. Ohio State is No. 1 against the run and pass in the Big Ten, which could be big trouble for former walk-on Matt McGloin, who will make his first career road start as the Nittany Lions’ quarterback. The Buckeyes’ rushing attack could have a big day against a Penn State defense that has been uncharacteristically bad against the run this season.
The pick: Ohio State 31, Penn State 16
Georgia at No. 2 Auburn (-8), 3:30 p.m.: It’s a rivalry game so expect Georgia to give the Tigers a fight. The Bulldogs have the offensive talent to stay with Auburn. But can the Bulldogs slow down Cameron Newton? And when do the off the field issues become a distraction for Newton and Auburn? We’ll find out this week.
The pick: Auburn 34, Georgia 30
No. 20 Virginia Tech at North Carolina (+3.5), 3:30 p.m.: The Hokies lead the ACC Coastal Division with an unbeaten record so this week’s game is a big one. North Carolina is coming off a big win against Florida State. One key matchup will be North Carolina quarterback Tyler Yates going against the Virginia Tech secondary. And keep an eye on whether North Carolina can slow down the Hokies’ rushing attack.
The pick: Virginia Tech 24, North Carolina 20
No. 25 Texas A&M at Baylor (+3), 7 p.m.: Texas A&M, fresh off a nice win over Missouri, has been playing very well under new quarterback Ryan Tannehill. In fact, the Aggies have won three straight and have averaged a little less than 41 points per game with Tannehill. Baylor is coming off a blowout loss at Oklahoma State, but the Bears have done some nice things this season. Tannehill and the Aggies, however, are on a roll.
The pick: Texas A&M 38, Baylor 31
No. 19 Mississippi State at No. 12 Alabama (-13.5), 7:15 p.m.: Mississippi State’s defense has been pretty solid this season. But expect Alabama to come out fired up after last week’s LSU loss in Baton Rouge. The Bulldogs are No. 20 nationally in rush defense. That will be a key matchup as Alabama will want to get Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson going early. A close game, but the Crimson Tide won’t lose at home.
The pick: Alabama 23, Mississippi State 17
No. 1 Oregon at California (+19.5), 7:30 p.m.: Oregon’s offense has been unstoppable this season. Cal has some good talent and could be in the game for a while. But the Bears have been too up and down all season to pull the upset. Cal is only giving up 21 points per game. But in three of their four losses the Bears allowed 52, 48 and 35 points.
The pick: Oregon 48, California 20
USC at No. 18 Arizona (-4.5), 8 p.m.: USC’s offense, led by Matt Barkley, has been very productive this season. The Trojans have only been blown out of one game this season – against Oregon. USC’s other two losses have been by a combined three points. So expect USC to keep this game tight. The Trojans’ weakness is their defense, which is giving up 28 points per game. Arizona’s defense is one of the best units in the country. Plus, the Wildcats are 19th in total offense.
The pick: Arizona 34, USC 27