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Staff Picks - College Football Week 11

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Jonesy tells you what you need to know.

NCAA Football: San Jose State at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Record last week: 2-3-1 ATS; 4-2 Totals; 6-5-1 overall
Record for the season: 62-49-1 overall

Overall it wasn’t a terrible week last week. Any week in the green is a good week, and if you’re like me and grabbed Memphis -5.5 instead of -6, then it looked even better. That late SMU 2-point conversion wasn’t officially a bad beat, but it was the 1994 Auburn/UGA of ties.

This week we have the GAME OF THE CENTURY OF THE YEAR in Alabama/LSU, a sampling from the B1G and Big 12, and some angsty games from our very own SEC. Home teams (thankfully) listed second this week. I’m also listing the SP+ pick in relation to who it thinks will cover (i.e. since it only favors Texas by 1.8 as opposed to Vegas’s 7, it says “Kansas State +1.8”).

#2 LSU @ #3 Alabama (-6.5) (O/U 63.5)

SP+ Pick: Alabama -7

Full disclosure, after picking Florida to win outright in this space last week, I went out and made a small investment in our ankle-biting neighbors to the East. In truth it was a spite-bet. I thought Florida could win, but I wanted to give myself a silver lining just in case. In true UGA fashion, they nearly won without covering, which honestly is what I expected would happen after I made that move. Why do I bring that up? I’m tempted to do the same here. There are so many reasons why LSU should win this game: LSU has an offense that can finally match Alabama’s, Tua is almost certainly not 100%, Alabama doesn’t have the world beating defense it usually does, Alabama hasn’t been challenged by anyone with a pulse to date. And yet, I feel about this game the same way I feel about Auburn going to Baton Rouge. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Two weeks ago after the LSU game I said Alabama would win this game. While I’m tempted to change it to an LSU cover, I’m going to hang on my word. Here’s the thing about this game: it doesn’t matter. It does not matter even a little bit who wins this game. In fact, if LSU loses, they’re actually in better shape to reach the playoff. They can win out, not have to play anyone who will be within a 20-point underdog of them the rest of the way, and coast into the playoff. To be honest, LSU should throw this game. Compete just enough to prove you belong, but save yourself for the rematch.
Alabama 42, LSU 27 (Alabama covers; a nice little over)

Staff Picks

Dr Will: LSU 30, Alabama 27 (LSU wins outright; under)
Drew: Tigas 35-31 (LSU wins outright; over)
Jack: LSU 35 @ #3 Alabama 41 (Alabama wins; LSU covers; over)
Ryan: Alabama 38 - LSU 35 (Alabama wins; LSU covers; over)
Josh Dub: LSU 35, Alabama 34 (LSU wins outright; a very nice over)
Crow: Tigers 35, Tide 29 (LSU wins outright; over by the hook)
Josh Black: Alabama 38, LSU 28 (Alabama covers; over)
Chief: Cajuns 31, Bama 27 (LSU wins outright; under)
Nerd: Alabama 45 LSU 38 (Alabama covers; over)

#16 Kansas State @ Texas (-7) (O/U 57.5)

SP+ Pick: Kansas State +1.8

Texas has won the last two in this matchup, but only by a total of 11 points. Kansas State is a dangerous team that proved they can beat anyone in their win over Oklahoma. The downside for K-State here is that Texas is getting healthier in their secondary, and I don’t know that the Wildcats have the type of offense to exploit the Longhorns’ deficiencies on defense. I’ll take the points on the line, but the home team to win.
Texas 35, K-State 31 (Texas wins; K-State covers; over)

Staff Picks

Dr Will: Texas 31, Kansas State 27 (Texas wins; K-State covers; over)
Drew: 31-24 Wildcats (K-State wins outright; under by the hook)
Jack: Kansas State 34 @ Texas 30 (K-State wins outright; over)
Ryan: Kansas State 31 - Texas 27 (K-State wins outright; over by the hook)
Josh Dub: Kansas State 41, Texas 14 (K-State wins outright; under)
Crow: Horns 29, Cats 22 (Texas wins; PUSH...good luck with that; under)
Josh Black: Texas 35, K-State 24 (Texas covers; a very nice over)
Chief: Texas (Is Not Back) 28, Cats 24 (Texas wins; K-State covers; under)
Nerd: Texas 35 Kansas State 31 (Texas wins; K-State covers; over)

#4 Penn State (-7) @ #17 Minnesota (O/U 48)

SP+ Pick: Minnesota +2

This is the kind of match-up that shows the limitations of SP+. Bill Connelly has acknowledged that there is really no good way to allow for injuries. Minnesota has faced backup quarterbacks in majority of every single conference win to date. When your opponent doesn’t have their starting QB, they’re just going to be as explosive or efficient, which is exactly what SP+ attempts to measure. Not to mention the best team Minnesota has beaten is SP+ #50 Nebraska. This Penn State team is dangerous. In the words of Jean Paul Sartre, “au revior, gopher”.
Penn State 30, Minnesota 17 (Penn State covers; under)

Staff Picks

Dr Will: Penn State 27, Minnesota 17 (Penn State covers; under)
Drew: Gophers 17-13 (Minnesota wins outright; under)
Jack: Penn State 37 @ Minnesota 20 (Penn State covers; over)
Ryan: Penn State 27 - Minny 18 (Penn State covers; under)
Josh Dub: Penn State 31, Minnesota 14 (Penn State covers; under)
Crow: GOPHERS 21, lions 20 (Minnesota wins outright; under)
Josh Black: Penn State 28 Minnesota 13 (Penn State covers; under)
Chief: Lions 28, Gophers 27 (Penn State wins; Minnesota covers; over)
Nerd: Penn State 42 Minnesota 28 (Penn State covers; over)

Western Kentucky @ Arkansas (-1.5) (O/U 52.5)

SP+ Pick: WKU -1.1 (yes, SP+ favors WKU)

If desperation is a stinky cologne, Chad Morris is attracting flies. His predecessor was fired before he got to the locker room. If Arkansas loses this one, they may not let Morris get that far. WKU is coming in with a former Arkansas quarterback that Morris nudged out the door. A loss here wouldn’t just be an SEC team losing to a team it should beat on talent alone. It would be proving that you’re not properly managing a roster that wasn’t any good when you arrived.

I have to think Arkansas pulls out all the stops in this one. Either they make a statement, or Arkansas will be searching for a head coach again. If you actually bet on this, seek help.
Arkansas 31, WKU 23 (Arkansas covers; over)

Staff Picks

Dr Will: Western Kentucky 28, Arkansas 21 (WKU wins outright; under)
Drew: Arkansas (?) 28-24 (Arkansas covers?; under by the hook?)
Jack: Western Kentucky 29 @ Arkansas 24 (WKU wins outright; over)
Ryan: WKU 30 - Arkansas 17 (WKU wins outright; under)
Josh Dub: Western Kentucky 21, Arkansas 15 (WKU wins outright; under)
Crow: WKU 30, Ark 27 (WKU wins outright; over)
Josh Black: WKU 27 Arkansas 21 (WKU wins outright; under)
Chief: Hilltoppers 24, Pigs 14 (WKU wins outright; under)
Nerd: Arkansas 35 Western Kentucky 27 (Arkansas covers; over)

Tennessee (-1) @ Kentucky (O/U 42.5)

SP+ Pick: Tennessee -2

Tennessee gave me one of my winners last week, doing what they should have done against a UAB team that has somehow managed to play the softest schedule in the University of Alabama system. Tennessee knows what they are; they have an identity. They’re not very good on offense, but they’re going to play tough defense and make enough plays to come out with a victory. That usually works great at home. The old saying is that “defense travels”, but so does bad offense. Kentucky is ravaged by injuries right now: Sawyer Smith might finally be well enough to play, but Lynn Bowden (the WR turned QB turned WR again) got hurt in the win over Missouri, and Ahmad “Flag”-ner is banged up as well. I think Tennessee does enough on defense to keep it ugly and pull out a close road win.
Tennessee 20, Kentucky 16 (Tennessee covers; under)

Staff Picks

Dr Will: Kentucky 24, Tennessee 21 (UK wins outright; over)
Drew: Vols 24-10 (Tennessee covers; under)
Jack: Tennessee 27 @ Kentucky 17 (Tennessee covers; over)
Ryan: Tennessee 23 - UK 17 (Tennessee covers; under)
Josh Dub: Tennessee 22, Kentucky 24 (Kentucky wins outright; over)
Crow: Tenn 21, UK 18 (Tennessee covers; under)
Josh Black: Tennessee 24 Kentucky 20 (Tennessee covers; over)
Chief: Cats 24, Vols 23 (UK wins outright; over)
Nerd: Tennessee 31 Kentucky 21 (Tennessee covers; over)

Appalachian State @ South Carolina (-5.5) (O/U 51)

SP+ Pick: Appalachian State +2.1

The shine on this game took a hit with the Mountaineers rough mid-week loss to Georgia Southern last week. They ran into trouble against a team that could muddy the game up, hit them hard, and play keep-away on offense. If South Carolina knows what they’re doing, they’ll be able to do the same thing, just better. But man alive is “If South Carolina knows what they’re doing” carrying some weight in that previous sentence. I think they do enough on the line of scrimmage to cover, but let’s be careful out there.
South Carolina 31, Appalachian State 23 (South Carolina covers; over)

Staff Picks

Dr Will: South Carolina 26, App State 20 (South Carolina covers; under)
Drew: APPIE!!! 34-24 (A school that hates being called “Appie” or “Appy” wins outright; over)
Jack: Appalachian State 23 @ South Carolina 30 (South Carolina covers; over)
Ryan: App State 38 - USC 30 (ASU wins outright; over)
Josh Dub: App State 24, South Carolina 28 (South Carolina wins; ASU covers; over)
Crow: SCAR 21, App 20 (South Carolina wins; ASU covers; under)
Josh Black: South Carolina 27 App State 21 (South Carolina covers; under)
Chief: Cocks 28, Mountaineers 24 (South Carolina wins; ASU covers; over)
Nerd: Appalachian State 28 South Carolina 24 (ASU wins outright; over)