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Friday, 13 November 2015

College Football Week 11 Picks 2015 (November 14)

I have avoided the midweek set of games in the College Football Week 11 because I really didn't like the games that were on offer. Plus I do tend to find those are games that play out in strange ways so often that I have to really like a pick before I think to get involved.

Week 10 was an up and down one for the picks that eventually landed on the wrong side, but the season totals remain strong and hopefully the last month can provide plenty more winners than losers.

The Play Off picture has really begun to clear up in College Football now and the number of teams who have genuine ambitions of reaching the final four have been reduced massively in the last two weeks. There are still a few unbeaten teams around, but the likes of the TCU Horned Frogs and LSU Tigers have suffered terrible losses in Week 10 that might end their hopes of reaching the Play Offs.

Last season we had a couple of one loss teams that were invited into the final four and I think that will be a similar case this time around, especially with the SEC likely to have a one loss Champion as is the likes of the Big 12 and Pac-12.

I still think the Big 12 lack of a Championship Game could be critical against them, but my current Play Off Rankings would be as follows:

1) Ohio State Buckeyes- they remain unbeaten, but now face a critical stretch as they have to run through Illinois, Michigan State, Michigan and potentially an unbeaten Big Ten West Champion in Iowa.

2) Alabama Crimson Tide- proved to be the class of the SEC with a crushing win over the LSU Tigers and are now favourites to win that Conference.

3) Clemson Tigers- unbeaten, they look a legit team and likely to win the ACC while the 'committee' has them Ranked Number 1.

4) Baylor Bears- I still think the Bears can run the table in the Big 12 which would make them impossible to leave out.

Looking In- Notre Dame Fighting Irish, LSU Tigers, Utah Utes, Stanford Cardinal, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Oklahoma Sooners, Houston Cougars, Michigan State Spartans, TCU Horned Frogs.

Week 11 Picks
As I have mentioned, Week 10 went through some peaks and troughs for my picks and sadly eventually came out on the wrong side for the week. Games are getting more tense and competitive as we race towards the end of the regular season, but I have found myself a few picks for Week 11 which will hopefully restore the winning weeks.

Disappointingly it has been three losing weeks in a row now, but I have still got a healthy season total and that is the key.

Pittsburgh Panthers @ Duke Blue Devils Pick: The North Carolina Tar Heels have the inside track to the ACC Coastal Division having beaten both Pittsburgh and Duke in the past couple of weeks, but both of these schools still might be able to get back in contention over the last month.

The game is far more critical for the Duke Blue Devils who are two games behind the Tar Heels and also lose out on the tie-breaker, while the Pittsburgh Panthers are just a game behind the Division leaders albeit with the tie-breaker going against them too.

I have little doubt this is going to be a close game, but getting a full Field Goal in favour of the road team, who have won each of the last two games in the series in the previous two years, looks very generous as far as I am concerned.

These teams have three common opponents and Pittsburgh have outgained two of those teams compared with Duke. The two losses in a row will have had an effect on the players of the Blue Devils too especially the manner of the blow out to North Carolina.

I do think Duke have the slightly more balanced Offense and the slightly better Defense, but I think the latter unit might have begun to wear down and I like the Panthers to keep this close. David Cutcliffe has done a wonderful job with the Blue Devils and made them a very solid home favourite to back, but I want the points in this one and will back the road team to perhaps even win this one outright.

Kansas Jayhawks @ TCU Horned Frogs Pick: After losing to the Oklahoma State Cowboys which may have cost the TCU Horned Frogs a chance to reach the National Championship Play Off, usually this would be a spot where I would want nothing to do with them or a massive spread like this one.

However, it has to be noted that the Horned Frogs are a significantly better team at home than they have been on the road and they are playing a team that has taken some big beatings through the season. There is still an outside chance the Horned Frogs can get back in contention in the Big 12 too as they play Oklahoma and Baylor to close out the season so I can see Gary Patterson inspiring his team to a very big win at home this week.

Baylor, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma have all beaten Kansas by at least 48 points each this season and TCU have covered the spread they have been asked to in three of four home games.

It won't be a blow out where Kansas don't score points as the TCU Secondary hasn't been at their best thanks to injuries and a high turnover from the unit last season. However, TCU are going to be able to move the chains with some big plays through the afternoon and should be able to take out their frustration on the Jayhawks.

TCU are 9-1 against the spread as the home favourite since the beginning of last season and Kansas are 6-14-1 against the spread as the road underdog in recent seasons. It is a lot of points but I think TCU can cover it with a fifty point win at home and build momentum for two big games left in the Big 12.

Texas Longhorns @ West Virginia Mountaineers Pick: There is an absolutely mammoth game in the Big 12 Conference this week, but I will get to that later on. Before all of that, I am looking at another Big 12 game as I like the West Virginia Mountaineers to get the better of the Texas Longhorns and cover the spread this week.

Last week I backed Texas Tech to keep things close here because I though they had the balanced Offense to do that, but it was a much lower scoring game than I anticipated to be perfectly honest. Both of these teams are two wins away from becoming Bowl eligible so it is a huge game with three left to play including this one.

I am liking West Virginia because Texas have been horrific on the road this season with all three losses coming by at least twenty-four points while the Offense has produced a wonderful tally of TEN points from those THREE road games.

There is little doubt that Texas can double that tally or even treble it in this one as they should be able to establish the run. However, inconsistent passing is a problem and their Longhorns Defense has been a little suspect at times. I fully expect West Virginia to have the better balance with the ball in the hands of their Offense and that should mean more consistent scoring.

My one real concern is that West Virginia have been a terrible home favourite to back under Dana Holgorsen, but the Longhorns are 0-3 against the spread as the road underdog since Charlie Strong took over. I will look for the Mountaineers to score enough points for a double digit win and extend that sequence for Coach Strong.

Ohio State Buckeyes @ Illinois Fighting Illini Pick: It would be easy to suggest the Ohio State Buckeyes could overlook Illinois this week knowing that Michigan State and Michigan are left on the schedule. However, the Buckeyes have looked more and more focused as the weeks have gone on and the introduction of JT Barrett as the starting Quarter Back has seen the team cover in two straight wins.

Of course that was snapped by Barrett's brainless act of driving while under the influence which meant he was suspended from the win over Minnesota last week. However Urban Meyer has recognised what Barrett gives the team over Cardale Jones and he was restored as the starter this week.

The Buckeyes certainly aren't the best team to back as a road favourite under Meyer, but I think they make a statement this week to show the two Michigan based schools that they are ready for them. Barrett will certainly want to make amends for his mistakes and had led the team to back to back wins of 28 points or more prior to his suspension.

You can't just dismiss the threat Illinois have as they have played unbeaten Iowa close as well as the likes of Wisconsin and they will want to avenge a blow out loss to Ohio State last season. However, this is a Buckeyes Defensive unit that should be able to slow down the Fighting Illini and I do think Barrett will have a very big game as I have mentioned.

Ohio State have blown out Illinois in all three games under Meyer and the Fighting Illini's 38-0 loss in Penn State is hard to ignore. Big spread again, but I like the Buckeyes to get ready for their next two games behind a big win.

Maryland Terrapins @ Michigan State Spartans Pick: The Michigan State Spartans were controversially knocked off the unbeaten ranks last week in Nebraska thanks to what has looked a blown call. There was still time for the Cornhuskers to win that game if the right call had been made, but it wasn't and the Spartans have to feel aggrieved.

Aggrieved, but certainly not down and out.

Michigan State can still win the Big Ten Conference if they win their remaining three games and then the Championship Game and I imagine Mark Dantonio has used last week's injustice to spark his team. They do face a Maryland team that has been competitive in the wake of Randy Edsall's firing as Head Coach and that should be another reason Michigan State focus on the task at hand rather than looking ahead to the game with Ohio State next week.

I do think both teams will have success moving the chains, but the key is that Michigan State's Defensive unit seems to match up better with Maryland's Offensive schemes than the other way around. That should lead to enough stops to cover a number that the Spartans have struggled with all season barring a win over the Indiana Hoosiers thanks to some late turnovers.

Maryland have covered four games in a row and Michigan State have been a bad team to back all season when it comes to cashing at the window. However, I think their motivation to make up for the controversy of last week as well as still being in contention in the Big Ten produces one of their better performances of the season.

The Terrapins continue to be a solid road underdog to back as they have improved to 11-5 against the spread in that spot... But I can't ignore the motivation the Spartans have and the way they match on both sides of the ball in this one so will take the home team for a rare cover this season. Michigan State have gone 3-1 against the spread after their first loss the previous four years and they are 8-4 against the spread off a straight up loss in recent seasons.

Alabama Crimson Tide @ Mississippi State Bulldogs Pick: The inside track to the SEC Championship Game belongs to the Alabama Crimson Tide after they beat the LSU Tigers last week. Now they are looking to back up that win and make sure they don't allow the Tigers and the Mississippi Rebels back into things by dropping this game in Starkville.

The game against the Tigers has been a big one for Alabama in recent seasons and it doesn't surprise me that they have perhaps been a little over-rated the week after that win. That might be part of the reason Alabama have gone 0-3-1 against the spread in the last four seasons after playing LSU and this looks a fair few points to overcome on the road.

I can understand why people will back Alabama though- they looked dominant against LSU and have had six double digit wins over Mississippi State before last season. Even that five point win would have been much larger if the Bulldogs hadn't scored a meaningless TD as time was expiring.

Dak Prescott played well in that game for the most part and has had a strong season to think the backdoor cover would potentially be on in this game too. Mississippi State are also 6-3 against the spread as the home underdog while Alabama are just 3-6 against the spread as the road favourite.

This is a spot pick for me as Alabama have struggled after playing LSU and might just do enough to win this one. With Prescott playing very well, I will look for him to make enough plays at home to stay within this number.

Michigan Wolverines @ Indiana Hoosiers Pick: The Michigan Wolverines would be going into this week as an unbeaten team barring one of the strangest plays in College Football all season in their loss to the Michigan State Spartans. However, they still have every chance of winning the Big Ten in Jim Harbaugh's first season as Head Coach and Michigan can ride their Defensive unit in the next couple of weeks to make sure their game with Ohio State is potentially a winner take all game.

That Defense was the key for the Wolverines in blowing out Rutgers last week which put to rest a couple of difficult weeks for the team. You can't just think they will shut down Indiana who have been effective at moving the chains against Ohio State and Michigan State while also being much better at home than on the road even though they have lost three in a row here.

None of those losses at home have been heavy defeats compared with their two on the road so the Hoosiers have to be expected to give Michigan things to think about. However, I think the Wolverines will find a way to slow them down on that side while having the balance Offensively to punish the Hoosiers Defensive unit.

This is the last home game for many of the Indiana players which means I am expecting a big effort from the players to go out on a high. A win will put them on the brink of becoming Bowl eligible for the first time since 2007 so you can't dismiss the motivation Indiana will have in this game.

My problem is I can't see them finding consistent success against what is arguably the best Defense in the Big Ten, while Michigan will be able to move the chains more readily. The Wolverines have been a poor road favourite in recent games, but I like them to find a way to get it done and cover a big number in Indiana.

Nebraska Cornhuskers @ Rutgers Scarlet Knights Pick: This has been a season of close losses for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, but last week they found themselves on the right side of a close game, albeit one dipped in controversy. That has given the Cornhuskers an outside chance of becoming Bowl eligible as they need to win their last two games and they can put in a big effort into this one knowing they go on a bye next week.

They are facing a Rutgers Scarlet Knights team that have been blown out three straight times, although they do get Leonte Carroo back against this porous Nebraska Secondary.

Rutgers had a similar run of losses last season before beating Indiana at home, but they have looked pretty bad Defensively all season. Nebraska have the personnel to exploit that and will certainly be able to score plenty of points, although they have to improve Defensively if they are going to get to six wins for the season.

There just seems to be more consistency on the side of the Cornhuskers and they can be motivated by their controversial win over Michigan State. It hasn't been the kind of season you have wanted to back the Cornhuskers as a favourite, but I expect them to win by at least ten on the road this week.

Appalachian State Mountaineers @ Idaho Vandals Pick: It is going to be tough for the Appalachian State Mountaineers to win the Sun Belt Conference but they are already Bowl eligible and will try to find a way to chase down the Arkansas State Red Wolves.

A loss to the Red Wolves last week has put the Mountaineers in a tough position to win the Conference, but I think they can bounce back against the Idaho Vandals.

The Vandals will look to their loss to the Georgia Southern Eagles as the blueprint to play the Mountaineers better, but they will find it difficult to stop Appalachian State scoring points in this one. That will put all the pressure on their own Offense to keep up and I think Idaho won't be able to do that effectively.

I would expect Appalachian State to move the ball both through the air and on the ground for most of the game. On the other hand, Idaho will have to rely on the pass if they are playing catch up which can lead to turnovers and give the Mountaineers the extra possessions to cover a big number.

Appalachian State are 3-0 against the spread as the road favourite this season and I think they match Georgia Southern's twenty plus point win here. Idaho will put together some scoring drives, but Appalachian State should be too consistent Offensively and pull away.

Memphis Tigers @ Houston Cougars Pick: The Houston Cougars might genuinely be thinking they could get into the final four Play Off if they can win the American Athletic Conference and remain unbeaten. The game against the Memphis Tigers looks a huge test for them even if the latter dropped a silly game against the Navy Midshipmen last week.

The Cougars have to be favourites to win the American Athletic West considering they host both Memphis and Navy, but I can't help think this is too many points to be giving to the Tigers.

Memphis have played the tougher games to this point and that makes them more battle hardened as far as I am concerned, while they know a win could give them every chance of winning the Division. The home loss to Navy is a bitter blow, but the Midshipmen are under-rated and Memphis should have more consistent success in this one.

Paxton Lynch looks to be a First Round Draft choice at Quarter Back and I think he will have a big game against this Houston Secondary. He has looked after the ball and I do believe Memphis will have success in what could be a shoot out. That is because Greg Ward has been playing well for Houston too and the Cougars might be the team with the better balance on Offense as Ward is effective with his legs too.

I do think Houston will have plenty of success throwing the ball against the Memphis Secondary and the team with the last possession could easily be driving to win the game. One thing I will say is that Houston shouldn't be seven point favourites in a game that could see both teams score plenty of points and Memphis will have a chance for a backdoor cover in this one.

Memphis also look to have a little more experience of dealing with truly big games and I will back the Tigers to give themselves a chance to get back into the American Athletic Conference hunt.

Oklahoma Sooners @ Baylor Bears Pick: The biggest game of the week comes in the Big 12 Conference as the Baylor Bears look to show they are more than a team that has taken advantage of a kind schedule. Art Briles felt disrespected last season when Baylor were not included in the Play Offs and his 'leave no doubt' philosophy this season has yet to pay dividends in the minds of the committee.

The last four games won't leave any doubt if Baylor can win all four and run the table in the loaded Big 12 and they would arguably be the favourites to win the National Championship if they can do that. First up is the Oklahoma Sooners who should be unbeaten barring a poor defeat to the Texas Longhorns.

The Sooners genuinely believe they have the Defensive unit to slow down Baylor for long enough to allow their own Offense to get onto the field and win this game. However, I am of the belief that this Baylor Defense is very under-rated with most of the props going to the Offensive side of the ball and the Sooners might be surprised.

I do think Oklahoma will have some success thanks to arguably the best Defensive unit in the Big 12, but it would be a big surprise to me if they can win this on the road. Baylor look very strong and I think they are the best team in the Big 12, while you can't ignore 20 straight home wins.

Baylor have won three of the last four against Oklahoma including the last two at home and they are 19-5 against the spread as the home favourite. No disrespect to the linemakers, but this spread looks far too low and I am liking Baylor to put together a win that will give them a lot of momentum to take into their remaining games against Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas.

MY PICKS: Pittsburgh Panthers + 3 Points @ 1.83 William Hill (1 Unit)
TCU Horned Frogs - 45 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
West Virginia Mountaineers - 8.5 Points @ 1.95 Betfair Sportsbook (1 Unit)
Ohio State Buckeyes - 16.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Michigan State Spartans - 14.5 Points @ 1.91 Coral (1 Unit)
Mississippi State Bulldogs + 8 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Michigan Wolverines - 11 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Nebraska Cornhuskers - 8.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Appalachian State Mountaineers - 19 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Memphis Tigers + 7 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Baylor Bears - 2.5 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (1 Unit)

Week 10: 4-5, - 1.36 Units (9 Units Staked, - 15.11% Yield)
Week 93-6, - 3.29 Units (9 Units Staked, - 36.56% Yield)
Week 85-6, - 1.33 Units (11 Units Staked, - 12.09% Yield)
Week 711-3, + 7.10 Units (14 Units Staked, + 50.71% Yield
Week 68-5, + 2.49 Units (13 Units Staked, + 19.15% Yield)
Week 56-7, - 1.50 Units (13 Units Staked, - 11.54% Yield)
Week 48-4-1, + 3.26 Units (13 Units Staked, + 25.08% Yield)
Week 36-4, + 1.57 Units (10 Units Staked, + 15.70% Yield)
Week 25-4-1, + 0.68 Units (10 Units Staked, + 6.80% Yield)
Week 17-6, + 0.48 Units (13 Units Staked, + 3.69% Yield

Season 2015: 63-50-2, + 8.10 Units (115 Units Staked, + 7.04% Yield)
Season 201475-82-2, - 13.39 Units (172 Units Staked, - 7.78% Yield)
Season 201365-49-2, + 8.49 Units (124 Units Staked, + 6.85% Yield)
Season 201254-59-1 - 7.11 Units (114 Units Staked, - 6.24% Yield)

Season 201163-36, + 23.25 Units (99 Units Staked, + 23.5% Yield)

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