Week 11 picks: Notre Dame, Baylor, Oregon all lose in crazy week & more
Editor’s note: Every Thursday during the season, Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel will present their picks for the week.
Below are Week 11’s selections (all times ET). Enjoy.
BAYLOR (+5.5) at OKLAHOMA (Noon, FOX Sports 1)
Mandel: Baylor is one of the more extreme examples I’ve seen of a team that performs markedly better at home than it does on the road. Dating to RGIII’s 2011 Heisman season, Baylor is 6-9 in conference road games, 16-1 in all others. This season the Bears have scored 60-plus points at home against TCU and Kansas, 49 at Iowa State and 28 at Texas. All of which is to say that while Oklahoma is hardly dominant this year, I don’t trust the Bears to execute in a big road game. Oklahoma 38, Baylor 30.
Feldman: Yes, I know the Bears have never won at OU, but there have been a whole lot of firsts in Waco since Art Briles showed up, and I like Baylor’s chances because they have a sizable edge at QB with Bryce Petty. Baylor 34, Oklahoma 27.
IOWA (-1.5) at MINNESOTA (Noon, ESPN2)
Mandel: Iowa has been cranking up its offense lately, scoring at least 30 points in three straight games. If Mark Weisman and the Hawkeyes make it four against the Gophers it will be a first in school history. I don’t see it happening. The Gophers have a decent defense — 25th nationally (4.88 yards per play) — and they’re coming off a bye week. Minnesota RB David Cobb is averaging 141.4 yards per game, and he’ll be rested and ready to attack an average Hawkeyes rush D. Minnesota 23, Iowa 20.
Feldman: The Hawkeyes have been surging as Mark Weisman and a power running game has cranked up while the Gophers are coming off a clunker of a showing in a loss to lowly Illinois. Minnesota’s penchant for slow starts could really come back to haunt them here since Iowa’s outscored its last three opponents by an average of 22-5 in the opening quarter. Iowa 23, Minnesota 17.
NOTRE DAME (+2.5) at ARIZONA STATE (3:30 p.m., ABC)
Mandel: Arizona State is the anti-Baylor. It has a penchant for going belly-up in big games … at home. The Sun Devils’ defense has been superb over their past few games but they’ve all been against the few Pac-12 teams without a difference-making quarterback. Everett Golson will be the most dangerous they’ve faced since UCLA’s Brett Hundley — and that did not end well. Notre Dame 45, Arizona State 35.
Feldman: The Irish lost a key cog on their defense when linebacker Joe Schmidt went down for the rest of the season with an injury. His ability to be a stabilizer for the Irish D will be missed. Another reason why I’m going with the Sun Devils: ND is 2-5 the week after facing Navy, which has a tendency to leave an opponent banged up. ASU 31, Notre Dame 24.
TEXAS A&M (+21.5) at AUBURN (3:30 p.m., CBS)
Mandel: Take a second to remind yourself that A&M was once the No. 6 team in the country. The Aggies’ defense will have their hands full with Nick Marshall and the Tigers’ offense, but it also doesn’t help that A&M’s new Kyle Allen-led offense is struggling to find itself. Louisiana-Monroe shut out the Aggies in the second half last week. So yes, this one could get ugly. Auburn 44, Texas A&M 20.
Feldman: The second college start for Aggie true freshman QB Kyle Allen is in a much tougher spot than his debut, when he faced ULM at home. Don’t be surprised if Allen responds well to the challenge, but the Aggies just don’t have enough experience on D to cope with the potent Tigers ground game. Auburn 42, Texas A&M 28.
UCLA (-4.5) at WASHINGTON (7 p.m., FOX Sports 1)
Mandel: The Bruins played their best defensive game of the season last week in holding a potent Arizona offense to seven points and 255 yards. Washington has struggled on offense even against lesser-talented defenses than UCLA’s. Huskies standouts Hau’oli Kikaha and Danny Shelton could tee off on Bruins QB Brett Hundley and rack up sacks and turnovers, but it likely won’t be enough to compensate for their own limited offense. UCLA 21, Washington 17.
Feldman: More drama with Marcus Peters got the standout CB booted off UW, which means Washington may start three true freshmen in the secondary. That sounds like a ripe situation for OC Noel Mazzone and QB Brett Hundley, who has become more of a factor in the Bruins’ run game of late and is now double trouble for U-Dub. UCLA 34, Washington 20.
LOUISVILLE (-3) at BOSTON COLLEGE (7:15 p.m., ESPN2)
Mandel: Louisville’s had ample time to recover from its crushing Florida State loss, but it’s running into a physical BC team that runs the ball nearly 50 times per game. But save for the second half of that FSU game, the Cardinals have been solid against the run, and WR DeVante Parker and RB Michael Dyer have helped spark Bobby Petrino’s offense. They should win this game comfortably even though they’re on the road. Louisville 23, Boston College 10.
Feldman: I’m tempted to pick the Eagles to win outright, because they’re physical, QB Tyler Murphy’s wheels present some problems and they have a very good run D (No. 4 in the nation), but I just feel like the Cards’ O is too explosive now that Parker is back in action and Dyer has heated up. That’s a lot for Bobby Petrino to work with. Louisville 27, Boston College 21.
KANSAS STATE (+6) at TCU (7:30 p.m., FOX)
Mandel: Horned Frogs QB Trevone Boykin cooled off considerably in last week’s win at West Virginia, completing just 12-of-30 passes. Boykin is not incredibly accurate — his 57.0 completion percentage is down from last year’s 59.7 — but he avoids interceptions (four). K-State’s defense is not one to blow assignments and give up big plays. In fact, it’s allowed only seven completions of 30-plus yards all season. Boykin will play better than he did in Morgantown but not well enough to win. Kansas State 34, TCU 30.
Feldman: Gary Patterson’s team had its hands up and barely survived its trip to Morgantown, but they return home to face a solid K-State squad, and I think the Horned Frogs match up well to handle Tyler Lockett and company. Also, I like TCU’s speed edge against the Wildcat D to be the difference in the second half. TCU 27, K-State 17.
ALABAMA (-6.5) at LSU (8 p.m., CBS)
Mandel: Alabama has an advantage at almost every position on the field, and yet there’s a general nervousness about the Tide as they head into Baton Rouge. Is that the Kiffin factor? Or that they haven’t defeated a ranked team since last year? You can count on LSU to be physical on both sides of the line, but it’s hard to beat a good team like Alabama with a one-dimensional offense. Until Tigers QB Anthony Jennings proves otherwise, that’s exactly what LSU’s is. Alabama 24, LSU 17.
Feldman: The young Tigers are improving fast, but Nick Saban’s offense right now is more balanced and will be able to pull away in the second half. I also think Blake Sims can handle a hostile environment. The Tide QB leads the nation in third-down completion percentage at 74 percent. Alabama 27, LSU 17.
OHIO STATE (+3.5) at MICHIGAN STATE (8 p.m., ABC)
Mandel: Ohio State has yet to lose a Big Ten regular season game in Urban Meyer’s three seasons. That’s insane. Even crazier, though, is that none of Meyer’s 31 victories in Columbus has come against a top-15 foe. The Spartans are just that. They’re solid defensively, have a reliable quarterback in Connor Cook and can milk clock if they need to. It’s just not a good matchup for the youngish Buckeyes, whose QB, J.T. Barrett, may struggle like he did at Penn State two weeks ago. Michigan State 27, Ohio State 21.
Feldman: Mark Dantonio has the more balanced team with the more experienced QB and the more seasoned defense, which I think will force a couple of mistakes from redshirt freshman QB J.T. Barrett. Michigan State 21, Ohio State 13.
OREGON (-8.5) at UTAH (10 p.m., ESPN)
Mandel: The Ducks have had issues defensively, and while the Utes don’t have the most dynamic offense, they do have a much more powerful rushing attack, led by Devontae Booker, than Stanford did last week. Whether Nate Orchard and the Utes’ disruptive defense can slow down Marcus Mariota and Royce Freeman is debatable, but we’ve seen enough Rice-Eccles field stormings in recent years to think this game might deliver the upset that shakes up the entire playoff picture. Utah 27, Oregon 24.
Feldman: The Utes have a physical running game and also a terrific pass rush, but I just think the Ducks are playing too well on offense to stumble here although there could be some letdown early after having smashed Stanford last week. Still, I think Marcus Mariota takes over in the second half for the Ducks. Oregon 38, Utah 24.
WEST VIRGINIA (-3.5) at TEXAS (3:30 p.m., FOX Sports 1)
Mandel: It’s a perfect storm. West Virginia is coming off a crushing last-second loss to TCU. The ‘Horns have struggled to a 4-5 record, but Charlie Strong’s team is 3-3 in Big 12 play and their defense is just good enough — No. 14 nationally (4.61 yards per play allowed) — to knock off an upper-half team in their conference at some point. This week feels like their best remaining shot. Texas 24, West Virginia 23.
IOWA STATE (-3.5) at KANSAS (3:30 p.m., FSN)
Feldman: I think the Jayhawks are due to break through for interim coach Clint Bowen, and this is the spot they get a W against an ISU team that is also 0-5 in Big 12 play and ranked No. 117 in points allowed. Kansas 24, Iowa State 21.
Mandel through Week 10: 72-39 straight-up, 57-54 vs. spread
Feldman through Week 10: 70-40 straight-up, 51-59 vs. spread