From a sheer volume of good games standpoint, Week 11 could end up being one of the best of the 2021 season.
Perhaps that's why I like so many games this week. I've had mixed results when I send out a high volume of picks. There was a 6-2 record in Week 7, a 1-7 record in Week 9 and then a 5-3 record last week.
Well, this week there are 10 plays on the card. If I want to get back above .500 for the regular season, I've got to be bold.
Last week: 5-3
(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
Time: 9 p.m. (Friday) | Line: Boise State -14 | Total: 48.5
After enduring a three-game stretch where it scored a combined 17 points, Wyoming’s offense has been playing much better the last two weeks since. The biggest change was benching Sean Chambers and playing Levi Williams at QB. Last week, the Cowboys scored 31 on a good Colorado State defense and played their best game of the year.
Boise State has also been playing much better, but this is still a team that cannot run the ball at all and has really struggled to stop the run. Wyoming’s focus is running the ball, and I think it will be able to do it well enough on Friday night to keep this game within two touchdowns.
Pick: Wyoming +14
Time: Noon | Line: Michigan -1 | Total: 48.5
Penn State has been inconsistent on offense. The Nittany Lions hit a lot of big pass plays but struggle to run the ball. Penn State QB Sean Clifford has a ton of attempts and takes too many hits. Michigan has two of the best edge rushers in the Big Ten in Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, so Clifford is going to have to get rid of the ball quickly. If that’s the case, those double moves to Jahan Dotson may not have enough time to develop.
At the same time, I trust this Penn State defense to force Michigan to embark on long drives. Michigan is pretty banged up on offense with key players like Blake Corum and Erick All among the group of injured UM players. Michigan is a run-based team to begin with, so I'm envisioning a low-scoring game.
Pick: Under 48.5
Time: Noon | Line: Louisville -3 | Total: 55
Syracuse is coming off a 1-10 season and has only played in one bowl game during Dino Babers’ tenure. Not much was expected of the Orange this year, but they’ve found a recipe for success offensively with a run-heavy attack led by QB Garrett Shrader and RB Sean Tucker. Sitting at 5-4 and coming off a bye week, I expect Babers’ offense to put up some points on Louisville with a chance to get back to the postseason.
I think Louisville is ready to do the same to the Orange. Louisville was moving the ball really well last week against Clemson, but all of its momentum slipped away when QB Malik Cunningham missed several series due to an ankle injury. Cunningham was back at practice and should be plenty motivated after UL let a lead slip away last week.
Pick: Over 55
Time: Noon | Line: Auburn -5.5 | Total: 49.5
Other than road games against the SEC’s two best defenses — Georgia and Texas A&M — I’ve been impressed by Auburn’s offense. Bo Nix and the Tigers put up 38 on Arkansas and then 31 on Ole Miss, and I think there’s a similar outing in store for a home game against Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs also have a good defense, but I watched a run-based Arkansas team go for nearly 400 yards and 31 points on them a week ago. I trust Bryan Harsin to find the holes to exploit. At the same time, I trust Mike Leach’s Air Raid to find success against an Auburn defense that has been just OK defending the pass.
Pick: Over 49.5
Time: 3:30 p.m. | Line: Iowa -6 | Total: 37.5
This might sound crazy, but I really like Minnesota this week. Yes, the same Minnesota team that just lost 14-6 to Illinois. This spread just feels like an overreaction to me.
Minnesota isn’t a flashy team. The Gophers run 68% of the time and want to control the ball. Before last week, it was working. Minnesota had won four straight games before the Illinois game and was in contention to win the Big Ten West.
Iowa will likely be without starting QB Spencer Petras in this game, leaving sophomore Alex Padilla to make his first start. Padilla saw plenty of action last week versus Northwestern, but the Minnesota defense is much better than what he saw from the Wildcats.
Pick: Minnesota +6
Time: 3:30 p.m. | Line: Miami -2.5 | Total: 60.5
I don’t think there’s anything fluky about what this Miami offense has been doing over the past month or so. With Tyler Van Dyke at QB, the Hurricanes are averaging 34.4 points per game in ACC play and have been routinely hitting explosive plays. The Hurricanes had 563 yards last week against Georgia Tech and would have won by a larger margin if it weren’t for some bad fumble luck.
That leads into Saturday’s game at Florida State. FSU’s offense should look much better this week with Jordan Travis back at QB, but I don’t think FSU’s secondary is good enough to keep the Miami passing game in check. I’ll take the Hurricanes with the spread under a field goal.
Pick: Miami -2.5
Time: 5:30 p.m. | Line: Oregon State -12 | Total: 56
Stanford allowed 441 rushing yards in a 52-7 loss to Utah last week. Now Stanford has to go on the road and play the only Pac-12 team rushing for more yards per game than Utah: Oregon State. Oregon State has lost its last two games, both on the road. OSU is 4-0 at home this year and can clinch bowl eligibility for the first time since 2013 with a win.
Stanford is one of the worst in the country at both running the ball (No. 125) and defending the run (No. 127) and is likely without starting QB Tanner McKee yet again. If McKee cannot play, Stanford coach David Shaw said true freshman Ari Patu could get the start. He would be the fourth QB to start a game for Stanford this season. It might not be as ugly as 52-7, but I have a hard time envisioning a way Stanford keeps this close without McKee.
Pick: Oregon State -12
Time: 7 p.m. | Line: Texas A&M -3 | Total: 55.5
Ole Miss is banged up along the offensive line and at receiver and QB Matt Corral has been limping around the past few weeks, limiting how much Lane Kiffin can use him in the running game.
I don’t think this is a particularly good matchup for the Rebels, even in what will be a raucous primetime environment in Oxford. Texas A&M’s defense is just too good and I think Jimbo Fisher’s offense has enough playmakers to cover the three points here. The Aggies are 10-4 ATS as a road team during Fisher’s tenure, including a 7-0 ATS mark as a road favorite.
Pick: Texas A&M -3
Time: 8 p.m. | Line: Oklahoma State -13.5 | Total: 54.5
Oklahoma State keeps flying under the radar. The Cowboys (8-1) have the third-best defense in the country, and are No. 10 in the CFP rankings. They have allowed a total of six points over the last two weeks and now get to host a TCU team coming off a surprising upset victory over Baylor.
TCU, in its first game without longtime coach Gary Patterson, made a quarterback switch to freshman Chandler Morris and Morris had a huge day. He threw for 461 yards, rushed for 70 yards and had three total TDs.
I’m confident in predicting that Morris won’t have anywhere near the success on Saturday in Stillwater. Additionally, OSU will run all over the Horned Frogs’ porous defense. I’m leery about laying 13.5, but the under feels right.
Pick: Under 54.5
Time: 10:30 p.m. | Line: Oregon -14 | Total: 56
Washington State has won four of its last five games and is coming off a bye. Even with the craziness from the coaching staff fallout, the Cougars have continued playing hard and have covered the spread in six straight games.
This feels a bit like a sandwich spot for Oregon. The Ducks are coming off an emotional win over Washington and have a big trip to Salt Lake City next weekend. The Utah game is the game most folks are circling as the biggest test for Oregon, but I think this visit from WSU will be tricky.
Oregon typically doesn’t cover as a favorite under Mario Cristobal, either. Cristobal has been Oregon’s head coach since 2018. During that span, the Ducks are 12-19 ATS as a favorite, 5-14 ATS as a home favorite and 8-15 ATS as a double-digit favorite (5-13 ATS at home).
Pick: Washington State +14