The college football season is officially winding down. There are still a lot of things left to decide, like the College Football Playoff and all of the bowl teams, so these last couple of weeks won’t lack drama. However, the performances that we see from teams could vary greatly based on what they have left to play for and some of the circumstances within the program.
The box scores of the games can serve as a guide to see which teams are still trying and which teams aren’t. We can also see the teams that got lucky or unlucky based on a number of factors to try and figure out what the future may hold for the remainder of the regular season.
We had some good ones in Week 11 as we look ahead to Week 12 and another round of games.
Michigan State 40, Maryland 21
Michigan State was thought to be in a tough situational spot after having their College Football Playoff hopes severely damaged against Purdue, but the Spartans beat Maryland. The yardage wound up being close at 481-447, with the Spartans holding just a 6.5 to 6.1 edge in yards per play. However, Michigan State had 18 fewer passing attempts and 19 more rushing attempts. Don’t just take yards per play on the surface. Keep the run/pass distribution in mind.
Still, this game could have gone a little bit differently, as Maryland got picked off inside the red zone on the first possession of the second half and also took a sack and an intentional grounding penalty while inside the MSU 5 that led to a missed field goal. The Terps also turned it over on downs three times.
It looks like a dominant Michigan State win, but maybe it wasn’t.
Bet Michigan State Over this week– The Spartans and Buckeyes should be capable of putting up some points this week (weather permitting), even though a lot of their recent big battles have been lower-scoring affairs. Michigan State’s defense is suspect, especially against the pass. While I’d look at over this week, I wouldn’t against Penn State. We’ll wait to see who Sparty’s bowl opponent is, but the right matchup could lend itself to an over bet as well.
Ole Miss 29, Texas A&M 19
What a weird game this was down in the Grove. Ole Miss won 29-19, as a garbage-time touchdown for A&M made the game closer, but the Rebels had a 14-yard touchdown drive and a pick-six in the fourth quarter to turn a 15-13 game into a 29-13 contest.
Ole Miss scored the game’s only points in the first half, but should have had more than 15. The Rebels had over 400 yards of offense in the first half and only managed 504 for the game. Matt Corral fumbled just outside the red zone and his offense had a 1st-and-Goal at the 1 and couldn’t punch it in. Corral also had a fumble on 2nd-and-Goal at the 1 that led to a field goal.
The Aggies had five punts, a safety and the end of regulation on their seven first-half possessions. They had two plays in plus territory, an incomplete pass and a punt.
Bet Texas A&M Unders – This week, the Aggies face Prairie View A&M, so this doesn’t apply, but they’ll play LSU and a TBD bowl opponent after that. All the Aggies can do is run the ball. Zach Calzada isn’t the answer and Texas A&M will hope that Haynes King can come back and play well next season. The defense is still stout, but this offense is very one-dimensional.
Mississippi State 43, Auburn 34
This game may have been the biggest head-scratcher of the weekend. Auburn led 28-3 with 6:10 left in the second quarter and proceeded to give up 40 straight points before a 90-yard touchdown drive to give us the 43-34 final. All of the points were on offense for Mississippi State as well, with six straight touchdown drives.
In between, Auburn missed two field goals and had a turnover on downs to go with a couple punts. When all was said and done, Mississippi State outgained Auburn by just four yards and the Bulldogs were only 3-of-10 on third down, but had lots of early-down success and threw all over the Tigers secondary.
Bo Nix broke his ankle in the game, so TJ Finley will get the call this week.
Fade Auburn – Bryan Harsin seems like a good coach, but the defensive collapse against Mississippi State does not bode well for South Carolina on the road vying for bowl eligibility or the Iron Bowl against Alabama. Auburn is in a really bad lookahead spot this week and the Gamecocks are a feisty, albeit outgunned bunch. The Gamecocks getting about a touchdown at home looks good.
Louisiana 35, Troy 21
Louisiana is one of the most frustrating teams in college football this season. The Ragin’ Cajuns are 9-1 and 7-0 in Sun Belt Conference play, but have not wanted to cover numbers in a favorite role. They did this past week against Troy, but maybe shouldn’t have.
Troy outgained Louisiana 391-370, though the Ragin’ Cajuns did better from a yards per play standpoint. Troy had three turnovers on the last three offensive possessions of the game and one led to a Louisiana touchdown. The Trojans also kicked a short field goal in the first half and those almost never seem to work out.
Fade Louisiana – I’ll be looking to fade Louisiana in their next three games. They are at Liberty this week, host UL Monroe in a big favorite role and then will play the winner of the East Division in the Sun Belt Championship Game. They don’t really win games in comfortable fashion and are a dog to Liberty this week. They’ll be a big favorite against the Warhawks and paired with a comparable team in the title game, but will be at home.
For whatever reason, this team holds itself back week in and week out and is not trustworthy.
Tulsa 20, Tulane 13 (OT)
Tulsa was in a difficult spot coming off of the near-miss against Cincinnati, but this game probably shouldn’t have gone to overtime. Tulsa outgained Tulane 382-308, but turned the ball over four times. Tulane had two turnovers on downs. The Golden Hurricane had 155 yards on the first two drives of the game and led 10-0, but went into a shell after that.
The lone Tulsa fumble came inside the Tulane 10-yard line. One of the picks was in field goal range on a deep shot for the end zone. Another came just before the end of regulation when Tulane missed a field goal. This game was a comedy of errors, but Tulsa’s turnovers were really the reason why the game went to OT. Though not a turnover, Tulsa also allowed Tulane to recover an onside kick.
Play on Tulsa – I said it last week, so I'll say it again. Tulsa has actually been a pretty solid team this season and the 4-6 record is not totally indicative of how things have gone. Four of Tulsa’s six losses have been Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Houston and Cincinnati. This is a team that needs to win out for bowl eligibility, which is easier said than done with SMU in the regular season finale, but the Golden Hurricane should be a good bet this week against Temple.