College football capsules: Week 11

By VSiN Staff  (VSiN.com) 

November 9, 2021 07:03 PM
collcaps

OKLAHOMA at BAYLOR

Here are a couple of implications of Baylor’s grating 30-28 loss at TCU last week. First, it suggests that if the Bears have a chance to reach the Big 12 title game, they’ll have to win this game, as they risk losing contact with second-place Oklahoma State with another loss. Second, and perhaps a bit of good news for the Waco support base, is the result in Fort Worth might pull coach Dave Aranda back from the top tier of candidates being mentioned at LSU, where Aranda had been a coordinator. Keeping pace with electric Sooners freshman QB Caleb Williams, off six TD passes against Texas Tech before last week’s bye, will be a significant challenge for the Baylor offense. QB Gerry Bohanon, whose early-season ability to avoid mistakes has deserted him in recent weeks, has tossed five picks across his last three outings after being guilty of zero before that. It’s still a run-first offense for the Bears centered on Abram Smith and Trestan Ebner, but this offense is not designed to play catch-up. At least not like Oklahoma, which has proven it can rally from behind. The Sooners spotted Texas a 21-point lead last month in Dallas before roaring back to win behind Williams, who has displaced consensus preseason Heisman favorite Spencer Rattler and tossed 14 TD passes against just one pick the last four games. The Sooners are also feeling dissed by the College Football Playoff committee that has apparently decided to punish OU for several close calls. With a chance to improve poll optics in the next few weeks, expect Lincoln Riley to look for style points.

— Bruce Marshall

 

NORTH CAROLINA at PITTSBURGH

Kenny Pickett’s Heisman Trophy campaign at Pitt has been revived after he threw four more touchdown passes in last week’s romp at Duke, but the Tar Heels are also alive again after their wild rally to take down unbeaten Wake Forest in Chapel Hill, scoring 24 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to erase a 48-34 deficit. After spending almost two months adjusting to the loss of much of last year’s supporting cast to the NFL, Tar Heels QB Sam Howell has a legitimate running option. Tennessee transfer Ty Chandler finally exploded last week with 213 yards rushing and four TDs, and sophomore Seth Downs has emerged as a go-to target and is perhaps on his way to 100 receptions. This is also a chance for dual threat Howell, who added 104 yards rushing and two more TDs on the ground against Wake, to outshine Pickett, who has stolen much of the Heisman thunder many thought would go to Howell. No meeting last year, but the previous four were decided by 7 points or fewer, and Howell appears equipped to trade points.

— Bruce Marshall

 

NC STATE at WAKE FOREST

It looks like basketball season has arrived early at Wake Forest, as the Demon Deacons have posted recent scores that look more like they come from Steve Forbes’ hoops team. Defensive shortcomings helped put the sword to Wake’s best start since 1944 when the Deacons couldn’t hold an 18-point lead in the second half Saturday against North Carolina. But with Clemson’s demise, this game suddenly has ACC Atlantic showdown written all over it, and stats suggest NC State’s Devin Leary, quietly having a breakout sophomore campaign with 25 TD passes and only three picks, might be able to do what UNC did to Dave Clawson’s defense last week. But we’re not as sure the Wolfpack has enough horsepower to outscore Wake. NC State also doesn’t have as much experience in heavyweight slugfests as do the Demon Deacons, who even when their defense collapses can still outscore foes with their Sam Hartman-led 45-ppg offense. Covering eight of its last nine as an ACC host, Wake has proven it can win track meets at home. Totals alert: No surprise Wake is Over 4-1 its last five.

— Bruce Marshall

 

WASHINGTON STATE at OREGON

While the news channels have mostly stopped talking about Washington State since Nick Rolovich became a vaccine mandate casualty, the Cougars have quietly covered six straight point spreads and have maneuvered into a Pac-12 North showdown at Eugene. The big network pundits continue to overrate the Ducks, who should perhaps be penalized to the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl because of their loss to Stanford instead of being put into the playoff mix based mostly on an early-season win at then-adjusting Ohio State. Close shaves against Cal and UCLA and struggling into the fourth quarter against lowly Arizona apparently won’t hurt Mario Cristobal’s team with the selection committee. Most weeks in the Pac-12, the Ducks have been involved in scraps. They waited until the final minute last week before putting away a wretched Washington squad that was begging to get blown away Saturday in Seattle. Oregon hasn’t covered in five chances at Autzen Stadium this season. Meanwhile, WSU has circled the wagons to honor the well-liked Rolovich and has responded to interim Jake Dickert, with sophomore Jayden de Laura (17 TD passes) emerging as an exciting playmaker at QB. But let ESPN and others try to convince the masses that this is the old Chip Kelly Oregon, or even the Justin Herbert edition, and continue to overlook the Cougars, who had also covered a remarkable 10 straight in this series before the Ducks pushed over a late score at Pullman in last fall’s shortened season.

— Bruce Marshall

 

MISSISSIPPI STATE at AUBURN

We’ll see how Mike Leach’s auditions for a new kicker go this week after three missed field goals, including a potential game-tying try by Nolan McCord from 39 yards on the final play, denied the Bulldogs last week at Arkansas. McCord got his chance only because regular kicker Brandon Ruiz had missed two previous tries. Still, we might be willing to risk it with Leach and his kickers because QB Will Rogers twice led Mississippi State back into the lead in the fourth quarter at Fayetteville. Leach thought he had the game won before a late fourth-down stop of the Razorbacks was overturned by a Bulldogs penalty. But with the exception of Alabama, no SEC attack has been able to severely damage the underrated Mississippi State defense for Rocky Long disciple Zach Arnett, whose unorthodox 3-3-5 alignments and hard-to-identify coverages usually keep MSU within earshot. We’re not sure that was a return of the “bad Bo Nix” last week at Texas A&M, when the swarming Aggies defense might have caused problems even for Cam Newton in his Heisman year, but Nix is not beyond misfiring as he's done throughout his career. Whatever, we’ll test the recuperative powers of each after the Bulldogs’ bitter loss and with the Tigers’ dreams of an SEC West showdown against Alabama in the Iron Bowl now appearing unlikely. Arnett’s defense and Unders in four of the last five Tigers games also suggest there might be a decent parallel totals recommendation here.

— Bruce Marshall

 

TEXAS A&M at OLE MISS

In Saturday’s featured Jimmy Sexton game of the week, we suggest keeping eyes on Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss, with Sexton reportedly sniffing around at interest from LSU and perhaps other locales for one of his higher-profile clients. Jimbo Fisher is certainly not looking for greener pastures after recent events suggest this might not be a redux of Jackie Sherrill’s eventually disappointing, high-priced tenure at College Station in the 19880s. This also might be Matt Corral’s last Hail Mary to get back into the Heisman picture. His stats have flattened in the last month, with just two touchdown passes across the last three games. But Corral, showing no ill effects from his brief KO the week before at Auburn, was a highly efficient 20 of 27 for 324 yards against Liberty last week, and the more careful version of Corral has tossed only two picks after an often-reckless 14 a year ago. Though Mike Elko’s Aggies defense might be tough to solve, we suspect Corral is more likely to fire the deciding scoring shots than A&M counterpart Zach Calzada. In for starter Haynes King since September, he has performed heroically at times but had also thrown picks in six straight games before last week against Auburn, when he couldn’t even lead the Aggies on a TD drive. With the many transfers on D.J. Durkin’s Rebels defense making increasing contributions as the year has progressed, it’s doubtful A&M does much more with the ball than it did last week. But the wrong team might be favored, and the mid-50s total is too high as A&M is 6-3 Under in 2021 and Ole Miss has gone Under four straight.

— Bruce Marshall

 

GEORGIA at TENNESSEE

As Joe Frazier found out a couple of times in the 1970s when he tried to throw punches with George Foreman, strategy sometimes has to be adjusted when facing an overwhelming foe. Top-ranked Georgia and a defense that has allowed only five TDs invites such comparisons. While not sure how Tennessee’s style equates to the rope-a-dope that Muhammad Ali employed to frustrate Foreman at the Rumble in the Jungle, the Vols might be able to do something to cause the Bulldogs to blink. Many suggest that Josh Heupel’s tempo offense might be the only way to attack the Kirby Smart defense led by overwhelming tackle Jordan Davis, who might win the Heisman if the vote were taken this week. But nobody has tried anything similar against Georgia this season, with Arkansas, Auburn and others running basic offenses that have been stonewalled. We’d like to see how the Bulldogs react to a foe going at hyper speed, as the Vols did when piling up 45 points in barely 13 minutes of possession against Kentucky last week. Tennessee was in its recent game at Alabama deep into the third quarter before Nick Saban ran up the score late, and Georgia doesn’t have as much offense as the Tide. It is content to play it closer to the vest with QB Stetson Bennett executing a lower-risk offense, though able to keep plays alive from the pocket when needed. And while Smart has covered all four games away from Athens this season, Georgia has also dropped three spread decisions as spreads have inflated. We’re not calling the upset, but with Hendon Hooker now completely comfortable operating the Heupel pace at full throttle, this one could make the Dawgs squirm a little. 

— Bruce Marshall

 

KENT STATE at CENTRAL MICHIGAN

The scoreboard operators are being kept busy this season in the MAC, especially in games involving Kent State, which won a 52-47 shootout last week against Northern Illinois in the latest donnybrook. Other recent scores like a 48-38 victory over Buffalo and a 64-31 loss to Western Michigan confirm the fireworks displays. The Golden Flashes can obviously score, so we look at the opposition to discern if it can keep pace. That’s not obvious with Jim McElwain’s Chippewas, who are more point-challenged than Kent State. Daniel Richardson is only middle of the pack among MAC quarterbacks and completing an unimpressive 57 percent of his throws. He’ll have to trade points with the MAC’s total offense leader, Dustin Crum, while running backs Marquez Cooper and Xavier Williams have combined to run for over 1,000 yards and better than 5 yards a pop. Kent State controls its own fate in the MAC East and is set for a collision with Miami (Ohio) in the regular-season finale. This has been a visitor-oriented series lately, with the road team covering four of the last five meetings. The high-scoring bent of this and other MAC matchups are reflected in five straight Overs between Kent State and CMU.

— Bruce Marshall

 

NOTRE DAME at VIRGINIA

When running back Kyren Williams is rolling, Notre Dame is rocking. Williams, who ran for 95 yards and two touchdowns last week in the Fighting Irish’s 34-6 victory over Navy, has totaled 513 rushing yards during the team’s four-game winning streak. Better play by the offensive line and an improved ground attack have helped quarterback Jack Coan, who completed 23 of 29 passes for 269 yards against the Midshipmen. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly apparently sees his offense hitting a groove and has stopped rotating Coan and backup quarterback Tyler Buchner. The Irish face a Virginia defense that has allowed a total of 106 points in the last two games. The Cavaliers embarrassingly surrendered 734 yards in a 66-49 loss at Brigham Young on Oct. 30 before a bye week. The bright spot for Virginia has been Brennan Armstrong, who passed for 337 yards and ran for 94 yards while accounting for six touchdowns against BYU. Armstrong will test a strong Irish defense that might again be without injured star safety Kyle Hamilton. Notre Dame (8-1) remains on the fringe of the College Football Playoff picture, and its victories over North Carolina, Purdue and Wisconsin are looking better. Notre Dame opened -5 at Virginia, and the Irish finish the regular season by playing Georgia Tech and Stanford, so the odds are in their favor to finish 11-1.

— Matt Youmans

 

ARIZONA STATE at WASHINGTON

Despite quarterback Jayden Daniels’ decline, Arizona State is a six-win team with something to play for down the stretch. Daniels threw two more interceptions Saturday, but the Sun Devils pulled away to defeat USC 31-16 as Rachaad White carried the ball 28 times for 202 yards and three touchdowns. Arizona State stopped a two-game losing streak. Daniels also threw two interceptions in the previous game, a 34-21 loss to 16-point underdog Washington State. He has seven touchdown passes and seven interceptions for the season after being touted as a Heisman Trophy candidate. Washington (4-5) is unraveling, and coach Jimmy Lake’s job is in jeopardy. Lake has been suspended for one game after appearing to strike a freshman linebacker on his team during a 26-16 loss to Oregon, though Lake denied the accusation. Lake also deserves criticism for some baffling game-management decisions and a weak offense. The Huskies totaled seven first downs and 166 yards against the Ducks in a game played in heavy rain. It seems doubtful Lake, who fired offensive coordinator John Donovan on Sunday, will survive beyond this season. Arizona State is not a bet-on team at this point, but it might be a better option than Washington, which must win two of three to reach bowl eligibility. Circa Sports opened the Sun Devils -4, and the market moved to -6.

 — Matt Youmans

 

NEW MEXICO STATE at ALABAMA

Nick Saban is often an unhappy camper after blowout wins, so the Alabama coach will be no fun to be around this week after the Crimson Tide narrowly escaped a huge upset and held off LSU 20-14. The Tigers and lame-duck coach Ed Orgeron showed up in Tuscaloosa as 29-point underdogs. “We should have won the game,” said Orgeron, who was right. LSU squandered several chances to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. Tide quarterback Bryce Young passed for 302 yards, but he was under heavy pressure and took four sacks. Alabama ran the ball 26 times for 6 yards. Still, the bottom line is Alabama survived and remains alive for a College Football Playoff spot. New Mexico State is the next sacrificial lamb on the schedule — before serious SEC games against Arkansas and Auburn — and the Aggies arrive as 51-point underdogs. Alabama is probably a better bet on the first-half line because Saban is likely to call off the dogs in the second half. New Mexico State (1-8) also has the ability to sneak into a back-door cover due to its passing attack. Jonah Johnson has passed for 280 yards or more in four of the last five games and went 30-for-44 for 298 yards last week in a loss to Utah State. The Aggies have the potential to be entertaining, and their program will at least pick up a nice paycheck for this trip. Expect the Tide to roll up a big early lead.

— Matt Youmans

 

PURDUE at OHIO STATE

Ohio State coach Ryan Day will spend the week warning his players of Purdue’s upset potential, but he should forget to mention the point spread. Oddsmakers see the matchup as no sweat for the Buckeyes, who opened as 20-point favorites. The Boilermakers knocked off two Big Ten teams ranked in the Top 5 at the time, Iowa and Michigan State, and now get a shot at a third. The big dog actually ranks better in scoring defense and total yards allowed — Purdue is at 18.4 and 329.8, with Ohio State at 19.0 and 356.3 — and the Buckeyes are allowing an alarmingly high average of 247 yards through the air. Aidan O’Connell went 40-for-54 for 536 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in the 40-29 victory over the Spartans. David Bell had 11 receptions for 217 yards. Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud has topped 300 passing yards in four of the last five games. Stroud completed 36 of 54 passes for 405 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions in a 26-17 win at Nebraska last weekend. Purdue picked up a 28-23 win at Nebraska the previous week. The Boilermakers won’t contain Stroud, running back TreVeyon Henderson or dynamic receivers Chris Olave and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. At the same time, the Buckeyes will have problems with Bell and Purdue’s talented receivers. This should be a high-scoring game, but the total opened 66 and was bet to 61. The Boilermakers have not lost a game by more than 20 points since a 45-24 decision at Wisconsin in November 2019. In 2018, Purdue was a 12-point home underdog in a 49-20 blowout of the No. 2 Buckeyes, who were coached by Urban Meyer at the time. This is a revenge game for Ohio State and a probable regression situation for the Boilermakers, who reached bowl eligibility last weekend as fans stormed the field in a wild celebration.

— Matt Youmans

 

MIAMI at FLORIDA STATE

Just when it seemed coach Manny Diaz was all but done, Miami rallied to win three in a row. The emergence of quarterback Tyler Van Dyke has been the difference. Van Dyke passed for 389 yards and three touchdowns Saturday to propel the Hurricanes to a 33-30 victory over Georgia Tech. Charleston Rambo finished with 210 yards in receptions, but Van Dyke is the main reason Miami has gone from 2-4 to 5-4. Van Dyke is the first Miami quarterback since Bernie Kosar in 1984 to pass for at least 325 yards in three straight games. Diaz is not hearing as much talk about his job security, but he is living on the edge. The Hurricanes have played five consecutive games decided by four points or fewer. Diaz is 2-0 against Florida State with a 52-10 win last year and a 27-10 win in Tallahassee in 2019. Seminoles coach Mike Norvell remains on a hot seat near the end of his second season. Florida State was competitive in its last two losses to NC State and Clemson, but Norvell needs to win this rivalry game. The Seminoles were without starting quarterback Jordan Travis at NC State, so McKenzie Milton stepped in and passed for 233 yards in the 28-14 loss. Milton is capable of winning if Travis remains out. Miami, favored by 2.5 to 3 points, will take the Seminoles’ best shot.

— Matt Youmans

 

NEVADA at SAN DIEGO STATE

San Diego State’s elite defense is about to face the best quarterback in the Mountain West, so are you betting on defense or Nevada’s Carson Strong? The Aztecs are 1-point home favorites. When they faced the conference’s second-best quarterback two weeks ago, the Aztecs were humbled by Jake Haener in a 30-20 Fresno State win. San Diego State was favored by 7 to 7.5 points Saturday night at Hawaii, and the line mattered as the Aztecs held on to win 17-10 with a late defensive stand. Lucas Johnson passed for only 99 yards and Greg Bell rushed 24 times for 77 yards in another underwhelming offensive performance. Hawaii finished with a 260-227 advantage in total yards. The Aztecs (8-1) rank 10th in the nation in scoring defense (16.7), and Nevada (7-2) is scoring 36.4 points per game. Strong is off one of his worst outings, passing for 314 yards but also throwing two interceptions in the Wolf Pack’s 27-24 victory over San Jose State. Nevada needed two defensive touchdowns and a 45-yard field goal by Brandon Talton to beat the 11-point underdog Spartans in Reno. Strong has completed 70.5 percent of his passes with 25 touchdowns this season, and if he can handle the Aztecs’ defensive pressure, Nevada should prevail with its superior offense. The Wolf Pack have won three in a row in this rivalry.

— Matt Youmans

MINNESOTA at IOWA

 

The Gophers and the Hawkeyes have been playing for the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy since 1935, and the series dates to 1891, with Minnesota holding a 62-50-2 edge. These teams are in a four-way cluster with Wisconsin and Purdue atop the Big Ten West, so the game is important in jockeying for position to earn a spot in the conference championship game. Minnesota looked like it had turned a corner after an inexplicable 14-10 home loss to Bowling Green on Sept. 25 when the Golden Gophers were 30-point favorites. After that shocker, P.J. Fleck’s team swept October with consecutive conference victories over Purdue, Nebraska, Maryland and Northwestern. But the Gophers lost 14-6 at home to Illinois on Saturday while laying over two touchdowns. Minnesota was held to 89 yards on the ground after racking up 634 yards combined in its previous two games. The typically reliable Tanner Morgan also threw two interceptions and has regressed, with only six touchdown passes versus seven picks for the nation’s 122nd-rated passing offense. The Gophers have been able to run the ball despite losing top running back Mo Ibrahim in the opener against Ohio State. The Gophers are No. 3 in the Big Ten and No. 22 in the nation in rushing offense but face the conference’s No. 2 and nation’s No. 8 rushing defense at Iowa. The Hawkeys posted 361 yards of total offense in a 17-12 victory at Northwestern, Iowa’s highest output since gaining 428 yards Oct. 1 at Maryland. However, Iowa was unable to get away from Northwestern despite being + 3 in turnover margin, in which the Hawkeyes rank second nationally. Quarterback Spencer Petras was pulled late in the first quarter due to a shoulder injury and ineffectiveness. Sophomore Alex Padilla led three scoring drives, going 18-for-28 for 172 yards. Padilla seemed to give Iowa some spark. Kirk Ferentz has yet to name a starter for Saturday, but he certainly must consider giving Padilla a shot. Iowa has won six straight in the series and opened as a 7-point favorite, but early action has brought it down to 6. The total is the lowest on the betting board at 37, no surprise considering Minnesota is eighth and Iowa 10th nationally in total defense.

— Wes Reynolds

 

MICHIGAN at PENN STATE

 

Saturday was a get-right game for Michigan, which dominated Indiana 29-7. The Wolverines covered as 20-point favorites and outgained the Hoosiers 411-195. Now Michigan takes to the road to face a ranked Penn State team that also seemed to get right after a sluggish start with a 31-14 victory at Maryland. It took a little while for Penn State to shake the Terps as the game was tied 14-14 early in the fourth quarter. Then receiver Jahan Dotson took over. On the Nittany Lions’ first drive of the fourth quarter, Dotson scored on an 86-yard touchdown pass from Sean Clifford, one of his three TD catches. The senior caught 11 balls for a school-record 242 yards. While Penn State is all but eliminated from Big Ten East contention, Michigan is right in the mix but must take care of business in State College before a potential division title showdown against Ohio State in two weeks. These spots have been difficult for the Wolverines under Jim Harbaugh, as they are just 10-15 in ranked-vs.-ranked matchups. But Hassan Haskins had a career day against Indiana, running for 168 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. Nevertheless, Michigan is dealing with red-zone woes. The Wolverines settled for field goals three times against Indiana, and doing that cost them the game two weeks ago at Michigan State. Penn State still can earn a Rose Bowl bid if it can defeat Michigan and Michigan State while the Buckeyes get selected for the College Football Playoff. But can the Nittany Lions keep their focus with rumors surrounding potential job offers for coach James Franklin? Franklin is just 3-4 against Michigan but has won three of the last four meetings, including last year’s 27-17 victory. The market is dealing Penn State -1, and some have the game as a PK. Circa Sports opened the total at 52.5, and it has been one-way traffic on the Under down to 48.5.

— Wes Reynolds

 

MARYLAND at MICHIGAN STATE

 

Michigan State had struggled defending the pass all season and had its worst performance of the year in Saturday’s 40-29 loss to Purdue, allowing Aidan O’Connell to go 40-for-54 for 536 yards. Purdue is one of the worst rushing offenses in the nation and very one-dimensional, but that one dimension proved too much for Michigan State to overcome. The Spartans rank dead last of 130 FBS teams in passing yards allowed at 326.7 ypg. Now the Spartans face another fairly potent passing attack in Maryland. The Terps rank 14th nationally in passing offense as Taulia Tagovailoa continues to develop as a quarterback. Tua’s younger brother still has some turnover issues, with nine interceptions and two fumbles, but is capable of putting up big numbers. He threw for 371 yards Saturday in a 31-14 loss to Penn State. Michigan State is still in the mix for the Big Ten championship and even has slim hopes of the College Football Playoff, as it is difficult to see the Big Ten champion being left out. Maryland is seeking its sixth victory and its first bowl bid since 2016. Like Purdue, Maryland is relatively one-dimensional on offense, ranking 111th in rushing offense. However, the Terps have the ability to get big plays in the passing game. Michigan State should also be able to generate passing plays and run the ball with the nation’s leading rusher, Kenneth Walker III, who had 136 yards and a touchdown at Purdue. The Spartans opened as 14-point favorites, but early support has come for Maryland and dropped the line to 13. Early Terps bettors are perhaps backing the “bubble burst” angle against a team that suffers its first loss of the season in the previous game. On the other hand, it could be that they saw the Spartans’ poor pass defense against Purdue, which could allow Maryland to stay in the game from the jump or get in through the back door.

— Wes Reynolds

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