We’ve reached the second week of November and games continue to increase in importance. That’s not only true of the College Football Playoff hopefuls but for teams looking to secure bowl eligibility or those in fights to win division or conference hardware.
With heightened importance comes more pressure, so there are a lot of situational spots at this time of the year that may or may not factor into how the game plays out, but they should be part of your handicapping considerations.
Here are some to think about for Week 11:
Ohio Bobcats (-2, 50.5) at Miami (Ohio) Redhawks
This is a mammoth game for both teams, but especially Ohio. The Bobcats beat Buffalo last week and now control their destiny in the MAC East. If they win out or get a little bit of help, they’ll head to Detroit on Dec. 3 with a chance to win the conference. As good as Ohio has been, the Bobcats are 0-4 in the MAC title game and have not won the conference since 1968. They have five bowl wins in their last eight appearances but have not achieved the program’s ultimate goal in 54 years. A win here should set up a massive showdown with Bowling Green in Week 13, so this is a real pressure cooker for the Bobcats.
Colorado Buffaloes at USC Trojans (-34, 66)
Colorado won’t have USC on upset alert on Friday, but the Buffs will get a 34-point head start against one of a few teams in prime lookahead spots this week. USC has UCLA next week in a game with enormous implications for the Pac-12 championship game (and maybe even the College Football Playoff?). USC’s only loss was a 43-42 defeat in Salt Lake City and that might be one that the playoff committee looks on favorably with a brand name and some chaos in the CFP. You can see why it would be hard for USC to focus on a horrible Colorado team. Bad defenses laying big numbers are scary enough, but this spot is not good for USC, especially off its close win over Cal.
Arizona Wildcats at UCLA Bruins (-19.5, 77.5)
It’s only logical to put this game next to the USC game. UCLA is in the same spot, though Arizona is much better than Colorado, which could keep the Bruins more attentive throughout the week. UCLA doesn’t have an outside shot at a College Football Playoff berth, but it’s only human nature to look ahead to that big rivalry game. Some of these kids wanted to play at the other L.A. school but never got an offer. Some played each other in high school. There are huge recruiting implications that coaches are cognizant of with a game like that. A lot goes into it and prior-week opponents get overlooked as a result.
Missouri Tigers at Tennessee Volunteers (-21, 56.5)
There are a lot of ways to look at this game in Knoxville. Tennessee could absolutely sulk after coming up short in the program’s biggest game since 2001. The Volunteers also still have CFP life because Alabama and Clemson lost last week and Ohio State still has The Game against Michigan, which will bounce one of those teams. It isn’t a tough sell for head coach Josh Heupel to get his team reinvested, but Tennessee didn’t just look bad last week — the Vols were dominated. I’m not going to say it’s a good spot for Missouri, but it’s a complicated one for UT.
SMU Mustangs (-17.5, 72) at South Florida Bulls
This is another game with all kinds of considerations for amateur psychologists like us. SMU just hung 77 points on Houston in one of the craziest games you’ll ever see. Now they’re on the road against a pathetic USF team, but one that just fired its head coach. Teams including Georgia Tech, Wisconsin and Colorado have played a lot better since moving on from their head coaches. Perhaps USF gets a similar bump. Maybe not, and SMU just hangs another massive number. It’s an interesting handicap either way.
LSU Tigers (-3, 62) at Arkansas Razorbacks
We’ll finish with the most obvious game of the week. LSU beat Alabama on a walk-off two-point conversion. Arkansas lost at home to Liberty. Many bettors are probably shocked to see the line at -3 (I personally have it -4 in my Week 11 Power Ratings). This spot is awful for LSU, which is in the driver’s seat for a spot in Atlanta to face Georgia in the SEC championship game. This is also an LSU team that is just +28 in point differential with a 5-1 SEC record, so there has been a lot of good fortune in close games, and sometimes that evens out. This will be an interesting line to follow to see if the line goes up or holds at the key number of 3. It’s a fascinating game.