A week after the initial College Football Playoff rankings were released, the rankings seemed to weigh heavily on many of the country’s top teams. The Cincinnati Bearcats continue to feel the weight of needing to win big every week, as they needed a late goal-line stand to slip by Tulsa. The previously No. 3 ranked Michigan State Spartans were upset on the road at Purdue, though they seemingly still control their own destiny for a playoff spot. And the Alabama Crimson Tide kept the hope alive for two SEC teams to make the playoff, as they narrowly avoided a second loss to LSU.
Will any of these results, or this week’s new CFP rankings, have an effect on our wagers for this week?
Here are my top plays for Week 11 in college football.
(Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
Last Season: 35-22 (+9.5 units)
YTD: 23-13 (+7.7 units)
While there has been chatter surrounding Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford battling injuries ever since getting knocked out of the game at Iowa five weeks ago, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh announced his quarterback played through an injury suffered two weeks ago as well. Cade McNamara was removed from the game intermittently last week against Indiana, as Harbaugh said he was still dealing with the effects of an injury suffered in their loss at Michigan State.
However, the injury bug hit them especially hard against the Hoosiers. Blake Corum was seen in a walking boot after the game, and fellow running back Donovan Edwards did not play last week. In addition, wide receivers Andrel Anthony and A.J. Henning also left the game with injuries in the second half and did not return. Considering Michigan is facing a Penn State defense that ranks tied for tenth in the country allowing 16.7 PPG, they need all the healthy bodies they can get.
One of the things that makes Penn State’s defensive statistics so eye-popping is an elite red zone defense. The Nittany Lions have allowed touchdowns on just ten of opponents’ 34 red zone trips and scores of any type on 64.7% of red zone possessions (ranks sixth nationally). Meanwhile, the Wolverines rank sixth in the country, allowing 16.0 PPG, and face a Nittany Lions offense that ranks 13th out of 14 Big Ten teams with 106.4 rushing yards per game.
The over has cashed in each of the last six meetings at Penn State between these teams, but this is where that streak ends. It is difficult to envision either team getting to 24 points in this one, which means the under should cash easily.
PICK: UNDER 48.5
This is a massive game in the Big Ten West division, as these teams are two of four teams tied for first place with 4-2 conference records. Unfortunately, the Golden Gophers squandered a golden opportunity to take control of the division, losing inexplicably as 14.5 point home favorites against Illinois. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Minnesota, and we look for the Iowa Hawkeyes to compound Minnesota’s issues this week at home.
Though Minnesota is 3-0 on the road this season, their four-game winning streak had much to do with the fact that they faced just one of the top seven scoring defenses in the conference in that stretch. That helped Minnesota’s offense build confidence after losing their best offensive player, running back Mo Ibrahim, for the season. And after fellow running back Bryce Williams was lost for the year two weeks ago in their win against Northwestern, their backfield duties are in the hands of two freshmen. In addition, Iowa ranks seventh nationally, allowing just 98.6 yards per game on the ground. Thus, they should be able to slow down a compromised Minnesota rushing attack while not having to commit too many defenders to stop the run.
The Hawkeyes followed up back-to-back losses to Purdue and Wisconsin with an uninspiring win at Northwestern. However, Iowa has dominated this rivalry of late, as the Hawkeyes are 4-0-1 ATS in their last five meetings. Many bettors will grab the points in a game with such a low total (37), but we do not expect to need much scoring out of Iowa after they dominate defensively.
PICK: Iowa -5.5
The Duke Blue Devils are the ACC’s worst defensive team, allowing 35.6 PPG and 491.8 yards per game. However, the Virginia Tech Hokies are not equipped to exploit the Blue Devils defense this week, especially if starting quarterback Braxton Burmeister cannot play. Burmeister was injured in the first half of last week’s loss to Boston College, and their offense looked lost without him.
Virginia Tech’s usual backup quarterback, Connor Blumrick, has been out indefinitely after suffering a right knee injury earlier this season. Thus, the Hokies were forced to use Knox Kadum, who did not look ready for game action last week. Kadum was just 7-for-16 for 73 yards passing against Boston College and did not pose much of a threat with his legs, running for just four yards on four carries.
Meanwhile, the Hokies defense has allowed just 17 points in the last two weeks and has held high-powered offenses like UNC and Pittsburgh to well below their season averages this year. The under is 6-1 in Virginia Tech’s last seven conference games and has cashed in Duke’s last four road games. Keep an eye on Burmeister’s status this week, as this total could plummet if he is ruled out again.
PICK: UNDER 51
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