Every ranked team will take the field in Week 11 of the 2016 college football season, yet only one matchup features a pair of Top 25 squads.
For Bleacher Report’s picks against the spread, the full slate provides a chance for a recovery after a poor showing. Week 10 brought the worst results of the year—a 7-15 finish—which dropped the ATS season record to 78-91-3.
Rankings reflect the AP Top 25 poll because the College Football Playoff poll will not be released until Tuesday night. The games are broken down into a midweek section and then by Saturday kickoff times.
Please remember that the picks are for entertainment purposes only.
No. 14 Western Michigan (-19) vs. Kent State
When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
For the second straight week, MACtion gets some Western Michigan flair. The Broncos have been spectacular on the road, not only winning every game, but also posting a 5-0 record against the spread. Expect more of the same against a Kent State offense that has mustered 400-plus yards just twice in 2016.
The Pick: Western Michigan (-19)
No. 15 North Carolina (-11) vs. Duke
When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
North Carolina handled Georgia Tech better than expected. Can the Tar Heels do the same against rival Duke? The Blue Devils secondary has survived the loss of DeVon Edwards, though the run defense is a major problem. North Carolina will exploit that weakness for a victory, but the lack of explosive plays through the air will help Duke’s average offense stay within 10 points.
The Pick: Duke (+11)
No. 13 Utah (-5.5) vs. Arizona State
When: Thursday, 9:30 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1)
Trusting Utah is difficult because there’s no pattern—though every time we doubt the Utes against the spread, they invariably play well. Let’s not do that. Plus, Arizona State has battled injuries and may be without versatile weapon Tim White, per Doug Haller of AZCentral.com. Utah will stop the run and snatch a road victory.
The Pick: Utah (-5.5)
Boston College vs. No. 20 Florida State (-21)
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Every time Boston College takes the field, it seems the contest has two possible results: blowout or closer than expected. While there aren’t many less threatening offenses in the country, the Eagles boast a top-15 defense. They’re generally stingy against running backs, which is a minor issue for Dalvin Cook and Florida State. The Seminoles will struggle, but that doesn’t mean the outcome will be in doubt.
The Pick: Boston College (+21)
Mississippi State vs. No. 1 Alabama (-29)
When: Saturday, noon ET (ESPN)
Following a 2-3 stretch with unimpressive wins and one brutal loss, Mississippi State was in danger of being taken lightly. Texas A&M did and learned the hard way. There’s no danger of Alabama repeating the mistake. The Crimson Tide will rout the Bulldogs, who are 0-3 on the road against power-conference opponents.
The Pick: Alabama (-29)
No. 25 Baylor vs. No. 9 Oklahoma (-14.5)
When: Saturday, noon ET (ABC/ESPN2)
Does anybody have a clue which Baylor team will show up? Before Week 10, the Bears had struggled on the road but continually found a way to win at home. Then, they hosted TCU and lost 62-22. Oklahoma is capable of obliterating Baylor, but that might be the exact reason the inconsistent team keeps it close.
The Pick: Baylor (+14.5)
No. 11 West Virginia vs. Texas (-1.5)
When: Saturday, noon ET
Despite a 7-1 record, West Virginia is a road underdog at Texas. Whether the Mountaineers can pull off the upset is largely dependent on containing D’Onta Foreman, who leads the nation in rushing yards per game. Foreman will help the Longhorns become the second team to eclipse the 200-yard mark on the ground against West Virginia, but they’ll falter defensively in a tight loss.
The Pick: West Virginia (+1.5)
No. 12 Penn State (-6.5) vs. Indiana
When: Saturday, noon ET (ABC/ESPN2)
Indiana tends to perform better at home, but Penn State is on a roll. The Nittany Lions have earned five straight victories since a dreadful day opposite Michigan. Conversely, the Hoosiers recently surrendered 36 points to Maryland and just barely beat Rutgers. The 2016 squads are trending in opposite directions, and it’ll show on Saturday.
The Pick: Penn State (-6.5)
South Carolina vs. No. 22 Florida (-14)
When: Saturday, noon ET (CBS)
For the first time since September, South Carolina will hit the road. That month wasn’t kind to the Gamecocks, but Will Muschamp‘s team steadily improved in October. Meanwhile, Florida’s inconsistent campaign continued and hit a low during a 21-point loss to Arkansas. Though the Gators will avoid an upset, it’ll be an ugly showing against their former coach.
The Pick: South Carolina (+14)
Pitt vs. No. 2 Clemson (-20)
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
Clemson opened November with a dominant showing against Syracuse, which means the Tigers are due for a near-collapse, right? Pitt’s defense isn’t up to Pat Narduzzi’s standards, but James Conner will allow the offense to piece together a few scoring drives. While the Clemson roller-coaster will continue, the end result will be the same. And for the Tigers, a victory is the only thing that matters.
The Pick: Pitt (+20)
No. 6 Ohio State (-27.5) vs. Maryland
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
We were patiently waiting on Ohio State’s bounce-back game, and boy, did it ever happen against Nebraska. Another rout could be on the horizon, especially if Maryland is without quarterback Perry Hills. The Terrapins had a fair bit of success moving the ball on the vaunted Michigan defense, but it didn’t show on the scoreboard. That won’t be any easier against the resurgent Buckeyes.
The Pick: Ohio State (-27.5)
Illinois vs. No. 7 Wisconsin (-26.5)
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
There’s little doubt Wisconsin will record another victory. However, the Badgers offense continues to be mediocre at best. The team has tallied more than 30 points just once this season. Illinois must take advantage of its limited scoring chances, but the defense has legitimately played well since a horrid first half at Michigan. Wisconsin wins, but it’ll be closer than anticipated.
The Pick: Illinois (+26.5)
No. 8 Auburn (-10) vs. Georgia
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
Georgia is a strange team. Other than getting destroyed at Ole Miss, the Bulldogs have either failed to pull away from an opponent or stayed within striking distance during a loss. The key to this SEC showdown is Jacob Eason’s performance against an average Auburn secondary, as the Tigers will focus on stopping the run. We’re not expecting a breakout game from the freshman, though.
The Pick: Auburn (-10)
Texas Tech vs. No. 17 Oklahoma State (-12)
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1)
For Texas Tech to have any chance at springing an upset, Patrick Mahomes II will need to out-offense Oklahoma State because there won’t be much stopping the Pokes. Mason Rudolph and James Washington may destroy the box score, but despite a win, Oklahoma State’s secondary will have trouble slowing Mahomes.
The Pick: Texas Tech (+12)
Georgia Tech vs. No. 18 Virginia Tech (-13.5)
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Justin Fuente is building a convincing case for “Best Hire of 2016.” Virginia Tech is just two conference victories away from winning the ACC’s Coastal Division. And fortunately for the Hokies, they’re set to host Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech is averaging 44 points at home, while the Yellow Jackets have mustered just 23.7 on the road. The Hokies’ interior linemen will control the trenches in a big win.
The Pick: Virginia Tech (-13.5)
Wake Forest vs. No. 5 Louisville (-33)
When: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Wake Forest is one of the best stories of the year. However, there’s a difference between a feel-good team and a nationally competitive one. Louisville will have little trouble dispatching the Demon Deacons. However, with a Thursday night showdown against Houston looming for the Cardinals, Lamar Jackson and Co. should get a relatively quick hook. Wake Forest will manage to edge the spread.
The Pick: Wake Forest (+33)
No. 19 LSU (-6.5) vs. Arkansas
When: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
LSU must bounce back from a physically exhausting clash with Alabama to overcome a problematic opponent. In each of the last two years, these programs have squared off immediately following Bama-LSU, and Arkansas won both times. But the Razorbacks aren’t dominant against the run this season, and the offensive line likely can’t handle the Tigers’ pressure. LSU will win by double digits.
The Pick: LSU (-6.5)
No. 24 Boise State (-17) vs. Hawaii
When: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
Ever since a near-letdown against Colorado State, Boise State’s defense has struggled. A trip to Hawaii should be the perfect remedy, as the Rainbow Warriors are ranked 107th in total defense and 119th in scoring defense. The Broncos need a victory to stay alive in the Mountain Division race, and they’ll get a resounding one in Honolulu.
The Pick: Boise State (-17)
USC vs. No. 4 Washington (-8)
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
Though an eight-point spread initially seems a bit disrespectful to Washington at home, the recipe for success against the Pac-12 favorite is centered around running the ball. And few backs have been more productive over the last two weeks than USC’s Ronald Jones II. The Trojans won’t upset Washington, but offensive balance will allow them to hang around until the final whistle.
The Pick: USC (+8)
No. 2 Michigan (-19.5) vs. Iowa
When: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (ABC)
Entering the season, we wondered if Iowa could possibly retain its 2015 form. The short answer? Nope. This is only Michigan’s second competitive road game of the season, so there’s still a bit of uncertainty about the Wolverines away from Ann Arbor. But if the Hawkeyes aren’t more creative on offense, Michigan will force several early punts, build a comfortable lead and earn a 24-point win.
The Pick: Michigan (-19.5)
Note: No consensus spreads available for Minnesota vs. No. 21 Nebraska or Ole Miss vs. No. 10 Texas A&M due to injuries to Tommy Armstrong Jr. (NEB) and Trevor Knight (TAMU).
No. 15 Colorado (-15) vs. Arizona
When: Saturday, 10 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1)
Colorado is a win over Arizona away from securing a Pac-12 South Division-deciding showdown with Utah. And the Wildcats are a broken team. They’ve dropped six straight games overall, including five consecutive by at least 13 points. Arizona’s relative home success—winning twice and testing Washington—is a merely a distant memory. Colorado will cruise to a three-score win.
The Pick: Colorado (-15)
Cal vs. No. 22 Washington State (-15)
When: Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
A consensus over/under is not available, but this contest is sure to bring one of the highest totals. The difference will be Washington State’s semblance of a defense. Cal has surrendered 45-plus points in every road game, while Wazzu has only allowed more than 33 once since its embarrassing opener. The Cougars will control a shootout and stay undefeated in Pac-12 play.
The Pick: Washington State (-15)
Top 25 rankings reflect the Associated Press poll. All odds courtesy of Odds Shark. All historical spread info via TeamRankings.com. Stats from CFBstats.com or B/R research.
All recruiting information via Scout. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.