So forget about the SEC becoming the first conference to land two teams in the College Football Playoff. There was a lot of handwringing last week when the first CFP rankings were released and one-loss Texas A&M was at No. 4, one spot ahead of unbeaten Washington, the Pac-12 favorite. But I wrote that the Huskies had nothing to worry about as if they just took care of business, they would be in the Top 4 by the end.
Now it might happen Tuesday. That's because the Aggies were upset 35-28 at Mississippi State. A&M's bacon was cooked when quarterback Trevor Knight left with his team down 28-7. He injured his throwing shoulder on a 19-yard touchdown run at the end of the first quarter and was able to come back for one series but then left for good midway through the second. It's not clear yet if Knight will play this week against Ole Miss. Junior Jake Hubenak would get the call if not. He was 11 of 17 for 222 yards and two touchdowns vs. MSU. Also monitor the status of Aggies defensive end Myles Garrett, who aggravated an ankle injury vs. the Bulldogs. Texas A&M only played Garrett on third downs due to the problem. He's a potential No. 1 overall pick in next year's NFL Draft.
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The Aggies opened at -20 this week against visiting Ole Miss, which has lost star quarterback Chad Kelly, who also has a potential NFL future, for the season. The senior suffered a torn ACL and torn lateral meniscus during the Rebels' 37-27 win over Georgia Southern on Saturday. Redshirt freshman Jason Pellerin replaced Kelly, completing 1 of 5 passes for 19 yards and an interception. He also ran the ball four times for 29 yards. What's interesting there is if Ole Miss has to burn the redshirt of highly-touted true freshman Shea Patterson. At 4-5, Ole Miss would need two wins to get bowl eligible. Is wasting a year of Patterson, rated the No. 1 dual-threat high school QB in his class, worth some potential minor bowl game? The Rebs close the regular season at Vanderbilt and home in the Egg Bowl vs. Mississippi State.
Here are a few Week 11 opening lines that caught my eye. Rankings from the last College Football Top 25 (will change Tuesday), and games Saturday unless noted.
No. 13 LSU at Arkansas (+7): Sometimes it's very smart to bet against a team the week after facing its main rival, and that's the case for LSU, which saw its chances of major bowl game disappear in Saturday's 10-0 loss to No. 1 Alabama. That also likely ended the chances of Ed Orgeron getting the full-time LSU coaching job. Just like last year, the Tide loaded up to stop Leonard Fournette and did so, and LSU couldn't make Alabama pay through the air. In 2014, the week after losing a well-played defensive battle to Alabama, the Tigers were shutout in Arkansas, 17-0. Last year, after losing 30-16 in Tuscaloosa the Tigers were beaten 31-14 at home by Arkansas. The pick: Razorbacks.
South Carolina at No. 11 Florida (-12): The Gators are going to plummet in the CFP Top 25 after getting spanked 31-10 at Arkansas on Saturday. Florida was held to a season-low 12 yards rushing on 14 carries. The win was the first over the Gators for Arkansas since the 1982 Bluebonnet Bowl, and it was the Razorbacks' first SEC victory over Florida. The Gators still do control their destiny to win the SEC East but now have little wiggle room with Tennessee a game back in the loss column and holding the head-to-head tiebreaker. Florida will be without starting QB Luke Del Rio, center Cam Dillard and linebackers Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone against the Gamecocks. Purdue transfer Austin Appleby made two starts earlier this season with Del Rio was out and should get the call. Davis and Anzalone (out for season) are the team's top two tacklers. Of course, this is the return of former Florida coach Will Muschamp to Gainesville. The pick: USC and go under whatever small total this has.
No. 3 Michigan at Iowa (+20): Early in the season, this looked like a potential trouble for the Wolverines as Iowa is the defending Big Ten West champion. But the Hawkeyes were clobbered at Penn State on Saturday for their fourth loss and Penn State is a team that Michigan crushed earlier in the season. The only thing that might make this semi-competitive is that it's only Michigan's second game of the season outside its state. The only other time the Wolverines have had to travel outside Michigan was a 78-0 blowout of Rutgers. UM blasted Maryland 59-3 in Week 10, its third 50-point win of the season. The Wolverines lead the FBS in point differential. The pick: Iowa.
Pittsburgh at No. 2 Clemson (-20.5): The Tigers can clinch their second straight trip to the ACC Championship Game with a win here. Star quarterback Deshaun Watson hurt his shoulder in Saturday's blowout of Syracuse, but Coach Dabo Swinney said that Watson could have returned to the game but wasn't needed with the Tigers up big. That probably didn't help his Heisman hopes, but Watson was unlikely to catch Lamar Jackson regardless. Pitt was blasted by Miami and said goodbye to its chances of winning the ACC Coastal Division. It's the first time these schools have played in 39 years. The lone meeting occurred in the 1977 Gator Bowl, a 34-3 Pitt win. Clemson will be the highest-rated opponent Pitt has faced in nine years. That was Pitt's upset of No. 1 West Virginia on Dec. 1, 2007. The pick: Clemson as long as Watson is OK.
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