NCAA Football Predictions: Week 11 Opening Line Report and Picks
This past weekend was a terrific one in college football as the first Saturday in November usually is. Week 11? Meh. Let's just call it letdown Saturday, where you could see a bunch of heavy favorites be rather sluggish and not cover coming off huge matchups in Week 10. There are only a couple of ranked teams facing off, and both probably will be blowouts.
So, let's talk about Urban Meyer, shall we? His No. 10 Buckeyes (rankings from the last CFP Top 25 and could change Tuesday) visit Michigan State in what looked to be one of the Big Ten's Games of the Year. It's still vitally important for OSU as it can't afford another loss and still hope for an East Division winner-take-all game vs. Michigan to close the regular season. This game has lost some luster because Michigan State has disappointed, although injuries have played a big role.
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It has been a rough year for Meyer, who had his reputation dragged through the mud with that whole Zach Smith affair. If Meyer wasn't one of the most successful college coaches ever, he surely would have been fired because of what happened under his watch. Instead, a grateful school only suspended him three games.
If you have watched any Buckeyes games with Meyer on the sideline this year, he really hasn't looked physically well at times - it harkens back to 2010 when Meyer didn't really look right while coaching Florida. He would step aside one year for health reasons before returning at Ohio State.
Rumors are just that, but they get credence when started by credible sources. I would say that ESPN's Paul Finebaum (loudmouth but usually right) and Kirk Herbstreit (former Buckeyes QB and a very influential alum) have credibility, and both have said to the effect they believe this will be Meyer's last year on the sideline because of health problems.
Meyer has said he "plans" on coaching next year but then seemed to offer an out last week when he revealed a cyst in his brain, first diagnosed in 1998, still causes severe headaches. He had a surgical procedure in March 2014 to drain fluid in the cyst in an attempt to relieve headaches. Meyer said it was responsible for him dropping to his knees on the sideline during a game against Indiana. The 54-year-old added this condition has nothing to do with the Smith problems, but I'd guess stress isn't great for a brain cyst. It's called a "serious yet manageable" problem.
Usually where there's smoke there's fire. If the Buckeyes do win it all this year, I'd make it even money that Meyer isn't back next year as he could leave on top. If I had to give a number on whether he returns overall, maybe -200? When Ryan Day took over as interim coach during the suspension, there was talk he was being made coach-in-waiting but really nothing since then. Stay tuned!
The Buckeyes are -3.5 in East Lansing . Here are a few other Week 11 opening lines that caught my eye. Games Saturday unless noted. Picks are ATS.
No. 23 Fresno State at Boise State, Friday (+2.5): These schools could play four times in the span of a year depending on what happens here. They closed the 2017 regular season against one another, with Fresno winning at home over the No. 23 Broncos. That game meant nothing, though, as they knew they were playing the next week in the Mountain West title game. Computers decided where they would be played (not going into that, but rules have changed regarding the host this year) and it was on the blue turf of Boise. The Broncos won that 17-14. Both could return to that game, just one could or neither. Fresno is atop the West Division at 5-0 and Boise is game behind 5-0 Utah State in the Mountain. The Broncos close the regular season at home vs. USU. Pretty rare to see Boise as a home dog - last happened on Oct. 23, 1999 vs. Nevada. The Broncos have won their past three as home dogs. The pick: Boise.
No. 2 Clemson at No. 22 Boston College (+17.5): Steve Addazio entered on the hot seat at BC but has done a fine job as the Eagles could win the ACC Atlantic Division with a huge upset here. BC is a game behind Clemson and still has to go to Florida State and host a pretty good Syracuse team. Addazio has one of the nation's top running backs in A.J. Dillon, but good luck against that stellar Tigers defense loaded with future NFL first-round picks. Ever since a close call vs. Syracuse on Sept. 29, Clemson is just destroying people. It probably got Bobby Petrino fired from Louisville thanks to Saturday's 77-16 wipeout of the Cardinals. Clemson, which would clinch the Atlantic with a victory, has won seven straight in the series, all but one by double digits and the past three by a combined 90 points. It was 34-7 last year. The pick: BC.
Northwestern at No. 16 Iowa (-10): Important game in the Big Ten West Division and will help determine which team from that division loses in convincing fashion to either Michigan or Ohio State in the conference title game. The Wildcats have a one-game lead over Wisconsin and Purdue in the West and two over the Hawkeyes. I thought Northwestern had a reasonable chance of upsetting Notre Dame this past Saturday in Evanston, but the Irish escaped 31-21. It was just a 3-point game with three minutes left. Northwestern has won the past two in the series, each by seven points. Iowa's division chances probably vanished with Saturday's 38-36 loss at Purdue. Spencer Evans made a 25-yard field goal with 8 seconds left. The next win for Iowa's Kirk Ferentz will be his 150th career. Woody Hayes, Amos Alonzo Stagg, Bo Schembechler and Joe Paterno are the only Big Ten coaches in that club. Iowa probably won't be ranked any longer in Tuesday's new CFP Top 25. Northwestern has won the past two in the series, each by a TD. The pick: Northwestern.
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