2018 CFB Picks: Week 11

4 Units

NC STATE (-16.5) over Wake Forest 

Against teams in the Top 75 of CFB this season, Wake is 0-5, losing by a margin of 26.8 PPG. Four of those games were at home. Now they head out on the road against an NC State team that has been rock steady at home. And they do it without their starting QB, Sam Hartman.

And that’s a shame for the Deacs because one area where you can really take advantage of the Pack is in the passing game. While Hartman wasn’t exactly an elite passer, he at least had been building experience. He’s replaced by Jamie Newman, who is 9-19 for 83 yards, 0 TDs, and 2 INTs for his career. This will be his first start. And he doesn’t even have a full week to prepare. This game is Thursday night in Raleigh. While the pass defense isn’t great as a whole, they do get after the QB and it could be a night full of duress for Newman.

It’s hard to expect the run game to bail Newman out. NC State has an elite run defense, holding five of their last six opponents under 100 rushing yards, only allowing 2.8 YPC in that timeframe.

Defensively, the Deacs just don’t do much well. It’s hard to find a strength. They’ll be up against one of the best QBs in the nation in Ryan Finley and an offense that has put up 88 points the last two weeks against better defenses than Wake’s.

Maryland (+3) over INDIANA  

This feels like a lot of credit for an Indiana team that’s played one decent game since the middle of September. They’ve been sliding since that time. Here’s their Percentile Performance and national ranking over the season, according to S&P+:

Indiana

As you can see, it’s been a steady decline for the Hoosiers since starting Big Ten play after facing a pretty soft non-conference schedule. Maryland on the other hand, has been the most predictable roller coaster in the country.

Maryland

As you can see, the same team doesn’t show up two weeks in a row. The reason for liking the Terps this week isn’t just that they’re coming off a poor performance, it’s that all of those games where they were under 78% came against teams that are currently Top 40ish. Indiana is not that right now.

Maryland has a hard time scoring if they can’t run the ball, but they should be able to do that against IU. The Hoosiers are about average against the run, but they’ve given up over 4.5 YPC in each of the last three games.

On the other side, Indiana has lacked any type of big plays on offense. Explosive plays may be a big factor in this game. Indiana ranks 123rd on offense and 87th on defense, while Maryland ranks 5th on offense and 16th on defense. In what figures to be a game played in the 20’s, those big chunk plays could be the difference.

Also what has to worry you if you’re Indiana, despite throwing a lot of shorter routes, Peyton Ramsey has been prone to interceptions. He’s thrown ten for the season and five of those have come in the last three games. The Terps have intercepted more passes than anybody else this season. Again, the potential for game-changing plays.

3 Units

MINNESOTA (+12.5) over Purdue 

Purdue’s in a similar situation it was two weeks ago. They were coming off a big home win over Ohio State and headed out on the road to Michigan State and looked awful. Now they’re coming off another big home win over Iowa.

It’s possible that Purdue learned its lesson after the MSU game and beating Iowa didn’t cause the same week-long party that Ohio State did, but there are some matchups that will also help Minnesota in this game.

Purdue has an explosive offense, but they’re a pass-heavy oriented team. They’re not incapable of running, but they just kinda choose not to most of the time. That negates some of what’s Minnesota’s biggest flaw: stopping the run. The Gophers have had some atrocious defensive games, but the worst have come against run-heavy teams with a dual-threat QB: Illinois, Nebraska, and Maryland. They gave up 48 points to Iowa, but that was largely a function of four offensive turnovers. The Hawkeyes only averaged 5.3 yards per play, which is below average.

On the other side, Minnesota has become a more explosive passing team with Tanner Morgan under center. Turnovers have been a concern with him, but Purdue tends to play pretty soft coverage with a young secondary. The Gophers shouldn’t have trouble gaining yards. The test will be if they can convert scoring opportunities into touchdowns.

WEST VIRGINIA (-13.5) over TCU 

TCU’s offense stinks out loud at this point. They haven’t had a good game since Week 3 against Ohio State, which as we’ve seen more of the OSU defense, is less impressive than we thought at the time. They haven’t scored over 30 since Week 2 and they play in the freaking Big 12.

The Frog defense is a lot better, but they’ve had problems slowing down elite offenses. Oklahoma put up 52. OSU put up 40 in Dwayne Haskins’ first big game start. They were able to limit Texas Tech to 17 points, but it was third-string QB Jett Duffey’s first start and the Red Raiders were content playing a slower pace in that game and still beat the Frogs in Fort Worth.

SMU (-18) over UCONN 

UConn has kept it within 18 in only three games all season: FCS Rhode Island, UMass, and USF somehow. They have absolutely nothing to play for, they might be the worst team in the country, and they face a surging SMU team that has turned it on since the bye week.

Letdown potential for the Mustangs as they come off of games with Cincinnati and Houston and look forward to Memphis next week. However, they’ve looked like a determined team and a bowl game is in their sights and they probably need this one to make it. They faced a similar situation when they beat Navy – when it wasn’t clear they sucked – for their first win of the year, had Houston Baptist the next week with the UCF game following. They beat HBU by 36 in that sandwich spot.

SYRACUSE (-21) over Louisville 

Well, it appears Louisville is ready to quit with Petrino’s firing almost inevitable at this point, their defense is pathetic, and Syracuse has put a ton of points on everybody not named Clemson. There’s a potential for a letdown with the Orange as they face Notre Dame next week, but I’m not sure it’s possible to be less focused than Louisville right now.

2 Units

TEXAS TECH (+1) over Texas 

It’d be a bigger play if not for the constant juggling act at QB for Texas Tech. Texas has been overvalued all year and Texas Tech has been undervalued. Something to watch for here is the opportunistic Tech secondary. Sam Ehlinger’s done a good job taking care of the ball all year, but Adrian Frye, Vaughnte Dorsey, and Damarcus Fields all get their hands on a lot of balls.

Oregon (+3.5) over UTAH 

Oregon’s tough to predict, but I feel like you have to take them with Tyler Huntley out at QB for Utah. Huntley had a ton of experience and was a steady hand for the offense. He now gives way to redshirt freshman Jason Shelley, who went 4-11 for 59 yards in relief at Arizona State last week.

Temple (+4) over HOUSTON 

Anthony Russo should be able to keep it going from last week against a weak pass defense. The Owls have a capable run game as well and Ed Oliver’s injured knee is a big blow to the Cougars usually good run defense.

D’Eriq King showed that he was human last week against SMU and now he faces a Temple defense that’s one of the best in the country defending the pass. It was a rough game defensively for Temple against UCF last week, but that performance was much more the exception than the rule.

North Texas (-14, (-120)) over OLD DOMINION 

North Texas should be able to rack up a ton of points against a terrible defense, but the Mean Green’s last couple of road performances are limiting the play a bit here.

UCF (-25.5) over NAVY

Everything about this game suggests UCF is going to roll big. Navy’s been rag-dolled by everybody the past month. Their defense is terrible in both phases. They were in San Diego two weeks ago, Cincinnati last week, and now Orlando. All while juggling the ridiculous schedule of a service academy student. UCF is a machine. But Navy does have a tendency to make some games look a lot closer than they are given their style and this is a sandwich spot for the Knights after Temple last week and Cinci next week. That’s why we’re only going for the two units.

YTD: 49-41 (+4.9u)

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