USA TODAY Sports’ George Schroeder, Paul Myerberg and FOX Sports host Joel Klatt preview the biggest games this weekend in college football.
USA TODAY Sports
The USA TODAY Sports college football staff — Paul Myerberg, Lindsay Schnell, George Schroeder, Erick Smith, Eddie Timanus and Dan Wolken — weigh in with their expertise and offer up some bold predictions ahead of Week 11 of the college football season:
Alabama-Birmingham will beat Florida and officially cement the 2017 season as the worst in the program’s history. Yes, worse even than the winless 1979 team, which lost three games by a single possession. It would only be fitting that this year’s UF team would pay UAB $1.5 million and then lose. If so, maybe they should hire the Blazers’ head coach?
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This weekend is supposed to be a snooze fest in college football — the only matchup between ranked teams is Michigan at Wisconsin — and surely that means that something crazy is going to happen. I think it’ll involve a playoff contender, so I’m going to go ahead and predict that Texas Tech, a seven-point underdog, beats TCU, taking the Horned Frogs out of the playoff race entirely.
Hope you enjoyed those last two college football weekends, because this one doesn’t have nearly as many high-profile pairings. There is, in fact, just one Top 25 matchup. And even though Michigan appears to have found a quarterback, we’re still going to say Wisconsin will protect its home turf at Camp Randall.
It would defy history to say there will be no upsets at all of ranked teams, however, so we’ll predict just one. Wake Forest will knock off North Carolina State. The Demon Deacons’ offense is humming, and the Wolfpack narrowly escaped Boston College after seeing their chance to win the ACC Atlantic go by the boards.
Teams that play Alabama generally don’t bounce back easily the next week. And that probably goes double for Mississippi State, given how close the Bulldogs came to actually beating the Crimson Tide. For those reasons, plus all the noise swirling around Dan Mullen’s future, this is a prime opportunity for Arkansas to pull an upset in Fayetteville.
The Hogs played a little bit better last weekend against LSU, and they have a couple factors working in their favor here. First, its an 11 a.m. game, which typically doesn’t help a favorite who might be inclined to overlook its opponent. Second, the firing of athletics director Jeff Long puts Bret Bielema’s future as coach there squarely on the frontburner. I expect Arkansas’ best effort of the year this Saturday, and combined with a tough bounce-back spot for Mississippi State, you can go ahead and book the Bulldogs for a stunning loss.
Notre Dame saw its College Football Playoff hopes go up in smoke last Saturday against Miami (Fla.). Do the Irish have the ability to get refocused quickly from their disappointment with Navy coming to town? The Midshipmen are always difficult to play in the best circumstances with their option offense requiring assignment discipline from the defense.
Coming off an emotional loss, the Notre Dame defenders must pay attention to detail all week and not just think showing up on Saturday will be enough. The offense isn’t immune from challenges. The unit must come out with the requisite intensity for a rivalry game and push around the smaller Navy defense to establish its running game. Perhaps the chance to play in a New Year’s Six bowl game is enough of a carrot to give the players incentive. Something, however, says the fire won’t be there and this one will be too close for comfort.
Arkansas has been on the edge of a precipice for weeks now. Bret Bielema seems destined to follow athletic director Jeff Long in being asked (told) to leave his job. There’s no real reason to expect the Razorbacks to be competitive against Mississippi State — which is why they will be. In Fayetteville, Arkansas musters one solid performance and knocks off the Bulldogs, who will be suffering from a hangover after that near upset of Alabama.
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