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Weekly Picks

Week 11 CFB ATS Predictions

by Thor Nystrom
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

 

 

 

MARQUEE MATCHUPS:



 

 

BAYLOR -2.5 Oklahoma



Straight Up:  Baylor Bears

 
 

Against the Spread:


 Baylor Bears

 

 



Analysis:

 

Are you as shocked by this line as I am? Baylor has blown every team out save for Kansas State, who they beat by a touchdown last week. The Bears have won 20 straight home games and have scored 42 points per game against the Sooners since 2011. Everyone is pretending the Sooners have morphed into Bear Bryant’s Alabama since losing to Texas on October 10, but here’s who they’ve played since then: Kansas State, Texas Tech, Kansas and Iowa State. The school’s best win of the season was probably the road triumph over 5-4 Tennessee in September. Recall how fortunate they were not to lose that double-overtime affair. And not for nothing? Baylor, playing host in Waco, gets a few extra days rest after playing last Thursday. A reminder: Oklahoma lost to 4-5 Texas on a neutral field. Baylor by double digits. Oh, and draftnik altert: One of the day’s best individual matchups is between Oklahoma CB Zack Sanchez and Baylor WR Corey Coleman


 

Alabama -7.5 MISSISSIPPI STATE

 

Straight Up:  Alabama Crimson Tide

 
 

Against the Spread:


 

Alabama Crimson Tide 

 



Analysis:

 

QB Dak Prescott, who has been mysteriously ignored by the draft community this fall despite having taken his in-pocket game up a notch, has a chance to move into Day 2 with a big day against one of the nation’s best defenses. Though I think he’ll acquit himself well enough, though the game is in Starkville, though Alabama hasn’t covered a post-LSU game in five years, though the Bulldogs are 8-1 ATS in their last nine as an underdog, though Alabama is 3-7 ATS across its last 10 as an away favorite, though advanced metrics suggest this line should be lower, though this is the revenge spot to end all revenge spots for MSU after Alabama wrecked its dreams season last year, I’ll still happily lay a touchdown-plus here. Because Alabama’s defense.

 

 

STANFORD -9.5 Oregon

 

 

Straight Up:  
Stanford Cardinal logo
 
 

Against the Spread:


 

Stanford Cardinal logo 

 

 

 

Analysis:

 

I keep betting against Oregon and losing. Lets fire another bullet, shall we? The Ducks are a different, um, waterbird with Vernon Adams on the field. During Oregon’s three-game winning streak, Adams has orchestrated a 300-plus yard passing average. Stanford is merely middle of the pack defensively and you can certainly envision Adams, an underrated deep thrower, uncorking a few successful bombs to move the safeties back so he and Royce Freeman can have ample room to work the running lanes. I just can’t go against a matchup as juicy as Stanford’s No. 14 offense against Oregon’s No. 96 defense (per Bill Connelly’s S&P metrics), especially since the Cardinal are 4-0 ATS at home this year and haven’t been held under 31 points on The Farm. Standout Stanford OL Ryan Murphy is going to have his hands full with all-world DL DeForest Buckner. Assuming Murphy isn’t a turnstile, Christian McCaffrey and crew will trash the FCS-like defensive talent surrounding Mr. Buckner. 


LSU -8 Arkansas

 


Straight Up:  
LSU Tigers
 
 

Against the Spread:


 Arkansas Razorbacks

 

 



Analysis:

 
The Tigers’ only chance to win the SEC West and potentially make the Playoff is winning out and praying Alabama is upset by either Mississippi State or Auburn. Fresh off ending Ole Miss’ season, Arkansas will try to crush another fan bases’ dreams. They have a very real chance to do so here. According to S&P, Arkansas has the country’s No. 8 offense, one slot better than Memphis. The Hogs blanked LSU 17-0 last year. This time around, we have a night game in Baton Rouge, the only reason I begrudgingly side with the Tigers in a straight-up proposition.


HOUSTON -7 Memphis



Straight Up:  
Memphis Tigers
 
 

Against the Spread:


 Memphis Tigers

 

 



Analysis:



We’ll find out if I’m right on Saturday, but I think Memphis is the better of these two teams. This line is inflated by three or four points because the Tigers weren’t prepared to defend Navy’s triple-option attack. Hard to hold that against them. Even with that black mark on their stats, Memphis still ranks No. 46 in the country against the run. That stat is important, because Greg Ward Jr. and Kenneth Farrow have combined for almost 1,700 yards on the ground. Neither Houston or Memphis can defend the pass; the Cougars rank in the bottom-20 despite having played one of the FBS’ weakest schedules. The over is the best bet in this game. I think the Tigers shock the Cougars in a shootout. 


IOWA -12 Minnesota



Straight Up:  
Iowa Hawkeyes
 
 

Against the Spread:


 Minnesota Golden Gophers

 

 



Analysis:



Behold the Gophers, the scariest 4-5 team in recent memory. The Gophers lost by a total of 23 points against TCU, Ohio State and Michigan. Were it not for a goaline fumble or a sack-and-score, Minnesota would have beaten the Horned Frogs. Were it not for the coaching staff forgetting basic tackle football timing rules, the Gophers would have toppled the Wolverines on Halloween. And only a late touchdown by the Buckeyes pushed the final margin of victory to double digits. Minnesota is an 8-4 team that has had several key bounces go against it. Iowa is no joke—the defense is truly outstanding—but this alum thinks the Hawkeyes are on upset alert this weekend. Iowa and Minnesota both play grind-it-out brands of football tailored to compliment outstanding defenses. I see a low-scoring Iowa escape of the 16-13 variety. 


NORTH CAROLINA -13 Miami

 


Straight Up:  North Carolina Tar Heels

 
 

Against the Spread:


 Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes

 

 



Analysis:

 

Sorry, but I’m just not that impressed with the Tar Heels. Sure, they have the No. 12 offense and No. 21 defense based on points for and against. Yeah, they’re outgaining teams by 118 yards a game. I just can’t get over the No. 118 strength of schedule. The slate is truly wretched: Two sub-division teams, Illinois and a series of ACC teams vacillating in quality between terrible (Wake Forest, Virginia) and so-so (Pitt). The only team I didn’t mention is South Carolina, which is 2-6 against teams not named North Carolina (the other two wins: UCF and Vandy). As with Oregon, I’ll go down with the ship betting against the Heels. That we’re getting nearly two touchdowns with the hot Hurricanes—2-0 since Al Golden was terminated—is generous. Having said that, UNC QB Marquise Williams is a DFS star and RB Elijah Hood has a nice matchup here against a lethargic ‘Canes defense. Expect Brad Kaaya and the Williams/Hood combo to take turns shredding the other’s defenses in an exciting shootout. 





WILD CARDS:

 

 

UCLA -10.5 Washington State

 

 

Straight Up: Washington State Cougars 

 
 

Against the Spread:


 Washington State Cougars

 

 



Analysis:

 

It’s unclear why UCLA is favored by double-digits here, as statistically these teams are just about mirror images of one another when you toss out sub-division competition. Washington State is averaging 455.8 passing yards over its last five games. UCLA’s pass defense stats are very good, but keep in mind that the defense remains littered with injuries and is thin. The Bruins also haven’t faced Mike Leach’s pass-pass-pass offense since his first season in 2012, when Wazzu finished 3-9 as it labored to learn The Pirate’s concepts. The Cougars have won four of five games—all in Pac-12 play—with the two-point heartbreaker against Stanford on Halloween the only loss. The Cougars’ roster is comprised of 35 players from California. An inspired bunch stays hot and puts a real scare into the Bruins.

 


Utah -6 ARIZONA



Straight Up: Utah Utes 

 
 

Against the Spread:


 Utah Utes

 

 



Analysis:



Wildcats RB Nick Wilson is questionable with a knee injury. If he doesn’t play, I love the Utes. If he’s limited, I like the Utes very much. If he was completely healthy? I’d take the points and might even call for an Arizona outright win. He’s that valuable. And Arizona is that bad offensively when he isn’t on the field. With Wilson either out or hobbled over the past three weeks, the Wildcats have averaged only 371 yards per game. Unless Wilson is a full-go, Utah’s No. 18 defense is going to wreck the rudderless Arizona attack.


Michigan -13.5 INDIANA

 


Straight Up:  
Michigan Wolverines
 
 

Against the Spread:


 Indiana Hoosiers

 

 



Analysis:

 

The Hoosiers are 4-5 and have a legitimately atrocious defense. Having said that, they’re a nice value here against the Wolverines. Indiana has the No. 21 offense in the FBS according to S&P. As for that losing record, consider it Minnesota-lite in terms of its mirage factor. Indiana has played the 18th-best schedule in the FBS and played Michigan State and Iowa very close. The Wolverines, who haven’t beaten a top-40 school all year, would be content to grind out a close win in Bloomington. With both QB Nate Sudfeld and RB Jordan Howard healthy, I see just that happening.

 

 

***



 

2015 RecordStraight-Up: 70-30 (70.0%); Against the Spread: 46-51-3 (47.4%)

 

 

 

2014 RecordStraight-Up: 118-72 (62.1%); Against the Spread: 99-90-1 (52.4%)


Thor Nystrom

Thor Nystrom is Rotoworld’s lead CFB writer. The 2018 FSWA College Sports Writer of the Year, Nystrom’s writing has also been honored by Rolling Stone magazine and The Best American Essays series. Say hi to him on Twitter @thorku!