Week 11 College Football Tips

The Johnny Manziel-led Texas A&M Aggies will be looking to keep their SEC West title hopes alive with an upset win over #1 Alabama.

It feels like just yesterday we were preparing for Alabama’s showdown with Michigan at Cowboys Stadium, but believe it or not, it’s only a few short weeks until we reach championship and Bowl season.

A number of big games take place this week that could decide, or at least go a long way to deciding, who represents the various conferences at their respective championship games. There’re also a few games that might have some influence on the National Championship picture.

While Oregon heads to California, Notre Dame challenges Boston College and Kansas State takes on TCU – all games that should go with the formbook – let’s take a look at this weekend’s ranked matchups and see how they might impact the final standings.

 

#15 Texas A&M @ #1 Alabama

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s set a scenario. If Alabama was to close out the season with losses to both A&M and Auburn, and the Aggies knocked off Mizzou in the last week of the regular season, Texas A&M would head to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. How would that be for an SEC debut?

Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, nobody believes that Alabama is going to lose one game, let alone two, but, whilst there’s a possibility, maybe it’s worth a gamble?

The clash on Saturday will mark only the fourth encounter between the two sides, the last one coming in 1988. Alabama won that game and is 3-1 overall. Alabama had a tough outing against LSU last week, and showed for the first time that it may well be beatable. It’s up to Johnny Manziel and the Aggies to try and prove that the Tide is beatable.

Odds: Alabama opened as 15½-point favorites but that number has fallen to 14 ahead of kickoff. The over/under is 56.

Take: Alabama – Aside from slipups to Florida and LSU, Texas A&M has looked good this season, just not good enough to head Alabama off at the pass. The best the Aggies can hope for is to cover the spread, which is a good bet. Take the under on 56 points; both teams will be relying on defense on Saturday.

 

#11 Oregon State @ #17 Stanford

Oregon has all but been awarded the Pac-12 North title, and a place in the BCS Championship game, but in reality, were the Ducks to slip up, it’s possible that either the Cardinal or the Beavers could leapfrog the team from Eugene.

The team that stands a chance of doing just that will be decided this weekend at the Farm. Neither team will be mathematically eliminated this weekend, but the winner looks likely to have the best advantage heading into the final two weeks of the season.

Stanford convincingly leads the all-time head-to-head 50-25-3 and has won two on the bounce. However, Oregon State has won seven of the last 11.

Odds: Stanford is favored at home but an opening 5½ spread has fallen to four. The over/under is 45.

Take: Oregon State – This is a perfect opportunity to take the underdog. The Beavers have looked solid all season, while Stanford has had a few questionable moments. A win for Oregon State sets up a Civil War game for the North title. Take the over.

 

Arizona State @ #19 USC

Remember in the preseason when pundits and bookies had USC to win it all? Things haven’t exactly panned out that way, have they?

This weekend, Arizona State travels to Los Angeles knowing that a win will leapfrog the Sun Devils over the Trojans into second place in the Pac-12 South or, even better, first if UCLA loses to WASU later in the day.

USC meanwhile will be looking to right an unsteady ship and begin a charge to the title, thus making amends for a disappointing season. A win on Saturday, coupled with a UCLA loss would put the Trojans at the top of the table. Even if UCLA defeats the Cougars, a showdown with USC lies in wait next weekend.

USC is 18-10 all-time against Arizona State. However, the Trojans has an 11-game win streak shattered last season when the Sun Devils took a 43-22 victory in the desert. Arizona State has not won at the Coliseum since 1999.

Odds: USC opened as 10-point favorites, but action has seen the spread drop to nine. The over/under is 65.

Take: USC – The Trojans have not lost three straight since 2001 and look to have an offense strong enough to handle the Sun Devils, who have lost three straight themselves. Take USC to cover the spread and the total to go over.

 

BCS Top 25 Schedule (Week 11)

Ball State 34-27 #25 Toledo (Tuesday)

#10 Florida State 28-22 Virginia Tech (Thursday)

#15 Texas A&M @ #1 Alabama

#2 Kansas State @ TCU

#3 Oregon @ California

#4 Notre Dame @ Boston College

#5 Georgia @ Auburn

Louisiana-Lafayette @ #6 Florida

#21 Mississippi State @ #7 LSU

Arkansas @ #8 South Carolina

#9 Louisville @ Syracuse

#11 Oregon State @ #14 Stanford

Baylor @ #12 Oklahoma

Maryland @ #13 Clemson

Penn State @ #16 Nebraska

Iowa State @ #17 Texas

#18 UCLA @ Washington State

Arizona State @ #19 USC

#20 Louisiana Tech @ Texas State

Kansas @ #22 Texas Tech

Army @ #23 Rutgers

#24 Northwestern @ Michigan

Big Games Still on the College Football Slate

Thanks to an elaborate sequence of events, a win over Wisconsin this weekend could find the Indiana Hoosiers representing the Leaders Division in the Big Ten Championship Game.

On Tuesday CasinoReview took a look at the biggest rivalry games still to be played this season. There’s a whole chunk of them and College Football is going to be exciting down to the last play of the season.

Today we’ve trawled through the remaining schedule and picked out the biggest (non-rivalry) games left on the slate, most of which focus on those teams looking to play their way into a conference championship game or a conference title itself.

Below is a list of the top ten(ish) fixtures left on the schedule.

Editor’s Note: Much of the content is based on assumptions that the formbook will remain true. Of course, College Football is all too good at throwing upsets out there, so there’s (always) a chance that those games played towards the end of November may take on a whole different meaning. For now, let’s play nicely in the world of theoretical football. As a final note, the games included on this list generally feature two sides that will be impacted by the same game. Yes, we know Alabama-Texas A&M is going to be a big game, but more so for the Tide than the Aggies.

 

Wisconsin @ Indiana (Nov. 10)

Big Ten: Indiana could represent the Leaders Division at the Big Ten Championship Game. This might seem a little beyond the realms of plausibility, but it’s true. Due to both Ohio State and Penn State – the two table-toppers – being ineligible, Wisconsin currently fills the ‘top’ spot, one-game ahead of the Hoosiers. If Indiana beats the Badgers, in theory it has an ‘easier’ schedule (at Penn State, at Purdue) than Wisconsin (Vs. Ohio State, at Penn State). That means this Saturday’s game could ultimately decide the Leaders Division’s representative. Shocking.

San Diego State @ Air Force (Nov. 10)

MWC: It should be duly noted that the Mountain West isn’t simply about one big game; there are plenty to follow. With five teams still in the hunt, this weekend’s clash between the Aztecs and Falcons will not decide the conference, but it will make a massive dent. As well as this meeting with the San Diego State, Air Force still has an impending clash with Fresno State (Nov. 24) which puts the impetus firmly on the Falcons’ side of the field. Nevada’s games with Fresno State (Nov. 10) and Boise State (Dec. 1) could prove to have a huge impact too.

Arizona State @ USC (Nov. 10)

Pac-12: USC hosts the Sun Devils this coming weekend aware that a loss will effectively mean the end of the Trojans’ hopes for the South Division title. A win for USC sets up a must-win game with UCLA the following weekend, although Lane Kiffin’s side will still need to hope Stanford can knock off the Bruins in the last week of the season.

Oregon State @ Stanford (Nov. 10)

Pac-12: Big strides can be made in the Pac-12 North this weekend also, as the Beavers travel to the Farm to take on Stanford. Both sides currently have conference records of 5-1, and are within touching distance of the undefeated Oregon. A loss for either side will see those championship chances extinguished. Both sides still have to face Oregon, which brings us to…

Stanford @ Oregon (Nov. 17) or Oregon @ Oregon State (Nov. 24)

Pac-12: If Stanford beats Oregon State, the North Division title will be decided in Eugene, Ore., on Nov. 17. If the Beavers win, a Civil War showdown in Corvallis on Nov. 24 will be for all the marbles. Yes, we realize that this list wasn’t supposed to include rivalry match-ups, but this is one hell of a three-way dance.

Kent State @ Bowling Green (Nov. 17)

MAC: Bowling Green’s 26-14 win over Ohio on Wednesday night looks to have turned a three-horse race for the MAC’s Eastern Division into a two horse race. Providing the team wins this weekend, the Golden Flashes will visit Perry Stadium knowing that a win will all but secure the title.

Utah State @ Louisiana Tech (Nov. 17)

WAC: The Bulldogs of LA Tech have been bothering the rankings for what seems like the better part of the season now. Only a loss to Texas A&M mars the school’s record. But Louisiana Tech isn’t guaranteed a second straight WAC title. Utah State, still unbeaten in the conference, will have a say in who is crowned the final conference football champion. Essentially, barring any hiccups down the stretch, this game will determine who takes the prize.

Toledo @ Northern Illinois (Nov. 17)

MAC: Currently one and two in the MAC’s Western Division, the Rockets and Huskies will meet in DeKalb, Ill., next weekend in what could be the division decider. Toledo’s loss to Ball State on Tuesday night has given Northern Illinois the advantage for now, but a head-to-head win would propel Toledo above the Huskies.

Louisville @ Rutgers (Nov. 29)

Big East: With both sides facing two conference challenges between now and this New Jersey showdown, a lot of scenarios can arise. For now, it’s simple: if both teams steer the course, this clash will determine who closes out the season as Big East champions.

Arkansas State @ Middle Tennessee (Dec. 1)

Sun Belt: Finally, with four weeks of play left, the Sun Belt Conference is completely up for grabs. No fewer than seven teams (Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky, Louisiana-Lafayette, Troy, and North Texas) are still mathematically in the mix, which makes this a bettors’ paradise or nightmare, depending how you look at it. Let’s keep it simple then; if the remaining schedule is true to the formbook, this clash between the Red Wolves and Blue Raiders could well decide the division. This weekend’s rivalry clash between Arkansas State and ULM could have a huge bearing also.

 

List of Conference Championship Games

ACC: Sat., Dec. 1 – Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC)

Big Ten: Sat., Dec. 1 – Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, IN)

C-USA: Sat, Dec. 1 – Hosted by team with highest winning percentage

MAC: Fri., Nov. 30 – Ford Field (Detroit, MI)

Pac-12: Fri., Nov. 30 – Hosted by team with best conference record

SEC: Sat., Dec. 1 – Georgia Dome (Atlanta, GA)

BCS National Championship Game: Mon., Jan. 7 – Sun Life Stadium (Miami Gardens, FL)

Top 10 Rivalry Games Remaining

Such is the intense rivalry of the Iron Bowl, A.J. McCarron and Alabama will know that beating Auburn will be a tough task, regardless of what the Tigers' record might suggest.

Rather unsurprisingly, our focus here at CasinoReview has been well and truly aimed at the BCS National Championship race, which continues to offer intrigue and drama at every turn. But not everything revolves around the four sides that look to be in with a shot at the crystal football.

Fans across the nation, particularly those partisan to teams not at the top of the BCS rankings, are still looking forward to rivalry games. We all know that to many, a rivalry game is far more important than watching Alabama or Oregon make their way to Miami.

We’ve already seen Michigan take the Paul Bunyan Trophy from Michigan State for the first time in five years. We’ve watched as Oklahoma laid waste to Texas in the Red River Rivalry at the Cotton Bowl. We’ve witnessed as Kansas State beat Kansas for the Governor’s Cup. We’ve even seen Utah State defeat Utah in the Battle of the Brothers for the first time in 13 years. And, of course, we saw Alabama defeat LSU in epic fashion last weekend.

But there’re still plenty of rivalries on the slate before we get to Bowl Season. No doubt we’ll be taking a closer look at some of these as we move towards December, but before then, here’s a look at the top rivalry games still to be played this season.

Editor’s Note: these games are listed in chronological order. We’re well aware of the impending backlash had we suggested that the Civil War was a bigger game than the Iron Bowl, or that the Territorial Cup was not as important as the Victory Bell.

USC @ UCLA (Nov. 17)

Southern California will face two of its biggest rivals in the final two weeks of the season. Notre Dame visits the Coliseum on the final day of the Pac-12 regular season, but before that, the Trojans head to Pasadena to take on the UCLA Bruins. Not only will the Victory Bell be up for grabs this season, but there’s also the small business of who will represent the South Division in the Pac-12 Championship game? The Bruins are currently ahead of USC in that race.

Arizona State @ Arizona (Nov. 23)

Starting Rivalry Week off early, the Duel in the Desert could have implications on the Pac-12 South if results go the right or wrong way, depending on your preference. The Wildcats will look to retain the Territorial Cup, while the Sun Devils will look to take the trophy for the second time in three years.

Washington @ Washington State (Nov. 23)

After a horrible season that has seen the Cougars win just two games so far, Washington State will look to make amends to its fans by bringing the Apple Cup home for the first time since 2008. The Huskies meanwhile will be hoping that their historical dominance of the game – Washington leads the all-time head-to-head 59-29-4 – carries over for another season.

Auburn @ Alabama (Nov. 24)

It doesn’t matter that the Auburn Tigers have won just two games (so far) this season and have yet to win a game in the SEC (so far), records get thrown out of the window when these two schools collide in the Iron Bowl. That could spell big trouble for Alabama, who will probably still be in search of an undefeated season by the time these two meet. Imagine how much Auburn would love to ruin that particular dream. This final week match-up – and one of the biggest rivalries in all of College Football – will get plenty of action from fans and bettors alike.

Florida @ Florida State (Nov. 24)

Bar a collapse by more teams that we care to imagine, neither Florida side will be thinking BCS Championship by this point in the season. Both however may be on their way to playing in a conference championship. Before that, the two will collide in Tallahassee, with bragging rights on the line. The Seminoles have taken the last two games, breaking Florida’s six-game win streak in the process.

Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma (Nov. 24)

Having already beaten Texas in one huge rivalry this season, Oklahoma will be favored against their intrastate rivals when the two take to the field in Norman. The Sooners have historically made mincemeat out of the Cowboys and lead the head-to-head 74-17-7. But, with this being a rivalry game, anything can and will happen. Last year, Oklahoma State took the game 44-10, the Cowboys’ first win since 2002.

Oregon State @ Oregon (Nov. 24)

At this moment in time, Oregon has bigger things on its mind, but come the day of the Civil War, the Ducks will be focused on winning, regardless of whether their undefeated streak remains intact or not. As well as bragging rights, the lead in the Pac-12 North could also be on the line come late November, which adds a further layer of spice to the rivalry. The Beavers will have added incentive knowing that they have not beaten Oregon since December 2007.

South Carolina @ Clemson (Nov. 24)

Currently battling Florida State in both the BCS rankings and the ACC standings, Clemson may well be on its way to a conference championship when they host South Carolina. The Gamecocks are not quite out of the running in the SEC East, but probably will be by the time Hardee’s Trophy is on the line. Clemson’s last win over South Carolina came in 2008, the 100th installment of the rivalry.

Virginia Tech @ Virginia (Nov. 24)

Currently languishing at the bottom of the ACC’s Coastal Division, the duo of Virginia and Virginia Tech will have little reward this season other than the Commonwealth Cup. This will be a hugely important game for both sides then. The Hokies will likely enter this one as overwhelming favorites, thanks to an eight-game winning streak against the Cavaliers. Virginia last took home the Commonwealth Cup in 2003, its one win in 13 attempts.

Army Vs. Navy (Dec. 8 )

Finally, after all of the conference championships have been decided, and ahead of the Bowl season, it’ll be down to these two long-time rivals to finish off the regular season in style. The Army-Navy Game returns to Philadelphia this season following last year’s detour to Washington. The Army Black Knights trail the Navy Midshipman 56-49-7 in the all-time head-to-head, with Navy having taken the last 10 encounters.

 

Honorable Mentions

Of course, the list of rivalry games still to play far exceeds those we’ve mentioned above. To give you a little taster of what else is out there, here are our honorable mentions. These games might not have made the main list but they’re still worth watching, not to mention putting a few dollars on.

Notre Dame @ Boston College (Nov. 10)

Illinois @ Northwestern (Nov. 24)

Michigan @ Ohio State (Nov. 24)

Notre Dame @ USC (Nov. 24)

 

Come back on Thursday to read our list of the top ten games (non-rivalry related) still left to play.

Pac-12 Not Doing Itself Any Favors

The Huskies' win over Stanford has cast some serious shadows over the Pac-12's National Championship hopes.

Thursday night’s 17-13 loss to Washington has cast a cloud over not only #8 Stanford and its chances of being selected to play in the BCS National Championship Game, but also the Pac-12’s chances as a conference.

For a conference that was considered the only viable competition to the dominant SEC ahead of the season, things are looking less than clear now.

Decoding the Pac-12

Just two weeks ago, the Cardinal upset USC, denting the Trojans’ own chances of going to the Championship Game. In the process, Stanford staked a claim to be the team that would head to Miami Gardens in January. Admittedly, it was a loose claim. Stanford after all struggled to beat San Jose State in Week 1.

Ahead of Week 4, UCLA looked to be putting their names forward for consideration, but a loss to Oregon State suggested that it’s a little too early to consider the Bruins as serious contenders.

Oregon State meanwhile has gone 2-0 with two wins over ranked opposition. Not a bad start. But can the Beavers keep that pace up? Probably not, although oddsmakers have slashed odds of a BCS championship from 500/1 in the preseason to 75/1 this week.

So that leaves Oregon. Having been considered second fiddle to USC during all of the preseason, the Ducks are now considered the Pac-12’s best chance for a national title. Preseason odds of 10/1 have steadily shortened to 13/2 heading into this week’s action.

The Ducks have looked solid so far this season, averaging close to 53 points per game. But critics could argue that Oregon has yet to play anybody of merit. Sure, they defeated Arizona 49-0 last week, but Arizona’s inclusion on the AP poll was less than solidified. Had the likes of Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska played better this season, it’s hard to imagine the Wildcats appearing on that list.

For Oregon, the big challenge comes on November 3, with a visit to USC. That is of course if the Ducks can get by Washington next week. A loss to the Cougars would effectively write off National Championship hopes this year.

Week 5 Pac-12 Schedule

After Washington’s upset win over Stanford, here’s what else is on tap this Saturday. Both USC and Utah are on a bye week.

Arizona State (3-1, 0-1 road, 1-0 Pac-12) @ California (1-3, 1-1 home, 0-1 Pac-12)

4:00 PM ET / 1:00 PM PT

The Sun Devils will be looking to continue their strong start to the season with a win over a struggling Golden Bears team. Arizona State currently leads the South division by way of USC’s loss to Stanford and Arizona’s loss to Oregon. Still, the team opened as underdogs in this one, before odds flipped in their favor. The Sun Devils are currently narrow favorites (-1) with the over/under set at 58. There’s certainly money to be made on this game.

UCLA (3-1, 1-0 road, 0-1 Pac-12) @ Colorado (1-3, 0-2 home, 1-0 Pac-12)

6:00 PM ET / 3:00 PM PT

A loss to Oregon State last week saw UCLA’s two week tenure in the AP Polls come to an end. A win against Colorado this week could, but probably won’t, see the Bruins return to the rankings. UCLA enters the game as favorites (-21) and are expected to make easy work of a Colorado team that has looked poor this season. Only a 35-34 win over Washington State last week prevented the Buffaloes from starting the season 0-4. The over/under is 60, with UCLA expecting to accumulate most of those points.

#18 Oregon State (2-0, 1-0 road, 1-0 Pac-12) @ Arizona (3-1, 3-0 home, 0-1 Pac-12)

10:00 PM ET / 7:00 PM PT

Arizona enjoyed two weeks in the AP Poll before losing big to Oregon last week. Oregon State may have only played two, but the Beavers have knocked off two ranked teams (Wisconsin, UCLA) and is sitting pretty heading into this game.

Oddsmakers have the Wildcats as favorites (-3) heading into this one, so they’ve yet to be bowled over by the Beavers’ performances. This games figures to be a close one. The over/under is 61. A win for Arizona will see the Wildcats flirting with the AP poll once again. A win for Oregon State will cement the team’s AP approved credentials.

#2 Oregon (4-0, 0-0 road, 1-0 Pac-12) @ Washington State (2-2, 1-1 home, 0-1 Pac-12)

10:30 PM ET / 7:30 PM PT

Whether Oregon remains the Pac-12’s last remaining hope against the dominance of the SEC remains to be seen. This week the Ducks head out on the road for the first time. Despite the travel north, Oregon are big favorites (-32) over the Cougars. The over/under is 74. Oddsmakers are expecting this to be a high-scoring one-sided affair, just like Oregon’s previous four.