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College Football Week 11 Picks

Josh Doctson
6 TCU vs. 7 Kansas State
If the Big 12 is going to put a team into the College Football Playoff, chances are one of these two schools have the best shot. Led by an explosive offense and greatly improved QB Trevone Boykin, the Horned Frogs have been rolling and come off a great last second victory over West Virginia. Kansas State meanwhile, has been fantastic since their lone loss of the season (a close loss to Auburn, which doesn't look very bad at all in the committee's eyes) and have taken down Oklahoma in that span. After putting up 82 points against Texas Tech, TCU and Boykin seemed to have somewhat of an off day against West Virginia's vastly improved defense. While Boykin did make some key throws late in the game, he completed just 12 passes for a pedestrian 166 yards through the air. That led TCU to lean more heavily on their ground game, which has been great all year. Powerful B.J. Catalon continues to run over defenders, with ten scores on the year, while Boykin has proven he can make some dazzling plays with his legs. Big-play wide receiver Josh Doctson will almost certainly test Kansas State vertically and the Wildcats will have to be prepared for him. The Wildcats' defense has been solid all year, thanks in large part to the contributions of Jonathan Truman. After recording 89 tackles in his junior year, Truman has already had 73 this year and will be key for K-State in run support, but he can also cover receivers pretty well because of his quickness and athleticism. After winning Big 12 Defensive Linemen of the Year awards last season, defensive end Ryan Mueller has been strong, picking up three sacks on the year. He will hope to make Boykin uncomfortable in the pocket and force him to make throws on the run. Offensively, Kansas State has been led by their dual threat, senior Jake Waters, along with two of the conference's best receivers, in Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton. Waters' passing has improved tremendously this year, and his running ability has always been top notch. Though, he must make sure to not commit any turnovers and give TCU extra opportunities, a team that thrives on that. This game is sure to be a close one but the momentum of TCU in front of their home crowd, carries them to victory.
TCU, 33 Kansas State, 28

8 Michigan State vs. 14 Ohio State
Not only will this matchup will be a classic battle between power (MSU) and speed (OSU), this game in East Lansing will almost certainly decide the Big Ten race, and whether they put a team in the Playoff. The 7-1 Spartans have played well since their rough loss earlier in the year to Oregon, but they have done it against some meager Big Ten competition and they continue to struggle in the fourth quarter, a worrying sign for coach Mark Dantonio. On the other side, Ohio State has also been rolling since their first loss of the year, a game in which they were manhandled by the speed and strength of Virginia Tech. Though, just this past week, Penn State gave the Buckeyes quite a scare and Ohio State must play better if they are to take down Michigan State. The Spartans' offense has shown some serious explosiveness this year, as Connor Cook as been able to stretch the field, something he just couldn't do last year. Tony Lippett has turned into a clear No. 1 receiver, while Jeremy Langford continues to make plays as a back. While Ohio State's defense has showed improvement after a rollercoaster of a 2013, they have still been exposed, especially on the ground. End Joey Bosa is an absolute monster but he will also have to make plays in rush defense for Ohio State to succeed, Ohio State has found their quarterback in redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett who has dazzled since a dismal performance against Tech (it wasn't like he was helped out by his offensive line either). Barrett has thrown for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns on the year now, but he has not seen a defense like Michigan State's D in his whole career. The Spartans' defense is better disciplined, smarter, faster and tougher than most, and it ranks as one of the best in the entire nation. It is led by sack machines Shilique Calhoun and Ed Davis (both with six sacks) and Kurtis Drummound, a rangy safety in the back. Barrett will obviously struggle when pressured and if Michigan State takes away speed Ezekiel Elliott and the ground game he will have some real problems. While Barrett can run, he doesn't have the dynamic play ability of Braxton Miller, who struggled against this defense a season ago. Unless the young quarterback figures things out extremely quickly and the defense plays very well, Ohio State should be eliminated from playoff contention in a hostile environment.
Michigan State, 28 Ohio State, 20

9 Arizona State vs. 10 Notre Dame
Arizona State has been playing so well lately, after their 62-27 loss at the hands of UCLA, they have managed to hop over Notre Dame in the polls, a team still looking for a clear signature team after a heartbreaking loss to Florida State. The Sun Devils' offense has been firing on all cylinders, and it now returns a healthy Taylor Kelly, who has missed some serious time. The return of Kelly should help D.J. Foster find rushing lanes and help receiver Jaelen Strong, who is more comfortable with the senior than he is with the backup who filled in, Mike Bercovici. Kelly's rushing ability and strong arm naturally stretch defenses and it is still hard to know how good the Irish's defense is. It played well earlier in the year before it was exposed at the hands of Florida State, and it will be tested big-time down in Tempe. Linebacker Joe Schmidt is a do-it-all gritty veteran who must find ways to rush the passer as well as make an impact in run support, while somebody in the secondary must step up and tame Strong. The good news is that the Irish have an offense that can keep up with Arizona State's, led by quarterback Everett Golson. Golson accounted for four scores as Notre Dame handled Navy, and he continues to keep himself in the Heisman conversation. If ND had indeed beaten Florida State, he might well be considered the frontrunner right now. Joining him will be running back Tarean Folston, a big-play weapon, along with dangerous receivers Will Fuller and Corey Robinson, who had a huge day against FSU. Fuller is especially dangerous because of his incredible burst and sure hands and the Sun Devils' defense will have their hands full containing him. The ASU defense has been decent without the huge production of great nose tackle Will Sutton, but it was certainly exposed against UCLA, and the Irish have just as dangerous of an offense as the Bruins. That means the Sun Devils must force turnovers, which have been an issue for Golson as of late. If they do, with Kelly and at home, they have a shot to keep on rolling, but I expect the Irish offense to come through and the defense to play well enough to get them a victory.
Notre Dame, 38 Arizona State, 34

Other Picks
5 Alabama, 27 16 LSU, 17
4 Oregon, 42 17 Utah, 24
12 Baylor, 45 15 Oklahoma, 40
3 Auburn, 37 Texas A&M, 24
Current Picks Record: 57-23

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