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College Football Week 11 Picks

Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
6 Baylor Bears vs. 12 Oklahoma Sooners 7:00 pm (CT) on ABC
Many Baylor fans were frustrated that the Bears earned the six spot in this week's College Football Playoff rankings, behind two one-loss teams and a relatively unproven Iowa team. The Bears could go a long way in legitimizing their fans' arguments with a victory against the scorching hot Oklahoma Sooners. Following a brutal loss to arch-rival Texas, Oklahoma has responded incredibly well. They have won four straight, topping 50 points in each victory. Sure, none of the teams they beat up on are serious contenders in the conference, but it still gives them plenty of momentum entering this battle. Oklahoma has been led by the play of Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield at quarterback. Too often a turnover machine at TTU, Mayfield has settled down since his arrival in Norman. He still has a rocket of an arm, but he has been much better at reading defenses. Baylor's secondary has played well this season, but it has yet to face a task as challenging as the combination of Mayfield and his favorite weapon, receiver Sterling Shepard. The Sooners can also run the ball, even though it isn't their preferred method of moving the football in first-year offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley's scheme. And, they have one heck of a running back in sophomore Samaje Perine, who has 806 yards and 10 touchdowns on the year. Baylor will lean heavily on their offense as usual in this one. Even without quarterback Seth Russell (who is out for the remainder of the year with a neck injury), the Bears' offense didn't show any sorts of regression with true freshman Jarrett Stidham. Stidham doesn't have to do too much work on his own. Baylor has a ton of playmakers to work with, particularly stud receiver Corey Coleman. Coleman already has insane numbers; with 1,178 yards and 20 touchdowns through just eight games. To make matters worse for Oklahoma, shutdown cornerback Zack Sanchez did not play in Oklahoma's last game and is questionable for this one. Sanchez would most likely be the man tasked with shutting down Coleman, so his loss could prove to be brutal. The Sooners' defense has played very well against the run this season, something they will have to continue in this one. They will also have to apply pressure to Stidham, something that should be aided by explosive linebacker Eric Striker. If you love offense, this game is sure to be for you. Both teams can score in bunches, and defense should be rare. While playing at home should certainly help out the Bears, I'm actually going to pick Oklahoma in this one. The team as a whole has been on absolute fire lately and if this one turns into a close one (which it should), I'd prefer Mayfield over the youthful Stidham.
Oklahoma, 49 Baylor, 44

2 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. 17 Mississippi State Bulldogs 2:30 pm (CT) on CBS
Alabama did what Alabama does. This past week, the Tide used the grand stage of primetime to show that they were still something to fear by absolutely demolishing LSU, and shutting down their Heisman candidate running back Leonard Fournette. Now, Alabama could strengthen their hold on the SEC West by taking down their only remaining competition for the division, Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have been awfully quiet this year when compared to last year, but there is no denying they are still a major threat. Senior quarterback Dak Prescott hasn't been absolutely dominant this year, but the veteran playmaker still has put up great numbers. Though, going up against the Alabama defense will obviously be no easy task. The Tide have a ton of weapons throughout their defense, led by names such as A'Shawn Robinson, Reggie Ragland, Eddie Jackson and much more. Prescott struggled against the defense in their meeting last season, so it will be interesting to see how he plays this year. Prescott will also lean heavily on receiver De'Runnya Wilson to help him find success against 'Bama. Wilson's size, at 6'5", enable him to make some tough catches, something he will need to do in this one. On offense, Alabama will lean heavily on their ground attack, led by junior Derrick Henry. Henry pushed himself to the forefront of the Heisman conversation with a dominant showing against LSU, and should continue to play well in this one. Henry isn't always the most explosive player on the field but he makes a living wearing down defenses and then punishing them. Mississippi State does have a solid front seven, but even they should have troubles with him. The Alabama offense will also rely on the play of quarterback Jake Coker. Coker has been playing very well as of late, showing a great grasp of the Alabama offense, and taking the leadership reigns of the team. Mississippi State will be without their top corner, playmaking Will Redmond (out for the rest of the year with a torn ACL) meaning Coker's job will get a lot easier. Many people will glance over this game as an easy Alabama victory, considering their performance last week against LSU. But, it will be anything but a cruising win for Nick Saban. Prescott has the dual threat ability that has given Alabama fits over the years, and is playing in front of his home folks. If he can get some help from a Miss. State running game that has been weak this year, he could very well have a chance at an upset. Even so, Alabama's defense is playing just too well for the Tide not to pull this one out.
Alabama, 28 Mississippi State, 20

21 Memphis Tigers vs. 24 Houston Cougars 6:00 pm (CT) on ESPN 2
Memphis' tough loss at the hands of Navy last weekend put a damper on this game, but it could still well be the biggest game in the history of the American Athletic Conference. With that loss, Memphis has no shot at getting into the Playoff, but are still a legitimate contender for a New Year's Six bowl. They get a Houston team that has yet to lose on the year, but also has yet to really beat any serious contender. For Memphis, the story all year has been about the growth of their offense, centered around quarterback Paxton Lynch. A relative no-namer entering the year, Lynch has exploded for 3,014 yards along with 19 touchdowns. Lynch enters the game with a legitimate shot at earning AAC Player of the Year and only rising his scorching hot draft stock. He will be joined by big-play receiver Moses Frazier, who has 626 yards on the campaign, along with an offensive line that is playing very well. Meanwhile, Houston's breakthrough this year has been all about their offense, under new head coach Tom Herman. Herman, who arrived in the offseason from Ohio State, is one of the hottest names in coaching right now. He also has a great offensive mind, with a scheme that has worked perfectly for veteran quarterback Greg Ward Jr. Ward has used his big arm to put together strong numbers; 2,116 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also is quite a threat as a runner, as he has incredible speed for a quarterback. Along with Ward, running back Kenneth Farrow has put together a strong year. Farrow is a shifty, athletic running back who also has plenty of versatility, as a proven pass-catcher. With big offenses rolling, the obvious X-factor in this game is on the defensive side of the ball. The Tigers are great at applying pressure to opposing quarterbacks and forcing turnovers, as they have a number of impact playmakers in their secondary. If guys like Genard Avery can get pressure on Ward and force him into mistakes, which he is prone to, Memphis could take advantage of this one. Meanwhile, Houston will try and control the clock and stop the running game, like Navy did last week. No matter the outcome this should one should be awfully intriguing: it features two rising head coaches, two rising programs and it has major implications in the surprisingly relevant American Athletic Conference. Houston has plenty of flash, but I think Memphis can avenge last week's loss. Lynch is the more proven quarterback and the Tigers are sound enough defensively to contain Ward and Farrow.
Memphis, 31 Houston, 28

Other Picks
1 Clemson, 42 Syracuse, 20
14 Michigan, 34 Indiana, 23
3 Ohio State, 35 Illinois, 17
16 Florida State, 27 NC State, 17
Pittsburgh, 28 Duke, 24
Current Picks Record: 59-21

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