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College Football Picks 2017: Week Eleven

Malik Rosier, Miami
College Football Picks 2017: Week Eleven
Current Record: 57-23

(8-1) 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. (8-0) 7 Miami Hurricanes
@Hard Rock Stadium (Miami), 7 PM Saturday on ABC

For years, Notre Dame-Miami was one of the premier matchups in college football, often deciding the National Championship picture. After years of mediocre play from both programs, that appears to once more be the case in 2017, as both enter this one with a legitimate shot at earning a Playoff berth. Notre Dame is playing terrific football, and has one of the best resumes in the nation, with wins over NC State and USC, and a lone loss to top-ranked Georgia by one. On the other side, Miami proved that they were serious contenders by handling Virginia Tech last weekend, making them the clear-cut team to beat in the ACC Coastal. The Irish offense is led by an explosive rushing attack, that includes dual threat quarterback Brandon Wimbush and running back Josh Adams, who has become a Heisman candidate. Adams, just a junior, has 1,191 yards on the season while averaging an astounding 8.7 yards per carry. He presents quite a challenge to the Hurricanes' defense, which has done a fine job defending the run all season long, and has a stocked linebacker corps that includes Michael Pinckney and Shaq Quartermann. On the other side of the ball, Notre Dame's defense has taken major steps forward following a wildly inconsistent 2016. They're especially strong against the run, where they have shut down a number of quality rushing offenses. Miami's offense took a major step forward when star running back Mark Walton was lost for the season to an ankle injury, which has put a lot more pressure on the aerial attack. Veteran signal-caller Malik Rosier has improved every week of the season, and he has a ton of weapons surrounding him. Senior Braxton Berrios is a threat not only in the passing attack but in the return game, while sophomore Ahmmon Richards and Darrell Langham (one of the most clutch players in college football) provide plenty of help. This game could very well come down to whether Rosier can make some big throws down the field. He has shown impressive poise and confidence all season long, but he could be in for quite the tough game against Mike Elko's ND defense. With the way the Irish defense has played all year long, and what they have done to a number of great offenses so far this season, the Hurricanes could be in store for a tough one. It should be a highly competitive battle between two of the best historical programs in the sport, and the winner will put themselves in prime position to make the Playoff. With the way ND has played all year long and Adams making big-time plays, it looks like the Irish should be able to get the job done, even on the road.

The Pick: Notre Dame, 30 Miami, 27

(8-1) 5 Oklahoma Sooners vs. (8-1) 6 TCU Horned Frogs
@Memorial Stadium (Norman), 7 PM Saturday on FOX

Following a victory over Oklahoma State in Bedlam, Oklahoma appears to be the favorite in the Big 12, and a major Playoff threat. However, more challenges await, as sixth-ranked TCU comes to town. The Horned Frogs have put together a fine 2017 to this point, but a loss to Iowa State significantly hurt their conference title aspirations. The big reason for the loss to ISU was the poor performance by QB Kenny Hill, who fell back to his 2016 ways after a superb start to the season. The goal for Hill in this one will be to avoid turnovers, which continues to be a problem for the senior. However, if he can keep the ball out of the Sooners' hands, he certainly could have a big one, playing against a defense that has had some serious problems all year long. The Sooners must also find a way to contain wide out KaVontae Turpin, along with running back Darius Anderson, both big play threats. On the other end, Oklahoma is led by star quarterback Baker Mayfield, who is now viewed by some as the Heisman frontrunner, following his 598-yard, six touchdown showing against Oklahoma State. Mayfield is a fearless, aggressive playmaker who seems to play bigger the bigger the game. Mayfield will be aided by a talented committee of running backs, which includes Trey Sermon and Abdul Adams, along with a receiver corps that includes versatile Mark Andrews and much more. Mayfield will also operate behind one of the country's top offensive line units, which will be tasked with dealing with a blitz-happy TCU front seven. That Horned Frogs' defense is probably the conference's top group, particularly with head coach Gary Patterson leading the charge. It shut down Mason Rudolph and Oklahoma State earlier on the season and it is a group that knows how to force turnovers and capitalize. The best bet for TCU to win this game would be for them to force Mayfield into poor decisions, and hope that Hill doesn't do the same on the other side. They will also need to force some big stops late in the game, and hope that this doesn't become a complete blowout, where Oklahoma and their dominant offense would certainly have the advantage. This should still be a pretty high-scoring affair, but I don't quite expect it to be the Bedlam shootout we saw last Saturday. Mayfield should be able to overcome TCU's defense to overtake the Horned Frogs, and the home crowd should only further fuel the Sooners to a 9-1 mark.

The Pick: Oklahoma, 42 TCU, 33

(9-0) 1 Georgia Bulldogs vs. (7-2) 10 Auburn Tigers
@Jordan-Hare Stadium (Auburn), 2:30 PM Saturday on CBS

Despite the fact they have two losses, Auburn still has a tough, but clear path to make their first-ever Playoff berth. They will have to run the table, which will require them beating Georgia this week, Alabama in the Iron Bowl and then likely Georgia again in the SEC Championship Game. It is quite the difficult path, but the Tigers have pulled off some magic before under Gus Malzahn, and it isn't crazy to think they can do it again. To beat the Bulldogs this week, Auburn will need a big game from quarterback Jarrett Stidham. Stidham is still pretty inconsistent, but has had his fair share of great moments with the Tigers. If the Auburn offensive line can deal with a powerful and aggressive Georgia pass rush and Stidham gets time to throw, he could have a big afternoon. The Tigers will lean heavily on their ground game in this one, where dynamic veteran Kerryon Johnson has put together a terrific season. However, he will have to go up against a Bulldogs' rush defense that is among the stingiest in the nation. The real X-factor for Auburn will be on the defensive end, where they must contain a UGA offense that isn't necessarily the most explosive, but is as effective and efficient as they come. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are one of the country's premier 1-2 punches, and are two of the toughest to tackle. Chubb, in particular, is among the best in the nation when he is 100 percent, which he should be heading into this SEC duel. At quarterback, true freshman Jake Fromm has been quite the surprise. Prior to the season, the Bulldogs were thinking former five-star prospect Jacob Eason would be the guy, but after he went down early on in the year with injury, Fromm has stepped in and done wonderful. Auburn's secondary is solid, but they'll have to contain UGA in the play action and deep, where the Bulldogs really excel. There is the chance that Fromm, with his youth, could be intimidated by the hostile environment at Jordan-Hare, but he has shown impressive poise so far this year, so things won't be too much for him. Auburn has the talent to compete with Georgia and going on the road in the SEC, particularly at a place like Auburn, is quite the challenge. Even so, I think that the Bulldogs should be able to come out on top, especially if Fromm plays well and the physical UGA defense shuts down Stidham.

The Pick: Georgia, 34 Auburn, 24

Other Picks
(#12) Michigan State, 24 (#13) Ohio State, 21
(#21) Iowa State, 35 (#15) Oklahoma State, 33
(#8) Wisconsin, 31 (#20) Iowa, 21
(#4) Clemson, 38 Florida State, 20
(#2) Alabama, 34 (#16) Mississippi State, 18

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