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College Football Picks 2018: Week Eleven

Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
(#2) Clemson Tigers @ (#17) Boston College Eagles
With a few weeks still remaining in the regular season, Clemson appears to be a near lock to make the Playoff, but they must avoid a possible trap game on the road against Boston College. The Eagles are a worthy opponent, and it isn't unreasonable to think they can play off an upset. In order to do that, they'll have to find a way to contain Clemson's explosive offense, which can create big plays almost at will. True freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence has been superb since taking over the full-time starting gig, and he has a plethora of weapons to work with. Tee Higgins and Amari Rodgers are elite receivers that will be a huge problem to a group of BC defensive backs that are still pretty inexperienced and have been inconsistent much of the season. The Eagles will also have to find a way to contain running back Travis Etienne, who has become a serious Heisman threat. Despite being Clemson's feature back, Etienne is averaging an eye-popping 8.6 yards per carry, and he can score every time he touches the ball. If Boston College doesn't do a good job of tackling in space, Etienne and company are going to absolutely kill them. Offensively, Boston College should also rely on their own ground game, which is spearheaded by powerful sophomore A.J. Dillon. Dillon hasn't been completely healthy most of the year, but he still has managed 897 yards and eight scores on the season. Yet, he has yet to face a Clemson defensive front quite like the Tigers; which includes four future NFL linemen along with some tantalizing young guys, such as freshman Xavier Thomas. Boston College is really going to need QB Anthony Brown to step up and make some big throws to open up this offense. Brown has talent, but this a very talented defense and he'll need to have the game of his life to overcome them. On the outside, wide out Kobay White and tight end Tommy Sweeney will help out, but they must face a physical Clemson secondary that knows how to force turnovers. Conference games late in the year on the road are always precarious, and I wouldn't rule out the upset here. Yet, I'm sticking with Clemson, whose offense will probably just be too overwhelming for the Eagles to contain.
The Pick: Clemson, 38 Boston College, 24

(#10) Ohio State Buckeyes @ (#18) Michigan State Spartans
While Michigan now appears to be the favorite in the Big Ten, Ohio State is not dead just yet, and they could begin a Playoff run with a quality road win against Michigan State here. The Buckeyes still have a proven quarterback in Dwayne Haskins, who has slowed down slightly down the stretch but still has the arm and mobility to do real damage. There are other real playmakers on this offense, but they've also been struggling as of late. The run game, in particular, has slowed to a screeching halt despite the immense talent Ohio State possesses. J.K. Dobbins still has the talent to do some serious damage, and Mike Weber is a short-yardage monster. However, it remains to be seen if they can figure things out against a Spartans defense that is among the best in the entire Big Ten. Sure-handed K.J. Hill and do-it-all Parris Campbell are other options to work with, but Michigan State has proven over the years they can contain them. The biggest issue for Ohio State over the last couple weeks has been their defense, which has really struggled against Purdue and Nebraska. The good news is that MSU's offense isn't exactly top-notch, and they've had issues moving the ball for most of 2018. The Buckeyes have sorely missed defensive end Nick Bosa, their most dominant pass rusher. Without his assistance, OSU has really struggled to get pressure on opponents, which has in-turn exposed some of their issues in the secondary. They've had some real issues tackling in space and forcing turnovers, which could be a huge problem here. Its still unclear who will start at quarterback for Michigan State, but whether its Brian Lewerke or Rocky Lombardi the gameplan will likely be the same. They'll run the ball early and often, and then hit Ohio State with their play-action passing game. Connor Heyward and La'Darius Jefferson will be a load to handle on the ground, while Felton Davis III and Cody White can open things up on the perimeter. This is going to be an interesting duel between two teams with opposing strengths. Talent-wise the Buckeyes probably have the upper-hand, but their recent struggles have me going with the Spartans at home here. They'll slow down Ohio State's offense enough to secure a close victory.
The Pick: Michigan State, 28 Ohio State, 27

(#16) Mississippi State Bulldogs @ (#1) Alabama Crimson Tide
After absolutely dismantling LSU 29-0 last weekend, Alabama is undeniably the favorite to win it all this season. However, they'll have to avoid a hangover game in Bryant-Denny against a sneaky Mississippi State squad. The Bulldogs' defense will be in store for quite a difficult game, having to face the Heisman frontrunner, Tua Tagovailoa, along with a bunch of other stars. Tagovailoa showed that elite defenses still struggle to stop him with his superb showing against LSU, and this Mississippi State team doesn't quite have the playmakers on the back-end the Tigers have. The good news is that the Bulldogs' defensive front is very stingy, and they'll put up a fighting chance against running back Damien Harris and this terrific 'Bama O-Line. Jeffery Simmons causes absolute chaos in the middle of the defensive line, while outside 'backer Montez Sweat will have to get in Tua's face and force him into mistakes, which is easier said than done. On the other side of the ball, Alabama's defense is possibly even better, stocked to the brim with future NFL talent. On the defensive line, Quinnen Williams and Raekwon Davis are a pair of All-American talents and the defensive backfield seems to only be getting better, despite some notable inexperience. Former LSU transfer Saivion Smith had a great game last Saturday, and true freshman Patrick Surtain Jr. seems like he has been playing SEC football for years. New Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead is known for his offensive expertise, but this Bulldogs offense has been incredibly streaky all year long. QB Nick Fitzgerald is a veteran leader who knows how to win in this league, but he still leaves plenty to be desired through the air. Others are going to have to step up on this offense, most notably running back Kylin Hill or receivers Osirus Mitchell and Stephen Guidry. The Bulldogs offensive line is also going to need to get some push, something nearly all of Alabama's opponents have struggled to do this season. If Miss. State can't get some type of rushing attack going, any chance of an upset go out the window. The Bulldogs played the Tide incredibly tough a season ago, and they have the talent to at least make this one competitive. Yet, I would have to be absolutely insane to pick against this Alabama team with the way they're playing, especially at home. I like 'Bama to win pretty comfortably in front of the home folk here.
The Pick: Alabama, 42 Mississippi State, 23

Other Picks
Florida State @ (#3) Notre Dame: Notre Dame, 34 Florida State, 20
(#24) Auburn @ (#5) Georgia: Georgia, 30 Auburn, 27
(#7) LSU @ Arkansas: LSU, 27 Arkansas, 16
Oklahoma State @ (#6) Oklahoma: Oklahoma, 51 Oklahoma State, 38
TCU @ (#9) West Virginia: West Virginia, 35 TCU, 21

Current Picks Record: 61-19

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