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2022 College Football Picks: Week Eleven

Jase McClellan, Alabama
Current Picks Record: 55-35

Upset: 4-6

Superdogs: 5-5

(#9) Alabama Crimson Tide @ (#11) Ole Miss Rebels

Line: Alabama -11.5

O/U: 64.5

Alabama heads into Week Eleven of the 2022 college football season in unfamiliar territory with two losses already on their record. Even so, they still have an outside shot at an SEC West Title, but can't afford another loss as they go on the road to face the 11th-ranked Ole Miss Rebels. The 8-1 Rebels are also firmly in the division title hunt, but considering LSU owns the tiebreaker over them, it's not unreasonable to think they may have to win out.

It's been all about the ground game for Ole Miss so far this fall, as tailback Quinshon Judkins has been one of the nation's biggest surprises. The true frosh has already surpassed the 1,000 yard mark and doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon, as he ran for 205 in their victory over Texas A&M to close out the month of October. Junior Zach Evans hasn't been 100 percent for a big chunk of the year but remains a dynamic piece alongside Jenkins, while quarterback Jaxson Dart has also proven he can make things happen with his legs. Dart, however, will need to prove his worth as a passer to help Ole Miss come out on top, especially as they go up against a questionable Crimson Tide secondary. Dart has been hesitant to take shots down the field and turnovers have been a problem, but he does seem to be getting more comfortable each and every week. He's no Hendon Hooker or Jayden Daniels, but has the physical tools to cause the Tide some headaches. Dart and company are also going to need help from their offensive line, which has been inconsistent. Alabama may not be as deep as they usually are up front, but Will Anderson, Dallas Turner, and the rest of this defensive front can still create plenty of chaos.

We've gotten used to explosive Alabama offenses under Nick Saban, but that simply is not the case with this 2022 team. Quarterback Bryce Young has tried to manufacture big plays, but the supporting cast simply has not shown up week-to-week. Even Young has fallen back to Earth a bit after his 2021 dominance, as he's dealt with injuries and shaky decision-making. Even so, the reigning Heisman winner remains one of the sport's signature stars and will be a constant pain for this Rebel defense. He's joined in the backfield by Jahmyr Gibbs, who's become a frontrunner for the Doak Walker Award with his recent play. Gibbs isn't quite the runner that past 'Bama tailbacks have been, but what he adds as a receiver has been crucial for the Tide this year, particularly when you consider how underwhelming this receiver corps has been. Beyond Ja'Corey Brooks, this has arguably been the worst receiver corps of the Saban era, with a complete lack of playmaking. Georgia transfer Jermaine Burton has been quiet, the trio of Traeshon Holden, Isaiah Bond, and Kobe Prentice haven't been consistent, and Tyler Harrell has been hurt. Young is still going to create, but you can tell he's trying to force plays this year, and LSU got to him last week. The Rebels may not boast the defensive talent of the Tigers, but this is a much improved group and they should be up for the challenge.

It's fair to wonder if this is the worst Saban-coached Alabama team since 2008. The defense is still extraordinarily talented but has notable holes and the offense is very un-Alabamalike. All the signs point to a strong Ole Miss team coming out on top at home, but logic says differently. Saban will have his boys ready and extra motivated, and I'm not entirely sure Ole Miss is as good as their record indicates. I'll take the Tide in this one; I can't imagine a Saban team heading into the home stretch of the season with three losses.

The Pick: Alabama, 34 Ole Miss, 21

(#25) Washington Huskies @ (#6) Oregon Ducks

Line: Oregon -13.5

O/U: 73

Oregon-Washington doesn't get as much attention from the national media as it should, but it's one of the sport's most heated rivalries. It should be awfully rowdy once again in 2022 and has plenty of meaning, with Oregon on an inside track towards their first CFB Playoff appearance since 2014.

We tend to expect the unexpected in college football every year, but who could have honestly predicted this season from Bo Nix? The Auburn transfer has gone from a "meme" among the college football community to one of the best quarterbacks in the country and a legit Heisman contender. He's totaled nearly 3,000 yards of total offense and has 35 total touchdowns to his credit, and it hasn't been beating up on weak opponents, either. He went for five passing touchdowns against UCLA and notched a total of six against a routinely strong Cal defense a week later. Nix has been at the forefront of a super fun offense that also includes Bucky Irving and Noah Whittington out of the backfield, an underrated tailback combo. Both former transfers, the pair is averaging over six yards per carry and puts constant stress on opponents. There also remains hope that sophomore Byron Cardwell, who began the year as the feature guy, could also return for this one, although that seems unlikely. On the outside, Troy Franklin remains the name to watch, although he has been in held the last few weeks. Chase Cota, a nice complement to Franklin, missed the Colorado game and is questionable to return here, as well. That could be an issue for Oregon, but they remain a tough matchup for this Washington defense. It's hard to get a read on this side of the ball for the Huskies; they have plenty of talent, namely along the defensive front, but it has not always shown up on the field. Are they the ones that are going to stop Nix, which no team save Georgia has been able to do?

Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer is considered an offensive savant, and it's really shown with what he's been able to do with the Husky offense in one offseason. A group that was among the worst in Power Five football a year ago, Washington is now averaging nearly 39 points per game and has the country's top passing offense. Leading that passing offense is Indiana transfer Michael Penix, who is the very definition of a gunslinger. He's got a huge arm and has never been afraid to take his shots, which has occasionally caused issues, although his five interceptions on 391 attempts are not a bad number. Penix is helped out by a fun receiver corps that includes Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan, and Ja'Lynn Polk. Odunze is the top pass-catcher, but McMillan and Polk can also challenge defenses vertically. One-time Michigan transfer Giles Jackson is also a fun watch, as the 5'9" speedster can do a lot of different things. The ground attack is nothing to ride home about, but Wayne Taulapapa helps keep some semblance of balance in this offense. How will the Ducks fare against Penix and the Huskies? This has been a very strong secondary over the past nine-plus weeks, but this is a unique challenge. However, I like their chances of forcing some turnovers and creating extra possessions for Nix, which could spell real doom for Washington.

There should be plenty of offensive fireworks when these two collide, so it's no surprise that the over/under is set at 73. Washington will be a tough foe, but Oregon has been on an absolute tear since that season-opening loss to Georgia and they get the Huskies in the friendly confines of Autzen Stadium. If the defense can do just enough to slow down Penix and company, the Ducks should roll.

The Pick: Oregon, 38 Washington, 28 (Washington cover)

(#22) UCF Knights @ (#17) Tulane Green Wave

Line: Tulane -1.5

O/U: 54.5

One storyline not receiving much attention this college football season surrounds whichever team is going to represent the Group of Five in the New Year's Six. There's no obvious candidate this fall but UCF and Tulane are considered two of the top contenders, as are Cincinnati and Coastal Carolina. We will receive some clarity on this after this weekend, with UCF traveling to New Orleans to meet up with Willie Fritz and the Green Wave.

Tulane has been a great story in 2022, off to an 8-1 start and ranked for the first time in over two decades. They've done so behind a balanced offense and opportunistic defense that has come up big in some of their toughest matchups. Leading the offense is junior quarterback Michael Pratt, a solid but rather boring signal-caller. Pratt isn't going to be chucking the ball all over the field, but the Green Wave are most effective when he's taking care of the ball and making tight, accurate throws. It's his backfield mate, tailback Tyjae Spears, that is the main source of explosive plays for Tulane. After a slow start to the campaign, Spears has been unstoppable over the past month, including three straight games of at least 100 yards. Alongside him are two change-of-pace options, Iverson Celestine and Shaadie Clayton-Johnson, who won't create as many big plays but provide a three-headed approach on the ground. At receiver, the trio of Deuce Watts, Shae Wyatt, and Jha'Quan Jackson should put plenty of pressure on the Knights defense. Wyatt in particular can challenge defenses vertically in a way nobody else on this roster can, as he's averaging over 19 yards per reception. Overall, it's not an offense that is going to be putting up 40 points on a regular basis, but Fritz has an effective group here and UCF has questions defensively. Although they don't give up a lot of points, they do give up a lot of yardage, and it's fair to wonder if this bend-not-break defense will hold against a Top 20 team.

The Knights are a bit more creative with what they do offensively than the Green Wave, thanks to Gus Malzahn. There's a lot of versatility to this offense and at the helm, John Rhys Plumlee is one of the most entertaining players to watch in college football. With that being said, Plumlee isn't 100 percent; he missed the game against Memphis last Saturday and his status for Saturday is still in doubt. If he isn't able to go, UCF turns to Mikey Keene, a sophomore who went for 219 yards and three touchdowns a week ago. Keene is a very good backup quarterback, but he's not as dangerous with his legs as Plumlee, which limits this offense quite a bit. Fortunately, there's plenty of help from this supporting cast, including dynamic receiver Ryan O'Keefe. O'Keefe is one of my personal favorites in the college football world; he's a threat to score every time he touches the ball and watch out for him on sweeps or other gadget plays, as Malzahn loves to get him involved. Former SEC transfers Javon Baker and Kobe Hudson have also been helpful weapons in the passing game, while Isaiah Bowser and R.J. Harvey fuel the rushing attack. However, the key for UCF may be on the O-Line, where they have to handle a physical Tulane front seven. This has been a decent line so far this season, but the Green Wave do present a challenge. They also feature a ball-hawking secondary that's short on star players, but has no shortage of game-changers.

The line indicates Vegas feels like this is about a toss-up and I couldn't agree more. Tulane is a more balanced, well-rounded team but I still believe they're in store for one more loss this regular season. UCF on the other hand can score in bunches, but they have to go on the road, possibly without Plumlee. With that in mind, I'll take the Green Wave in a close one, making them the Group of Five favorite and likely elevating them into the Top 15 for the first time since 1998.

The Pick: Tulane, 28 UCF, 24

Other Picks

(#4) TCU @ (#18) Texas -- The Longhorns remain frightfully streaky, but they are likely the Big 12's best when they're playing well. This is the game to prove it, and I think they have a good shot to end TCU's perfect season in Austin.

The Pick: Texas, 38 TCU, 34

Purdue @ (#21) Illinois -- A game that will likely decide the Big Ten West, Purdue-Illinois features two opposing styles. The Illini looked out-of-sync last week, but I trust their defense and star back Chase Brown to power past the Boilermakers.

The Pick: Illinois, 27 Purdue, 20

(#1) Georgia @ Mississippi State -- Mississippi State held on to beat Auburn and reach bowl eligibility last weekend, but I don't envision an upset here. Georgia's secondary is good enough to slow down Will Rogers and the Bulldog passing attack.

The Pick: Georgia, 35 Mississippi State, 17

(#7) LSU @ Arkansas -- Certainly a game with great "hangover" potential after LSU's massive win over Alabama, but Brian Kelly should have his team ready to go and Arkansas has been playing very poor football over the past month.

The Pick: LSU, 28 Arkansas, 23

Upset: Wake Forest over (#15) UNC -- Wake Forest has made me look like a fool the last two weeks, so why am I triple-dipping? UNC has won close game after close game, but their luck is going to catch up to them at some point, and I still have serious questions about this defense.

The Pick: Wake Forest, 49 UNC, 42

Superdog (covers > 21 point spread): Indiana (+41) @ Ohio State -- Ohio State should head into the Michigan game undefeated, but they're still figuring things out offensively, especially on the ground. Indiana has traditionally played them tough and should be able to cover this huge spread.

The Pick: Ohio State, 42 Indiana, 14

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