Week 11 gets underway in a hurry as the Mid-American Conference has three games on Tuesday. Toledo (5-3) and Kent State (3-5) figure to put up more than 800 yards in a 31-28 Toledo win, Western Michigan (5-4) will down Ball State (4-4) by a touchdown, and Ohio (4-4) should be eight points better than Miami of Ohio (4-4).
But, of course, we’re all waiting for Saturday when #3 Alabama (8-0) hosts #4 LSU (8-0). Regardless of the Crimson Tide having led our rankings for better than two regular seasons, oddsmakers favoring the Tide by -6.5, and my own adverse opinion, I see LSU as a 28-27 winner.
Penn State (8-0) takes its fifth ranking to #19 Minnesota (8-0) as a 30-24 favorite. While both teams have top-twenty defenses, Penn State is much less likely to turn the ball over.
Number 19 Wisconsin (6-2) hosts #13 Iowa (6-2) in the only other game matching ranked teams. Wisconsin is favored by five but the Index has a high alert for Badger turnovers that would reverse things.
The #1 Ohio State Buckeyes (8-0) are at home (like many of their fans) this weekend in an expected 53-6 blowout of rudderless Maryland (3-6). While we’re projecting 59 total points, those might all happen before halftime.
Number 2 Clemson (9-0) is beginning to show the up-trends of a champion. Those have been too long in coming but they are evident and becoming more acute by the week. The Tigers will swamp floundering North Carolina State (4-4), 47-7.
Number 12 Notre Dame (6-2) is in a striking nosedive that puts its game at Duke (4-4) on upset alert. At the current rate of decline, the Irish are projected to finish with 8 wins. A loss to Duke would make Notre Dame a 7-5 team.
Florida Atlantic (5-4) and Florida International (6-3) get together to see which former Tennessee head coach, FAU’s Lane Kiffin or FIU’s Butch Davis, is the best coach of the most meaningless team in Florida. Let the winner lark; let him revel. It is a short-lived fancy that he is the leader for the Florida State job.
Number 18 Boise State (7-1) hosts Wyoming (6-2) as a seven-point favorite but our Index also shows that the Cowboys surged noticeably in October while Boise posted net-negative metrics.
In the PAC-12 . . .
USC (5-4) travels to Tempe for a risky game against Arizona State (5-3). Expect ASU to run the ball, win the time of possession, but lose both the turnover margin and the ability to convert critical plays when needed.
Washington State (4-4) has fallen all the way down to a 43rd ranking and now plays the California hibernating Bears (4-4). The game that has little significance within the Conference but it has great importance for fans who are forced to choose between watching another Cal loss or being someplace else, enjoying mid-70’s weather. It’s all a part of the great Tribulation for those who live in California.
Stanford (4-4) is a 33-24 choice at Colorado (3-6). Several trend lines favor the Buffaloes but not enough to overturn the prediction.
Unranked Washington (5-4) is just too strong physically for the Oregon State Beavers (4-4). The Huskies should prevail by at least 13 but OSU should make it competitive. A 41-28 Husky win is being projected.
Oregon State is #1 in the nation for fewest turnovers. Oregon and Arizona are top 20 for most yards per play, each with over 6.5. There are no PAC-12 teams in the top 25 for rushing yards per carry. Washington State leads the nation in touchdown passes per game (4.3). Oregon is ninth (3.0). Oregon leads the nation in interceptions per game (1.9) whilte Utah, Arizona State, and Oregon are all in the top 25 for best rush defense (yards per carry).
The Index was 39-9 (81%) in predicting games last week. For the season, the system is 467-138 (77%).
To see our full list of predictions and commentary, find us here.