The Observer’s Roundtable Week 11
After a week of close games, the College Football Championship is up for almost anyone, granted you’re not on the committees’ bad side. Despite the jokes that have been circulating online, we are in for a fantastic week of games this weekend with a few match ups that can once again alter the rankings. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest match ups during Week 11.
NCAA Games of the Week
No. 8 Oklahoma @ No.13 Baylor
No. 6 Michigan @ Penn State
No. 19 Purdue @ No. 4 Ohio State
Oklahoma vs. Baylor is one of my favorite match ups every college football season. These teams always play close. Last year’s matchup saw the Sooners beat the Bears 27-14, and the year prior, both of their match ups were within a touchdown. Caleb Williams has been the spark the Sooners’ offense needed, and they are on fire. Coming off a bye week, Oklahoma should be well-rested to put this game away. However, Baylor is not a team to sleep on, and despite Quarterback Gerry Bohanon having four interceptions over his last two games, the Bears have been putting up almost thirty points a game. The Sooners’ defense is iffy, but I believe they get the job done this weekend.
Oklahoma 35 Baylor 31
This week, Michigan being ahead of Michigan State is a joke, but that’s another story for another day. On the other hand, Penn State has fallen from grace, and after starting 4-0, they now sit at a record of 6-3 and are unranked. As J.J. said, if this matchup were three weeks ago, it would be one of the best match ups of the weekend. Anyway, Sean Clifford has been meh at best since his injury and has regressed to last year. Michigan should win this game, but Penn State’s defense is among the best units in the country and could keep the Wolverines’ offense in check. I believe that Penn State will get overwhelmed by Michigan’s defense by the half, which in turn will force the Nittany Lions’ defense to be on the field longer than they would like and put this game out of reach.
Michigan 35 Penn State 21
Purdue has been the heartbreaker of the season. After convincing wins over Michigan State and Iowa, Purdue is not the ideal team Ohio State wants to face, especially after almost losing to Nebraska. Do I personally think the Buckeyes will fail? No, but the Boilermakers have played dominant football all season long and can pull off the upset. CJ Stroud has adjusted the college level and is putting up impressive numbers despite the turnovers, and the Buckeyes defense has been improving. Despite playing Michigan State next week, Purdue will be Ohio State’s toughest matchup since they lost to Oregon, even after playing Penn State. Can the Boilermakers continue to break college football fans’ hearts? We will have to tune in Saturday for an afternoon classic.
Purdue 30 Ohio State 38
I want to believe. I really do. I would love nothing more than for the Chaos Gods of college football to reach down and strike back Oklahoma for their weeks of playing weak but survivable games against bad opponents. But I’m just not seeing it this week. For better or worse for Notre Dame’s playoff hopes, the Sooners have looked distinctly better since Caleb Williams took over at quarterback, and Baylor is coming off a rough loss to a TCU team playing their first game without Gary Patterson at the helm since the turn of the century. Being back on home territory should help the Bears, and I suspect they’ll keep it close, but I’m not sure it will be enough to overcome a Sooners offense that might finally be finding their top gear.
Oklahoma 44, Baylor 38
This game looked a lot more fun about three weeks ago. But then Penn State lost to Illinois at home in one of the most hilariously bad games in recent college football history, and the Nittany Lions haven’t looked the same since. Make no mistake, James Franklin’s squad has plenty of talent. They kept Ohio State within arms’ length in Columbus on Halloweekend, which is no easy feat. But Michigan is once again building momentum of their own after rivals Michigan State fell to Purdue, which sadly enough for the rest of the country once again opens up Michigan’s path to the playoffs. Happy Valley awaits and will be bringing the heat, but if Harbaugh and co. keep their eyes in front of them and not on their rivalry week showdown with Ohio State, they should be able to see this one out.
Michigan 31, Penn State 24
Hail to the Spoilermakers, the unstoppable force that has sent the playoff runs of Iowa and Michigan State off the rails over the last few weeks. And now, once again, the hopeful eyes of the college football world once again come to gaze on Purdue and their insatiable appetite for causing destruction in the top ten. Make no mistake, Purdue isn’t some fluke squad that lucked into two wins. They’re a quality team with one of the nations’ best receivers in David Bell, as well as a coach in Jeff Brohm who always seems to have a few tricks up his sleeve for big games. That being said, Ohio State at home is about as tall of an order as you’ll find in the sport. The Buckeyes have looked very vincible in recent weeks, but I suspect Ryan Day will do just enough to survive another week in the top five.
Ohio State 37 Purdue 34
Like history, this season’s Oklahoma team can be categorized into two time periods; Before Caleb Williams (BC) and After Caleb Williams (AC). Against FBS teams with Spencer Rattler, the Sooners’ average margin of victory was 5.25. With Williams? Well, it jumped to 17.75, not a small change by any means. And while the Baylor Bears are a sound squad, they have the weaker offense of the two teams. So while the Sooners may be 4-5 against the spread, I like them to win by at least a touchdown. And even with a total of 62.5, I would personally take the over. On principle, you have to with two Big 12 teams, right?
Oklahoma 49 Baylor 42
Expect this one to be a defensive battle (unlike the shootout above), where both offenses struggle to move the ball, and turnovers will be the difference. These two teams both allow 16 and 16.7 points per game. You may want to take the under (48.5) on this one, and I think the spread (even) is perfect for this one. Michigan has a much better offense and gives up fewer yards per game than the Nittany Lions, but of course, this game takes place in Happy Valley. The last time I picked a tight game with the Wolverines, I picked against them, and MSU ended up proving me right. If it is not broken, why fix it?
Michigan 21 Penn State 24
Of the three games, Purdue against Ohio State has to be my favorite matchup. The No. 19 Spoilermakers come into the matchup having toppled Iowa and Michigan State and set their sights on a CFP caliber team in Ohio State. The Buckeyes need to be worried; they lost to Oregon, and becoming a two-loss team at the hands of Purdue would end any CFP ambitions. Luckily for the Buckeyes, I have them coming out on top. Purdue beat Iowa for lack of offense and MSU for lack of defense against explosive plays. The Buckeyes (45 PPG and 19 PPGA) boast both.
Purdue 24 Ohio State 35
Oklahoma was ranked eighth in the first round of College Football Playoff rankings, lower than most would have thought for an undefeated leader of the Big 12. The Sooners must win convincingly down the stretch if they want to make a playoff push, and this week’s game against Baylor presents an opportunity to do just that. The Bears faltered at TCU last week, falling to the 4-5 Horned Frogs 30-28. Baylor can score with anyone, but unfortunately for them, so can Oklahoma. Freshman QB Caleb Williams is a special talent for the Sooners, and they should roll in this one, even if it is in Waco. This should be a classic Big 12 affair, meaning lots of points and horrible tackling.
Oklahoma 40 Baylor 27
Michigan and Penn State. Two of my least favorite teams in the country. Can they both lose this game? Anyway, Michigan looked better last week in their win over Indiana in which they held the Hoosiers to only seven points. Michigan RB Hassan Haskins dominated, rushing for 168 yards and a touchdown. The Wolverines gave up just 195 yards of total offense, and they should be able to similarly limit the Nittany Lions in this matchup. Penn State QB Sean Clifford looked healthier last week against Maryland, and WR Jahan Dotson torched the Terrapins for 242 yards and three touchdowns on 11 receptions. I don’t think either of these teams are great, but I think Michigan is healthier overall and they have a better defense. Should be a good one in Happy Valley.
Michigan 27, Penn State 23
Can Purdue play spoiler once again? The Boilermakers have beaten No. 2 Iowa and No. 3 Michigan State this year, and they now have an opportunity to do it again. Purdue WR David Bell has been elite this season with already over 1,000 yards, helped by his 11-catch, 217-yard performance last week. The Boilermakers will need a similar effort to pull this upset off. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Cinderella story will continue this week. That is because I guess I never thought Iowa or Michigan State were very good, but Ohio State is the real deal. Buckeyes QB CJ Stroud has found his stride, and he has already passed for 2,675 yards and 25 touchdowns with just five picks. RB Treveyon Henderson will also most likely go over 1,000 yards on the season in this game. If this game was at Purdue, it might be a different story, but I am going to have to take the Buckeyes, even though they won’t cover the 20-point spread.
Ohio State 38, Purdue 27
Baylor had a tough loss last weekend at TCU, and they will have a difficult time bouncing back against an Oklahoma squad coming off a bye week. The Bears have one of the top running backs in the country in Abram Smith, who has 11 touchdowns on the year, but the Sooners have one of the top rushing defenses in the country. They have only given up eight rushing touchdowns all season, and Baylor will struggle to break through. Quarterback Caleb Williams has recently emerged as a Heisman contender as well, and Oklahoma should get the win in Waco.
Oklahoma 38, Baylor 28
Michigan recovered nicely from its loss to Michigan State with a thumping of Indiana, and I think they will keep the momentum rolling this weekend against Penn State. Nittany Lions wide receiver Jahan Dotson is an absolute stud, but I think the Wolverines pass rush won’t give Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford enough time to find him. Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and linebacker David Ojabo have a combined 14 sacks this season, and they have forced five fumbles as well. They will be a constant presence in the Penn State backfield and help lead the Wolverines to victory.
Michigan 27, Penn State 13
I would love to pick Purdue to take down the Buckeyes at The Shoe, but I think it’s too unrealistic for the Boilermakers to beat their third AP top-5 opponent of the year on Saturday. Purdue just won’t be able to match Ohio State’s explosive offense. The Buckeyes are averaging 44.9 points per game, which is good for second in the country. Quarterback C.J. Stroud continues to improve, and it seems as if he’ll have another elite weapon to lean on after wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s huge game at Nebraska. I’ll take the Buckeyes in a close one.
Ohio State 34, Purdue 31