Think of this week as the calm before the storm in college football. While there are still entertaining matchups tomorrow (including another Top 10 showdown in the ACC), Week 11 will have huge ramifications for the SEC, Pac-12, Big 12, and ACC title pictures.
Let’s talk about this week’s Top 10 matchup for a second though, since it is a Top 10 matchup. We’re only a few weeks removed from Florida State’s 51-14 beatdown of Clemson at Death Valley. It was the first ACC matchup between Top 5 teams in eight years, but it certainly didn’t live up to its primetime billing in the end.
What we learned about the two teams is pretty clear: Florida State is clearly the cream of the crop in the ACC. Jameis Winston has only improved since his hot start to the season, and the rest of the team has done the same. Winston’s thinking Heisman, while the team is thinking BCS title if a few pieces fall into play. Clemson is, by my account, the second-best team in the ACC, but not exactly a close second.
So even with #7 Miami coming to town and the history that the tilt brings with it, it’s been tough for casual fans (and oddsmakers) to get excited. The reasoning being something along the lines of “if they do that to Clemson in their stadium, think of what they’ll do to the Hurricanes in Tallahassee”. It’s a dangerous line of thinking, as the transitive property has no place in the variable world of sports, but I can’t help but feel the same way in this case.
It’s one hell of a line from a Vegas perspective. Florida State is a ridiculous 21-point favorite over Stephen Morris and company tomorrow. While I do think the final margin will be greater than 21 points, conventional wisdom says that the unbeaten #7 team in the nation has to keep it closer. But that’s why they play the game.
*Friday Game* USC vs. Oregon State, 9:30pm (ESPN)
Neither team is ranked, but it’s still a good watch for a Friday night. USC could really turn their season around with a win here. They finish the season with two easy games on the road and their two ranked opponents at home.
The Beavers are in the opposite boat. While they’re on their way to a bowl game, the caliber of the game could vary dramatically. Their final three games are at Arizona State and Oregon, while they’ll host Washington. Tonight may be their easiest remaining game.
#24 Wisconsin vs. Iowa, 12pm (ABC/ESPN 2)
Two of Iowa’s three losses have come at home, but I think think they have a shot at knocking off the Badgers tomorrow.
#21 Michigan vs. #22 Michigan State, 3:30pm (ABC)
A rivalry between two overlooked teams. While their play doesn’t suggest that they’re among the best in the nation, both are a close loss away from being unbeaten. Michigan has the advantage in offensive firepower, but the Spartans have the third-best scoring defense in the nation.
Georgia vs. Florida, 3:30pm (CBS)
It may not be the sexiest game on paper, but it’s the best SEC game you’re going to get this weekend. The winner will remain in the hunt for the SEC East.
#18 Oklahoma State vs. #15 Texas Tech, 7pm (Fox)
Both teams are still alive in the Big 12. For now, at least. The Red Raiders suffered their first loss last weekend in Norman and their remaining schedule isn’t getting any easier.
#7 Miami (FL) vs. #3 Florida State, 8pm (ABC)
Florida State is still steamrolling opponents, winning their last three by a combined 163-31. Miami is doing the opposite, beating their last two opponents (with a combined 6-9 record) 51-44. That may help explain the spread.