Week 11 CF Picks
The 2008 College Football Season continues through its final month with a full slate of games on Saturday. Our team of writers and handicappers hand out six picks for Week 11.
Oklahoma State at Texas Tech, 8:00 PM ET
Texas Tech steadily climbed the rankings during its first 8-0 start since 1976, but didn't figure prominently in the national title picture until last week's victory over the top-ranked team in the country.
To stay in the BCS championship conversation, the Red Raiders probably can't afford a letdown against another elite Big 12 South opponent.
Having already achieved their highest ranking ever and their longest undefeated start in 70 years, the second-ranked Red Raiders look to extend the longest winning streak in school history - and in the nation - to 12 games when they host No. 8 Oklahoma State on Saturday night.
Texas Tech (9-0, 5-0) used one of the nation's most prolific offenses to win its first eight games for the first time since 1976, but it defeated only one ranked team in that stretch - a 63-21 victory over Kansas on Oct. 25 that dropped the then-No. 19 Jayhawks out of the poll.
After a last-second touchdown pass gave Texas Tech a thrilling 39-33 victory over top-ranked Texas last Saturday, however, there's little doubt that the Red Raiders belong in the national title picture.
Graham Harrell completed 36 of 53 passes for 474 yards and two touchdowns, including a 28-yarder to Michael Crabtree with one second remaining that gave Texas Tech perhaps the biggest win in school history.
Now the Red Raiders are faced with the challenge of moving on to face the Cowboys (8-1, 4-1), whose only loss was a 28-24 defeat on the road against Texas on Oct. 25.
The Cowboys are playing on the road against a team ranked in the top 3 for the third time in five weeks, having beaten then-No. 3 Missouri 28-23 on Oct. 11. They've lost 11 straight games in Lubbock since their last win there in 1944.
Kansas State at Missouri, 3:30 PM ET
As it continued its pursuit of the Big 12 North division title last week, Missouri was hoping to dominate one of the conference's weaker teams. Instead, it had to hang on for its narrowest victory in four seasons.
The 13th-ranked Tigers seek a stronger effort Saturday when they wrap up the home portion of their schedule against struggling Kansas State, which will play its first game since learning coach Ron Prince won't return next season.
Consecutive losses to then-No. 17 Oklahoma State and then-No. 1 Texas last month crushed Missouri's national championship hopes. However, the Tigers (7-2, 3-2) can get earn a spot in the Big 12 championship game for the second straight season if they can defeat Kansas State and Iowa State before a likely showdown for the North title against Kansas in the regular season finale Nov. 29 at Arrowhead Stadium.
Missouri is tied with the Jayhawks atop the North, but the Tigers didn't look much like a conference title contender last Saturday against a Baylor team with only one conference win. Missouri escaped with a 31-28 victory - its narrowest win since a 27-24 overtime victory over Iowa State on Oct. 15, 2005.
Against Baylor, the Tigers drove 75 yards on 13 plays to set up Jeff Wolfert's game-winning 34-yard field goal with 2:31 remaining. Linebacker Brock Christopher then intercepted a pass to seal the win.
Penn State at Iowa, 3:30 PM ET
With a season that may hinge as much on results from Texas and Tuscaloosa as the three games left on its own schedule, Penn State has had two weeks to gear up for a month of debate regarding its rightful place in the national championship picture.
Taking care of its own business remains the first order.
The third-ranked Nittany Lions will try to close their Big Ten road slate on a high note Saturday when they travel to Iowa for the first time since 2003.
Penn State (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) was third in the initial BCS standings that were released on Oct. 19. The Lions stayed there after their 13-6 victory at Ohio State on Oct. 25, the biggest win on a resume they're hoping is good enough to earn them one of two spots in the BCS championship game.
Joe Paterno's team had a week off after that victory, and despite top-ranked Texas falling to then-sixth ranked Texas Tech last Saturday, the Red Raiders vaulted Penn State to No. 2 in the BCS. With its three remaining games the only thing his team can control, Paterno isn't worried about looking ahead.
Penn State's 27-7 win over the Hawkeyes on Oct. 6, 2007 snapped a five-game losing streak in the series. The Lions lost 26-14 in 2003, their last visit to Kinnick Stadium.
California at USC, 8:00 PM ET
Since dropping its conference opener a month and a half ago, Southern California has played like a national title contender. Before getting caught up in any national title hype, though, it needs to first win the Pac-10.
The seventh-ranked Trojans look to win their sixth straight game on Saturday when they host No. 21 California - another one-loss Pac-10 team.
USC (7-1, 5-1) has won a share of the last six Pac-10 titles, and owns a half-game lead atop the conference over the Golden Bears (6-2, 4-1) and Oregon State.
The Beavers upset the then-No. 1 Trojans 27-21 on Sept. 25, and USC has been taking out its frustration from that loss on each opponent since.
The Trojans have outscored their last five opponents 207-27, posting shutouts in three of the last four. In last Saturday's 56-0 win over Washington, USC had 18 first downs and 325 yards of total offense in the first half, compared to two first downs and 35 yards for the Huskies.
With the victory, the Trojans improved to 24-0 in November games since Pete Carroll was hired as coach in 2001.
Despite its resounding victory over the Huskies, USC dropped two places to seven in the BCS standings. Carroll isn't worrying about the BCS race, instead trying to keep his team focused on winning the Pac-10.
USC defeated Cal 24-17 last season, and has won four straight in the series since a 34-31 loss on Set. 27, 2003. The Trojans have also won the last three meetings at the Los Angeles Coliseum, where they have won 42 of their last 43 games overall.
Florida at Vanderbilt, 8:00 PM ET
After an emotional win over an archrival in its most anticipated game of the season last week, Florida must avoid a letdown against a team it hasn't lost to in two decades. That shouldn't be a problem with a trip to the SEC championship game on the line.
The fourth-ranked Gators look to clinch the SEC East Division and defeat Vanderbilt for the 18th straight time when they meet Saturday in Nashville.
Florida (7-1, 5-1) had been looking forward to last week's game against Georgia ever since last season's 42-30 loss to the Bulldogs. The Gators were still angered by Georgia's excessive celebration after its first score in last year's game when the entire team ran onto the field and jumped up and down in unison while celebrating wildly - a move that was uncharacteristically orchestrated by Bulldogs coach Mark Richt.
Florida was able to avenge that loss with an easy 49-10 win in Jacksonville last Saturday. The Gators scored touchdowns on seven of 11 possessions, didn't have a turnover and were up 49-3 when Georgia finally got into the end zone with just over three minutes left in the game.
San Diego State at BYU, 2:00 PM
BYU has needed late-game heroics to win each of its last two games. Hosting San Diego State, however, should give the Cougars a chance for a drama-free fourth quarter.
Boasting one of the nation's top offenses, the 17th-ranked Cougars look to keep the Aztecs winless in Mountain West Conference play when the teams meet Saturday.
BYU (8-1, 4-1) has scored more than 40 points in each of its last two games, but needed clutch play to win both contests.
Down four points with 1:36 remaining and 76 yards to go, the Cougars ended up beating Colorado State 45-42 last Saturday night. They were behind by one point with less than two minutes to play against UNLV on Oct. 25, but won 42-35.
BYU has won six of its last seven meetings against San Diego State, and leads the all-time series 24-7-1.
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Posted: 11/07/08 9:00 PM