“Buy the Numbers” is a column by Michael Loy about professional betting.
Week 10 recap:
Every close matchup went the wrong way for me last week. When I was right, it was due to an Oregon blowout over USC and a UCLA victory over Colorado.
Only one ranked team lost last weekend, then-No. 20 ranked Appalachian State. This upcoming week will feature two marquee undefeated matchups, No. 1 LSU versus No. 2 Alabama and No. 5 Penn State versus No. 13 Minnesota.
Week 10 (and USC’s hope for a Pac-12 South title) is over. Here are the five most interesting games for Week 11.
Game 1: No. 3 Ohio State vs. Maryland, Saturday, Nov. 9 @ 9:00 a.m.
Favorite: Ohio State (-43.5)
The Big-10 is a top-heavy conference. Ohio State is projected to win this matchup by six touchdowns, and they likely will.
At one point this season, Maryland was No. 21 in the country after scoring 142 points in its first two games of the season. Over the next seven games, Maryland would total 124 points, 48 of those being over Big-10 bottom-feeder Rutgers.
Ohio State sophomore quarterback Justin Fields will have a field day against the Terrapins’ defense, who allowed 52 points to Minnesota and 59 points to Penn State this season. The last time the Buckeyes played against a bottom-tier Big-10 team, Northwestern, Ohio State won 52-3 with Fields playing the majority of the game. Expect a similar result here.
Prediction: Ohio State (-43.5)
Game 2: No. 13 Minnesota vs. No. 5 Penn State, Saturday, Nov. 9 @ 9:00 a.m.
Favorite: Penn State (-6.5)
Minnesota has been the NCAA’s most unlikely undefeated team throughout the first 10 weeks of the season. However, the Golden Gophers have yet to play a ranked opponent. They will get a massive test this week at home against No. 5 Penn State.
The Nittany Lions are a different beast from what Minnesota’s offense has faced so far. Penn State has the second-best defense in the nation, limiting opposing teams to only 9.6 points per game. Their staunch secondary is the toughest in college football, giving up fewer than two yards per rush.
Penn State has the experience and talent to handily win this matchup; the Nittany Lions’ NCAA-leading defense will give Minnesota its first loss of the season.
Prediction: Penn State (-6.5)
Game 3: No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 1 LSU, Saturday, Nov. 9 @ 12:30 p.m.
Favorite: Alabama (-6.5)
LSU senior linebacker Michael Divinity shocked fans when he left the team for “personal reasons” before the Alabama game. The Tigers also lost junior defensive lineman Justin Thomas, who left days earlier also due to personal reasons.
The Tigers looked to have the upper hand against the Crimson Tide with senior quarterback and Heisman candidate Joe Burrow behind center. But with the noise surrounding two recent departures and LSU’s recent struggle in a three-point win against Auburn, Alabama is ready to feast in Saturday’s marquee matchup.
One key player to monitor is Alabama junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who remains a game-time decision due to a high ankle sprain he suffered against Tennessee on Oct. 19. If Tagovailoa plays, expect the Crimson Tide to win and claim the No. 1 spot in the country.
Prediction: Alabama (-6.5)
Game 4: Arizona State vs. USC, Saturday, Nov. 9 @ 12:30 PM
Favorite: USC (+2)
This line is a total overreaction after USC suffered an embarrassing 32-point loss to No. 7 Oregon. There’s no doubt USC is struggling; the Trojans were bad on offense, defense, special teams and any other possible aspect of the game against the Ducks.
Arizona State is not Oregon. After starting 3-0 on the season and rising to No. 24 in the nation, the Sun Devils then dropped three of their next five games. Losses to Colorado, Utah and UCLA derailed Arizona State’s season.
If USC wants any chance at a Pac-12 championship, it needs to shake off the Oregon loss and return to the offensive prowess the team showed against Colorado and Arizona. The Trojans struggle on the road, but Clay Helton and Co. are fighting for a bowl game, a possible Pac-12 Championship and a potential job-saving win. There’s too much at stake for USC to drop this match.
Prediction: USC (+2)
Game 5: No. 16 Wisconsin vs. No. 18 Iowa, Saturday, Nov. 9 @ 1:00 PM
Favorite: Wisconsin (-8.5)
In all likelihood, this game will determine who gets a chance at winning the Big-10 West over undefeated Minnesota. Both teams have had a recent tough stretch. Wisconsin lost two straight matchups to unranked Illinois and No. 3 Ohio State respectively; Iowa has gone 2-2 in its last four matchups with two losses to ranked teams.
Wisconsin junior running back Jonathan Taylor will determine the course of the game. Ohio State was able to limit Taylor to an abysmal 2.6 yards per carry with a longest run of 5 yards in the Badgers’ 38-7 loss.
Unfortunately for the Badgers, Iowa’s rushing defense ranks above Ohio State’s, limiting opponents to 3.07 yards per carry on the season. Saturday’s matchup should be a low scoring close affair, so an 8.5 point spread will likely tilt in the Hawkeyes direction.
Prediction: Iowa (+8.5)
Overall “Buy the Numbers” prediction record: 10-9-1
His column “Buy the Numbers” runs every Tuesday.