Line Study: Will chaos come this week?

By Tom Fornelli | College Football Writer

Stanford will look to end Oregon's title dream one more time
Stanford will look to end Oregon's title dream one more time. (USATSI)

Every Monday the Eye on College Football's Tom Fornelli takes an early look this week's most interesting point spreads in Line Study.

We are now entering the eleventh week of the regular season with five undefeated teams still in the national title picture. That seems like a lot, and we could be looking at a situation where an undefeated team gets left out of the title game. But I feel compelled to remind you that this isn't a situation.

In fact, going into the eleventh week of last season we had five undefeated teams in tha title picture: Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State, Notre Dame and Louisville. And that's not including an ineligible Ohio State team.

Well, we all know what happened then. That week Alabama would lose to Texas A&M and Louisville would lose to Syracuse. The next week Kansas State and Oregon would fall.

Are we in for a similar situation this week? Well, when you consider that three of those five remaining unbeatens are all playing teams currently ranked in the top 13 of the latest BCS standings, and two of them are playing on a weeknight, I'd say yes. I wouldn't be surprised if we only have four unbeatens come next week. Maybe even less.

But whom?

THE GAMES YOU'LL BE WATCHING

No. 3 Oregon (-10.5) at No. 5 Stanford

That Oregon loss we mentioned earlier came against Stanford last season, and this year the rematch will take place in Palo Alto. It's hard to get a great read on this game, because so many of the trends are conflicting. Simply looking at records against the spread we see that Oregon is 7-1 on the year while Stanford is 4-4. We also see that Oregon is 3-0 ATS on the road this season, but we need to remember that Oregon's three road games this season have been against Virginia, Colorado and a Washington team that's wilted in recent weeks against stronger competition.

Then there's the fact that this game is on a Thursday night, and underdogs cover on Thursday nights. But -- BUT! -- neither of these teams played on Saturday, so I'm not sure what kind of impact that's going to have.

The other thing causing doubt in my mind is the fact that against UCLA and Washington the Ducks defense allowed 413 rushing yards, and last year against Stanford the Cardinal rushed for 200 yards and controlled possession. Which is the best way to slow down the Oregon offense. And while Stanford's offense hasn't been all that good this season, the running game has gotten going with Ty Gaffney in the last few weeks.

So which way am I going?

Well, in the end, if I was forced to pick now I'd take Oregon -10.5 just because of how well Marcus Mariota has been playing this season, though my professional opinion is that you should avoid this line. Just too much conflicting information.

No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 6 Baylor (-14)

Isn't this a strange position for Baylor to be in? I don't know about it's entire history, but I do know for a fact that this is the first time in the last six seasons that Baylor has been a favorite against a ranked team, and by two touchdowns no less. I also know that Baylor is 6-1 ATS, including a 5-0 mark at home.

But the simple fact is that Baylor hasn't played a team as good as Oklahoma. In fact, Baylor hasn't played a team even close to Oklahoma's level. I know Baylor's schedule has been torn apart enough, but the fact is the only FBS schools its played with a winning record so far have been Buffalo and Louisiana-Monroe.

However, what's more important to me than who Baylor has played is who it's playing this week, and Oklahoma is the kind of team that presents possible matchup problems for the Bears. Not only does Oklahoma claim a top 10 defense, but its offense is also averaging over 5.2 yards per carry, and it can control the clock and limit Baylor's possessions. Which is exactly what Kansas State did to Baylor earlier this season.

I don't know that Oklahoma is going to beat Baylor straight up, but I do think giving the Sooners 14 points is a bit much. I'd take the Sooners here.

No. 13 LSU at No. 1 Alabama (-11)

Of all the major games this week, this is the one I actually feel the most confident about. While the ATS records of both teams don't really point things in any one direction, the fact is that in the past six meetings between these two teams -- of which Alabama has won four -- the average margin of victory has been 7.67 points.

In the past five regular-season meetings, that margin drops down to five points a game, with two of the games going to overtime.

I don't expect Saturday night's game to be all that different, so I'm taking LSU +11.

THE GAMES YOU SHOULD EXPLOIT

Virginia Tech at No. 11 Miami (-7.5)

Virginia Tech's offense has been horrible this season, I'm not even going to try and dispute that fact. But the Virginia Tech defense is still one of the best in the country, and we all saw Miami struggle to move the ball against one of the best defenses in the country in Florida State on Saturday night.

Well, now Miami will be without Duke Johnson for the rest of the season. That's not good for the Miami offense, and against the Hokies defense it's going to make life a lot more difficult.

Virginia Tech can't score a lot of points, but it's not going to have to in order to get a cover here. Take the Hokies +7.5.

Iowa (-15) at Purdue

There really isn't a whole lot of explanation needed here, is there? Iowa isn't a very good team, but Purdue is a very, very, very bad team. The Boilermakers have been shut out in their past two games and have scored only seven points in their past three games. And if you think that's bad, wait until you read this next tidbit.

Purdue's offense hasn't snapped the ball inside it's opponent's 20-yard line -- the red zone -- since Sept. 28 against Northern Illinois.

I know Iowa's on the road, but I like its odds here.

 
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