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Tag:South Carolina
Posted on: November 11, 2011 1:07 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 1:09 pm
 

The Mysterious Case of the Missing Alshon Jeffery

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery finished the 2010 season as the nation's fifth-leading receiver with 1,517 yards. He was consistent, finishing with 85 or more yards in 11 of his team's 14 games. He was explosive, averaging more yards per-reception (17.2) than any other receiver in the FBS with more than 70 catches, and Jeffery had 88 of them.

2011 has just a bit different. Jeffery is currently outside the nation's top 100 receivers with 487 yards. He has been inconsistent, finishing with 35 or fewer yards in five of his team's nine games and not once cracking the 100-yard barrier. He has not been explosive, averaging just over 13.5 yards per reception.

Things have been particularly dire for Jeffery over the past three games. Jeffery looked to be ready for a second-half resurgence after Connor Shaw took over as the Gamecocks' quarterback vs. Kentucky on Oct. 8, catching 6 balls for 95 yards and two touchdowns against the Wildcats.

But the stretch since then has instead been the most ineffectual of Jeffery's career--vs. Mississippi State, Tennessee and Arkansas Jeffery caught 11 passes for a total of 60 yards, or fewer yards than he had in all but two individual games last season. Not one of those 11 receptions covered so much as 10 yards. Jeffery's most productive game in that span -- 24 yards vs. MSU -- ranks as the ninth-most productive receiving game on his own team over those three games.

For a player of Jeffery's talents, this kind of lack of production is baffling at best and a seeming flat-out impossibility at worst. So it's no wonder he's expecting things to get better this week vs. Florida.

“He has not seen a lot of true bump-and-run, me-and-you,” Gamecock receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. said Thursday. “He thinks he’s going to have an opportunity.”

For the Gamecocks' sake, he'd better. It's no coincidence that during Jeffery's three-game downturn from what had already been a season-long downturn, Carolina has averaged all of 16 offensive points per-game* and 271 total yards--or one yard less than what the 118th-ranked Memphis offense averages a contest.

Of course, there's plenty going wrong with the Carolina offense that's not Jeffery's fault. Shaw has been wobbly at best, indecisive and erratic at worst. With no Marcus Lattimore, the running game has had all the explosiveness of a box of matches left out in the rain. Aside from the occasional burst from Bruce Ellington, no complementary playmaker has emerged to keep opposing defenses from sending regular over-the-top help Jeffery's way. And after reyling so heavily on Lattimore the past season-and-a-half, Steve Spurrier seems to have lost something of his old playcalling ingenuity and spark.

But since Carolina can't solve all those problems at once, they'll have to start with solving the biggest one of them all: finding a way to get their best offensive player and only legitimate big-play threat the ball somehow. If not, the noon kickoff (on CBS!) means the Gators will have the Gamecocks SEC East hopes done and dusted before Georgia even takes the field.


Posted on: November 10, 2011 4:12 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 4:19 pm
 

Man vs. Woman vs. Machine: Week 11



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Man vs. Woman vs. Machine is a feature that runs every Thursday afternoon. It is here that Tom Fornelli fights against the rising tide of female empowerment and technology to ensure that men everywhere can at least claim that college football is still theirs. He does this by picking a set of games against the spread against his girlfriend, Lynn, and his Playstation 3.

You know, when you're in a weekly competition of any kind, there's never really a good week to have your WORST WEEK EVER, but I have to believe that having mine in Week 10 was a pretty terrible idea. From the very beginning of the season I was in a 3-game hole behind Woman, and I spent weeks digging myself out of it. Well, I'm right back where I started now after a terrible Saturday last week.

Making matters worse, The Machine is now closer to me than I am to The Woman. Needless to say, it's been a long week. Hopefully I can work my way out of this mess quickly because I really don't have any other choice. I either get myself back in the game or I'm the college football blogger who knows less than his girlfriend.

Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech (-1 1/2) - Thursday, 8pm (All time Eastern)

Man - So far this season Virginia Tech's most impressive win has been against Miami, and in reality that's not really all that impressive of a win. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech had an bye week before this game and is coming off a win against Clemson. So why am I picking Virginia Tech? I have no idea. Because Virginia Tech had a better bye week? I don't know, I think I'm on tilt. Pick: Virginia Tech

Woman - "Yeah, the Hokies had an extra week to prepare, but I'm going with GaTech's 5-0 home record, their multi-talented QB Tevin Washington and deep threat Stephen Hill, who makes would-be defenders look like Lilliputians." Pick: Georgia Tech

Machine - The Machine thinks this will be an interesting matchup for three quarters, but then Virginia Tech pulls away in the fourth quarter and wins 35-20. Pick: Virginia Tech

Cincinnati (-3 1/2) vs. West Virginia - Saturday, 12pm

Man - I have a new philosophy when it comes to picking Big East games, and that philosophy is always go with chaos. Pick: West Virginia

Woman - "Those Mountaineers burn me every time I pick them and I do love Cincinnati, but in their last two games they've had to come from behind to win with last-ditch field goals. So, God help me, I'm taking the points." Pick: West Virginia

Machine - It's unanimous, and that's usually a good thing for the team all three of us pick. West Virginia takes it to the Bearcats, winning 44-20. Pick: West Virginia

South Carolina (-3 1/2) vs. Florida - Saturday, 12pm

Man - I really don't like putting my fate in the hands of this Florida offense, but with Connor Shaw coming off of a concussion and his status for this weekend somewhat in doubt, I'm going to cross my fingers and hope that the Florida defense and special teams can come through for me. Pick: Florida

Woman - "This is like watching two drunk coeds sitting on barstools and betting which one's going to fall off first." Pick: South Carolina

Machine - According to The Machine, this is the week where Charlie Weis finally shows off that decided schematic advantage he's been threatening to unleash for years now. Florida wins 35-17. Pick: Florida

Iowa vs. Michigan State (-2 1/2) - Saturday, 12pm

Man - Last week I said I was going against my initial instinct by picking against Iowa at home against Michigan. I'm not making that mistake again, which means the Hawkeyes home winning streak will likely come to an end. Pick: Iowa

Woman - "The Hawkeyes haven't lost at Kinnick Stadium this year. That ends Saturday, as the Spartans become this season's Big 10 Legend." Pick: Michigan State

Machine - The Machine sees Michigan State coming to Iowa City and destroying the place as the Spartans win 38-13. Pick: Michigan State

Missouri vs. Texas (-1 1/2) - Saturday, 12pm

Man - The Longhorns are starting to make a real believer out of me the last few weeks as Bryan Harsin has this running attack humming and firing on all cylinders. So even against a Missouri team that seems to do the opposite of what I expect every week, I'm going with Texas on the road. Pick: Texas

Woman - "Despite the Tigers' craptastic season, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson found time this week to taunt the Longhorns, saying, 'I hate Texas. I just do. I do. I hate Texas. Any other overrated state in football I pretty much hate. That's how I feel about it. Overrated. Overrated. Overrated.'  After an exhaustive search, I've located Sheldon's (NSFW) mother and now I see where he gets it from." Pick: Texas

Machine - It seems that not everybody is a believer in the Longhorns just yet, as The Machine sees Mizzou squeaking by in this one 23-21. Pick Missouri

Georgia (-13 1/2) vs. Auburn - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - I'm really not all that confident in this pick, but for some reason I see Georgia announcing to the world that it is by far the team to beat in the SEC East this season and with last week's game against New Mexico State, it kind of served as a scrimmage/bye week to prepare for Auburn. Pick: Georgia

Woman - "Erase last week's cupcake romp and over the past month the Bulldogs have beaten Florida by a meager 4, Vanderbilt by 5 and Tennessee by 8.  Meanwhile, Auburn's three season losses have been against Arkansas, Clemson and LSU.  Thinking the oddsmakers might have undervalued the Tigers." Pick: Auburn

Machine - The Machine sees Georgia taking a firm grasp of the top place in the SEC East this week. It already picked South Carolina to lose, and now it has Georgia beating Auburn 34-21, though the Tigers do cover. Pick: Auburn

Kansas State vs. Texas A&M (-4 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - Seriously? What in the world does Kansas State have to do to finally start getting some respect from gamblers? I mean, it nearly beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater last week and Texas A&M has spent the entire season failing to reach expectations. Pick: Kansas State

Woman - "I had high hopes for Kansas State.  So... much... hope.  Now this team just makes me sad. Thank goodness for Hope E. Young, Board Certified Music Therapist. Her musical healing (which really gets going at around minute 3:25) combined with four or five Rumple Minze jello shots, helps me travel through this world of woe, take the spread and get on with my day." Pick: Kansas State

Machine - The Machine continues its existence blissfully unaware of what Texas A&M has done this season and sees the Aggies rolling in this game, 49-17. Pick: Texas A&M

Boise State (-15 1/2) vs. TCU - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - This matchup seemed a lot more appealing before the season started than it does now, as TCU may be a good team, but it's not the same team we've seen the last few years. So with Kellen Moore still being Kellen Moore and Bronco Stadium still being impossible for road teams to solve, I have to go with the Broncos. Pick: Boise State

Woman - "Since their season-opening win over Georgia, I have not watched a minute of Boise State football. Apparently, they've been doing pretty well, beating every team they've played by an average of 27 points. Okay, then." Pick: Boise State

Machine - Nobody plays football on the blue turf and survives! Boise State wins 41-24. Pick: Boise State

USC (-13 1/2) vs. Washington - Saturday, 3:45pm

Man - Washington is a nice story this year and Steve Sarkisian has the Huskies on the right track, but this is still a team that has lost to every ranked team it's faced. Plus, when facing the elite of the Pac-12 (Oregon and Stanford) it's been beaten pretty soundly. USC isn't quite elite, yet, but it's still pretty good and it's at home. Pick: USC

Woman - "Here's how a husky makes a baby stop crying.  On Saturday we'll see how a husky makes a baby start crying." Pick: Washington

Machine - Hey, Steve Sarkisian may have been a coach at USC, but he wasn't on Lane Kiffin's staff, so Kiffin doesn't care. USC wins 49-20. Pick: USC

Stanford (-3 1/2) vs. Oregon - Saturday, 8pm

Man - Listen, Stanford doesn't just win every week, it covers the spread every week. Until that trend changes I'm not picking against the Cardinal. Pick: Stanford

Woman - "Enjoy this dramatic interpretation of Andrew Luck leaving his mark at Stanford and securing home field advantage for the Pac 12 championship. Oh yeah, and getting his Heisman. (NBA fans who hear the score of this one might wonder if the strike is over.)" Pick: Stanford

Machine - Machine recognize Machine. Stanford wins 42-35. Pick: Stanford

Standings

Season Record (Last Week)

1. Woman 61-44 (6-4)
2. Man 58-47 (3-7)
3. Machine 56-49 (4-6)

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: November 9, 2011 2:19 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 2:28 pm
 

Free Bruce Podcast, Week 11: Steve Sarkisian

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

In this edition of the Free Bruce Podcast, CBSSports.com senior writer Bruce Feldman and Bryan Fischer break down all the Week 10 developments including LSU-Alabama, Arkansas after their top-10 win vs. South Carolina, the Penn State scandal, and more.

That's before Bruce and Bryan welcome the podcats's special guest for this week: Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian, joining them to talk rebuilding the Huskie program, Andrew Luck vs. Matt Barkley, what he's learned as a head coach, and more.

To listen, click below, download the mp3, or pop the player out in a new window.

Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.



Posted on: November 9, 2011 1:38 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 3:13 pm
 

UGA's Crowell on Auburn: 'I never liked them.'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

High school teammates Isaiah Crowell and Gabe Wright made waves at their Signing Day announcement last spring, when Crowell hoisted a Bulldog puppy to pledge his allegiance to Georgia and Wright promised to fill Nick Fairley's shoes at Auburn with a hat that read "Nick Who?"

With Crowell's Bulldogs and Wright's Tigers set to renew the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry this Saturday, neither player has been shy about discussing their former teammate ... or their new team. Here's what Crowell had to say about the Tigers:
“I never liked Auburn. Point blank, I never liked (them),” he said. “I just never liked Auburn, I don’t know why.”
Why the hostility for a player who grew up just 35 miles from Auburn in Columbus, Ga.? It may have something to do with Wright's comments earlier this weekabout Crowell, which (ahem) didn't quite seem to come from a place of humble respect:
“Isaiah can be explosive just like every other back, but he also can be stopped,” Wright said. “That’s one thing I know how to do. That’s one thing I’ve been practicing to do."
Crowell had something specific to say about that, too:
“I know he’s been talking, telling the media he knows how to stop me or whatever,” Crowell said. “But we’re just going to have to see.”

Asked if Wright will be able to tackle him, Crowell said: “Nah. Never has, never will.”
Well, then. Gene Chizik said this week he doesn't expect a repeat of last year's Georgia meeting, which ended in thrown punches, a flurry of personal foul calls, and suspensions. But if that's the case, it's hard to say Crowell and Wright are getting things off on the right foot.

ELSEWHERE in Georgia players talking to the press, Crowell wasn't the only Dawg to get a jibe in at a rival this week, though Aaron Murray was much, much more subtle about it. Speaking as to how his team stayed motivated after their ugly first two weeks, Murray said this (emphasis added)

“We knew we still had a chance, even when we went 0-2, and people were like, ‘Oh the season’s over with,' ... South Carolina has never gone a season without losing at least three SEC games. So we’re like, ‘Hey just because we’re one behind them you never know what could happen.’ They could lose one, two, three.”

That is 100 percent accurate, and 100 percent funny coming out of a Georgia player's mouth. Well done, Mr.Murray.

HT: GTP

Posted on: November 8, 2011 5:01 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Florida at South Carolina

Posted by Chip Patterson


SOUTH CAROLINA WILL WIN IF
: The offensive line can protect Conner Shaw and open up lanes for the rushing game. Just a week after running back Brandon Wilds exploded through Tennessee's defense for 137 yards, the freshman was a non-factor against Arkansas picking up just 21 yards on ten carries. Shaw was sacked five times by the Razorback defense and struggled to find his receivers in space. Florida's defense will be looking to pressure Shaw into making mistakes, and the offensive line needs to deliver one their best performances of the season to keep the Gamecocks in the hunt for back-to-back SEC East titles.

FLORIDA WILL WIN IF: They continue to limit the penalties and mental mistakes. The Gators have been one of the most penalized teams in the country this season, but they were only flagged three times in the 26-21 win over Vanderbilt. Penalties were a common thread in Florida's four-game losing streak, and the return of John Brantley combined with mistake-free (or closer to it) football finally helped Will Muschamp's squad snap the slide. The division battle with South Carolina promises to be fast and physical, and the Gators must get disciplined play on all sides of the ball to knock off No. 13 South Carolina and reach bowl eligibility.

X-FACTOR: Chris Rainey's health. Rainey's absence did play a part in Jeff Demps running for a career-high 158 yards against Vanderbilt, but the Gators are a better team with both weapons suited up and ready to play. Rainey is expected to return against South Carolina, but his effectiveness could end up being one of the deciding factors in the division battle.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:42 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2011 3:43 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Tennessee at Arkansas

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

TENNESSEE WILL WIN IF: Tyler Bray finds the broken thumb miracle cure between now and Saturday. The Vols' sophomore starter hasn't played since his team's loss to Georgia Oct. 8, and though he got his hard cast off this week, it doesn't sound like he's going to be nearly ready to play against the Hogs. But the Vols might not have a prayer without him: in the three SEC games Bray has missed, backups Matt Simms and Justin Worley have combined to complete 39.5 percent of their passes and post a 0-to-5 TD-to-INT ratio. Yes, those three SEC games came against teams with far better defenses than Arkansas's -- LSU's, Alabama's, and South Carolina's, in fact -- but two of them also came at home. It's also not like the Vols' 118th-ranked rushing game (fresh off averaging all of 2.67 yards per-carry vs. Middle Tennessee State) is going to be much help. Unless Bray can find a witch doctor or mad scientist or special magnetic wristband that fixes his thumb in time, it's awfully hard -- and just about impossible -- to see the Vols winning this game.

ARKANSAS WILL WIN IF: they can just avoid catastrophic mistakes. Maybe easier said than done, of course, if you saw Tyler Wilson do this vs. Carolina last Saturday:



Wilson isn't the only Hog to have turnover issues of late: Dennis Johnson's fumbles helped keep both Vanderbilt and Ole Miss in those respective games. If Wilson, Johnson or any other butter-fingered Hog set the Vols up with short fields or throw away scoring opportunities, the Vols have shown -- in their 6-6 halftime tie with Alabama -- that they can hang around with better teams, even on the road.

Hang around long enough to win it? Probably not, but where turnovers are involved, never say never. Wilson and Co. have to make sure they aren't.

THE X-FACTOR: Jake Bequette. The Razorbacks' preseason All-SEC defensive end had suffered an injury-plagued and disappointing season until last Saturday, when he roared to life with three sacks of Connor Shaw and the game-clinching forced fumble. If Bequette terrorizes poor Worley or Simms the way he terrorized Shaw, the Vols really, really have no hope.

Posted on: November 8, 2011 2:40 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Auburn at Georgia

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

AUBURN WILL WIN IF: Clint Moseley's performance against Ole Miss wasn't a mirage. Against the Rebels the redshirt sophomore hit 12-of-15 for better than 10 yards an attempt, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. It looked like a breakout game for a player still making just his second-ever start, but after watching the Rebels give up 30 points to Kentucky's dead-offense-walking, it's fair to ask if Moseley's numbers weren't a product of Moseley as much as an Ole Miss defense that's throwing in the towel. We'll find out for certain against Georgia: the Dawgs are sixth in the country in opposing QB rating and have held their six SEC opponents to a collective 44 percent completion rate and a 4-to-9 TD-to-INT ratio. If Moseley can hold his own on the road against that kind of secondary, Auburn will have found themselves a quarterback--and the same running game that took adavantage of his precision to roll up 254 yards vs. the Rebels could find space to dominate again.

GEORGIA WILL WIN IF: Aaron Murray plays like Aaron Murray. No one's going to confuse the 2011 Auburn defense for the '85 Bears, but against teams without a legitimate threat at quarterback, the Tigers have done just fine: 13 points allowed to South Carolina in a win, 6 to Florida in a win, 17 to Ole Miss before a meaningless TD on the game's final play. If Murray plays like the erratic quarterback who missed 9 straight passes against Florida two weeks ago, the Tigers have shown they'll be just fine concentrating on Isaiah Crowell and turning the game into another low-scoring slugfest like the ones they won vs. Carolina and the Gators ... and that was back when Barrett Trotter was flailing wildly as the Tiger QB.

Despite Moseley's ascension, a solid game from Murray would still likely leave Auburn unable to keep pace offensively, especially on the road. But after Murray's Florida performance, it's not a given.

THE X-FACTOR: Auburn freshman kick returner Tre Mason started the season like gangbusters, housing one against Utah State and looking poised to break another any minute through the first quarter of the Tigers' season. He's since cooled off (thanks in part to a nagging injury) but still ranks among the nation's top 25 per-return. The Dawgs, meanwhile, have often been atrocious in kick coverage this year -- Mark Richt openly campaigned for starters to volunteer for coverage duty recently, with several responding -- and have up a kickoff score to Auburn's Demond Washington last time the teams played in Athens. A similar big play from Mason (or Dawg returner Brandon Boykin the other way) might decisively tilt what shapes up as a tight contest.
Posted on: November 8, 2011 11:35 am
 

Conference Title Race Reset, Week 11

Posted by Chip Patterson

With the regular season winding down, we'll check in on the conference title races in all 11 FBS conferences. The contenders, key games, and some early predictions on who will claim the league's automatic bowl berth.

SEC
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game
2010 Champion: Auburn

EAST CONTENDERS
1. Georgia (5-1)(7-2)
2. South Carolina (5-2)(7-2)

WEST CONTENDERS
1. LSU (6-0)(9-0)
2. Alabama (5-1)(8-1)
3. Arkansas (4-1)(8-1)

Week 11 Key Games: Florida at South Carolina; Tennessee at Arkansas; Auburn at Georgia

Pick: LSU. The Tigers take control of the SEC with their 9-6 overtime victory in the "Game of the Century" (tag now debatable), but the home stretch won't be a cakewalk. Arkansas will get their shot at the No. 1 team in the nation in the regular season finale, causing a mind-numbing three-way tie for the division title. If Alabama, LSU, and Arkansas all finish with one conference loss (against each other), the SEC title game representative will be decided by BCS standings. For now I'm liking LSU's chances against Arkansas and Georgian in the title game, assuming the Bulldogs can lock up the East down the stretch.

BIG 12
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game
2010 Champion: Oklahoma

CONTENDERS
1. Oklahoma State (6-0)(9-0)
2. Oklahoma (5-1)(8-1)
3. Kansas State (4-2)(7-2)
4. Texas (3-2)(6-2)

Week 11 Key Games: Texas at Missouri; Oklahoma State at Texas Tech; Texas A&M at Kansas State

Pick: Oklahoma State. Week 11 serves as a "Separation Saturday" of sorts in the Big 12, with Kansas State and Texas facing elimination from title contention. If the Cowboys can avoid the Texas Tech trap that caught their Bedlam brethren, they will be just an Iowa State win away from a possible unofficial Big 12 title game against the Sooners. Oklahoma still has to beat Baylor on the road, and does not get the advantage of a week off prior to the big game in December. I like Mike Gundy to have his team focused down the stretch, and outscoring anyone they face.

PAC-12
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game (Rose Bowl or National Championship)
2010 Champion: Oregon

NORTH CONTENDERS
1. Stanford (7-0)(9-0)
2. Oregon (6-0)(8-1)

SOUTH CONTENDERS
1. Arizona State (4-2)(7-2)
1. UCLA (4-2)(5-4)

Key Week 11 Games: Oregon at Stanford; UCLA at Utah; Arizona State at Washington State

Pick: Stanford. UCLA's victory over Arizona State has made the Pac-12 South suddenly a heated race in November. Without owning the head-to-head against UCLA, the Sun Devils must remain perfect down the stretch and hope the Bruins falter to earn that bid to the Pac-12 title game. Arguably the biggest conference matchup of the season will be Stanford's showdown with Oregon at home on Saturday night. Knocking off the Ducks will give create enough separation to feel good about winning the Pac-12 North. If the banged-up Cardinal can get it done against Oregon, I like their chances against California the following week.

BIG TEN
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game (Rose Bowl or National Championship)
2010 Champion: Wisconsin (Rose Bowl berth)/Michigan State/Ohio State

LEGENDS CONTENDERS
1. Michigan State (4-1)(7-2)
2. Michigan (3-2)(7-2)
2. Nebraska (3-2)(7-2)
2. Iowa (3-2)(6-3)

LEADERS CONTENDERS
1. Penn State (5-0)(8-1)
2. Ohio State (3-2)(6-3)
2. Wisconsin (3-2)(7-2)

Key Week 11 Games: Nebraska at Penn State; Michigan State at Iowa; Michigan at Illinois; Wisconsin at Minnesota; Ohio State at Purdue

Pick: Michigan State. Week 10's results have left the Big Ten title race in a chaotic state. The good news for a Big Ten fan is that now almost every game on the schedule has a potential conference championship implication. Interestingly enough, one of the team with the most control in the jumbled Legends race is Iowa. The Hawkeyes defeated Michigan on Saturday, and face both Michigan State and Nebraska in the final three weeks of the season. Michigan State, with a game up on Iowa, can also lock up the division by winning out and faces an easier slate. Penn State has the toughest road in the Leaders division, and the off-field issues will be impossible for those around the program to ignore. Owning the head-to-head against Wisconsin, Ohio State is actually in the best position to leap ahead of Penn State should they fall along the way.

ACC
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game
2010 Champion: Virginia Tech

ATLANTIC CONTENDERS
1. Clemson (5-1)(8-1)
2. Wake Forest (4-2)(5-4)
2. Florida State (4-2)(6-3)

COASTAL CONTENDERS
1. Virginia Tech (4-1)(8-1)
2. Georgia Tech (4-2)(7-2)
3. Virginia (3-2)(6-3)

Key Week 11 Games: Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech; Wake Forest at Clemson; Duke at Virginia; Miami at Florida State

Pick: Clemson. Week 11 provides the ACC with some huge matchups with conference title implications. Clemson can lock up the ACC Atlantic Division with a win over Wake Forest, and the winner of Thursday night's showdown between Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech moves into the driver's seat for the ACC Coastal. I like the Tigers to take care of business with a week off following their loss to the Yellow Jackets, and Dabo Swinney's team will play to a Tiger-friendly crowd at the title game in Charlotte.

BIG EAST
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game
2010 Champion: Connecticut (Fiesta Bowl berth)/West Virginia/Pittsburgh

CONTENDERS
1. Cincinnati (3-0)(7-1)
2. Louisville (3-1)(5-4)
3. Rutgers (3-2)(6-3)
4. West Virginia (2-2)(6-3)
4. Pittsburgh (2-2)(4-5)
4. Connecticut (2-2)(4-5)
2. Pittsburgh (2-1)(4-4)

Key Week 11 Games: West Virginia at Cincinnati; Pittsburgh at Louisville

Pick: Cincinnati. The Bearcats' surprising 7-1 campaign runs into arguably the biggest road block on Saturday, facing a steaming-mad West Virginia team in Paul Brown Stadium. A loss knocks the Mountaineers from title contention, and Dana Holgorsen will be looking for improvements on all sides of the ball after the loss to Louisville. The Cardinals can also knock out a contender this weekend with a win over Pittsburgh.

CONFERENCE USA
Champion Destination: Liberty Bowl
2010 Champion: UCF

EAST CONTENDERS
1. Southern Miss (4-1)(8-1)
2. East Carolina (3-2)(4-5)
2. Marshall (3-2)(4-5)

WEST CONTENDERS
1. Houston (5-0)(9-0)
1. Tulsa (5-0)(6-3)
3. SMU (4-2)(6-3)

Key Week 11 Games: Houston at Tulane; Marshall at Tulsa; UCF at Southern Miss; East Carolina at UTEP

Pick: Houston. No one in the league has been as impressive as Houston this season, but Tulsa's five-game win streak is nothing to ignore. The two teams are on a collision course to meet in Houston on Thanksgiving Friday, likely for the West Division crown. UCF gave the Golden Hurricanes a challenge in Week 10, and Southern Miss should be on alert after picking up a game on East Carolina.

MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE
Champion Destination: Maaco Bowl
2010 Champion: TCU

CONTENDERS
1. TCU (4-0)(7-2)
2. Boise State (3-0)(8-0)
2. Wyoming (2-1)(5-3)

Key Week 11 Games: TCU at Boise State; Wyoming at Air Force

Pick: Boise State. My question is not if Boise State will beat TCU this weekend on the Smurf Turf, but how they beat TCU. The Broncos have once again found themselves in a position where they might be on the outside looking in of the BCS title game, and TCU presents their last quality opponent on the schedule. It would favor the Broncos to end this game early, and keep the foot on the accelerator to draw the attention of as many human voters as possible to help their BCS chances.

WAC
Champion Destination: Poinsettia/Hawaii/Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
2010 Champion: Nevada/Boise State/Hawaii

CONTENDERS
1. Nevada (3-0)(5-3)
2. Louisiana Tech (4-1)(5-4)
2. Hawaii (3-2)(5-4)
4. Fresno State (2-2)(3-6)

Key Week 11 Games: Hawaii at Nevada; Fresno State at New Mexico State

Pick: Nevada. Louisiana Tech takes a break from conference play to face Ole Miss while Nevada gets a shot to eliminate Hawaii from title contention. I like the Wolf Pack coming in from a week off to knock the Warriors off at home, setting up a huge WAC showdown with Louisiana Tech in Week 12. Nevada plays to a favorable schedule down the stretch, and I like their chances to keep a hold on the top spot in the conference.

MAC
Champion Destination: GoDaddy.com Bowl
2010 Champion: Miami (OH)

EAST CONTENDERS
1. Ohio (3-2)(6-3)
1. MIami (OH) (3-2)(4-5)
3. Temple (3-3)(5-4)

WEST CONTENDERS
1. Northern Illinois (4-1)(6-3)
1. Toledo (4-1)(5-4)
3 Ball State (4-2)(6-4)

Key Week 11 Games: Northern Illinois at Bowling Green; Western Michigan at Toledo; Miami (OH) at Temple; Ohio at Central Michigan

Pick: Northern Illinois. While NBA fans are complaining about missed games, the MAC is seizing the opportunity to show off their mid-week fireworks. Week 11 is another Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday slate of contests with conference title implications, so get the scoreboard warmed up. The East leaders will each have to hit the road to protect their spot, with a Miami - Ohio rivalry game still left on the schedule. If Northern Illinois can avoid the upset at Bowling Green, their remaining schedule sets up well for a strong finish and plenty of rest for the conference title game.

SUN BELT
Champion Destination: New Orleans Bowl
2010 Champion: FIU/Troy

CONTENDERS
1. Arkansas State (5-0)(7-2)
2. La.-Lafayette (6-1)(8-2)
3. Western Kentucky (5-1)(5-4)

Key Week 11 Games: La.-Lafayette at Arkansas State; Western Kentucky at LSU

Pick: Arkansas State. The Red Wolves have been on a tear for nearly two months, and now their opportunity to lock up the Sun Belt Conference comes right to their front door with Louisiana-Lafayette. The Ragin' Cajuns are fresh off a thrilling battle with Louisiana-Monroe that required two touchdowns in the final three minutes to secure the 36-35 victory. I like Arkansas State on Saturday, and to lock things up down the stretch in the Sun Belt.

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