College football odds, lines, schedule for Week 11: Top-ranked LSU opens as a touchdown underdog at Alabama
Penn State is favored on the road at Minnesota in the other battle of unbeatens this week
The first College Football Playoff rankings will be released on Tuesday night, and while they'll be fun to argue about, they really won't mean anything. The playoff rankings are a secondary concern when the playoff itself essentially starts this weekend.
After a week without a top five team in action (Clemson against FCS Wofford shouldn't count), the real heat gets in order in Week 11. No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama will battle in Tuscaloosa, No. 5 Penn State takes on No. 13 Minnesota in Minneapolis and No. 16 Wisconsin hosts No. 18 Iowa in a pivotal Big Ten matchup.
So who will win, and who will lose? Don't ask me, I'm an idiot. If you'd like to ask smarter people, well, the early point spreads for this week's games have already gone up. Look at them and decide for yourself.
All lines are via Circa Sports.
Lines you need to know
No. 1 LSU at No. 2 Alabama (-6): I would say this serves as a playoff game, but I think we all know that unless the loser is blown out, they'll still be in the playoff race. So let's call it an SEC West playoff game instead, as the loser will be at a serious disadvantage in the division race. It's been a surprising, resurgent year for LSU, but as has always been the case, LSU will be judged by what it does against Alabama.
No. 5 Penn State at No. 13 Minnesota (+6.5): Sure, it's Week 11, and Minnesota is undefeated. We all knew this would be the case before the season started because it's as predictable as a sunrise. Seriously, this is a major game for both teams. Penn State can't afford a loss if it wants to win the Big Ten East and possibly the Big Ten. Minnesota can nearly wrap up the Big Ten West with a win, and also prove to those who remain skeptical about its start that it's for real.
No. 18 Iowa at No. 16 Wisconsin (-9): Another big game in the Big Ten, but not with the same stakes as Penn State and Minnesota. Both Wisconsin and Iowa find themselves two games behind Minnesota in the West Division. Both are still in the race and could get to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship. Only one of them will be able to say that when this game ends. It's your classic Loser Leaves Town match.
More games of note
Maryland at No. 3 Ohio State (-44): Ohio State is a 44-point favorite in a conference game and I can't decide if it says more about the quality of Ohio State this season, or where Maryland is at the moment. I lean more toward Ohio State, but it's likely a combination of both. Anyway, conference expansion has made the Big Ten a much more competitive football league.
No. 4 Clemson at NC State (+32): While not nearly as large a favorite as Ohio State, Clemson once again finds itself as a considerable favorite in an ACC game. It's a weekly occurrence as there isn't anybody in the ACC that should be capable of hanging with the Tigers. I wonder what the spread would be if Maryland were still in the ACC.
Missouri at No. 6 Georgia (-14.5): The Bulldogs picked up a massive win against Florida over the weekend, and now find themselves in control in the SEC East. Of course, we've seen plenty of instances in college football history where a team wins a big game and then falls asleep a week later. The Dawgs will have to avoid the trap here against Mizzou.
Iowa State at No. 9 Oklahoma (-13.5): The Sooners had the weekend off after losing to Kansas State last week, and it feels like the world has moved on from them as a playoff contender. That's not a smart way to view the Sooners. They're very much in the picture, but they can't afford another loss. Iowa State will be a tough test.
No. 11 Baylor at TCU (+1): How long will Baylor have to remain undefeated before it cracks the top 10? It's currently behind a two-loss Florida team in the AP Poll. It'll be interesting to see what the playoff committee thinks of the Bears this week. Wherever they're ranked, the more significant concern will be a tough road trip to take on TCU this Saturday.
Best of the rest
Vanderbilt at No. 10 Florida (-28)
East Carolina at No. 23 SMU (-24.5)
UConn at No. 17 Cincinnati (-34.5)
No. 20 Kansas State at Texas (-6)
No. 22 Wake Forest at Virginia Tech (+1)
No. 15 Notre Dame at Duke (+7)
Wyoming at No. 21 Boise State (-11.5)
Nevada at No. 24 San Diego State (-15)
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