College football picks, games, odds for Week 11: Alabama, Oklahoma on upset alert
Parsing through the Week 11 lines to find the best bets against the favorites in college football
With the firstreleased on Tuesday night, we find ourselves in the home stretch of the season. The excitement is palpable now, and while games don't necessarily mean more today, the consequences of wins and losses relative to the playoff selection are more tangible. Of course, not everything has to revolve around the playoff. Plenty of teams are fighting for divisional races or bowl eligibility. Regardless of the storyline, Week 11 has tons of important games; it is the biggest slate of the 2019 season so far. Will everything go chalk, or will chaos rear its head again?
Each week, I'll give you the top five upset alert games based on matchups, injuries/suspensions and other factors. But in the spirit of the upset, I generally avoid games where lines are within a touchdown, though there will be some exceptions. Similarly, I'll only go with moneyline picks when the payout is around 2:1 -- maybe a little less, definitely when it's more.
Week 10 results
When: Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET | Where: Corvallis, Oregon | Line: Washington -10
Why it's listed: Washington's vulnerable. Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith is A) doing a great job this season and B) quite familiar with the Huskies from his time as their offensive coordinator from 2014-17.
Oregon State's key to the game: I'm excited to see what Smith has for Washington's defense. The Beavers have one of the more balanced offensive attacks in the Pac-12, and quarterback Jake Luton has been quietly efficient (19 TDs, 1 INT). Will that continue against a talented defense? This might be a boat race of a game.
Washington's key to the game: It isn't a secret that turnover margin is a key for success, but the Huskies have a rather stark difference in wins and losses; they're +9 in five wins, -4 in four losses. I like quarterback Jacob Eason's physical traits, but he's thrown four of his five picks in losses, some of which have truly been head-tilt worthy.
Pick: Oregon State had a nice October because it ran into some lower-tier conference foes at the right time. Washington has its problems, but as a program, it's still ahead of where the Beavers want to be. They make it close, but November is a much tougher slate. ATS: Oregon State, SU: Washington
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET | Where: Miami, Florida | Moneyline: Miami -252, Louisville +203
Why it's listed: Do you trust the Hurricanes as a home favorite? Because you shouldn't. Against the spread, they're 1-3 at home and 1-4 as the favorite.
Louisville's key to the game: Miami has a solid run defense, but the the combo of freshman running back Javian Hawkins and quarterback Micale Cunningham is the most diverse the Hurricanes have seen this season. Cunningham is finally healthy coming off a bye, too.
Miami's key to the game: He doesn't have the most stats for a tight end, but Brevin Jordan is a problem as he leads the team with 495 yards. His availability is a game-time decision while he deals with an unspecified injury, so his availability is paramount to the offense's effectiveness.
Pick: Louisville has struggled against more athletic opponents, but this is a much more put-together Cardinals team than earlier in the season. They're not on any kind of winning streak, but they're playing some of their best football now. This would be a solid payout if you like the way this team is trending. Louisville +203
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET | Where: Tuscaloosa, Alabama | Line: Alabama -6.5
Why it's listed: It fits the description, doesn't it? Regardless of the rankings, Alabama is a touchdown home favorite, but a loss could alter the College Football Playoff race -- perhaps significantly.
LSU's key to the game: This is the best wide receiver group LSU's defense will have faced all season. Jerry Jeudy, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and Henry Ruggs are freakin' players. But the Tigers have some future NFL guys in the secondary, too, starting with safety Grant Delpit. No one's stopped Bama's passing attack yet. If LSU can slow it down, it'll have a huge advantage.
Alabama's key to the game: Easy. How healthy is Tua Tagovailoa? It's the , of the weekend and maybe of the month. His high-ankle sprain was never considered to be severe enough to keep him out of this game, but we also know from Tagovailoa's injury history -- he had a high ankle sprain on his opposite foot last season leading up to the playoff -- that three weeks recovery time could still be pushing it. If he's limited, that absolutely affects the Tide's chances.
Pick: Tua's injury is noteworthy and a potential game-changer, but Alabama doesn't lose home games like this often. The last time the Tide dropped one in Bryant-Denny of this magnitude was ... you guessed it, 9-6 to LSU in 2011. Think Saban finds a way. ATS: LSU, SU: Alabama
Iowa State at No. 9 Oklahoma
When: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET | Where: Norman, Oklahoma | Line: Oklahoma -13.5
Why it's listed: The Cyclones have been a thorn in Oklahoma's side over the past few years. Give me a mobile quarterback (Brock Purdy) against Oklahoma's defense and a well-coached defense against Sooners quarterback Jalen Hurts and this one could get interesting.
Iowa State's key to the game: One thing Kansas State did that went under the radar a bit is it neutralized Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray; his four tackles tied for a season low. I'm not smart like Cyclones coach Matt Campbell, but I reckon he found some interesting things on tape that he'll use offensively against a suddenly 2018-looking Sooners defense.
Oklahoma's key to the game: Where on earth were running backs Kennedy Brooks and Trey Sermon against Kansas State? Have they been battling injuries and it's not been made public? Were they teleported to another dimension? Don't get me wrong, big Hurts fan here, but he has limitations if he's forced to carry an offense.
Pick: Kansas State exposed some flaws in Oklahoma's armor that Iowa State can exploit. The Cyclones play it tough, but CeeDee Lamb and Hurts make enough plays late to stave off a second straight loss. ATS: Iowa State, Oklahoma
Wyoming at No. 22 Boise State
When: Saturday, 10:15 p.m. ET | Where: Boise, Idaho | Moneyline: Boise State -540, Wyoming +402
Why it's listed: The Cowboys are sneaky good at 6-2, and their two losses are by a combined seven points. The defense is for real, too. Only 10 teams have allowed fewer touchdowns. Been a good road dog, too.
Wyoming's key to the game: This is going to have to be a low-scoring rock fight. Quarterback Sean Chambers is out for the year, but Tyler Vander Waal, who started most of last season, has experience. He doesn't run as much as Chambers, but this team runs it almost 45 times a game, so I don't expect the game plan to change dramatically.
Boise State's key to the game: Edge superstar Curtis Weaver probably isn't going to get a ton of shots at the quarterback given Wyoming's offense, but he can still be a force in the backfield. Getting Wyoming behind the sticks will be important since the Cowboys have been decent on third downs (40.54 percent), but they're playing a different quarterback.
Pick: I haven't gone with many big moneyline picks, but I have a weird feeling about this game. (Depending on the result, it may turn out to just be indigestion). Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier is a stud, but he's been banged up a lot recently with all the shots he takes. Think Wyoming surprises here. Wyoming +402
So what picks can you make with confidence in Week 11? And which line is way off, making it a must-back? Visit SportsLine to see which college football teams win and cover the spread, all from a proven computer model that has returned over $4,000 in profit over the past four seasons.
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