- With an 11-0-1 record against the spread in its last 12 ACC contests, Boston College will be Clemson's toughest conference opponent yet this season.
Miami and Houston are primed to bounce back from tough losses, plus two more picks against the spread for Week 11 of college football.
Troy at Georgia Southern (-1)
Sat. 11/10, 1:00 p.m. ET
Pick: Troy +1
Troy and Georgia Southern are two of the best teams the Group of Five has to offer this season, and they’ll be fighting for the top spot in the Sun Belt Conference when they meet on Saturday. When these teams got together last year, the Trojans beat the Eagles 38-16 as 23-point home favorites. Troy rushed for 241 yards and three touchdowns in the win, and should be able to find some similar success on the ground this season. The Trojans are averaging 5.4 yards per carry on the year, which is the 20th-best mark in the nation. A lot of that has to do with B.J. Smith, who has racked up over 100 yards on the ground in five straight games. But Troy head coach Neal Brown’s defense is what should make the biggest difference here. Troy is allowing just 22.8 points per game on the year, which is the 37th-best number in college football. And it’s the team’s 26th-ranked FBS rushing defense that sets the tempo. Considering Georgia Southern’s rushing offense is ranked seventh in the nation, it’ll be a matchup of strength versus strength. But look for Troy’s defense to come out on top and the Trojans to win this one by at least a touchdown. — Zachary Cohen
Miami at Georgia Tech (-4.5)
Sat. 11/10, 7:00 p.m.
Pick: Miami +4.5
Miami has now lost three straight games, thanks largely to a dismal quarterback situation that Mark Richt has exacerbated with mismanagement and terrible play-calling. The Hurricanes could and should have won two of those games, outgaining Virginia (5.84 yards per play to 3.73) in a three-point loss on October 13 and outgaining Duke (5.71 to 4.33) in a 20-12 loss this past Saturday.
While Miami's passing game didn't get on track against the Blue Devils—it's starting to look highly unlikely that it will at any point this season—the run game did have a breakthrough: Travis Homer rushed for 133 yards, Deejay Dallas ran for 124 and the Hurricanes broke 300 yards rushing in an ACC game for only the second time ever. Two fumbles by Dallas were key in costing Miami the game, but the sophomore's performance gave strong hope for the future. And with a middling Georgia Tech rush defense coming up this week (4.25 yards allowed per carry, 70th in FBS), this offense should continue to rely on its surging running backs.
Of course, Georgia Tech fields a formidable rushing attack itself, with its signature option humming as well as ever this season. But overlooked among all the quarterback chaos in Coral Gables has been a Hurricanes defense that is among the country's very best, and is especially strong against the run: Miami leads the nation in stuff rate, limiting opposing ball carriers to no gain or a loss of yards on 30.5% of carries. With personnel capable of controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, the Hurricanes have an excellent opportunity to win outright on the road to snap their bad-luck losing streak. — Sam Chase
Temple at Houston (-4)
Sat. 11/10, 7:00 p.m.
Pick: Houston -4
The 17th-ranked Cougars suffered a puzzling loss to 3-5 SMU last week, but there are reasons to believe Houston should bounce back in a big way at home. All-American defensive tackle and future first-round pick Ed Oliver was held out in Dallas after warm-ups with a bruised right knee, but he should be back this week, according to coach Major Applewhite. The Cougars also opted for a run-heavy offense against SMU, in sharp contrast to an aerial attack that was the backbone of the country’s No. 2 scoring offense. The team still managed to put up 31 points, which was its lowest total of the season. Coming off a 57-point outburst against then-unbeaten South Florida, the Cougars appear to have suffered a letdown—which should only wake them up in time for Temple.
Temple has been a feel-good story this season in an American Athletic Conference that is once again being dominated by UCF. The Owls kept it close against the Knights last week, losing by just 12 points. Combined with their overtime win over Cincinnati the week prior, this week's spread seems to reflect recent play more than the totality of these two teams' performances. Houston, whose only other loss this season was to Texas Tech in Lubbock, has covered five of its last six games at home, and has won 23 of its last 25 home games straight up. Temple, 5-4 overall, boasts a very good ATS record on the road, but I’m so confident in Houston’s prolific offense being able to cover the four points—along with a return to form from its talented defense—that this remains a best bet. –Ed McGrogan
Clemson (-18) at Boston College
Sat. 11/10, 8:00 p.m.
Pick: Boston College +18
This marks Clemson’s first 2018 road game against an ACC opponent that currently has a winning record in conference play, and the only out-of-conference road game the Tigers have played was in early September against a Texas A&M squad that currently sits at 5-4 overall. Boston College is 11-0-1 against the spread over its past 12 games against ACC opponents dating back to early last season. Since Steve Addazio took over as the team’s head coach prior to the start of the 2013 season, the Eagles are 7-1-1 against the spread when facing teams that allow an average of fewer than 17 points per game and 10-2-1 against the spread when facing an opponent that’s winning at least 75% of its games. Boston College is 6-0-1 since the start of last season when facing an opponent that’s scoring an average of at least 31 points per game.
While it’s difficult to suggest that the Eagles have much of a chance to win outright against an opponent as strong as Clemson has proven to be in recent weeks, there is evidence to suggest that the line here is too high. Only 11 times since the start of 2009 has a team with a winning record been a home underdog of more than 14 points when coming off back-to-back victories over conference opponents, and such teams have gone 11-0 against the spread in those games. Meanwhile, teams with a win percentage of at least .800 that have beaten the spread by a total of at least 49 points over their previous five games are 8-31 against the spread when facing an opponent with a winning record since the start of 2016, which includes a 1-6 ATS mark this season. — Scott Gramling