A few teams will drop from College Football Playoff contention each week from this point until the final rankings are released on Dec. 3, and Week 11 is headlined by three matchups of top-10 teams that can largely be considered elimination games for the loser.
The committee already seems to doubt No. 7 Miami’s résumé, even though the Hurricanes are undefeated; they can hardly afford to lose to No. 3 Notre Dame, as the Irish work to avoid dropping back to the two-loss pack. Either No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 6 TCU can nearly assure itself a spot in the Big 12 title game with a win in Norman, while the loser will be left to hope the committee would look kindly on a victory in a conference title game rematch. No.1 Georgia is the only team of the group with some apparent margin for error; if the Bulldogs rebounded from a road loss to No. 10 Auburn and beat Alabama in the SEC title game, they would be hard to keep out of the field.
Below, our experts make their picks for Week 11’s biggest games, taking turns defending their selections.
Chris Johnson: 92–32 (74.2%)
Molly Geary: 89–35 (71.8%)
Andy Staples: 85–39 (68.5%)
Bruce Feldman: 76–39 (66.1%)
Eric Single: 82–42 (66.1%)
Scooby Axson: 72–38 (65.5%)
Joan Niesen: 76–48 (61.3%)
Washington at Stanford (Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET, FS1)
Bruce Feldman picks Washington: The Cardinal got blasted by the Huskies last year. It’ll be closer this time, but the hunch here is that Washington is still better than Stanford, which is 10th in the conference in offense and has managed a little over 400 yards combined the past two weeks against defenses nowhere near as tough as the Huskies’.
Michigan State at Ohio State (Saturday, Noon ET, FOX)
Andy Staples picks Ohio State: Silly as it may sound, I picked this based on the weather forecast. It’s supposed to be sunny and cool in Columbus. Rain, sleet or snow and I’d pick the Spartans. In the sun, it’s the Buckeyes.
Oklahoma State at Iowa State (Noon ET, ABC/ESPN2)
Joan Niesen picks Iowa State: My inclination here after the Cyclones betrayed my trust last week was to turn on them, but cooler heads prevail. Matt Campbell’s team has a defense that’s up to the task of slowing Oklahoma State, and Iowa State will score on the Cowboys’ defense.
Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech (12:20 ET, ACC Network)
Eric Single picks Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets have fallen off in recent weeks, but don’t brush off how hard it will be for the Hokies to get up for a noon game against an option team the week after having their conference title hopes dashed.
Georgia at Auburn (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)
Chris Johnson picks Georgia: Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham looked great (20 of 27, 268 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions) against Texas A&M’s porous defense last Saturday. He’ll have a much harder time moving the ball against the Bulldogs.
Iowa at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
Molly Geary picks Wisconsin: The Hawkeyes are certainly a tempting pick coming off their dominant win over Ohio State, but they’ve been a different team on the road, where they've gone 0–2 in Big Ten play with 20 total points. The Badgers won’t underestimate Iowa regardless; they have the defense to remain undefeated.
USC at Colorado (4 p.m. ET, FOX)
Scooby Axson picks USC: The Trojans have relied on a powerful running game lately, so don’t expect anything different here against Colorado, whom USC has beaten all 11 times the two teams have played. USC can wrap up the Pac-12 South with a win or a loss from both of the Arizona schools.
Washington State at Utah (5:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)
Bruce Feldman picks Utah: The Utes hobble into this one having lost four of their last five. I was tempted to go with the Cougars, but the game is in Salt Lake City, and Washington State has lost its past two road games by a combined 55 points. Cougars quarterback Luke Falk has four touchdowns and five interceptions in three road games this year, compared to 22 TDs and three picks at home.
Alabama at Mississippi State (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Chris Johnson picks Alabama: The Crimson Tide’s dwindling linebacker depth is cause for concern long-term, but it won’t matter this weekend in Starkville. Alabama should pick up another comfortable win against a ranked conference opponent after dispatching LSU in Tuscaloosa last week.
Notre Dame at Miami (8 p.m. ET, ABC)
Andy Staples picks Notre Dame: Against an NC State defense that is statistically similar against the run to Miami, the Fighting Irish rolled up 318 rushing yards at 5.9 yards a carry. If something similar to that happens Saturday, Notre Dame is winning.
TCU at Oklahoma (8 p.m. ET, FOX)
Joan Niesen picks Oklahoma: This one won’t be the shootout Bedlam was—TCU has the defense to throw a wrench in the Sooners’ high-flying offense—but Oklahoma and Baker Mayfield will still be able to outscore the Horned Frogs.
Boise State at Colorado State
Eric Single picks Colorado State: The Broncos have been a completely different team since Mountain West play started, but Rams quarterback Nick Stevens and the nation’s leading receiver Michael Gallup make up one of the best QB-WR combos in the Group of Five. Colorado State is 3–1 in its shiny new stadium this season.