CFB Week 11 betting preview: Conference division races heat up

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Three easy winners and two tight losers: It's the type of thing that happens when you have a good feel for a season with any sport. The wins will be no-doubters, and the losses will be by a hair. Air Force (-2.5) lost in overtime, and Washington (+7) was losing by eight at the point its game with Oregon was all but decided.

A 3-2 Week 10 moves our overall record to 23-15 for our early-week look at college football's biggest games.

No. 4 Oklahoma @ No. 18 Baylor (+5.5, 63)

Baylor almost took the place of Wake Forest and Michigan State as "one of these things does not belong" in the College Football Playoff rankings' top 10, but a loss on the road to TCU derailed that. Credit to the Bears for home wins against Texas and Iowa State, but the Sooners have had a couple of tune-ups heading into their trip to Waco.

The problem for Baylor is that it's still ranked and should have Oklahoma's full attention as a result, even with Iowa State and Oklahoma State on deck. The Sooners had a first-half slipup against Kansas, but otherwise, three games of the Caleb Williams Experience indicate that this offense is ready for some next-level production. That continues this week in a win over the Bears.

Pick: Oklahoma -5.5

No. 9 Michigan @ No. 23 Penn State (-1, 48.5)

Here's the "rock and a hard place" game of the week, maybe the year. You can bet on James Franklin with one foot seemingly out the door, or you can bet on Jim Harbaugh in a road game against a ranked team. There's no great choice.

With Sean Clifford and Jahan Dotson, the Nittany Lions are more capable of explosive plays. That's what pushed us to take Michigan State over Michigan a few weeks back, so the same premise applies. Also, Penn State's defense showed against Ohio State and Maryland that all hope is not lost without PJ Mustipher. We'll lean with the crew in State College.

Pick: Penn State -1

Purdue @ No. 6 Ohio State (-20, 61.5)

Another week and another underwhelming Buckeyes performance saw them escape with a victory, but not with a cover. Over in West Lafayette, Purdue got another pelt for its wall by knocking off Michigan State. Whether OSU is due to show out or Purdue is in a letdown situation, I still believe the Boilermakers can move the ball in Columbus and keep this within the number, even if Ohio State should be able to score on Purdue almost at will.

Pick: Purdue +20

No. 11 Texas A&M @ No. 12 Ole Miss (+2.5, 55.5)

We've been bobbing and weaving through the middle section of the SEC. Winners with Auburn over Ole Miss and then Texas A&M over Auburn have been great. Let's see if we can complete the pyramid here with the short home underdog.

Ole Miss covered last week at home despite a dead-even yardage output with Liberty, and the market may have soured on the Rebels after a couple of rough weeks. Would they have been underdogs here if this game was three weeks ago? The Rebels can score, and I'm not convinced that Zach Calzada can keep up, even if the Aggies' run game should make this a shootout.

Pick: Ole Miss +2.5

No. 21 NC State @ No. 13 Wake Forest (-2.5, 66.5)

Wake Forest was somewhat exposed in Chapel Hill last week, but the good news for the Demon Deacons is that the game between two ACC foes on Tobacco Road wasn't an actual conference matchup. That means they're still undefeated in the ACC and in contention for the title game.

Wake receives a second chance to make the season a memorable one at home against NC State. The Wolfpack got a road win in Tallahassee with the help of some last-minute illness issues for Florida State, but otherwise, they haven't shown much on the road against good offenses like Mississippi State and Miami.

Pick: Wake Forest -2.5

Washington State @ No. 5 Oregon (-14, 56)

We aren't about to stop now on the Cougars. Washington State has repeatedly appeared in our Saturday Seven, which features the best underdog bets each week. The Cougars earn a call-up to the Big Game column as an upset win over the Ducks would give them a chance at a surprise North Division title and the inside track for a place in the Pac-12 championship. I'm not sure Jayden de Laura and Co. can win outright, but crazier things have happened, and they won as two-touchdown underdogs at Arizona State before last week's bye.

Pick: Washington State +14

Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.

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CFB Week 11 betting preview: Conference division races heat up
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