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Week 11 of Zultan’s Fearless College Football Forecast…

Posted on November 09, 2010 by JA Allen

Last week was not a good week to be a college football prognosticator.

Nine of the BSC Top 25 lost in Week 10.

In addition, two top ranked teams, Iowa and Nebraska were one play away from losing, but hung on to win against lower ranked teams who played more effective football for the better part of the game.

The reality of college football hit home last Saturday, underscoring that parity means there are no easy wins for any program, ranked or not.

No football team is guaranteed a win on any given Saturday. That is what makes college football so exciting to fans, players and the media.

It is also why the legion of sage soothsayers wear turbans––bald from pulling out their hair week after week.

This week offers another slate of critical clashes as another guest prognosticator Ryan Sparrow steps up to the plate to take a whack at Zultan’s appointed task––picking winners in Week 11.  Last week’s prognosticator Phillip Murphy suffered from near-miss syndrome which sent fifteen of you to the head of the class.  The list as well as the accompanying accolades are included at the conclusion of this article.

Be sure to click here to make your picks for Week 11––your opportunity to enjoy praise and prizes if you outguess the Mighty Zultan’s stand-in.  With less than a month remaining in the regular season, the chances for glory grow dimmer.  Take a chance now and join in the fun.

Game 1: (13) Iowa (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten) at Northwestern (6-3, 2-3 Big Ten)

The Iowa Hawkeyes face the Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday in Evanston.

Surely Iowa will not take the field against Northwestern with the same mindset that almost hamstrung them during Week 10 against the Indiana Hoosiers.

Northwestern, however, has won four of their last five contests against the Hawkeyes.

It must be viewed as a true trap game for Iowa.

Luckily the Hawkeyes will play the Cats in Evanston. Northwestern this season has been more vulnerable at home.

The Wildcats, who led Penn State 21-0 late into the second quarter, may be in a very angry mood–– after losing 35-21 last Saturday.

According to guest prognosticator Ryan Sparrow:

If there has been one team Iowa struggles against it’s Northwestern. This year’s Iowa team has not played down to their competition (I wrote this before the Indiana game) and I think Iowa will revenge last season’s defeat.

Iowa wins.

Game 2: Indiana (4-5, 0-5 Big Ten) at (7) Wisconsin (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten)

Wisconsin is heavily favored over the Indiana Hoosiers in Saturday's game.

Wisconsin also wobbled a bit out of the gate in their game last weekend against the Purdue Boilermakers.

The Badgers finally righted the ship in the second half for a solid win.

This week Wisconsin welcomes the Indiana Hoosiers into Camp Randall where the Badgers hardly ever lose. Their record in the last six seasons stands at 41-4.

Indiana, who almost engineered the upset of the season last weekend against Iowa, will be looking to make the Badgers suffer.

Mr. Sparrow feels:

This game will feature the passing offense from Indiana and the rushing offense from Wisconsin. In the end Wisconsin is just too talented to lose to a bad Indiana team.

Wisconsin wins.

Game 3: Minnesota (1-9, 0-6 Big Ten) at Illinois (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten)

Illinois will become Bowl Eligible with a win over Minnesota on Saturday.

Last Saturday Illinois was perhaps one play short of winning a game on the road in Ann Arbor.

The Illini would have also become bowl eligible with that win.

This week, they have the opportunity of making post-season play a reality by defeating Minnesota.  Chances are very good that they will do that.

Ryan agrees stating:

Illinois has been the surprise team in the Big Ten this season. Most polls picked them 10th in the Big Ten to start the season and I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up 5th.

Poor Minnesota looks like they’d be lucky to win any Big Ten games this season and maybe the next few seasons as well.

Illinois wins.

Game 4: Michigan (6-3, 2-3 Big Ten) at Purdue (4-5, 2-3 Big Ten)

Next up for the Michigan Wolverines is a trip to Purdue to face the Boilermakers.

Can Michigan stand success?

Another Big Ten win will allow the Wolverines to climb to five-hundred in the conference (3-3).

With injuries to key players derailing Purdue ambitions, the Boilers cannot seem to muster enough offense to score points down the stretch.

According to Sparrow:

Another fast start to the season for Michigan and then they begin Big Ten play and just can’t compete.

Purdue has many injuries to key positions. Other then an upset at Northwestern and a win against Minnesota, I can’t see Purdue winning another Big Ten game this season.

Michigan wins.

Game 5: Penn State (6-3, 3-2 Big Ten) at (9) Ohio State (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten)

Penn State must travel to Columbus to meet Ohio State in the Horsehoe.

This appears to be the most intriguing of the Big Ten match-ups in Week 11.

Although Ohio State must be favored to win at home over an unranked Penn State team, you cannot discount the fact that Penn State has won their last three games, essentially turning their season around.

Ohio State is coming off a bye week––no doubt, well-rested and under Jim Tressel, well-prepared to take care of the visiting Lions.

Mr. Sparrow adds:

Ohio State might be looking past Penn State to a tough November 20th match up against Iowa. But at home against a Penn State team that looks to be making a QB switch, the Ohio State defense will lead the way to victory.

Ohio State wins.

Game 6: San Diego State (7-2, 4-1 MWC)  at (3) TCU (10-0, 6-0 MWC)

TCU faces San Diego State on the football field this Saturday in a Mountain West Conference clash.

TCU seems to be a monolith for any team daring to meet them on the football field.

This weekend they face a very competent San Diego State team that has enjoyed a great deal of success in 2010.

When the Aztecs confront TCU on Saturday, however, they are 26.5 underdogs according to odds makers.

Sparrow interprets that as follows:

San Diego State has been playing very good this season. They lost a close battle at Missouri in week 3 and another close loss at BYU in week 5. Unfortunately San Diego State’s great play is nowhere near the caliber of a BCS bound TCU.

TCU wins.

Game 7: (19) Mississippi State (7-2, 3-2 SEC) at (12) Alabama (7-2, 4-2 SEC)

Mississippi State hopes to upset Alabama in Week 11.

The thing about rankings is that regardless of the ranker, the starting point evolves from a hang-over clouded by a team’s reputation––enhanced by primary expectations based on last-year’s results.

It is not an unrealistic way to begin but it explains how certain ranking bodies harken to past results and grant those teams with prior success more leniency that those teams just making their way in.

Which brings us to Mississippi State vs. Alabama this weekend.

The whole country expects The Tide to be the team they were in 2009.

As Mr. Sparrow reiterates:

Mississippi State gave Auburn its toughest challenge of the year and their only other loss is against a good LSU team.  Alabama is coming off a tough loss and needs to win in hopes to play in a BCS bowl. Alabama won’t lose this one at home.

Alabama wins.

Game 8: Texas Tech (5-4, 3-4 Big 12) at (16) Oklahoma (7-2, 3-2 Big 12)

Oklahoma with two losses will hope to win out the rest of their games in 2010.

This is not the year of the Big 12.

Nebraska will finish on top in the North while Oklahoma State seems on track to take the South.

Oklahoma can win at home but gets scared on the road and turns the ball over to their own detriment.

Luckily for the Sooners, they will face Texas Tech in Norman.

Bob Stoops and the Sooners need to win out in order to climb back up in the polls and end the year on a respectable note after previously being ranked No. 1 by the BCS.

The end result of Saturday’s game, according to the Sparrow:

Texas Tech might be able to score some points against Oklahoma but their defense is so bad they will not be able to stop Oklahoma. Oklahoma will find enough defense to get the easy win.

Oklahoma wins.

Game 9: USC (6-3, 3-3 PAC-10) at (18) Arizona (7-2, 4-2 PAC-10)

Arizona needs to win the game against USC to stay relevant in post-season play.

Arizona fell by the wayside as a contender in the PAC-10 after the drubbing they received at the hands of Stanford 42-17.

Arizona’s stiff defense not only bent, it broke as the Cardinal cavorted for 510 yards of offense.

This week USC visits Arizona in Tucson where the Wildcats will be licking their wounds.

If Arizona is to maintain their hold in the rankings, retaining a shot at a decent post-season bowl game, they must win this game at home against the Trojans.

Can the Wildcats hold on at home? Ryan says:

USC is playing better then expected after the NCAA probation and loss of scholarships, on offense at least because their defense has been just terrible. Arizona should be able to score points against USC and the defense will be good enough to stop Matt Barkley.

Arizona wins.

Game 10: (10) Oklahoma State (8-1, 4-1 Big 12) at Texas (4-5, 2-4, Big 12)

Can the Texas Longhorns muster another win in the Big !2 South?

Will this be the final spike in the coffin of the Texas legacy of 2009?

Or will the Longhorns rise up and play enough defense to confound Oklahoma State, just as they did Nebraska in Week 7?

This is the year for all the teams who used to suffer at the hands of this team to stomp on Texas while they are down.

Surely the Longhorns never gave any of them a break on their climb to the top of the BCS Polls.

Still, pride has a way of surfacing and perhaps Texas has one more surprise before they bury this season in the past.

Mr. Sparrow contends:

Texas still has a good defense but is not good at all on offense. Oklahoma State is just the opposite where they have a great offense and a bad defense. Oklahoma State can both run and pass which will provide a big challenge for the Texas defense and I don’t believe the Texas offense will be able to score enough to win.

Oklahoma State wins.

The Rest of the Story:

Ryan Sparrow, the guest prognosticator for Week 11 tells us:

I am a 1999 graduate of the University of Iowa.  I am, of course, a huge Hawkeye fan but also of college football in general. I enjoy looking at the team match-ups, stats and then watching and evaluating teams each week.

Decide if you agree with Ryan’s picks in Week 11 by clicking here to make your own selections.  Time is running out on this season, so join in now to receive your dose of well-earned applause and a chance for a prize at the end of the season.

Last week 15 of you out-guessed Phillip Murphy who offered his picks for Week 10––the   week that saw so many upsets.  The really courageous and clever ones in Week 10 were:

Rick “Turk” Steffens – Wilton, IA; Ryan Sparrow – Channahon, IL;  Dennis Ristau – Eleva, WI; J.R. Shook – Des Moines, IA: Jack Darland, Jr., – Cedar Falls, IA; Eric Stipp – no city given

Sreedhar Thota – Greeley, CO;  Eric Ludwig – Des Moines, IA;  Chris Seberg – New Brighton, MN;  Keverly Swantz – Kalona, IA

Corey Fletcher – Whitesboro, TX; Ken Ripp – Eau Claire, WI; Dave Krueger – Omaha, NE; Kenneth Zuerner – Iowa City, IA; Ryan Gott – no city given

One more guest prognosticator is up for next week.  Tune in to see who it is and what surprises are in store for Week 12.

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