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Weekly Picks

Nystrom's Week 11 ATS Picks

by Thor Nystrom
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

OKLAHOMA (-5 1/2) Baylor


Analysis: Baylor bounced back from their lone loss of the season by trouncing Kansas, but a road game in Norman figures to be a legitimate test for the Bears. Bob Stoops is hopeful that star wideout Sterling Shepard (groin) will be able to go in the contest. Shepard accounts for almost half of the team’s receiving yardage and if he’s not able to lineup, it’s doubtful that Oklahoma will be able to hang with the nation’s leading offense. Assuming Shepard is good to go, I think Oklahoma has the defenders to pressure Bryce Petty into mistakes and I expect them to come away with a shootout win, though Baylor should keep it close enough to cover.





Straight Up:  Oklahoma Sooners  

Against the Spread:

 Baylor Bears  



TCU (-5 1/2) Kansas State


Analysis: Kansas State has gone 6-2 against the spread this season. TCU 7-1. Perhaps that explains why I’ve been staring at this game late into the night waffling back and forth. Bill Snyder’s team might not be as sexy as TCU (82 points is pretty sexy), but they’re 12th in the nation defensively and their only loss was a six-point defeat at the hands of Auburn. Since then, Jake Waters has not thrown an interception. TCU leads the nation in turnover margin, but Kansas State will slog this one out and force Trevone Boykin into making enough mistakes that they come away with the big road win.






Straight Up:  Kansas State Wildcats  

Against the Spread:

 Kansas State Wildcats  




Alabama (-6 1/2) LSU


Analysis: This matchup is still one of the best in college football from an atmosphere standpoint, but we’re not getting the Game of the Century here. Alabama’s lone loss of the season came against a staunch Ol’ Miss defense and I think LSU takes a page out of their book. If they can keep Blake Sims from hitting the deep pass, they should be able to turn this into a low-scoring affair. Despite some early hiccups, LSU is quietly 7-2 and just upset the aforementioned Rebels. Alabama RB T.J. Yeldon (leg) is expected to return and will take some of the pressure off of Blake Sims, but a night game in Death Valley at this line is too tempting to pass up.





Straight Up:  Alabama Crimson Tide  

Against the Spread:

LSU Tigers   


MICHIGAN STATE (-3 1/2) Ohio State


Analysis: Ohio State is potent offensively and has dropped 50+ points in five of their last six games behind a red-hot J.T. Barrett, who has thrown for 23 touchdowns to seven interceptions while completing over 65% of his passes. His opposite, Connor Cook, has less gaudy stats (17 touchdowns, five interceptions, 60.6 completion percentage) but has been in these kinds of big games before. Michigan State has not lost to a conference opponent since 2012. It should be noted that this is a night game and the temperature will be hovering around freezing with a 50% chance of rain/snow. While I wouldn’t be surprised if Ohio State nabs the road upset, I feel more confident in backing the home team and the more experienced squad in bad conditions.





Straight Up:  Michigan State Spartans  

Against the Spread:

 Michigan State Spartans  



ARIZONA STATE (-2 1/2) Notre Dame

Analysis: It’s difficult to get a read on Notre Dame, who were within one rub of beating Florida State and then proceeded to give up 39 points to Navy. Everett Golson had to jump into the phone booth and turn into Superman to deliver the win in that contest. Golson might have to do it again, as Notre Dame’s defense has allowed 113 points in their last three games and just lost senior linebacker Joe Schmidt to a fractured ankle. Schmidt was the team’s leading tackler. He will be replaced by true freshman Nyles Morgan. That’s a huge drop-off, but I still like Notre Dame’s defense more than Arizona State’s, and I like Everett Golson way, way more than Taylor Kelly, who has completed just over 56% of his passes since returning from his own injury. Notre Dame rolls in Tempe.





Straight Up: Notre Dame Fighting Irish   

Against the Spread:

 Notre Dame Fighting Irish  



Oregon (-8 1/2) UTAH

Analysis: Utah has not won or lost by more than six points in any of their five conference games, leading to a 7-1 ATS record. All they do is stay close, thanks to a defense that’s ranked 27th in the country in terms of points allowed and a running game headed by a gaining-steam Devontae Booker. Booker’s gone over 100 rushing yards in five straight games. That being said, they haven’t played a team as offensively explosive as Oregon. I don’t think Utah is going to put up enough points to hang with Marcus Mariota and company and win outright, but they’ll keep alive their streak of playing absurdly close conference games. Booker goes over 100 once again and the Utes control the clock enough to cover this spread. Oregon, by the way, is 2-7 ATS.





Straight Up:  Oregon Ducks  

Against the Spread:

 Utah Utes  




Georgia (-10) KENTUCKY


Analysis: It’s strange to say that a Georgia team that just got trounced 38-20 by Florida would be looking past their current opponent, but the Bulldogs get Todd Gurley back from suspension woes next week. And they’ll be facing Auburn. In the meantime, they have a road date with Kentucky. I think Mark Richt will have Georgia ready for the Wildcats, though, especially after several of his defensive players admitted to looking past Florida. Nick Chubb has rushed for more than 140 yards in every game he’s started and Kentucky is allowing 188 yards on the ground. That’s not a good combination. Unless Patrick Towles puts up a stat-line similar to what he did against Mississippi State (390 yards passing, 76 rushing), expect Georgia to methodically wear down the Wildcats and win this one going away.  





Straight Up:  Georgia Bulldogs  

Against the Spread:

 Georgia Bulldogs  



West Virginia (-3 1/2) TEXAS


Analysis: Texas is a ghastly 104th in the nation in terms of points scored. The Longhorns have lost seven in a row to ranked opponents and are scoring just a tick over 11 points in such contests. They did rush for 241 yards in a win over Texas Tech last week and should lean heavily on Malcolm Brown and Jonathan Grey in this contest to try to keep the ultra-efficient Clint Trickett off the field. If they’re going to win this one, it’ll be because of a pass defense is quietly 9th in the country in terms of yards allowed. This could be a letdown spot for the Mountaineers, but West Virginia’s a tough-minded team that has pushed schools like Alabama and TCU to the brink. I think they score enough (which doesn’t have to be much) and win by a touchdown or two.





Straight Up:  West Virginia Mountaineers  

Against the Spread:

 West Virginia Mountaineers  




Wild Card #1: Iowa (-1) MINNESOTA


Analysis: The tagline for the movie Aliens vs Predator is “Whoever wins, we lose.” This game, for me personally, is the same thing. I went to graduate school at Iowa. I’m from Minnesota. Whoever wins, I lose. I also lose because I know the tagline for Aliens vs Predator. Awful movies aside, Iowa and Minnesota are both 6-2. Neither team is particularly explosive on offense, though the Hawkeyes did just drop a 48-7 line on Northwestern. The best player for either team is Minnesota RB David Cobb, who has rushed for 1,131 yards and seven touchdowns. I think he’ll do enough to put down my alma mater in what should be a low-scoring affair.





Straight Up: Minnesota Golden Gophers   

Against the Spread:

 Minnesota Golden Gophers  



Wild Card #2:  Florida (-14 ½) VANDERBILT


Analysis: Florida’s got a little Vegas bounce in their step after their unexpected triumph over Georgia. While it’s unlikely they’re as good as the final score indicated, they might not be quite as bad as some (including me) thought at the beginning of the season. They also managed to stay within three of LSU two weeks prior to the Georgia surprise. They seem to have found a nice formula: Don’t let Treon Harris throw the ball (he attempted just six passes against the Bulldogs) and run Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor repeatedly. Maybe the Georgia and LSU games were just aberrations, but against a Vandy team that’s ranked 113th in offense and 100th in defense, Florida will cover relatively easily.





Straight Up: Florida Gators   

Against the Spread:

 Florida Gators  



Record: Straight Up (66-34), Against the Spread (52-47-1) ... Last week: 7-3, 5-5

Thor Nystrom

Thor Nystrom is NBC Sports Edge’s lead CFB writer. The 2018 FSWA College Sports Writer of the Year, Nystrom’s writing has also been honored by Rolling Stone magazine and The Best American Essays series. Say hi to him on Twitter @thorku!