Last week, Oklahoma State's offense found a new, more physical rhythm, while USC's defense showed it isn't ready to get out of its own groove just yet. Those two units impressed, while Fresno State's offense and Notre Dame's defense were among Week 10's biggest disappointments.
Week 11 brings us the biggest twin bill in Thursday night history, plus Alabama's toughest test to date. Stanford joins Nebraska, Houston and Tulane as teams that are still in command of their conference races despite being underdogs by at least a touchdown this week. Three more teams still in control of their league destiny -- Arizona State, UCLA and Auburn -- face stiff road tests as modest favorites.
A 5-5 week puts us at 47-53 through two-thirds of the 2013 college football season. This week, only one of the three marquee games is in our wheelhouse, though we do like a side in the only clash of conference unbeatens. We'll also endorse an SEC road favorite that's still not getting enough respect and an underdog (besides Stanford and LSU) with a good shot to ruin an unbeaten season.
LSU Tigers at Alabama Crimson Tide (-13)
ATS pick: LSU
This climbing number is big enough for us to bite on the visiting Tigers, although we still think our preseason projection that Alabama's first loss will be in the SEC championship game is the most likely scenario. It will take a competent passing team to threaten the Tide, as the difference in this year's defense is the inexperience in the secondary, not issues with the standard shutdown run defense.
LSU certainly qualifies, with a pair of top receivers plus a quarterback who broke out against Alabama last year and is now thriving under new coaching. Both attacks figure to make plays in this game, though both red zone defenses will probably prevent the offenses from finishing enough drives to turn this into a shootout.