By Brad Carroll
Three current College Football Playoff teams will be in action in the 3:30 window Saturday afternoon with another undefeated team playing as well, plus there's always the appeal of Michigan, which makes for plenty of viewing possibilities on the Week 11 slate. Better yet, there are Playoff implications throughout the five best games before we hit primetime.
Below we analyze, preview and our college football experts pick those games against the spread. Check out our College Football Playoff analysis and early afternoon game picks here. And don't forget about our primetime previews and picks here. As always, follow us on Twitter for all of our latest updates.
Wake Forest at No. 4 Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m., NBC
The Spread: Wake Forest +27.5; Notre Dame -27.5
Analysis: Notre Dame is in perfect position to play for a national championship, as its in the top four even with a loss on its resume. You would think the committee wouldn't drop the Fighting Irish if they run the table, but then again, the committee can't be trusted at all. The one loss the Irish have look pretty darn good now, as they dropped a two-point decision to No. 1 Clemson. Notre Dame missed on a two-point conversion late in that game. Since that defeat, the Irish have won four straight, all against tough opponents, Navy, USC, Temple and Pittsburgh. Wake Forest won't be considered tough, which in theory, should finally give the Irish a mental break in what was a very difficult stretch of games. There's also the chance the Irish sleepwalk through a closer-than-it-should-be game against the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest is 3-6, losing five of its last six games. The only win came against Boston College, which finished 3-0. Most of the games the Deacons have played have been closer, however, including an eight-point loss to Florida State and a one-point defeat to Louisville last week. But Notre Dame should be motivated to make another statement and force the Playoff committee to keep them in the final four.
Brad's Score: Notre Dame 42, Wake Forest 10
Craig's Score: Notre Dame 35, Wake Forest 13
Glenn's Score: Notre Dame 45, Wake Forest 20
Matt's Score: Notre Dame 49, Wake Forest 13
No. 1 Clemson at Syracuse, 3:30 p.m., ABC
The Spread: Clemson -27.5; Syracuse +27.5
Analysis: Clemson finally exorcised some demons last week with its victory over Florida State, as the Tigers not only proved they could beat the Seminoles, but passed a major mental hurdle as well. That would be Clemson's recent history of always losing the biggest and most important game on the schedule. That test has been passed and there doesn't appear to be a challenge left to stop Clemson from playing the College Football Playoff. The Tigers get Syracuse on the road here, then home to Wake Forest before finishing with a road game against rival South Carolina. Then, it would be the ACC championship game against North Carolina. The latter two could be tougher than expected, especially against the Tar Heels, who are playing outstanding football now. But the only thing stopping Clemson now is Clemson. Syracuse is 3-6 and is riding a six-game losing streak. The last two games, the Orange lost by 24 to both Florida State and Louisville. I'd love to take Syracuse plus the points with Clemson coming in off a emotional victory, but the Orange just don't appear to have any fight left.
Brad's Score: Clemson 42, Syracuse 14
Craig's Score: Clemson 42, Syracuse 17
Glenn's Score: Clemson 42, Syracuse 21
Matt's Score: Clemson 42, Syracuse 21
No. 2 Alabama at No. 17 Mississippi State, 3:30 p.m., CBS
The Spread: Alabama -8; Mississippi State +8
Analysis: This is easily the biggest game of the afternoon slate, as Alabama should be challenged on the road at Mississippi State. The Crimson Tide control their own Playoff destiny, win out, including the SEC championship game, and they will play in the final tournament. Trip up at any point, and I don't even believe the biased Playoff committee could justify putting the Tide in the final four. Alabama will be solid favorites the rest of the way, however, with games against Mississippi State, Charleston Southern, Auburn and Florida in the SEC title game left on the schedule. You can pretty much book a trip to the Playoff if you're a Bama fan. Mississippi State is 7-2 with its losses coming to LSU and Texas A&M. The Bulldogs don't have a marquee win among their seven victories this season, so the record and ranking is a little inflated. It also means Alabama should roll to a double-digit win.
Brad's Score: Alabama 27, Mississippi State 17
Craig's Score: Alabama 27, Mississippi State 17
Glenn's Score: Alabama 35, Mississippi State 13
Matt's Score: Alabama, 40, Mississippi State 28
No. 8 Oklahoma State at Iowa State, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: Oklahoma State -14.5; Iowa State +14.5
Analysis: I've written about Oklahoma State for weeks now, saying the only way anyone can take the Cowboys seriously in the College Football Playoff is if they could beat TCU. Well, Oklahoma State is now officially a Playoff contender. The Cowboys rolled over TCU last week, winning going away, 49-29. If Oklahoma State finished undefeated, one wouldn't think the committee would leave it out of the Playoff tournament, but there are no guarantees for the Cowboys. The only thing they can do is keep winning. That shouldn't be difficult against Iowa State Saturday, but two huge tests await next, with home games against both Baylor and Oklahoma. Win all three and the Cowboys will have an impressive resume. And just imagine the uproar if Oklahoma State was left out as an undefeated Power 5 conference champion in favor of one-loss teams Alabama and Notre Dame? Iowa State has lost four of its last five games, with the one win a shutout of Texas. The Cyclones lost big during that span to Texas Tech, TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma. Add Oklahoma State to the last group.
Brad's Score: Oklahoma State 45, Iowa State 20
Craig's Score: Oklahoma State 49, Iowa State 24
Glenn's Score: Oklahoma State 65, Iowa State 30
Matt's Score: Oklahoma State 35, Iowa State 7
No. 14 Michigan at Indiana, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: Michigan -13.5; Indiana +13.5
Analysis: Michigan might be out of the College Football Playoff race, as its stunning loss to Michigan State made the Wolverines a non-factor when they could have been in the thick of the race, but they have a shot to ruin a major rival's season in the regular season finale. If Michigan beats Ohio State in that game, the Buckeyes won't get a shot to defend their national title, which makes that game the Wolverines' national championship. But first, Michigan has to play road games against Indiana and Penn State to get to that ultimate matchup. Indiana is 4-5 and 0-5 in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers won their first four games of the season but have lost their last five. They lost by eight last week against undefeated Iowa at home, and that should be how this game against Michigan plays out as well.
Brad's Score: Michigan 31, Indiana 21
Craig's Score: Michigan 35, Indiana 20
Glenn's Score: Michigan 31, Indiana 14
Matt's Score: Michigan 21, Indiana 7