College football upset alert: Expert picks for Week 11 underdogs with best odds to win

Here at the Underdog Challenge, we’re all about the upsets. Not covering the spread. You gotta win the game.

So which schools have pulled the most upsets in 2021? According to our friends at TeamRankings.com, there have been 12 schools that have pulled three upsets this season. Michigan State and UTSA have done it three times in just three chances. San Diego State and Minnesota are 3-1 as underdogs. Purdue and Utah State are 3-2, Washington State and Northern Illinois are 3-3 and Syracuse is 3-4.

Which brings us to our last group. Illinois, Bowling Green and Louisiana Monroe have three upsets in eight games as underdogs, but here’s the important part when it comes to our contest — each team has won as at least a 20-point underdog, with ULM pulling it off twice. Illinois stunned Penn State, Bowling Green shocked Minnesota and ULM somehow scored victories against Liberty (as a 32.5-point dog) and Troy (23.5).

For the new readers, the contest works as follows: Each expert picks three underdogs to win. If your pick hits, you get as many points as the team was an underdog. So nailing those ULM longshots pays off big.

Here are our standings through Week 10.

On to the upsets.

Bill Bender, Lead college football writer

Northwestern (+24.5) vs. Wisconsin

This is our biggest swing of the season, and there is a very-good chance we miss big given how well the Badgers have played in their bid to win the Big Ten West. Northwestern, however, has played the Badgers tough over the years. The teams have split the last six meetings. Can Pat Fitzgerald pull off a season-maker to keep the Wildcats’ bowl hopes alive? You can never rule it out in that division.

UCF (+7.5) at SMU

The Knights are on a three-game winning streak, and the Mustangs have dropped two straight. UCF quarterback Mikey Kenne has been hot against inferior competition with a 68% percent completion percentage in those three victories. This is bound to be a shootout, but we like the way Gus Malzahn has UCF playing since the loss to Cincinnati.

Virginia (+5.5) vs. No. 9 Notre Dame

It’s tough to go all in here knowing Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong is dealing with a rib injury, but the Cavaliers have the top statistical offense in the FBS. Notre Dame has improved, especially in the running game, and they are on the outskirts of the playoff conversation. They did struggle at Virginia Tech, however, and the Cavaliers are a better team. Here is this week’s top-10 upset.

Mike DeCourcy, Senior writer

Rutgers (+6.5) at Indiana

What was supposed to be a dream season at IU instead has turned Hoosiers rapidly toward the prospects for their men’s basketball team. All that hope, all that optimism, all that good will not only from last year’s breakthrough with victories over Penn State and Michigan but also the development of prior seasons – it’s long gone. Even a .500 season is out of reach. This is an opportunity at least to salvage something, a nice home win against a struggling opponent to make everyone feel a little better. But the trend says that’s not going to happen.

No. 15 Ole Miss (+2.5) vs. No. 11 Texas A&M

Remind me which of our four pickers was the only one to correctly call an upset in week 9? Who’s now solidly in third place, only two correct selections (but admittedly many points) behind the lead group? Oh, that’s right: the basketball guy. Now, if I were Lane Kiffin, I’d probably boast about these facts and call unnecessary attention to my record and smugly try to position myself as the smartest guy in the room. But the fellow who does all that sometimes gets fired on the tarmac, and since I’m writing this on a plane, I’m not taking any chances. I’m going to stay humble.

LSU (+2.5) vs. Arkansas 

The Tigers proved a week ago they can play just poorly enough to lose close to the (alleged) No. 2 team in the nation, and that was on the road. They’re not good, and certainly there’s a reason they’re in the process of finding a new person to lead the program, but a late-November night game in Baton Rouge, Death Valley just hollers out for one last moment of glory for Coach O.

Bill Trocchi, Senior editor

No. 13 Baylor (+5.5) vs. No. 8 Oklahoma

We all know Oklahoma has been gearing up for this final push, and the Sooners had a week off to prepare for the stretch run. Baylor is undefeated at home this season. Two years ago, OU beat Baylor by three in Waco and then in overtime in the Big 12 championship game. Saturday, Baylor breaks through.

Syracuse (+3.5) at Louisville

Louisville has lost four of its last five games and is facing a team, as noted above, that has pulled off three upsets this season. Syracuse has had two weeks to prepare, and a noon kickoff against a team with a Clemson hangover shouldn’t provide an overly hostile environment. The Orange does it again.

No. 15 Ole Miss (+2.5) vs. No. 11 Texas A&M

I’ll take the home underdog with the far better quarterback against a team that failed to score an offensive touchdown last week. GameDay, the Grove, possibly Katy Perry. Actually, I’m just throwing things out there and pretending Texas A&M doesn’t have a terrifying defense. But I do love Matt Corral.

Zac Al-Khateeb, Content producer 

No. 13 Baylor (+5.5) vs. No. 8 Oklahoma

The Sooners had a well-timed bye in Week 10, just before their three-week stretch at No. 13 Baylor, at home vs. preseason top-10 team Iowa State and at No. 10 Oklahoma State. Oklahoma has dealt with plenty of adversity in 2021, overcoming a slow start to the season and surviving a huge deficit to then-No. 21 Texas to remain undefeated. How will they handle their first ranked opponent on the road? Don’t be surprised if the Bears keep it close — or take Game 1 of a potential two-game series.

No. 19 Purdue (+21.5) over No. 4 Ohio State

The sole reason I’m even considering this game is because of Purdue’s patented history of upsetting top-five opponents (and because that 21.5 line would be a massive win for me in the standings). Just this season, Jeff Brohm’s Boilermakers have upset then-No. 2 Iowa and, on Saturday, No. 3 Michigan State. Ohio State has homefield advantage in the Horseshoe, whereas Purdue beat the Hawkeyes and Spartans in West Lafayette. But Ohio State is coming off a game in which it couldn’t put away a 1-6 Nebraska team in a 27-16 win. Never say never.

No. 15 Ole Miss (+2.5) vs. No. 11 Texas A&M

Texas A&M still has a chance to win the SEC West division, assuming it wins out and No. 2 Alabama drops a game vs. Arkansas or Auburn. If the Aggies want to make it to Atlanta, they first must take care of business against No. 15 Ole Miss. The Rebels are the first ranked opponent the Aggies will face in a true road game all season, and quarterback Matt Corral is the biggest remaining threat on the schedule. Vaught-Hemingway Stadium will be raucous, helping the home-team Rebels give Jimbo Fisher and Co. one of their toughest tests of the season.

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