College Football Picks: Tide try to avoid rare 2-game skid

The year was 2007 and Alabama was still looking more like a college football has-been than a program on the cusp of a dynasty.

Nick Saban's first regular season as the coach of the Crimson Tide ended with a four-game losing streak that included a loss to Louisiana-Monroe.

That was the last time Alabama lost consecutive games in a regular season.

Coming off a one-point loss to LSU in Death Valley, the Crimson Tide hit the road again to face another ranked team and avoid their first two-game skid in 15 years.

No. 11 Mississippi and former Saban assistant Lane Kiffin welcome the Tide on Saturday.

For the second straight year, both teams are ranked going into their game. Last season, Kiffin urged fans to grab their popcorn before kickoff. Then Alabama went up 28-0 at the half.

Maybe this game will be more popcorn-worthy. Considering the state of the Tide, it makes the list of the five most intriguing games of Week 11.

No. 4 TCU at No. 18 Texas

Putting aside that this is a pivotal game in the Big 12 for both the first-place and unbeaten Horned Frogs and the tied-for-second Longhorns, there are some juicy storylines. Can TCU repel another departing Big 12 flagship school? Can former Frogs coach Gary Patterson, now special assistant to the head coach at Texas, extract some revenge after he was pushed out last year?

LINE: Texas by 7. PICK: Texas 34-30.

No. 10 Alabama at No. 11 Mississippi

Another negative Alabama would like to avoid: The last time the Tide lost three regular-season games was 2010. Ole Miss' shaky defense should provide a boost for an inconsistent Alabama offense. If the Rebels' potent running game keeps cranking, could be a first-to-50 game.

LINE: Alabama by 11. PICK: Alabama 49-35.

No. 15 North Carolina at Wake Forest

Combined score of the last two game between these teams: Tar Heels 117, Demon Deacons 108. Expect more of the same from UNC's Drake Maye (31 TD passes) and Wake's Sam Hartman (24).

LINE: Wake Forest by 3 1/2. PICK: NORTH CAROLINA 45-42.

No. 7 LSU at Arkansas

Tigers coming off a huge win. Hogs coming off being upset at home by Liberty. An 11 a.m. local kickoff. One team unexpectedly thrust into a conference championship race. The other looking to play spoiler and turn around a disappointing season. And look at that line? Tiger trap.

LINE: LSU by 3. PICK: ARKANSAS 31-30, UPSET SPECIAL.

Wisconsin at Iowa

The Hawkeyes' offense has come to life the last two weeks, but expect this to be another slog for both teams. There should be no other way for a Big Ten West eliminator.

LINE: Wisconsin by 1 1/2. PICK: Wisconsin 20-17.

The rest of the games involving ranked teams, with lines by FanDuel Sportsbook:

FRIDAY

Colorado at No. 8 Southern California (minus 34 1/2)

Can even CU's anemic offense find success against USC's porous defense? ... USC 56-20.

SATURDAY

No. 1 Georgia (minus 16 1/2) at Mississippi State

Bulldogs plays defense like Alabama and Mike Leach's Air Raid has managed 15 points in three games against the Tide ... GEORGIA 31-10.

Indiana at No. 2 Ohio State (minus 40 1/2)

Weather forecast looks good in Columbus and the Buckeyes are probably a little tired of hearing about getting bogged down in the wind last week ... OHIO STATE 63-17.

Nebraska at No. 3 Michigan (minus 28 1/2)

Seems unlikely Huskers QB Casey Thompson (arm) will play ... MICHIGAN 45-14.

Missouri (plus 20 1/2) at No. 5 Tennessee

How will Vols respond after wild few weeks of enormous games ... TENNESSEE 38-21.

No. 24 Washington (plus 13 1/2) at No. 6 Oregon

Ducks have won 15 of 17 meetings, but the last three were all decided by 10 points or fewer ... OREGON 42-31.

Arizona at No. 9 UCLA (minus 19 1/2)

Bruins looking to drop 50 on a Grand Canyon State school for a second straight week ... UCLA 48-24.

Louisville (plus 7) at No. 12 Clemson

Cardinals have won four straight to right their season behind an improved defense ... CLEMSON 24-20.

Stanford at No. 13 Utah (minus 24 1/2)

A moment to remember last year's stunningly lopsided game, when the Utes had 440 yards and 38 points at the half ... UTAH 45-17.

Maryland (plus 10 1/2) at No. 14 Penn State

Both sides have to win a few for it to be a rivalry and the Terps have done that only three times in 45 tries ... PENN STATE 31-24.

No. 22 UCF (plus 2 1/2) at No. 16 Tulane

Not an exaggeration to call this one of the biggest home games in Tulane history ... UCF 24-20.

Boston College at No. 17 North Carolina State (minus 19 1/2)

In a terrible season, Eagles might have found their quarterback of the future in Emmett Morehead ... N.C. STATE 28-7.

No. 19 Liberty at UConn (plus 13 1/2)

Huskies need one more win to get bowl eligible; Jim Mora for coach of the year? ... LIBERTY 24-13.

No. 20 Notre Dame vs. Navy (plus 16 1/2) at Baltimore

Irish have proved capable of playing down to a supposedly overmatched opponent ... NOTRE DAME 28-14.

Purdue at No. 21 Illinois (minus 6 1/2)

Illini can't clinch the Big Ten West, but they'd be awfully tough to catch with a win ... ILLINOIS 27-17.

No. 23 Kansas State (plus 2 1/2) at Baylor

The other two teams, along with Texas, in the Big 12's three-way tie for second ... KANSAS STATE 28-26.

No. 25 Florida State (minus 6 1/2) at Syracuse

Banged up Orange are sputtering while Seminoles seem to be hitting their stride ... FLORIDA STATE 34-20, BEST BET.

TWITTER REQUEST

South Carolina (plus 7 1/2) at Florida — @bcgamecocks

Barometer game for the Gators; Rarely can Florida claim a good season if its loses to the Gamecocks ... FLORIDA 27-23.

Miami (plus 1 1/2) at Georgia Tech — @GranddadPat

Who had the 'Canes and Jackets both fighting for bowl eligibility at this point? ... MIAMI 23-20.

Iowa State at Oklahoma State (plus 1 1/2) — @menryharshall1

Injuries have made Cowboys' QB situation a mystery ... OKLAHOMA STATE 24-21.

East Carolina at Cincinnati (minus 5) — @doughnutduncan

Bearcats won the last two meetings at Nippert Stadium by a combined 111-23; This will be closer ... CINCINNATI 27-20.

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RECORD

Last week: Straight-up — 19-6; Against spread — 15-10.

Season: 158-60; 111-115-1.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com

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