The specter of COVID-19 has hung over this college football season like a dark cloud and this week, the rain has come.
While postponements and cancellations have become a regular occurrence in 2020, Week 11 will see at least 11 games put on ice with the virus running rampant throughout the United States.
Still, there will be plenty of Canadians in action as teams try to keep outbreaks under control. The cancellations made this week’s Game of the Week a much tougher selection, but thankfully last week’s performance should earn me some goodwill. Week 10 saw me go a season best 22-of-26 in Canadian game picks, raising my overall record to 104-of-139.
As everyone hopes for both containment of the virus and the continuation of the season, let’s take a look at two Canadians whose performances in 2020 have been anything but sickly.
Texas Christian University at West Virginia (-3)
Location: Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, W. Va.
Kickoff: Saturday, November 14 at 9:00 a.m. PST/ 12:00 p.m. EST
Where to View: Fox
It’s tough to find a closer matchup on paper than TCU at West Virginia. When it comes to Big 12 defences, West Virginia is number one and TCU is number two. They rank eighth and ninth in Big 12 offence, respectively.
Calculate it using Elo ranking, and they sit fifth and sixth. Both teams are 3-3 in conference play, with West Virginia adding one more win against Eastern Kentucky. It is a game set to be determined by the slimmest of margins and two Canadian stars will be right in the middle of it.
The biggest question looming over the Horned Frogs concerns their newly discovered offensive output. In back-to-back wins over Baylor and Texas Tech, TCU put up more than 30 points and 270 rushing yards. While West Virginia is considered a tougher opponent than those two, Texas Tech actually beat the Mountaineers and Baylor took them to overtime. West Virginia also fell short against Texas last week, a team that TCU upset early in the year.
The problem for TCU is ensuring their multi-faceted rushing attack doesn’t stall out like it did for most of October. Led by dual-threat quarterback Max Duggan along with running backs Darwin Barlow and Zach Evans, the Horned Frogs will have their work cut out for them against a West Virginia defence that has allowed just 3.26 yards per carry all season.
That’s not the only area where the Mountaineers excel. The West Virginia defence is the only Power 5 school to be ranked in the top 20 of rush defence, pass defence, total defence, scoring defence and interceptions.
A big part of that success has been starting safety Alonzo Addae. The Pickering native has been exceptional all season long on the back end, becoming one of the conference’s top defensive backs in just his first season as a starter.
Ranking second on the team in tackles, Addae has shown an ability to make plays from anywhere on the field. While opportunities in the passing game will be fewer in this one, Addae isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty in the box and has earned a reputation for hellacious hits on special teams.
Of course, Addae isn’t the only Canadian making plays for the West Virginia defence. Freshman defensive end Akheem Mesidor is still a backup along a loaded Mountaineers d-line, but he’s been nothing if not consistent in making his presence felt.
In just 74 pass rush attempts this season, the kid from Ottawa ranks fourth on his team with ten pressures and leads the Mountaineers with four sacks. Given Duggan’s scrambling nature, there will be plenty more opportunities for Mesidor to get after the quarterback in this one as he looks to break a small dry spell over the last few weeks.
With Addae and Mesidor making plays, West Virginia’s defence should be able to do enough to disrupt TCU. That could be the difference in a low-scoring game, though Mountaineers’ running back Leddie Brown and quarterback Jarret Doege have big-play ability that exceeds anything the Horned Frogs are capable of.
Look for this contest to be close early on and then see the two sides separate late in the game.
Pick straight-up: West Virginia
Pick against the spread: West Virginia (-3)
Other Week 11 NCAA games featuring Canadians
Akron at Ohio
CanCon: Kurtis Rourke, QB, FR (Ohio), Peter Kemeni, CB, FR (Ohio), Jett Elad, FS, FR (Ohio)
Result: 24-10 Ohio
Kent State at Bowling Green
CanCon: Daniel Johnson, LT, SO (KSt), Reignings Awah, DE, FR (KSt)
Result: 62-24 Kent State
Miami Ohio at Buffalo
CanCon: Dominic Johnson, REC, SR (Buf), Cole Burniston, TE, SO (Buf), Gabe Wallace, OG, SO (Buf), Deondre Dorion, OL, FR (Buf)
Result: 42-10 Buffalo
Eastern Michigan at Ball State
CanCon: Sidy Sow, LG, JR (EMU), Jake Julien, P, SR (EMU)
Result: 38-31 Ball State
Toledo at Western Michigan
CanCon: Jack Taylor, OL, FR (WMich), Geri Theodore, DE, FR (Tol)
Result: 58-13 Western Michigan
Central Michigan at Northern Illinois
CanCon: Mohamed Diallo, DT, SR (CMU), Cade Cote, DL, FR (CMU), Woodly Appolon, FS, JR (NIU)
Result: 40-10 Central Michigan
Colorado State at Boise State
CanCon: Isaiah Bagnah, OLB, FR (BSt)
Result: 52-21 Boise State
Iowa (-3.5) at Minnesota
CanCon: Alaric Jackson, LT, SR (Iowa), Benjamin St-Juste, CB, JR (Minn), Tyrell Lawrence, OL, FR (Minn)
East Carolina at No. 7 Cincinnati (-27.5)
CanCon: Bruno Labelle, TE, SR (Cin)
No. 10 Indiana (-7) at Michigan State
CanCon: DK Bonhomme, OLB, SO (Ind)
No. 15 Coastal Carolina (-11) at Troy
CanCon: Enock Makonzo, WLB, JR (CC), Wilt Gabe II, DE, SO (CC)
Pick: Coastal Carolina
Western Carolina at No. 22 Liberty (-33)
CanCon: John Kourtis, OL, SO (Lib)
Penn State (-3) at Nebraska
CanCon: Jonathan Sutherland, FS, JR (PSt), Jesse Luketa, LB, JR (PSt), Theo Johnson, TE, FR (PSt), Malick Meiga, REC, FR (PSt), Barron Miles Jr, REC, FR (Neb)
Pick: Penn State
Illinois at Rutgers (-7)
CanCon: Sydney Brown, FS, JR (Ill), Chase Brown, RB, SO (Ill)
Wake Forest at North Carolina (-13)
CanCon: Patrice Rene, CB, SR (UNC)
Pick: Wake Forest
Fresno State (-10) at Utah State
CanCon: Alex Dumais, DT, SO (FrSt), Dontae Bull, LT, JR (FrSt)
Pick: Fresno State
No. 2 Notre Dame (-13.5) at Boston College
CanCon: Ezechiel Tieide, REC, SO (BC)
Pick: Notre Dame
No. 20 USC (-14) at Arizona
CanCon: Cameron Fietz, QB, JR (Ari), Paris Shand, DE, FR (Ari), Leif Magnuson, OL, FR (Ari)
USF at Houston (-14)
CanCon: Olivier Charles-Pierre, NT, SR (Hou)
Texas State at Georgia Southern (-10)
CanCon: Samuel Obiang, NT, SO (TexSt)
Pick: Georgia Southern
Louisville at Virginia (-3.5)
CanCon: Terrell Jana, REC, SR (Vir)
Hawai’i at San Diego State (-11)
CanCon: Daniel Okpoko, DE, SO (SDSt), Nick Mardner, REC, SO (HI)
Pick: San Diego State
Arkansas at No. 6 Florida (-17)
CanCon: Lamar Goods, DT, FR (Flo)
No. 11 Oregon (-10.5) at Washington State
CanCon: Nick Wiebe, LB, SO (Ore), Henry Kimmins, DB, FR (WSt)
No. 13 Wisconsin (-4.5) at Michigan
CanCon: Luiji Vilain, DE, SR (Mich)
Florida State at NC State (-10)
CanCon: Daniel Joseph, DE, SR (NCSt)
Pick: NC State
South Carolina at Ole Miss (-11)
CanCon: Tavius Robinson, OLB, JR (Miss), Deane Leonard, CB, SR (Miss)
Pick: Ole Miss
Utah (-3) at UCLA
CanCon: Kenny Mestidor, LB, FR (UCLA), Keegan Markgraf, LS, SR (Utah)