Week 11 College Football Primer

Top 25 vs. Top 25

John Parker WilsonNo. 1 Alabama at No. 16 LSU, 3:30 PM ET Saturday
Nick Saban doesn’t want the focus to be on him this week and for good reason since he spurned LSU a few years ago to go fail in the NFL. That storyline might be a little overrated though, because it’s doubtful the current Tiger players Saban recruited care much about beating him on Saturday. They’ll have more motivation beating a hated rival and knocking off the No. 1 team in the nation. ‘Bama has had issues playing four full quarters all season – will this be the week they finally play a full game and soundly beat a quality opponent? Or will LSU sustain the Tide’s initial punch and come through in the second half? This game is what SEC football is all about and we should expect nothing more than a close, physical matchup that comes down to the wire, even though Alabama has the superior team.

No. 12 TCU at No. 8 Utah, 8:00 PM ET Thursday
The Horned Frogs have the opportunity to knock off yet another MWC foe out of BCS title contention this Saturday when they pay a trip to Utah. TCU has held its previous five opponents to only 8.4 points per game and have also limited eight foes to a 2008 season low in yards, which is the most of any team in Division I football. Pundits love what the Frogs bring to the table defensively, but the Utes have plenty to offer themselves. Utah has held four of its opponents to season lows in yardage and has won nine in a row at home. They’ve also beaten TCU the past two meetings and obviously have a ton to play for.

No. 11 Ohio State at No. 24 Northwestern, 12:00 PM ET
The Wildcats got a lot of people’s attention last week when they pulled off a miracle upset of Minnesota in the final seconds of the game. But Ohio State has had over a week to stew about the loss to Penn State and they’ve had a ton of success against Northwestern over the past couple of years. The Buckeyes have allowed just 23 total points the past three games and it’s highly doubtful backup quarterback Mike Kakfa puts together back-to-back solid performances. It’ll be interesting to see how freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor rebounds after his crucial fumble played a big role in OSU’s loss to the Nittany Lions.

Michael CrabtreeNo. 9 Oklahoma State at No. 2 Texas Tech, 8:00 PM ET, Saturday
It’s no wonder why people keep talking about the Big 12 being the superior conference this season when it keeps churning out fantastic matchups like this every week. Tech had zero time to celebrate its win over Texas last week because the Cowboys offer another potential roadblock to the Raiders’ BCS title hopes. Much like last week, this game features a pair of Heisman Trophy candidates at quarterback in Graham Harrell and Zac Robinson. Can Tech continue to post 500 yards of offense every game or will Mike Leach’s team eventually stumble? OK State hasn’t won in Lubbock since 1944, but the Cowboys have played very well on the road under Mike Gundy and are hoping a win could elevate their BCS status after they hung tough with Texas a few weeks ago. Can the Raiders play as well defensively as they did last week against the Longhorns or will yet another top 5 team get picked off?

No. 21 California at No. 7 USC, 8:00 PM ET, Saturday
Many pundits have had this game circled as one where the Trojans could potentially fall victim to an upset. The Bears usually play USC close and fought the Trojans to the final whistle last year before losing by only a touchdown. USC struggled a bit last week in Arizona, but are incredibly tough to beat at the Coliseum. Maybe head coach Pete Carroll will call upon “Captain Compete” to rally his team again before the game.

No. 20 Georgia Tech at No. 19 North Carolina, 12:00 PM ET, Saturday
The Yellow Jackets struggled again last week but managed to knock off Florida State with a last second field goal after a goal line stop and a fumble recovery in the end zone (thank you reader GTA for the correction). Tech is 9-1 against the Heels in their last 10 meetings, but UNC has 17 interceptions on the season, which ties them for the most in the nation. The key in this game will be whether or not the Heels can stop Tech’s relentless ground attack for four quarters. If the Jackets find success on the ground, there will be no reason to put the ball in the air often and risk turning the ball over to a ball-hawking UNC defense.

Other Notable Games:

No. 3 Penn State Nittany Lions at Iowa, 3:30 PM ET, Saturday
Those fans that don’t want to see another Big Ten team play for a national championship will be watching this game with hopes that the Hawkeyes can pull off a huge upset. The Lions probably won’t faced another ranked team the rest of the way, although Iowa and Michigan State are no pushovers. PSU is coming off a bye week – will they come out flat or determine after moving down in the rankings?

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