Viewing guide: The best games to watch in Week 11
The world may feel different after the election, but college football is still here. Let’s take a look into the top games to watch in Week 11.
South Carolina at Florida (Saturday, Noon ET, CBS): The SEC East has descended into sadness. Let Andy Staples take you through the chaotic possibilities for the worst division in the Power 5 conferences.
Rutgers at Michigan State (Saturday, Noon ET, Big Ten Network): Nobody should actually watch this game, but both teams are looking for their first conference win! Celebrate a race to the bottom!
Iowa State at Kansas (Saturday, Noon ET, no national TV): This game too! But you’ll have to look for it on the radio if you wish to find out which of these two teams gets its first conference win.
Texas Tech at No. 13 Oklahoma State (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1): Just your weekly reminder to check in, even if it is for five minutes, on another potential pointsplosion involving Texas Tech and its weekly opponent.
A prediction: Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph will be one of the first three quarterbacks selected in the upcoming NFL draft and will go no later than the third round. Check his West Virginia film if you’re interested to see why he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, regardless of system.
No. 16 West Virginia at Texas (Saturday, Noon ET, FS1): Texas has a bit of steam behind it after wins over Baylor and Texas Tech. If the Longhorns knock off a West Virginia team with the conference’s best defense, then Charlie Strong could salvage what feels like a lost season … even if the program still decides to fire him. If Strong is indeed a lame duck, what loss would be the doomsday? Cal? Kansas State?
Mississippi State at No. 1 Alabama (Saturday, Noon ET, ESPN): Nick Saban claimed he didn’t even know there was an election going on because he was preparing his team for Mississippi State. Whether he was being wry or serious, Saban’s team certainly looks like it has focused on nothing but football the entire season. The Crimson Tide’s 10–0 win over LSU was another example of how Alabama smothers teams at the line of scrimmage and has a plan to stop any offense. True freshman QB Jalen Hurts has displayed the capacity to navigate slow, punishing offensive series as well as quick-strike, run-pass option plays.
The Crimson Tide defense will get a unique challenge in Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald, who torched Texas A&M to the tune of 391 total yards and four touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 35–28 win over the Aggies last week. It’s hard to see Alabama getting a major test in Tuscaloosa against the worst team in the SEC West, but it will be exciting to see how the Tide plans on containing a true dual-threat QB.
Pitt at No. 2 Clemson (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC): It hardly feels like this one should be on upset watch, but let’s not forget that Clemson needed overtime to beat a bad NC State team just under a month ago. The Tigers’ destruction of Syracuse last week and thrilling victory over Florida State the week before showed that quarterback Deshaun Watson has returned to the form that earned him a Heisman nomination last season. The Tigers should roll, but Pitt has been a tough out for most teams.
No. 24 LSU at No. 25 Arkansas (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN): With only three games plus a bowl to go in his career, it’s about time to enjoy Leonard Fournette’s remaining college games. Even with an incredible number of great running backs in college football this season (D’Onta Foreman, Kamryn Pettway, Dalvin Cook, Saquon Barkley and many more), Fournette remains a physical marvel. We will miss watching him hit the open field (check his Ole Miss film for a fun few minutes) and dare defensive backs to tackle him after he (likely) departs LSU for the NFL draft following this season. He never figured out how to rush for big yards against Alabama, and LSU couldn’t find a QB to make his life easier, but Fournette has remained a superlative college player despite some injury trouble and an arcane offense.
This is a chance to watch him play for his home school, and those opportunities are running out.
Baylor at No. 11 Oklahoma (Saturday, Noon ET, ABC/ESPN2): Remember when Oklahoma checked in at No. 15 in last year’s first edition of the playoff rankings before making the playoff? This year, the Sooners started at No. 14. If they knock off a struggling Baylor this weekend, they’ll likely move up from No. 11 into the top-10. The Sooners have, at best, a crooked road to even get into playoff contention, but they’ve won six in a row and have run roughshod over the Big 12. Quarterback Baker Mayfield may not be in the Heisman race any longer, but he’s thrown for 2,912 yards, has a 71% completion rate and has thrown 31 touchdowns to six interceptions. Wide receiver Dede Westbrook has logged six consecutive games of 100-yards receiving or more and logged at least one touchdown in each. The point? Oklahoma’s offense can fly, and it’s worth watching even if the Sooners aren’t considered a playoff contender (yet).
No. 9 Auburn at Georgia (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS): We’ve talked in weeks past about the power of Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway and how he’s helped revitalize Auburn’s offense. But what has made the Tigers particularly fun to watch during their six-game winning streak is the play of their offensive and defensive line. The defensive line has a potential NFL first-round pick in Carl Lawson while the offensive line helped plow the way for 271 more rushing yards against a talented Vanderbilt defense.
Head coach Gus Malzahn arrived at Auburn with a reputation for his speedy offense that helped grow Cam Newton into the college game’s best player. It’s hard to chart the supercharging of this Tigers offense, but it’s turned into one of the most watchable units in a conference that is mostly devoid of good quarterback play.
No. 20 USC at No. 4 Washington (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., FOX): The Pac-12 finally lands the most exciting game of the week! For all who chose not to watch Washington play Utah or didn’t stay up for its other performances, it’s time! You’ve got two of the best young quarterbacks in the nation (Jake Browning and Sam Darnold), the nation’s most complete receiver (JuJu Smith-Schuster) as well as one of its most elusive (John Ross), and a coach who always seems to prepare properly (Chris Petersen). For all Heisman voters who should be evaluating Browning and fans who want a better grip on the playoff, this is the time!
For more on Darnold, read Brian Hamilton on the USC freshman QB savior.