With Alabama surviving, Oregon thriving and a whole bunch of madness in between, fans all over the country are already looking ahead to next Saturday and thinking to themselves, “Damn, how can it possibly top what we just saw this past Saturday?”
Well don’t look now, but chances are pretty good it does just that. The slate isn’t as top-heavy with quality games this coming weekend, but with many conference and divisional races coming right down to the wire, it is chalk full of intriguing matchups.
Here are a few things to keep an eye out for in the Week 11 look ahead!
Alabama Is No Longer Untested, Will They Remain Undefeated?
After needing all 60 minutes to get by LSU on Saturday night, there is no rest for the No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide who will play their third straight Top 15 ranked opponent on Saturday. This one comes at home, and comes in the form of their most dynamic opponent yet, the No. 15 ranked Texas A&M.
Simply put, the Aggies have taken the SEC by storm, and there appears to be no slowing down Johnny Manziel, Kevin Sumlin and Co.
Saturday proved exactly that, as Manziel had another Heisman-worthy performance against an overmatched Mississippi State team, finishing the afternoon with 311 yards passing and 129 yards rushing, including two scores on the ground. Ben Malena added 112 yards on the ground for the Aggies, which are now 7-2 in their first year in the SEC.
And while we’re not saying the Aggies will pull an upset against Alabama, they are catching them the Crimson Tide at a perfect time. Alabama is coming off their toughest game of the year, a brutal game physically against their biggest current rival, and they just so happen to be playing Texas A&M when they’re playing their best football of the season.
For Alabama, this is their last true test of the regular season, and one they can’t look ahead of either.
No.’s 2-4 Become Road Warriors:
In their own ways, Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame were all impressive Saturday night, with each notching wins to keep themselves in the thick of the BCS title hunt. Now, each will have their own unique challenges as all three head on the road in Week 11.
For Oregon and Notre Dame, things should be business as usual for each, who will face a team which simply doesn’t have the talent or dynamic players to keep up. Oregon travels to face Cal, a club which is 3-7, has lost their last three games and could be playing their final few Saturdays under Jeff Tedford. The same could be said at Boston College where Frank Spaziani’s days are numbered, as the Eagles get set to host Notre Dame this weekend.
That also means that for those looking for an upset contender amongst the trio of teams trailing ‘Bama, your best bet might come from Ft. Worth, TX, where Kansas State will face the TCU Horned Frogs. TCU enters this matchup off an epic, double-overtime win over West Virginia, and more concerning for Wildcats’ fans, might be the health of All-American quarterback Collin Klein. Klein left Saturday’s game with an injury, and did not return.
Will the Wildcats get knocked out of BCS title contention next Saturday?
It very well could happen.
While the BCS Championship race is the one everyone is talking about, there are plenty of divisional races which are starting to take shape too. A few will be decided or altered this coming Saturday.
The most interesting one comes out West, where the two teams chasing Oregon for the Pac-12 North title will go head-to-head. Oregon State and Stanford are both 5-1 in league play, and will matchup next Saturday in Palo Alto. And with each still facing a game with Oregon later this month, it means that the loser here will be unofficially eliminated from the Pac-12 title chase well.
Meanwhile down South, all eyes will be on the Plains, and not just because it’ll likely be the final home SEC game Gene Chizik coaches at Auburn. Instead, for most college football fans the focus will actually shift to Georgia which will wrap up their second straight SEC East title with a win. The Dawgs are at 6-1 in league play, and survived an early scare against to hold on for a win against Mississippi Saturday.
And with a tiebreak lead against Florida, all the Dawgs need to do is win Saturday against Auburn and they will be the East representative in Atlanta.
Odds and Ends:
– Although a matchup between LSU and Mississippi State doesn’t mean much for anything other than bowl implications at this point, it’ll still be interesting to see how each team handles their matchup Saturday in Baton Rouge.
Each is coming off a devastating loss, and each has nothing more than pride to play for at this point. It’ll be interesting to see who has the edge here.
– It’ll also be interesting to see how USC handles the week-after loss to Oregon when they host Arizona State next Saturday in a 12:30 p.m. local time kickoff.
While on paper you’d think the Trojans might not show up, remember that despite back-to-back losses, USC still controls their own destiny in the Pac-12 South, and a potential rematch with Oregon in the Pac-12 title game.
Don’t think that won’t be on the minds of Lane Kiffin’s boys as they go up against an Arizona State team still looking for one more win to get bowl eligible.
– And finally, we wrap up by heading down to Rocky Top, where Tennessee will host Missouri in a game between a pair of 4-5 clubs, each of which knows that they need to win two of their final three games to get bowl eligible.
On a different note, even if Tennessee does get to the postseason, will it be enough to save Derek Dooley’s job?
At this point, it seems unlikely.
Welcome to November in college football.
For all his opinion, insight and analysis on college football, please follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.