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Can the Crimson Tide defense slow down Texas A&M?
College football’s Week 11 schedule is highlighted by key games in the Big Ten Legends Division, Pac-12 North and SEC West. Also, Georgia can clinch the SEC East with a win at Auburn, and Miami can take another step toward an ACC Coastal Division crown with a victory at Virginia.
No. 51 Pittsburgh at No. 87 Connecticut
Pittsburgh just missed pulling off the upset of the year in South Bend last weekend. The Panthers are playing better as the season progresses, but it’s not a good sign when your defense gives up 291 yards passing to Notre Dame.
No. 14 Texas A&M at No. 1 Alabama
Alabama is riding high after its thrilling win in Baton Rouge, but Nick Saban can’t be pleased that his defense gave up a season-high 435 yards — 232 more than its previous season average — to an LSU team that had averaged only 318.3 yards in its first four SEC games. The Crimson Tide can wrap up the SEC West title with a win.
No. 2 Oregon at No. 74 California
Cal is 2–5 in the Pac-12 and still has to play two teams (Oregon and Oregon State) that are a combined 11–1 in the league. The Bears also have issues at quarterback; starter Zach Maynard is questionable for this week’s game after injuring his knee against Washington.
No. 3 Kansas State at No. 28 TCU
Kansas State held on to its No. 2 spot in the BCS standings after knocking off Oklahoma State 44–30 last weekend. But the big story in Manhattan is the health of Collin Klein, the Heisman frontrunner. Klein was forced out in the third quarter of the O-State game with an undisclosed injury that has been reported by some to be a concussion. K-State coach Bill Snyder says he expect Klein to play, but Snyder has been known to bend the truth on the injury front.
Kansas State 34–21
No. 4 Notre Dame at No. 94 Boston College
Amazingly, Boston College won six straight in this series from 2001-08 (they didn’t play every year), but Notre Dame has rebounded to win three straight. BC has scored 17 points or fewer in its last four vs. Notre Dame. That trend will continue.
Notre Dame 27–3
No. 6 Georgia at No. 72 Auburn
Georgia can secure a spot in the SEC title game for the second straight season with a win on Saturday. The Bulldogs will be facing a true freshman quarterback (Jonathan Wallace) who will be making his first start against an SEC team.
No. 76 UL Lafayette at No. 7 Florida
The Gators would like to get Mike Gillislee going for the stretch drive. The senior tailback has had four straight sub-100-yard games and still needs 203 yards to become Florida’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2004.
No. 25 Mississippi State at No. 8 LSU
In the past two weeks, MSU has dropped from 48th to 73rd nationally in total offense and from 25th to 50th in total defense. There is no shame in losing decisively at Alabama, but the Bulldogs were alarmingly uncompetitive at home against Texas A&M. The task this week will be to do something that no Bulldog team has done since 1991 — win in Baton Rouge.
No. 45 Arkansas at No. 9 South Carolina
The Hogs have won three straight in the series, the last two in convincing fashion against very good Carolina teams. Two years ago, Ryan Mallet, Knile Davis & Co. rolled up 443 yards of offense in a 41¬–20 victory in Columbia. Last season, Tyler Wilson and friends outgained the Gamecocks 435-to-207 en route to a 44–28 win in Fayetteville. Now, it’s time for payback.
South Carolina 33–17
No. 79 Maryland at No. 11 Clemson
Shawn Petty, who was a linebacker two weeks ago, played relatively well in his debut as Maryland’s quarterback. He completed 9-of-18 for 115 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Not bad. But not good enough to challenge Clemson.
No. 43 Baylor at No. 12 Oklahoma
Baylor is the only team in the nation that is giving up more than 500 yards per game. That is not good.
No. 13 Oregon State at No. 16 Stanford
Redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan will make his first start at quarterback for Stanford. In last week’s 48–0 win over Washington State, Hogan replaced Josh Nunes after two series and went on to complete 18-of-23 for 184 yards and two touchdowns.
No. 15 Louisville at No. 63 Syracuse
Louisville is ranked No. 9 in the latest BCS standings, but the Cardinals — other than being 9–0 — don’t really have the résumé of a top-10 team. They beat FIU (2–8) by seven points, Southern Miss (0–9) by four points and South Florida (3–6) by two points. They have two solid wins, over North Carolina and Cincinnati, but those were by a combined eight points and both were at home.
No. 17 UCLA at No. 100 Washington State
It’s fair to say Washington State isn’t running the ball well this season. The Cougars have a total of 76 rushing yards in six Pac-12 games. Colorado is next with 576 yards.
No. 27 Penn State at No. 18 Nebraska
Nebraska has seized control of the Leaders Division with consecutive wins over Northwestern, Michigan and Michigan State. The Cornhuskers, 4–1 in the league, are one game up on both Northwestern and Michigan and now hold the tie-breaker over both teams.
No. 34 Iowa State at No. 19 Texas
Texas will open the game in the Wishbone to honor former Longhorn coach Darrell Royal, who passed away earlier this week. Royal went 167–47–5 in 20 seasons as the boss in Austin.
No. 31 Northwestern at No. 20 Michigan
Northwestern tailback Venric Mark had 23 carries in his first two seasons. This year, Mark has emerged as the Wildcats’ top offensive weapon with 1,072 yards on a healthy 6.5-yard average.
No. 21 Louisiana Tech at No. 112 Texas State
Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes will be a hot commodity in the coaching world following the 2012 season. And for good reason. His teams win and do so playing an exciting brand of football.
Louisiana Tech 41, Texas State 13
No. 37 Arizona State at No. 22 USC
USC has given up a total of 1,318 yards in its last two games, losses at Arizona and to Oregon at home.
No. 81 Kansas at No. 23 Texas Tech
Texas Tech gave up a total of 43 points in its first four games. The Raiders have given up 41 or more three times since. That, however, won’t happen this week.
Texas Tech 47–10
No. 99 Colorado at No. 24 Arizona
Colorado has allowed 55 touchdowns this season, most in the nation. Alabama has allowed 82 points this season.
No. 107 Army at No. 26 Rutgers
Army is the only team in the nation that has two players averaging over 100 yards rushing per game — quarterback Trent Steelman (101.2 ypg) and slot back Raymond Maples (100.8 ypg).
No. 29 Wisconsin at No. 67 Indiana
Amazingly, this game — between two teams with a combined nine overall losses — could determine who represents the Leaders Division in the Big Ten Championship Game.
No. 33 West Virginia at No. 30 Oklahoma State
Things have changed quite a bit in the past month for West Virginia. In early October, the Mountaineers were 5–0 and ranked in the top five in both major polls. Now, WVU is 5–3, unranked and a 7.5-point underdog to an Oklahoma State team that also has three losses.
Oklahoma State 48–40
No. 61 Utah at No. 32 Washington
Utah has scored a total of 98 points in the past two weeks, climbing from 105th in the nation in scoring (20.1 ppg) to 72nd (26.6 ppg). Washington’s defense has played well of late, holding Oregon State to 17 and California to 13 in back-to-back wins.
No. 41 Vanderbilt at No. 38 Ole Miss
Vanderbilt has controlled this series of late, winning five of the last seven overall, including two straight in Oxford. Last year, the Commodores won 30–7 in Nashville for their most decisive win vs. Ole Miss since beating the Rebs 91–0 in 1915.
No. 71 Georgia Tech at No. 39 North Carolina
North Carolina tailback Gio Bernard has been one of the best running backs in the nation in the past month. The sophomore has 717 yards and six touchdowns in the past four games.
North Carolina 31–23
No. 40 Miami (Fla.) at No. 83 Virginia
Virginia snapped a six-game losing streak last week with a surprisingly easy 33–6 win at NC State. Miami controls its own destiny in the ACC Coastal. If the Canes beat Virginia this week and win at Duke on Nov. 24, they will advance to the league title game.
Miami (Fla.) 21–13
No. 42 Cincinnati at No. 84 Temple
Temple exploded for 37 points in its Big East opener (a win vs. South Florida) but has not scored more than 17 points since. The Owls are last in the league in total offense, as well.
No. 56 Missouri at No. 44 Tennessee
Tennessee’s historically bad defense is coming off its worst game of the season. The Volunteers gave up an astounding 721 yards of offense to a Troy team that had 381 yards the previous week in a loss to FAU. For the season, the Vols rank last in the league in both yards allowed per game (483.1) and yards allowed per play (6.31).
No. 46 Tulsa at No. 90 Houston
Tulsa is the only team in Conference USA West with a winning overall record. The Golden Hurricane are 7–2 with losses at Iowa State and Arkansas.
No. 47 Boise State at No. 120 Hawaii
Boise State, which lost at home to San Diego State last weekend, has multiple regular-season losses for the first time since 2007.
Boise State 48–0
No. 50 Kent State at No. 97 Miami (Ohio)
Kent State has almost doubled its scoring average from last season. The Golden Flashes are averaging 34.0 points per game — up from 17.1 last season.
Kent State 34–23
No. 122 Idaho at No. 54 BYU
BYU dips down in competition this week after playing Oregon State, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech in successive games. The Cougars should have this one wrapped up by the middle of the second quarter.
No. 80 Wake Forest at No. 55 NC State
NC State had one of the most puzzling losses of the season last week, dropping a 33–6 decision at home to a Virginia team that had lost six straight games.
NC State 34–17
No. 57 UCF at No. 102 UTEP
UCF is in control of C-USA East with a 5–0 record. The Knights have allowed exactly 17 points in each of their last three games.
No. 58 Fresno State at No. 88 Nevada
Nevada is averaging 33.3 points in its three losses — to South Florida, San Diego State and Air Force. The Wolf Pack will need to score a bunch to beat Fresno State, which has scored 42 points in each of its last three games.
Fresno State 42–41
No. 95 Air Force at No. 59 San Diego State
San Diego State is coming off one of the biggest wins in school history, a 21–19 victory at Boise State. It was SDSU’s first win over a ranked opponent since 1996. The Aztecs are now 5–1 in the MWC and will be favored in their final two games.
San Diego State 33–17
No. 64 San Jose State at No. 123 New Mexico State
San Jose State visits Las Cruces for a tune-up before returning home for a tough two-game stretch against BYU and Louisiana Tech.
San Jose State 44–10
No. 65 Navy at No. 85 Troy
Troy rolled up 721 yards of offense on the road against an SEC team — and lost. The Trojans took a 48–41 lead on Tennessee with 3:14 remaining but gave up two touchdowns in the final three minutes and lost 55–48.
No. 77 Purdue at No. 68 Iowa
Neither of these teams has won a game since Oct. 13, when Iowa somehow beat Michigan State on the road. Purdue has lost five straight — all in league play and all by seven points or more.
No. 69 Minnesota at No. 98 Illinois
These are two of the four Big Ten teams that are ranked 68th or worse in this week’s Athlon Sports 124 rankings. Minnesota has shown signs of life this year. Illinois has been a complete debacle.
No. 117 FAU at No. 73 Western Kentucky
FAU beat a team two weeks ago (Troy) that rolled up 721 yards of offense at Tennessee last Saturday. What does that mean? Probably nothing.
Western Kentucky 31–13
No. 82 Marshall at No. 104 UAB
Marshall is one of 11 teams nationally that has allowed more than 2,000 yards rushing this season. It’s a good thing for the Herd that UAB ranks 11th in Conference USA in rushing with 111.0 yards per game.
No. 86 Western Michigan at No. 108 Buffalo
Buffalo ranks last in the nation with only six turnovers forced — two fumbles and four interceptions. That’s a big reason the Bulls rank 85th nationally in scoring defense despite ranking 49th in total defense.
No. 111 Southern Miss at No. 89 SMU
Southern Miss’ dreadful 2012 season took another horrific turn last weekend. The Golden Eagles led UAB 16–0 at the half at home yet found a way to lose, 27–19. Ellis Johnson’s team is now an unthinkable 0–9 — one year winning 12 games.
No. 101 UNLV at No. 119 Colorado State
UNLV played its best game of the season last weekend, passing for 289 yards and rushing for 241 in a 35–7 win over New Mexico. There has been talk about Bobby Hauck’s job status, but there is a decent chance the Runnin’ Rebels could end their season on a four-game winning streak.
No. 103 Tulane at No. 118 Memphis
Tulane scored a total of 45 points in its first five games. The Green Wave have scored 102 in their last two.
No. 113 Wyoming at No. 105 New Mexico
New Mexico ranks last in the nation in passing yards (535), passing yards per attempt (4.6) and passing touchdowns (two). To be fair, the Lobos are running the option, but that is still alarmingly low production.
No. 121 South Alabama at No. 106 North Texas
North Texas doesn’t do very much well, but the Mean Green are outstanding at not letting the opposition sack the quarterback. They’ve allowed five in nine games; only three teams (Air Force, Oklahoma State and Tennessee) have allowed fewer.
North Texas 17–10
No. 110 Central Michigan at No. 115 Eastern Michigan
Dan Enos is on thin ice in Mount Pleasant. He might be gone if the Chips lose to their rivals from Ypsilanti.
Central Michigan 34–33
No. 124 UMass at No. 114 Akron
These two MAC East teams are a combined 1–19, with the one win coming by Akron over Morgan State in Week 3. UMass has been outscored 136–7 in the last three games.
McNeese State at No. 116 UTSA
McNeese State opened the season with a win at Middle Tennessee, which is now 6–2 against FBS competition. This will be a tough test for Larry Coker’s club.
Last week: 42–11