College Football Viewing Guide: Week 11

Hope you’re free this weekend — there are big games galore this weekend in college football. And when I say “big games”, I mean that all six BCS conferences have a matchup that could alter the conference title picture.

It all begins tonight with #10 Oklahoma and #6 Baylor in the Big 12. It’s a battle of Top 10 teams, one with a potent offense (Baylor) and another with one of the nation’s best defenses (Oklahoma).

One would expect this one to highlight the night, but #2 Oregon and #5 Stanford also kick off tonight at 9pm EST. There are still a few games left to play, but the odds are that this one will decide the Pac-12 North, especially if the Ducks can pull it off on the road.

The day games on Saturday don’t involve many powerhouses, but with BCS berths at stake they’re still important. Nebraska and Michigan are current second and third in the Big Ten Legends, but a Michigan State slip-up could thrust them right back into the conference title conversation.

Virginia Tech and #11 Miami looked much bigger on paper, two weeks and two Tech losses ago. But nonetheless, the Hokies could lead the ACC Coastal with a win. Crazier things have happened.

The former Big East (now the American Athletic Conference) has lost its luster, but it still holds an automatic BCS bid this season. Battling for sole possession of first this weekend are the Houston Cougars and #21 UCF.

And even with most of the drama taking place elsewhere this season don’t forget about the SEC. Saturday night’s headliner is #13 LSU traveling to Tuscaloosa to face top-ranked Alabama.

Now let’s talk award for a second. We’re about a month away from crowning the 79th Heisman Trophy winner and the field is still pretty wide open. With that said, now is the perfect time to pay attention to the possible frontrunners — if they’re going to win it, they’ll do so in the coming weeks.

While the polls and projections vary, my two favorite sources for Heisman coverage (ESPN’s Heisman Watch and HeismanPundit.com’s Chris Huston) have all quarterbacks at the top at the moment. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston are 1-2. Obviously, Mariota has a massive game tonight in Palo Alto. Outside of the ACC Championship, Winston played his last ranked opponent last week in Miami (FL). Oregon on the other hand, still has a few tough tests after this week. After Winston’s struggles last week, if you had to choose a frontrunner right now, it would be Mariota.

A familiar face currently sits in third: last year’s winner, Johnny Manziel. Detractors will point to the team’s record, but overlook the fact that they lost two last season as well. With trips to LSU and Missouri still to come, the sophomore will come back into the spotlight at season’s end.

Two other names I think you should keep an eye out for are Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty and Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey. The reason that both are dark horses has to do with their remaining schedules.

Petty will get his first real taste of national exposure tonight against the Sooners. And even though running back Lache Seastrunk also plays a crucial role to their top-ranked offense, the lion’s share of praise will go the junior’s way if they keep winning. And if they can knock off #10 Oklahoma, #25 Texas Tech, and #14 Oklahoma State in the next three weeks, he’ll get plenty of it.

Fellow junior Carey has rushed for over 110 yards in each of his seven games. He’s performing well even in the Wildcats’ losses, which still keeps him in the hunt. Big games over #19 UCLA, #2 Oregon, and #22 Arizona State could really boost his campaign. Leading his team to victory could be even better.

If things get crazy, we could see even names like A.J. McCarron, Tajh Boyd, or even Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch creep back into the race, but the odds are pretty slim at this point.

I’ll keep you up to date on the Heisman race until the season ends.

#10 Oklahoma vs. #6 Baylor, 7:30pm (Fox Sports 1)

The Bears have come a long way in a short time under Art Briles. Tonight clash will be the biggest test since of his coaching career. Meanwhile, Fox Sports 1 could be looking at their highest network ratings tonight (at least until Oregon-Stanford starts).

#2 Oregon vs. #5 Stanford, 9pm (ESPN)

No disrespect to Alabama and LSU, but why ESPN chose to go all-access there this week instead boggles my mind. Nonetheless, it’s a monster game between two of the nation’s best over the past five years.

#11 Auburn vs. Tennessee, 12pm (ESPN)

Watch out for Auburn. The Tigers quietly sit just outside of the Top 10 and could end up winning the division over Alabama if they keep it up.

Penn State vs. Minnesota, 12pm (ESPN 2)

If a change of pace is what you’re looking for, this is your matchup. Otherwise, why aren’t you watching Auburn-Tennessee?

Nebraska vs. Michigan, 3:30pm (ABC)

Possible Big Ten Title implications  at stake here, especially with a Nebraska win. The Cornhuskers are likely still recovering from last week’s hail mary victory.

Virginia Tech vs. #11 Miami (FL), 7pm (ESPN)

Miami (FL) played better than I expected them to last week in Tallahassee. Virginia Tech is horrid on offense, but a great defensive performance could keep them in this one.

Houston vs. #21 UCF, 7pm (ESPN 2)

Quarterback John O’Korn and the Cougars are one minute away from being unbeaten. UCF quarterback Blake Bortles generated some buzz earlier in the season and his play hasn’t diminished any.

#13 LSU vs. #1 Alabama, 8pm (CBS)

Zach Mettenberger vs. A.J. McCarron will be a treat. LSU’s defense, on the other hand, may not be so lucky.

#20 UCLA vs. Arizona, 10pm (ESPN)

Again, keep an eye on Ka’Deem Carey and the Wildcats as they could pull off the upset at home.

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