Once again, another hyped matchup in the ACC proved to be a bit of a dud as one team has clearly risen above the rest of the conference. Unlike previous weeks, things were pretty calm in the top 25, but that was just the lull before the storm hits.
Week 11 has a bevy of huge matchups with conference and national title implications. The de facto Pac-12 title game, as well as a huge Big 12 matchup, occur tonight while a clash of SEC titans takes place on Saturday night. It is quite possible that after Saturday, the national title race could look drastically different.
The Calm Before the Storm: Week 10 in Review
Week 10 was pretty ho-hum, at least as far as upsets were concerned. The top contenders either had byes or rolled their opposition with ease. According to rankings, there were only two “upsets” this week, but neither was really much of a surprise.
Michigan State handled Michigan 29-6 behind the strength of its suffocating defense. The Spartans, ranked one spot below their archrivals, sacked Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner seven times and held the Wolverines to -48 rushing yards.
The other higher-ranked team to lose was Texas Tech. Ranked #15, the Red Raiders fell to #18 Oklahoma State 52-34. The Cowboys were a preseason pick to win the Big 12 while Texas Tech was unranked and an unknown. Oklahoma State used a 21-point third quarter to pull ahead after Tech rallied from a 21-3 deficit after the opening the quarter to pull within 28-24 at the half.
In the week’s marquee matchup, Florida State ran away from Miami en route to a 41-14 win. The Hurricanes were game for awhile, going into halftime down just 21-14, but the Seminoles proved to be too much in the second half. Florida State racked up 517 yards while holding Miami to just 275, and Florida State improved to 3-0 against top 25 opponents in 2013. The Seminoles have defeated their ranked foes by a combined score of 155-28 and are looking as dangerous as any team in the country.
Looking Ahead to Week 11
Wow, talk about a great way to kick off a new month. This week is loaded and doesn’t waste any time in getting to the good stuff.
Tonight features not one, but two marquee matchups with huge implications. The undercard, if you could call it that, pits #10 Oklahoma against undefeated and #6 Baylor in Waco. Despite posting gaudy numbers and annihilating the opposition, Baylor has flown under the radar. All the attention has been focused on Alabama, Florida State, Oregon, and Ohio State, but nobody is talking about the Bears despite their prolific offense that averages a mind-boggling 63.9 points and 718.4 yards a game. If Baylor beats Oklahoma, then people will start taking notice. The Sooners are 10th in the country in total defense, yielding just over 300 yards a game.
What could possibly top that matchup? Well how about the 8-0, third-ranked Oregon Ducks seeking to avenge their lone loss from a year ago–and one that knocked them out of the national championship game–against #5 Stanford in a matchup of Pac-12 titans. Led by Heisman hopeful Marcus Mariota (2,281 yards and 20 touchdowns passing, 587 yards and 9 touchdowns rushing), Oregon is once again ripping defenses to shreds with it’s high-powered, up-tempo attack. The one team that has given him pause has been Stanford. The Cardinal’s rugged defense handled the Ducks in last year’s 17-14 victory, and after holding UCLA’s and Oregon State’s potent offenses to a combined 22 points the past two weeks, the unit looks capable of slowing the Ducks yet again.
Saturday offers one more titanic matchup along with some other intriguing games. For those of you who like smashmouth, physical football, be sure to tune in and catch a pair of 6-2 teams that like to run the ball in Wisconsin and BYU. After losing badly to in-state rival Florida State, Miami looks to rebound against fellow ACC power Virginia Tech. The sleeper game on the schedule could be Houston and Central Florida. Both teams have only one loss and are led by prolific passers in John O’Korn and Blake Bortles, respectively.
Once the sun goes down, however, the eyes of the nation will turn their attention to the south, where top-ranked Alabama hosts LSU. Most experts view this game as the biggest remaining threat to Alabama returning to the BCS championship game. This is the fourth-straight meeting with both teams ranked in the top ten, and the past three regular season games have been decided by less than four points, with LSU winning two of them. Last year’s contest saw Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon score on a 28-yard screen pass with under a minute left to give Alabama the lead in a 21-17 victory. Both programs are known for tenacious defenses, but this year’s editions are keyed by standout senior quarterbacks: Alabama’s A.J. McCarron and LSU’s Zach Mettenberger.