College football Week 11 is marked with good games all over the TV schedule, and some big ones at night. Maybe it’s a good thing that Oklahoma-Baylor and Oregon-Stanford go down on Thursday night, because even without the week’s two biggest games, Saturday is still stocked. Here’s how the TV schedule breaks down…
Florida State-Wake Forest (Noon ET, ABC)
Auburn-Tennessee (Noon, ESPN)
Penn State-Minnesota (Noon ET, ESPN2)
Missouri-Kentucky (Noon, ESPNU)
Comments: While none of these four games have real “juice”, so to speak, all have implications in the race for conference championships and the BCS. Florida State needs to keep winning big. As of this writing on Thursday afternoon, Oregon is still undefeated and the Seminoles are going to need impress the pollsters if the Ducks don’t lose to Stanford tonight or someone else down the line.
Missouri has to keep winning to hold off South Carolina in the SEC East, and while Kentucky isn’t very good, the Wildcats have shown the ability to be competitive against other contending teams in Lexington. Mizzou will get quarterback James Franklin back from an injury this week.
Elsewhere in the SEC, Auburn still controls its fate to catch Alabama in the West, but the Tigers have no room for an error. Nor can they afford a loss if they want to get to 10-2 and a possible at-large bid to the BCS, while avoiding a must-win situation when they play the Crimson Tide.
Finally, Minnesota is coming on strong in the Big Ten Legends Division. They’ve already beaten Nebraska and have a dark horse chance to pass both Michigan and Michigan State and steal an unlikely division title. But a win over Penn State is an absolute must.
USC-Cal (3 PM ET, Fox)
Mississippi State-Texas A&M (3:30 PM ET, CBS)
Nebraska-Michigan (3:30 PM ET, ABC)
BYU-Wisconsin (3:30 PM ET, ESPN)
Comments: The Nebraska-Michigan game is basically an elimination battle in the Big Ten Legends race, and Cornhusker quarterback Taylor Martinez is expected to be out in what’s been an injury-riddled senior season. Nebraska kept its Big Ten hopes alive on the miracle desperation pass to beat Northwestern last week, but winning in Ann Arbor with a backup quarterback might taken even more favor from above.
Wisconsin needs to keep winning in their quest to get to 10-2 and be ranked high enough to get a BCS bowl bid. BYU is 6-2, and on a nice roll themselves, with wins over Georgia Tech, Houston and Boise State in that stretch. The Cougars are not ranked in the current BCS standings, but a win in Madison means we have to give them a serious look in the race for the major bowls.
Virginia Tech-Miami (7 PM ET, ESPN)
Houston-Central-Florida (7 PM ET, ESPN2)
Texas-West Virginia (7 PM ET, Fox)
LSU-Alabama (8 PM ET, CBS)
Notre Dame-Pitt (8 PM ET, ABC)
Comments: The games in the first two TV time slots have been good, but it would have been nice if this prime-time card could have spaced throughout the day, because there are three matchups that carry serious juice.
LSU-Alabama is the first of which. The Tigers had ‘Bama on the ropes last year before Les Miles went to a prevent defense and allowed an easy Tide drive for the game-winning touchdown. LSU has two losses, both in conference, so they aren’t going to win the SEC West, but a win here puts them in a serious contention for the league’s at-large spot in the BCS–likely a Sugar Bowl bid.
Miami might have taken it on the chin last week in Tallahassee, but if they take care of business against Virginia Tech, the Hurricanes can all but salt away in the ACC Coastal Division and move closer to another crack at Florida State in a neutral-site conference championship game. The Hokies have lost consecutive games to Duke and Boston College, but a win in Miami puts VT in control of the division.
Houston-Central Florida will determine the frontrunner for the American Athletic Conference title, a race in which Louisville and Cincinnati are still lurking in. TheSportsNotebook’s college football coverage took a look at this race for a conference title that still means automatic entry into the BCS.
Texas’ trip to West Virginia isn’ t on a par with these other games, but Morgantown is not an easy visit, and the Longhorns are looking to keep undefeated within Big 12 play and in position to play in the Fiesta Bowl.
Normally, the ABC team of Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit get the week’s premier game, but with CBS holding the SEC contract and Fox televising the Big 12, Brent and Herbie are stuck with the ND-Pitt game. It would have been nice to at least have them on duty for the VT-Miami game, but I’m sure Notre Dame’s fan base made the network’s decision relatively easy.
UCLA-Arizona (10 PM ET, ESPN)
Fresno State-Wyoming (10:15 PM ET, ESPN2)
Comment: Don’t turn in early, there are still two more games involving teams we might see in major bowls. TheSportsNotebook looked at the Pac-12 South race earlier this week, and the UCLA-Arizona game involves two contenders from that division. Fresno State is still on pace to qualify for a BCS game, but this trip to Wyoming will not be an easy one. The Fresno defense, never all that special at its best, is dealing with some injuries in the secondary and the Cowboys can move the ball. I’m picking quarterback Brett Smith to lead an upset as a 9.5 point home underdog.