College Football Viewing Primer: Weeks Eleven Through Fifteen
By Tony Gerdeman
Jim Tressel used to say that November was for contenders, and this final stretch of games is where the contenders will distance themselves from the pretenders. Division and conference races will begin to close, and each game will begin to carry more weight than the last. It's just the most beautiful thing ever.
Week Eleven (Nov. 9)
National Game of the Week – Oregon at Stanford, Thursday 9:00 pm (ESPN)
This could be the most important Thursday night game in the history of the universe. I just hope I can stay awake for the whole thing.
Underrated Game of the Week – UCLA at Arizona
The Pac 12 is going to become the new Big XII with all of these offenses. Provided Rich Rodriguez has a QB to run his team, this could be a fun one.
Overrated Game of the Week – LSU at Alabama
I'm not saying this is going to be a bad game, but the hype for it will be too much. Plus, a loss meant nothing for Alabama in 2011, so how meaningful can this game really be?
Big Ten Game of the Week – Nebraska at Michigan
Greg Mattison's defense has done well against Taylor Martinez and the Nebraska offense in the past. Neither team will be able to afford this loss.
Other Games of Note – Oklahoma at Baylor (ESPN), Louisville at Connecticut (ESPN2), Arkansas at Ole Miss, Notre Dame at Pittsburgh, Mississippi State at Texas A&M, BYU at Wisconsin, Texas at West Virginia, Virginia Tech at Miami (FL), Auburn at Tennessee, Kansas State at Texas Tech
Oklahoma at Baylor will score all of the points. Louisville may get some type of battle from Connecticut, provided rolling over during a pummeling is considered "battling". Arkansas at Ole Miss...what else can you say about the Nutt Bowl? Texas at West Virginia will be interesting, but watching the Texas fans mill about in Morgantown will be even more interesting. The Hokies and the Hurricanes always provide some interest, at least initially. Auburn and Tennessee will be battling for a bowl spot. Kansas State at Texas Tech will be a complete clash of styles, including polar opposites at head coach.
Week Twelve (Nov. 16)
National Game of the Week – Florida at South Carolina
There's a pretty good chance that this is going to be for the SEC East title. Unless, of course, Kentucky poisons everybody at a dinner party.
Underrated Game of the Week – Michigan at Northwestern
There have been some classic games in this rivalry over the last 20 years, and when I say "classic games", I mean absolutely painful Michigan losses.
Overrated Game of the Week – Stanford at USC
I'm calling this game overrated because I assume that USC will have quit by this point in the season. Plus, with the mid-week firing of Lane Kiffin, it's just gonna be a bad scene.
Big Ten Game of the Week – Michigan State at Nebraska
This could be for the Legends Division. Or it could be for third and fourth. Either way, you know Sparty will make it fun somehow, even if inadvertently.
Other Games of Note – Georgia Tech at Clemson (ESPN), Washington at UCLA (ESPN2), Georgia at Auburn, Texas Tech vs Baylor, Oklahoma State at Texas, Indiana at Wisconsin, Alabama at Mississippi State, TCU at Kansas State
Georgia Tech at Clemson will be fun to watch because the Tigers haven't shown an ability to stop the GT running game. The last four years, the Yellow Jackets have rushed for 339, 383, 242 and 333 yards against the Clemson defense. Georgia at Auburn is a nice little rivalry and Malzahn's offense should be much better than it was in September. Texas Tech and Baylor are playing at Jerry World, and they may just leave the defenses at home. Texas needs this win against Oklahoma State to prove last year's win wasn't a fluke. TCU at Kansas State might be the most interesting boring game of the year.
Week Thirteen (Nov. 23)
National Game of the Week – Texas A&M at LSU
Whomever has stepped in for Johnny Manziel should be pretty up to speed on the offense by this point. Of course, since that guy will have been ruled ineligible the week before for autographs, it won't matter.
Underrated Game of the Week – Oregon at Arizona
Last year, Arizona and Oregon played in the most competitive 49-0 blowout that I have ever seen. The Wildcats moved the ball on Oregon up and down the field, but just couldn't convert. I doubt Arizona has forgotten.
Overrated Game of the Week – BYU at Notre Dame (NBC)
I mean, really.
Big Ten Game of the Week – Michigan State at Northwestern
If you want a sleeper pick for the "Legends Division Championship Game", this would be mine.
Other Games of Note – Kent State at Ohio (ESPN2), Northern Illinois at Toledo (ESPN2), California at Stanford, Arizona State at UCLA, Indiana at Ohio State, Baylor at Oklahoma State, Nebraska at Penn State, Michigan at Iowa, Oklahoma at Kansas State, Boise State at San Diego State (CBSSN)
The week will start on Tuesday with Dri Archer versus Beau Blankenship, so things could be worse. And Northern Illinois and Toledo go the following night. Cal at Stanford is always fun because that's what the television is always saying. Penn State won't be playing for a bowl game, but playing for pride should continue to suffice. If Iowa wants to save their coach, a win over the Wolverines just might do it, unfortunately. Arizona State and UCLA could be playing for the Pac 12 South. Ohio State owes Indiana some measure of revenge for the scare last year. Boise State at San Diego State is a great way to cap the weekend.
Week Fourteen (Nov. 30)
National Game of the Week – Clemson at South Carolina
This is the national game of the week provided the 72 things that have to happen correctly happen.
Underrated Game of the Week – Alabama at Auburn
There's one way to announce that a rivalry is back, and that's a home win against an overpowering enemy. Gus Malzahn's statue would be up by Sunday morning.
Overrated Game of the Week – Florida State at Florida
Sure, there's a chance that this could be a matchup of two undefeated rivals. It could also be a matchup of two 7-4 teams. You tell me which one is more likely.
Big Ten Game of the Week – Ohio State at Michigan
This is the most important game in Brady Hoke's career. And yes, this includes that time when Ball State played Northern Illinois.
Other Games of Note – Texas Tech at Texas (FS1), Ole Miss at Mississippi State (ESPN), Miami (FL) at Pittsburgh, Iowa at Nebraska (ABC), Arkansas at LSU (CBS), Washington State at Washington (FOX), Oregon State at Oregon (FS1), Arizona at Arizona State, Notre Dame at Stanford, UCLA at USC, Georgia at Georgia Tech, Purdue at Indiana, Texas A&M at Missouri, Virginia Tech at Virginia, Penn State at Wisconsin, Baylor at TCU
We all have to watch the Texas Tech at Texas game if for no other reason than to support Fox Sports 1. The Egg Bowl isn't usually entertaining, but everything looks interesting when you're looking at it on August 9th. If I could have one wish, it would be to see the Hurricanes head to Pitt and have to play in some freak late November snow storm. Oregon State at Oregon would be more interesting in Corvallis, but this will do. If UCLA wins at USC, is that the end of Lane Kiffin? Georgia Tech has been able to run on Georgia, but hasn't been able to beat them since 2008. Purdue at Indiana could be for a bowl game. But probably not.
Week Fifteen (Dec. 7)
National Game of the Week – SEC Championship (CBS)
Granted, I never thought I would have seen Kentucky against Mississippi State become the national game of the week, but here we are.
Underrated Game of the Week – Pac 12 Championship (ABC/ESPN)
I'm not putting the ACC Championship Game here. Plus, there could be big-time BCS implications in this game.
Overrated Game of the Week – MAC Championship (ESPN2)
Sure, sometimes it's a fun game, but it means almost nothing. It gets more buzz than it deserves. Like a CBS sitcom.
Big Ten Game of the Week – Big Ten Championship (FOX)
Let's all hope that this game features two fanbases who are actually interested in watching their teams play, as opposed to what happened last year.
Other Games of Note – Louisville at Cincinnati (ESPN), Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, Texas at Baylor, ACC Championship (ABC/ESPN), CUSA Championship (ESPN)
Louisville and Cincinnati could be playing for a de facto championship in whatever conference they're still in. Oklahoma State has beaten Oklahoma just once in their last 10 meetings. The Pokes are 1-3 against the Sooners when scoring 40 or more points in those 10 games. The ACC Championship Game could be interesting provided FX isn't airing 'Iron Man' for the 700th time. The CUSA Championship Game is usually a nice snack before some type of main dish. Texas at Baylor could be Art Briles' last game in the Big XII before Iowa hires him away to be their new head coach. (Hey, we can dream, right?)
Weeks one through five.
Weeks six through 10.
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