After an exciting Week 10 that gave us several high profile matchups, Week 11 will do the same by matching that total. Another seven games between ranked opponents are on the slate and only two weeks will remain of the regular season after Saturday. We'll be looking at the throwback battle between Notre Dame and Miami, who both are looking for a return to prominence in college football. Next, we'll look at the battle for sole possession of first place in the Big 12 between Oklahoma and TCU. Lastly, we'll look at the SEC East vs. West matchup between No. 1 Georgia and No. 10 Auburn at Jordan Hare Stadium.
No. 3 Notre Dame at No. 7 Miami, 8 p.m. (ABC); ND -3.0
Question: Is the U really back?
The throwback matchup of the late 1980s/early 1990s give us an important story line when Notre Dame visits Miami Saturday night. The Hurricanes have a second straight critical home game after dispatching then No. 13 ranked Virginia Tech 28-10 last weekend. Notre Dame is No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings for the second straight week. After a tight second half with Wake Forest last week and a couple of precautionary holdouts of quarterback Brandon Wimbush and running back Josh Adams, Notre Dame has a big test in the Hurricanes to prove they are for real.
The Miami Hurricanes have the chance to dramatically strengthen their playoff ranking with a win Saturday night. Quarterback Malik Rosier bounced back from a few turnovers against the Hokies and finished with two passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in their win. Manny Diaz's defense came to play in that one, holding Virginia Tech to just 102 yards and forcing four turnovers. Big plays were once again on display from the offense with running back Travis Homer's 64-yard touchdown run that helped break the game open and then again with Christopher Herndon's 43-yard touchdown reception. The Miami offense will be facing it's toughest opponent in Notre Dame's strong defensive front.
The Fighting Irish have won seven straight since their one-point loss to Georgia in Week 2. Last week's win over Wake Forest saw the offense compile 710 total yards. The stout run game is Notre Dame's biggest weapon and they've proven that week in and week out. The Irish running attack ranks 5th nationally with 325 yards per game. Heisman candidate Josh Adams has put together a great campaign with 132.3 yards per game, good enough for 9th in the country. He'll be relied on for some key drives in the 4th quarter if Notre Dame has a chance to put this one away. Just like Virginia Tech last week, the Irish defense is going to have it's hands full with the speedy skill players from Miami while trying to avoid the big play.
In their first matchup as top 10 ranked teams since 1989, this one is going to have a lot of eyes on it, old and young. Miami's defense is going to have it show up and slow down Notre Dame's powerful offense. If the offense can keep the momentum going from last week and limit their mistakes in the 1st half, they might have a chance in this one. Notre Dame is favored and will likely come out swinging. Miami can't afford to fall too far behind. I'm having that funny feeling again. I can't ignore the gut so Miami in a close one 28-24. The U is back.
No. 6 TCU at No. 5 Oklahoma, 8 p.m. (FOX); OU -6.5
Prediction: The Sooners’ offense keeps rolling
The Battle for the Big 12 continues in Norman Saturday when Heisman front-runner Baker Mayfield tries to follow up his 598-yard and five touchdown Bedlam performance against TCU. The Horned Frogs bounced back from their first loss of the season to Iowa State with a win versus Texas and still have the chance to win the Big 12, as the two teams are tied for 1st going into this matchup. TCU quarterback Kenny Hill will have to show up in a big way if the Sooner offense explodes again as they did in last weeks' 62-52 in-state rivalry win.
Oklahoma's offense is firing on all cylinders with Mayfield leading the charge. His favorite target against the Cowboys was wide receiver Marquise Brown, who finished the day with 265 yards and two touchdowns. Rodney Anderson and Trey Sermon paced the rushing attack; Anderson finished with 111 yards and a touchdown while Sermon gained 81 yards and added a touchdown. The defense wasn't stopping much last week, but the 62 points from the offense made that a moot point. They'll look to improve on that end this week as the defense is going to have to make a stop in a big game whether it's this Saturday or somewhere down the road.
TCU's rushing defense ranks 1st nationally, allowing less than 70 yards per game. The Sooners have run for 200 or more yards in two of the last three games but the Horned Frogs have been stout the past four games especially. They've allowed a meager 6.8 points per game and 188 yards per game. TCU bounced back from their loss to the Cyclones with a 24-7 win over Texas last weekend. Running back Kyle Hicks had two touchdowns and both he and Hill are going to need to come up with big days to keep this one competitive. Coach Gary Patterson is one of the best in the game so I know this will be close for 3+ quarters.
Oklahoma showed it's here to play and wants a spot in the College Football Playoff. They'll get a chance to further cement that opportunity if they can defeat the Horned Frogs Saturday night. I expect a back and forth 1st half before the pace slows in the second. I think the number of weapons is too great and Oklahoma takes the win and 1st place in the Big 12. Oklahoma 38-28.
No. 1 Georgia at No. 10 Auburn, 3:30 p.m. (CBS); UGA -2.5
Question: Can Auburn find a way to pull the upset?
A big SEC showdown isn't an uncommon scene in November, and the Auburn Tigers can keep their slim SEC West dreams alive with a win over the visiting No. 1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs. Coach Kirby Smart's team has already locked up the SEC East, and a win over the Tigers will lock up the West for Alabama. Tigers' Coach Gus Malzahn knows the importance of this one and should have his team ready. Georgia has run the table thanks to true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm and the two-headed monster backfield of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.
Auburn's offensive strength rests in quarterback Jarrett Stidham and running back Kerryon Johnson. Since their loss at LSU on October 18th, the Tigers have outscored their last two opponents 94-47. Stidham and Johnson account for a combined 369.4 yards of offense per game and will be integral parts of an upset if the Tigers pull this one out. The defense will need to keep the Bulldogs’ rushing attack in check and try to make Fromm's arm beat them.
Georgia's defense has been showing up all season long and will once again be called upon against an Auburn offense that's clicking. The defense is only allowing 11.7 points per game, and if they can keep the Tigers around that number the probability is quite high that Georgia wins. Last weekend in the 24-10 win over South Carolina, Fromm got a chance to show off his arm that's been quiet at certain points this season. The true freshman finished 16-of-22 for 196 yards and two touchdowns and will look to build on that performance this weekend to keep Georgia's undefeated season in tact.
Georgia has done nothing but win this season. With a very strong defense and an offense that can run the ball down your throat, and now throw on you when you pack the box, I'm having a hard time picking against the Bulldogs. Stidham and company have had a solid two performances since the loss to LSU, but Georgia is a whole different monster. Auburn is going to keep it competitive for a half but the Bulldogs will pull away in the second half. Georgia 31-21.
Enjoy Week 11 everyone!
Other Saturday games of note:
No. 12 Ohio State at No. 13 Michigan State, Noon (FOX); OSU -15.5
No. 15 Oklahoma State at No. 21 Iowa State, Noon (ABC/ESPN2); OKST -6.5
No. 20 Iowa at No. 8 Wisconsin, 3:30 p.m. (ABC); WISC -12.5