Week 11 preview: Booking trips to championship weekend
By RALPH D. RUSSO
Nov. 10, 2017
Time to start filling those slots for championship weekend.
Depending on how this weekend goes the matchup for Southeastern Conference championship could be set, along with half the Big Ten, Atlantic Coast Conference and Pac-12 title game pairings.
Here's what needs to happen:
SEC — A victory by No. 1 Alabama against No. 18 Mississippi State, plus a loss by No. 10 Auburn to No. 2 Georgia, clinches the SEC West for the Tide. The Bulldogs have already clinched the East, practically lapping the field.
Big Ten — No. 6 Wisconsin can clinch the Big Ten West by beating No. 25 Iowa. The Big Ten East still has some sorting to do, but the winner of No. 13 Michigan State at No. 11 Ohio State is in command. The Spartans would especially be in great shape.
ACC — Clemson can wrap up a third straight trip to the title game as Atlantic Division champs by beating Florida State or if North Carolina State losses to Boston College. The Coastal leader No. 7 Miami has a nonconference game against No. 3 Notre Dame, but the Hurricanes can still the division if Virginia Tech (at Georgia Tech) and Virginia (at Louisville) lose.
Pac-12 — No. 15 Southern California can lock up the Pac-12 South with a victory at Colorado or losses by Arizona and Arizona State. No. 9 Washington can't clinch the North but a win over Stanford Friday night and a loss by Washington State at Utah would give the Huskies the opportunity to lock up that division before playing the Cougars in the Apple Cup.
Big 12 — No resolution in sight, but No. 8 TCU at No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 12 Oklahoma State at No. 24 Iowa State could provide a lot of clarity.
Aside from the division races, things to know about Week 11 of the college football season — another week with seven games matching ranked teams, including three top-10 matchups.
No. 3 Notre Dame at No. 7 Miami
The game is dripping with nostalgia and soaked in College Football Playoff implications. The last time the Fighting Irish and Hurricanes played when both were ranked in the top-10 was 1990.
Notre Dame comes in higher ranked, but it is the Fighting Irish (8-1) who probably have more to lose. Another lose could all but eliminate them from playoff contention. A loss would be crushing to unbeaten Miami's playoff hopes, but the Hurricanes could still win the ACC, finish 11-1 and likely be in the final four conversation.
Miami has the nation's longest winning streak at 13 games, and has not lost since falling to Notre Dame last season.
This is the weekend Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield can put the Heisman Trophy in a headlock or open the door for another contender. Mayfield left last weekend as the clear front-runner, with the help of some less-than-stellar performances by top candidates like Penn State's Saquon Barkley and Stanford's Bryce Love. So now it looks like the Heisman is Mayfield's to lose when he and the Sooners face TCU and the fifth-best defense in the country.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
2 — Ohio State has yet to lose two straight games in five-plus seasons under coach Urban Meyer.
50 — Love leads the country with 10 runs of at least 50 yards. Washington's defense has not allowed a run of 50 yards.
263 — Combined average yards rushing per game for Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi State and Auburn. The top four rushing teams in the SEC pair off Saturday.
378 — Yards passing allowed per game by UConn, worst in the nation. The Huskies face No. 14 UCF, the No. 1 scoring team in the country (48.5 points per game) and averaging 325.5 yards passing per game.
Tennessee at Missouri
The Tigers (4-5) have won three straight after a five-game losing streak and have a good chance to get to bowl eligibility with games at Vanderbilt and Arkansas after facing the struggling Volunteers. Missouri quarterback Drew Lock leads the nation in touchdown passes. Tennessee has only allowed seven TDs through the air, but a terrible run defense is at least part of the reason for that.
HOT SEAT WATCH
Arizona State at UCLA
Bruins coach Jim Mora could be in big trouble. UCLA (4-5) is coming off a blowout loss to Utah and in danger of missing the postseason for a second straight season. Arizona State (5-4) has already matched last season's win total under coach Todd Graham, but a strong finish is probably necessary to secure him another season.
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