Week 11 in the college football world features three massively important contests that will shape the landscape of the BCS picture for the rest of the season.
Better yet, two of them are on Thursday.
Many have gotten used to being able to watch good-but-not-great games during the work week. However, this Thursday's doubleheader is about to blow up that trend: No. 6 Baylor hosts No. 10 Oklahoma, and less than two hours later, No. 3 Oregon and No. 5 Stanford kick off from Palo Alto.
I guess Saturday won't be too shabby, either, as No. 1 Alabama and No. 13 LSU square off in what has turned into the most important rivalry of the past few years.
Yeah, that should make up for last week's lackluster slate of games.
|Top 25 Matchups for Week 11|
|Away Team||Home Team||Date||Pick|
|No. 13 LSU||No. 1 Alabama||Saturday, Nov. 9||Alabama|
|No. 2 Florida St.||Wake Forest||Saturday, Nov. 9||Florida St.|
|No. 3 Oregon||No. 5 Stanford||Thursday, Nov. 7||Oregon|
|No. 10 Oklahoma||No. 6 Baylor||Thursday, Nov. 7||Baylor|
|No. 8 Missouri||Kentucky||Saturday, Nov. 9||Missouri|
|No. 9 Auburn||Tennessee||Saturday, Nov. 9||Auburn|
|Virginia Tech||No. 11 Miami||Saturday, Nov. 9||Virginia Tech|
|Kansas||No. 14 Oklahoma St.||Saturday, Nov. 9||Oklahoma St.|
|Mississippi St.||No. 15 Texas A&M||Saturday, Nov. 9||Texas A&M|
|No. 16 Fresno St.||Wyoming||Saturday, Nov. 9||Fresno St.|
|No. 19 UCLA||Arizona||Saturday, Nov. 9||UCLA|
|No. 20 Louisville||Connecticut||Friday, Nov. 8||Louisville|
|Houston||No. 21 UCF||Saturday, Nov. 9||UCF|
|No. 22 Arizona St.||Utah||Saturday, Nov. 9||Arizona St.|
|No. 23 Notre Dame||Pittsburgh||Saturday, Nov. 9||Notre Dame|
|BYU||No. 24 Wisconsin||Saturday, Nov. 9||BYU|
|Kansas St.||No. 25 Texas Tech||Saturday, Nov. 9||Texas Tech|
No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 6 Baylor
When you can't figure out who should be a certain team's Heisman candidate, you know that team is impressive.
For Baylor, should it be quarterback Bryce Petty, who has completed 69.3 percent of his throws for 13.94 yards per attempt, 18 touchdowns and just one interception? Or should it be Lache Seastrunk, who has only 96 carries but has turned them into an absurd 869 yards (9.1 YPC) and 11 scores?
That's more rhetorical than anything else, by the way. Most will tell you Petty is the real Heisman candidate, but it still goes to show you how truly balanced this offense, which averages a silly 63.0 points per game, can be.
The Bears have yet to be tested, but a team with that offense along with a defense that gives up just 18.0 points per contest is impressive, nonetheless.
Oklahoma is very good, but it will difficult for Blake Bell, who is more of a running quarterback, to keep up with the Bears' potent attack, especially on the road.
Prediction: Bears win by a touchdown
No. 3 Oregon at No. 5 Stanford
Oregon's speed vs. Stanford's strength. Marcus Mariota and Oregon's dynamic attack vs. Shayne Skov and Stanford's physical defense. Oregon's underrated defense vs., well, Stanford's underrated offense.
The Cardinal got the better of the Ducks in Eugene last year, but repeating that task, even at home, will be difficult against what many see as an even better Oregon squad.
While I think this is going to be closer than people think, I just can't bet against Oregon's offense.
Mariota, the frontrunner for the Heisman, can obviously beat you in a variety of ways. But with De'Anthony Thomas less than 100 percent for the last month, Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner have shown they can bring a physical aspect to the running game.
With DAT—who can be the most electrifying player in America—back in the swing of things, Oregon simply has too many weapons. Stanford has the talent to hold tough against Oregon better than almost anyone else, but the Ducks, as they have done against Washington and UCLA, will pull away in the fourth after wearing down the Cardinal.
Prediction: Ducks win by 10 points
No. 13 LSU at No. 1 Alabama
Texas A&M showed earlier this season that it's possible to move the ball against Alabama. Moreover, the Tigers offense, under new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, is averaging 39.2 points per game.
So, the opportunity for an upset is certainly there.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, 'Bama, after a shaky (by its standards) start to the season, has looked transcendent over the past couple of weeks. AJ McCarron is playing well, the duo of T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake is nearly impossible to contain and the Tide haven't given up more than 10 points in a game since traveling to Kyle Field.
If this was in Baton Rouge, I would strongly consider taking LSU, as Zach Mettenberger, Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry have the talent to give Alabama's defense fits.
But LSU is 1-2 away from home this season, and this one is at Bryant-Denny Stadium. That will be the difference.
Prediction: Crimson Tide win by 13 points