10 One-on-One Matchups to Watch in Week 11
With plenty of interesting college football games on tap this weekend, Week 11 also boasts several talented matchups.
Some of the nation’s top passers and rushers will go toe-to-toe against some of the best defenses in the game. Two of these matchups are even set to take place on a Thursday night slate that includes not one, but two Top-10 matchups.
Regardless, college football fans have plenty to look forward to.
Here are 10 of those matchups to keep an eye on.
Baylor Passing Attack vs. Oklahoma Secondary
Week 11 Matchup: No. 10 Oklahoma (7-1) at No. 6 Baylor (7-0), Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1
The Bears boast one of the nation’s most prolific passing attacks.
Through seven games, the team ranks No. 1 in scoring (63.9 PPG), No. 1 in total offense (717.3 YPG) and No. 1 in passing (417.3 YPG). Furthermore, Baylor has scored 59 or more points in all but one game this season.
Quarterback Bryce Petty (69.3 CMP%, 2,453 YDs, 18 TDs, 1 INTs, 219.0 RAT) has been a large reason why.
However, the Sooners secondary will be no joke.
Thus far, the unit ranks No. 10 against the pass (179.5 YPG). Oklahoma also has only allowed eight scores through the air while limiting opposing quarterbacks to just 5.7 yards per attempt.
Not to mention, the team has only allowed two opponents to score more than 21 points.
On the national stage, it will be interesting to see which unit comes out on top.
Oregon Rushing Attack vs. Stanford Run Defense
Week 11 Matchup: No. 3 Oregon (8-0) at No. 5 Stanford (7-1), Nov. 7, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
A lot of the Ducks success this year can be credited to the team’s high-powered rushing attack.
On the season, the team ranks No. 2, averaging a little over 331 yards per game on the ground. Furthermore, Oregon has scored an FBS-high 38 rushing touchdowns.
While running back De’Anthony Thomas (52 CAR, 369 YDs, 7 TDs) and quarterback Marcus Mariota (56 CAR, 511 YDs, 9 TDs) were expected to contribute, the play of sophomore back Byron Marshall has been the surprise (130 CAR, 879 YDs, 12 TDs).
However, that success could hit a brick wall against the stout run defense of the Cardinal.
Through eight games, the unit ranks No. 11 against the run (103.9 YPG). Furthermore, Stanford has allowed only five scores on the ground and conceded just 3.31 yards per carry.
Did we mention that the game would be played at Stanford Stadium?
It’ll certainly be a battle out there on Thursday.
RB Bill Belton (Penn State) vs. DL Theiren Cockran (Minnesota)
Week 11 Matchup: Penn State (5-3) at Minnesota (7-2), Nov. 9, 12 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Nittany Lions running back Bill Belton was the story of the week at State College.
The junior rushed for 201 yards and a touchdown on 36 carries to lead Penn State to a 24-17, overtime victory over Illinois last weekend. Not only did he become the first running back in school history to top 200 yards since Larry Johnson in 2002, but Belton also established himself as the team’s go-to-guy on the ground.
Through eight games, he’s rushed for 668 yards and four scores on 128 carries.
But Golden Gophers defensive lineman Theiren Cockran will do his best to make things tough for Belton.
Thus far, the sophomore has recorded 26 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and forced three fumbles. He has made his presence felt in the trenches and has done his part to slow down opposing running backs.
Entering Week 11, Minnesota ranks No. 39 against the run (142.2 YPG).
Who will stand tall when the dust clears on Saturday?
QB Devin Gardner (Michigan) vs. CB Ciante Evans (Nebraska)
Week 11 Matchup: Nebraska (6-2) at Michigan (6-2), Nov. 9, 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
After putting up record-breaking numbers against Indiana, Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner was completely shut down against Michigan State last weekend.
The junior threw for just 210 yards and an interception on 14-of-27 passing while rushing for minus-46 yards on 18 carries. That’s a far cry from the 584 total yards and five touchdowns he accounted for on Oct. 19.
This weekend, cornerback Ciante Evans will try and make sure Gardner’s slump continues.
Through eight games, the senior has recorded 27 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, three interceptions—one for a touchdown—and forced a fumble. He’s helped the Cornhuskers rank No. 39 against the pass (217.3 YPG).
Can Gardner help Michigan regain some respect or will the team continue its slide?
RB Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin) vs. LB Kyle Van Noy (BYU)
Week 11 Matchup: BYU (6-2) at No. 24 Wisconsin (6-2), Nov. 9, 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Running back Melvin Gordon has been one of the best backs in the country in 2013.
Through eight games, the sophomore has racked up 1,074 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. Furthermore, he has rushed for at least 140 yards and a score in all but two games.
However, the two contests in which he failed to reach those marks came against a pair of tough run defenses in Ohio State and Iowa.
Thanks to linebacker Kyle Van Noy, the Cougars are no different.
Thus far, the senior has racked up 45 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks and an interception return for a touchdown. But his biggest asset is his contributions to a run defense that has allowed just four touchdowns all season.
Furthermore, BYU only limits opposing running backs to just 3.69 yards per carry.
Will Gordon hit another wall against a tough run defense?
QB John O'Korn (Houston) vs. LB Terrance Plummer (UCF)
Week 11 Matchup: Houston (7-1) at No. 21 UCF (6-1), Nov. 9, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Behind quarterback John O’Korn, the Cougars have put together one of the nation’s most underrated offenses.
Through eight games, the freshman has thrown for 2,121 yards, 22 touchdowns and four interceptions on 65.2 percent passing. That includes tossing at least three scores through the air in six of those contests.
Against the Knights, that success will surely be tested.
Linebacker Terrance Plummer will strive to make O’Korn’s night a mess. The senior leads the team with 60 tackles while also recording 7.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, two interceptions and two fumbles forced.
He has been a valuable asset to a UCF defense that has allowed just five passing touchdowns all year.
It will certainly be an interesting matchup on Saturday.
QB Brett Hundley (UCLA) vs. S Tra'Mayne Bondurant (Arizona)
Week 11 Matchup: No. 19 UCLA (6-2) at Arizona (6-2), Nov. 9, 10 p.m. ET on ESPN
After putting up two stinkers against Stanford and Oregon, Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley seems to be back on track.
The sophomore threw for 273 yards and two touchdowns on 19-of-24 passing while adding another 72 yards and two scores on the ground during the team’s 45-23 victory over Colorado last weekend. That’s more like the performances we’re used to seeing from Hundley this season.
Safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant and the Wildcats secondary may have something to say about that.
In seven games, the junior has recorded 36 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack and intercepted three passes. He’s taken two of those back to the house.
Bondurant’s play has been a spark plug for an Arizona defense that ranks No. 29 against the pass (212.3 YPG). The unit has allowed just 12 scores through the air while registering 12 interceptions.
Hundley could be in for another tough night if he’s not careful.
QB Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) vs. Mississippi State Secondary
Week 11 Matchup: Mississippi State (4-4) at No. 15 Texas A&M (7-2), Nov. 9, 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS
Quarterback Johnny Manziel has settled into a late-season rhythm.
The sophomore has now accounted for 15 touchdowns over the last three games. He’s thrown for 1,032 yards and ran for another 126 in that span.
It just adds to Manziel’s ridiculous output of 3,431 total yards and 34 touchdowns.
The Bulldogs pass defense might pose a problem this weekend.
Through eight games, the unit ranks No. 22 against the pass (204.4 YPG). Furthermore, Mississippi State has conceded just 12 scores through the air.
While Manziel has proven no defense can slow him down, it certainly will be tougher than expected against the Bulldogs.
QB Stephen Morris vs. DB Kendall Fuller and DB Brandon Facyson (Virginia Tech)
Week 11 Matchup: Virginia Tech (6-3) at No. 11 Miami (7-1), Nov. 9, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN
If getting embarrassed by Florida State, 41-14, last weekend wasn’t bad enough, the Hurricanes also lost leading rusher Duke Johnson for the remainder of the year, via ESPN’s Andrea Adelson.
That puts even more pressure on quarterback Stephen Morris to salvage the season.
The senior has had a rough-and-tumble year filled with various ups and downs. He’s thrown for over 300 yards and multiple touchdowns in some games while tossing multiple interceptions in others.
Through eight games, Morris has thrown for 1,655 yards, 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on 59.5 percent passing.
Things will get a lot tougher against a Hokies secondary led by the play of freshmen defensive backs Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson.
Together, the pair has helped the unit rank No. 1 against the pass (150.6 YPG). Virginia Tech has limited opponents to just seven scores through the air and a quarterback rating of 90.7 while forcing 17 interceptions.
Fuller has recorded five picks, 37 tackles and six pass deflections. On the other hand, Facyson has intercepted five passes, recorded 17 tackles and forced one fumble.
It’s going to be tough for Morris on Saturday.
RB Jeremy Hill (LSU) vs. Alabama Run Defense
Week 11 Matchup: No. 13 LSU (7-2) at No. 1 Alabama (8-0), Nov. 9, 8 p.m. ET on CBS
Running back Jeremy Hill has been outstanding for the Tigers this season.
Through eight games, the sophomore has rushed for 922 yards and 12 touchdowns on 128 carries. That includes topping the century mark in five of those contests.
Hill might be the key to trying to crack a Crimson Tide run defense that has been nearly impenetrable.
Thus far, the unit ranks No. 7 against the run (101.9 YPG). Furthermore, Alabama has allowed an FBS-low three scores on the ground while conceding just 2.78 yards per carry.
In fact, the team hasn’t allowed an opposing running back to rush for 80 yards or more since Week 1.
Can Hill break through on Saturday?