What To Watch Week 11 in College Football

Bryan FlynnAnalyst INovember 14, 2009

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 13:  Defensive members of Notre Dame including end Victor Abiamiri #95, cornerback Dwight Ellick #24, safety Tom Zbikowski #9 and linebacker Derek Curry #49 stop tailback Raymond Kirkley #43 of Pittsburgh on November 13, 2004 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The 2009 college football season is nearing the end of the regular season. Every team is playing for one of four things: chance at a BCS title, bowl position, bowl eligibility, or spoiler.

The six undefeated teams are playing for either a national title or a spot in a BCS game. Teams that have qualified for a bowl or playing for better bowl position.

If a team has not reached the necessary six wins (seven wins if two wins are against FCS teams) to reach the postseason or playing for their bowl lives.  Teams that cannot qualify for a bowl now get to play spoilers and end championship dreams and bowl hopes.

Earlier in the week Ohio kept its Mid-American Conference East division title hopes alive with a win over Buffalo. The Bobcats' win ended the Bulls' postseason hopes.

The MAC was on display again as Central Michigan kept its lead in the West division by beating Toledo. The loss by the Rockets to the Chippewas puts them in must-win mode in their last two games to become bowl eligible.

Week 11 in college football is off to an exciting start and will only get better. Here are the games to watch and keep an eye on this week in college football.


Thursday Night


Ball State Cardinals vs. Northern Illinois Huskies

The Cardinals will not make the postseason after their loss to Ohio last week. Ball State can play conference spoiler the next two weeks in the MAC.

Northern Illinois has to keep winning to setup a one game playoff against Central Michigan for the division title the last game of the season. A loss by the Huskies will put them in a two-game hole in the division with two to play.

Who needs the win more: Northern Illinois

The Huskies have a chance to play in the MAC title game. A loss in the next two weeks ends any chance of making the title game without help. Northern Illinois cannot start looking ahead to Central Michigan.


South Florida Bulls vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

The Bulls ended a two-game losing streak last week against West Virginia. A win this week would make South Florida bowl eligible. B.J. Daniels has kept this team competitive after the injury to Matt Grothe.

Rutgers is on a two-game winning streak and can also become eligible for the postseason with a win. The Scarlet Knights have had two weeks to prepare for this game. After the departures from last season’s team, a bowl appearance would show what a great job Greg Schiano has done.

Who needs the win more: Both

A win would give both teams the wins needed to make the postseason. Rutgers still has Louisville and Syracuse on their schedule to reach enough wins for a bowl bid. The Scarlet Knights also face a very good West Virginia team in the final game of the season.

South Florida has Louisville left but tough games against Miami (FL) and Connecticut as well. This game could be the deciding factor on where these teams go in the Big East bowl pecking order.



Friday Night


West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

This game is big for both of these teams. There will be a lot on the line when the Mountaineers meet the Bearcats in this Friday matchup.

West Virginia can play national spoiler and keep their Big East conference title hopes alive with a win. Noel Divine gets a chance to make his case for the Heisman in a wide-open race in front of a national television audience.

Cincinnati is not only playing for a conference title but with some help a national title. This team has not missed a step on the offensive side of the ball with Zack Collaros stepping in for an injured Tony Pike.

Who needs the win more: Cincinnati

The Bearcats are entering their toughest stretch of games on their schedule. They cannot afford a slip if they hope for a chance to play for a BCS title.

Cincinnati will have plenty of distractions heading into this game. Head coach Brian Kelly could have Notre Dame courting him before this game and the rest of the season.

The Bearcats also have two big games after this Friday night game. They play a resurgent Illinois and then a big matchup against Pittsburgh to close the season. Cincinnati has a lot on its plate and could be set up for a big fall.


Temple Owls vs. Akron Zips

The Zips broke a six-game losing streak last week with a win over Kent State. Akron cannot make the postseason but can play spoiler.

Temple has been a nice surprise this season in college football. Al Golden has done a great job and should be a candidate for the coach of the year award.

Who needs the win more: Temple

The Owls are in first place in the West division of the MAC. Temple is a game ahead of Ohio, who they play in the final game of the year. A loss would not end the Owls' division title hopes but it would not help them either.




Texas Longhorns vs. Baylor Bears

The Longhorns started out slowly against UCF but woke up and took care of business against the Knights. Texas is right where it wants to be at this point in the season. They only have to win out to play in the BCS title game.

The Bears ended a four game losing streak with a win on the road against Missouri last week. Baylor has struggled since Robert Griffin went down with a season-ending injury. A loss in this game means the Bears must win out to become bowl eligible.

Who needs the win more: Texas

If Texas takes care of business this year in their final three games the biggest thing they have to worry about is if Colt McCoy will win the Heisman. This team should only have one game left that could put a scare in them.

The final game of the season against their in-state rival Texas A&M could end the Longhorns' title hopes. The only reason being that it is a rivalry game. If you throw out the records, the Aggies are not a bad team.


Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Duke Blue Devils

The Yellow Jackets needed overtime to get past Wake Forest last week. Josh Nesbit and Jonathan Dwyer took over and led Georgia Tech to the win. This team still has an outside chance at a national championship with some help.

The Blue Devils had a three-game ACC losing streak broken last week in a loss to North Carolina. A win by Duke puts the Coastal division in their hands. If they win they will also become bowl eligible.

Who needs the win more: Georgia Tech

A win by Georgia Tech in this game will clinch the ACC Coastal division. The Yellow Jackets controlled their destiny since they beat Virginia Tech and Miami lost to Clemson.

A loss in this game opens the door for either Duke or Miami to win the division title. Georgia Tech would also lose any chance of making the BCS title game with a loss in this game.


Michigan Wolverines vs. Wisconsin Badgers

After a 4-0 start, the Wolverines are 1-5 in their last six games. Michigan needs to win one of its last two games to become eligible for the postseason. The pressure in Ann Arbor has increased with each loss for Rich Rodriguez.

Wisconsin is already eligible for the postseason and cannot win the Big Ten title. Still, the Badgers would love to beat their conference rival and help end their bowl hopes.

Who needs the win more: Michigan  

The Wolverines' last game of the season is against their arch rival Ohio State. If Michigan hopes to get bowl eligible they do not need to wait until that final game. The Buckeyes would love nothing more than to ruin any bowl chance the Wolverines have. Michigan has to get it done this week if they want a bowl bid.


Tennessee Volunteers vs. Mississippi (Ole Miss) Rebels

The Volunteers are on a two-game winning streak heading into this game. Lane Kiffin and Tennessee have to deal with a distraction going into this game after three players were arrested for attempted armed robbery.

Mississippi bounced back from an Auburn loss with a win last week over Northern Arizona. The Rebels defense, which has been the strength of this team, will be without Greg Hardy.

Who needs the win more: Both

The winner of this game reaches the required wins to become bowl eligible. A win for Tennessee will take some of the focus off the players who were arrested.

This season has been a disappointment for Ole Miss. The best the Rebels can hope for is a bowl game. The quicker Mississippi makes a bowl the quicker fans will begin to feel better about were this team is going.


Clemson Tigers vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack

The Tigers are in a two-game playoff for the ACC Atlantic division. All Clemson has to do is win its final two games and they will be in the conference title game. C.J. Spiller will get his chance to make his Heisman case as Clemson battles for a division title.

North Carolina State is in a must-win situation for the rest of the year. The Wolfpack have to win the final three games on their schedule to become bowl eligible. The reason for this is that two of NC State’s wins are against FCS teams and only one counts toward bowl eligibility.

Who needs the win more: Clemson

The Tigers cannot afford to slipup in their final two conference games. If they do, they open the door for Boston College to sweep in and win the division. Making the ACC title game would be a big accomplishment in Dabo Sweeny’s first season as the head coach.


Missouri Tigers vs. Kansas State Wildcats

The Tigers enter this game after losing to Baylor last week. Missouri is one win away from being qualified for the postseason. A bowl bid would be big to a program that lost several big-time stars last season.

Kansas State was able to beat their in-state rival Kansas last week. The Wildcats are the surprise leader of the Big-12 North. This team also has two wins over FCS opponents and needs one more victory to be bowl eligible.

Who needs the win more: Kansas State

Bill Snyder has done wonders in his first season back with Kansas State. The Wildcats appear to be the only team that wants to win the North division. This team has to keep and setup a showdown against Nebraska in the final game of the season.



Stanford Cardinal vs. USC Trojans

The Cardinal win over Oregon last week opened the Pac-10 race right up again. The win gives Stanford a chance to win the conference and go to a BCS game. If this team wants a chance to win the Pac-10 they will have to improve on the road where they are 1-3.

The Trojans bounced back after their trip to the woodshed against Oregon to win unimpressively over Arizona State. USC still has a chance with a lot of help to win the Pac-10. One more conference loss would put the final nail in their coffin.

Who needs the win more: Both

For both the Cardinal and the Trojans the formula is simple; keep winning and get some help, and they still have chance at a conference title. A loss in this game and their BCS hopes end.

Every win by Stanford and big game by Toby Gerhart help his Heisman chances. Pete Carroll has done a great job with a freshman quarterback and a rebuilt defense this season.


Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

Iowa had been living on the edge all season long and it caught up with them against Northwestern last week. The Hawkeyes lost their undefeated season, shot at a national title, and quarterback Ricky Stanzi all in one game. This team can still finish with one loss and win the Big Ten.

Ohio State has ended all the griping by their fan base after a Purdue loss by ripping off three straight wins. With a win, the Buckeyes can go to the Rose Bowl and win the Big Ten. Ohio State can win the conference and ruin arch rival Michigan’s bowl hopes in back-to-back weeks.

Who needs the win more: Both

This game is the biggest in the Big Ten this year. A Rose Bowl berth for Kirk Ferentz would be huge for the Hawkeyes' recruiting. A win would also keep Iowa’s slim national title hopes alive.

Terrell Pryor and the Buckeyes would silence their critics with a conference title and a Rose Bowl berth. The questions about Jim Tressel and his play calling would also quiet down until the bowl game.

This is a one-game playoff for all the marbles in the Big Ten. The winner gets to smell the roses and the loser can only dream about a trip to Pasadena.


Miami Hurricanes vs. North Carolina Tar Heels

The Hurricanes would have a shot at a division title if Duke can pull off the upset against Georgia Tech. The Hurricanes enter this game after pounding Virginia last week. Miami has an outside hope of a BCS bowl and Jacory Harris could enter the Heisman race with some big games down the stretch.

North Carolina is on a two-game winning streak after they choked away a win against Florida State. The Tar Heels can become bowl eligible with a win in this game. North Carolina has a chance in this game given the fact the Hurricanes are 0-3 all time at Chapel Hill.

Who needs the win more: Miami

A loss by the Hurricanes in this game would make the result in the Yellow Jackets and-Blue Devils game moot. A loss would also end any chance of an at-large bid in a BCS game. Miami has a lot to lose in this game and we will see how much this young team has grown.


Boston College Eagles vs. Virginia Cavaliers

Boston College bounced back from a loss to Notre Dame with a win over Central Michigan. The Eagles are in position to win their division if Clemson slips up and loses a game. A loss would nearly end any hope of a shot in the conference title game.

The Cavaliers are in a must-win situation in this game. A loss ends any hope of a postseason berth. A loss also could end Al Groh's tenure as head coach at Virginia.

Who needs the win more: Boston College

The Eagles have to win to keep pace with Clemson. A loss would hurt their chances to win the ACC Atlantic division. Boston College cannot control what the Tigers do but they can control what they themselves do.


Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Kansas Jayhawks

The Cornhuskers beat Oklahoma last week with a strong defensive effort in a low scoring game. The win helped Nebraska keep pace with Kansas State in the Big-12 North. The Cornhuskers cannot look ahead to next week’s game against the Wildcats.

Kansas lost to in-state rival Kansas State last week. The Jayhawks have three games and must win two of them to become bowl eligible. A loss in this game could end any postseason hopes for Kansas.

Who needs the win more: Both

Nebraska needs to keep winning if they want any hope at a division title and a spot in the conference title game. The Jayhawks need two wins in their last three games.

Kansas plays Nebraska, Texas, and Missouri in their last three games. A loss in this game would pretty much kill the Jayhawks' bowl hopes.


Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs (UPSET OF THE WEEK)

The Crimson Tide won their way into the SEC title game and a West title last week beating LSU. Alabama now only has to win out to play for a national title.

The Bulldogs have had two weeks to prepare for this game. Mississippi State has played LSU and Florida close at home already this season.

LSU needed a goal line stand to beat the Bulldogs and the Gators needed some help by the officials and luck to get by Miss. State. This team also still has a chance at a bowl bid and a win over the Tide would go a long way to help.

Who needs the win more: Alabama

The Tide is already playing in the SEC title game. A loss here does not change that, but Alabama has to avoid a letdown after the big win over LSU.

A loss in this game would not end their BCS title hopes but would put a damper on them. The Bulldogs have beaten the Tide in two of their last three meetings.

Mississippi State has been close to beating a top-ranked team all season long. If they can avoid turnovers, which have killed them in big games all season long, they have a puncher's chance.


Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Pittsburgh Panthers

Did anyone start this season believing Pitt would come into this game ranked and the Irish would be out of the top 25? This game could be the biggest game in the tenure of Charlie Weis and Dave Wannstedt at their respective schools.

Weis could be playing for his job at Notre Dame, and at one loss, Wannstedt could be playing for a spot in the BCS title game with some help. A loss in this game does not hurt the Panthers' chances of playing in a BCS game if they can win the Big East.

Who needs the win more: Notre Dame

The Irish need to sweep their last three games, many believe, if they want to save their head coach's job. A loss could send Weis out of South Bend after the season.

A win in this game means a two-game playoff for Weis’ job. Both games would be winnable against Stanford and Connecticut. A loss in this game might make winning the other two games meaningless as far as saving Weis’ job.


Other Big Games and Games to Keep an Eye on:


Northwestern Wildcats vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

This game is simple for Wildcat and Illini fans. Their teams keep winning and they can become bowl eligible. A loss and they are done as far as the postseason goes. This game is must win for both teams.

Michigan State Spartans vs. Purdue Boilermakers

The Spartans win and they become bowl eligible; a loss means they have to win in their final game of the season. The Boilermakers have to win out to have any chance at the postseason. A loss ends Purdue’s bowl chances.

Kentucky Wildcats vs. Vanderbilt Commodores

Vanderbilt cannot go to a bowl game this season but can play spoiler for the rest of the season. A win by Kentucky gives them enough wins to become bowl eligible.

Colorado Buffaloes vs. Iowa State Cyclones

The Buffaloes have to win out to have any chance at a postseason bowl. A loss and Colorado is home for the holidays. The Cyclones on the other hand only need to win this game and they can go to a bowl game.

Washington Huskies vs. Oregon State Beavers

The Beavers are looking to improve their position in the Pac-10 bowl pecking order. The Huskies have to win out or they will stay home this postseason.

Houston Cougars vs. UCF Knights

The Cougars make the list because you should watch Case Keenum. The Houston quarterback should be in the Heisman race and could be the top quarterback taken if he leaves early. The Knights could use a win to help their bowl chances.

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles vs. Marshall Thundering Herd

This game is simple; the winner becomes bowl eligible. The loser will have to win before the regular season runs out to get to six wins. This could be the Eagles' best chance with C-USA foes East Carolina and Tulsa up next.

The Thundering Herd might have their best chance as well with SMU and UTEP still left to play. Also the winner keeps their division title hopes alive.

Indiana Hoosiers vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

The Hoosiers have to win out to make it to the postseason. A loss to Penn State ends their holiday trip.

Florida Gators vs. South Carolina Gamecocks

The “Old Ball Coach” Steve Spurrier gets a chance to ruin the title hopes of the school he helped put on the college football landscape. Tim Tebow and the Gators are still looking for the only undefeated team in school history. Florida already has wrapped up the SEC East title.

Idaho Vandals vs. Boise State Broncos

The Vandals want to bust the Broncos' chances of being a BCS buster. A loss by Boise State ends their chances of a big payday in a BCS game. The Vandals want to win to make a name for themselves in the state of Idaho.

Auburn Tigers vs. Georgia Bulldogs

Auburn is already bowl eligible and can keep its bowl position going upward with a win. As bad as things have been in Athens this season, a win gets the Bulldogs to the postseason.

Texas A&M Aggies vs. Oklahoma Sooners

If the Sooners want to make a bowl game this might be a must-win game. Oklahoma plays their final game against in-state rival Oklahoma State to end the season. The Sooners might need this win before they play that game.

Texas A&M still has a game against Baylor after this game. While the Bears are no slouches they are a little more beatable than the Aggies' last opponents, the Longhorns. The Aggies do not want to wait that long to become bowl eligible.

Utah Utes vs. TCU Horned Frogs

Last year the Utes ran past the Frogs for a BCS bowl bid. This year TCU hopes to return the favor against Utah.

Utah is still undefeated in the WAC and can win the conference with an upset in this game. TCU has bigger dreams then just a conference title. The Horned Frogs are in line for a possible national title if they get some help.

Fresno State Bulldogs vs. Nevada Wolfpack

The Bulldogs have a running back that everyone in the country should see in the form of Ryan Mathews. He is on pace to rush for 2,000 yards and makes his case for the Heisman.

If you have not seen Mathews, check him out this week against a good Nevada team. Both these teams have become bowl eligible.

Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys

A nice matchup between Big-12 South teams that could be wondering what the season could have been like. The Cowboys will be hoping for some Texas losses to have a chance at a division title.

Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Oregon Ducks

This game marks the return for LeGarrette Blount after his meltdown at Boise State.  The Ducks also take the field after not showing up for two and half quarters against Stanford.

Oregon still controls its Pac-10 destiny and only has to win out to play in the Rose Bowl. The Sun Devils need to start winning games if they want to even play in the postseason.

Arizona Wildcats vs. California Golden Bears

After his concussion last week Jahvid Best will not play in this game. The Wildcats can control their own destiny.

Arizona plays Oregon, Arizona State and USC to close out the season. All the Wildcats have to do is win out and they make the Rose Bowl. A loss only puts them in a deep hole and needing help.



Week 11 of college football has plenty of big games. Still, Saturday night there is also Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao in a title fight on HBO Pay-Per-View.

Then Sunday has the Cowboys and the Packers mixing it up, the Colts taking on the Patriots, and the biggest game is the surprising Cincinnati Bengals looking to sweep the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Enjoy your sports week and do not forget there is NHL and NBA games as well.


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