Road to Glendale 2011: Conference Favorites Face Make or Break Week 11

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Road to Glendale 2011: Conference Favorites Face Make or Break Week 11
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As part of BCS Know How’s 2010 college football season preview, we will be breaking down each week’s most important games that could have BCS and postseason implications in the “Road to Glendale 2011.″

Let’s move on to Week 11 where every game is make or break for conference contenders.

 

Pittsburgh at Connecticut: Thursday Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m. ET

Down the stretch of the Big East race in 2009, Connecticut nearly pulled upsets against Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Rutgers. Not one of those losses came by more than four points.

Finally, after nearly knocking off the eventual Big East champ Bearcats, the Huskies ended the season on a four-game winning streak—including a PapaJohns.com Bowl victory over South Carolina.

That kind of end to a season would make any team excited about its future prospects, and Connecticut is no exception. 2010 holds unprecedented expectations in Storrs, and when Pittsburgh comes to campus in this late-season matchup, things could get very interesting.

The Panthers themselves are considered among the favorites in the Big East, but this year Connecticut could be in position to actually complete the upsets it nearly pulled off in ’09, and this might be a key game in the Huskies’ drive for a possible Big East championship.

If the Huskies defense can contain Pittsburgh’s Heisman-hopeful running back Dion Lewis for four full quarters, there’s no reason to think an upset isn’t possible.

Combine this visit from the Panthers with a visit from West Virginia to Storrs the week before, and it's not too much of a stretch to think the Huskies could win the conference if they can protect home field.

 

Miami (FL) at Georgia Tech: Saturday Nov. 13, TBA

Two of the ACC’s most dynamic quarterbacks and Heisman hopefuls—Georgia Tech’s Josh Nesbitt and Miami’s Jacory Harris—will feature prominently in this marquee matchup of ACC Championship hopefuls in 2010.

Georgia Tech will be coming off an extended break following a matchup with ACC favorite Virginia Tech, giving it enough time to prepare for an on-the-rise Hurricanes squad led by Harris and coach Randy Shannon.

Miami’s schedule to this point is not daunting, and after a fast start brought some of that swagger back to Miami last season, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Miami back near the top of the rankings when November 13 comes around.

Injuries and small mistakes kept the Hurricanes from being more than a nine-win team in 2009, but a year of experience—and hopefully for the ‘Canes a less injury-riddled season—could spell some real success in Shannon’s fourth season.

Tech will once again be testing the ACC with its spread-option offense, which Nesbitt has become a master of orchestrating, something that the Hurricanes will need to prepare for if they hope to top Georgia Tech on the road.


South Carolina at Florida: Saturday Nov. 13, TBA

Forget for a moment that this will be another Steve Spurrier return trip to the Swamp and that emotions will likely run high—this game is likely to be great on its own merits.

Spurrier, who will call all of the Gamecocks’ offensive plays this season, will be looking to put a scare into the Gators on the road. And if the Gamecocks can get a couple of the finer points ironed out earlier in the season, just a scare would be a disappointment.

South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia had transformed into the SEC’s most prolific passer and will need to bring an even better effort if the Gamecocks want to improve on a 7-6 record in 2009 that ended in a disappointing loss in a January 2nd bowl to Connecticut.

Florida’s quarterback situation is also a key point to this potentially important game, as by Week 11 we’ll probably know whether John Brantley is an adequate replacement for Tim Tebow or if he has struggled to adapt to his new role in the Gator offense.

The Gamecock defense should be an especially tough test for the new Gator quarterback—one that was able to rank highly in many statistical categories despite youth and injuries in 2009.


Penn State at Ohio State: Saturday Nov. 13, TBA

Perennial Big Ten contenders Ohio State and Penn State will do battle once again in Columbus in a game that could help decide—once again—the Big Ten champion.

Ohio State might have higher aspirations than a Big Ten championship this season, but it’ll have to get past a visit from the Nittany Lions if it wants to make a run at the championship game.

You know the major players here: coaches Paterno and Tressel, OSU QB Terrelle Pryor and Penn State RB Evan Royster, and just like any high quality Big Ten matchup this one will likely include some classic Big Ten rough, physical play.

Defenses and offenses will be tested all game and the winner will have a great shot at the conference title.

Expect both teams to come out fired up, and for the Buckeyes’ home field advantage to play a huge role in this one.


Georgia at Auburn: Saturday Nov. 13, TBA

This is another SEC showdown that could be a matchup of undefeated squads or one where both teams have taken a beating in early SEC action.

But despite the unpredictability of the SEC, most believe that both teams are serious contenders for their respective SEC division crowns, and this game will be key if either wants to meet that goal.

Both teams look stocked with talent all around the field, including Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green, a Heisman candidate, and an Auburn offensive line that is loaded with experienced players.

In the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” Auburn holds the slightest of edges over the Bulldogs, 53–52–8, and will look to extend the lead after Georgia has done a great deal of catching up in the past couple of years.

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