Week 11 of college football is kind of like a whole season of Survivor all rolled into one weekend. There are some contestants hanging on for dear life to make it to the playoffs, (the CFB equivalent of the fake studio set with Jeff Probst). They are using these last few weeks like an immunity idol. They need help along the way depending on who else gets voted off the island. There are others who just have to take care of the business in front of them, stay focused and watch the torches of others get extinguished. It means every move from each of these teams matters Saturday if they want to survive to the next “episode.” Here is the College Football Preview.
College Football Preview
Georgia (9-0, 6-0) @ Auburn (7-2, 5-1); Sat., 3:30pm ET, CBS
Georgia is the top dog in the country right now with the #1 spot in the college football playoff ranking for the last two weeks. While winning the SEC seemed a logical conclusion when the season started, no one saw this coming. Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm has pretty much ensured that former starter Jacob Eason will be wearing the uniform of a different team next season. He is throwing at a 63% completion clip with 15 touchdowns and only four interceptions. It helps when you have an offensive line that is giving up less than one sack per game on average. Of course, it also helps when the team is averaging nearly 280 yards per game with Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. Make it to the SEC championship game and win or lose there, the Bulldogs have a viable claim for one of the four playoff spots.
Auburn has turned into a wild card of late. We thought they might not hold up in some of the immunity challenges, but they are still around, catching fish and eating rice with the tribe. A two-loss team is not going to make the playoffs…unless they win the SEC Championship. That means the Tigers running the table. That means Jarrett Stidham putting up the biggest games he has had at Auburn. He has only one interception in the last six games and is throwing at a 67% completion rate.
Iowa (6-3, 3-3) @ Wisconsin (9-0, 6-0); Sat 3:30pm ET ABC
This one is all about the Badgers, sort of. They are sixth in the playoff poll behind some one loss teams. The reason? Resume. There are no wins against top tier teams and they don’t play Ohio State or Penn State this season. They are the competitor that needs to sneak around, past, and through others to win the reward challenge. Iowa is not going to fool anyone for marquee, but after the 31-point win over Ohio State last week, they are the flavor of the week. That will have to be good enough for Wisconsin.
There is a tribe-thing going on here also. Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley is from Wisconsin and grew up a Badgers fan. He was recruited by current Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst. The thing is, Chryst was the coach at Pitt when he recruited Stanley. Gary Andersen was the Wisconsin coach when Stanley was being recruited and he never offered a scholarship. So, now Stanley is going back to his old territory with 22 touchdowns on only four interceptions and nearly 2,000 yards passing. Oh, and a chance to end Wisconsin’s championship/grand prize Survivor moment.
TCU (8-1, 5-1) @ Oklahoma (8-1, 5-1); Sat 8pm ET Fox
Someone’s playoff torch is getting extinguished after this game. The teams have identical records and could still meet for the Big XII Championship game next month. But, with the Sooners at number five in the playoff poll and the Horned Frogs at number six, it is clear that a two-loss team from this conference has no chance at survival. Ironically, both teams have their one loss from that “upstart” challenger Iowa State. Oklahoma wants to let the offense rip. In the Bedlam win over Oklahoma State last week, Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield had a school record 598 yards passing with five touchdowns. Oklahoma had 785 yards of offense. The higher the score, the happier they are. They have out-gained every opponent this season. It only requires one or two defensive stops in the second half and they call it game over.
TCU has out rushed every opponent this year. They want the steady ball control offense and then let their defense handle the rest. Case in point, they out rushed Texas last week 177 yards to nine. That is not a typo. Nine yards rushing. Quarterback Kenny Hill does not have to be great. He had only 190 yards rushing and passing last week. He just must be mistake-free for TCU to stay in the game. TCU needs the slow and steady through the obstacle courses. Oklahoma is going to try to blow them up.
Notre Dame (8-1) @ Miami (8-0, 6-0); Sat., 8pm ET ABC
This is Survivor Legends. This is Lou Holtz vs. Jimmy Johnson. Steve Walsh vs. Tony Rice. Catholics vs. Convicts. And the beauty of it is, no matter who wins, it is going to play a major role in who is still standing in the final four at the end.
Miami has a perfect record but is currently on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs. This would be the marquee win that would likely catapult them into the middle of tribal council. Notre Dame gets in, even with a loss because they have the best loss in the country, if there is such a thing. The Irish lost by only one point to the current top team, Georgia, and it happened all the way back in week two. Flip the script though and Notre Dame needs this game. It is their last major resume builder. After this comes Navy and an under-performing Stanford. Miami meanwhile, even with a loss, has the ACC Championship game to look forward to and more chances for the jury to give an approving nod.
The Canes offense needs an “up” game. They are second to last in the ACC in third down conversions. Malik Rosier was 11 of 22 passing for two touchdowns and three picks in the win over Virginia Tech last week. Miami’s offense needs to be mistake-free. They need to keep the Irish offense off the field. Notre Dame ran up 380 yards rushing and 330 yards passing (710 total yards for the math challenged), last week against Wake Forest. Quarterback Brandon Wimbush is not going to light the world on fire. But he has become good enough to be a threat running while the passing game improves. Assuming a healthy Josh Adams at running back, (averaging nearly nine yards per carry), and there is enough there to put up a lot of points.
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