College football is entering the back part of the season. Storylines are forming and teams are making their pushes for the postseason. Here are five things to watch for in college football week 11.
1. LSU at Alabama
The best game of the college football regular season is coming up on Saturday when LSU takes on Alabama. LSU has a high-powered offense that scores 46.8 points per game. Joe Burrow has been a difference-maker for the Tigers and has already thrown for 2,805 yards on the season. They don’t have the best rushing offense, but can run when they need to. Their defense also only allows 20 points per game. As a team, the Tigers will have to be at their best to beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa this weekend.
Alabama, like past years, has a lot of talent, but haven’t had a chance to play elite teams yet to prove that they are a great team. They likely are just as good as most other years, but they haven’t been tested. With Tua Tagovailoa likely to play this week with a sprained ankle, he’ll have to find a way to distribute the ball to his talented receivers in Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs and DeVonta Smith. If the defense slows down LSU, the offense will have less pressure on them. Look for some good offense in this game, which is uniquely different than most years, as Alabama also scores a lot of points at 48.6 per game. The winner could be headed to the College Football Playoff.
2. Is Minnesota for Real?
One of the best stories this college football season is the emergence of a Minnesota football program, that had been nearly irrelevant this century since P.J. Fleck came to campus. Now, they are 8-0 with a chance to play their way into a Big Ten Championship. They have a defense that allows 20 points per game and an offense that scores 38.6. The Golden Gophers aren’t elite in many statistical categories, but they have found a way to win games.
The Golden Gophers have had an easy schedule thus far, and if they want to go to the Big Ten Championship, they have to win big games down the stretch. This week they play Penn State, who has a great defense that allows 9.6 points per game. With Sean Clifford and K.J. Hamler making plays on offense as well, Minnesota hasn’t played a team like this for the entire year up to this point. A win would go to prove that they are legitimate.
3. Can Baylor Stay Unbeaten?
Another great story is Baylor going undefeated this season so far at 8-0. They have beaten solid teams sucha as Oklahoma State and Kansas State along the way. Their defense allows 18.5 points per game, while their offense ranks 26th in the country with 36.1 points per game. The Bears have set themselves up well to make the Big 12 Championship, but they still have Texas and Oklahoma on the schedule later on this season.
This week the Bears play TCU on the road. They are only one point favorites, as TCU is a tough team to beat when they are at home. The Horned Frogs proved that against Texas a few weeks ago. They run the ball well at 220.3 yards per game, which ranks 20th in the country. This benefits their defense, as they try to control the clock to win the game. Baylor has several tough tests down the road and this could be a trap game for a team that is trying to win every game possible to qualify for the Big 12 Championship.
4. Big Ten West Clash
With Minnesota playing Penn State, a lot will be found out about the Big Ten West, as Iowa and Wisconsin will meet in Madison on Saturday. The Hawkeyes only have two losses on the year, coming at the hands of Michigan and Penn State. Their defense is one of the best in the country allowing 10.1 points per game, but their offense has been inconsistent at best. Winning would all but eliminate Wisconsin from Big Ten Championship Game contention.
Wisconsin had a great start to the season, going 6-0, but the Badgers have lost two straight heading into this game. One was an understandable loss to Ohio State, but the other was an upset by Illinois. They run the ball really well behind Jonathan Taylor and the team averages 216.4 yards on the ground per game. Their defense has also been solid, allowing just 11.4 points per game. Winning would set up a big game with Minnesota later in the season.
5. Maction and Fun Belt
The “MACtion” and “Fun Belt” games are back, which always provide good weekday television. On Tuesday, the MAC games start with Kent State vs. Toledo and Ball State and Western Michigan. All teams still have chances to win their respective divisions. The same goes for Ohio and Miami (Ohio) in their rivalry game Wednesday night.
The Sun Belt will only have one game this week on a weekday, as Louisiana and Coastal Carolina play on Thursday. Louisiana has only lost one conference game, so they very easily could make it to the Sun Belt Championship Game. Coastal Carolina has four wins this season and will be trying to make it to bowl eligibility in the near future following this game.