Week 11 Viewing Guide: Ranking the best games to watch by time slot
1. Georgia at Auburn, Noon ET, CBS
Yes, the best game of Saturday’s early slate features two unranked teams. This season’s version of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry won’t impact the SEC race, but two underachieving programs can still pile on a rival’s disappointment. Auburn is fresh off a 26-10 whooping of No. 19 Texas A&M in College Station and needs one more win for bowl eligibility. Georgia, meanwhile, has yet to beat a ranked team this season despite being picked to win the SEC East. Still, the Bulldogs have won nine of the last 13 meetings in the series, including a 34-7 rout last year in Athens.
2. NC State at No. 16 Florida State, 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3
For the first time in four seasons, Florida State enters a game knowing it won’t play for the ACC title. Its 23-13 loss at No. 1 Clemson sunk the Seminoles’ conference and College Football Playoff hopes, so it’s easy to see why a visit from NC State might feel meaningless. But Florida State should think back to last year’s matchup before overlooking the Wolfpack: The ‘Noles trailed by 17 early before eventually rallying for a comfortable 56-41 win. On Saturday Everett Golson will get the start at quarterback for Florida State, alongside a banged-up-but-dynamic Dalvin Cook.
3. No. 11 Florida at South Carolina, Noon ET, ESPN
South Carolina showed some spunk last week in a tight 27-24 loss at Tennessee. The Gamecocks rallied from 14 points down but fumbled on a potential scoring drive with 32 seconds left. Now they return home to face a Florida team that’s already clinched the SEC East. Can quarterback Perry Orth, who threw for 233 yards and three scores against the Vols, surprise a Gators defense that ranks third in the SEC (4.47 yards per play allowed)?
1. No. 2 Alabama at No. 17 Mississippi State, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Alabama now controls its destiny after a physical 30-16 win over LSU last Saturday, as well as Ole Miss’s loss to Arkansas. The Crimson Tide must turn around quickly with a trip to Mississippi State, which is ranked 17th in the latest playoff rankings. That hot start is deceiving, however; the Bulldogs did not beat a ranked opponent during their 7-2 start. But quarterback Dak Prescott has reeled off 308 yards of total offense per game, second in the SEC, and is the type of mobile passer that’s given Alabama fits in recent years.
2. Miami at No. 23 North Carolina, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Coach Larry Fedora and North Carolina are 5-0 in ACC play for the first time since 1997. That ’97 team went on to finish ranked No. 6 in the country, but for now the Tar Heels are simply focused on getting to the ACC title game. If a win over Miami on Saturday coincides with a Pittsburgh win over Duke, the Heels are headed to Charlotte. But the Hurricanes have yet to lose under interim coach Larry Scott, claiming two straight victories. Now they must contain a North Carolina offense that ranks 12th nationally (40.1 points per game).
3. No. 14 Michigan at Indiana, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2
Thanks in part to Michigan State’s loss to Nebraska last week, Michigan is still alive in the Big Ten race. But the Wolverines must win out to reach Indianapolis. The Hoosiers shot out of the gate with a 4-0 record but have since lost five straight, all to Big Ten teams. That losing streak comes in spite of an Indiana offense that ranks third in the league (5.93 yards per play). Quarterback Nate Sudfeld, the Big Ten’s second-most efficient passer, now faces a Michigan defense ranked first nationally at 3.9 yards per play allowed.
1. No. 12 Oklahoma at No. 6 Baylor, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Everybody assumed Baylor and TCU were on a collision course as the top two teams in the Big 12. But last week the Horned Frogs lost their first matchup with a ranked team, a 49-29 setback at Oklahoma State. Will Baylor suffer the same fate against Oklahoma? Last week freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham was sharp against Kansas State (419 yards, three touchdowns) but the Bears had to survive a late rally in a close 31-24 win. Perhaps the Sooners, who boast the Big 12’s top defense (4.27 yards per play allowed), can slow Baylor’s high-octane attack.
2. Oregon at No. 7 Stanford, 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX
Stanford remains one of the only viable threats for a playoff spot in the Pac-12, and its annual tussle with Oregon usually impacts the conference race. In fact, the winner of the last five meetings has gone on to win the league. But only one of these programs currently resembles a true conference threat, as Stanford is off to its best Pac-12 start (7-0) since 2011. Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey is the FBS leader in all-purpose yards (241.6), meaning Oregon’s league-worst defense will need a banner day to win in Palo Alto.
3. No. 21 Memphis at No. 24 Houston, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2
The winner of the American Athletic Conference is the favorite to snag the Group of Five’s spot in the New Year’s Six bowl. That means Saturday’s meeting between Memphis and Houston comes with big-time implications. Houston is the only unbeaten team in the AAC and boasts wins over two Power Five teams in Louisville and Vanderbilt. And despite a 45-20 loss to Navy last week, Memphis has a shot to jump back in the conference race with wins over the Cougars this week and Temple next week. The question is which defense makes a stop in Saturday’s game: Houston and Memphis both average more than 44 points per game.