We're headed down the home stretch with teams trying to play their way into the College Football Playoff. Let's narrow the field in Week 11. Here's what to watch for your perfect Saturday.
If you've made it this far, congratulations. I'm a firm believer in positive reinforcement, so stand in front of a mirror, give your very most confident look and say to yourself: "We're almost there. We can do this." This goes for the teams who are either still trying to make a bowl, are already bowl eligible and are playing for a conference championship or are vying for the ultimate prize: a spot in the College Football Playoff. But it also goes for the fans. I know how hard you all work, carefully studying the recipe, writing out itineraries, spending hours trying to find the best hotel and airfare prices. You work hard, too.
Reward yourself with the little things. Have an extra piece of candy or another beverage. Buy yourself something nice before the holiday season. You've earned it. Football is hard. So is being a football fan.
This is your perfect Saturday for Week 11.
The early slate
Noon: No. 12 Baylor at No. 15 Oklahoma (Fox Sports 1)
Both teams seem a little ticked off, and for good reason. Baylor is a bad Morgantown road trip away from being undefeated, and its nonconference schedule has the Bears on the outside looking in at the playoff as of now. Oklahoma, on the other hand, has two losses by less than a touchdown combined and wants to exact revenge for last season’s loss to Baylor. We usually don’t get games this good at noon.
Noon: No. 20 Georgia at Kentucky (ESPN)
The Bulldogs obviously suffered a setback to their SEC East hopes with last week’s loss to Florida, but they’re not out of the running yet. It’s fully conceivable that Missouri could lose another game along the way and leave the door open for Georgia to play its way to Atlanta. But the Dawgs will have to beat a scrappy Kentucky team in Lexington first.
Second screen specials
These are games that are tailor-made for your tablet, extra laptop, giant phone or any other device you use to stream things. Go crazy.
Noon: Iowa at Minnesota (ESPN2)
This one has big, sorry #B1G, Big Ten West implications as both Iowa and Minnesota have just one loss in conference play so far. Seeing as there’s a round-robin play for that side of the league with Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin all yet to play each other, the loser of this one is likely out of the mix due to future tiebreakers.
Dog day afternoon
3:30 p.m.: No. 10 Notre Dame at No. 9 Arizona State (ABC)
The Sun Devils were a few plays away from beating the Fighting Irish last year and get another shot at it in Tempe. Now in control of the Pac-12 South, Arizona State could really improve its playoff odds with a win over Notre Dame. The Irish will do their best to overcome the loss of Joe Schmidt on the defensive side of the ball and keep pace with Todd Graham’s offense.
Second screen special
3 p.m.: South Alabama at Arkansas State (WatchESPN)
This is one of those rare weeks when the mid-afternoon slate leaves us an opportunity to watch some Saturday Sun Belt action. Take advantage of it and wrap yourself in it like a Snuggie.
3:30 p.m.: No. 23 West Virginia at Texas (Fox Sports 1)
It seems like we’ve said it every week: One of these days Texas is going to win a game it shouldn’t. And outside of their recent shutout by Kansas State, it does seem like the Longhorns are getting better on offense. A reeling Mountaineers team, still heartbroken from a close loss to TCU last week, could be on upset alert here as Texas tries to play its way into a bowl.
7:30 p.m.: No. 7 Kansas State at No. 6 TCU (Fox)
It’s a contrast in styles as TCU’s ball-hawking, gambling defense and big-play offense seeks to upend the flow of the tides that is the Wildcats. Kansas State isn’t easily moved and erodes teams with expedited time lapse glacial efficiency, so pretty much I’m saying this game is going to be fun because Big 12 football is fun.
8 p.m.: No. 5 Alabama at No. 16 LSU (CBS)
Hopefully you had that extra shot of espresso earlier in the day because this is just the second of four huge games starting after 7 p.m. on the East Coast. Alabama is ranked fifth based almost entirely on potential at this point as it really can only claim West Virginia as its best win. The Crimson Tide can change that with a big victory over Les Miles' Tigers in Death Valley. The matchup kicks off Alabama's gauntlet of a November in which it must play LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn.
8 p.m.: No. 14 Ohio State at No. 8 Michigan State
I must resist the urge to make a pizza joke here. But whatever you choose to eat during this one, it’ll be worth it. The Buckeyes are bringing an explosive offense into East Lansing, but quarterback J.T. Barrett will have his hands full against a Spartans team that runs like a Swiss timepiece on both sides of the ball.
Second screen specials
7 p.m.: Virginia at No. 2 Florida State (ESPN)
I didn’t forget about the ‘Noles. I never forget about the ‘Noles. The ‘Noles wouldn’t let me forget about them even if I wanted to.
Late night theater
10 p.m.: No. 4 Oregon at No. 17 Utah (ESPN)
Because Stanford doesn’t look like Stanford and Utah looks more like Stanford this year, can Utah pull a Stanford on Oregon?
Second screen special
10:30 p.m.: San Jose State at Fresno State (CBS Sports Network)
The West Coast leagues are being benevolent and just and keeping it nice and calm this week with all the chaos of the rest of the day, so let’s show them some love and watch a little Mountain West action to close out the night.