The College Football Playoff race is tightening up, and Week 11 could certainly stir the pot some more with seven ranked matchups on Saturday.
The top three teams all hit the road for tough challenges while teams just outside the top four all have opportunities to boost their resumes. Let’s get down to predictions and games to watch:
No. 1 Georgia at No. 10 Auburn | Saturday @ 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS
Last week was the first time since Week 2 against Notre Dame that the top-ranked Bulldogs failed to register 30 points in a game. But their defense continued its spectacular play, holding a dangerous South Carolina squad to just three second half points in a 24-10 victory in Athens. Georgia’s prolific rushing duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel continues to carry the offense while true freshman Jake Fromm has been steady under center with 18 combined touchdowns to just four interceptions.
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Things won’t be easy this week, however, with a roadtrip to Auburn on the horizon. The rising Tigers have scored 94 combined points in back-to-back wins against Arkansas and Texas A&M. Transfer quarterback Jarrett Stidham is 13th in the nation in passing efficiency and could present a challenge for the Bulldogs secondary.
This SEC battle has plenty of intrigue. Even with two losses, Auburn likely controls its own CFP destiny in this final month if it can knock off Georgia and Alabama in the next three weeks and then win the conference championship.
Prediction: Georgia 28, Auburn 20
No. 20 Iowa at No. 8 Wisconsin | Saturday @ 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
Wisconsin finally gets its first shot against a fellow ranked opponent in Week 11, facing a hot Hawkeyes squad debuting in the CFP poll at No. 20 in the latest release. Just one week after Ohio State surged back to defeat then-No. 2 Penn State in one of the top games of the year, Iowa crushed the Buckeyes’ Playoff hopes with a devastating 55-24 rout in Iowa City last week. The swarming Hawkeyes defense picked off Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett four times while Nathan Stanley tossed five touchdown passes.
On the other side, undefeated Wisconsin looks to prove its doubters wrong behind Jonathan Taylor in the run game (1,368 yards, 12 touchdowns) and a stout defense that’s only given up more than 20 points once this season (to Northwestern).
Wisconsin is the Big Ten’s greatest hope for a Playoff spot this year with Ohio State and Penn State both fielding two losses so far. A win in Madison this week would be a needed boost.
Prediction: Iowa 28, Wisconsin 24
No. 2 Alabama at No. 16 Mississippi State | Saturday @ 7 p.m. ET on ESPN
It’s always prime time at Bama.#OutworkYesterday#RollTide pic.twitter.com/rNJCApCBUq
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) November 5, 2017
Alabama made it seven straight head-to-head wins against LSU last week in a typical defensive affair that ended in a 24-10 win and a 9-0 start for the Crimson Tide. Alabama hasn’t shown signs of slowing down yet, but injuries may play a factor in this weekend’s game in Starkville, Mississippi.
Star cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick is nursing a hamstring injury while four key linebackers have been sidelined or limited in recent weeks. Doubt Nick Saban’s defense at your own risk, however.
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The real X-factor that could lead to an MSU upset is whether or not Nick Fitzgerald makes some big throws come Saturday night. One common theme among some of Alabama’s losses over the past few years have been opposing dual-threat quarterbacks — think Deshaun Watson and Cardale Jones. It’s evident Fitzgerald could win some games using his feet — he’s rushed for over 100 yards in four straight games — but can he make some big-time throws against the Tide’s defense?
Prediction: Alabama 35, Mississippi State 23
No. 3 Notre Dame at No. 7 Miami | Saturday @ 8 p.m. ET on ABC
Another matchup pitting two CFP hopefuls against each other, plenty will be at stake when these nonconference rivals meet in Coral Gables.
Miami boasts one of the most athletic and play-making defenses in the nation, which is coming off a dominating performance against No. 17 Virginia Tech in a 28-10 victory last weekend. That unit will clash with one of the nation’s best offensive lines in Notre Dame, which has paved the way all season for Heisman contender Josh Adams (1,191 rushing yards, nine touchdowns).
Miami (8-0) brought out its “turnover chain” four times against the Hokies. Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush, who briefly left last week’s win against Purdue due to injury, will need to be careful with the ball as the Irish go for an eighth straight win since falling to Georgia in Week 2.
Prediction: Notre Dame 24, Miami 21
No. 6 TCU at No. 5 Oklahoma | Saturday @ 8 p.m. ET on FOX
TCU’s already beaten three top 10 FBS offenses this year. Next up is the cream of the crop, No. 5 Oklahoma, who leads the nation in total offense and passing offense.
Baker Mayfield torched Oklahoma State for 598 passing yards in a 62-52 shootout win against Oklahoma State last week. Against TCU last season, he was 23-of-30 for 274 yards and two touchdowns in a win. But this is not the same Horned Frogs defense as last year. TCU is ranked sixth in total defense this year and has held opponents to 20 combined points over the past three weeks.
Chances are Oklahoma will outscore eclipse that mark on Saturday. But can TCU hold down Mayfield and the Sooners just enough?
Prediction: TCU 42, Oklahoma 41