Week 11 of the college football schedule is a lot like my first marriage, it delivers…again.
After last week’s season-high seven Ranked vs. Ranked contests, this week we and double-down and do it all over again. Only this time around, we get three Top 10 matchups. It amounts to six of the top teams in the land playing another top team. If that weren’t enough, two of the four remaining Top 10 members face Top 20 opponents. That leaves just two top squads not playing a ranked foe – (4) Clemson vs. Florida State and (9) Washington at Stanford.
It’s glorious, it’s meaningful, and it may be the single best weekend of college football this year.
Though there are a full serving of 11 games before Saturday sizzles, the real meat doesn’t fall off the bone until late Friday night when the No. 9 Huskies visit the singular Cardinal on FS1. Tune in to see the No. 1 rusher in the FBS, Stanford junior running back Bryce Love (#20), take on Washington’s No. 6 ranked rushing defense.
RANKED vs. RANKED (7)
- (12) Michigan State at (13) Ohio State – Saturday, 12pm EST, FOX
- (15) Oklahoma State at (21) Iowa State – Saturday, 12pm EST, ABC/ESPN2
- (1) Georgia at (10) Auburn – Saturday, 3:30pm EST, CBS
- (20) Iowa at (8) Wisconsin – Saturday, 3:30pm EST, ABC
- (2) Alabama at (16) Mississippi State – Saturday, 7pm EST, ESPN
- (3) Notre Dame at (7) Miami Fla. – Saturday, 8pm EST, ABC
- (6) TCU at (5) Oklahoma – Saturday, 8pm EST, FOX
OFF THIS WEEK (11)
- American: Houston, (22) Memphis, Tulsa, USF
- Mountain West: San Diego State, Utah State
- Pac-12: Cal, Oregon
- Sun Belt: Idaho, New Mexico State, ULM
FIRST-EVER MEETINGS (2)
- FAU at Louisiana Tech
- Troy at Coastal Carolina
7: BYU has won 7 straight over UNLV (last loss in 2004).
7: Navy has won 7 straight over SMU (last loss in 1998).
7: Nevada has won 7 straight home games over San Jose State (only loss there in 2000).
8: Northern Illinois has won 8 straight over Ball State (last loss in 2008).
9: (2) Alabama has won 9 straight over (16) Mississippi State (last loss in 2007).
10: (14) Penn State has won 10 straight over Rutgers (last loss in 1988).
- Colorado has NEVER beaten (11) USC (0-11).
- Colorado State has NEVER beaten Boise State (0-6).
- Kansas has NEVER won AT Texas (0-7).
- New Mexico has NEVER beaten Texas A&M (0-3).
- Pitt has NEVER beaten North Carolina in ACC play (0-4).
- South Alabama has NEVER beaten Arkansas State (0-5).
- Tulane has NEVER won AT East Carolina (0-8).
- UL Lafayette has NEVER beaten Ole Miss (0-4).
- UNLV has NEVER beaten BYU at home (0-8).
- Wake Forest has NEVER won AT Syracuse (0-3).
Georgia Southern at Appalachian State (Thursday, 7:30pm EST, ESPNU)
Only three defenders in the FBS have scored more sacks than Appalachian State’s senior defensive lineman Tee Sims (#42) with 8.5. He also leads the nation in sack yards (70). It sets up well for the visit from Georgia Southern, which has already given up a whopping 25 sacks. That’s tied for 108th in the FBS and 10th in the Sun Belt. Compare it with App State’s offensive line which has given up only eight sacks thus far.
UConn at (18) UCF (Saturday, 12pm EST, ESPNU)
At 8-0, UCF is one of only five undefeated programs remaining in the FBS. Offensively, it’s the pass game that has gotten the Knights this far, ranked No. 11 in the nation and averaging 325.5 yards per game. The strength may look like a super power vs. UConn this weekend, the team that has the dubious distinction of the worst pass defense in college football. The Huskies, on average, have coughed up 378.6 yards per game through the air. They’ve given up 400-plus on four occasions: 455 at Virginia, 426 vs. East Carolina, 480 vs. (22) Memphis and 408 vs. Missouri. Keep an eye on UCF sophomore quarterback McKenzie Milton (#10). Not only is he ranked No. 12 nationally in yards per game, he’s No. 2 in the FBS in passer rating.
FAU at Louisiana Tech (Saturday, 3:30pm EST)
What if I told you that the No. 1 scoring back in all of college football hailed from FAU? Introducing Devin “Motor” Singletary (#5), a sophomore running back for the Owls who’s quietly scored 19 rushing TDs. Included in the deluge were four scores apiece in wins over Middle Tennessee State and Western Kentucky. Singletary also ranks No. 6 in the nation in yards per game (139.56) and No. 5 in total yards (1,256). Cue up Louisiana Tech, the No. 92 ranked rushing defense in the land and you get the picture. The Bulldogs aren’t tragic vs. the run, but they have allowed a total of 459 yards rushing along with five TDs in their last two outings.
Oregon State at Arizona (Saturday, 10pm EST, ESPN2)
At 6-3, Arizona has already won twice as many games as it did last season. What’s made a big portion of the difference is sophomore quarterback Khalil Tate (#14), who took over under center in Week 6 and revved up the engines on Arizona’s rushing attack. Averaging a cool 327 ground yards a game, the Wildcats’ rushing O ranks No. 1 in the Pac-12 and No. 4 nationally. As for Tate, he’s the No. 3 rusher in the FBS among all backs and the No. 1 rushing quarterback. His 11.44 yards per carry is the best in the nation. It all adds up to a potential explosion against Oregon State’s No. 95 ranked rushing D. The Beavers are tenth vs. the run in the Pac-12, only Colorado and UCLA are worse.
HARDWARE UP FOR GRABS
The $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy – Nebraska at Minnesota – series started in 1900 – Minnesota leads all-time 31-24-2, but Nebraska has won 18 of the last 20.
Heralded by some as the “best CFB trophy of the modern era” the $5 Bits of Broken Chair only dates back to 2014 when Minnesota’s mascot and Nebraska’s fake coach exchanged words on Twitter. Basically, @GoldyGopher challenged @Faux Pelini to a “friendly wager.” How did the usurper coach respond? “Ok how about if we win you give me $5, if you win I get to smash a wooden chair over your back.”
You can’t make this stuff up.
The Bronze Stalk Trophy – Ball State at Northern Illinois – series started in 1941 – Northern Illinois leads 22-20-2 and has won nine of the last 11.
First awarded in 2008, the Bronze Stalk “depicts several cornstalks recognizing the Midwestern landscape surrounding DeKalb and Muncie.” Ball State captured the first-ever stalk, but has sent home the sheaf with NIU every year since.
The Gansz Trophy – SMU at Navy – series started in 1930 – Navy leads 11-7 and has won ten of the last 11.
Dating back to 2009, the Gansz Trophy honors coach Frank Gansz, a highly regarded, longtime special teams coach in college and the NFL. Gansz played at Navy from 1957-59, was an assistant coach there from 1969-72 and then was the special teams coach at SMU from 2008 until he passed away in 2009. Navy has won the Gansz five times, SMU hasn’t yet to won the award.
The Golden Boot – Arkansas at (24) LSU – series started in 1901 – LSU leads 38-22-2, but the two have split the last four.
Though the series dates to over 100-years ago, the Golden Boot (formed by combining the two states geographically) wasn’t introduced until 1996, Arkansas’ fifth season in the SEC. The trophy is a 24-karat gold whopper—four-feet high and weighing in at 200 pounds. LSU has won the Boot 13 times vs. the Razorbacks’ eight.
The Golden Screwdriver – Fresno State at Hawaii – series started in 1938 – Fresno State leads 26-22-1 and has won five of the last six.
What sets the Golden Screwdriver apart from all the other FBS rivalry trophies is that it’s not an official part of the game its associated with. At least not yet. It’s also got perhaps the best backstory combined with the least savory aesthetics.
It all began at the 2002 Hawaii at Fresno State game, when then Warrior head coach June Jones claimed to have been hit in the head by a screwdriver hurled from the stands at the end of his team’s 31-21 win. The trophy, a golden screwdriver implanted in artificial turf on a rustic wooden base, “commemorates” the altercation. Its creation is the result of a Fresno radio station’s call for listeners to design an annual award for the rivalry game.
The Heartland Trophy – (20) Iowa at (8) Wisconsin– series started in 1894 – Wisconsin leads 45-43-2 and has won four of the last five.
The Heartland, a bronze bull, wasn’t introduced until 2004 when the two schools decided to honor their then 110-year old rivalry by offering a traveling prize. Why a bull? According to the Hawkeyes, it “symbolizes the kind of games that have been typical when the schools meet.” The Badgers have grabbed the bull by the horns six times vs. Iowa’s five.
The Michigan MAC Trophy – Eastern Michigan at Central Michigan – series started in 1902 – Central Michigan leads 59-29-6 and has won four of the last five.
This game is the final leg of the 2017 edition of a three-way battle between Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan. Established in 2005 by the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame, the Michigan MAC is awarded to both a football and basketball recipient.
Earlier this season, WMU beat EMU and last week CMU triumphed over WMU. A Chippewa’s win on Wednesday night would earn CMU its first Michigan MAC title since 2013.
(11) USC’s 11-0 record vs. Colorado is the third-longest undefeated streak among two conference members in the FBS. The only longer stretches are Florida State’s 18-0 mark vs. Duke and Boise State’s 13-0 record vs. San Jose State.
What makes USC-Colorado unique is that the Trojans and Buffaloes are members of the same Pac-12 division, the South. That can’t be said about Florida State-Duke, hailing from the ACC Atlantic and Coastal respectively, or Boise State-San Jose State – members of the MWC’s Mountain and West divisions.
Tied at No. 4 in the FBS in longest in-conference undefeated streaks are a trio of combos with 6-0 records. Boston College is 6-0 vs. Virginia, Houston is 6-0 vs. Temple and Boise State is 6-0 vs. Colorado State. Of these, only Boise State and Colorado State also share membership in the same division.
So, the longest winless divisional streaks in the FBS belong to Colorado and Colorado State, a combined 0-17 vs. USC and Boise State. What’s even better is that both schools meet their master this Saturday, each getting an opportunity to make history. The Buffs host the Trojans at 4pm EST on FOX and the Rams host the Broncos at 10:30pm EST on CBSSN.
That leaves Air Force as the only FBS program from the state of Colorado not playing a divisional foe it’s never beaten in Week 11. The Falcons host fellow MWC-Mountain member Wyoming, who it’s 28-24-3 against all-time.