Only three days remain in college football’s regular-season season. Now is the time to start thinking about conference championships. Although a handful of participants have already been determined for championship weekend, many more slots are yet to be filled.
Four matchups between ranked rivals and three other games that might surprise are the most significant on Week 11. These are the usual list, arranged in alphabetical order according to their potential entertainment value.
No. No. 18 Baylor, (Noon ET Fox).
You should be watching:To prepare for their difficult three-week Big 12 final kick, the Sooners had a week off. They will have to face three of their closest competitors. It begins with this trip to Waco, where the Bears must regroup quickly from last week’s surprising setback against TCU. Newly installed QB Caleb Williams has provided a boost to the Sooners’ offense with 1,189 passing yards and 14 TDs since taking over, but the OU defense remains suspect. The Bears’ defense has also been inconsistent, so QB Gerry Bohanon will again be asked to do a lot.
It might disappoint you: If Baylor’s RB tandem of Abram Smith and Trestan Ebner find room to operate from the outset, the Sooners will be in for another shootout. But if the OU defense is able to contain the Bears’ ground game and build a bit of a cushion, the game could get away from Baylor.
No. 11 Texas A&M at No. 12 Mississippi (7.30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
You should be watching: The Aggies still have work to do and will still need help to win the SEC West, but last week’s drubbing of Auburn was a huge step. Next up is the trip to Oxford. Ole Miss presents a unique challenge due to its high-octane approach. The question will boil down to the team that can set their preferred pace. The Rebels wouldn’t mind making it a track meet, but they might have no choice if the Aggies get on the board early. Ole Miss QB Matt Corral’s ability to find running room is perhaps an underappreciated part of his game, but Aggies’ LB Aaron Hansford might make him think twice about taking off. The A&M offense figures to get off to a better start this week as RBs Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane take advantage of the Rebels’ front that is allowing 4.3 yards per rushing attempt.
It might disappoint you:Zach Calzada is Aggies’ QB. He has both the arm strength and the accuracy to extend the field. If his deep balls are connecting, even the Rebels’ potent attack will have a hard time keeping up against the stronger A&M defense.
No. 19 N.C. State, at No. 13 Wake Forest (7:30 pm. ET, ACC Network
You should be watching: It’s a first-place showdown in the ACC Atlantic, and it doesn’t involve Clemson. Yes, under a couple of scenarios the Tigers could still win the division, but the winner of this key clash in Winston-Salem will be in the driver’s seat. In four of the Demon Deacons’ last five games, they’ve surrendered at least 34 points. But they’ve scored at least 35 in every contest this season, so suffice to say a high-scoring affair is quite likely. Wake QB Sam Hartman accounted last week for seven touchdowns in North Carolina. However, his two interceptions proved to be costly. The Wolfpack offense isn’t quite as prolific, but QB Devin Leary has 25 TDs with just three picks and should take advantage of the Deacons’ leaky secondary.
It could be disappointing: There probably isn’t any such thing as a safe lead in this game. It is likely that one team will pull away from the other due to turnovers. N.C. State’s ball security has been outstanding since its early setback at Mississippi State, and the Wolfpack have just seven total giveaways all year.
No. 8 Michigan at No. 23 Penn State (Noon ET on ABC, ABC)
You should be watching:With Ohio State as the only unaffected team in conference play, Big Ten East officially passes through Columbus. Although the Wolverines remain in an excellent position to challenge Buckeyes, they must overcome a few hurdles. The Nittany Lions can only play spoiler at this point but would like to optimize their place in the league’s bowl pecking order. With Michigan’s QB Cade McNamara showing more speed in passing, the Penn State defense has stood strong and will continue to do so. Sean Clifford of the Nittany Lions is content to have WR Jahan Dottison as a constant threat, but he needs other players to help him avoid Wolverines DE Aidan Hutchinson.
It could be disappointing:There could be lengthy punt exchanges as neither team gives up points quickly. It shouldn’t lack for intensity, though the daytime crowd could be less of a factor than it might be at night in Beaver Stadium.
Purdue No. 5 Ohio State (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
You should be watching:The Buckeyes must play host, first, to Purdue. Purdue has been a known giant killer in the West, before they can make a deal to the Michigan schools. Due to their earlier losses to Minnesota, Wisconsin and other states, the Boilermakers will need some help in winning their division. However they have already won two top-10 wins. C.J. QB C.J. There might again be opportunities for Purdue QB Aidan O’Connell and WR David Bell to exploit the OSU secondary that has not always been airtight.
What it might disappoint you:OSU’s best option to prevent red-zone problems is to simply run it through on their way to the paydirt. Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave will be attempting to achieve this and building a large lead in the early games.
No. No. ET, CBS)
You should be watching: With the SEC East already wrapped up, the Bulldogs close out their regular-season conference slate in Knoxville, where the Volunteers are coming off the most significant victory to date of the Josh Heupel era with last week’s triumph at Kentucky. Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker has accounted for 25 total TDs — 21 by air — with just two interceptions. He’ll have his hands full, however, facing DT Jordan Davis and the lights-out Georgia defensive unit that has surrendered 13 points or fewer in every outing this season.
It could be disappointing:J.T. Daniels has to make something happen for the Bulldogs’ offense. But it’s more likely that the other side of the ball will continue to dominate, and the Bulldogs will have another drama-free second half.
Washington State is No. 6 Oregon (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
You should be watching: The Ducks aren’t winning pretty, but they’re winning and might still have a path to the Playoff. The Ducks return to #Pac12AfterDark with the chance of clinching the North Division. However, they will face an aggressive Cougars team that has shown remarkable resilience despite all the changes in the coaching staff. WSU is expected to be resting after its win over Arizona State last week, which was fueled in part by Jayden de Laura’s quarterback and five key takeaways from the defense. While the Ducks may not have displayed explosiveness, QB Anthony Brown or RB Travis Dye were able to maintain momentum thanks to their 50% third-down conversion rate.
It might disappoint you: It’s been almost like a March Madness “survive and advance” mentality for the Ducks, and it’s served them well for the most part. That doesn’t always make for excitement, but they’d like to avoid any fourth-quarter angst just the same.
Follow Eddie Timanus Twitter @EddieTimanus.