NCAA College Football Week 11: Can Ohio State, Kansas State and Alabama pull off huge road wins?

B.J. Catalon (TCU) vs. West Virginia
Last week in the tenth week of the 2014 NCAA College football season we were fortunate enough to a see a plethora of great football games and it started last Thursday night when the Louisville Cardinals played host to the reigning National Champions, the Florida State Seminoles and were almost able to beat them until the Seminoles mounted their 4th quarter come back and took the victory by a score of 42-31. We also saw #23 East Carolina crumble and lose to the Temple Owls by a score of 20-10 in what was arguably the biggest upset in week 10. The Florida Gators battled their SEC rivals, the Georgia Bulldogs in a game, which saw the Gators stun the 11th ranked Bulldogs on the road by a score of 30-20. Last week we saw a #3 vs. #4 matchup when the Auburn Tigers did battle with their SEC rivals, the Ole Miss Rebels in a game the Tigers emerged with a four-point win in what was a thriller of a game. Week 10 also saw the top ranked team, the Mississippi State Bulldogs play host to the feisty Arkansas Razorbacks where they earned a tough 17-10 win in a very defensive game, however, they were able to improve their record to 8-0 on the season and remain the Nation’s top-ranked team.
This week in the eleventh week of the season could very well be the biggest week thus far. There are so many big games that hold massive College Football Playoff implications, which means we’re in for a lot of action and drama for all the viewers out there.
Here are some of this week’s biggest games to look out for in week 11 of the 2014 College Football Season.
#14 Ohio State Buckeyes (7 – 1) vs. #8 Michigan State Spartans (7 – 1)
Last week the Ohio State Buckeyes played host to their BIG 10 rival, the Fighting Illini of Illinois in a game where they totally dominated their opponent and earned the 55-14 victory. QB J.T. Barrett leads the very dynamic Ohio State offence and he has looked very good so far this season filling in for the injured QB Braxton Miller. So far this year Barrett has thrown for nearly 1,900 yards, 23 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. We also have to remember that Barrett can make plays with his feet; he has rushed for nearly 500 yards and has six rushing touchdowns to his name. The Buckeye offence ranks 15th overall in the nation and they can thank players like RB Ezekiel Elliot, WR’s Michael Thomas, Devin Smith and Dontre Wilson, who have helped them earn that ranking. The offence isn’t the best part of the team for the Buckeyes, it’s their defense which ranks 8th in the nation in terms of overall defense. The Michigan State Spartans are coming off of a bye week, however, in week nine they played host to their division rival and state rival the Michigan Wolverines in a game where the outplayed Michigan on nearly every play on their way to earning a 35-11 victory over the boys from Ann Arbor. The Spartan offence is led by the ever so efficient QB Connor Cook who has looked fairly impressive this year with the way he can manage the game from the QB position. He has thrown for nearly 1,900 yards, 17 touchdowns and only five interceptions so far this season. The Spartan offence ranks 10th in the nation in terms of overall production and that’s due in large part with the way they run the ball. They pack quite the one-two punch with RB’s Jeremy Lanford and Nick Hill who, combined have rushed for nearly 1400 yards and 16 touchdowns so far this season. I can’t forget to mention the connection that Connor Cook has developed with his favorite WR, Tony Lippett who has nearly 900 receiving yards and nine touchdowns so far. Like the Buckeyes, the Spartans also have a great defense, a defense that ranks 5th in the nation in terms of overall defense. They look great at stopping the pass, but even better at stopping the run. This game could go either way, all we know for sure is that there are massive CFB Playoff implications on the line in this one. Neither team wants to have a two-loss record, they want to earn this win and prove to the nation that they are contenders. If the Buckeyes want to see success in this game, they will need to play very smart football, especially on offense. QB J.T. needs a big performance, and I’m not talking strictly number based, he needs to make smart decisions throwing the football and running the football against a very stout Spartan defense. If he tries to get cute, fancy and overly aggressive, the Spartans will pounce on him and the Buckeyes offense. If the Spartans want to be successful in this match up, they will need to continue to run the ball with authority. They will need their offensive line to create some great holes and gaps in the hopes of helping the RB’s break a big run. QB Connor Cook must also look to spread the football around and not just seek out Tony Lippett. Lippett will be blanketed all night, so look for other Spartan receivers to step up big if that’s the case. The Buckeyes want to avenge their BIG 10 Championship game loss to the Spartans last season, so look for them to come out hungry and aggressive.
Game details: Kickoff on Saturday, November 8th at 8:00pm from Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan.
#7 Kansas State Wildcats (7 – 1) vs. #6 TCU Horned Frogs (7 – 1)
Last week the Kansas State Wildcats played host to the Oklahoma State Cowboy in game where they were able to earn the 48-14 victory over their BIG 12 rivals. The Wildcats offense is led by QB Jake Waters who has thrown for nearly 1,900 yards, 11 touchdowns and only three interceptions so far this season. Waters is also a threat on his feet; he has rushed for over 400 yards and has seven rushing touchdowns to his name. The Kansas State offense ranks 56th in the nation in terms of overall offensive production, a number which may seem surprising to some. A few guys to look out for on that Kansas State attack are RB Charles Jones, who already has 11 rushing touchdowns, WR’s Tyler Lockettand Curry Sexton. The K-State offense may not be the brightest spot on the team; but their defense sure does make up for that. Their defense ranks 16th in the nation in terms of overall defensive production with their rushing defense ranking 10th  overall. Last week the TCU Horned Frogs went on the road to do battle with the West Virginia Mountaineers and were able to squeak past their BIG 12 rivals and earn the 31-30 victory. Sensational QB Trevone Boykin who has thrown for over 2,400 yards, 22 touchdowns and only four interceptions so far this year leads the TCU offense. Boykin is also a threat on his feet, he has rushed for over 400 yards and has himself four rushing touchdowns. The TCU offense ranks 3rdin the nation in terms of overall offense and they can thank the likes of RB’s B.J. Catalon, Aaron Green, WR’ s Josh Doctson, Kolby Listenbee and Deante’ Grey for that. Their passing game is more of an aerial assault that ranks 6th in the nation in terms of production. On the other hand, you have a TCU defense that ranks 49th in the country in terms of overall defense with their pass defense struggling at times and ranking 68th overall. This is the biggest game of the season so far for each team and they both want this victory very badly in order to prove to the selection committee that they are a legitimate team. If Kanas State wants to be successful in this game, they will need to play some aggressive offence and take the game to TCU in the air. They must look to take advantage of that shaky TCU secondary and convert some big plays down field. However, its important for K-State QB Jake Waters to not force any throws and risk giving the ball to the TCU offense, he must take what the defense gives him and if that’s a QB run, he’s got to be smart about it and take it. If the TCU Horned Frogs want to be successful in this game they must continue to play smart football on offense and move the ball effectively in the air because it will be tough to run against the K-State front seven. TCU must also tighten up in the secondary and look to avoid giving up any big plays to their BIG 12 rivals down field. This game will come down to whichever team can play the better defense when the game matters.
Game details: Kickoff on Saturday, November 8th at 7:30pm from Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.
#5 Alabama Crimson Tide (7 – 1) vs. #16 LSU Tigers (7 – 2)
The Crimson Tide of Alabama are coming off of a bye week, however, in their last game in week nine, they were able to beat their SEC foes, the Tennessee Volunteers by a score of 34-20. Standout QB Blake Sims, who has thrown for over 2,000 yards, 15 touchdowns and only three interceptions so far, leads that big-bad Crimson Tide offense. Alabama’s offense ranks 12th in the nation in terms of overall offensive production and can thank the likes of RB’s Derrick Henry, T.J. Yeldon, WR’s Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White and Christion Jones for those great offensive numbers. The Crimson Tide have always been a team that can beat you on the ground and in the air, which makes them very tough to defend. The Crimson Tide defense has looked fairly impressive this year, especially when defending the rush. They rank 4th in the nation in overall defense and it shows. The LSU Tigers are also coming off a much needed bye week, however, in their last game, in week nine, the LSU Tigers pulled off the upset and beat the Ole Miss Rebels by a score of 10-7 in a tight defensive game. The Tigers have been experimenting with QB’s so far this season and have used Anthony Jennings at times and Brandon Harris, with Jennings taking the majority of the snaps. Both QBs have combined for seven interceptions and only 14 touchdowns so far this season which helps explain why the LSU offence ranks 63rd in the country with the passing game ranking a mere 99th. They have run the ball well though and they can thank RB’s Leonard Fournette, Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard for that. The lone bright spot in the passing game remains to be the production of WR Travin Dural who has nearly 700 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. The LSU defense has played very well this year and their 15th ranking reflects that. They’re 4th in the nation when it comes to defending the pass but rank 61st when it comes to stopping the run. This all SEC rivalry is one of the best in the entire sport and these games never cease to amaze and anything is always possible, regardless of ranking and records. If the Crimson Tide want to be successful in this game, they will need be smart on offence and not force any passes against a very good LSU secondary. The Crimson Tide will need to run the ball effectively and have the offensive linemen pave running lanes for the running backs and hope they can break some big plays. In turn, they will need their defensive linemen and linebackers to apply as much pressure as possible and help stop that LSU rushing attack and hope to break through and get to the QB in order to neutralize that struggling LSU passing game. If the LSU Tigers want to come out with the win, they will need to play a near perfect game on both sides of the ball. They need their defense to stop big plays down field and help blanket WR Amari Cooper. The LSU offense will need that struggling passing game to get going and try to create some smart passing plays by utilizing various WR’s but also their RB’s on quick screens. The LSU Tiger have to be methodical on offense, they can’t force any passes, they must be smart on offense and aggressive on defense. The Crimson Tide want and need this win if they want to get back into the Top 4 College Football Playoff picture, however, the LSU Tigers can play spoiler and hand the Crimson Tide their second loss of the season. Look for this game to be a very physical and defensive game, as there is a lot riding on this all SEC matchup in what will be a very hostile environment down in Baton Rouge.

 

Game details: Kickoff on Saturday, November 8th, 2014 at 8:00pm from Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
 
Matthew Kassabian
Twitter: @PassDaKassabian

Author: Matthew Kassabian

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