Week 11 games to watch:
No. 4 Penn State (8-0) at No. 17 Minnesota (8-0), Saturday, ABC, 9 a.m. PST
In the first College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday, the Golden Gophers were treated like a “Group of Five” undefeated team with a No. 17 ranking. Why? They haven’t had to beat anybody to get to their 8-0 record. Minnesota didn’t schedule a Power Five opponent in nonconference play, and 5-4 Illinois has the best record of its Big Ten opponents. With No. 4 Penn State, No. 18 Iowa and No. 13 Wisconsin left, plus a possible tilt with No. 1 Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, we’re going to find out soon what P.J. Fleck has actually built in Minneapolis. Penn State controls its own destiny for a CFP spot and has already won a couple of games that had a mega feeling this season with prime-time victories over Iowa and Michigan.
No. 12 Baylor (8-0) at Texas Christian (4-4), Saturday, FS1, 9 a.m. PST
TCU has not been able to find a quarterback to make its spread offense hum since Trevone Boykin graduated, but freshman Max Duggan has shown enough promise this season to think the Horned Frogs could break out of their years-long offensive slumber. The Bears have won tough road games at Kansas State and Oklahoma State by an average of 18.5 points. They don’t appear to be great at anything, but Matt Rhule’s team is playing soundly on both sides of the ball.
No. 2 Louisiana State (8-0) at No. 3 Alabama (8-0), Saturday, CBS, 12:30 p.m. PST
The biggest story line entering this latest “Game of the Century” — the Tigers and Crimson Tide are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the Associated Press poll and flip-flopped in the coaches’ poll — is the health of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The Heisman Trophy candidate and projected No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft suffered a high ankle sprain Oct. 19 against Tennessee and had surgery to repair it. Tagovailoa has practiced this week and the signs are encouraging for Saturday, but it remains to be seen if he has the mobility to deal with a talented defensive front like LSU’s for four quarters. If Tagovailoa is close to full health, this game has all the makings of a classic. Unlike past titanic LSU-Alabama contests that were defined by great defense and high-pressure field goals, the 2019 version features two top-five passing offenses.
Missouri (5-3) at No. 6 Georgia (7-1), Saturday, ESPN, 4 p.m. PST
With No. 7 Oregon and No. 8 Utah on a bye week, fans of the Ducks, Utes and Pac-12 football in general can casually keep an eye on two nightcap games with a slight potential for upheaval in the CFP rankings that would benefit the West Coast’s cause. First up, Georgia will welcome Missouri to Athens in a game that doesn’t seem like much of a threat for the Bulldogs. But let’s remember: South Carolina’s visit between the hedges didn’t catch anyone’s eye until the Gamecocks led in the fourth quarter of their eventual upset win.
Iowa State (5-3) at No. 9 Oklahoma (7-1), Saturday, Fox, 5 p.m. PST
While Georgia sits in front of the Pac-12 contenders and the Sooners trail them, Oklahoma probably has a better chance of stealing a playoff spot. To make the playoff, Georgia would have to win at No. 11 Auburn and against the Alabama-LSU winner in the SEC title game, which is unlikely. Oklahoma, on the other hand, plays at No. 12 Baylor and at No. 23 Oklahoma State and would likely face Baylor again in the Big 12 title game, giving the Sooners numerous chances to build their resume to jump Oregon and Utah. If Oklahoma is looking ahead at all to next week’s game in Waco, it could find itself in a tough battle against a capable Iowa State team.