College football: Michigan State-Ohio State leads Week 11 games to watch.
Games to watch in Week 11:
No. 7 Ohio State at Michigan State
Noon ET, Fox
Line: Ohio State by 31⁄2
A path to the College Football Playoff still exists for the Buckeyes. But the Buckeyes haven’t looked the part of a Playoff team in recent weeks, following a blowout loss at Purdue with a narrow win against struggling Nebraska. The Spartans aren’t flashy, but they’re still plenty dangerous, as recent victories against Penn State and Purdue prove.
The Ohio State offense remains formidable, with QB Dwayne Haskins able to distribute the ball among an impressive array of big-play threats. But Michigan State’s defense is built to limit long gainers, which could help the Spartans keep the game within reach for veteran QB Brian Lewerke.
Prediction: The Spartans have improved demonstrably in the last month. The same cannot be said for the Buckeyes.
Michigan State, 24-17
No. 15 Mississippi State at No. 1 Alabama
3:30 p.m. ET, CBS Line: Alabama by 26
The Crimson Tide’s place in the SEC finale has been secured. But the team’s commitment to coach Nick Saban’s process emphasizes taking nothing for granted. The Bulldogs, who have achieved bowl eligibility, shouldn’t expect any reprieve.
Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa threw his first interception of the season at LSU, but he still passed for two touchdowns and ran for another despite a sore knee. The Tide defense controlled matters from start to finish. Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald can be more elusive, and he does have options downfield that can challenge the Tide secondary. But the Bulldogs can’t afford to play from behind.
Prediction: Every Alabama opponent this season has needed to play catch-up within the first few minutes. That isn’t likely to change.
Oklahoma State at No. 6 Oklahoma
3:30 p.m. ET, ABC Line: Oklahoma by 171⁄2 The annual Bedlam showdown finds the Sooners in a familiar position atop the Big 12 standings and the Cowboys still seeking consistency. But it’s a rivalry game, so anything can happen.
Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray overcame a couple of early miscues to eventually lead his team past Texas Tech last time out. But issues on defense remain. Cowboys QB Taylor Cornelius has the targets to keep up, most notably RB Justice Hill, but he can’t afford many empty possessions.
Prediction: With a trip to West Virginia looming down the road, the Sooners have to start showing they can get defensive stops when they need them. This high-profile clash at home would be a good place to start.
Auburn at No. 5 Georgia
7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Line: Georgia by 141⁄2 Georgia’s date with Alabama for the SEC title is ensured. But the Bulldogs must avoid a second loss before trying to return to the Playoff. Auburn can only play spoiler at this point but got a needed win against Texas A&M.
The Bulldogs’ success running the ball against Kentucky’s excellent defense in the division-clinching win was huge, especially after the unit’s struggles in the loss at LSU last month. Auburn has a solid ground defense as well, but Georgia QB Jake Fromm’s accuracy should help keep the rushing lanes open. While QB Jarrett Stidham managed to rescue the Tigers a week ago, the team still lacks the balance needed for coach Gus Malzahn’s offensive system to be most effective.
Prediction: One of the SEC’s most heated rivalries hasn’t cooled. Don’t expect the Bulldogs to ease up, even with the division in hand.
No. 2 Clemson at No. 14 Boston College
8 p.m. ET, ABC Line: Clemson by 17
Clemson has been rounding into championship form, with freshman QB Trevor Lawrence turning most of the heavy lifting over to his game-breaking running backs. He might need to stretch the field a bit more against the Eagles, who have for the most part been able to contain lengthy rushing plays. Boston College needs a big game from RB AJ Dillon to keep the Tigers’ superb defensive front from teeing off on QB Anthony Brown.
Prediction: This is a major opportunity for Boston College, and the prime-time crowd will be revved. But the Tigers will methodically take the air out of Alumni Stadium much as Alabama did in Baton Rouge, and their collision course for yet another Playoff encounter will continue.
Willie McCovey STAN SZETO/USA TODAY SPORTS
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw his first interception this season but also had a 44-yard touchdown run against LSU.