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College football Week 11 top games include TCU-Texas, Alabama-Ole Miss


The fourth quarter is upon us. As the college football season enters the home stretch, the intensity on the field will ramp up with teams jockeying for conference titles, playoff berths and attractive bowl destinations. 

It’s somewhat unfortunate that our top two candidates for game of the day will be occurring simultaneously, but that’s what your remote is for, right? There will be plenty of other contests worthy of attention throughout the rest of the day as well. At first glance none of them would appear to be in the early window, but then again we didn’t figure on Ohio State being in a struggle with Northwestern last week. So while surprises are always possible in this sport, here are the seven games we think will be the most watchable.

No. 4 TCU at No. 18 Texas

Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Why watch: The Horned Frogs continue to live on the edge but got another strong fourth-quarter effort to get to 9-0. Now very much in the playoff conversation, they hit the road to take on the Longhorns, who have been hot and cold this year but are on the warm side for the moment coming off a win at Kansas State. With QB Quinn Ewers back and healthy, RB Bijan Robinson is finding more room to operate for Texas. The Longhorns could get off to a fast start given TCU’s tendency to fall behind early. But Horned Frogs QB Max Duggan seems to get dialed in after intermission, and WR Quinton Johnston and RB Kendre Miller know how to deliver in the clutch as well.

Why it could disappoint: It shouldn’t, given the Horned Frogs’ tendency toward high drama. While they’ve ended up with double-digit wins on numerous occasions, they’ve rarely lacked for excitement. The Longhorns have also been in their share of nail-biters, win or lose. Their last three outings produced one-score affairs.

CRYSTAL BALL: Expert picks for every Top 25 game in Week 11

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL FIX: LSU in control? Alabama, Clemson in trouble?

No. 23 Washington at No. 6 Oregon

Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, Fox

Why watch: The red-hot Ducks are alone atop the Pac-12 standings, but they face a tough three-game closing stretch. First up are the Huskies, who kept their conference hopes alive and earned a return to the Top 25 by slipping past Oregon State last Friday night. QB Bo Nix and the Ducks had a much easier time last week at Colorado, but he might have a harder time staying away from Huskies DEs Bralen Trice and Jeremiah Martin. Washington QB Michael Penix must beware of Oregon CBs Christian Gonzalez and Trikweze Bridges, who have three picks each.

Why it could disappoint: Washington absolutely has the talent to make a game of it. But Autzen Stadium is a hard place to win for visitors. If the Ducks can build a multi-score cushion before halftime, there might not be much suspense at the end.

No. 11 Alabama at No. 9 Mississippi

Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Why watch: This one could still figure in the SEC West race, but the winner would need help in the form of an LSU loss. Of course, it also carries the subplot of the ongoing Lane Kiffin vs. Nick Saban rivalry, so it should be worth a look regardless of long-term implications. The Rebels had last week off, which could be a huge advantage after the Crimson Tide had to empty the tank in the nighttime OT loss at LSU. Alabama QB Bryce Young continues to make plays despite seemingly being under constant duress. Ole Miss QB Jaxson Dart undoubtedly paid close attention to what worked for LSU counterpart Jayden Daniels against the Tide.

Why it could disappoint: It shouldn’t. A blowout either way seems unlikely. Even the Crimson Tide’s wins have tended to be close this year. It probably won’t match the 63-48 track meet these teams staged in Oxford two years ago, but there should still be some interesting moments.

No. 21 Central Florida at No. 17 Tulane

Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Why watch: Only the most avid fan of Tulane, a 2-10 team a year ago, could have envisioned the Green Wave heading into November in control of its own destiny in the American Athletic Conference with a New Year’s Six bowl berth in sight. A challenging stretch drive awaits them, however, beginning with this clash with the Knights. UCF is accustomed to competing for conference titles, but things haven’t always gone smoothly this year. Knights QB Mikey Keene, stepping in for injured starter John Rhys Plumlee, has performed well, engineering the comeback win at Cincinnati two weeks ago and winning his first start last time out against Memphis. The Tulane attack is led by QB Michael Pratt and RB Tyjae Spears.

Why it could disappoint: This UCF squad lacks the firepower of the Knights of recent vintage. The Green Wave haven’t trailed much this season, so it’s hard to know what to expect if they’re forced to mount a rally.

No. 14 North Carolina at Wake Forest

Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Why watch: The Tar Heels can lock up the ACC Coastal and a date with Clemson in the conference title game with a win. In truth, they might have it clinched by the time the game kicks off if a couple of earlier results go their way, but it should be an entertaining contest regardless. North Carolina QB Drake Maye has emerged as one of the country’s breakout stars, with 31 TD tosses and four more scores on the ground with just three picks. He could make it a long night for the often leaky Wake Forest secondary. But the Tar Heels’ pass defense can be quite porous as well, and Demon Deacons QB Sam Hartman and his array of deep targets led by WR A.T. Perry are capable of keeping pace if a shootout develops.

Why it could disappoint: The Deacons enter on a two-game skid, during which they’ve given the ball away far too often. That tendency has snowballed when Wake finds itself in comeback mode, but the Tar Heels have struggled to hold leads at times themselves. Four of UNC’s wins have been by a field goal or less, so a four-quarter fight seems more likely.

Louisville at No. 12 Clemson

Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Why watch: Clemson has the ACC Atlantic wrapped up, but the Tigers aren’t exactly brimming with confidence for their stretch drive coming off back-to-back subpar performances, resulting in last week’s damaging loss at Notre Dame. Enter the Cardinals, riding a four-game winning streak that has cooled coach Scott Satterfield’s chair considerably after a 2-3 start. The Clemson offense has more issues than just quarterback play, though D.J. Uiagalelei has borne the brunt of the criticism. He’s going to face a fierce Louisville pass rush, led by DE YaYa Diaby, that has recorded 33 sacks for the year. Cardinals QB Malik Cunningham has taken his share of punishment this season. He might be asked to execute fewer designed runs against LB Trenton Simpson and the Tigers’ hard-hitting defense but he’ll still take off if he sees a lane.

Why it could disappoint: The game figures to be a grind. The Tigers have shown little offensive explosiveness, but the Clemson defense gives up less than five yards per play on the other side.

No. 1 Georgia at Mississippi State

Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

Why watch: With Tennessee vanquished and the SEC East all but locked up, the Bulldogs now look to avoid the dreaded letdown as they hit the road to face the league’s other Bulldogs. Mississippi State can’t win the West but has a couple more opportunities to play spoiler. After keeping Hendon Hooker in check, the Georgia secondary will now turn its attention to QB Will Rogers, who got the ‘air raid’ offense flying against Auburn last week following a couple of difficult outings. Georgia QB Stetson Bennett continues to be the master of the short and midrange passing game but can still turn loose WR Ladd McConkey when a big play is needed.

Why it could disappoint: It probably will if we’re being honest. Since last month’s scare at Missouri, Georgia has been laser focused, and that should continue with its end goal in sight. The visiting Bulldogs will look to silence the cowbells early.  

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