College Football Week 11: Four Games To Watch
#24 Michigan (7-2) at Illinois (6-3)
Alix Fitch: Illinois - This is a game that will depend on the way that each teach manages the ball. Michigan's quarterback, Denard Robinson, has only 13 touchdowns for 12 picks, making his record the fourth worst in the nation. The Fighting Illini have a number of struggles of their own, including having the worst record of turnovers in the Big Ten, at 19. Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase will be able to pull the Illini to a victory if he manages to maintain a steady completion rate.
James Santelli: Illinois 16, Michigan 13 - If all the field goals in LSU-Alabama sent your heart aflutter, this is the game for you. Two of the top 15 defenses in the nation meet in Champaign. Illinois certainly has the ability to slow down Denard Robinson, and Michigan has struggled away from Ann Arbor, losing its last two road games by a touchdown or more.
Omar Shamout: Michigan 31‚ Illinois 20 - Illinois is coming off of three tough losses in a row after starting the season 6-0. The Illini's biggest win during those first six weeks was over an Arizona State team that now has three losses after being defeated last week by UCLA, so it would seem they should be classified as pretenders in the Big Ten rather than contenders. Scheelhaase may lead the Big Ten in yards per game, but he has yet to face a defense as good as Michigan's, which is ranked seventh nationally.
#20 Auburn (6-3) at #15 Georgia (7-2)
Santelli: Auburn 31, Georgia 27 - Calling for an upset between the hedges. Auburn RB Michael Dyer has come up big in road contests for the Tigers, and will be the key to beating the Bulldogs. Georgia's defense has been stout against the run (3.0 yards/carry), but something tells me that Auburn has the personnel to attack it.
Shamout: Georgia 24‚ Auburn 13 - It's really a mystery how Auburn is 6-3 and ranked #20 in the BCS standings, because the Tigers offensive and defensive stats are shocking. The team is 108th in the nation in passing, and they give up almost 28-points a game. Georgia's stout defense should pose big problems for the anemic Tigers' offense on the road in Athens. The Bulldogs are especially good against the run, led by DE Abry Jones, and they should be able to contain Auburn running backs Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb.
Unfortunately for Auburn, it doesn't have a quarterback or receivers who can hurt Georgia through the air. Plus, Georgia will get back WR Malcolm Mitchell, who missed three games with a hamstring injury.
#19 Nebraska (7-2) at #12 Penn State (8-1)
Santelli: Penn State 24, Nebraska 14 - The Board of Trustees at PSU did consider canceling the Nittany Lions' final home game of the season. But the show goes on at Beaver Stadium, and if nothing else, you know the players who loved him will play hard in his absence. Penn State has the 3rd-best defense in the country, which will be important in stopping Nebraska's strong run game, led by Rex Burkhead and Taylor Martinez.
Shamout: Penn State 21, Nebraska 17 - On Saturday in State College, the most interesting news story will not be on the field in Beaver Stadium. It will be in the stands, and on the campus of Penn State as the community continues to grapple with the unraveling Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal at the university, and subsequent cover-up. The school's Board of Trustees fired legendary head football coach Joe Paterno on Wednesday evening, along with university President Graham Spanier. The decision resulted in violent student protests in support of the ousted Paterno that were broadcast live on television.
As much as it might sicken us to see Penn State fans rally around their disgraced former coach rather than in disgust at the actions of school officials, the noise inside the stadium is sure to be deafening, and it should help the already strong Nittany Lions defense stop Taylor Martinez and the Cornhuskers.
#7 Oregon (8-1) at #4 Stanford (9-0)
Santelli: Oregon 42, Stanford 38 - One of the things I took away from USC's near-upset of Stanford two weeks ago is that speed can kill the Cardinal. Super-fast Trojans RB Curtis McNeal sprinted past Stanford's defense on two long outside touchdown runs, and only a couple drops kept USC from burning the Cardinal secondary with multiple deep balls for TDs. Oregon is even faster on offense that USC, so look out for the Ducks to cook up some big plays.
Shamout: Stanford 45, Oregon 38 - Unlike last week's defensive struggle in Tuscaloosa between LSU and Alabama, there should be plenty of touchdowns on the Farm this weekend. Look for Andrew Luck to have a monster passing game against an Oregon pass defense that gave up 337 yards to a 3-5 record Washington State team, and 291 yards to Arizona State. Even without WR Chris Owusu and TE Zach Ertz, the powerful Cardinal running game should open up things downfield for likely Heisman trophy winner, Luck.
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