warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

College Football Week 11: Four Games To Watch

Alix Fitch, James Santelli, Omar Shamout |
November 11, 2011 | 2:13 p.m. PST

Sports Staff

The Illini will look to take down Michigan at home this Saturday. (A Syn/Creative Commons)
The Illini will look to take down Michigan at home this Saturday. (A Syn/Creative Commons)
Though the college sports world remains in shock in the wake of the Penn State sex-scandal reveleations, there is still compelling football to be played. The conference pictures are taking shape and the field of title-contenders has narrowed, with just five unbeaten teams remaining. We preview the biggest match-ups of the weekend. 

#24 Michigan (7-2) at Illinois (6-3)

Alix FitchIllinois - 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 SantelliIllinois 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)

Georgia Football (Gregor Smith/Creative Commons)
Georgia Football (Gregor Smith/Creative Commons)
Fitch: Georgia - The Bulldogs stand to be in control of their own destiny if they manage to win out their last two SEC games. Georgia is also expecting the return of some of their best players including freshmen Isaiah Crowell and Malcolm Mitchell, who have been out with injuries. Auburn may be coming off of a win last week against Ole Miss, they still manage to have one of the worst defenses when it comes to stopping the run. This is something Georgia will look to take great advantage of.

SantelliAuburn 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.

ShamoutGeorgia 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)

Penn State football (Mike Pettigano/Creative Commons)
Penn State football (Mike Pettigano/Creative Commons)
Fitch: Nebraska - When we look back at the schedules of both these teams, Nebraska displays the advantage of having played a tougher schedule than the Penn State squad. With evenly matched quarterbacks, it will come down to the teams' big-game mentality, and having this experience will put Nebraska on top.

SantelliPenn 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.

ShamoutPenn 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)

Stanford QB Andrew Luck (John Martinez Pavliga/Creative Commons)
Stanford QB Andrew Luck (John Martinez Pavliga/Creative Commons)
Fitch: Stanford - This is a true match up of power versus speed. Both teams are prominently known for their skills on offense and this game will certainly bring a show. Stanford and Oregon both average over 45 points a game and as Oregon will rely on the speed of its offense, it will try to outperform Stanford's top-notch tight ends. Not only is this one of the toughest competitions each team will face this season, but it will stand as a deciding factor for the favorite contender for the Pac-12... and possibly the BCS title.


SantelliOregon 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.


ShamoutStanford 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.


Follow Alix, Omar, and James on Twitter.

Best way to find more great content from Neon Tommy?

Or join our email list below to enjoy the weekly Neon Tommy News Highlights.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.