Well that didn’t last long. Just a few days after we got our initial playoff rankings from the committee, several teams played themselves right out of contention, including one of the committee’s top four schools. It’s that kind of constant chaos that keeps us coming back for more though, isn’t it?
This week promises much of the same, as we have a fresh set of playoff rankings and the always-present reality that one result could change the landscape of the season. There are plenty of games to get excited for this weekend, so get yourself primed and ready with 10 things to know for Week 11 of the college football season:
- Get familiar with Western Michigan
You probably haven’t watched too many Western Michigan football games this year, and you’re likely not alone. But if that’s the case, you’ve been missing out on some quality football. The Broncos are loaded with talent on each side of the ball and are fully deserving of their 14th ranking in the AP poll. On offense, they’re led by wide receiver Corey Davis who is not just the best player on his team, but is one of the best receivers in the nation this year with his 83.8 overall grade. They’ve also got a highly-talented quarterback in Zach Terrell (74.3) who currently ranks second in the nation with a 106.56 PFF QB Rating this season. The talent isn’t just on the offensive side of the ball though, as Robert Spillane (85.7) is the 12th-highest graded linebacker in the nation this year and edge defender Keion Adams (80.4) ranks 18th at his position with 28 total pressures. The Broncos will be on full display this Tuesday night against Kent State, giving you the opportunity to familiarize yourself with one of the least talked about but most talented teams in college football.
- The MACtion continues with Toledo
You get a double dose of MACtion this week as the Toledo Rockets are another team worth highlighting on our list. Again, likely a team not many viewers have seen much of, but Toledo has been fun to watch this season and has one of the better quarterback/running back duos in the country. Logan Woodside (86.1) has lit it up at every level this year and currently ranks second in the nation with his 86.5 passing grade. Add in running back Kareem Hunt who ranks first among all running backs with his 88.7 overall grade, and there’s no wonder this Toledo offense has been held under 30 points just once all season. The Rockets should continue to roll this week as they take on a struggling Northern Illinois team this Wednesday night.
- South Carolina looks to play spoiler
South Carolina already delivered a devastating blow to Tennessee’s season two weeks ago and will have the chance to disrupt the SEC East title race once again this weekend when they take on Florida. The Gators will stake claim to the title if they win out, but things could get interesting on Saturday as they play host to a South Carolina team that has won three in a row and has seemingly found their quarterback of the future in true freshman Jake Bentley (77.8). Gamecock fans have every reason to be excited about Bentley, as his deep passing and performance under pressure have been nothing short of impressive. With the addition of Bentley, a talented back in Rico Dowdle (70.7) and a suddenly surging defense, South Carolina may have what it takes to march into the Swamp and come away with a win.
- Auburn running game will be challenged by Georgia defense
The Auburn Tigers are one of the hottest teams in the country right now and that has largely been due to the dominance of their rushing attack. Kerryon Johnson (77.2) is the SEC’s second highest graded running back this season and is paired with another talented runner in Kamryn Pettway (62.0) who ranks sixth in the country with 17 runs of 15 yards or longer. They’ll be looking to carry the team again this weekend, but a stout Georgia run defense may stand in their way. The Bulldogs are led by several talented run defenders up front, including defensive tackle Trenton Thompson (85.4 run defense grade) and linebackers Roquan Smith (84.4) and Davin Bellamy (80.3). Auburn will need to rely on their stable of backs and improved offensive line to overpower the Georgia front and continue on their hot streak.
- Baylor’s freefall likely to continue
From losing a close one to unranked Texas to getting embarrassed by TCU last weekend, things are definitely trending in the wrong direction for the Baylor Bears. If they were hoping to right the ship this weekend against Oklahoma, that’s probably not going to happen either. The Sooners, and quarterback Baker Mayfield (93.9) in particular, have been unstoppable as of late. Mayfield currently holds the top overall grade among the nation’s quarterbacks and has been one of the most accurate passers in the country this season with his 77.7 adjusted completion percentage. Oklahoma also boasts both the fifth-ranked running back in Joe Mixon (83.4) and the second-highest-graded receiver in DeDe Westbrook (89.5). With quarterback Seth Russell struggling his last two games and running back Shock Linwood suspended for this matchup, things for Baylor will likely get worse before they get better.
- Texas’ D’Onta Foreman coming on strong
With four losses already this year and the Big-12 all but out of Playoff contention, most people would say the Texas Longhorns don’t have much left to play for this season. Running back D’Onta Foreman is clearly not one of those people. Foreman has gone off in his last three games, putting up a ridiculous 697 yards and five touchdowns over that span, with 425 of those yards coming after contact. Since Week 8, Foreman is the third highest-graded back in the country and ranks fourth for the season with his 41 forced missed tackles. Texas plays host to West Virginia Saturday and with the Mountaineers owning the 10th highest graded pass coverage unit in the country, relying on Foreman and the ground game is where the Longhorns will hope to find their success once again this weekend.
- Cal secondary could be in for a long night
One week after getting absolutely torched through the air by Jake Browning (84.1) and Washington, the Cal secondary faces another difficult task this weekend in trying to slow down Washington State and quarterback Luke Falk (81.4). Cal surrendered over 400 yards and seven touchdowns to the Huskies and a repeat performance this week is not out of the question, as Falk has been one of the best passers in the country this season. Falk leads the nation with his 81.1 percent adjusted completion percentage and has routinely picked apart defenses at every level this year. With a pass coverage unit that currently ranks 62nd out of 65 Power-5 teams, Saturday night could be another rough outing for the California defense.
- Two of the nation’s best passers on display in Stillwater
Surprise, Surprise. Another Big 12 game that seems destined for a shootout. This weeks’ version is Texas Tech versus Oklahoma State, a game which will feature two of the country’s top graded quarterbacks this season in Patrick Mahomes and Mason Rudolph. Mahomes currently ranks fourth among all QBs with his 90.2 overall grade and has been one of the most accurate passers in the country with a 75.4 adjusted completion percentage. Rudolph actually has a slightly better passing grade than Mahomes at 80.9 and ranks 11th in the country with a 125.2 rating on deep pass attempts. Both passers rank among the nation’s best in QB Rating when throwing from a clean pocket this season, and with the general lack of pass-rushers on both teams, there should be plenty of clean pockets and plenty of points this Saturday.
- Washington defense looks to slow down surging Trojan offense
USC has themselves right back in the conversation for the Pac-12 South crown after putting together their fifth win in a row with last weekend’s demolishing of Oregon. Much of their recent success can be attributed to a suddenly explosive offense led by quarterback Sam Darnold (74.7) and running back Ronald Jones II (69.8). Darnold has been impressive since taking over as the starter, providing consistent production and now ranking eighth in the country with his 98.24 PFF QB rating. Jones II has been especially effective over his last two games, leading the country in elusive rating and averaging 8.37 yards per attempt after contact during that span. This weekend the Washington Huskies will be tasked with slowing down that duo but there’s no doubting they have enough talent to do so. Cornerback Sidney Jones (86.7) has been one of the best cover corners in the nation this year, allowing just an 18.5 NFL rating into his coverage, and the Huskies also have some of the top run-stuffing defensive linemen in college football in Greg Gaines (89.0 run defense grade), Elijah Qualls (85.3) and Vita Vea (82.8). It will be a challenge, but expect the Huskies to slow down the Trojan offense and come away with a victory in this one.
- Zay Jones is the best receiver you’ve never heard of
East Carolina’s Zay Jones doesn’t get a lot of publicity, but take one look at his stats and you’ll see he clearly deserves to be talked about. Through 10 weeks, Jones ranks as our third highest graded receiver and is at or near the top of the list in every major receiving category. He’s been targeted a staggering 168 times this year, the most of any receiver in the country by 30 targets. Despite the frequency with which he’s thrown to, Jones has only dropped one pass this season and averages an impressive 3.62 yards per route run. Playing host to SMU this weekend, look for ECU to target Jones early and often on Saturday, as always.