Burning questions for CFB's biggest Week 10 games
The past three weekends of college football have each delivered a stunning top-10 upset to shake up the College Football Playoff and conference standings. Now Week 10 is here and everyone is hoping Saturday’s matchups will do the same.© Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY SportsWeek 10 of the season features an SEC East clash between No. 8 Georgia and No. 6 Florida. The excitement doesn’t end there. Kansas and Kansas State will battle it out for the Governor’s Cup. Meanwhile, TCU and Oklahoma State will be exchanging blows in a conference battle with explosive potential.
The College Football Playoff Rankings are out and it couldn’t come at a better time with Week 11 of the college football season setting up to be one of the best in 2019. © Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Everyone’s focus will be on the highly anticipated clash in Tuscaloosa between No. 2 LSU and No. 3 Alabama. It’s the biggest game thus far in the 2019 season, though, it’s not the only one with major College Football Playoff implications.
Saturday’s thrilling slate opens with No. 4 Penn State rolling into TCF Bank Stadium with a battle against No. 17 Minnesota. The duel between undefeated teams will be the proving grounds for both programs to make a case for a playoff spot.
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Of course, there are even more compelling matchups in Week 11 for fans to enjoy. Now let’s examine the burning questions that will help determine the outcomes.
Will Gophers’ offense find a rhythm against Penn State’s defense?
Minnesota feels confident coming out of the bye with an 8-0 record and the perfect chance to prove itself on a national stage. The Gophers are averaging 38.6 points per game. However, they’re facing a defense allowing the second-fewest points (9.6) and rushing yards (68.4) per game this season.
Running backs Rodney Smith and Mohamed Ibrahim, who have played a massive role in Minnesota’s undefeated start, will find very few open running lanes. If the run game struggles, sophomore quarterback Tanner Morgan must excel as a passer. It comes down to the line of scrimmage. If the Gophers win there, it will make life easier for the running and passing attacks and can lead to a win.
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Can TCU’s offense create enough explosive plays to compete with Baylor?
The Horned Frogs are in a difficult spot entering Week 11. After knocking off Texas in Week 9, TCU’s offense came up short in Stillwater. Now with a 4-4 record and freshman quarterback Max Duggan dealing with a finger injury, the Horned Frogs season and a shot at redemption are at state.
Baylor’s offense is a well-balanced attack averaging more than 280 passing yards and nearly 200 rushing yards per game. TCU’s defense already demonstrated it couldn’t be relied on, so its offense must come through. If Duggan can connect with star receiver Jalen Reagor, which has been a problem this year, the Horned Frogs might have one last upset in store. © Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
How effective is Tua Tagovailoa after ankle surgery?
It’s the ankle that will shape this matchup and could define the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. Tagovailoa underwent surgery for his high-ankle sprain on Oct. 20. Now with more than two weeks to recover, his availability for the SEC battle and his mobility on the ankle linger over this game.
Burning questions for Cowboys vs Giants on 'Monday Night Football'
Capping off the action in Week 9, the New York Giants are hosting the Dallas Cowboys for the NFC Monday Night Football. There are five burning questions for this NFC matchup.The Cowboys currently hold a tenuous lead atop the division, coming into Week 9 with a half-game lead over the Philadelphia Eagles. However, despite just two wins, the Giants are only two games outside of first in the win column.
The junior is a game-time decision, though, he is expected to play given his participation in practice and the magnitude of this game. Tagovailoa’s surgically repaired ankle could limit his mobility and his ability to navigate pressure. LSU’s defense will likely bring blitzes early to test Tagovailoa. If he struggles to move around as effectively, then it will limit this explosive offense. Alabama needs him to win on Saturday and how he plays through pain will determine this game. © Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Does Texas’ offense get back on track against No. 16 Kansas State?
Many expected 2019 to be the year it all came together for Texas and the program would finally be a championship contender. It’s now quite clear, especially following losses to Oklahoma, TCU and a last-second win over Kansas, that Tom Herman’s team isn’t close to contention.
Now it’s about salvaging the season with a few marquee wins. To accomplish that against Kansas State, Sam Ehlinger must rebound from a miserable four-interception performance and play up to his Heisman-caliber talent. If he can do that and make up for Texas’ defense, which needs an entire offseason to be repaired, the Longhorns can win out and enter 2020 with renewed confidence.
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Will Jonathan Taylor carry Wisconsin over No. 18 Iowa’s defense?
Wisconsin saw its dreams of a spot in the College Football Playoff and Taylor’s Heisman hopes likely dashed with consecutive ugly losses. Now, the Badgers must fight back in a pivotal matchup against Iowa’s defense.
Taylor carries this team and he’s set to face another difficult test against a Hawkeyes’ defense allowing the eighth-fewest rushing yards (87.8) per game. Taylor averaged 3.56 yards per carry on 74 attempts in his past three contests. The Badgers can’t afford another underwhelming performance from Taylor. For Wisconsin to beat Iowa, Taylor’s effectiveness must increase and he needs to be used more as a receiver. Otherwise, it’ll be three straights losses for the Badgers.
Related slideshow: No. 1 vs. No. 2 regular-season matchups from the last 50 years (Provided by Yardbarker)
No. 1 vs. No. 2 regular-season matchups from the last 50 years
LSU and Alabama face off this weekend in one of the biggest regular-season college football games in recent memory. LSU comes into the game as the Associated Press No. 1 ranked team, while Alabama carries the No. 2 ranking. Due to the College Football Playoff and prior to it, the BCS, these games happen almost yearly, but seeing a No. 1 vs. a No. 2 in the regular season is rare.In fact, this will be just the 15th time in 50 years that the top two AP-ranked teams have played each other in the regular season, the last time being in 2011 when we had nearly the same scenario, as No. 1 LSU went into No. 2 Alabama and beat the Tide in a defensive showdown. That game, like most matchups of the top two teams, was close and came down to the final moments.The top two ranked teams have met six times since that game, but all were either in the BCS championship game or the College Football Playoff championship game. (Five of those games involved Alabama.) To have it happen in the regular season is much more infrequent now than it was during the World War II era and the 1960s.So let's look back at the last 14 times the AP top two faced off in the regular season. Steve Franz/Louisiana State University/Getty Images
No. 1 LSU at No. 2 Alabama (2011)
Nov. 5, 2011 - LSU won, 9-6 (OT)This was the first time two undefeated SEC teams met in the regular season when both were ranked in the top two. The game was a defensive stalemate that saw Alabama miss three field goals and had another one blocked, while LSU made multiple quarterback changes after two of them threw interceptions. Tied 6-6 going into overtime, the Crimson Tide missed a 52-yard field goal. LSU got possession and promptly hit a 25-yard field goal to win it. These two would meet again for the BCS national championship when Alabama gained the ultimate revenge by spanking LSU, 21-0. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
No. 2 Michigan at No. 1 Ohio State (2006)
Nov. 18, 2006 - Ohio State won, 42-39The biggest rivalry in college football had its first...and to this day only...No. 1 vs No. 2 matchup. Both teams entered the game with 11-0 records with the winner of this game heading to the BCS championship game and the loser off to the Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes jumped on the Wolverines early, 21-7, behind two Troy Smith touchdown passes and a 52-yard TD run by Beanie Wells. Both teams traded blows for the rest of the game, but Michigan could only get as close as four points on two occasions. Smith's 13-yard touchdown pass to Brian Robiskie with 5:38 left in the fourth quarter put the game away. Michigan tacked on a late touchdown (Chad Henne to Tyler Eckler), but it was too late. Ohio State won the game, 42-39, as the teams combined for exactly 900 yards of offense.The aftermath caused quite a bit of chaos in college football. Ohio State went to the BCS title game, while Michigan stayed at No. 2. However, USC beat Notre Dame the next week and leapfrogged the Wolverines to take the No. 2 spot. The following week, USC lost to UCLA and No. 4 Florida beat Arkansas in the SEC championship game, causing the Gators to jump all the way up to No. 2, keeping the Wolverines at three. Florida would beat Ohio State for the BCS national championship, while Michigan lost to USC in the Rose Bowl. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
No. 1 Ohio State at No. 2 Texas (2006)
Sept. 9, 2006 - Ohio State won, 24-7Ohio State showed its offensive versatility against the defending champion Longhorns with a big play offense in the first half and a grinding run attack in the second half. Eventual Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith had a field day throwing to Ted Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez, while Antonio Pittman ate yards and the clock for a comfortable win. Ohio State's defense was sensational, confusing Colt McCoy and shutting down the vaunted Longhorns attack. This would be the first of two times Ohio State would play in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 game. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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No. 1 Florida at No. 2 Florida State (1996)
Nov. 30, 1996 - Florida State won, 24-21For the first time in the Gators-Seminoles rivalry, both teams entered their rivalry game with 10-0 records. On a windy day, Florida State piled on Florida early on, jumping to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter on the backs of their running backs, Warrick Dunn and Pooh Williams. Florida would punch back in the second quarter behind a pair of Danny Wuerffel touchdown passes to Jacquez Green. The wind and defenses were the story in the second half, as FSU quarterback Thad Busby struggled in the wind, while the defense bent but didn't break against the Gators offense. A Williams TD run late gave the 'Noles enough cushion late to hold off Florida, 24-21. After the game, Steve Spurrier openly complained about Florida State's aggressiveness and perceived cheap shots on his players. The two would face off in the Sugar Bowl, as Florida State was now the No. 1 ranked team and Florida came in at No. 3. After No. 2 Arizona State lost to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl set up to be a national championship game. Florida exacted revenge on the hated Seminoles by rolling them, 52-20, to win its first title. Andy Lyons/Getty Images
No. 1 Florida State at No. 2 Notre Dame (1993)
Nov. 13, 1993 - Notre Dame won, 31-24One of the most well-remembered games on this list, Florida State came in with Heisman winner Charlie Ward and a Seminoles team poised to win its first championship against the establishment of Notre Dame and all the pageantry of South Bend. The Irish defense and the running of Lee Becton gave the home team an early lead that it would hang on to for much of the game. Florida State would score on an amazing touchdown pass that was tipped by Notre Dame and into the hands of Kez McCorvey on a fourth-and-20. After an Irish three-and-out, Ward led the 'Noles to the Notre Dame 14-yard line with :03 left. His pass to Warrick Dunn would be knocked down by Shawn Wooden (who would subsequently tear his ACL in the aftermath), and Notre Dame preserved the victory. Everyone was set to see a rematch in the Orange Bowl, as Notre Dame ascended to the No. 1 ranking and Florida State dropped to No. 2. The next week, however, Notre Dame was upset by Boston College in South Bend and the rematch would never happen. The Seminoles would take over the top spot and end up beating Nebraska for the national championship. Florida State/ Collegiate Images via Getty Images
No. 1 Miami at No. 2 Florida State (1991)
Nov. 16, 1991 - Miami won, 17-16The game is best known by one play: wide right. The Miami-Florida State rivalry was at a fever pitch, as the Hurricanes consistently got in the Seminoles way toward a national championship. Florida State came into the game with a high-scoring offense, while Miami was known for its suffocating defense. As you can tell by the final score, the 'Canes enforced their will on the game. After Miami scored the first touchdown on a Stephen McGuire run, FSU scored the next 16 points of the game on the strength of three field goals and a Paul Moore TD run. A Carlos Huerta field goal got the lead down to six when Larry Jones busted the goal line to give the 'Noles a 17-16 lead with 3:01 to play. Florida State raced down the field and set up a 34-yard field goal with :29 left, which it kicked on third down. Gerry Thomas' kick went, you guessed it, wide right and Miami won the game. Miami would win out and beat Nebraska in the Orange Bowl to win its fourth national championship in nine seasons. This is the last time the winner of a No. 1 vs No. 2 game in the regular season went on to win the national championship. Miami/Collegiate Images via Getty Images
No. 1 Notre Dame at No. 2 Michigan (1989)
Sept. 16, 1989 - Notre Dame won, 24-19This was the fourth straight regular season that the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams would meet. This stat should tell you how times have changed: the defending champion Fighting Irish attempted just two passes all game. It was a different pair of plays, however, that would define this game: Notre Dame's do-everything receiver Raghib "Rocket" Ismail returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. Every the Wolverines would get close, they would inexplicably kick it to Ismail and he made the big play. Notre Dame would stay No. 1 the rest of the season before getting spanked by Miami in the regular-season finale. This was Bo Schembechler's final game as head coach in the rivalry, as he lost the final three times he faced the Irish. Boris Spremo/Toronto Star via Getty Images
No. 1 Notre Dame at No. 2 USC (1988)
Nov. 26, 1988 - Notre Dame won, 27-10Oddly enough this wasn't the biggest game the Irish would play during the season involving the No. 1 ranked team. That would be in mid-October when the fourth-ranked Irish beat No. 1 Miami, 31-30, in what has since been known as the "Catholics vs Convicts" game. Notre Dame eventually took over the top spot in the rankings when it headed to USC for the regular-season finale. Unlike most of the games on this list, this one wasn't close despite Lou Holtz sitting Ricky Watters and Tony Brooks for the game. Irish QB Tony Rice opened up the game with a 65-yard touchdown run and didn't look back. Stan Smagala picked off Rodney Peete and returned it for a touchdown to give the Irish a 20-7 lead before halftime, and Notre Dame salted the game away from there. Notre Dame would beat West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl to win its 11th...and final...claimed national championship. Robert Riger/Getty Images
No. 2 Oklahoma at No. 1 Nebraska (1987)
Nov. 21, 1987 - Oklahoma won, 17-7To fans of a certain age, you know how big this rivalry was. For the entire 1987 season, Oklahoma and Nebraska topped the rankings and were on a collision course toward this showdown. Heading into the 1987 game, Nebraska spent the week filling up Oklahoma's bulletin boards with smack talk and predictions, while the Sooners uncharacteristically stayed quiet. After the 17-7 win, the Sooners, led by head coach Barry Switzer, did plenty of talking. ("When they were talking about beating us 35 to something — it's crazy to me. They haven't scored but four touchdowns on us in three years.") Oklahoma would win its fourth straight Big Eight title. John Biever/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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No. 1 Oklahoma at No. 2 Miami (1986)
Sept. 27, 1986 - Miami won, 28-16Defending champion Oklahoma brought its stifling defense, led by Brian Bosworth, to South Florida to face the Hurricanes. Miami had beaten the Sooners the previous year and wasn't afraid of the big, bad Sooners. Heisman winner Vinny Testaverde became more and more comfortable as the game went along, with a 30-yard TD pass to Michael Irvin in the third quarter giving the 'Canes a 28-10 lead. Miami's defense made a name for itself, shutting down Oklahoma's vaunted wishbone attack. To appreciate what the Hurricanes did on this day, you have to look at Oklahoma's season as a whole. Its led the nation in passing defense, rushing defense, total defense and scoring defense — yet Miami put 28 points on it. Oklahoma allowed only 45 points in the 10 other regular-season games combined. Miami would roll into the Fiesta Bowl where it lost to Penn State in another No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown. Focus on Sport via Getty Images
No. 2 Michigan at No. 1 Iowa (1985)
Oct. 19, 1985 - Iowa won, 12-10The statistics of this game should indicate a Hawkeyes blowout. Iowa outgained Michigan 422 to 182 and possessed the ball over 16 minutes longer than the Wolverines. The problem was that it couldn't finish off drives. Rob Houghtlin kicked four field goals in this tight contest with the final one coming as time expired. Hawkeyes quarterback Chuck Long and running back Ronnie Harmon dominated the game, but it was Michigan's Jim Harbaugh's shovel pass to Gerald White that resulted in the game's lone touchdown. Houghtlin's final kick, a 29-yard field goal as time ran out, remains one of the biggest moments in Iowa football history. The Hawkeyes would lose at Ohio State two weeks later, and the dream of a national championship ended. Allsport/Getty Images
No. 2 Oklahoma at No. 1 USC (1981)
Sept. 26, 1981 - USC won, 28-24This is the first matchup of the top two ranked teams in a decade, and one of the teams didn't really turn out to be worth its ranking. The game itself was sloppy: Players slipped all over the field, and Oklahoma fumbled the ball a whopping 10 times, losing five. Marcus Allen lost his footing a few times but still managed to gain 208 yards. Allen nearly caught the game-winning touchdown, but tight end Fred Cornwall (who caught one pass in his college career to that point) mistakenly reached for the ball and knocked it down. On the next play, Cornwall would be the intended receiver and pulled down the 7-yard pass to give the Trojans the lead with :02 left. Oklahoma would go on to tie Iowa State in its next game and get steamrolled by Texas in the Red River Showdown to stand at 1-2-1. The Sooners would lose two more games during the season to finish 7-4-1. USC would also stumble, losing two weeks later (to Arizona) and to Washington late in the season before losing to Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl. Icon Sportswire/Getty Images
No. 1 Nebraska at No. 2 Oklahoma (1971)
Nov. 25, 1971 - Nebraska won, 35-31This may be the most memorable game on the list. Nebraska was the defending national champion and riding a 20-game winning streak heading into Norman. It was also a matchup of Oklahoma's vaunted wishbone offense against Nebraska's brutal "Blackshirts" defense. The game was tight throughout before Nebraska took a 28-17 lead on the strength of Jeff Kinney's three TD runs heading into the fourth quarter. Oklahoma QB Jack Mildren would lead a fourth quarter comeback with a 2-yard touchdown run and a 17-yard touchdown pass to take a 31-28 lead with just over seven minutes to play. After a big 33-yard reception by Johnny Rodgers got the Huskers to the Sooners' 15-yard line, Kinney eventually punched in the go-ahead touchdown with 1:38 left in the game. The Sooners stalled, and Nebraska won the "Game of the Century." Nebraska would go on to beat Alabama in the Orange Bowl to claim its second straight national championship, while Oklahoma would beat Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. These two teams filled 17 of the 22 First Team All-Big Eight spots. Rich Clarkson / Rich Clarkson & Associates/Getty Images
No. 1 Texas at No. 2 Arkansas (1969)
Dec. 6, 1969 - Texas won, 15-14In the 1960s, Texas and Arkansas carved out a nice little rivalry as Southwest Conference foes. The two won eight of the previous 10 SWC championships, and their meetings tended to be among the biggest games of the conference season. The game was moved to the end of the season to get the most television viewers, and even President Richard Nixon attended the game to declare the winner as the national champion. The Razorbacks would gain control of the game with a 14-0 lead and their crushing defense stuffing Texas' wishbone attack. Texas would score on the first play of the fourth quarter on a James Street touchdown run. The Longhorns went for two to trail by six. Then Texas' defense made the big play, picking off Arkansas in the end zone to stall the Razorbacks from widening their lead. Texas would march down the field, making a key fourth-and-3 conversion that went for 44 yards, before Jim Bertelsen's touchdown run tied the game. The extra point gave the Longhorns the lead with over three minutes left. An Arkansas drive for a game-winning field goal died when Tom Campbell picked off Bill Montgomery to effectively end the game.Texas would go on to beat Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl to win the national championship. Penn State, which was also undefeated, lobbied to also be champion but many soured on its decision to play in the Orange Bowl instead of the SWC champ in the Cotton. Arkansas would lose the Sugar Bowl to Ole Miss. Getty Images
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Winners, losers from Steelers' win over Dolphins on 'Monday Night Football' .
The Steelers surged late in the second quarter and went into halftime down 14-10. Then, the second half belonged to the home team, and the Pittsburgh-friendly crowd went home satisfied after watching the Steelers win, 27-14. These are the biggest winners and losers from the TEAM victory over the TEAM on Monday Night Football.Winner: James Conner ran wildThe matchup between Pittsburgh’s running game and Miami’s run defense was certainly tilted in the favor of James Conner and the Steelers. Early on, it was obvious that Conner was going to be able to find open running lanes and make big plays.Puttin' on the jets @JamesConner_pic.