2021 Week 11 Recap

Just when we thought we had a firm grip on the national title contenders, Week 11 happened. Read below to find out who got knocked off!

Games of Note and Predictions

Pittsburgh 44 – #8 North Carolina 36

-Scott: North Carolina 31, Pittsburgh 28

-Gavin: Pittsburgh 35, North Carolina 34

On a chilly Thursday night, the Pitt Panthers gave Mack Brown and the Tar Heels their second consecutive loss, effectively eliminating them from playoff discussions, even with a potential upset of Clemson down the road. While Pittsburgh had already been eliminated from winning the Coastal, Kenny Pickett went off, throwing for four scores and running for one as well. This snapped the Panthers’ three game losing streak in a major way, and was much-needed for Pat Narduzzi. UNC needs to fix its defense if it’s going to find a way to a New Year’s Six bowl.

#5 Ohio State 35 – Purdue 14

-Scott: Ohio State 51, Purdue 23

-Gavin: Ohio State 45, Purdue 28

Three years after the Boilermakers stunned the Buckeyes in West Lafayette, the magic was not recreated this past Saturday in Ohio’s state capital. While Ohio State didn’t look dominant, they were definitely in control throughout. The defense took some impressive strides against a pretty decent Purdue offense. Jeff Brohm needed this one to have a shot at winning the West, but they have two tossups to finish up against Northwestern and Indiana. They’ll need some help. Ohio State keeps pace with Penn State, but have their eyes on the Playoff, even if they can’t win the Big Ten. That means they’ll need style points down the stretch.

#10 Oklahoma State 31 – #17 TCU 0

-Scott: TCU 27, Oklahoma State 26

-Gavin: Oklahoma State 28, TCU 24

Wow, that was convincing. The Pokes defended home turf by annihilating TCU, effectively ending the Horned Frogs’ run at a Big XII title. Also, OK State is in prime position to not only get to Arlington, but possibly a playoff berth as well. This defense is scary, and I think it travels to keep them in a game with anyone. TCU may in fact have time to lick its wounds, as they face lowly Kansas next. If the Cowboys win out, they’ll play for the conference title. A tough road trip to Lubbock awaits. More on that team later…

Georgia State 24 – Coastal Carolina 22 (OT)

-Scott: Coastal Carolina 43, Georgia State 30

-Gavin: Coastal Carolina 38, Georgia State 21

Everyone continues to doubt GSU, but they keep on impressing.  The Panthers head into Conway and stun the Chants, giving them their second conference loss, and putting Coastal behind the 8-ball in winning the division.  This game was completely shocking, as both teams’ defenses were the ones to show out, holding each other to a minimum of points, before the Panthers pulled it out in triple overtime on the new two-point conversion shootout rule.  This was the most Coastal has struggled to score in over two seasons, so credit Shawn Elliott’s squad.  GA State controls their own destiny moving forward

#2 Texas A&M 41 – Ole Miss 25

-Scott: Texas A&M 26, Ole Miss 17

-Gavin: Texas A&M 31, Ole Miss 21

With the win, Texas A&M clinches their first SEC West title since joining the conference in 2012.  While Ole Miss was able to challenge TAMU’s defense at times, this is still an elite unit.  The Aggies were in control for the entirety of this one, and the offense showed some much-needed life as well.  The Aggie fanbase is starting to pound the drum for the #1 overall seed in the CFP, disparaging Clemson’s strength of schedule.  The committee might agree eventually, but the Aggies need to keep playing one week at a time.  It’s worked thus far.  Ole Miss drops to 6-4 on the season, and the last two games of 2021 will do a lot for fans to get a feel of just how much progress Lane Kiffin has made in Oxford.

#4 Penn State 32 – #20 Michigan 11

-Scott: Penn State 20, Michigan 10

-Gavin: Penn State 28, Michigan 21

With College Gameday on hand, Penn State thumped Michigan, in what proved to be yet another ranked road loss for Jim Harbaugh.  I don’t want to dunk on him too much though, as this Nittany Lion team is really pushing all the right buttons as of late.  This may have been Sean Clifford’s most impressive game as a passer in his career, as the Lions were able to push the ball downfield when Michigan was holding the run game in check.  The Wolverines sure could use a 2-0 finish to quiet the hot seat talk on Harbaugh.  Unfortunately, that would require a win over you know who.  I advise Wolverine fans to remember how bad this team was last year, and Michigan has improved a good deal in 2021.  If Penn State can win out, they’ll head to Indy for the first time since 2016.

Wisconsin 43 – #21 Northwestern 14

-Scott: Wisconsin 24, Northwestern 7

-Gavin: Wisconsin 28, Northwestern 14

While this was a massive showdown in the Big Ten West heading into the game, you wouldn’t have guessed it by the final score.  Although the game was within reach at half, the Badgers ultra-physical run game finally started to wear down on the Northwestern defenders.  UW now has a game lead in the division, and controls its own destiny moving forward.  They do have two tougher games left with Nebraska and Minnesota.  Northwestern needs a lot of help, and perhaps some tiebreaker magic.  They face fellow contender Purdue next week before the finale in Champaign.

#16 Washington 27 – #9 Arizona State 23

-Scott: Washington 34, Arizona State 28

-Gavin: Washington 42, Arizona State 38

The Pac-12 playoff hopes hinged on this game, and in all likelihood, Washington is the only team left with a shot.  There’s still lots of chaos that could happen, but the Sun Devils’ second straight loss might be the final nail in their CFP coffin.  The Huskies defended a rainy home turf Saturday night to win their eighth in a row, with the last two being ranked wins, which could prove huge to the playoff committee.  These two still might play again in the Pac-12 Championship, but ASU needs some dominoes to fall their way now.  They sit a half game behind USC, and could really use the Trojans to slip up next week against UCLA.  Regardless, I think it’s time for Washington to start destroying the lesser teams remaining on the schedule to gain some eyeballs from the national media.  Do they have a real shot at this?  Time will tell.

Upset Picks:

UMass 36 – Maine 28

-Scott: UMass 37, Maine 30

The Minutemen avoid embarrassment against another FCS squad by defeating the Black Bears in Amherst.  Don’t look now, but UMass has back-to-back wins, giving them three on the year.  There’s also a very winnable game against New Mexico State Thanksgiving weekend.  Is the arrow pointing upward for Walt Bell?

UCF 41 – SMU 34

-Gavin: SMU 35, UCF 24

Despite a great start, SMU couldn’t hang onto a 14-point lead at home against UCF, and find themselves on a 4-game skid, and effectively out of the AAC title race.  I don’t know what quite happened to this team, as they had a lot of promise early on.  Regardless, this is a very impressive win for the Knights, who find themselves right in the thick of the championship rush.  They have a non-con game with UConn, and rival South Florida to close out the regular season.  There’s a lot of teams that could end up in the title game, but UCF definitely has a pretty good shot given their remaining schedule.

Our Pick Results:

Scott: 6-3 (67-31 on season)

Gavin: 7-2 (64-34)

Other Games of Note

Ball State 35 – Northern Illinois 9

The six-way tie in the MAC West whittles down to a four-way tie, as NIU finds themselves a game back now at 3-3 in conference.  Ball State has tough games to go, facing one of its division challengers in Central Michigan, and the East division champ Buffalo.  Luckily, BSU welcomes them both to Muncie.

South Florida 24 – #3 Cincinnati 23

There was some chaos listed above.  But this was the big one.  UC drops its first game of the season on a humid Friday night in Tampa.  The Bearcats had looked impressive, and earned respect from the committee, despite a mediocre strength of schedule.  They’re sure to lose the benefit of the doubt now, and the G5 playoff drought will continue on.  USF just needs one more win to go bowling, which would be a huge accomplishment for Jeff Scott.

#11 Auburn 31 – Mississippi State 29

Auburn can’t win the SEC, but I do firmly believe they have a slight chance at reaching the playoff.  Their only two losses are to Texas A&M and Penn State, but this game didn’t do them many favors.  MSU has largely struggled this season, but they really gave Auburn a game here.  Keep in mind though, all SEC wins are pretty challenging it seems.  Auburn moves to 8-2.

#23 NC State 25 – Wake Forest 0

After Wake’s upset of UNC last week, many were predicting them to knock off another in-state ranked foe.  They were not close in any matter.  NC State played arguably its best game of the season, shutting out Wake and their lethal offense.

Vanderbilt 29 – Kentucky 28 (OT)

We celebrate victories of all teams here in our analysis.  Vandy earns their first SEC win under Clark Lea by snapping a five-game losing streak to Kentucky.  UK still is looking for win #6 to earn a bowl invite.  Luckily, NMSU awaits next week.

Temple 31 – Houston 30 (OT)

Remember what I said about celebrating all victories?  This one might save Rod Carey’s job at Temple.  I can’t say for sure, but maybe his team found something this week.  Houston suffers a massive gut punch here in the AAC title race, as they now have 2 conference losses, the same total as three other schools.  This is going to go down to the wire.

Southern Miss 28 – UTSA 17

In a tight C-USA West race, Southern Miss escapes the Alamodome with a massive win to stay alive in the race.  The Roadrunners missed out on a massive opportunity to keep pace with North Texas, although they still play each other in two weeks.  But now, the margin for error is zero.  USM would love additional losses by both UNT and UTSA.

#22 Miami 41 – Florida State 33

Make it five in a row over the rival Seminoles for the U.  D’Eriq King outscored Jordan Travis in this one, as both defenses struggled mightily to keep the weapons out wide in front of them.  UM is hot, and on a five-game win streak.  Had they pulled out a win at UNC earlier, they might just win the Coastal.  FSU drops to 4-6, and if they can’t win both road tilts at BC and Florida, they’ll miss a bowl for the third time in four years.

USC 37 – California 34

Speaking of hot teams, the Trojans have looked like a completely different team after the embarrassing loss in South Bend.  Thanks to clutch wins over ASU and now Cal, SC has a half game lead over Utah and the Sun Devils.  The frontrunner of those three reaches the Pac-12 title game.  The Trojans need to beat UCLA next week, and hope for a Utah loss against Oregon.  Cal showed a lot of fight here, as they finish up with the other two California conference rivals.

Troy 37 – Louisiana 21

Just when we thought ULL was turning a corner, they lay an egg.  The Cajuns had no answer for Troy’s offense all day long, and the Trojans keep pace in the Sun Belt East.  Louisiana continues to disappoint, but they still have a path to the title game as well, in what’s become a pretty dreadful West division.

Memphis 54 – East Carolina 16

In another tight conference race, Memphis destroys ECU to get to 4-2 in conference play.  This was effectively an eliminator game, but I will say that the Pirates being involved in conference championship talks this late in the season is a major step forward for the program.  Memphis has a huge game at Houston this upcoming Friday.

#12 Georgia 35 – Tennessee 0

Georgia continues to impress, as the defense is really hitting its stride as of late.  UT has been pretty pathetic in Year 1 under Josh Heupel, but he inherited a rough situation.  We’ll see if UGA can continue this strong play against Texas A&M in the SEC Championship Game.

#6 Oklahoma 45 – Baylor 3

Much unlike real life, OU completely dominated Baylor, and had no problem scoring at all.  Oklahoma remains tied at the top of the Big XII, with matchups against Iowa State and OK State looming.  Baylor still needs to get one more win to reach a bowl.

Colorado 43 – UCLA 33

In one of the more shocking results of Week 11, Colorado goes into the Rose Bowl and outscores DTR, Chip Kelly, and the Bruins.  I can’t figure out UCLA this year, as they’ve been wildly inconsistent.  They have been rather unlucky in close games, so the trends lead me to believe they’ll get one more win to make a bowl.  All of a sudden, the Buffs are in bowl or go home mode, but they’ll need to beat either Washington or Utah, two tough asks.

Texas Tech 35 – #7 Iowa State 26

A second top 10 team goes down late Saturday night in Lubbock, as the Tech is able to knock off the Cyclones, and put what’s certainly a knockout punch to ISU’s playoff hopes.  The Red Raiders had lost five straight to Iowa State, but the streak is null and void now.  Iowa State still has a shot to get to Arlington, but they have tough games remaining with TCU and Oklahoma.  TTU welcomes the Pokes to Lubbock next week, where they try to take down another top 10 team, and clinch a bowl berth in the process.

San Diego State 41 – Nevada 25

One more conference race to tackle:  SDSU controls start to finish against a dangerous Nevada team to knock the Wolfpack out of division contention.  The Aztec offense scored a season-high 41 points, as they sit a game and a half out of first place.  The two teams ahead of them have a bye this upcoming week.  The path is rather simple for SDSU.  Beat UNLV and Boise to close out the regular season, and then hope Fresno can head into San Jose and beat the Spartans on Thanksgiving Day.  If that all happens, Brady Hoke’s team has the tiebreaker, and they’ll play for the MW Championship come December.

Wow, this late in the season, and we still have Top 10 teams falling to the likes of the unranked. The season’s winding down, so make sure to follow up on all of the remaining action to go. We’ll have a bowl eligibility post up later this week!

-Scott

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