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What a week!
After a relatively dull slate of games in Week 10, the college football world was treated to some excellent action Saturday.
The LSU-Alabama matchup lived up to the hype as the Tigers came away with a 46-41 victory. Minnesota and Baylor remained unbeaten, while Penn State suffered a costly first loss and Texas stopped a streaking Kansas State in its tracks.
There’s a lot to unpack in terms of how the week’s action will impact the national landscape, and that’s what we set out to do here with our updated Top 25.
Bleacher Report’s panel of experts—Matt Hayes, David Kenyon, Adam Kramer, Kerry Miller, Joel Reuter and Brad Shepard—each submitted a ballot. A first-place vote is worth 25 points, followed by 24 points for second, 23 for third, etc.
B/R Week 11 Top 25
T-2. Ohio State
8. Penn State
16. Notre Dame
20. Boise State
23. Appalachian State
24. San Diego State
T-25. Louisiana Tech
T-25. Wake Forest
Others receiving votes: Oklahoma State
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Take a bow, Joe Burrow.
In the biggest game of his career, facing off against an opposing signal-caller who many viewed as the front-runner to win the Heisman Trophy and go No. 1 overall in the 2020 draft at the start of the season in Tua Tagovailoa, Burrow was clearly the best quarterback on the field.
He finished 31-of-39 passing for 393 yards and three touchdowns and added a season-high 64 rushing yards on 14 carries.
The redshirt senior has thrown for 3,198 yards on the year with 33 touchdowns and just four interceptions, completing an impressive 78.9 percent of his throws.
If the season ended today, it would be tough to find a more deserving Heisman candidate.
Andrea Adelson of ESPN wrote:
“Everyone always talks about Heisman moments. Perhaps Burrow had his on the 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter that featured three clutch third-down conversions — two Burrow passes and a Burrow run that extended the lead back to two scores. Then there’s the late, fourth-quarter scoring drive, when Alabama cut it to 39-34 and he made a first-down run on third-and-2 that he punctuated with a first-down signal.”
As for the LSU Tigers, their resume includes wins over Alabama, Auburn and Florida, and they have a solid case to move up to No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings after starting the week at No. 2.
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More than a few people were surprised to see Penn State slotted ahead of Clemson in the No. 4 spot when the first set of College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday.
It turns out their stay there will be brief.
After allowing just 9.6 points per game during their 8-0 start, which included quality wins over Iowa and Michigan, the Nittany Lions allowed a season-high 31 points and 460 yards of offense to fellow unbeaten Minnesota on Saturday.
“We knew they were a good football team,” Penn State coach James Franklin told reporters. “It’s hard to be undefeated.
Indeed it is, and the cost of that first loss will be a significant slide down the rankings—and down the bowl-game pecking order.
The Nittany Lions will need to avoid a letdown next week against an Indiana team that has won four straight, before heading to Columbus to take on Ohio State on Nov. 23 in a game that will likely determine the Big Ten East champion.
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When the preseason AP poll was released Aug. 19, Minnesota was among the others receiving votes at No. 39 overall, while Baylor was nowhere to be found.
Roughly three months later, both of those teams are undefeated at 9-0 and banging on the door for a spot inside the Top 10 in those same rankings.
A powerhouse at the start of the decade, Baylor got off to a 9-0 start as recently as 2013 when it finished 11-2 and lost to UCF in the Fiesta Bowl.
However, the program bottomed out in 2017 with a 1-11 record in Matt Rhule’s first season as coach, and it finished 7-6 a year ago.
It took triple overtime against TCU to keep the Bears’ undefeated season alive, and they’ve won three of their last four games by a combined 12 points, but they are 9-0 nonetheless.
The story is decidedly different for Minnesota.
For the Golden Gophers, it’s the first time they have started a season 9-0 since 1904, when they finished 13-0 and outscored their opponents 725-12.
That dizzying fact aside, they hold a two-game lead in the Big Ten West with three games to go, so they’re in a great position to get to the Big Ten championship Game.
Baylor faces its toughest test of the year when the Oklahoma Sooners come to town next Saturday, while Minnesota will travel to Iowa City to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes.
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While there’s not quite an LSU-Alabama game on tap for Week 12, there are still several huge matchups that will have a significant impact on the top half of the rankings.
Despite losing handily to Virginia Tech on Saturday, Wake Forest still represents the toughest test of the season for undefeated Clemson. A convincing win would be the Tigers’ best chance to prove they belong in the College Football Playoff.
An important SEC battle will take place between Georgia and Auburn. The Bulldogs hold a half-game lead in the SEC East, while the two-loss Tigers are looking to add to an impressive resume that includes a home win over Oregon and a road victory over Texas A&M.
However, the game of the week is in the Big 12, where undefeated Baylor welcomes one-loss and higher-ranked Oklahoma in a battle for conference supremacy.
If the Bears can win their first game of the season against a ranked opponent, they would at least crawl onto the periphery of the College Football Playoff conversation, though a lot would likely have to happen for them to grab a spot.
The annual Navy-Notre Dame rivalry game carries more weight than normal with both teams ranked, so that one also deserves a mention.
Another exciting week awaits!