Week 10 of the 2011 college football season brings forth by far the most compelling matchup of the year in No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama. The contest is essentially an elimination game for the BCS national championship game on January 9 in New Orleans and should boast one of the most electric atmospheres of recent memory.There are other big games that take place outside of the SEC this week, however, as three of the other four remaining unbeaten teams hit the road in huge conference games.
Michigan vs. Iowa
This Big Ten matchup features the only conference game in which both teams are above .500 in a weak slate of Big Ten games for Week 10. Michigan appears to be greatly favored against an Iowa team that lost to Minnesota on the road last week, but the Wolverines might be challenged more than one might think as they try to avoid a third straight loss to the Hawkeyes.
Two weeks removed from their first loss of the season against Michigan State, the Wolverines must remain hungry for revenge, as they stay knotted in a three-way tie atop the Big Ten Legends Division with the Spartans and the Cornhuskers. With MSU and Nebraska unlikely to be tested on Saturday, Michigan must stay focused in what could be a trap game with the Hawkeyes.
Michigan desperately needs to contain Iowa running back Marcus Coker, who exploded for 252 yards on 32 carries despite the loss to the Gophers. The sophomore has racked up at least 124 yards on the ground in each of the last three games.
Iowa should show equal attention to Michigan star Denard Robinson, who has thrown for 1325 yards and ran for 779 yards while collecting 21 total touchdowns on the season. The recent struggles Iowa has shown of stopping the run should worry them even more. Iowa is allowing an average of 194.8 yards per game on the ground in Big Ten play.
LSU vs. Alabama
LSU fans have shown up to their last couple of home games equipped with "We Want Bama" signs, and they've done so for a very good reason. LSU hasn't exactly been presented with significant challenges in its games this season. The same goes for the Crimson Tide, as they haven't allowed an opposing team to score more than 14 points in a game. Well, the teams' wishes of playing each other has finally come, and the game will be the 23rd matchup of the AP poll's No. 1 and No. 2 teams.
The game also features some of the game's most efficient quarterbacks in LSU's Jarrett Lee and Alabama's A.J. McCarron. Each has completed over 63 percent of his passes and has a QB rating of over 150. However, each QB has been less than efficient in their games against highly ranked opponents. McCarron only completed 48 percent of his passes for 140 yards in The Tide's win over Florida, while Lee was only 10-of-22 for 98 yards in LSU's win over Oregon and was only 8-of-21 against Kentucky. While each quarterback has shown slight signs of struggling, each team can still be assured of a reliable run game. Both teams have three runners with over 250 yards on the ground, led by Trent Richardson of Alabama and Spencer Ware of LSU.
In the elite matchup of suffocating defenses (Alabama ranks first in terms of points allowed per game, and LSU third) it appears the loser still might have an outside shot at the national championship game, especially if the game is close. An intense debate will follow no matter what the outcome of the game, prompting fans to wish for a playoff system more than ever this season.
Kansas St. vs. Oklahoma St.
The marquee matchup of the Big 12 conference features two offenses that have proved they can put up huge numbers. More importantly, OSU's perfect season and national championship hopes are on the line. Both teams have shown they have some holes defensively, which what will probably make for a high-scoring game filled with big plays.
The Cowboys, who rank second in the nation in points scored per game, will go up against a Kansas State defense that was humiliated by Oklahoma just a week ago. The Wildcats gave up 58 points and allowed Sooners' QB Landry Jones to throw for 505 yards in the team's first loss of the season. OSU QB Brandon Weeden should have little trouble connecting with star wide receiver Justin Blackmon come Saturday.
Oklahoma State could be in trouble defending K-State QB Collin Klein, as the Cowboys let up 622 yards in their win over Baylor last week. Even though Klein is more of a threat on the run (he has 762 yards which leads the team), he still has put up 992 yards through the air this season.
Expect Blackmon to carry the Cowboys in their quest to keep their national championship hopes alive, setting up an exciting matchup at Texas Tech next week and what will be an epic contest in the final game of the regular season against Oklahoma at home.