While Week 11 didn’t deliver the “game of the year” moments Week 10 did, it still held a lot of classics as the day unfolded. Who would have thought that Kentucky vs Vanderbilt, North Carolina vs Wake Forest, and Miami vs Virginia Tech would be thrilling nail-biters to the end? And those were just the noon games.
The stakes only get higher as we chug towards Champ Week, the CFP, and bowl season. The wins and losses start having bigger implications on teams. Here’s the biggest winners of Week 11:
A lot of teams could’ve taken this fifth spot, but the Huskers took advantage of a reeling Penn State team to get their first win. On paper, that win almost never happens. But now that the Wisconsin game has been cancelled, Nebraska’s schedule sets up favorably down the stretch. If they beat Illinois, Minnesota, and either Iowa or Purdue, they can finish 4-3. That would be a huge step forward for the Huskers, who expect a lot from Scott Frost.
The Hurricanes are one of the rare few teams in the ACC that’s actually good, thanks to their uber-talented QB D’Eriq King. With a narrow one-point win over the dangerous Virginia Tech Hokies, they kept their ACC Championship hopes alive on a day many players were out due to COVID-19. Even if they don’t make the championship game, they could win out, win a New Year’s Six bowl, and finish 11-1. That would be light-years better than last year’s skunk-putrid 6-7 season with losses to FIU and a 14-0 bowl loss to Louisiana Tech.
This might be the most fun team to watch in 2020. The Trojans, whose coach’s job security is, uh, somewhat unstable, found another way to stay relevant in the Pac-12 by fiddling around for 35 minutes again and winning at the very end. They’re 2-0 now, and the good news is they don’t play anyone ranked higher than them the rest of the way. The bad news is they’ve almost tripped up twice now against likely inferior teams. Whatever this team does, it should be fun to watch on Pac-12 After Dark.
Northwestern is doing everything right right now, and it’s paying off. By beating beatable teams home and away, the Wildcats have shrewdly put themselves in a position to return to the Big Ten title game for the second time in the last three years. This weekend’s showdown with Wisconsin will likely decide it. They’ve earned this moment by scoring a huge win last Saturday against their other competitor, Purdue.
You know who else has earned a shot at the Big Ten title game? Indiana. They hit the jackpot against Penn State and Michigan, and professionally dispatched Rutgers and Michigan State to give Ohio State one of the greatest challenges the Hoosiers have ever given them. Will it be enough to end their 24-game losing streak against the Buckeyes and all but clinch the Big Ten East? Probably not, but maybe. The point is that with another big win in Week 11, the Hoosiers have earned their shot at this special privilege.
Top 5 winners of 2020 so far (unchanged from last week):
5. Missouri W over LSU
4. Kansas State W over Oklahoma
3. Kentucky W over Tennessee
2. Indiana W over Penn State
1. Notre Dame W over Clemson