NCAA football Week 11 primer: Can Boston College upset Clemson?
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Here are the key matchups, storylines, and people to watch in Week 11 of the college football schedule:

(Game times for Saturday unless noted.)

Top 5 games to watch

5. No. 16 Mississippi State at No. 1 Alabama (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

Look, there's very little chance of this being close. But it's Alabama versus a ranked opponent, so in a week with few marquee games, it makes the list.

The Crimson Tide have reached the "we're going to embarrass you" portion of their development. They held a better team in LSU to 196 yards of scoreless offense last weekend, so expecting much from Mississippi State is a recipe for disappointment.

To their credit, the Bulldogs have won three of their last four games, with two wins coming against ranked opponents. Still, their only chance, in theory, would be if Alabama's quarterbacks are hobbled. Tua Tagovailoa's still dealing with a lingering knee injury and Jalen Hurts continues to recover from foot surgery. We might just see Mac Jones take significant snaps.

Even then, we're grasping at straws. Does it feel like this Alabama team is vulnerable at home? Nope.

4. No. 24 Auburn at No. 5 Georgia (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

The news this week that Gus Malzahn will definitely return to Auburn next season took some of the oomph out of this game. But there should still be plenty of intrigue.

The outcome will largely come down to Auburn's rushing attack, which has been awful this season. The Tigers rank 97th in rushing S&P+ while averaging a putrid 3.5 yards per carry - good for 112th in the country.

That's a problem because "spread to run" is the bedrock of Malzahn's offensive philosophy. When that isn't rolling, everything crumbles.

Here's the thing, though: Georgia's defense has been equally bad when it comes to stopping the run. The Bulldogs are an unthinkable 78th in stuff rate, as a unit that lived in opposing backfields last year is no more. This is a rally-and-effort defense now - not a game-changing one.

Something will have to give on Saturday. If Auburn can finally get its run game going, an upset could be on the cards.

3. No. 10 Ohio State at No. 18 Michigan State (12 p.m. ET, FOX)

Funky things happen when Michigan State faces the big boys from the Big Ten. And considering Sparty is hosting this one, we have ourselves a tasty midday special.

Ohio State hasn't reached peak form this season. There's an argument to be made that the Buckeyes were actually better when Urban Meyer was away from the program; the offensive play-calling was certainly less predictable.

Defense is the major issue, though. The Buckeyes continue to concede big gains at an alarming rate, as they rank 106th in the country at giving up plays of 20-plus yards.

That means the recipe for an upset is here, as the Spartans are capable of hitting a couple splash plays early while playing solid, efficient defense. It's been their model all season.

Coach Mark Dantonio's reputation proceeds him. He wants to be a ground-and-pound team and he's still trying to get this year's model to play that way. But it’s not how Michigan State's been winning. The offense has been jarringly inefficient, relying on quarterback Brian Lewerke to bail the unit out on third downs.

OSU clearly has the superior athletes. Meyer and Co. should win. But you can bank on the Spartans to keep this thing close, at least into the third quarter.

2. Oklahoma State at No. 6 Oklahoma (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

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Bedlam doesn't need selling. The over/under is 79. This is going to be pointsy, folks.

When Oklahoma has the ball, can Oklahoma State even somewhat contain Kyler Murray? Probably not; nobody can. But can the defense at least force a couple of turnovers? Texas Tech did last week by baiting Murray into a pair of bad decisions in the first five minutes. After that, though, he kicked the offense into cruise control, effortlessly marching down the field in a 51-46 win.

One extra tidbit to monitor is Oklahoma's depth at defensive back. The secondary is all sorts of banged up, so expect Oklahoma State to challenge the young backups early and often.

1. No. 2 Clemson at No. 17 Boston College (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Did you know this is ABC's prime-time game? Well, it is. And it might be our best chance to see a big, playoff-altering upset this week.

Boston College has an excellent down-to-down defense, but the unit can fall victim to splash plays. Meanwhile, Clemson's offense has been much more efficient than explosive in 2018, which could give BC a chance.

It's a slim one, though. Since they overcame a scare against Syracuse, the Tigers have waxed everyone during the Trevor Lawrence era. Amazingly, they've outscored opponents 240-36 over the last four games. Yikes!

And while Steve Addazio's Boston College defense has the horses to keep this thing close early, being able to score against Clemson's dominant front is another matter entirely.

Under-the-radar matchup

Fresno State @ Boise State (Friday, 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN 2)

We have a fun Friday night matchup in Boise. Fresno State is hot on UCF's heels for Group of 5 supremacy. The offense ranks 22nd in S&P+ while the defense is eighth, and the latter unit's held opponents to the same number of yards per play as Alabama.

Meanwhile, Boise State's not the team it was in the past, but one doesn't simply stroll onto the blue turf, on a Friday night, and leave with an easy win. Bryan Harsin's side is still 7-2 through nine games and would vault into the top 25 with a win against Fresno.

Coach who needs a win

Joel Auerbach / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Mark Richt, Miami

This was supposed to be a breakout season for Miami. Last year's return to national prominence was meant to be the start of an illustrious Richt-Canes era - not the peak.

In fact, Miami fans were hopeful that 2018 would prove this team could soon contend with Clemson for the ACC title and a playoff berth.

But the Canes have stagnated. The defense is still among the best in the country, but Richt's never been able to figure out his quarterback spot and the offense as a whole.

The latter unit is stilted and predictable. No Canes team should ever rank outside the top 25 in offensive S&P+, but Richt’s guys are currently 73rd! Everything about the system needs to evolve, and Richt must show signs of life heading into the end of the recruiting cycle.

The Canes will travel to Georgia Tech on Saturday, which is always a tricky game. While Richt's job as the head coach is not on the line, his role as the play-caller certainly is. And we've seen programs splinter quickly when the administration and head coach disagree on the responsibilities of the staff.

NCAA football Week 11 primer: Can Boston College upset Clemson?
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