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Rooting Guide: Which Week 11 games are most important for Penn State football?

Penn State football has a massive game against Michigan on Saturday. But what other games on Saturday impact the Nittany Lions’ College Football Playoff hopes the most?



Penn State football, college football
Nov 4, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Florida State Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell (right) congratulates quarterback Jordan Travis (13) on his one yard touchdown run against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the second quarter at Acrisure Stadium. The Seminoles won 24-7. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State football dominated Maryland 51-15 last Saturday, as Drew Allar and the offense returned to the early season form. There were not a lot of shake ups in the top 10 with just No. 9 Oklahoma losing to No. 22 Oklahoma State 27-24. It was the second loss of the season for the Sooners and likely eliminated them from College Football Playoff.

Outside of Oklahoma, the only other one-loss team to lose over the weekend was No. 12 Missouri, as it fell to No. 2 Georgia 30-21. There were a few teams that escaped with close wins. No. 10 Ole Miss survived against Texas A&M with a 38-35 win. No. 7 Texas needed overtime to take down No. 23 Kansas state 33-30.

No. 14 LSU, No. 15 Notre Dame, No. 19 UCLA, No. 20 USC, and No. 23 Kansas State all picked up a third loss this season. While that may not seem important, it most likely will eliminate those teams from NY6 Bowls. If Penn State were to lose on Saturday to Michigan, it would all but be guaranteed to get a NY6 slot, should the Nittany Lions finish with another 10-2 season.

Penn State football fans’ rooting guide to college football Week 11

The College Football Playoff Committee didn’t make too many changes at the top of the rankings. Penn State football moved up one spot to No. 10 in the second edition of the rankings after Oklahoma’s loss on Saturday. But the rankings may not be as relevant if the Nittany Lions can’t take down the Wolverines this weekend.

If Penn State can’t take down Michigan on Saturday, then it will be time to root for teams that give Penn State the best chance to make a NY6 game. However, as long as the Nittany Lions are in the Playoff race we will evaluate the rest of the slate accordingly. Here are the games to keep an eye on throughout the Week 11 slate.

No. 8 Alabama (8-1) @ Kentucky (6-3) 12:00 pm ET ESPN

Alabama is coming off a big 42-28 win over LSU on Saturday, and it appears to be picking up steam towards the SEC Championship. Jalen Milroe is much improved since struggling against Texas in September. Kentucky got back in the win column last week with a 24-3 road win over Mississippi State. It ended a 3 game losing streak for the Wildcats. Alabama enters as a 10.5-point road favorite.

Alabama is currently ranked two spots ahead of Penn State in the College Football Playoff rankings. An upset by Kentucky would open up the opportunity for Penn State to move up in the rankings and eliminate the Crimson Tide from Playoff contention.

Indiana (3-6) @ Illinois (4-5) 12:00 pm ET BTN

Indiana helped out Penn State football tremendously when it upset Wisconsin 20-14 last week. Illinois also helped the Nittany Lions with its 27-26 win over Minnesota. This game is only on the rooting guide for the influence on a potential three-way tie in the Big Ten East. Illinois enters as a 6.5-point favorite.

Penn State needs Illinois to continue to win games to help out the Nittany Lions’ winning percentage in the Big Ten tiebreakers scenario. Currently the Nittany Lions are one game up on both Ohio State and Michigan after a favorable weekend.

Texas Tech (4-5) @ No. 16 Kansas (7-2) 12:00 pm ET FS1

Texas Tech has had a disappointing year relative to preseason expectations. The Red Raiders were able to get back in the win column last week, taking down TCU 35-28. Kansas has won three of their last four games, including a 28-21 victory last Saturday against Iowa State. The Jayhawks still have a chance to make the Big 12 championship with some help, as they continue to have a historic season. Kansas enters as a 3.5-point home favorite.

The value of this game will depend on the result in the Penn State vs Michigan game. If the Nittany Lions win, then it may not matter. But if the Nittany Lions lose, the Jayhawks will be a competitor for a NY6 slot. Penn State football fans should root for Texas Tech to pull off the upset in Lawrence on Saturday.

Maryland (5-4) @ Nebraska (5-4) 12:00 pm ET Peacock

Maryland was pummeled by Penn State 51-15 on Saturday in College Park for its fourth consecutive loss. Nebraska took a shocking loss to Michigan State 20-17. Both teams desperately need to win this game to become bowl eligible. Maryland enters as a 2.5-point road favorite.

Penn State fans need Maryland to beat Nebraska in this matchup. A Terrapins win would not only help the Nittany Lions strength of schedule, but also would give Michigan another Big Ten West loss since Nebraska is one of its crossover teams.

No. 18 Utah (7-2) vs No. 5 Washington (9-0) 3:30 pm ET FOX

Utah bounced back from its loss to Oregon with a dominant 55-3 win over Arizona State. Washington remained undefeated after a thrilling 52-42 win over USC. The Huskies remain outside of the top 4, but are a clear contender for both the PAC 12 Championship and College Football Playoff. Washington is a 9.5-point home favorite.

This game is another one that will be impacted by the Penn State result. Looking at it from a Playoff perspective, Penn State should root for Utah to pull off the upset and knock Washington from the ranks of the unbeaten.

Miami (6-3) @ No. 4 Florida State (9-0) 3:30 pm ET ABC

Miami is coming off a disappointing 20-6 loss at NC State on Saturday. Florida State struggled early, but ultimately pulled away from Pitt 24-7. The Seminoles have been one of the most dominant teams in college football this season. With the way the top of the rankings have played out, Florida State may have to run the table to make the College Football Playoff. Miami has had an up and down season, but beating its rivals would certainly brighten the future outlook.

Penn State needs as many undefeated teams to lose as possible these final three weeks, and that includes Florida State. Miami doesn’t really threaten the NY6 hopes of Penn State, so an upset win should be what fans are pulling for on Saturday afternoon.

Northwestern (4-5) @ Wisconsin (5-4) 3:30 pm ET FS1

Northwestern is coming off a heartbreaking 10-7 loss at Wrigley Field to Iowa. Wisconsin is also coming off a loss after falling at Indiana 20-14. Both of these teams are still chasing bowl eligibility and are not officially eliminated from the Big Ten West race yet. Wisconsin enters as a 9.5-point home favorite.

Penn State had Northwestern in the Big Ten West crossover while Ohio State had Wisconsin. Nittany Lion fans should root for the Wildcats to pull off the upset in Madison.

No. 15 Oklahoma State (7-2) @ UCF (4-5) 3:30 pm ET ESPN

Oklahoma State is coming off a thrilling 27-24 win over its rival Oklahoma in what could be the final Bedlam game for quite some time. The Cowboys are now second in the Big 12 standings and have a favorable schedule down the stretch to reach the title game. UCF has had a rough start to its first season in the Big 12, but did pull out a 28-26 victory at Cincinnati last week. Oklahoma State enters as a 2.5-point road favorite.

This game doesn’t factor into the College Football Playoff race, but does factor into the NY6. Penn State fans should be rooting for UCF to knock off Oklahoma State and effectively keep the Cowboys behind the Nittany Lions when bowl selection begins.

Rutgers (6-3) @ No. 22 Iowa (7-2) 3:30 pm ET BTN

Rutgers looked like it had a chance to pull off the upset of the season before falling apart in the 2nd half in a 35-16 loss to No. 1 Ohio State. Iowa played an ugly game at Wrigley Field resulting in a 10-7 win over Northwestern. The total for this game is 28.5, which is the lowest in college football history. Iowa is a 1.5-point home favorite.

This game has massive implications for Penn State for two reasons. The Hawkeyes are one of the Nittany Lions’ Big Ten West crossover opponents and are a major factor in a potential three way tie between Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. A win by Iowa also helps the overall strength of schedule for Penn State, something that would be beneficial whether for the playoff or NY6.

No. 9 Ole Miss (8-1) @ No. 2 Georgia (9-0) 7:00 pm ET ESPN

Ole Miss has pulled off multiple escapes this season, adding another with a 38-35 win over Texas A&M on Saturday. Carson Beck and Georgia are entering off a big 30-21 win over No. 12 Missouri. Ole Miss would need to win out and have Alabama lose to both Kentucky and Auburn in its last two SEC games to win the east. That is probably an unlikely scenario, but a NY6 bowl and possible Playoff berth with chaos is still a possibility. Georgia enters as a 10.5-point home favorite.

This game is a little bit of a toss up for who Penn State needs to win. Both are ahead of the Nittany Lions in the polls. Georgia still has Tennessee and Georgia Tech in the regular season and then most likely Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Ole Miss has UL Monroe and Mississippi State. That being said, it makes more sense to root for Georgia to beat Ole Miss and knock the Rebels out of Playoff contention and put them possibly behind Penn State in the NY6 conversation.

West Virginia (6-3) @ No. 17 Oklahoma (7-2) 7:00 pm ET FOX

West Virginia got back in the win column last week with a dominant 37-7 win over BYU. Oklahoma suffered its second consecutive loss when it fell to rival Oklahoma State 27-24. Both teams hope to stay alive in the Big 12 Championship race. Oklahoma enters as a 13-point home favorite.

This game has the chance to kill two birds with one stone. Oklahoma is a two loss team and still has an opportunity to reach the NY6. West Virginia winning helps improve Penn State’s strength of schedule and gives the Nittany Lions another quality win if the Mountaineers continue to improve. Nittany Lion fans should pull for the Mountaineers to pull off the upset.

No. 7 Texas (8-1) @ TCU (4-5) 7:30 pm ET ABC

Texas survived with a 33-30 overtime win over Kansas State last weekend. TCU fell at Texas Tech 35-28 for its fourth loss in five games. The Longhorns are in the driver’s seat to make the Big 12 Championship and have a chance to make the College Football Playoff as well. While TCU doesn’t seem to be going in the right direction, it will get to face a backup QB in Maalik Murphy and have the game at home. Texas enters as a 10-point road favorite.

A loss by Texas would eliminate the Longhorns from the Playoff discussion, and give an opportunity for Penn State to move up the rankings with a win. Texas with two losses is still a NY6 team ,but it would give them no more room for error.

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