Week 11 of the 2011 college football season is upon us and we have one game that really, truly matters this weekend. All the top teams are in action, but only two BCS national championship contenders are facing ranked teams, and it just so happens to be each other.
The Stanford Cardinal and Oregon Ducks square off in Palo Alto, CA at Stanford Stadium. A Stanford win clinches the Pac-12 North for them. An Oregon win puts the Ducks in a position to clinch the Pac-12 North next Saturday at home against USC. One of these two teams will be an overwhelming favorite in the Pac-12 title game against either Arizona State or UCLA and would be looking at the Rose Bowl bid that often comes with the Pac-12 title.
Of course, both teams are eyeing a slightly bigger prize this season. While both would need some help (Oregon more than Stanford), the winner of this game remains in contention for a spot in the BCS National Championship Game. If Stanford can pull out the win over Oregon, they likely move ahead of Alabama in the BCS into third place. From there, they would need either Oklahoma State loss or LSU to lose. It is not a simple task, but a win keeps the Cardinal alive.
This weekend, No. 2 Oklahoma State faces arguably the toughest unranked challenge. The Cowboys travel to Lubbock to face the Texas Tech Red Raiders. The Red Raiders stunned Oklahoma a few weeks back in Norman, so a loss would not be the most shocking result in the world. It is highly unlikely, but still possible.
No. 1 LSU hosts Western Kentucky, while No. 3 Alabama travels to face Mississippi State. Fellow undefeated Boise State hosts TCU in a game that could put a hurtin' on the Broncos. The Horned Frogs are always tough, so Boise State better be ready.
At the end of the day however, it all comes back to Stanford-Oregon. Everybody viewed last week's LSU-Alabama game as some sort of game of the century. Consider this the west coast version. It's one of the biggest college football games in Bay Area college football history and should be a fun one to watch.
We'll have updates on these games as they wrap up and break down how they impact Stanford when the BCS rankings come out on Sunday.