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The Top 50 Conference Games of 2011
LSU QB Jordan Jefferson
LSU QB Jordan Jefferson
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Mar 28, 2011


The conference battles will be more interesting than ever in the newly-configured Big Ten, Big 12, and Pac-12, while the Mountain West will have a few big showdowns with its shiny new addition. But one of the biggest league battles should come when Jordan Jefferson and LSU try to beat a revenge-minded Alabama in an SEC West showdown. CFN highlights the 50 most important conference games of 2011.


2011 Spring Preview - No. 16

Top 50 Conference Games

(Top Ten)

2011 Spring Preview
- No. 20 Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 1-10) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 11-20) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 21-30) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 31-40) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 41-50)  

- No. 19 - Is a smaller Big 12 better? 
- No. 18 - Who doesn't want to be Independent?  
- No. 17 - Should the SEC champ play in the BCS Champ?  

- No. 16 Top 50 Conference Games (No. 1-10) 
- Top 50 Conference Games (No. 11-20) 
- Top 50 Conference Games (No. 21-30) 
- Top 50 Conference Games (No. 31-40) 
- Top 50 Conference Games (No. 41-50)  

Schedules and Too-Early Spring Picks
ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Big 12 | C-USA | Ind | MAC   
Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC | Sun Belt | WAC 

10. Miami at Virginia Tech, Oct. 8

This should matter every year, but it hasn’t been all that big a deal since the Big East days with Virginia Tech dominating the Coastal while winning four games in the last five meetings with the Canes. This year is different with Al Golden taking his talents to South Beach, and he’ll have plenty of statement games that should define the early part of his tenure. There’s the Ohio State game, the Florida State showdown, and this, and fortunately it comes after a nice walk-through against Bethune-Cookman to use as a tune-up. The Hokies will be rebuilding and reloading a bit this year, and they get Clemson before Miami comes to town.

9. Florida at South Carolina, Nov. 12

How big was last year’s East-winning victory for South Carolina in The Swamp? Florida was 16-1 in the series going back to 1964, and 17-1 going back to 1939 when South Carolina won 6-0. It also showed that 1) yes, Steve Spurrier could get the Gamecocks over the hump and 2) Urban Meyer’s program was pooped. The Gamecocks ran all over the Gators, and this year the intensity should be ramped up big-time with the game in Columbia and with the East title almost certainly to be on the line in some way. More than that, it’s a chance for the two coaching staffs to make big statements for recruits. This is where Will Muschamp has to reestablish Florida’s dominance, while two in a row for USC could signal a true shift in the division’s balance of power. The Gators get Vanderbilt the week before, while the Gamecocks, coming off a tough game at Arkansas, will be at home for the first time in over a month.

8. Oregon at Stanford, Nov. 12

What would’ve happened if this was played in Palo Alto last year? Many of the key parts are back for the Ducks, while Andrew Luck will look to avenge his team’s only loss last season with a signature performance. Last year, the game meant the Pac-10 title, and as it turned out, was for a spot in the BCS Championship. This season, it could go a long way to determining the Pac-12 North championship. Stanford will be coming off two tough road games at USC and Oregon State, while the Ducks will have to deal with Washington on the road the week before.

7. Wisconsin at Ohio State, Oct. 29

Ohio State has owned the Big Ten over the last several years, but it’s just 5-5 against the Badgers going back to 1996. Last year, Wisconsin’s 31-18 victory over the Buckeyes kick-started a fantastic second half of the season and it ended up being the difference maker in the three-way BCS tie-breaker. This year, the game should decide the Leaders title with Illinois, Indiana, Penn State and Purdue all decent, but not in the class of the division’s big two. Ohio State will hope the storm passes by this point, with the suspensions over and with an off-week to prepare, while the Badgers will be coming off a nasty road game at Michigan State. This is part two of a rough stretch of four road games in five weeks.

6. Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, Nov. 26

The Bedlam game is one of the Big 12’s biggest rivalries, but OU has owned it over the last eight years including a 47-41 shootout last year that decided the Big 12 South title. This year, with no more divisions to deal with, neither team can afford too many slips, if any, but each team will know where it stands in the chase before the regular season finale. Can the Cowboys get the offense roaring again, while getting enough defense to get by? Will OU be able to close out a big season and a possible run to the BCS Championship after starting off the year No. 1 (or at least in the top three)? The Sooners get Iowa State and a trip to Baylor before finishing up the year, while the Cowboys have to go to Texas Tech and Iowa State before closing out at home.

5. Arkansas at Alabama, Sept. 24

While each team has to face LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn, and there will be some bumps along the way, don’t be shocked if the SEC West ends up being decided in late September. Alabama has won the last four games including a 24-20 heartbreaker last year at Arkansas. This year, the Tide has a slew of tough games to deal with on the road, and it has to be ready to deal with a potential shootout against the high-powered Hogs in the SEC opener. With a trip to Florida coming up the following week, a loss could be a huge problem, while Arkansas will be in the spotlight with Texas A&M and Auburn to follow.

4. Oklahoma vs. Texas, Oct. 8

Even last year when Texas couldn’t figure out which way its offense was driving to, and even with Oklahoma on its way to a Big 12 title, the Red River Rivalry was still a fun battle. This year, without the South to play for, the importance will be diminished just a wee bit in the reality of the standings. Of course, in the current climate around Austin and the pressure that’s on after a disastrous 2010, beating the Sooners could be a must. If OU can get by a road trip to Florida State, and it doesn’t cough up a home game against Missouri, it’ll probably be the No. 1 team in the nation with just one more true test – Oklahoma State - away from Norman. Texas has to face the Cowboys the week before, but it still has to go on the road to deal with Missouri and Texas A&M.

3. TCU at Boise State, Nov. 12

Take away the two bowl games these two played against each other, and TCU and Boise State are a combined 72-3 over the last three years and 50-1 over the last two. Enjoy it for now while it means something to the Mountain West race. For one year, the league big-wigs get their showcase game that’ll take on a bigger meaning and will get more national attention that BYU-TCU and Utah-TCU ever did. Boise State has to begin the year in Atlanta against Georgia, and it has a tough home game against Air Force, but an 8-0 start won’t be a total shock. TCU has sneaky-tough road games against Baylor, Air Force, and San Diego State to deal with, but even in a rebuilding year it should be 9-0 before going to the blue turf.

2. Ohio State at Nebraska, Oct. 8

September 29, 1956. Ohio State 34, Nebraska 7. September 24, 1955. Ohio State 28, Nebraska 20. Considering the Buckeyes and the Huskers have been among the biggest powerhouses in college football since the sport began, it’s a complete and total stunner that the two have only met twice. While it’s an interdivisional battle in the new Big Ten, and it could be a preview of things to come as the two might meet again in the title game, the battle means so much more considering all the fun Ohio State is having this offseason. Very, very conveniently, this marks the end of the five-game suspension for Terrelle Pryor and the Tattoo Five, and it’s also the end (for now) of Jim Tressel’s time in the penalty box meaning there’s no time for Pryor and everyone to jell before making the trip to Lincoln. For Nebraska, every Big Ten game will be special in some way, but this should take on a little extra oomph considering the opponent and with the media glare on Pryor, DeVier Posey, Dan Herron, and Tressel. It could also be a must win if it can’t get past Wisconsin in the Big Ten opener.

1. LSU at Alabama, Nov. 5

Oklahoma will probably be the preseason No. 1 team. It’s possible that Alabama and LSU are second and third, in some way, and at worst they’ll be in the top five. In other words, they’re going to be on everyone’s short list for possible national champions. But first things first; one of them has to win the West, and that’s hardly a given in a division with Arkansas, Auburn, and Mississippi State to deal with.

LSU went on a five game run in the series before Bama won back-to-back games in 2008 and 2009, and then the Tigers came up with a thriller last season with a 24-21 win to take the rivalry back. This year, it has all the makings of a classic with both teams getting a week off to prepare, and with some big games already under their respective belts with each team playing Florida, Alabama playing Penn State and Arkansas, and LSU going to Mississippi State, West Virginia, and Tennessee, while starting out against Oregon. In other words, if both teams are 8-0, this could be for the national title.

2011 Spring Preview
- No. 20 Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 1-10) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 11-20) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 21-30) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 31-40) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 41-50)  

- No. 19 - Is a smaller Big 12 better? 
- No. 18 - Who doesn't want to be Independent?  
- No. 17 - Should the SEC champ play in the BCS Champ?  

- No. 16 Top 50 Conference Games (No. 1-10) 
- Top 50 Conference Games (No. 11-20) 
- Top 50 Conference Games (No. 21-30) 
- Top 50 Conference Games (No. 31-40) 
- Top 50 Conference Games (No. 41-50)  

Schedules and Too-Early Spring Picks
ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Big 12 | C-USA | Ind | MAC   
Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC | Sun Belt | WAC