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Big Ten & SEC Week 11 Preview: SEC’s CFP Title Favorites to Face Stiff Tests on Road

In the 11th week of the college football season, members of the Florida Citrus Sports Team Selection Committee are making visits throughout Big Ten and SEC country, meeting with fans across both conferences in advance of the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day.

Here are a few of the games our representatives will be taking in this week:

No. 12 Michigan State (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten) at No. 13 Ohio State (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten) – 12:00 p.m. on FOX

After edging Penn State at home last week, Michigan State hits the road this week with its sights set on knocking off another traditional Big Ten power.

The Spartans feature the third best rushing defense in the FBS, allowing only 87.0 yards on the ground per game. Only three teams this season have rushed for over 100 yards, and over the past four games MSU is yielding an average of just 74.2. Linebacker Joe Bachie has contributed 77 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and three sacks to the No. 12 defense in the nation (303.7 total yards per game).

Ohio State was stunned by Iowa last week in a 55-24 loss to the Hawkeyes. This was the Buckeyes second loss on the season, their first coming in Week 2 to Oklahoma. Ohio State’s offense is still among the best in the nation, ranking fourth in total offense (549.0), fifth in team passing efficiency (167.10) and fifth in scoring (43.8). Quarterback J.T. Barrett leads the offense and has the third most passing touchdowns in the nation with 28, a seventh-best completion percentage of .675.

The Spartans and the Buckeyes will meet for the 46th time on Saturday. Ohio State leads the all-time series 30-15 and has won 10 of the past 13 meetings, including a 17-16 victory last year in East Lansing. The Spartans are the only Big Ten team to beat Urban Meyer’s Ohio State teams twice — once in the 2013 Big Ten title game and again in 2015, snapping a 30-game regular season conference win streak for the Buckeyes.

No. 2 Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC) at No. 16 Mississippi State (7-2, 3-2 SEC) – 7:00 p.m. on ESPN

Alabama will travel to Starkville this weekend in the 102nd meeting between the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide.

‘Bama enters the game undefeated after its 24-10 defeat of LSU last week. Alabama is strong on both offense and defense this season and remains the only team in the country ranked in the top 20 in scoring defense (1st, 9.8), scoring offense (9th, 40.9), rushing defense (2nd, 75.8), rushing offense (9th, 278.4), total defense (2nd, 243.8) and total offense (17th, 477.4). Quarterback Jalen Hurts has a .606 completion rate and leads the offense along with running back Damien Harris who is No. 5 in the nation in yards per carry (8.11).

The Bulldogs are coming off a 34-23 win against UMass. Like Alabama, Mississippi State is strong on both sides of the ball. The Bulldogs own the 11th-best rushing offense in the nation (259.3) which includes quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, who is also nationally ranked at No. 11 in rushing yards per carry (6.91) and No. 13 in rushing touchdowns (12). MSU has the seventh-best total defense in the nation (289.3) and has been allowing only 165.2 passing yards per game (8th in FBS).

Alabama holds an 80-18-3 mark all-time against the Bulldogs. Alabama has won nine straight against MSU, including the last four played in Starkville. The last time the Bulldogs defeated Alabama was in 2007 — Nick Saban’s first season with the Tide.

No. 1 Georgia (9-0, 6-0 SEC) at No. 10 Auburn (7-2, 5-1 SEC) – 3:30 p.m. on CBS

The ‘Dawgs and the Tigers will face off in the 121st installment of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.

Georgia is atop of the CFP rankings for the second week after beating South Carolina 24-10 last Saturday. Georgia’s defense ranks in the top 10 of every major national statistic, including fourth in total (254.1), fifth in rushing (89.0), seventh in passing yards allowed (165.1) and third in scoring (11.7). Running back Nick Chubb leads the eighth best rushing offense in the country (279.3) with 867 yards and 9 touchdowns on the season.

Auburn beat Texas A&M 42-27 last week, as quarterback Jarrett Stidham threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns. The Tigers have a balanced offense and are one of only five teams in the nation that average more than 220 yards of rushing (236.7) and 220 yards of passing (229.4) offense per game (Clemson, Ohio State, South Florida and Toledo). Running back Kerryon Johnson is tied for third nationally with 15 rushing and 16 total touchdowns and leads the FBS with 13.6 points per game this season. The Tigers defense only allows an average of 16.9 points per game this season, which puts them at No. 9 in the country.

Saturday will mark the 74th consecutive season the Bulldogs and Tigers have met, with Georgia holding a slim 57-55-8 overall lead. The ‘Dawgs were victorious in their last three meetings with Auburn, including last year’s 13-7 win in Athens. Although the series dates back to 1892, this is only the fourth time the schools are meeting as top 10 teams; Auburn won the previous three matchups in 1971, 1983 and 2004.

Here are the rest of the Big Ten and SEC games our selection committee members will attend:

Rutgers (4-5, 3-3 Big Ten) at No. 14 Penn State (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) – 12:00 p.m. on BTN
Arkansas (4-5, 1-4 SEC) at No. 24 LSU (6-3, 3-2 SEC) – 12:00 p.m. on ESPN
No. 20 Iowa (6-3, 3-3 Big Ten) at No. 8 Wisconsin (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten) – 3:30 p.m. on ABC

Other Big Ten and SEC games being played this week:

Nebraska (4-5, 3-3 Big Ten) at Minnesota (4-5, 1-5 Big Ten) – 12:00 p.m. on FS1
Louisiana (4-4, 3-2 Sun Belt) at Ole Miss (4-5, 2-4 SEC) – 12:00 p.m. on SEC Network
Florida (3-5, 3-4 SEC) at South Carolina (6-3, 4-3 SEC) – 12:00 p.m. on CBS
Indiana (3-6, 0-6 Big Ten) at Illinois (2-7, 0-6 Big Ten) – 12:00 p.m. on BTN
Michigan (7-2, 4-2, Big Ten) at Maryland (4-5, 2-4 Big Ten) – 3:30 p.m. on BTN
Kentucky (6-3, 3-3 SEC) at Vanderbilt (4-5, 0-5 SEC) – 4:00 p.m. on SEC Network
New Mexico (3-6, 1-5 Mountain West) at Texas A&M (5-4, 3-3 SEC) – 7:00 p.m. on ESPNU
Purdue (4-5, 2-4 Big Ten) at No. 25 Northwestern (6-3, 4-2 Big Ten) – 7:00 p.m. on ESPN2
Tennessee (4-5, 0-5 SEC) at Missouri (4-5, 1-4 SEC) – 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network

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