July 16, 2009

By Adam Caparell

Over the summer, NCAA.com will look at the FBS schedule, highlighting the top matchups, the can't-miss games and the best storylines for each of the 15 weeks of the regular season. Check in every week to find out which games you simply have to see.

FBS Calendars: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11
Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 & 15

The boys in the BCS conferences get all the attention, but you'd be sorry if you missed the three great matchups in some of the non-automatic qualifying conferences come Week 11. From the MAC on Tuesday night to the Mountain West Saturday to Conference USA on Sunday night, don't dismiss the three games - spanning six days - that will shape conference races and seal some teams' fates.

Week 11's Can't Miss Games

Friday, Nov. 13 - West Virginia at Cincinnati
The last two Big East champions square off in a game that figures to have huge implications on the Big East standings. It's no secret that the race for the league title could be wide open this season, and West Virginia and Cincinnati are two of the contenders. Last year's game in Morgantown went into overtime where Bearcats QB Tony Pike threw the winning touchdown in OT. But it was a borderline miracle that the Mountaineers got the game into overtime, considering they scored 13 points in the final 1:11 of regulation. The Bearcats won their first game at Mountaineer Field in six years that day, ending a three-game losing streak to WVU.

Saturday, Nov. 14 - Iowa at Ohio State
These two missed each other last year, but they'll be on a collision course this fall. Some believe the Hawkeyes are poised to make a real run at their first Big Ten title since 2004, but the Buckeyes - who have won at least a share of the league crown each of the last four years - will have something to say about that in Ohio Stadium. This one could have featured two of the best running backs in the nation in Shonn Green and Chris Wells, but they took their considerable talents to the NFL. The matchup to watch this year will be Terrelle Pyror vs. the Iowa defense that was so stingy against the run last fall.

Saturday, Nov. 14 - Utah at TCU
This was the game in the Mountain West that pretty much sent Utah on its way to the Sugar Bowl last year. The No. 8 Utes barely squeaked by with a 13-10 victory over the No. 12 Horned Frogs thanks to a Brian Johnson touchdown with 48 seconds remaining. Utah drove 80 yards in the final minutes against one of the game's best defenses, and we all know how the season finished up for the Utes. TCU may get the game in Fort Worth this year, but that doesn't necessarily bode well for the Horned Frogs. Utah is 5-1 all-time against TCU.

Sunday, Nov. 14 - East Carolina at Tulsa
It's a potential preview of the C-USA championship game later in December, and a replay of last year's, when these two have the college football spotlight all to themselves. The No. 1 offense in the nation last year - belonging to Tulsa - will have some new looks this fall, but that doesn't mean the Golden Hurricane won't be just as potent. East Carolina, on the other hand, featured the conference's best defense last season, allowing just 333 yards per game, precisely 236.8 fewer yards than the Tulsa offense averaged per game.

Other Games To Keep An Eye On

Tuesday, Nov. 10 - Ohio at Buffalo
That's not a typo. This has the potential to be a big matchup in the MAC. Ohio will be vastly improved. Winner could be on its way to a MAC East title.

Thursday, Nov. 12 - South Florida at Rutgers
Two years ago, USF entered Piscataway as the No. 2 team in the nation and left with a three point loss. Last year, the Scarlet Knights blitzed the Bulls in Tampa. Can USF end Rutgers' four-game winning streak in the series and hand the Scarlet Knights a crushing loss down the stretch in Big East play?  

Saturday, Nov. 14 - Notre Dame at Pittsburgh
Last year's meeting went into overtime - four overtimes to be exact - before the Panthers emerged with a three point victory in the longest game in Notre Dame Stadium history. This will be the first true road game for the Irish in about six weeks against what's shaping up to be a good Panthers team.