Week 11 of the 2022 college football season has arrived and so has our weekly look at Anxiety Games across the country. For those new here, we’re keeping tabs on games where a bad outing could pivot things into a negative direction for a program. And with more coaching staffs getting the axe as the season nears its end, these matchups matter even more.
There’s plenty to dive into for this week’s slate. Let’s take a look.
Oklahoma at West Virginia, noon ET, FS1
Saturday’s noon slate will bring us a Big 12 matchup between two teams in precarious positions late into the year.
Oklahoma is 5-4 and fell last week in a 38-35 home loss to Baylor. Year one of the Brent Venables will go down as a wash for the blue blood program but it has the opportunity to finish strong and that begins with handling its business against the last place Mountaineers. Lose this game and conversations will arise in Norman, OK, over whether or not Venables will be a one-and-done head coach.
For West Virginia, the fan base is out on head coach Neal Brown and a 31-14 loss to Iowa State last week planted the team in last place in the Big 12 standings. There has been questions over whether the school could realistically part ways with the head coach given his massive buyout and that may create some anxiety for WVU fans looking for a change. An embarrassing loss to an underwhelming Sooners team here may force some hands in Morgantown, WV.
Alabama at Ole Miss, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
After losing in overtime to LSU last Saturday, Alabama now has two losses and has been seemingly eliminated from both SEC title contention and the College Football Playoff. Whenever this has happened in recent years, you usually hear false presumptions about the Nick Saban dynasty being over at Alabama. However, there seems to be some merit to it with Georgia now being the resident death star in the conference and other programs like Tennessee and LSU no longer fearing the Crimson Tide.
Bama will have another tough road matchup on Saturday when facing an Ole Miss team that has had two weeks to prepare for this contest. If the Tide loses here, it will mark the first time they’ve lost back-to-back regular season games since Saban’s inaugural season in 2007. That would cause a level of anxiety and dissatisfaction that hasn’t been seen in Tuscaloosa, AL, since the Mike Shula era.
Miami at Georgia Tech, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3
Miami got waxed in a 45-3 beating at the hands of rival Florida State last week and this is a spot where the team could decide to pack it in and start focusing on 2023. The vibes with the Canes have been off for several weeks now and got further thrown off with prized blue chip QB prospect Jaden Rashada flipping to Florida on Friday. A loss to Georgia Tech would put a further stamp on Mario Cristobal’s first season with his alma mater as a disappointment.
Wisconsin at Iowa, 3:30 p.m. ET, FS1
This year’s Battle of the Heartland Trophy is interesting one as it could play a role in determining the immediate future for both of these Big Ten West powers.
Wisconsin interim head coach Jim Leonhard has been auditioning for the job since the school fired Paul Chryst in early October and he’s gone 3-1 in the line of duty. That’s a pretty nice mark, but these next three weeks will determine if he’ll have the interim tag removed and it starts with defeating one of their yearly foils in Iowa.
On the Hawkeyes sideline, they’ve managed two straight victories and that’s somewhat lowered the heat on head coach Kirk Ferentz for keeping his son Brian as the offensive coordinator. If they throw up another miserable offensive performance against a division rival, the heat will crank right back up in Iowa City.
FAU at FIU, 7:30 p.m. ET, Stadium
This year’s Shula Bowl has an unexpected dynamic here as both teams sit at 4-5 heading into this South Florida rivalry. FIU has already far exceeded expectations under first-year head coach Mike MacIntyre. The Panthers are in a position where they could possibly think about bowl eligibility, a mini-miracle considering the bleak outlook of the program prior to the season.
The anxiety here is on the FAU sideline as questions begin to arise around Willie Taggart’s longterm future with the program. The Owls have missed bowl eligibility in both of his seasons at the helm and a poor finish could have them sitting at home again over the holidays. FAU has won five straight Shula Bowls and a loss here could doom his tenure in Boca Raton, FL.