A LOOK BACK AT LAST WEEKENDS NEWS AND NOTES
There were no big surprises at the top this past weekend. The top 10 held serve, as many of the top 10 clubs played cupcake opponents. I really hope that eventually the NCAA comes to their senses, and prohibits the SEC and ACC from playing FCS teams in November. There are just two weeks left in the season and we have 69 teams that are qualified to go to a bowl game. With 78 slots to fill, that leaves us with nine teams vying for those spots. I was caught off guard with the firing of UCLA head coach Jim Mora. It’s obvious to me that the Bruins are looking to make an immediate hire. My guess is that, Chip Kelly is the man the Bruins covet. Below I will take a look at every FBS conference, as we wind down to the conclusion of another fantastic season.
Miami pulled off their biggest comeback in the last five years defeating Virginia 44-28. The Canes finished on a 30-0 run. Virginia’s Kurt Benkert had a career best game throwing for 384 yards and four scores. However it wasn’t enough, as the Canes roared back in the second half. The Canes remain unbeaten and travel to Pittsburgh to close the regular season. Wake Forest continued to dazzle in ACC play with a dramatic win over North Carolina State 30-24. The Deacons forced a fumble just inside their own one yard line in the final minutes to preserve the win. Deacons quarterback John Wolford hit Tabari Hines with three touchdown passes. The 30 points moved the Deacons to 388 on the season, the most in school history. Duke kept their slim bowl hopes alive by beating Georgia Tech 43-20. The Devils put up 500 yards of total offense and held the Jackets running game in check throughout the game. The Devils will travel to Wake Forest on Saturday, needing a win to get a bowl invite.
I’ve been a harsh critic of Wisconsin’s Alex Hornibrook most of the year. However the sophomore quarterback really impressed me in Saturdays win over Michigan 24-10. After watching film I was impressed with how Hornibrook made some clutch throws in tight windows. The Badgers also entered my top four, for the first time this season. The Badgers are a complete team, with a really underrated defensive core. Paul Chryst should definitely be in the running for coach of the year honors. Saquon Barkley broke Penn State’s all time touchdown mark in Saturdays win over Nebraska 56-44. His 39th touchdown eclipsed the old record held by Lydell Mitchell. Barkley had 208 of the Lions 224 yards in the first half! Call me crazy, but I firmly believe the Lions are the best team in the BIG 10. The loss eliminated the Cornhuskers from bowl eligibility, and could cost head coach Mike Riley his job. Northwestern jumped into the top 25 with their sixth straight win blasting Minnesota 39-0. The Wildcats can play their way into a major bowl with a victory over rival Illinois on Saturday. The defense forced five Gopher turnovers in a cold, wet, windy Ryan Stadium.
Texas became bowl eligible for the first time since 2014 with a 28-14 victory over West Virginia. The Longhorns welcomed back quarterback Sam Ehlinger who had missed two games to injury. Longhorns head coach Todd Herman was beaming after the win. “We know we’ve got one left, but this was a big one,” Herman said. “This was a big hurdle — to get another road conference win, to beat a top 25 team, and make sure that our seniors are bowl eligible. These guys are ecstatic.” The Mountaineers lost star quarterback Will Grier to a gruesome finger injury, that required surgery. He could be lost for the season. TCU dealt Texas Tech a major blow, in their effort to get bowl eligible 27-3. The Horned Frogs dominated the Raiders despite having a true freshman quarterback under center and several other key contributers out with injury. The Frogs will return home to face Baylor on Saturday. A win over the Bears will give the Frogs a rematch in the BIG 12 championship with Oklahoma. Baker Mayfield was at it again Saturday, when he lost control of his emotions. Kansas players refused to shake his hand at midfield prior to the game.
Mayfield then showed up the Kansas bench following a touchdown. His antics, led to a suspension by head coach Lincoln Riley. I love how Riley has handled the whole situation.
Stanford kept their PAC-12 championship hopes alive by holding off California 17-14. Bryce Love topped 100 yards rushing, but was forced to leave the game when he re-aggravated his ankle injury. Love’s availability will be in question this week when the Cardinal hosts Notre Dame. The Cardinal will claim the PAC-12 North if Washington State can defeat Washington on Saturday. Oregon welcomed back quarterback Justin Herbert in their resounding 48-28 win over Arizona. “It was just a lot of fun to be back out there,” said Herbert, who threw for 235 yards and a score in his first game back since fracturing his collarbone. Royce Freeman rushed for four touchdowns, and broke the school record for touchdowns in a career. USC won the battle to retain the Victory Bell Trophy in the battle of Los Angeles. Josh Rosen was outstanding for the Bruins. Rosen outgunned Trojan quarterback Sam Darnold by tossing three touchdown passes, good for 421 yards. Both quarterbacks are considered top NFL draft picks. Both could also return to their respective teams next season. The Trojans opened the scoring with an unbelievable punt return touchdown by Michael Pittman for 72 yards. This has to be one of the best conceived plays of the season.
Georgia rebounded from a tough loss to Auburn, by easily handling Kentucky 42-13. Nick Chunn and Sony Michel led the Bulldog attack. In the final home game of their stellar careers, Chubb and Michel combined for five touchdowns to lead a dominant running game and No. 7 Georgia bounced back impressively from its first loss of the season. The Bulldogs will close out the regular season on the road against rival Georgia Tech. The Dogs will meet the winner of the Iron Bowl in the SEC championship game. Mississippi State ended Arkansas bowl hopes with a 28-21 win in Fayatteville. Nick Fitzgerald hit Deddrick Thomas with a six yard touchdown pass with 17 seconds left, to break a 21-21 tie. The Razorbacks will miss a bowl game for the first time since 2013. A stormy night in Rocky Top, saw the LSU Tigers slip and slide past Tennessee 30-10. The first half was played in a steady rain that started swirling just before the start of the second half when numerous light fixtures in the upper level briefly went out. The Tigers used the tandem of Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams to play keep away from the Vols offense. The two combined for 165 yards rushing and three scores. Tennessee must beat Vanderbilt Saturday to avoid their first ever eight loss season.
WHOSE IN AND OUT FOR THE BOWLS
IN (6) ON THE BUBBLE (2) TEMPLE AND TULANE OUT (4)
I expect Temple to get bowl eligible this weekend at Tulsa. Tulane will travel to SMU.
IN (7) ON THE BUBBLE (3) FLORIDA STATE, GEORGIA TECH AND DUKE OUT (3)
The Seminoles will need a victory over Florida and Louisiana Monroe to reach six. They will get in. The Yellow Jackets must beat Georgia, a tall task. Duke plays on the road at Wake Forest. I believe Florida State is the only team to make it from the ACC.
IN (7) ON THE BUBBLE (3) PURDUE, INDIANA AND MINNESOTA OUT (3)
Purdue and Indiana will face off for the right to go bowling on Saturday. Minnesota will host Wisconsin.
IN (7) ON THE BUBBLE (1) TEXAS TECH OUT (2)
The Red Raiders will travel to Texas Friday night needing a victory.
IN (8) ON THE BUBBLE (3) MIDDLE TENNESSEE, OLD DOMINION AND LOUISIANA TECH OUT (3)
Old Dominion will play at Middle Tennessee, the winner will be bowl eligible. Louisiana Tech will host UTSA, a game they should win.
IN (6) ON THE BUBBLE (1) BUFFALO OUT (5)
The bulls close the season at home against Ohio.
IN (6) ON THE BUBBLE (1) OUT (5)
The Rebels will face in state rival Nevada in Reno.
IN (7) ON THE BUBBLE (4) COLORADO, UTAH, UCLA AND CALIFORNIA OUT (1)
This is simple. Utah will square off against Colorado and UCLA against Cal. Each winner goes bowling, the losers stay home.
IN (9) ON THE BUBBLE (1) FLORIDA OUT (3)
The Gators will need a victory over Florida State to get to five wins. They could then be granted a waiver by the NCAA to go bowling, because they lost a game, due to the hurricane.
IN (4) ON THE BUBBLE (3) LOUISIANA LAFAYETTE, LOUISIANA MONROE AND NEW MEXICO STATE OUT (5)
All three schools have two games left on the regular season schedule. I expect two schools to reach six wins.