Week ten, lacked any real upsets at the top, but sure provided some clarity on the left coast. The PAC-12 gave us a clear picture of what we can expect for a championship game. Both Oregon and Utah now appear to be on a collision course for the title. Boise State battled back to defeat San Jose State, with the return of quarterback Hank Bachmeier. It’s looking more and more likely that the Broncos will meet San Diego State for the conference championship. Poll movement was minimal this weekend. Navy was the only team to move into the top 25. The Midshipmen give the AAC four teams in the top 25. Appalachian State was the only team to drop out of the rankings. The Biggest mover was Memphis up five spots, while SMU dropped eight spots.
I have to start with the news of the firing of Willie Taggart. Florida State fans have been calling for this for over a month and finally raised the 18 million needed to buy him out. Taggert is just 56-62 in his four stops as a head coach. In his defense, he was doomed at Florida State, where he took over a program that had been run into the ground under Jimbo Fisher. I’ve heard three names coming out of Tallahassee as possible replacements. Mike Norvell of Memphis is surely a hot commodity. Mike Stoops could also make a lot of sense here. A true wildcard might be current offensive coordinator Kendal Briles. Heck, maybe he could hire his dad to take over as OC. The last straw was Miami’s 27-10 victory over the Seminoles. The Hurricanes simply beat up on their rivals. Boston College pounded Syracuse 58-27. Tailback A.J. Dillon rushed for 242 yards and three touchdowns. The Eagles had 691 total yards of offense. Syracuse head coach Dino Babers fired defensive coordinator Brian Ward on Sunday. Wake Forest welcomed back injured quarterback Jamie Newman on Saturday. Newman tossed three touchdown passes in the 44-10 win over North Carolina State. The win keeps the Demon Deacons just one game behind the Clemson tigers in the ACC Atlantic Division.
I can’t believe I am about to say this, but Illinois is a win away from bowl eligibility. The Illini used a smothering defense to beat Rutgers 38-10. Nate Hobbs returned a fumble 36 yards for a touchdown to put the game on ice. Illinois has Michigan State, Iowa and Northwestern left on the schedule. I thought Michigan might suffer a hangover after throttling Notre Dame. Giles Jackson put that thought to rest early, when he opened the game with a 97 yard kickoff return. Quarterback Shea Patterson has looked sharp the past few weeks. “Collectively, as a group, we’re playing at our highest level,” Patterson said. “As group right now, we’re hitting our stride.” Indiana continued their surprising run with a 34-3 drubbing of Northwestern. Tailback Stevie Scott had a career day rushing for 116 yards and finding paydirt three times. The Hoosiers now have a week off before traveling to Penn State.
Only six teams were in action this past weekend. Oklahoma State lost star wide receiver Tylan Wallace for the year, with an ACL injury during practice. The Cowboys turned to their other super star in tailback Chuba Hubbard. Hubbard carved up the TCU defense rushing for 223 yards. It was the first time in TCU head coach Gary Patterson’s 19 year career, that the Horned Frogs had given up over 200 yards to a running back. The Pokes defense also played a major part in the victory, forcing four turnovers. Baylor kicker John Mayers broke a 14-14 tie, with a 36 yard field goal. The Bears struggled against a staunch West Virginia defensive front. The Bears remained unbeaten and one game ahead of Oklahoma. Skylar Thompson ran for 127 yards and three touchdowns, and Harry Trotter added 92 yards rushing, leading Kansas State over Kansas 38-10. The Wildcats win was the 11th straight win in the “Sunflower Showdown”. Head coach Chris Klieman loves what he sees from his improving Wildcat squad. “It was our best football game of the year,” Klieman said.
Oregon played their best game of the year, dismantling USC 56-24. The win by the Ducks virtually secures them of an invitation to the PAC-12 championship game. The Ducks now own a full two game lead over Oregon State in the PAC-12 North. Juwan Johnson had a breakout game for the Ducks, hauling in three touchdown passes. The Penn State transfer had missed the first five games of the season with a leg injury. Utah benefitted with the USC loss as they defeated Washington 33-28. The win, coupled with the USC loss, gives the Utes a one game lead over the Trojans in the PAC-12 South. Tyler Huntley was magnificent completing 19 of 24 for 284 yards. Tailback Zack Moss also added 101 yards rushing for the Utes. The Utes defense was once again outstanding forcing three Husky turnovers. “It says a lot. We’ve had a lot of games, the last three games or whatever it’s been by putting up 40 points and our defense looking impeccable,” Utah running back Zack Moss said. “When we can do this and come on the road and win a game like this and doing it the way we did, that’s what championship teams do and that’s what we’ve been missing the last couple of years.” I can’t help but give a shout out to the Oregon State Beavers. The Beavers went down to the desert and disposed of Arizona 56-38. Quarterback Jake Luton fired three touchdown passes in the win. The Beavers also got another 100 yard performance from tailback Artavis Pierce. The win moved the Beavers to 4-4 on the season. They need just two more wins get a bowl invitation.
The “Worlds largest outdoor cocktail party”, went just as I suspected it would on Saturday. Quarterback Jake Fromm carved up the Florida secondary on the way to an easy 24-17 win. Fromm threw for 279 yards and two touchdowns, including a 52-yarder to an uncovered Lawrence Cager in the fourth quarter. “When Jake has time, he’s really efficient,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “I was so proud of him this game.” The win virtually secures that the Bulldogs will represent the East in the SEC title game. Tennessee inched closer to a bowl invitation with a must needed win over UAB. The Volunteers drubbed the Blazers 30-7. The stingy Volunteers defense was the key ingredient to the victory. The Vols limited the Blazers to just 237 total yards and forced four turnovers. The win gives the Vols four wins on the season. Tennessee must win two of their final three games to go bowling for the first time since 2016. They face Kentucky and Missouri on the road and close the season at home with rival Vanderbilt. South Carolina was also desperate for a win, and they got it, defeating Vanderbilt 24-7. Bryan Edwards set a school record hauling in 14 catches for the Gamecocks. Edwards performance set the stage for the Gamecocks to move to 4-5 on the season. The Gamecocks will need to win two of their final three games to go bowling. South Carolina hasn’t missed a bowl game since 2015.
GROUP OF FIVE SPOTLIGHT TEAM
Navy moved into the Top 25 after rolling over Connecticut, 56-10 on Friday to notch its fifth straight win and the biggest margin of victory since a 49-point win over Rice in 2009. The Mids are off to a 7-1 start for just the sixth time since 1960. The turnaround by the Midshipmen is quite remarkable when considering they had only eight returning starters from last seasons dismal 3-10 team. The defense has been outstanding and has moved all the way up to 19th in the FBS. The Rushing attack is ranked second in the country with 2,863 yards. Quarterback Malcolm Perry leads the team with 1,042 yards and 16 touchdowns! The team averages 6.1 yards per carry. The Midshipmen hope to represent the Group of Five teams on New Years day. They must beat Notre Dame, SMU, Houston and Army to finish with a shot to accomplish that goal. They traditionally give Notre Dame fits. One thing is for sure, you simply can’t take this team lightly.