The only real surprise of the weekends slate of games. was Oregon’s meltdown in the desert. The loss by the Ducks ends their hopes of a playoff. The Ducks dropped eight spots in the polls, by far the biggest move this week. I was impressed with both Baylor and Minnesota. Both bounced back in impressive fashion after suffering their first loss of the season. Bears head coach Matt Ruhle will now get my vote for coach of the year. I was also very impressed with how Utah responded with a dominant performance over Arizona. I also want to give USC head coach Clay Helton a pat on the back for the way he has kept the Trojans in the thick of the PAC-12 South race, despite all the Buzzards circling over his head. I hope he keeps his job. Both Texas A&M and SMU fell out of the top 25. Moving into the ranks were Navy and USC.
Virginia Tech whitewashed Pittsburgh 28-0 setting up a monster matchup against Virginia for the Coastal title on Friday. The win by the Hokies moved them up two spots to No.23 in the polls. The Hokies are just the second team from the ACC to be ranked in the latest poll. The Hokies defense limited the Panthers to just 177 total yards and eight first downs. It was the final home game for departing defensive coordinator Bud Foster, who was showered with a great tribute and standing ovations throughout the contest. Miami suffered an embarrassing homecoming defeat to Florida International 30-24. The Panthers picked off quarterback Jarren Williams three times in the loss. North Carolina moved a step closer to bowl eligibility by blasting Mercer 56-7. Quarterback Sam Howell had a banner day for the Tar Heels, firing three touchdown passes. The Heels now must beat rival North Carolina State, to get a bowl invitation.
Ohio State struggled to beat Penn State 28-17 on Saturday, but still managed to gain traction on No.1 LSU in the polls. Buckeye quarterback Justin Fields struggled throughout the contest, committing two crucial fumbles. J. K. Dobbins paced the Buckeye offense with 157 yards and two touchdowns. The Buckeyes defense was once again outstanding, limiting the Lions to just 227 total yards. Chase Young was back in action for the Buckeyes, returning from a two-game suspension. Young had three sacks, breaking the all-time record for the Buckeyes. Young also had nine tackles. Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan returned from concussion protocol and delivered a near flawless performance in the Gophers 38-22 win over Northwestern. Morgan fired four touchdown passes, three of which went to Rashod Bateman. The win by the Gophers, coupled with Wisconsin’s win over Purdue sets up a winner take all for the BIG-10 West on Saturday. Michigan State ended a five-game losing streak by blanking Rutgers 27-0. It was a very important win for the Spartans who now stand at 5-6. A victory over Maryland will get the Spartans to a bowl game. The Spartans relied on their defense to coast to victory. They limited the Scarlet Knights to just 140 total yards and seven first downs.
I thought for sure, that Texas would be able to handle Baylor on Saturday. The Bears were coming off an emotional loss to Oklahoma and Texas had dominated the Bears the past four years. Bear head coach Matt Ruhle and quarterback Charlie Brewer had other ideas. Brewer, the junior quarterback from Austin whose dad and grandfather played for Texas, completed 16 of 25 passes for 221 yards with a touchdown, and ran 18 times for 75 yards and another score. The win guaranteed a rematch of last weeks Oklahoma game, in the BIG 12 Championship game. Oklahoma did their part in meeting Baylor again, by holding on to beat TCU 28-24. The Sooners needed a late interception to seal the deal. The Sooners actually dominated this game holding the Frogs to just 204 total yards and eleven first downs. Crucial turnovers by the Sooners kept the frogs in the game. Quarterback Jalen Hurts threw for 145 yards and rushed for an additional 173 yards. TCU at (5-6) must beat West Virginia to get bowl eligible on Saturday.
I sat in disbelief Saturday night watching Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert deliver pathetic pass after pathetic pass. Herbert eventually got it going, but it was too little too late for the Ducks. The result, a 31-28 loss to Arizona State, will cost the Ducks a chance to play for a national title. Equally disturbing was a Ducks secondary that was torched for 408 yards by true freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels. Utah now carries the flag for the PAC-12. The Utes, knew they had to deliver a big win for the CFP committee. That’s exactly what they did in the rout of Arizona 35-7. Tailback Zack Moss put on a clinic, rushing for 203 yards. Moss showcased his power and speed, breaking numerous tackles against the overmatched Wildcats defense. The Utes lost their shutout with just two minutes left in the contest. Utah must now beat Colorado at home this weekend to secure a spot in the PAC-12 title game with Oregon. A win over the Ducks should get the Utes into the playoff. The game of the day took place in the Palouse, where Washington State rallied past Oregon State 54-53. The game featured 1,242 total yards, 60 first downs, and 48 fourth quarter points! The Beavers trailed 42-32 with ten minutes left in the fourth quarter, when Beaver tailback Jemar Jefferson scored three touchdowns in just over three minutes, giving his team a 53-42 advantage. Cougar quarterback Anthony Gordon led his team on a 10 play 58 yard drive with just over a minute left, that was capped off on a two-yard run by Max Borghi for the dramatic win. Gordon finished with 606 yards passing and six touchdowns. The win gives the Cougars a ticket to a bowl game.
It was cupcake weekend in the SEC. Five of the fourteen schools played FCS opponents. Three schools had bye weeks. The best matchup featured Texas A&M at Georgia, which was played in a monsoon. Georgia was able to ride a dominant defense and a standout performance from D’Andre Swift to beat the Aggies 19-13. Kicker Rodrigo Blankenship managed to boot four field goals despite the horrendous conditions for the Bulldogs. Congratulations to the Tennessee Volunteers who will be going bowling for the first time since 2016. The Vols hit the road and defeated Missouri 24-20. Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano had a banner day, throwing for 415 yards and two touchdowns. The Vols set a school record, with three receivers over 100 yards in receiving. Tennessee has now won five of the last six games. Finally, LSU got off to a slow start, but crushed Arkansas 56-20. Joe Burrow and Clyde Edwards-Helaire provided all the offense the Tigers needed. Burrow passed for 327 yards and three scores, while Helaire rushed for 188 yards and three touchdowns. LSU will host Texas A&M in their season finale.
INCREDIBLE STORY OF HEROISM
GROUP OF FIVE RUMBLINGS
The battle to earn the right to play on New Years Day is down to four schools. SMU’s loss to Navy has eliminated the Mustangs. Cincinnati will travel to Memphis this weekend in what is basically an elimination game for both schools. The Tigers are the highest ranked team from the group of five teams at No.17. The Bearcats sit at No.18, both schools are (10-1). Ironically both teams could meet a week later in the AAC Championship game. Boise State is also (10-1) and ranked No.20. The Broncos travel to Colorado State, in what should be another victory. Appalachian State also remains in contention at (10-1). They have a tough road ahead with a road tilt, at Troy on Friday. Let’s not forget the Mountaineers own two wins over FBS schools this season.