The 2015 college football season is almost finished. There’s three weeks left, then the conference championship game week. The fight is on for those coveted four playoff spots. Teams are playing their way into contention, but teams are also playing their way out. This late in the season a loss is deadly. There isn’t enough time to claw out of the hole. Two losses, forget it. Throw dirt on those playoff hopes and pray for a decent bowl bid.
Now is the time we can actually think about the Heisman race. Leonard Fournette was the frontrunner all year until two weeks ago. He’s played his way out with poor performances in two straight losses. TCU’s two hopefuls, receiver Josh Doctson and quarterback Trevone Boykin have fallen off due to injury. Don’t fret, other players have stepped up to replace them. These players haven’t appeared out of thin air. They’ve had fine seasons, and now when the lights shine brightest they’ve stepped up their game. The two leaders are Alabama running back Derrick Henry and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds is getting recognition. Navy is a one loss team, but he won’t win. Still, he deserves to be front row in New York City as a Heisman finalist.
In the “Game of the Week”, #12 Oklahoma went on the road and handed #6 Baylor their first loss of the season, 44-34. Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield used this national stage to run into the Heisman race. He completed 24 of 34 passes for 270 yards, with three touchdowns, a rushing touchdown, and an interception. Receiver Sterling Shepard helped by catching 14 passes, two for touchdowns, and totaling 177 receiving yards.
Week 11 had no shortage of scares, comebacks, and upsets. The biggest upset was Oregon defeating #7 Stanford 38-36. Stanford missed a two point conversion that would have tied the game late. Arizona ruined #10 Utah’s playoff hopes in double overtime, 37-30. Arkansas did the same to #9 LSU on the bayou, 31-14. South Florida stunned #22 Temple 44-23. Washington State had a final drive comeback to upset #19 UCLA in the Rose Bowl 31-27. A missed 48 yard field goal decided a 35-34 win as #24 Houston came back against #21 Memphis.
Eighth ranked Oklahoma State was on the ropes against Iowa State. Oklahoma State had a huge scare in a comeback win on the road to remain undefeated 35-31. Iowa State ruined Oklahoma State’s bid for a perfect season in 2011 in the same venue. Jake Rudock led #15 Michigan to a 48-41 double overtime victory over Indiana. He completed 33 of 46 passes for 440 yards, six touchdowns and an interception. Kansas came close to defeating struggling #15 TCU. Trevone Boykin left the game with an injury and Josh Doctson still hasn’t recovered from a wrist injury.
Fourth ranked Notre Dame looked strong in going undefeated this season at Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish handed Wake Forest a 28-7 defeat, led by freshman running back Josh Adams. He ran 17 times for 141 yards, including a 98 yard touchdown. That run was the longest scoring play in Notre Dame history.
Derrick Henry strengthened his Heisman case with 204 rushing yards and two touchdowns as #2 Alabama rolled #17 Mississippi State 31-6. In #20 Navy’s 55-14 thumping of SMU, Keenan Reynolds scored four touchdowns and broke the NCAA record for rushing touchdowns in a career. He passed former Wisconsin running back Montee Ball’s 78, and with a few games left in the season sits at 81.
We end the Week 11 recap on a sad note. Missouri head coach Gary Pinkell announced his retirement at the end of the season. Pinkell learned in May he has non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Week 12 is on the horizon and there’s a lot of meaningful games. I know I say this every week, but clear space on your DVR college football fans. The later into the season, the more games of note. Teams are playing for their division, a spot in their conference championship game, and a possible playoff spot. Now is the time to think about where a team stacks up in the conference for bowl selections. College bowl games, the best part of the holiday season.
The action starts Friday night on ESPN2 at 9:30. The Mountain division of the Mountain West is on the line as Air Force travels to the blue turf of Albertsons Stadium to play Boise State. Saturday has two interesting games with a noon kickoff. On ESPNU #21 Memphis plays Temple at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field. Both teams are 8-2. ABC will air #12 Michigan going to Beaver Stadium to play a 7-3 Penn State squad in University Park.
The 3:30 time slot has been well stocked all season. This week is no exception with a full slate of five, yes five games. In a SEC West battle on CBS, #15 LSU travels to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium to take on #22 Ole Miss in Oxford. ESPN is the channel for a PAC-12 battle as #24 USC travels to Eugene to play #23 Oregon at Autzen Stadium. A big PAC-12 South game on FOX has UCLA going to Salt Lake City’s Rice-Eccles Stadium to play #13 Utah. The B1G Network has #20 Northwestern playing #25 Wisconsin from Madison’s Camp Randall Stadium. ABC will air a “Game of the Week” candidate. ESPN College Gameday will be on hand as #9 Michigan State and #3 Ohio State both try to keep their playoff dreams alive as they square off in “The Horseshoe.” Ohio Stadium in Columbus.
The “Shamrock Series” returns this year as #4 Notre Dame plays a designated home game in Fenway Park. They host “visiting” Boston College. This is the “Holy War”, as these two schools are the only Catholic universities in America that still compete at the FBS level in football. The winner takes home the Ireland Trophy, and the game is also known as the Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl. This will air on NBCSN and start at 7:30.
Then there’s the two other “Game of the Week” candidates, and both involve BIG XII schools. At 7:30 on Fox, #10 Baylor travels to Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater as they try to hand #6 Oklahoma State their first loss of the season. On ABC at 8:00 under the bright lights of prime time, #18 TCU goes to Norman to play Oklahoma in Memorial Stadium.
As always, I’ll be watching the Notre Dame game. Before they kickoff, I’ll be watching the B1G battle between Michigan State and Ohio State. My DVR will be set for Baylor and Oklahoma State, and if there’s time I’ll catch one of the late night games out West.
What are you going to be watching in Week 12?
My Top 4 Playoff Teams:
1. Clemson Tigers
2. Alabama Crimson Tide
3. Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish
4. Iowa Hawkeyes
College Football Playoff Rankings
25. Wisconsin Badgers (8-2)
24. USC Trojans (7-3)
23. Oregon Ducks (7-3)
22. Ole Miss Rebels (7-3)
21. Memphis Tigers (8-2)
20. Northwestern Wildcats (8-2)
19. Houston Cougars (10-0)
18. TCU Horned Frogs (9-1)
17. North Carolina Tar Heels (9-1)
16. Navy Midshipmen (8-1)
15. LSU Tigers (7-2)
14. Florida State Seminoles (8-2)
13. Utah Utes (8-2)
12. Michigan Wolverines (8-2)
11. Stanford Cardinal (8-2)
10. Baylor Bears (8-1)
9. Michigan State Spartans (9-1)
8. Florida Gators (9-1)
7. Oklahoma Sooners (9-1)
6. Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-0)
5. Iowa Hawkeyes (10-0)
4. Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish (9-1)
3. Ohio State Buckeyes (10-0)
2. Alabama Crimson Tide (9-1)
1. Clemson Tigers (10-0)
Copyright © Drew Martin 2015