I’m not going to do the typical long paragraph or two I start these pieces out with it. It’s getting late in the season. Each game means so much in winning a division, winning a conference, and trying to squeeze into one of those four coveted playoff spots. There’s a lot to cover from Week 12 and preview for Week 13, otherwise known as “Rivalry Week.” Let’s get to it.
The first important game of the weekend took place Friday night on the blue turf of Boise, ID. The Air Force Falcons handed Boise State their second straight loss. This is the first time Boise State has lost back-to-back home games since 1993. The win clinched Air Force the Mountain West Conference’s Mountain division title. They’ll be playing West division champion San Diego State in the conference championship game.
Two of the three games competing for “Game of the Week” resulted in upsets. I watched #9 Michigan State go into “The Horseshoe” and put an end to #3 Ohio State’s playoff chances as a cold rain fell. The loss may have taken Ohio State out of contention to compete for the B1G East division and a chance to play for a conference crown. Michigan State veteran quarterback Connor Cook suited up, but didn’t play due to a shoulder injury he suffered last week. Michigan State never led once and won on the leg of Michael Geiger. With 0:03 left in regulation and the game tied, Geiger made a 41 yard field goal that ended Buckeye Nation’s dreams of a national title repeat. After the game Ohio State running back Ezekial Elliott ripped the coaching staff and the play calling, announcing to reporters he had played his last home game and was turning pro instead of coming back for his senior season. Quarterback Cardale Jones made a similar announcement on Twitter.
The second upset came Saturday night, in a similar game between similar teams. Like Michigan State, #10 Baylor had lost once all season. They went into Boone Pickens Stadium and removed #6 Oklahoma State from the ranks of the unbeaten teams. This was Baylor’s first win in Stillwater since 1939. It couldn’t have come at a worse time for Oklahoma State. The BIG XII doesn’t have a title game, and they were on the outside looking in at the playoff race. Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham left the game with hand and ankle injuries. This left Baylor with one quarterback, sophomore Chris Johnson. He hadn’t thrown a pass all year, but did enough to keep Baylor ahead to win 45-35.
There were three other games that resulted in upsets of note. UCLA defeated #13 Utah in Salt Lake City, 17-9. Utah quarterback Travis Wilson’s fumble late in the game secured the win for UCLA. The loss knocked Utah out of contention for a PAC-12 South division title. The win gave UCLA a chance to win it, but more on that in the Week 13 preview. Connecticut became bowl eligible for the first time since 2010 by handing #19 Houston their first loss of the season 20-17. Temple defeated a slumping #21 Memphis team 31-12. The win puts Temple in contention to return to the rankings. They are also in a prime spot to win the American Athletic Conference East division, which would see them play either Houston or Navy for the conference championship.
Three ranked teams had upset scares, but managed to pull out a victory. My Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish found themselves in this group. On a cold night in Boston’s Fenway Park, #4 Notre Dame faced the top ranked Boston College defense. Notre Dame suffered through five turnovers (three inside the Boston College 5 yard line) and two more injuries to key players including starting running back C.J. Prosise. Deshone Kizer threw for 320 yards, and Notre Dame held on for a 19-16 win. On an emotional day in Blacksburg, #17 North Carolina needed overtime to beat Virginia Tech 30-27. This was Tech coach Frank Beamer’s final home game after 29 years. His players hoisted him on their shoulders and carried him off the field after the game. Another game decided in overtime between a ranked team and inferior opponent took place between #8 Florida and Florida Atlantic. Florida picked up a 20-14 win.
Under the bright lights of prime time, #7 Oklahoma held on to defeat #18 TCU 30-29. Trevone Boykin, TCU’s star quarterback, didn’t play due to an injury. Oklahoma’s Heisman hopeful quarterback Baker Mayfield suffered a helmet-to-helmet collision in the first half. He finished the half, and at halftime had his helmet taken from him as he sat on the sidelines for the rest of the game. In a controversial ending, #20 Northwestern beat #25 Wisconsin 13-7 as injuries and controversial officiating doomed Wisconsin on their final drive with the game coming to a close. In a PAC-12 battle, #23 Oregon handed #24 USC a 48-28 in front of the home crowd in Eugene. Vernon Adams Jr. completed 20 of 25 passes for 407 yards and six touchdowns, but did throw an interception. This makes many wonder what Oregon’s season would have been like if he hadn’t missed games with a finger injury. Two other quarterbacks with video game stat lines played each other. Mississippi State blocked an Arkansas 29 yard field goal attempt with 0:46 left to win 51-50. Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen completed 30 of 43 passes for 406 yards and tied the SEC record with seven touchdown passes. His counterpart Dak Prescott completed 38 of 50 passes for a school record 508 yards with 5 touchdown passes and an interception. He also rushed for 46 yards and two scores.
Sources say Les Miles may be out as the head coach at #15 LSU after 11 seasons. This comes on the heels of a loss to rival #22 Ole Miss 38-17. This marked the first time since 1999 LSU lost three straight games. The latest news is boosters are willing to pay a reported 15-20 million to buy out the contracts of Miles and his staff.
Week 13 kicks into gear on “Black Friday” with several games, but there’s three in particular worth watching. The good thing is all three air following each other. At noon on ABC, the American Athletic West division is on the line. Houston hosts #15 Navy at TDECU Stadium. To the victory go the spoils and a spot in the AAC conference game. Following that at 3:30 on ABC, #4 Iowa goes on the road to play Nebraska in Lincoln’s Memorial Stadium. If Nebraska wins they become bowl eligible. If Iowa wins they have a perfect regular season. This one could mean big things for the playoff picture if Iowa falters. The final game is at 7:30 on ESPN. It is far from the anticipated game everyone was expecting due to key injuries to both teams starting quarterbacks. From Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, #7 Baylor takes on #19 TCU. Baylor is on the outside looking in and with a win can still hold out hope for a coveted playoff spot.
Saturday starts with “The Game” from “The Big House” in Ann Arbor. In a heated B1G rivalry #8 Ohio State goes on the road to play #10 Michigan. In other B1G action, Penn State travels to Spartan Stadium in East Lansing to take on #5 Michigan State. Michigan State needs to win to capture the B1G East division title, a spot in the conference game, and to keep their playoff hopes alive. If they lose, they lose it all. The winner of “The Game” will be the division champion and go to the conference championship.
On ABC/ESPN2 at 3:30 the PAC-12 South division is decided. Cross-town rivals #22 UCLA and USC battle it out in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The winner will play Stanford in the PAC-12 championship game. The winner gets the honor of playing in “The Granddaddy of Them All”, the Rose Bowl.
At 7:00 on ESPN the American Athletic East title is on the line in Philadelphia from Lincoln Financial Field. Connecticut plays #25 Temple, and if Temple wins they’ll win the division and play the winner of Friday night’s Navy/Houston game. Kicking off a few minutes later at 7:15 on ESPN2, #18 Ole Miss goes to Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville to play #21 Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl.
My personal “Game of the Week”, and one that is a legitimate contender for the title is on FOX at 7:30. My #6 Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish slipped in the rankings after a horrible performance against Boston College and look to regain their footing against #9 Stanford in Palo Alto’s Stanford Stadium. With a win Notre Dame has an inside track to regain a playoff spot, but might need help. If they look good in winning, they are almost guaranteed to rise in the rankings.
Two more games of interest start at 7:30. The first game is newsworthy because it will decide the fate of LSU head coach Les Miles. If Texas A&M goes into Tiger Stadium and hands LSU a fourth straight loss, the word is Miles will not be back in Baton Rouge. That game will be on the SEC Network. ESPN will air #13 Florida State going to “The Swamp” to play #12 Florida. Two sorry performances in a row have doomed Florida to a slide down the rankings. Under the bright lights of prime time, “Bedlam” will ensue. The battle of Oklahoma as #3 Oklahoma looks to keep their playoff spot as they travel to Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater to play hated #11 Oklahoma State. With a win and some luck, Oklahoma State could find themselves back in the playoff race themselves.
I’m watching Notre Dame as I do each week. Before that I’ll be watching those games on Friday. Saturday looks like I’ll be keeping track of B1G action and Bedlam. To end the day I might be able to squeeze in a late game from out West.
What are you going to be watching in Week 12?
My Top 4 Playoff Teams:
1. Clemson Tigers
2. Iowa Hawkeyes
3. Alabama Crimson Tide
4. Michigan State Spartans
College Football Playoff Rankings
25. Temple Owls (9-2)
24. Toledo Rockets (9-1)
23. Utah Utes (8-3)
22. UCLA Bruins (8-3)
21. Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-3)
20. Washington State Cougars (8-3)
19. TCU Horned Frogs (9-2)
18. Ole Miss Rebels (8-3)
17. Oregon Ducks (8-3)
16. Northwestern Wildcats (9-2)
15. Navy Midshipmen (9-1)
14. North Carolina Tar Heels (10-1)
13. Florida State Seminoles (9-2)
12. Florida Gators (10-1)
11. Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-1)
10. Michigan Wolverines (9-2)
9. Stanford Cardinal (9-2)
8. Ohio State Buckeyes (10-1)
7. Baylor Bears (9-1)
6. Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish (10-1)
5. Michigan State Spartans (10-1)
4. Iowa Hawkeyes (11-0)
3. Oklahoma Sooners (10-1)
2. Alabama Crimson Tide (10-1)
1. Clemson Tigers (11-0)
Copyright © Drew Martin 2015