New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has announced his retirement, ending one of the NFL’s most dominant and colourful careers.
Another college football weekend is in the books, and it was one of looking ahead for many teams who are involved in in-state rivalries over Thanksgiving next weekend, or taking on hated out-of-state rivals.
So does that equal trap game surprises? Well, maybe just a few. Let’s take a look at who covered themselves in glory and who didn’t, with Week 12’s Heroes and Villains.
Harvard: in the one hundred and thirty fifth iteration of The Game (and the first on the hallowed grounds of Fenway Park in Boston), the Crimson enjoyed a commanding 45-27 victory over arch-rivals Yale behind a whopping 605 yards of total offense.
Notre Dame: took care of Syracuse at Yankee Stadium and with a spectacularly-awful USC ahead, it looks like the Irish will feature in the college football playoff.
UCLA: this hurts to write (I’m a USC fan) but the Bruins, 2-8 coming in, beat USC and snare the Victory Bell and bragging rights in the crosstown rivalry game for the first time since 2014. A decent end to a tough first season under Chip Kelly.
Barrett Pickering: the Nebraska kicker nailed three fourth-quarter field goals as the Huskers beat Michigan State 9-6 in Lincoln, which was the Huskers’ fourth win in the last five games.
Taylor Cornelius: the Oklahoma State quarterback accounted for six touchdowns as the Cowboys upset West Virginia 45-41.
Iowa: the Hawkeyes went at better than a point a minute in their 63-0 demolition of Illinois in Champaign in front of a virtually-empty stadium. It was the biggest margin of victory for Iowa in the Kirk Ferentz era (more than twenty years now) and Ferentz’s one hundred and fiftieth win.
Devlin Hodges: the Samford quarterback became the all-time leading passer in FCS history, ending his career with 14,584 yards.
Florida State: beat Boston College on a 74-yard touchdown pass with less than two minutes to play for an unlikely 22-21 win.
Jonathan Taylor: the Wisconsin running back had 321 rushing yards and three touchdowns in a 3OT win over Purdue.
Wyoming: the Cowboys scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat Air Force 35-27 on a snowy afternoon in Laramie.
Washington: the Huskies recorded their fourteenth straight home win, dispatching Oregon State 42-23.
Mark Richt: some of the heat is temporarily off the Miami coach after the Hurricanes beat an equally-bad Virginia Tech squad 38-14.
Ohio: Frank Solich’s Bobcats absolutely belted Buffalo 52-17 on Wednesday. The Bulls entered the game with a 9-1 record, but were tripped up by Ohio quarterback Nathan Rourke, who accounted for four touchdowns.
Utah: the Utes locked up their first Pac-12 south title on Saturday.
Colorado State: it looked like a come-from-the-clouds Hail Mary up there with the best of them, but the pass from Rams quarterback Collin Hill to Preston Williams was ruled incomplete because Preston had stepped out of bounds before making the spectacular catch that would have sealed a 31-29 win over Utah State.
Clay Helton: the Southern California head coach is headed for his roughest week ever, following the Trojans loss to a bad UCLA team. The loss marked the first time that the Trojans have lost a game to an opponent with ten losses coming in since 1960. And with Notre Dame coming in next week, the pain is only going to get worse.
Tyrrell Pigrome: the Maryland quarterback had a wide-open receiver begging for the football on a 2-point conversion attempt that would’ve given the Terps a huge win over Ohio State. Alas, quarterback couldn’t find receiver, and the Buckeyes won 52-51.
Virginia Tech: the Hokies have gone to a Bowl game in twenty-five straight seasons but that streak is in some trouble after a 38-14 loss to Miami. They’ll need to beat rival Virginia next week to qualify for the postseason.
Devin Darrington: the Harvard running back had a touchdown reversed after he flipped ‘the bird’ to a Yale defender on his way into the end zone. No need for that.
SEC schools: Liberty, The Citadel, Massachusetts, UAB, Chattanooga, Idaho and Middle Tennessee. Just a few of the teams that schools like Alabama, South Carolina, Auburn and Georgia scheduled this weekend, ahead of the big rivalry games next week. Bad enough these cupcake games are played at the start of the year, let alone now. Not a good look.
Colorado: the Buffaloes started the season 5-0 and six weeks later are 5-6 after a 30-7 loss to Utah in Boulder. Not good news for head coach Mike McIntyre, who has overseen a few howlers in recent times, highlighted by the massive collapse against Oregon State.
Illinois: the Illini lost to Iowa 63-0 in front of a virtually-empty stadium, their worst loss in program history.
Arizona’s defense: it’s a bad day when you give up 55 points in a game, and a disastrous one when you surrender 55 points in one half. The Wildcats had absolutely no answers for Washington State’s offensive onslaught led by Gardner Minshew and although they were better in the second half, allowing only fourteen points, they still lost 69-28.
Purdue: up 27-13 on Wisconsin about halfway through the fourth quarter, and the Boilermakers collapsed, losing 47-44 in a wild triple overtime finish. This team seems to have split personalities. There’s the team who belted Ohio State, and the team who got annihilated by Minnesota. Next week might be the last game under head coach Jeff Brohm, who is potentially off to his alma mater Louisville.
South Florida: remember when they were 7-0 to start the season? Seems a long time ago now. The Bulls lost 27-17 to Temple on Saturday, giving up a 17-0 lead. The wheels have fallen off the wagon in Charlie Strong’s second season.
Ohio State: another win, but the same problems. The Buckeye defense gave up 51 points to Maryland and were routinely victimised with chunk-yardage plays, particularly on the ground. I don’t know what the Michigan run game is going to do to the Buckeyes in Columbus next week, but it might not be pretty viewing for the OSU faithful.