Considering this is the last of my season previews, I just want to quickly thank everyone who has followed the series! NFL content will…
One week after the first college football playoff rankings came out, two of the teams in the top four have lost and seem set for a fall down the pecking order.
It was another eventful week – highlighted by two of the biggest matchups of the season – as things really start to shake themselves out at the back end of the season.
In case you missed the action across the weekend, read on for a look at who covered themselves in gridiron glory and who didn’t with the Week 11 edition of winners and losers.
Winner – Minnesota
I didn’t see their 31-26 win over Penn State coming, chiefly because the schedule that the Gophers played to get them to 8-0 – in which they played Nebraska, Rutgers, Maryland and Georgia Southern among others. But PJ Fleck and his team have made a believer out of me. The Gophers looked like they belonged and didn’t fluke this win. With Northwestern, Iowa and Wisconsin to come you assume at worst they will be at a 10-2 record – and that’s huge for a school more known for its hockey program than its football one.
Loser – Central Florida
Remember when the Knights were the leading candidate for a Group of Five New Year’s Six berth? They’ve fallen a long way since September, ending the nation’s longest winning streak earlier in the season – and it’s gone from bad to worse by falling 34-31 to a 3-7 Tulsa team. There will be a lot of people around college football celebrating another UCF loss, but I honestly don’t understand the hate for this team.
Winner – Louisiana State
On Saturday the Tigers did what few other teams have done in recent memory – going into Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa where they beat Nick Saban’s Alabama in a 46-41 shootout. A huge win for the program under Ed Orgeron, and LSU deserve to be ranked in the top two when the new playoff rankings came out. Just thinking about an Ohio State-LSU national championship game has me salivating. Quarterback Joe Burrow should be the Heisman Trophy front runner now.
Loser – Maryland
The Terrapins got annihilated by Ohio State to the tune of 73-14. Their defence gave up 705 yards of offence to the rampant Buckeyes at a whopping 7.5 yards per play. That’s insane, and at half time – down 42-0 – their highest-ranked recruit announced that he was withdrawing his commitment to play in College Park. So, not a good day at all.
Winner – Miami of Ohio
The Redhawks beat in-state rivals the Ohio University Bobcats 24-21 on a game-winning 53-yard field goal from Sam Sloman.
Loser – Michigan State
The Spartans led Illinois 28-3 in the second quarter and 31-10 entering the fourth quarter. Then they lost 37-34 to the resurgent and Bowl-eligible Illini, surely putting the final nail in Mark Dantonio’s coffin. A disastrous collapse no matter how you look at it.
Winner – Holton Ahlers
Although East Carolina fell in a wild 59-51 shootout to Southern Methodist, their quarterback Holton Ahlers completed 32 of 42 passes for 498 yards and six touchdowns. That’s a pretty handy 76.2% per cent completion rate. The Pirates’ defence couldn’t hold up their end of the bargain, but Ahlers had a day for the ages.
Loser – Arkansas
Lost 45-19 to Western Kentucky, whose quarterback Ty Storey – with 213 passing yards, 77 rushing yards and three total touchdowns – transferred out of Fayetteville only to come back and engineer one of the worst losses Arkansas has had in some time. It really says something, especially when you consider their last four or five seasons.
Winner – Florida State
It always seems to happen that a team who has fired their coach comes out the following week and wins for their caretaker. The Seminoles did so on Saturday, beating Boston College 38-31 behind two touchdowns on three carries by back-up quarterback Jordan Travis.
Loser – Stanford
Lost 16-13 to a Colorado team winless in their previous five starts and are now in serious danger of not making a Bowl game for the first time since 2008. It’s really fallen apart for David Shaw.
Winner – Miami-FL
The Hurricanes now look like the team we thought they might be pre-season under Manny Diaz. Quarterback Jarren Williams set a school-record six touchdown passes in the 52-27 romp. The Canes are 6-4 and Bowl-eligible now, with things seemingly coming together nicely. An eight-win season isn’t out of the question.
Loser – Vanderbilt
Drilled 56-0 by Florida. The Commodores are 2-7 and head coach Derek Mason might be in some trouble.
Winner – Illinois
It took the biggest comeback in school history – capped by a game-winning drive for the ages, including the successful conversion of fourth and 17 situation that ended with Brandon Peters tossing a touchdown to Daniel Barker with five seconds remaining. The Illini will see their first Bowl action since 2014.
Loser – West Virginia
Things have gone downhill in a hurry in Morgantown. After starting 3-1, the Mountaineers have lost five straight conference games and are probably not going to make the postseason for the first time since 2013 after losing 38-17 to Texas Tech. The Mountaineers had 549 yards of offence, but were doomed by four turnovers.
Winner – Appalachian State
The Sun Belt squad has done the Carolina double, beating South Carolina 20-15 to go with a September win over North Carolina.
Loser – Alabama
The path to another playoff appearance got more difficult following a 46-41 home loss to Louisiana State. Down 33-13 at halftime, they at least rallied – but it will come down to how the committee weighs conference championships as to whether we see the first playoff that doesn’t feature Alabama. That would be shocking.
Winner – Baylor
The Bears won in triple overtime over Texas Christina – triumphing 29-23 – but the important thing is that they remain undefeated and on track for the showdown next week with Oklahoma.