Jordan Berry’s Steelers teammates seemed to have no idea what he was going to do.
Thanksgiving means rivalries – making for hands down, bar none the best weekend of the college football regular season. So many games with decades – and in some cases more than a century – of animosity and dislike built up.
Classic games like the Iron Bowl, Apple Cup, Bedlam and Clean, Old-Fashioned hate – plus memorable trophies such as the Old Oaken Bucket, Paul Bunyan’s Axe and the Golden Egg – dot the landscape and there is always drama heaped upon drama. 2019 was no different.
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 on the final weekend of the 2019 regular season with my rivalry-filled Week 14 edition of winners and losers.
Winner – Ohio State
The Buckeyes had a thumping 56-27 win over their arch-rivals Michigan on the road in Ann Arbor, making for their eighth straight win over the Wolverines. On current evidence, there probably isn’t a better team in college football than the Ohio State – having now won nine of ten games against Michigan this decade.
Loser – Elijah Moore
From hero to zero, Moore scored a touchdown with four seconds left and then proceeded to mime a dog urinating in the Mississippi State end zone. Predictably, that act brought about a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct flag which pushed the point-after conversion back – and the kicker missed the ensuing attempt and Ole Miss fell 21-20. One of the bigger brain explosions I’ve seen in college football.
Winner – Boise State
The Broncos beat Colorado State 31-24 in snowy Fort Collins on Friday to ensure their first undefeated Mountain West season. Not an easy thing to accomplish at the best of times, but harder when having to rely on three different starting quarterbacks. Depending on results next week, the Broncos might be on their way to a New Year’s Six bowl.
Loser – Mike Leach
The colourful Washington State coach called a journalist a “sanctimonious troll” after the Cougars lost their Apple Cup match against Washington 31-13. The loss drops WSU to a measly 1-10 record against the Huskies under Leach – not what you want to hear from a coach.
Winner – Virginia
The Cavaliers beat Virginia Tech 39-30 on Friday – a momentous occasion because it was their first win over their in-state foe since 2003. Also, the win stamps their ticket to the ACC title game next weekend against Clemson.
Loser – Michigan
All the improvement we thought we saw recently from Michigan was for naught in the Big House. They were steamrolled by Ohio State and Jim Harbaugh still remains winless against the school’s biggest rival – something I never imagined I’d write after Harbaugh was hired before the 2015 season.
I wonder how many influential Michigan folks will be agitating for change now? I don’t honestly know how many more chances Harbaugh gets. It’s fair now to ask whether he’ll ever beat the Buckeyes.
Winner – Indiana
The Old Oaken Bucket is going back to Bloomington after the Hoosiers topped Purdue 44-41 in only the second overtime contest in the long history of this rivalry. It wasn’t always the cleanest game, but there was drama like we haven’t seen in the Purdue-IU series in recent years. The Hoosiers cap off their best regular season in probably a quarter of a century with eight wins and lots of hope for the future under Tom Allen.
Loser – Alabama
Quarterback Mac Jones had two interceptions returned for touchdowns and the Tide lost to Auburn 48-45 to put an end to their chances at a college football playoff appearance.
Winner – Wisconsin
Didn’t get the nearly-customary 200-yard game from Jonathan Taylor and still managed to dispatch Minnesota 38-17 to win Paul Bunyan’s Axe back in the middle of a Twin Cities snowstorm. The Border War was also a Big Ten West play-in game, which means that the Badgers get a second crack at Ohio State next weekend to decide the Big Ten conference champion. Oft-maligned quarterback Jack Coan was forced to win them the game and he did in what was his best game for Wisconsin.
Loser – Kansas
The Jayhawks saved easily their worst performance under Les Miles for their final outing of the season. Baylor were up 34-0 at the half and continued on their merry way to a 61-6 win aided by six Jayhawk turnovers – a bad day all around.
Winner – Rutgers
It looks like the Scarlet Knights will bring back their most successful head coach Greg Schiano, who was in charge for 11 years through 2011 and actually had the team inside the top five rankings on a couple of occasions. This is a good move for Rutgers – Schiano is the only guy who knows how to win there.
Loser – Illinois
After a mid-season resurgence the Illini backslid on Saturday losing 29-10 to a horrendous Northwestern team, their fifth straight loss in the Land of Lincoln rivalry series. Granted, the Illini were without Brandon Peters – the quarterback who had sparked their resurgence – but this was still a bad loss. They’ll make a post-season Bowl at 6-5 but 7-5 would’ve looked much nicer.
Winner – Eric Gray
The Tennessee back ran for 246 yards and three touchdowns – including gash plays of 56 and 94 yards – as the Volunteers finished their first winning season since 2016 with a 28-10 win over in-state rivals Vanderbilt.
Loser – Texas Christian
The Horned Frogs will miss out on a postseason game for just the third time in the nineteen years head coach Garry Patterson has been in charge in Fort Worth. A 5-7 season snapped a streak of five years with a bowl game appearance.
Winner – Central Michigan
Some MAC magic here – the Chippewas were 1-11 a season ago and this year are headed to the conference championship game after demolishing Toledo 49-7. Jim McElwain’s first season in Mt Pleasant has been an unqualified success.
Loser – Nebraska
The Huskers started the year ranked and actually regressed in Scott Frost’s second season in charge. A 5-7 record in 2019 and a combined dismal 9-15 mark in two seasons for Frost will make for a long winter in Lincoln. They need a bounce-back year in 2019.
Winner – Joe Burrow
The Louisiana State quarterback threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns in a blowout win over Texas A&M, and in the process broke the Southeastern Conference single-season passing yards records set by Tim Couch all the way back in 1998.
Loser – Florida State
Back to back losing seasons for the Seminoles for the first time since 1975 and 1976. They have no head coach and I’m not sure who’d want to take this job right now.
Winner – Travis Etienne
The Clemson back set an ACC record with 53 rushing touchdowns for his career during the 38-3 win over South Carolina. The scary thing is that he’s just a junior and could be back for more in 2020.
Loser – Miami-FL
Started 2-3, improved to 6-4 then lost to Florida International and Duke in back to back weeks – the Blue Devils’ loss was perhaps the worst of the two because Duke had lost five straight to that point. The Hurricanes barely make the post-season at 6-6 but they aren’t going to frighten whoever they play.
Winner – Chris Klieman
The Kansas State coach proved his many doubters wrong with an 8-4 regular season, capped off by a 27-17 win over Iowa State. A brilliant debut season for a guy who’s won a tonne at FCS level.