Upsets, Chaos Reign in College Football Week 12
If you were hoping for college football chaos, this weekend didn’t disappoint with three undefeateds and nine ranked teams all going down to defeat.
Here are some of the insights coming out of this weekend in college football.
The Playoff Committee Has Their Hands Full With Michigan State
When Michigan State's field goal cleared the crossbar with no time left on the clock, a lot of things in college football got turned on their heads. Not only are the defending champs likely out of playoff contention, their 23-game winning streak and Big Ten record 30-game unbeaten streak in regular season conference games snapped, but the Spartans are suddenly very much in the discussion. And the discussion could be very interesting, indeed.
The Spartans' only loss came in the waning moments at Nebraska when officials ruled that Cornhusker receiver Brandon Reilly was forced out of bounds but came back in to catch the go-ahead touchdown.
While the controversial call was certainly not solely responsible for the game's turnout (a porous Michigan State secondary and poor clock management down the stretch must carry a big part of the blame as well), it will be interesting to see how the committee views the loss in the bigger picture when comparing the Spartans' resume with other one-loss teams. Notre Dame's two-point loss at Clemson certainly doesn't carry any shame while Oklahoma's loss to Texas seems more inexplicable every week. Will the committee just view Michigan State's loss to a team with a losing record as a negative? Or they will get a little more credit given the unusual circumstances? While the Spartans can certainly make the committee's job a lot easier by winning out over Penn State and No. 3 Iowa, the discussions in the committee room about that Nebraska loss could be interesting.
Practice at Ohio State on Monday Should Be Interesting
You know that awkward time after you've turned in your two-weeks notice when you have to pretend you still care about your job and your co-workers say they'll miss you while secretly making a mental inventory of your office supplies they plan to scavenge? Now imagine you told your boss exactly how incompetent he was and that you can't wait to get out. That should give you some idea of what Ohio State football will look like this week.
After the Buckeyes' loss to Michigan State, Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott made it a point to question the team's play calling, bluntly stating "We weren't put in a position to win." He also made it clear that he would be leaving for the NFL, saying, "That was my last game at the Shoe. There's no chance I'm coming back next year."
No offensive coaches spoke to the media after the game, in with the Buckeyes only managed 132 total yards. Elliott had just 12 carries for 33 yards in the loss after rushing for 100+ in 15 straight games. While Elliott didn't name any coaches by name and his comments weren't exactly "scorched earth" material, it's obvious there's no love lost between the Buckeye coaching staff and their best player. The only thing better than the cold war drama before this week's big game against archrival No. 12 Michigan will be seeing the awkwardness of Urban Myer on stage talking about Elliott during the Heisman ceremony.
Oklahoma State's Luck Finally Ran Out
The "Cardiac Cowboys" had been living on borrowed time this year, coming from behind in the second half five times, including two 17-point deficits. But Oklahoma State finally ran out of comeback magic against No. 6 Baylor. Even though the Bears played much of their game with a third-string quarterback, the Cowboy defense had no answer for a Baylor offense that rolled up 700 yards and 45 points. The Bears, who lead the nation in total offense and scoring, used a familiar game plan, using a potent between-the-tackles running game to set up the deep ball.
Two years ago, undefeated Baylor came into Stillwater and had its national title hopes shot down in a 49-17 loss to Oklahoma State. This year, the Bears were more than happy to return the favor.
The SEC Has Had Better Days
It was not a banner day for the SEC. Yes, Ole Miss shut down LSU in a Top 25 battle and Mississippi State held off Arkansas, 51-50, in an old-fashioned SEC defensive showdown. But South Carolina lost, 23-22, to The Citadel while Florida and Georgia needed overtime to get past Florida Atlantic and Georgia Southern, respectively. But at least the SEC Network gave us a barnburner of a matchup between Top Ten teams, right?
Oregon’s Pass Defense Picked a Good Time to Show Up
No. 23 Oregon has been rolling since the return of Vernon Adams from injury, averaging nearly 550 yards and over 43 points per game during its current five-game winning streak. But perhaps the biggest development out of the Ducks’ 48-28 win over No. 24 USC was the sudden emergence of a pass defense. Oregon came into the game ranked last in the conference against the pass, but held the Trojans to just 238 yards in the air. USC receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was the Pac-12’s leading receiver with 1,160 yards and ten touchdowns, was held scoreless on just five catches for 57 yards, his second-lowest output of the season.
While another Pac-12 title is out of reach for the Ducks, finishing strong and ending rival Stanford’s national title hopes are not bad consolation prizes.