Week 12 in college football featured a Shamrock Series showdown at Yankee Stadium, a monumental upset in Stillwater and much more.
Now do you understand why Nick Saban was annoyed by your impertinent musings about how long Tua Tagovailoa would play? No? Well, maybe you see why coaches hate playing triple-option teams.
Anyway, Cupcake Saturday is finished, and we’re all – this no doubt includes Saban – glad to have gotten through it.
There was actually a big showdown scheduled at Yankee Stadium. But then Notre Dame treated Syracuse like those SEC teams treated their FCS victims. The takeaway is pretty simple: It is long past time to acknowledge Notre Dame is really good, y’all. Get ready for Notre Dame in your final Football Four.
Also, we know the Pac-12 has been declared out of this race, but Washington State sure looks like a contender to be seriously considered, huh?
As always, remember we pick the bracket as if the season was over.*
1. Alabama – Alabama was tied at halftime with The Citadel, and it might have been a very good thing for the Crimson Tide. Yeah, the Tide won 50-17 – but this way, Saban actually has a reason to get on his guys as they head into the Iron Bowl.
2. Clemson – The Tigers started slow, then turned it on for another blowout. Bad news for opponents (and potential Playoff opponents): Clemson’s defense seems to get better each week. Duke had 127 first-quarter yards, then 135 in the next three.
3. Notre Dame – Another week of ‘maybe finally these guys will’ … only Notre Dame won’t lose. Not even close. The Irish dominated Syracuse 36-3 – holding the Orange 41 points below their scoring average – to move to 11-0. The only remaining obstacle is a 5-6 USC bunch that just lost to 3-8 UCLA.
4. Michigan – The Wolverines seemed sluggish – they trailed at halftime – but outlasted Indiana, setting up a showdown in Columbus with archrival Ohio State for the Big Ten East crown.
5. Georgia – Hard to glean much from a game against UMass, but Georgia did what it was supposed to against an outmanned bunch. After the glorified scrimmage, the Bulldogs face Georgia Tech. Get through that, and the SEC championship game will be a de facto Playoff quarterfinal.
6. Oklahoma – Kyler Murray is special – and it’s a very good thing for Oklahoma, because its defense is especially bad. The Sooners beat Kansas 55-40 but let the Jayhawks run free (especially Pooka Williams). They might have been a little flat after that Bedlam victory — but their defensive issues remain very real and alarming. Now comes a trip to West Virginia on Black Friday.
7. Washington State – Yeah, yeah, we know: The Pac-12 is out of it. But Washington State sure looks good – a 55-point first half (FIFTY-FIVE!!!) against Arizona – and the Rose Bowl would be nice, huh? If the Cougs can win the Apple Cup – never an easy deal – they’ll head to the Pac-12 title game.
8. UCF – The Knights got all that fun, free publicity with “College GameDay” in town, then gave up a fumble-touchdown on the first series. And from there it was all UCF. A great night for the, uh, defending national champions.
A Few More After That***
Ohio State – Why aren’t the Buckeyes in the top eight? Did you watch that narrow, oh-so-lucky escape (52-51 in OT) at Maryland? Urban Meyer did, and every second of it seemed agonizing. Ohio State gets its shot to win the Big Ten East against Michigan – but its defense Saturday (and for most of the season) does not provide much reason for optimism.
Utah State – The ol’ illegal touching rule bailed out the Aggies, who gave up a hail-mary touchdown on the game’s final play at Colorado State, only to learn – phew! – the receiver had gone out of bounds. Next up, they’ll take their 10-game winning streak to Boise State.
LSU – Cupcake week meant Rice – which had lost 10 consecutive games – visiting Tiger Stadium. Make that 11 in a row. LSU remains on track to get to a New Year’s Six bowl.
West Virginia – The Mountaineers’ Playoff hopes went bust; Oklahoma State popped ‘em in a thriller in Stillwater. But West Virginia has Oklahoma at home on Black Friday, with Big 12 title hopes alive.
Texas – The Longhorns dominated Iowa State and now need only to beat Kansas (yeah, we know) to reach the Big 12 championship game.
USC – Losing to UCLA is never a good thing for USC. This time, it might be the end for Clay Helton as the Trojans fell to 5-6 ahead of a date with No. 3 Notre Dame. For USC fans, there’s this disconcerting question: If Chip Kelly’s first UCLA team – which is now 3-8 – can win the Crosstown Clash, what happens in a couple of years?
Colorado – On Oct. 6, Colorado beat Arizona State to move to 5-0. After a 30-7 home loss Saturday to Utah, the Buffs are 5-6 and coach Mike MacIntyre is out; the school announced his dismissal early Sunday afternoon. “You all saw the program before I got here,” MacIntyre told reporters Saturday after the loss. “It was abysmal.” What is it now? Wherever the Buffs are headed, a new coach will be taking them.
Tennessee – Remember last week, when the Vols stuffed Kentucky? Yeah, good times. This week, though … sigh. Missouri whipped Tennessee 50-17. Derek Dooley returned to Neyland Stadium as Missouri’s play-caller and called some nice plays. Now the Vols play Vanderbilt with a bowl berth for the winner.
Virginia Tech – After a 38-14 loss to Miami, the Hokies are 4-6. They’ve lost four in a row, and four in a row at home. To get to a bowl game, they’ve got to beat Virginia and then add a game Dec. 1 (a game with East Carolina was canceled because of Hurricane Florence); reports have Marshall lined up, but only if it’s needed for a shot at a bowl. Things are not good at all in Blacksburg.
* The season is not over.
** Don’t be worried that your team sits just outside the cut. This is a weekly snapshot. And what do we know, anyway?
*** See the previous note, but it’s OK to be slightly concerned or very angry. But what do we know, anyway?
**** No note necessary