Every college football weekend is jam packed with games starting on Thursday night and running through the early morning hours of Sunday. You probably didn’t have a chance to watch all the action, nobody does. So, we’re here every Monday to recap some of the highlights (or lowlights) of the weekend.
You knew that this was coming, right? All seemed right with the world following last week’s release of the College Football Playoff rankings. The four playoff slots were taken up by teams that were undefeated. Those teams supposedly had a good chance of staying that way for the final three weeks — yeah… about that.
It’s November, folks. Chaos reigns supreme in this month of the college football calendar and this year proved to be no different.
Michigan, Clemson Both Fall On Last-Second Field Goals
Going into the weekend, Wolverines and Tigers fans were feeling pretty good about life. For the Tigers, their stiffest regular season tests seemed to be behind them. For the Wolverines, it looked like smooth sailing until their date with the Buckeyes in a few weeks. Well, Pitt and Iowa had other ideas.
The Panthers have been an explosive offense and mediocre defense all season and that was evident again on Saturday. Nathan Peterman lit up Clemson’s defense through the air for five touchdowns while James Conner churned out 132 yards and a touchdown on the ground. DeShaun Watson threw for 580(!) yards on 70 pass attempts, but the problem was turnovers. Watson throwing interceptions has been a trouble spot all season and in this game it caught up to the Tigers as he threw three picks and the Panthers turned those interceptions into 14 points.
In the end, it looked like Clemson might escape. The Panthers lined up for a 48-yard field goal with :09 left, no gimme by any stretch. But, the ironically named Chris Blewitt didn’t blow it.
Michigan on the other hand, played the same type of game that left them in a close contest with Wisconsin earlier this season. Quarterback Wilton Speight was ineffective (11/26 103 yards 1 INT) and as a team they were able to muster just 98 yards on 35 carries (2.8 average). The defense was dominating for nearly the entire first half, but they suffered a safety and the ensuing punt return for the Hawkeyes was a good one, which gave Iowa good field position that they used to cut the lead to 10-8. The second half was all field goals and punts and in the end, it was the Hawkeyes who had the chance to win late.
The game ball for the Hawkeyes goes to running back Akrum Wadley, who carried 23 times for 115 yards and caught five passes for 52 yards and the team’s lone touchdown.
Combine the two last-second losses with Washington’s 26-13 loss to USC and this was the first time that the number two, three and four teams all lost on the same day since 1985.
What Does the Playoff Picture Look Like Now?
Whooooo boy. Tomorrow night’s going to be interesting. The top spot is clear. Alabama stayed undefeated with a 51-3 beat down of Mississippi State.
After the Tide? Good luck.
The following teams have one-loss: Clemson, Michigan, Ohio State, Louisville, Washington and West Virginia. Then, come the two-loss squads: Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Penn State, Colorado……etc.
So, what does the committee value most this week? Judging from history, I think we’re likely to see Ohio State jump up to number two as they’ve looked extremely impressive in the last two weeks. Then, I think you see Clemson and Michigan slide down, but stay in the Top 4, so you’d have:
2) Ohio State
Louisville in my rankings would move up to No. 5, Washington would fall to No. 6 and Wisconsin, Penn State, Oklahoma and Colorado would round out the Top 10. Will that happen? Maybe. Who knows exactly how the committee is going to view these teams this week.
Jalen Hurts Enters The Heisman Finalist Conversation
Look, Lamar Jackson has the Heisman all but sewn up at this point. However, there are other players every year that get invited to the ceremony in New York as finalists for the trophy. The Crimson Tide’s quarterback is making his case for an invite. In Alabama’s 51-3 dismantling of Mississippi State, Hurts accounted for five touchdowns (4 passing 1 rushing) and 447 yards of total offense.
His season long statistics don’t pop off the page at you, but keep this in mind: If you’ve watched an Alabama game this year, you know the offense goes as Hurts does. The Tide aren’t the team of years past where they can just hand off to Derrick Henry/Mark Ingram/Trent Richardson/Eddy Lacy 30 times a game. Hurts is the catalyst for their running game. The offensive line hasn’t been as dominant in moving people off the ball as in years past so the threat of Hurts keeping it has opened up holes for the running backs with the zone-read/read-option look.
Will Hurts win? No. Does he deserve to be in the conversation? Absolutely.
Player You Need To Know – Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina
Each week, I bring you a player that may be slipping past your gaze for one reason or another. Jones certainly fits that bill as he plays for an East Carolina squad that is now 3-7 this season after a loss to SMU on Saturday. However, in that contest, Jones caught 12 passes for 173 yards and this touchdown.
With those 12 receptions Saturday, Jones moved to within seven of the all-time record for receptions in a career. The leader? Another former Pirate, Justin Hardy. Jones, in the same way that Hardy did it a few years ago, has approached the career record with relatively little fanfare. Jones has a similar build and skill set to Hardy, and Hardy has carved a spot for himself in the NFL with the Falcons. Jones could certainly do something similar for an NFL team come next season.
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him.