Title Dreams are Dashed and Other Things We Saw in Week 11 in College Football
More title contenders fell out of contention as six big games between ranked teams took their toll on the playoff possibilities.
The Number of Playoff Contenders is Starting to Dwindle
Elimination Saturday lived up to its moniker as four Top Ten teams, each with one loss, saw their playoff hopes shot down with a second this week. Ohio State knocked off No. 8 Michigan State to stake its claim as the Big Ten’s best. No. 3 Auburn fell at home to Texas A&M. TCU lit up No. 7 Kansas State to keep the Horned Frogs’ title hopes alive. And No. 10 Notre Dame fell flat on the road at Arizona State.
We’re down to ten undefeated or one-loss teams from power conferences and, depending on how the conference championship games shake out, every one of them could have to face another one this season with a playoff spot on the line. If you were rooting for chaos in college football, Christmas might be coming early this year.
Alabama Survived LSU’s Best Shot
Late in the fourth quarter, it looked like LSU was going to upset No. 5 Alabama after kicking a field goal to take a 13-10 lead with just 50 seconds to play. But that illusion lasted just 47 seconds, as the Crimson Tide put together a 55-yard drive to kick the tying field goal with just three seconds left. Bama went on to win the game in overtime and keep its title hopes alive, despite the best efforts of LSU tight end Logan Stokes (#84).
But the Tide won’t get much time to celebrate as Nick Saban is already looking ahead to next week’s big matchup with No. 1 Mississippi State.
And the ESPY for Stupidest Play of the Year Goes To . . .
Oregon scored 24 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a lead over Utah they would never give up. But what will always be remembered was a boneheaded play by the Utes that gave the Ducks their early momentum. On the first play of the quarter, Utah receiver Kaelin Clay caught what appeared to be a 79-yard touchdown that would have put the Utes out to an early 14-0 lead. But Clay decided to start the celebration early and simply dropped the ball on the one yard line. After the ball sat there for a few seconds, Oregon players tentatively picked it up and began a 99-yard convoy back the other direction for the tying score.
I’m not a stick in the mud when it comes to end zone celebrations. But I do subscribe to the “act like you’ve been there” theory when it comes to showboating. Thus, I really have no sympathy for players who do stuff like this. So move over Leon Lett and DeSean Jackson—you have some company in the Football Stupidity Hall of Fame.
All is Not Well in Sooner Land
Oklahoma fans always have high expectations (often unreasonably so), particularly when the Sooners are coming off an upset of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and are ranked No. 3 in the preseason. So the rumblings had already begun after the Sooners dropped two games in October. But they’ll reach ear-splitting decibels this week after OU dropped a 48-14 loss to Baylor, the worst home loss of the Bob Stoops era.
The Sooners jumped out to a 14-3 lead before giving up 45 unanswered points to the Bears, who snapped a 37-game road losing streak against ranked opponents. Bob and Mike Stoops have always been fiery coaches, but their anger is usually directed at referees or the media. Things are starting to boil over when coaches and players are getting into it.
Irish Eyes are Crying
Probably the biggest disappointment this week has to come from Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson. Not only did the Fighting Irish fall to Arizona State, effectively ending their hopes of making the playoffs, but Golson probably played himself out of the Heisman race. Yes, he threw for 446 yards and led a second half comeback that came up short. But he also threw four interceptions (two of which were returned for touchdowns) and fumbled once. Additionally, he was sacked seven times after being sacked just 14 times total in Notre Dame’s first eight games.
Is it fair to hold him accountable for Notre Dame’s fall? Probably not. But the Heisman is a popularity contest that is more about “what have you done for me lately” than fairness. Right or wrong, Heisman voters are more likely to see Notre Dame’s two losses and Golson’s 14 turnovers the last six weeks than they are to give him credit for 31 touchdowns and nearly leading comebacks against Florida State and Arizona State.