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Sunday Morning Football Review

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Several undefeateds fall as the Playoff race clears up

If you’re anything like my friends, you started sharpening your pitchfork and lighting your torch for Ted Roof and missed the rest of the games. Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. I’ll catch you up on what you missed.

Playoff Race

Alabama had a bye this week, but the number 2-6 teams all won, although each of them had at least some struggle in their game. #2 Michigan beat Michigan State 32-23. While Michigan was in control of the entire game, it was not the blowout that many expected. #4 Washington won at #17 Utah 24-17. A punt return touchdown with only three minutes left in the game was the difference maker. #6 Ohio State held on against Northwestern 24-20 a week after falling to Penn State. Northwestern is not a bad team, but this does not look like the Ohio State team from the first half of the season. The real shake-up came in the Big 12 where the two remaining undefeated teams lost on Saturday. West Virginia losing at Oklahoma State is excusable, though the Mountaineers did not look like a top team at all. Baylor losing at Texas is less excusable. The Bears probably weren’t that good in the first place, they have had an extremely easy schedule so far. It is tough to imagine a scenario where the Big 12 makes it into the playoffs. Nebraska also garnered their first loss in overtime at Wisconsin. The Badgers have a chance to make it to the playoffs if they beat Michigan in the Big 10 Championship game.

General College Football

Kentucky beat Missouri 35-21 to grab sole possession of second place in the SEC East. Watching them face Alabama in the SEC Championship would be fantastic. Wyoming ended #13 Boise State’s undefeated season 30-28. That now gives Western Michigan the inside lane for the G5 major bowl spot. Ole Miss is poised to rise in the rankings after yet another quality loss against Auburn, 40-29. “Tennessee is back!” exclaims the sportswriter for the 5th year in a row. The Volunteers fell 24-21 at South Carolina. Tennessee did get a little bit unlucky in having their crossover games be Alabama and Texas A&M, but this season has not gone the way they hoped. South Florida beat Navy in a weird, weird game on Friday. Meanwhile, Washington State’s win over Oregon State gives them the title of best team this season to lost to an FCS school, narrowly beating Northwestern. They are one of the best remaining chances to stop Washington.

OOC Opponents

Mercer 21-Wofford 31

Mercer is now 4-4 on the season.

Georgia Southern 10-Appalachian State 34

The Eagles jumped out to a 10-0 lead early against their rivals, but then they gave up 34 unanswered points. Georgia Southern is having a down year this year while the Mountaineers are one of the best in the Sun Belt.

Georgia 10-Florida 24

Nick Chubb had 20 yards on 9 carries against the Gators. Yes the Nick Chubb that ran for over 200 against UNC. The Bulldogs were completely dominated on the line. This was a defensive struggle all the way through with Georgia only accruing 165 yards. The Bulldogs are now 4-4 with Kentucky, Auburn, Louisiana Lafayette, and Tech left on the schedule. They could go into Clean, Old Fashioned Hate needing a win to get to a bowl.

ACC Atlantic

BC 21-NC State 14

BC finally gets a conference win here, avoiding going winless in back-to-back seasons. The Eagles offense actually had a solid game, racking up 386 yards. Quarterback Patrick Towles was solid going 18-33 for 204 yards. Both of these teams are sitting at 4-4 looking for two more wins to get to a bowl. The Eagles have FSU and Louisville on the schedule, but games against UConn and Wake Forest give them a chance. This loss really hurt NC State’s bowl chances. They still have FSU, Syracuse, Miami, and UNC. They could win two of those, but it will be tough.

Wake Forest 13-Army 21

Wake Forest had a golden opportunity to secure a bowl trip with a win against an up and down Army team. Wake looked good early, but QB John Wolford threw three interceptions and the Deacons defense wore down as the game went on, allowing Army to dominate the 4th quarter. Wake now sits a 5-3 needing one win out of Virginia, Louisville, Clemson, and BC to get bowl eligible. Certainly possible, but it’s not hard to imagine the Deacons losing out either.

Clemson 37-FSU 34

Once again, Clemson won a close game, this time at Doak Campbell Stadium against the Seminoles. FSU was driving late and made it all the way to the Clemson 35 before penalties and sacks stalled them. Jimbo Fisher was unhappy with one of those penalty calls and ranted about it during the post-game press conference. Deshaun Watson came up huge this game with 378 yards through the air. Dalvin Cook had a strong game with 169 yards on only 19 carries, almost 9 yards a carry. Clemson will likely be ranked in the Playoffs in the first Playoff rankings this week. FSU is now 5-2 with disappointing losses to the toughest teams on their schedule.

ACC Coastal

Virginia Tech 39-Pittsburgh 36

This was an ugly game. Pittsburgh’s defense has struggled all season and they now seem to be trying a new strategy, being extremely physical on the receivers figuring that the refs won’t call interference on every single play. That strategy, combined with Pat Narduzzi’s whining despite the fact that his cornerbacks were getting away with everything, was not a good look for Pitt. Pitt now would need a miracle to win the Coastal despite being preseason favorites. With a 5-3 record and games against Miami, Clemson, Duke, and Syracuse, it seems very likely that the Panthers will go bowling. The Hokies, meanwhile, passed probably their biggest remaining test and now only have to beat Duke, Virginia, and Georgia Tech to win the Coastal. We have seen VT play terrible, like they did against Syracuse, so it’s not a given, but they are certainly the favorites.

Miami 27-Notre Dame 30

Four weeks ago, Miami was a top ten team and the favorite in the Coastal. Since then things have fallen apart. The Hurricanes have lost four in a row to FSU, VT, UNC, and most recently a Notre Dame team that might be the country’s most disappointing team. Now they sit completely out of the race in the Coastal and just trying to get into a bowl. They sit at 4-4, but their schedule gets much easier from here on out with Pitt, Virginia, NC State, and Duke. It would take a total collapse to miss a bowl, but a total collapse looks possible. Brad Kaaya was only average with 26-42 passing for 288 yards and an interception.

Louisville 32-Virginia 25

I don’t understand Virginia this year. They nearly beat Louisville, but get destroyed by Richmond and lost to UConn at home. The Cavaliers led with 2 minutes to play after a gutsy 2 point conversion gave them the 1 point lead. But Lamar Jackson was just too much and quickly led a 75 yard touchdown drive to put away UVA. Bronco Mendenhall’s team has improved some as the season has gone on. I wouldn’t take a win against Virginia for granted. They are now 2-6 and would need to really turn it around to make a bowl. Louisville is likely to stay at #5 this week and is probably just one loss from a team above them away from making the playoffs.