If you’re anything like my friends, you said that if Matthew Jordan beat the Hokies you would run naked through the Campanile. So you spent most of the day dodging police, protesters, admirers, and the Austin twins (who were everywhere yesterday). If so, you missed a crazy day of college football. I’m here to catch you guys up.
Last week in the comments I discussed Louisville’s playoff chances. I decided that they needed chaos to make the playoffs. Well they got it. Washington celebrated their addition to the top four with a 26-13 loss at home against USC. #2 Clemson lost to Pitt on a last second Blewitt field goal (sound familiar?) #3 Michigan fell in a 14-13 thriller at Iowa. So where does that leave us? I have no idea. #1 Alabama, #5 Ohio State, #6 Louisville, and #7 Wisconsin all rolled. #8 Texas A&M and #9 Auburn both lost (to Ole Miss and Georgia). So if I had to guess, the top 4 this week will be Bama, Louisville, Ohio State, and maybe Clemson still? Or Wisconsin? I really don’t know. These losses have opened the door to Penn State, West Virginia, or say Colorado to win their conference and sneak into the playoffs.
General College Football
In this year’s toilet bowl, Iowa State eked out Kansas 31-24. I give credit to Kansas coach David Beatty, he’s done a good job of filling out the roster with D1 level players and keeping them playing hard despite the losses. Oklahoma smashed Baylor, and I hope that continues for the Bears from Waco. Two weeks ago, the Kentucky Wildcats were looking at the top of the SEC East, after consecutive losses (this week to Tennessee 49-36) they’ve fallen back to earth, hard. Michigan State proved that there’s bad, then Rutgers bad with a 49-0 win. Oklahoma State avoided the big upset when Texas Tech scored what should have been the game tying touchdown, but missed the extra point giving the Cowboys the 45-44 victory. Down in the other conferences, Troy beat Appalachian State 28-24 to remain the best team in the Sun Belt. Troy’s only loss was to Clemson by 6. Just saying.... Wyoming looked good to make the Mountain West championship game but they lost in triple overtime to UNLV 69-66 which gives Boise State a glimmer of hope. Oregon will officially not be bowl eligible, falling to 3-7 after a loss to Stanford. Notre Dame delayed the inevitable by a week by demolishing Army to get to 4-6. USF and Navy both won tight games (against Memphis and Tulsa) and now look set to meet each other for the AAC title. Western Michigan remained undefeated against Kent State while the Eastern Michigan EMUs gained bowl eligibility with a win against Ball State. If there is hope for them, there is hope for anybody.
Mercer 19-#21 Samford 24
Mercer falls to 5-5 on the season.
Georgia Southern 26-Louisiana-Lafayette 33
The Eagles fall to 4-6 and it looks like they will not go bowling this season.
Vanderbilt 17-Missouri 26
Things were looking so up for the Commodores after a win at Georgia and a close loss at Auburn. But then this happened. They lost to Missouri. A team whose only wins were Eastern Michigan and Delaware State. Now they are 4-6 and would need a miracle to make a bowl. Can head coach Derek Mason survive this season?
Georgia 13-#9 Auburn 7
You might have missed this game because it was on at the same time as the Tech game, but Georgia pulled almost as big of an upset as the Jackets. The Bulldog defense was stifling, holding the Tigers to only 173 yards for the game. Yes, a top ten team only amassed 173 yards. On the other end of the ball, Jacob Eason did just enough, 20-31 for 208 yards, while Chubb and Michel kept the chains moving (33 attempts for 156 yards combined). Now neither UGA nor Tech are fighting for bowl eligibility in the final game of the season, they will just be fighting for pride.
#18 Florida State 45-BC 7
This was a pretty boring Friday night game. I missed it because I was at the Tech basketball game, but FSU went up early and stayed up comfortably. BC really looks like they are just going through the motions and Steve Addazio probably knows that he’s out in Chestnut Hill after the season is over. They now stand at 4-6 and need to win at home against UConn and at a tough Wake Forest squad to make a bowl. That is very doable, but I would not trust the Eagles to get it. FSU did exactly what they needed to do. They got up early and got their starters some rest. Now they only have Syracuse on the schedule before the big matchup with Florida to end the season.
NC State 35-Syracuse 20
With both teams fighting for bowl eligibility, Dave Doeren’s squad topped the Orange. It was the NC State defense who made the difference, holding Syracuse to just 218 yards while the offense churned out 544. QB Ryan Finley had a fantastic game throwing for 340 yards and no picks on just 29 passes. The Wolfpack now sit at 5-5, but would still need a win against either Miami or UNC to make a bowl. 4-6 Syracuse really needed that win for hope of going to a bowl, but would now need to beat both FSU and Pitt to make one. Dino Babers has done a decent job his first season, but he did not have a whole lot to work with.
#6 Louisville 44-Wake Forest 12
This might look like the classic blowout of an inferior team, but looks can be deceiving. Louisville was actually down 12-10 at the start of the fourth quarter. Then, they put up points in a hurry. They scored 34 points in the final frame to put the Demon Deacons away. Lamar Jackson was not very effective through the air, but with 153 yards on the ground in 22 rushes he was still the difference maker.
Duke 28-UNC 27
On Thursday, it appeared that UNC handed Virginia Tech the division title with a loss to Duke. Somehow Duke nabbed its first ACC win by slowing down the potent Tar Heels offense, particularly in the fourth quarter. They only allowed UNC to gain 31 yards in the fourth quarter thanks to stifling defense and a clock-eating offense. Daniel Jones had one of the best games of his career (22-34 for 204 yards with some solid running) and the Blue Devils pulled off the upset. With Georgia Tech’s victory over Virginia Tech, UNC’s division hopes are still alive, but the Hokies would have to lose to Virginia for the first time in over a decade. Duke kept their slim bowl hopes alive, but with upcoming games against Pitt and Miami it does not look likely.
Miami 34-Virginia 14
The Hurricanes won in a pretty blah game. They did it on offense with a very balanced attack. They had 222 yards on the ground and 228 through the air. Virginia held it close in the first half, but four fumbles in the second half doomed their comeback attempts. Something in Virginia is giving all of their teams butter fingers. With that win, Miami secured a bowl with NC State and Duke still left on the schedule. Meanwhile, Bronco Mendenhall’s first season continued its plunge as the Cavaliers fell to 2-8. They can only hope to spoil VT’s season.
Pittsburgh 43-Clemson 42
Wow. Wow. Wow wow wow. Who saw this one coming? Just after GT completed the upset, Pitt got the ball with under a minute remaining and a two point deficit. A quick drive move them down to the thirty yard line giving kicker Chris Blewitt a chance to put it away. And put it away he did. The Pitt defense gave up 630 yards to the Tigers but did just enough to give the offense a shot. James Conner had 132 yards on 20 rushes including the touchdown that brought Pitt within two with just 6 minutes left in the game. Deshaun Watson had a monster game, 580 yards on 52-70 passing, but the Tigers needed one more drive than what they got. Pitt committed to stopping the run, which they did effectively. Wayne Gallman was the leading rusher on only 36 yards on 18 carries. Why the Tigers insisted on running the ball on third and fourth down at midfield with a minute remaining I will never know.
Clemson has a good chance to stay in the top four of the playoff rankings thanks to chaos, but now have a razor thin margin. Pitt nabbed that critical 6th win and now look to really improve how this season turns out with games against Duke and Syracuse.