If you’re anything like my friends, you spent all of yesterday running around Athens in jubilation and missed the rest of a crazy rivalry week. If so, I’ve got you covered.
Congratulations to North Carolina State, Northwestern, Indiana, Maryland, Boston College, UTSA, Vanderbilt, TCU, Southern Miss, and most of all, Miami of Ohio on getting their sixth win and securing bowl eligibility. Miami started out 0-6 and rallied to win six straight games to make it to bowl for the first time in years. Additionally, four 5-7 (or other odd situation) teams are guaranteed bowls due to APR. Congrats to Army (6-5 but with a two FCS wins), Hawaii (6-7), North Texas, and Mississippi State. Mississippi State beat Ole Miss to deny the Rebels a bowl game while securing one for themselves. South Alabama and Louisiana-Lafayette get a bowl game if they win next week, which both should. If they lose, then Texas and Northern Illinois (in that order) get a bowl. If Texas turns down the bowl, then either Louisiana-Monroe or Arizona State would take their place.
Sunday is the traditional day for firings, so keep an eye out today. So far, only two major changes have been made so far. Texas fired Charlie Strong and hired “Can’t Miss” Tom Herman. LSU reportedly balked at Herman’s price tag and decided to keep Ed Orgeron. We will see who else gets the boot as the day goes on.
General College Football
What a fantastic weekend. Rivalry weekend is always fun and this year was no exception. The crazy week started on Thanksgiving when LSU took down Texas A&M 54-39. Texas A&M had yet another late season collapse and now a whole lot of their fanbase is done with Kevin Sumlin. On Friday, Washington secured a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game and kept an inside lane on making the playoffs by beating rival Washington State 45-17. Nebraska got destroyed by Iowa despite their higher ranking. The Cornhuskers will possibly end the season ranked despite having Northwestern as their best win. Boise State and Houston lost (to Air Force and Memphis) more or less guaranteeing Western Michigan makes the NY6 game if they can win their conference championship. TCU gave Texas yet another losing season by crushing the Longhorns 31-9. On Saturday, a little more craziness ensued. #2 Ohio State eked out a controversial win over #3 Michigan in double overtime. Penn State took care of business against Michigan State setting a Penn State-Wisconsin championship game. There will absolutely be some controversy over whether a non conference championship winner should make the playoffs. Notre Dame lost 45-27 to a surging USC. The Trojans gave Notre Dame it’s eighth loss of season and Brian Kelly has to be on the hot seat. Auburn held on against Alabama for a half, but the Crimson Tide pulled away in the second half for a convincing 30-12 win. Colorado completed their fantastic season with a 27-22 win over Utah. They are now in the PAC-12 championship against Washington. Two other coaches on the hot seat lost games against their smaller rivals. Butch Jones and Tennessee fell to Vanderbilt 45-34 while Mark Helfrich’s Oregon squad lost 34-24 to Oregon State.
Vanderbilt 45-#24 Tennessee 34
The Commodores completed their quest for bowl eligibility with a big win over their flagging rivals. The Commodore fans were done with coach Derek Mason mid-season, but I wonder what they think of him after big wins over Georgia and Tennessee.
Georgia Tech 28-georgia 27
I normally don’t include the Tech game, but I can’t help myself here. The Jackets looked like they were done in the third quarter, but the team never gave up and made huge plays to come up with the victory. This was only my second at Sanford, with my first being two years ago. Maybe I should go to Sanford every time we play them.
#4 Clemson 56-South Carolina 7
The Tigers had no trouble in taking down their cross-state rivals and find themselves one game away from the playoffs for what would be the second year in a row. Clemson has struggled at times this season against inferior teams, but Deshaun Watson picked apart the Gamecock defense to the tune of 347 yards on 26-32 passing and the Clemson defense shut down SC allowing just a shade over 200 yards on the day. The Tigers will be heavily favored against the Hokies and it is hard to see a let down in the final game of the season.
#11 Louisville 28-Kentucky 31
On the other hand, Louisville struggled hard against their in-state rival and they ended up falling to the 7-5 Wildcats for a disappointing end of season. Lamar Jackson was once the overwhelming favorite for the Heisman, but yet another sub-par performance has given others a chance. He had four crucial turnovers in this game, including a fumble while driving late in the game that led to the winning field goal. It wasn’t all on Jackson though. The defense gave up 581 yards to an unspectacular Kentucky defense. This was always a team that relied on Jackson to carry them, and he could not today.
#14 Florida State 31-#15 Florida 13
On the other other hand, the Seminoles dominated their rivals and their seniors completed a perfect 8-0 against Florida and Miami in their careers. Florida has an anemic offense, but the Seminoles did a fantastic job of breaking down the stout Gator defense. They put up 387 yards and 31 points despite three turnovers. Dalvin Cook had 156 yards on 26 carries as the Seminoles offensive line held their own. They weren’t spectacular through the air, but their ball control offense worked to a tee. Now the Seminoles are likely to leap over Louisville for the Orange Bowl spot assuming Clemson makes the playoffs.
Boston College 17-Wake Forest 14
Boston College needed a win to make a bowl and made it happen despite only 167 yards of offense. 10 of their points came as a direct result of turnovers as they failed to move the ball. Wake Forest could have won if it wasn’t for the untimely turnovers and two failed fourth-and-short conversions deep in Eagle territory. Both of these teams ended 6-6, but both are probably disappointed for very different reasons. Boston College was supposed to be much improved this season, but they ended up eking out a bowl season even with a super easy out of conference schedule. Wake would have been pumped for a 6-6 season at the beginning of the season, but after a hot start, they could have done much more.
NC State 28-UNC 21
UNC guaranteed VT’s championship game spot early on Friday by losing to rivals NC State. The Wolfpack took an early 21-0 lead and then spent the rest of the game just trying to hold onto the lead. Mitch Trubisky had a solid game, but the Wolfpack defense made just enough stops to grab the win. This win secured an NC State bowl bid and possibly saved Dave Doeren’s job. UNC drops into the 8-4 morass along with GT, Miami, and Pitt fighting for bowl spots. The Tar Heels continue their tradition of disappointing after lofty preseason expectations.
Virginia Tech 52-Virginia 10
Virginia Tech didn’t need to win to make the championship game, but they did anyway. Once again, the Hokies took down the Cavaliers. They dominated in all facets of the game, putting up 579 yards while only giving up 247 and nabbing three turnovers. The Hokies now look ahead to the championship game against Clemson. Virginia looks ahead to next season as they try to figure what went wrong in Bronco Mendenhall’s first season.
Miami 40-Duke 21
The Hurricanes looked sluggish early, but Brad Kaaya turned it on as Miami pulled away from Duke. He also became Miami’s all-time passing leader which is impressive with all of the talent that has passed through Coral Gables. Miami’s defense bent but didn’t break giving up 395 yards but only 21 points despite not getting any turnovers. The offense put up 568 yards on Duke’s struggling defense. Miami is 8-4 along with the rest of the coastal so who knows where their bowl will end up being. Duke’s season ended yesterday, but I would not count them out as long as Cutcliffe is their head coach, despite this 4-8 season.
Pittsburgh 76-Syracuse 61
What. No really, what? This game passed GT’s 2012 66-50 victory over UNC as the highest scoring game in ACC history and also in FBS history. I’m just going to throw some stats out there. Pittsburgh had more touchdowns (11) than completions (9). They are not a triple option team. Both teams gained over 650 yards. In nine completions, the Panthers gained 250 yards and three touchdowns for almost 30 yards a completion. Syracuse quarterback Zach Mahoney threw 66 times for 440 yards. Pittsburgh ran for just under 10 yards per carry on 40 attempts. Syracuse forgot their defense at the hotel and had to pick random fans from the crowd to stand in for them (okay that one isn’t true) Pitt seems likely to go to the Pinstripe Bowl. Syracuse didn’t make a bowl in Dino Baber’s first season, but they had their moments.