Chaos in the Big 12 and the Big Ten East Contenders All Win - Week 11 Highlights
The college football season feels like it moves at a hundred miles an hour at this time of year. In what looked like a quiet week on paper, Week 11 offered more drama and sets up the critical last two weeks of the season beautifully.
There was no change at all in the top seven ranked teams in the latest College Football Playoff Rankings, including wins for the three contenders in the Big Ten East - No.4 Ohio State, No.6 Michigan and No.7 Michigan State. Ohio State plays both Michigan teams in its last two games, which will decide that division. They will be intriguing to watch.
The Big 12 is also wide open, blown apart by Baylor's upset win over Oklahoma, while Oklahoma State destroyed TCU at home and look like the form team. Texas, meanwhile, so optimistic at the start of the season, suffered a miserable loss to bottom team Kansas. You can't take your eyes off this conference.
Here's my highlights of the week:
The Big 12 is up for grabs...
TCU 17-63 Oklahoma State
With Oklahoma State all-time great running back Barry Sanders honoured before the game, and their mascot Bullet riding round Boone Pickens Stadium with the Stars and Stripes on board, the crowd in Stillwater were hyped up for the conference match up with TCU. Fittingly, the home team put on a dominant performance featuring an astonishing 447 yards, eight touchdowns and 7.1 yards per carry.
Cowboys quarterback Spencer Sanders' consistency under center is giving the offense real spark to match their dominant defense. They look favourites for the Big 12 and could be a dark horse (pardon the pun) for the Playoff.
Iowa State 38-41 Texas Tech
"That ball came off his foot like a rocket."
Jonathan Garibay came up with the special teams play of the week, kicking an enormous 62-yard field goal giving Texas Tech a thrilling victory over Iowa State.
No.8 Oklahoma 14-27 No.13 Baylor
Caleb Williams is human, after all. The sensational freshman quarterback and his Oklahoma team were brought back down to earth with an upset loss to conference rivals Baylor in Waco. The Sooners' 17-game winning streak was brought to an abrupt end, damaging their chances of a Playoff spot. The Bears' defense suffocated Williams, holding him to 86 passing yards and intercepting him twice before sending him to the bench. Spencer Rattler didn't fare much better, passing for just 36 yards before Williams returned.
Baylor QB Gerry Bohanon ran in two touchdowns, rushing for 107 of the Bears' 298 yards on the ground. The Waco crowd mistakenly poured on to the field with three seconds left, taking officials several minutes to clear. To Sooners' coach Lincoln Riley's considerable displeasure, Baylor retook the field and kicked a field goal on the last play, which could prove critical in the event of an end of season Big 12 tiebreaker.
Kansas 57-56 Texas (OT)
A wild game in Austin saw Casey Thompson throw 6 touchdown passes for Texas who couldn't hold down a win for the fifth straight game, losing to a spirited Kansas team who were rooted at the bottom of the Big 12. Jayhawks QB Jalon Daniels' pass to Jared Casey for a 2-point conversion gave Kansas their first conference road win since 2008, snapping an 18-game losing streak.
Freshman receiver Xavier Worthy offered Texas a glimpse of a brighter future, catching three touchdowns for 152 yards. Longhorns coach Steve Sarkisian has his work cut out to turn this crumbling program around. He looked shell-shocked at the press conference.
The Big Ten is hotting up...
Something has to give in the Big Ten East, where three teams sit in the top seven.
No.19 Purdue 31-59 No.4 Ohio State
When players are given the "Swiss-army knife" analogy, they usually sit on defense. Ohio State's Garrett Wilson would beg to differ. The Buckeyes' receiver lined up all over the field, bemusing Purdue, scoring three touchdowns through the air and one on the ground. C.J. Stroud passed for five touchdowns and 361 yards. Ohio State swept aside a Boilermakers team that had knocked off two other then-Top 5 opponents in Iowa and Michigan State with ease in Columbus. They have gained momentum since their Week 2 home loss to Oregon, winning eight straight and host Michigan State this weekend in a titanic showdown.
No.6 Michigan 21-17 Penn State
Michigan's defense kept their Big Ten title hopes alive, sacking Penn State quarterback seven times. Wolverines defensive end Aidan Hutchinson looks every inch a first round NFL Draft prospect, accounting for three sacks. A tight game concluded with QB Cade McNamara finding tight end Erick All for a deciding 47-yard touchdown, with Hassan Haskins having worn down the Nittany Lions' defense with five straight running plays to set this up. Haskins ran for 156 yards,
Maryland 20-41 No.7 Michigan State
Michigan State's star offensive triumvirate dazzled in East Lansing against Maryland, laying down a marker for rivals Michigan, who also face the Terrapins, next week.
Heisman-contender Kenneth Walker ran for two touchdowns and 143 yards, while his quarterback Payton Thorne passed for 287 yards and four touchdowns, two to Jayden Reed. Walker's resume for the Heisman trophy looks impressive. ESPN compared his season so far to those of two illustrious former winners:
Spartans coach Mel Tucker is rumoured to be on the verge of signing a 10-year, $95million contract extension. He has taken Michigan State from a sorry 2-5 season to 9-1 this year and leads them into a huge game at Ohio State this weekend. Maryland, meanwhile, host Michigan in a week that will have an enormous impact on both the Big Ten title race and CFP rankings.
Northwestern 7-35 No.18 Wisconsin
While all the Big Ten hype is focused on the East Division, Wisconsin are very quietly sneaking up in the West. The Badgers won their sixth game in a row against Northwestern, moving from an inauspicious 1-3 start to 7-3. 17-year old freshman Braleon Allen looks like he could follow in the line of great Wisconsin running backs. He rushed for 173 yards and three touchdowns.
No.20 Iowa beat Minnesota 27-22 but look too far back now to challenge.
In the SEC...
No.1 Georgia 41-17 Tennessee
Georgia moved to 10-0 for the first time since 1982 with this emphatic win over Tennessee in front of 100,074 in Knoxville. Not as explosively dominant as the Alabama teams that have dominated the SEC in recent years, but the Bulldogs are streets ahead of their contenders and headed for an inevitable showdown against a Crimson Tide team for the SEC championship.
Georgia just do everything really well. Their defense stifles the opposition, taking pressure off the offense and freeing up their quarterback, backs and receivers to create. There are better quarterbacks in the SEC than Stetson Bennett, but he marshals the Bulldogs very effectively, passing to nine different receivers. Channing Tindall registered three of Georgia's six sacks.
No.2 Alabama, who surprisingly have never had a quarterback win the Heisman, could change that fact this year. Bryce Young is the consensus front-runner, throwing 33 touchdowns and just three interceptions this season. He threw five touchdown passes, three to the outstanding Jameson Williams as the Crimson Tide eased past New Mexico State, 59-3.
No.15 Ole Miss continue to show their progression under Lane Kiffin, with a 29-19 upset of Texas A&M in Oxford, restricting the Aggies to just 91 yards of offense in the first half. With QB Matt Corral heading to the NFL Draft, this Saturday's home game vs. Vanderbilt could be his last for Ole Miss.
Mississippi State launched an impressivc comeback to beat No.17 Auburn 43-34. Having trailed 28-3 in the second quarter, Bulldogs' QB Will Rogers took his team on a 33-6 run. Rogers leads the nation in passing accuracy, completing 75% of his passes this season and threw for six touchdowns, completing 44 of 55 passes for 415 yards.
An extraordinary Hail Mary catch by Jeremiah Webb led to a last-second win for South Dakota over South Dakota State.
No.3 Oregon saw off Pac-12 rivals Washington State comfortably, running for 307 yards in a 38-24 win.
No.12 Wake Forest were involved in another thriller, beating No.16 North Carolina State 45-42, moving to 9-1. The face Clemson this week, the Tigers coming into that match up with a 44-7 win over UConn. Malik Cunnigham passed for four touchdowns and ran for another as Louisville beat Syracuse 41-3. Former ACC member No.9 Notre Dame eased to a 28-3 win over Virginia.
The craziest game of the week arguably took place in Gainesville, where Florida outlasted Samford 70-52. The 52 points conceded by the Gators were the most ever by an FBS team against a lower-tier FCS opponent. Florida conceded 358 yards in the first half alone in a humbling performance for Dan Mullen's team who fired their defensive coordinator Todd Grantham on Monday. Mullen's seat looks warm as the Gators, a preseason SEC contender, sit on a disappointing 5-5 record.
Games to look out for this week:
No.4 Ohio State hosts No.7 Michigan State on a high, having thrashed a Purdue team that handed the Spartans their only loss this season.
No.3 Oregon travel to No.23 Utah in a Pac-12 showdown and keep momentum with their Playoff challenge
No.5 Cincinnati will hope that a convincing win over a high-scoring Southern Methodist University team keeps them at the forefront of the College Football Committee's minds.
Here's this week's CFP Top 25...
Rank Team Record (previous week ranking in brackets)
1 (1) Georgia Bulldogs 10-0
2 (2) Alabama Crimson Tide 9-1
3 (3) Oregon Ducks 9-1
4 (4) Ohio State Buckeyes 9-1
5 (5) Cincinnati Bearcats 10-0
6 (6) Michigan Wolverines 9-1
7 (7) Michigan State Spartans 9-1
8 (9) Notre Dame Fighting Irish 9-1
9 (10) Oklahoma State 9-1
10 (12) Wake Forest 9-1
11 (13) Baylor Bears 8-2
12 (15) Ole Miss Rebels 8-2
13 (8) Oklahoma 9-1
14 (14) Brigham Young Cougars 8-2
15 (18) Wisconsin Badgers 7-3
16 (11) Texas A&M Aggies 7-3
17 (20) Iowa Hawkeyes 8-2
18 (21) Pittsburgh Panthers 8-2
19 (22) San Diego State Aztecs 9-1
20 (16) North Carolina State Wolfpack 7-3
21 (25) Arkansas Razorbacks 7-3
22 (23) UTSA Roadrunners 10-0
23 (24) Utah Utes 7-3
24 (-) Houston Cougars 9-1
25 (-) Mississippi State Bulldogs 6-4