Updated: Jan 15
What a week! Michigan finally beat Ohio State, Alabama win a close Iron Bowl, Cowboys win the Bedlam Battle and Lincoln Riley stuns college football with a move to USC, while Brian Kelly takes the helm at Louisiana State.
Here's my highlights of the week...
No.2 Ohio State 27-42 No.5 Michigan
A potentially career-changing win for Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh saw his team record his first win Ohio State as Wolverines coach. A year ago, serious questions were being asked of Harbaugh's tenure in Ann Arbor as Michigan always seemed to stumble in the decisive Big Ten match ups. After a loss to Michigan State a few weeks ago, this was a critical game for the coach and he and Michigan delivered.
The Michigan offensive line was a yellow and blue brick wave pounding the Buckeyes' defensive front, opening up gaps for Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum to run through. The Wolverines backs ran amok, racking up an average 7.2 yards per carry in their 279 rushing yards. Haskins ran for 169 yards and an outstanding five touchdowns.
Ohio State showed their offensive firepower with C.J. Stroud completing 34 of 49 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns, Jaxson Smith-Njigba and Garrett Wilson accounting for 127 and 119 yards respectively. The Wolverines sacked Stroud four times, with Aidan Hutchinson the dominant presence. Michigan's defensive end is talked of as a potential No.1 draft pick in April. He registered three sacks, taking his total for the season to a school record thirteen.
Every time the Buckeyes scored, Michigan responded decisively, winning the Big Ten East division and moving to their first Big Ten Conference Championship game in ten years, where they will face Iowa this weekend.
The Iron Bowl...
No.3 Alabama 24-22 Auburn (4OT)
The Iron Bowl has delivered some thrilling games over the years and this was no exception. Alabama booked their place in the SEC Championship game with a nailbiting four-overtime win over Auburn. The Crimson Tide struggled on offense, particularly their offensive line, whose lack of protection had quarterback Bryce Young scrambling for cover, and held their run game to just 64 rushing yards. Young, who completed less than 50% of his passes, decided the game in the fourth period of overtime, perhaps his Heisman-winning moment, throwing the winning score to John Metchie III, the receiver's thirteenth catch of the game for 150 yards.
Auburn finished the season 6-6 having lost their fourth consecutive game, hampered by the loss of starting quarterback Bo Nix, who broke his ankle in the Tigers' loss to Mississippi State.
Georgia's fearsome defense will have their eye on Alabama's underperforming run game. The Tide will have to make some significant adjustments if they are to win the SEC this weekend and move to the Playoff. A run game that gained just 64 yards today and 6 against LSU will be overwhelmed by the Bulldogs otherwise.
No.7 Oklahoma State 37-33 No.10 Oklahoma
Oklahoma State won the Bedlam Battle against Oklahoma for the first time since 2014, advancing to the Big 12 Championship game against Baylor. It was the start of a tough week for the Sooners, This is the first time in seven years they won't have won the Big 12, and it will be tougher next year without their coach. Lincoln Riley, one of the most gifted coaches in college football, announced his shock departure, moving to Southern California to take the reins at USC for a cool $110million contract, with a $6million house and use of a private jet thrown in. USC also bought Riley's two Oklahoma houses, paying $500,000 over the asking price. Nice work if you can get it.
Oklahoma State's defense was too hot for Caleb Williams and the Sooners to handle, putting the freshman quarterback under all sorts of pressure. The Cowboys blitzed Williams throughout the first half and then dropped back in the second, limiting his opportunity to find open receivers. Oklahoma's potent offense was held scoreless in the second half. Jaylon Warren's 1-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter sealed the win for Oklahoma State,
"Clean Old Fashioned Hate"
No.1 Georgia 45-0 Georgia Tech
In a rivalry billed as "Clean Old-Fashioned Hate", this was simply a one-sided thrashing. Georgia, the unquestioned No.1 in college football all season, held state rivals Georgia Tech scoreless. Stetson Bennett threw for 255 yards and four touchdowns, two to tight end Brock Bowers, who moved to 10 touchdown receptions for the season, with 100 receiving yards on just three catches in this game.
This was Georgia's third shutout this season as they overwhelmed Tech quarterback Jordan Yates, who passed for just 73 yards. The Yellow Jackets were held to 171 total yards on offense.
It say's something about the dominance of Georgia's season that they travel to Atlanta for a mouth-watering SEC Championship game vs. Alabama, who will be underdogs for the first time in years.
Baylor are back...
No.8 Baylor 27-24 Texas Tech
A year after a disappointing 2-7 season, Baylor coach Dave Aranda has turned the Bears back into contenders, leading them to a 10-2 season and a berth in the Big 12 Championship game after a close win over a game Texas Tech team.
Replacing the injured Gerry Bohanon, Blake Shapen made his first start at quarterback, throwing for 254 yards and two touchdowns while Abram Smith ran for 117 yards and a touchdown.
The Red Raiders nearly tied it up on a 53-yard field goal effort from Jonathan Garibay, who had converted a 62-yard attempt to beat Iowa State two weeks ago. This attempt sailed wide left, however and Baylor held on to move to a conference decider against Oklahoma State this weekend, Texas Tech waits to find out who they will face in their first Bowl appearance since 2017.
Oregon bounces back...
No.11 Oregon 38-29 Oregon State
The 125th edition of this famous West Coast rivalry game, previously billed as "The Civil War" saw Oregon clinch the Pac-12 North Division with this win over Oregon State in a prickly game. moving to a revenge meeting with Utah for the Pac-12 championship.
Ducks quarterback Anthony Brown threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns, ran for 83 yards and another score as Oregon extended its home winning run to 19 games. Running back Travis Dye, a revelation this season, moved over 1,000 rushing yards for the year.
Oregon State quarterback Chance Nolan threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns, running another in. His main target, Devon Williams, caught six passes for 110 receiving yards,
In other key games, No.14 Wisconsin clinched the Big Ten West division title with a 23-13 win over Minnesota in the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe. No.12 Michigan State, so long in contention this year, closed out their regular season with a 30-27 win over Penn State.
No.6 Notre Dame will have to rely on Alabama and Oklahoma State slipping up this weekend to sneak into the College Football Playoff, but continued their strong finish to the season with a 45-14 win over traditional rivals Stanford.
The colourful Ed Orgeron signed off at LSU with a 27-24 upset of No.15 Texas A&M. The Tigers unveiled Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly as their new head coach. He is replaced in South Bend by defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman, who at 35, will be one of the youngest coaches in college football.
It's Championship Week! The games to look out for:
Pac-12 Championship - Oregon vs.Utah - Las Vegas, Nevada. - this game was decided last night, highlights to come in next week's edition.
Big 12 Championship - Baylor vs. Oklahoma State - Arlington, Texas.
SEC Championship - Georgia vs. Alabama - Atlanta, Georgia.
ACC Championship - Pittsburgh vs. Wake Forest - Charlotte, North Carolina.
Big Ten Championship - Iowa vs. Michigan - Indianapolis, Indiana.
Here's this week's CFP Top 25...
Rank Team Record (previous week ranking in brackets)
1 (1) Georgia Bulldogs 12-0
2 (5) Michigan Wolverines 11-1
3 (3) Alabama Crimson Tide 11-1
4 (4) Cincinnati Bearcats 12-0
5 (7) Oklahoma State Cowboys 11-1
6 (6) Notre Dame Fighting Irish 11-1
7 (2) Ohio State Buckeyes 10-2
8 (9) Ole Miss Rebels 10-2
9 (8) Baylor Bears 10-2
10 (11) Oregon Ducks 10-2
11 (12) Michigan State Spartans 10-2
12 (13) Brigham Young Cougars 10-2
13 (17) Iowa Hawkeyes 10-2
14 (10) Oklahoma Sooners 10-2
15 (17) Pittsburgh Panthers 10-2
16 (18) Wake Forest Demon Deacons 10-2
17 (19) Utah Utes 9-3
18 (20) North Carolina State Wolfpack 9-3
19 (21) San Diego State Aztecs 11-1
20 (23) Clemson Tigers 9-3
21 (24) Houston Cougars 11-1
22 (25) Arkansas Razorbacks 8-4
23 (-) Kentucky Wildcats 9-3
24 (24) Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns 11-1
25 (15) Texas A&M Aggies 8-4