Tragedy in Virginia Overshadows Week 11
As college football nears the end of the regular season, any upsets, drama and scorelines were dimmed by the shocking news from Charlottesville, Virginia last Sunday evening.
Three University of Virginia football players, wide receiver Devin Chandler, linebacker D'Sean Perry and wide receiver Lavel Davis Jr, were killed in what was described as a "targeted" shooting on campus as a group of students returned from a field trip on a bus. Another two students, Mike Hollins and Marlee Morgan were wounded.
Hollins, a running back, reportedly ran back to the bus, urging his fellow students to flee. He is expected to make a full recovery and has spoken of his desire to return and play football for the University of Virginia Cavaliers again.
The suspected gunman, Christopher Darnell Jones, has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder and two counts of malicious wounding. He was a former football player at UVA.
The Cavaliers' home football game vs. Coastal Carolina today has been cancelled.
"We lost three talented and bright young men. We will never see what their impact on the world would have been, but we will never forget their impact on us." - Carla Williams, University of Virginia Athletics Director.
Games in Week 11...
No.25 Washington 37-34 No.6 Oregon
A big upset in the Pac-12 effectively ended Oregon's hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff. Washington were led by quarterback Michael Penix, Jr, who threw for 408 yards and two touchdowns, including a critical 62-yard scoring pass to Taj Davis on a 3rd-and-7 play.
Ducks' quarterback Bo Nix was off the field when Oregon got the ball back and they couldn't convert, allowing Washington kicker Peyton Henry to seal the Huskies' win with 51 seconds left.
No.4 TCU 17-10 No.18 Texas
A defensive slugfest in Austin was definitely one for the purists as TCU and Texas combined for a three-point first half and just 140 combined half, the lowest first-half yardage amount in FBS history. Horned Frogs back Kendre Miller ran for 138 yards and an early third-quarter touchdown that broke the deadlock before Quentin Johnson's 31-yard touchdown reception effectively sealed the game for TCU.
Jahdae Barron's scoop-and-score gave Texas fans something to cheer about on a day where their offensive stars Bijan Robinson, who ran for just 29 yards, and Quinn Ewers were smothered by TCU, who clinched a place in the Big 12 championship game.
"Our defense played lights out today." - TCU coach Sonny Dykes
No.9 Alabama 30-24 No.11 Ole Miss
Bryce Young, who seems to be carrying the weight of the Crimson Tide on his shoulders this season, steered Alabama to a tight win on the road against Ole Miss in Oxford. Young was sacked three times but threw three touchdown passes for 209 yards.
Freshman running back Quinshon Judkins ran for two touchdowns for the Rebels, who rallied on a final drive which took them to Alabama's 20-yard line. Quarterback Jaxson Dart's pass fell short on a 4th-and 15 play, allowing the Tide to run the clock down. Both teams move to 8-2.
No.1 Georgia 45-19 Mississippi State
Ole Miss's loss to Alabama meant Georgia have booked their place in the SEC championship game. A 45-19 humbling of Mississippi State in Starkville cemented their place as the No.1 team in the nation. Stetson Bennett IV, consistently impressive all season as other Heisman contenders have floundered, must be a front-runner for the best player in college football this season. Described by Pat Forde in Sports Illustrated's season preview as "the hero no one saw coming", Bennett threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns, running for another. Mississippi State's highlight was a 63-yard punt return from Zavion Thomas.
No.7 LSU 13-10 Arkansas
Facing Georgia in the SEC championship game will be previously unfancied LSU, who overcame Arkansas in a tight game in Fayetteville. The battle for the Golden Boot was won through some impressive defensive play from Tigers linebacker Harold Perkins who sacked Razorbacks quarterback Will Rogers four times.
Indiana 14-56 No.2 Ohio State
Aside from Ohio State's dismantling of Indiana in front of 103,888 people in Columbus, the story here was the story of Buckeyes receiver Kamryn Babb. The fifth-year senior has had four ACL surgeries and was finally cleared to play this week, making his first catch in college football, a touchdown to put Ohio State 49-14 up midway through the fourth quarter.
"There'll be great accomplishments at Ohio State but what he's overcome is one of the great accomplishments and that's as special as I've been around." - Ohio State coach Ryan Day on Kamryn Babb
Nebraska 3-34 No.3 Michigan
Michigan warmed up for their critical Big Ten matchup with Ohio State by breezing past Nebraska in Ann Arbor. Blake Corum set the tone on offense with 162 yards on 28 carries and a touchdown. Quarterback J.J.McCarthy will need to be better against the Buckeyes next weekend. He had just 8 pass completions for 129 yards as the Wolverines once again relied on their ground game.
No.8 Tennessee racked up 704 total yards, the most in school history, in a 66-24 blowout of Missouri. No.10 Clemson's first game since their big loss to Notre Dame saw them rebound with a 31-16 win over Louisville.
A thriller in the ACC saw No.15 North Carolina impress in a 36-34 win over Wake Forest. Tar Heels' quarterback Drake Maye threw for 448 yards and three touchdowns, all to star receiver Josh Downs, who added 154 receiving yards. North Carolina will face Clemson, both 9-1, in the ACC title game.
An entertaining game in New Orleans showcased No.22 UCF's quarterback John Rhys Plumlee's talents in a 38-31 win over No.17 Tulane. The Ole Miss transfer had 114 yards rushing from just two carries in the first half as the Knights racked up 336 total yards on the ground, Both teams move to 8-2.
No.18 Notre Dame moved to 7-3 with a gritty 35-32 win over Navy at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Veterans' Day weekend. Braden Lenzy made arguably the catch of the season, a behind-the-defender's-back catch to put the Fighting Irish 14-0 up.
One of the feel-good stories of an emotional week in college football saw the first win in 27 SEC conference games for Vanderbilt, who upset No.24 Kentucky 24-21. Florida continued their strong finish to the season, thrashing South Carolina 38-6 at The Swamp.
In the Big Ten, No.14 Penn State shut out Maryland 30-0, while No.21 Illinois came unstuck, losing 31-24 to Purdue. Iowa beat Wisconsin 24-10 despite only gaining 146 total yards of offense and three touchdowns from Mo Ibrahim gave Minnesota a 31-3 win over Northwestern. The Big Ten West is delicately poised with Purdue, Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois all with 4-3 conference records.
Upset losses for No.16 North Carolina State and No.12 UCLA see them slip down the rankings. The Wolfpack lost 21-20 to lowly Boston College while 182 yards' rushing and three touchdowns from Zach Charbonnet wasn't enough to prevent the Bruins losing 34-28 to Arizona.
No change for the Top 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings this week. Georgia remain at No.1, followed by Ohio State, Michigan, TCU and Tennessee. Utah and Penn State climb three places to No.10 and No.11 respectively.
The Utes' Pac-12 rivals Oregon are the big fallers, down six places to No.12 after their loss to Washington. North Carolina State are down to No.24 while Ole Miss, UCLA and Tulane slip down the rankings, to No.14, No.16 and No.21 respectively.
New additions to the Top 25 are previously unranked teams Oklahoma State, Oregon State and Cincinnati.
UK & Ireland Top 25
I am fortunate to be part of a UK and Ireland media group who cast their vote on a Top 25 from this side of the pond, put together by Owain Jones. Here are our rankings from Week 11: