Sensational quarterback play
College football has produced some very special players in recent years, notably at the quarterback position. In years to come, the 2023 crop may be considered among the very best. USC's Caleb Williams has been described as one of the finest quarterback talents to emerge in years and likely to be taken No.1 in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Washington's Michael Penix, Jr. and Oregon's Bo Nix are competing for the Pac-12 championship and putting up huge numbers week-on-week. J.J. McCarthy is driving Michigan into national championship contention and already renowned for his ability to extend plays. Quinn Ewers' decision to remain at Texas another year will aid development of his enormous potential. He will be a high pick in 2025, likely alongside Colorado's Shedeur Sanders.
In a season of outstanding quarterback performances, none stood out more than that of LSU's Jayden Daniels in Week 11. The Tigers' passer became the first quarterback in FBS history to record over 350 yards passing and over 200 yards rushing in a single game. Daniels accounted for 606 total yards in LSU's 52-35 win over Florida, completed 17 of 26 passes for 372 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 234 yards and two touchdowns, a simply astonishing performance.
What's happening at Michigan?
Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh was banned for Michigan's three remaining regular season games by the Big Ten conference as it emerged the Ann Arbor program is under investigation for alleged sign-stealing.
In a statement, The Big Ten accused Michigan of running an "impermissible in-person scouting operation over a number of years, resulting in an unfair competitive advantage that compromised the integrity of competition."
Harbaugh is able to coach practices but could miss upcoing games with Maryland and, critically, Ohio State. The Wolverines are in position to win their third straight Big Ten title and have a shot at their first national championship since 1997. Harbaugh, who has already served a three-game ban earlier this season for infractions relating to recruitment, is awaiting the outcome of a hearing this Friday, at time of writing, which could grant Michigan a temporary restraining order which would reverse the ban.
This could allow their head coach to return to the sidelines this weekend for what could be a historic 1,000th win for the program.
No.2 Michigan pounds Penn State on the ground, 24-15.
On the field, Michigan faced arguably their first real test on the road at No.10 Penn State in front of over 110,000 fans at a raucous Beaver Stadium. A classic Big Ten battle in the trenches saw the two teams combine for just 130 passing yards, but 391 yards on the ground.
More staggering was the statistic that Michigan didn't throw a single pass after 7:41 of the second quarter. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy was efficient as expected, completing 7 of 8 passes for just 60 yards, and ran for a further 34 yards. His Penn State counterpart, Drew Allar, completed just 10 of 22 passes for 70 yards and a touchdown.
Wolverines running back Blake Corum ran for 145 yards and scored two touchdowns as Michigan pounded Penn State into submission.
“Obviously, we wanted Coach Harbaugh to be here, but we did it for him today. We’ve been going through a lot lately, but it’s only brought us closer together.” - Michigan running back Blake Corum.
No. 1 Georgia thrashes Ole Miss 52-17 in statement win.
No.9 Ole Miss, riding high on an 8-1 record, arrived in Athens with some predicting a potential upset against the defending national champions. Georgia laid down a marker in a statement 52-17 win, stamping their authority on the Rebels and claiming both the SEC East division and a place in the SEC championship game.
Bulldogs quarterback Carson Beck continues to grow in confidence and put in another assured performance under center. Beck completed 18 of 25 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns. Georgia scored five rushing touchdowns, with Kendall Milton gaining 123 yards on the ground. While Ole Miss struggled on offense, receiver Dayton Wade produced one of the plays of the season, hauling in an unbelievable one-handed catch.
Georgia's defense was equally dominant, restricting Mississippi quarterback Jaxson Dart to just 112 rushing yards, while Quinshon Judkins picked up 75 yards on the ground. Georgia moves to 10-0 and faces Tennessee this weekend.
“I think that (Georgia) offense is overlooked, it’s a defensive-made team, people think. But that’s a really good offense.” - Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin.
No.5 Washington outlasts Utah 35-28, moves to 10-0.
No. 5 Washington's relentless defense stole the spotlight, propelling the Huskies to a remarkable 35-28 comeback victory over No. 13 Utah. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. led Washington to a gritty win in wet and windy conditions with two touchdown throws and a crucial rushing touchdown, passing for 332 yards and accounting for three total touchdowns. The Huskies' defense stepped up in the second half, delivering a shutout performance, taking them to a 10-0 record for only the second time in school history.
Down 28-24 at half-time, Washington shut down Utah's offense in the final 30 minutes, limiting them to just one possession in Huskies territory in the second half.
Rome Odunze is moving himself into first-round conversation ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft. The 6'3", 215lb receiver delivered a superb performance, catching three passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Washington now have their sights firmly set on a perfect 12-0 regular season. With a huge upcoming clash against No. 12 Oregon State this weekend, Washington remains firmly in the mix for a spot in the College Football Playoff places.
No.6 Oregon outclasses USC, 36-27.
In the latest of a series of thrilling Pac-12 matchups, Quarterback Bo Nix impressed once again, throwing for an impressive 412 yards and four touchdowns, leading No. 6 Oregon to a 36-27 victory over USC. Oregon are pure box office. Their offense racked up a total of 552 yards, securing their fourth consecutive win and maintaining an undefeated record at home. Nix must be among the favourites to lift the Heisman trophy in December. His four-touchdown performance was his third of the season, and this game was a sales pitch for his candidacy. Nix connected with receivers Troy Franklin and Tez Johnson for highlight-reel 84-yard and 77-yard touchdown passes. The two Ducks receivers combined for 273 yards, while Bucky Irving rumbled for 118 yards, averaging an impressive 6.2 yards per carry.
USC rallied, led valiantly by Caleb Williams, who threw for 291 yards and a touchdown, but he was sacked three times and the Trojans fell short. On reflection, the scoreline flattered them and the gulf between the two teams was apparent. While USC are effectively out of contention for the Pac-12 championship game. Oregon sit just below the undefeated Washington in the conference standings, with critical matchups to come against Arizona State and in a Thanksgiving weekend showdown against archrival Oregon State.
USC has a chance to salvage some pride from a frustrating season when they take on UCLA this weekend, Rumours suggest this might be Bruins coach Chip Kelly's last game in charge of UCLA.
Elswhere in the Top 10...
No.1 Ohio State moved to 10-0 with a 38-3 win over Michigan State at The Shoe. Star receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr. had his seventh hundred-yard game this season, with seven receptions for 149 yards.
No.4 Florida State held off Miami, 27-20 in a competitive Sunshine State rivalry game at Doak S. Campbell in Tallahassee. Jordan Travis threw for 265 yards and a touchdown for the Seminoles who move to 10-0. The Hurricanes started freshman Emory Williams under center, with regular starter Tyler Van Dyke having struggled with turnovers in recent weeks. Florida State's win highlighted the difference having a top-tier quarterback can make to a successful college football program.
No.7 Texas welcomed back Quinn Ewers from injury as they held on for a narrow victory for the second week in a row. The Longhorns were 26-6 up against TCU at the half, and conceded 20 points in a wild fourth quarter, shades of last season's Texas who needlessly threw comfortable leads away in a number of games. Ewers completed 22 of 33 passes for 317 yards and a touchdown, with one interception.
Jonathon Brooks ran for 104 yards and two touchdowns before tearing his ACL, ending a superb season in which he rushed for 1,139 yards and 10 touchdowns. TCU quarterback Josh Hoover threw for 302 yards and two touchdowns against a leaky Texas secondary that will need to tighten up if the Longhorns have any involvement in postseason action.
No.8 Alabama won the SEC West title with a 49-21 trouncing of Kentucky. The Crimson Tide, with two regular season games left, are ominously hitting form. Alabama's offensive line bullied Kentucky, opening up huge holes for Jalen Milroe and his backs to run through.
Milroe was in electric form. The Tide's quarterback started by completing 7 of 7 passes and put on a show, becoming the first passer in Alabama history to throw three and run for three touchdowns in the same game. He completed 15 of 22 passes for 234 yards, running for a further 36 yards with a change of pace that dissected Kentucky's secondary. Alabama faces Chattanooga this weekend before the Iron Bowl rivalry game with Auburn on 25th November.
Who's in contention for the Power Five Conference Championship Games?
Previously contested between the winners of the Atlantic and Coastal divisions, the ACC championship is decided between the two teams with the highest conference winning percentage. Florida State (8-0 in conference play) and Louisville (6-1) are in the driving seat. North Carolina, North Carolina State and Virginia Tech look too far away on 4-2.
The winner of the Big Ten East (led by 10-0 Ohio State and Michigan) will play the winner of the Big Ten West (Iowa are frontrunners on 8-2). Penn State (8-2) in the East, and Northwestern and Nebraska (both 5-5) in the West look too far back to challenge.
The two teams with the best conference records face off at Arlington in the final. Simple. Four teams have a realistic chance of making the final. Texas (6-1) lead the charge, followed by Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Iowa State, all tied on 5-2.
"The Death Star", also known as Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas awaits the two teams with the best in-conference records. Currently Washington (7-0) and Oregon (6-1) look set to have a rematch after their epic Week 7 showdown. Arizona, Oregon State and defending champs Utah are not completely out of it.
Georgia, winners of the SEC East, will play Alabama, winners of the SEC West, in Atlanta on December 2nd.
Georgia replaces Ohio State at No.1, who fall one place. Michigan and Florida State occupy the remaining Playoff places. Washington and Oregon are lurking with intent at No.5 and No.6. Texas and Alabama, at No.7 and No.8, are still in the running.
College football games to watch in Week 12
No.1 Georgia @ No.18 Tennessee - the defending champions and new CFP No.1 travel to Rocky Top to take on the Volunteers.
No.5 Washington @ No.11 Oregon State - a huge Pac-12 matchup and potential banana skin for the Huskies as they try and keep pressure on the top four in the race for a Playoff place..
No.22 Utah @ No.17 Arizona - Arizona, are having a barnstorming end to the season and host the defending Pac-12 champion Utes.
No.20 North Carolina @ Clemson - two Carolina teams, with high postseason aspirations at the start of the season, fight to win cross-state bragging rights.
UCLA @ USC - two southern California teams battle for L.A. pride and to salvage disappointing seasons.
Across The Pond College Football Podcast
Rebecca and I take a deep dive into an eventful Week 11. We also talk about the second edition of the College Football Playoff rankings, who is in contention for the Power Five conference championship games, and a preview of Week 12. Please have a listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.