5 Takeaways from College Football Week 12
Week 12 saw a return to the norm after a chaotic Week 11. Only one team in the top ten was upset, and bids to conference championships have begun being handed out. The week also presented us with two of the season’s greatest rushing performances. Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey set a school record with 284 yards rushing and three scores, while Joe Thomas became the oldest Division 1 player ever when he made a three-yard rush for South Carolina State vs Savannah State at the age of 55.
- Gators Geauxing to Georgia The twenty-third-ranked Florida Gators stopped the eighteenth-ranked LSU Tigers on the inch-line as time expired to win the game 16-10 and secured a spot to the SEC Championship game in Atlanta. The game, originally scheduled to be played in early October in Florida, was postponed until Saturday in Baton Rouge due to Hurricane Matthew. LSU statistically dominated the Gators and controlled much of the game but came up empty three times when making trips inside the Florida ten-yard line. Florida’s Austin Appleby only completed seven passes for 144 yards, but this was enough to overcome an LSU offense that missed its star Leonard Fournette. Despite reports that he would not dress for the game, after involvement in a pregame kerfuffle, Fournette convinced coaches to let him play. Fournette ultimately did not finish the day due to injury and only rushed for 40 yards. Florida will be rewarded by having the right to play top-ranked Alabama in the championship, winners of a 31-3 game over Chattanooga on Saturday.
- Not So Strong: Fire Me, I’m Irish Storied programs Texas and Notre Dame both gave up fourth quarter leads to go on to lose their games and further put their head coaches on the hot-seat. Notre Dame, coached by Brian Kelly, blew a 17-point first half lead en route to losing to the Virginia Tech Hokies 34-31. The loss, the third time this year that the Irish have blown a double-digit lead, sends the team to 4-7 and ensures a losing season for just the fourteenth time in 128 seasons. The game was highlighted by a performance from Virginia Tech quarterback Jerod Evans who scored four touchdowns while throwing for 274 yards and rushing for an additional 67. Meanwhile, the Texas Longhorns, coached by Charlie Strong, blew a 21-10 fourth quarter lead on their way to losing 24-21 to the Kansas Jayhawks in overtime. The win for Kansas (2-9) snapped a nine-game losing streak and nineteen-game Big 12 losing streak. Speaking of depressing streaks, it was the first time since the Great Depression (1938) that Kansas has beaten the Longhorns, who fell to 5-6 on the season. Texas running back D’Onta Foreman continued his strong season by rushing for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Strong has been under increasing scrutiny all year, and now seems all but guaranteed to be fired.
- Ducks Send Utes Quacking The eleventh-ranked Utah Utes fell to the 4-7 Oregon Ducks in a 30-28 nail-biter. Oregon’s Justin Herbert completed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Darren Carrington with two seconds remaining to steal the game from the Utes in Salt Lake City. Oregon stole a win from a Utah team that needed to win in order to stay alive in the hunt for the Pac-12 South Division title. Herbert kept the Ducks in the game by throwing for three scores and 324 yards. Utah was led on the ground by running back Joe Williams with 149 yards and a touchdown. Utah’s loss turns the Pac-12 South Division into a two team race. If tenth-ranked Colorado is able to defeat Utah on Saturday, the Buffalo will punch their ticket to the title game against Washington. A Colorado loss paired with a win from USC, the nation’s hottest team, over lowly Notre Dame, and it will be the Trojans playing Washington in the championship.
- Rutgers Scarlet Fever Have the Scarlet Knights been informed that they need to score if they plan on winning? Rutgers delivered yet another sickly performance as the eighth-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions entered Piscataway, New Jersey, and lambasted the Knights 39-0. Rutgers was outscored this year in four games against Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State by a combined total of 224-0. The Lions held Rutgers to 99 total yards of offense. Penn State’s Trace McSorley passed for 210 yards and a touchdown while Saquon Barkley rushed for 92 yards and another score. Saturday wins from Ohio State over Michigan State and Michigan over Indiana leave the Big Ten East Division in a pickle. With a Penn State win over Michigan State in the final week and a Michigan win over Ohio State, Michigan will represent the East. Should Ohio State win, then it will be Penn State likely facing Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship.
- Cardinals Fail to Fly, Mountaineers Fail to Summit The fifth-ranked Louisville Cardinals were drubbed on Thursday night by a Houston Cougars team, 36-10. The loss all but guarantees the Cardinals will not make the playoff and took a heavy toll on quarterback Lamar Jackson’s Heisman candidacy. Jackson accounted for only one touchdown and 244 yards of offense and was sacked eleven times by a ferocious Cougar defense that shutout the high-powered Louisville offense in the first-half. Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Fourteenth-ranked West Virginia was routed by the ninth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners 56-28 in a game that was billed as the biggest game in Mountaineers’ program history. The loss eliminates the Mountaineers from the Big 12 conference race and leaves Oklahoma a win over eleventh-ranked Oklahoma State away from winning its second consecutive conference title. The Sooners jumped out to a 28-0 second quarter lead a never looked back. Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon combined to give the Sooners three touchdowns on 307 yards rushing. Not to be outdone was West Virginia running back Justin Crawford, who rushed for 331 yards. If the Sooners win out and have a little help from the rest of the country, they just could find themselves sneaking into the playoff.
Week 12 delivers the long-awaited rivalry week where many intra-state universities and heated historical rivals play each other. The most consequential game will be between third-ranked Michigan and second-ranked Ohio State. The result will have major ramifications on the playoff field. Washington State hosts sixth-ranked Washington in the Apple Cup, Florida State hosts Florida, and the always tight Iron Bowl will take place as Alabama hosts Auburn.