The regular season is winding down, and the playoffs are drawing close. Every game become more important as the playoff rankings started last week. This week we had some major matchups, upsets, and major movement in the Heisman race. I’ll be taking a look at this week’s biggest moments with fellow N2K writer Sean.
Ole Miss Suffers another loss
Kevin: Ole Miss fell to 7-3 on Saturday in an overtime loss to Arkansas. Realistically the Rebels had a shot, although a long one, to make it in the playoffs. If they had won out the season they would have earned a spot in the SEC championship and would be working with a good resume for the playoffs. Unfortunately for Ole Miss that is no longer possible. They lost by 1 in an offensive shootout. As always the Rebels had their way when they had the ball as Laquon Treadwell had another dominating with 132 yards and a touchdown. The Rebels’ defense on the other hand struggled mightily as Arkansas tossed the ball all over the place. They allowed 6 passing TD’s and looked bad all game. Ole Miss is completely out of the question for the playoffs now and will finish out the season playing for a bowl berth.
Sean: The Rebels lost a game that they needed to win, and should have won at home. They allowed an Arkansas team that doesn’t have great passing numbers throw for 442 yards. Alex Collins still bludgeoned Ole Miss on the ground. Laquon Treadwell still made his case as the best receiver in college with 132 and a touchdown. Chad Kelly played extremely well in the loss as well. The Rebels should have won this game in overtime but instead they allowed Arkansas to come up with an unrealistic conversion after a failed lateral and a manhunt in the backfield. Eventually Arkansas would win the game on a two-point conversion crushing the spirit of the Rebels and their fans. The loss effectively knocks them out of the chance to win the SEC and get into the College Football Playoff, but they can still get a good bowl game.
Clemson Stays Undefeated
Kevin: The number one team in the country played a tight game most of the night against fellow ACC rival Florida State. The Tigers let Florida State get out to an early lead but responded with a score. Deshaun Watson played a clean game as he tossed a touchdown and had no picks. On top of that he ran for 107 yards. Clemson’s defense performed well coming away with a pick and for the most part locked up the passing game. If Clemson manages to stay undefeated they will receive a spot in the playoffs and they have a very good chance at getting the top seed.
Sean: Clemson may have just played their way into the College Football Playoff after knocking off FSU 23-13. It didn’t start off well for Clemson as Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook gashed the Clemson defense for 114 yards and a touchdown on his first two carries. The Tigers defense eventually stiffened up and forced two key turnovers. One was an interception in the redzone, the other was a forced fumble late in the fourth quarter that sealed the win and ACC Atlantic Division title.
TCU Falls in the Rankings
Kevin: TCU was looking to get a good start in the race to become the BIG 12 champion. All of the undefeated teams left in the conference are scheduled to play each other in November and the first matchup was TCU vs Oklahoma State. Riding the great play of Trevone Boykin TCU was the favorite. Come game time Oklahoma State looked like the better team and TCU could not get anything going. Boykin played uncharacteristically bad turning the ball over 4 times and just not being able to make the highlight plays that have been pushing the Horned Frogs over. Their defense looked atrocious letting Oklahoma State do whatever they want. TCU could very well be out of the playoffs now but Oklahoma State moved up and put their name in the conversation for the final four.
Sean: The main complaint about TCU in the College Football Playoff Committee was their strength of schedule. TCU had played absolutely nobody until they rolled into Stillwater to face Oklahoma State, looking to prove they’re worthy of spot in the final four. Instead, the Horned Frogs got steamrolled 49-29. TCU’s often criticized defense proved doubters right, as they got picked apart by Mason Rudolph who threw five touchdowns and had no interceptions. James Washington had himself a day at wide receiver, with five catches, 184 yards and a touchdown. Heisman hopeful Trevone Boykin essentially played himself out of the race, with four interceptions. He didn’t get the ball to his best receiver in Josh Doctson that much, and it cost him and his team. If TCU can knock off Oklahoma and Baylor, they may be able to play their way back into the playoff race.
Refs Blow Another Game
Kevin: College football has suffered from some of the worst officiating I have ever seen. There have already been some horrible calls this year and they have given teams wins when they should not have gotten them, such as Miami vs Duke. Michigan State fell victim to a bad call Saturday night as a late fourth quarter catch with 23 seconds left was ruled a touchdown for Nebraska. The problem with this is that the receiver stepped out of bounds during the play making him ineligible. The ref said that he was forced, and the ruling could not be overturned, as it was a judgment call. The game really should have never come down to this though. Michigan State underperformed and let a far less talented team stay with them all game. They could still make the playoffs but it will be very hard.
Sean: Another week, another crazy finish in college football. Another week, another blown call by NCAA officials that cost a team a sure win. Michigan State beat Michigan on an unreal play and lost this past Saturday on an absolutely terrible call. NCAA referees should be ashamed as they watched their colleague’s blow a crucial call that gave Nebraska the lead with 23 seconds left. I would go into the play-by-play but Kevin already took care of that. Going into Cornhusker territory is never easy, even on a down year for Nebraska. But this Michigan State team should have blown them out. The Spartans won the turnover battle and Connor Cook played a great game, but the officials ruined the Spartans chance for a National Title, and that’s the bottom line.
The Weeks Biggest Matchup
Kevin: Alabama took on LSU Saturday night for what was the biggest matchup this week. #2 vs. #4. The game featured Leonard Fournette, who had been carrying the Tigers to an undefeated season leading up to the game. Alabama suffered an early loss to Ole Miss but had been perfect since. The Alabama defense came in played great; shutting down Fournette and not letting the LSU get it going in the Air. Offensively Alabama relied on the running game as Derrick Henry went for 210 yards and 3 TD’s. The Crimson Tide look like an unstoppable force and have a great shot at making it into the playoffs. Look out for Nick Saban and his team as the playoffs come.
Sean: By far the best matchup of this past weekend was LSU and Alabama. Primetime, under the lights, rivalry game, national title implications on the line. Doesn’t get much better than that. Alabama looked the part of a national champion with a 30-16 win over LSU. The big question going into this game was how the Crimson Tide could stop Leonard Fournette. They did more than stop him; they shut him down for just 31 yards on 19 carries. This forced LSU to put the ball into the hands of Brandon Harris, and when that happens, you have a good chance of winning. Derrick Henry solidified his spot in the Heisman race with a dominant performance. If Alabama can take care of business against Auburn and Mississippi State, they should be in the final four.
Kevin: After a huge performance and two bad outing but Fournette and Boykin I have Derrick Henry as my top candidate. He’s a big back that can run through pretty much anyone, but he can also break away as he has long strides being one of the taller backs in football. With as easy schedule to close of the season he could very well hold on and bring some hardware back to Alabama. Also look out for Baylor receiver Corey Coleman. He already has 20 TD and over 1,700 receiving yards.
Sean: As much as I agree with Kevin that Henry is now the favorite, I’m going to go with Fournette. He had a crappy game, I get it, but he’s still been the most consistent player in the NCAA this year. He still leads the NCAA in rushing yards, with more than a 100-yard lead on Derrick Henry. He is second behind Henry in touchdowns; even though Henry has 23 more carries than Fournette. He averages 7.1 yards per carry, to Henry’s 5.8. He proved his worth to LSU, as the offense couldn’t get going without his production. Henry has Calvin Ridley on the outside to take some of the pressure off of him. As for sleepers, receivers like Corey Coleman of Baylor and Josh Doctson of TCU come to mind.