Another exciting week of college football is in the books, and here are the winners and losers from the week that just ended.
Won a ninth game: Florida State, Marshall, Colorado State, Oregon, Mississippi State
Won an eighth game: Duke, Georgia Tech, Baylor, TCU, Ohio State, UCLA, Georgia Southern, Alabama, Arizona State
Won a seventh game: Clemson, Louisville, Wisconsin, Louisiana Tech, Utah State, Northern Illinois, Air Force, Boise State, Texas A&M, Minnesota, Arizona, Georgia
Got bowl eligible: Bowling Green, Toledo, Memphis, Rice, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette
TCU: The Horned Frogs just missed making the College Football Playoff Committee’s magical list of four teams last week, but don’t be surprised if TCU is there this week. Not only did TCU beat Kansas State, it roundly thrashed the Wildcats by a 41-20 score, thanks to a 553-yard offensive output led by quarterback Trevone Boykin, who continued to nudge his way into Heisman Trophy discussion with 342 yards of total offense and four total touchdowns. Looking forward, it is going to be terribly tough to keep TCU out of the playoff; the Horned Frogs have remaining games with Kansas, Texas and Iowa State and they’ll be favored in all three. (Remember, the Big 12 doesn’t have a conference title game.)
Baylor: The main reason the Bears were further down the committee’s rankings than TCU, even though the Bears knocked off the Horned Frogs head to head, is the fact that Baylor hadn’t had a lot of wins that stood out otherwise. Well, a 48-14 smack-down of Oklahoma in Norman behind quarterback Bryce Petty’s 387 yards passing changed that. So much talk has been on the Southeastern Conference Western Division getting in two teams, but the truth is that the Big 12 may now have a leg up in that battle. The key game remaining for BU will be that Dec. 6 showdown vs. Kansas State.
Texas: Speaking of the Big 12, a lot of teams are now glad they don’t have to play the Longhorns in the season’s final weeks. It was a rough start for coach Charlie Strong’s squad after the first-year coach kicked off a ton of players, and consequently some losses followed. But everyone knows that Strong can coach defense, and with the development of young quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, Texas is now a tough out in any given week. That said, UT’s 33-16 win over West Virginia on Saturday was hardly textbook–the Mountaineers out-gained Texas, 448-351–but the Longhorns now have a chance to get bowl eligible next week with a victory at Oklahoma State, something nobody much thought was possible a few weeks back.
Kansas and coach Clint Bowen: No, I don’t have a Big 12 fetish, it’s just that when the Jayhawks win a Big 12 game–that’s happened just four times since the start of 2009–it’s worth noting. Saturday’s 34-14 victory over Iowa State topped the margin in any of those other four, and it might help Bowen, the interim since Charlie Weiss was dismissed earlier this season, towards getting a shot at being the KU coach next season.
Arizona State: The early-season loss of quarterback Taylor Kelly looked to be a potential season-sinker back in September, when UCLA destroyed the Sun Devils by a 35-point margin in Tempe. Instead, ASU has reeled off five straight wins, all coming against teams that have appeared in the Top 25 at some point this year, since. This weekend’s 55-31 beat-down of Notre Dame, which came thanks to a 5-1 edge in turnovers, should get the committee’s attention now that ASU is one of just a dozen teams with fewer than two losses.
Oregon: I’ve noted that the Ducks are a flawed team due to a leaky defense, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not a really good team, as upset-minded Utah discovered when the Quack Attack went into Salt Lake and disposed of the Utes by a 51-27 count. With Colorado and Oregon State remaining, it appears that only a loss in the Pac-12 title game (right now, Arizona State’s the team to beat there) will keep the Ducks out of the playoff.
Ohio State: How about the Buckeyes as a potential playoff contender now? I think it’s an enormous long-shot–OSU has a loss to 4-5 Virginia Tech, and no really good wins outside of beating Michigan State this weekend–but witha decent win at Minnesota this weekend, and perhaps a conference title game win over what could be a one-loss Nebraska team, crazy things elsewhere could put OSU in play. And, here’s a story line to watch beyond that: if Braxton Miller comes back, does J.T. Barrett (16-for-26, 300 yards, 11 carries for 86 more, five total TDs on Saturday) keep his job?
Became ineligible for a bowl: Connecticut, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Iowa State, Purdue, FIU, FAU, Southern Miss, UTSA, Vanderbilt
Still-winless SMU: actually held a lead for the first time all season when it led Tulsa 13-7 in the first quarter, and given that the Golden Hurricanes are one of the 10 worst teams in the country, it looked like for a moment that the Mustangs might have a shot to become the country’s last team to pick up a win. It wasn’t to be, as Tulsa scored the game’s next 28 points, and that was that. But hey, it least SMU, which averaged just seven points and 249 yards of offense, busted out for 28 and 464, respectively… you’ve got to take those small victories where you can get them.
Michigan State: The Spartans’ argument was that, if they ran the table, they deserved to be in the playoffs because of one loss to Oregon. That ship has now sailed and there’s no way it’s coming back.
Auburn: Last year, Auburn got to the national title game because of two of the most improbable endings to games in college football history. This year, the Tigers may be knocked out of the playoffs because they couldn’t execute the simplest of tasks–snapping the football–successfully at the end of Saturday’s loss to Texas A&M. And here’s your go-figure moment of the season: two games ago, A&M lost 59-0 to Alabama; last week, it was out-played by a dreadful Louisiana-Monroe team before squeaking out a five-point win, but this weekend, it beat an Auburn squad that had an argument as America’s best team coming into the weekend.
Utah receiver Kaelin Clay: As many times as the infamous gaffes by Leon Lett and DeSean Jackson have been replayed, any football player knows better than to deliberately drop the ball before he reaches the end zone on a touchdown run… right? Evidently, that message never got to Kaelin Clay, who celebrated a bit prematurely in the Utes’ 51-27 defeat at the hands of Oregon. It was a 14-point swing in a matter of seconds, and provided us with this season’s No. 1 “did I really just see that?” moment so far.
Iowa: Remember when we talked about the Hawkeyes as a dark horse national title contender due to a weak schedule? That ship sailed two months ago when the Hawkeyes lost to Iowa State, but last week’s 48-7 whipping of Northwestern suggested that maybe Iowa was getting back on track. Or not… the Hawkeyes went to Minnesota and got destroyed, 51-14, in a game where Iowa gained just 205 yards and lost the turnover battle, 3-0.