College football winners and losers, Week 11: Miami, Auburn, Oklahoma make cases
It was yet another wacky weekend in college football, just like we all expected
When it's right, there's no product that beats college football.
There's a bias here, of course. And this statement conveniently skips over the fact that many college football games are not great because most amateur athletes are amateur for a reason. When you put the sheer number of games into perspective, the math says that more college football games will be bad than good.
Still, there's just something about college football at this time of year -- the unpredictability and the drama -- that makes it compelling. Week 11 certainly wasn't lacking in that department. The top three ranked teams were all on the road. Two, including No. 1 Georgia, lost while No. 2 Alabama needed a late go-ahead touchdown to survive a road trip at Mississippi State.
Elsewhere, No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 7 Miami made statement wins and now have legit cases to be ranked in the top four this week. From this victories to the best highlights of the day, a lot happened. We hash out the best and worst below with this week's version of Winners and Losers
Team Chaos: College football came dangerously close to the top three teams losing in one day, but two out of three ain't bad if you're a fan of chaos. No. 1 Georgia and No. 3 Notre Dame lost by a combined score of 81-25. Call the Bulldogs' loss a mulligan, not because Auburn didn't boat-race them, but because it doesn't really change much in their hunt for the playoff and every good team has a bad game. Notre Dame's loss, however, carries harsher repercussions. Clemson no longer looks like the best team in the ACC and Ohio State played as though last week vs. Iowa never happened. And here I was thinking the Buckeyes had their playoff privileges revoked. I'm of the belief that things usually work themselves out, but this season is headed for an interesting end in which a two-loss team, or multiple two-loss teams, could make the final four.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn: Perhaps no coach on the hot seat entering the season had a hot seat so vaguely defined. What exactly was considered a failure for Malzahn? A losing season? Six wins? Nine wins, but none of any substance? After all, Malzahn was 1-7 vs. top-10 teams since 2014 entering this year. Chances are, Auburn would define failure in the most subjective way possible: "they'd know it if they saw it" -- if they saw it. Well, they haven't. This season has certainly had its disappointments. Clemson and LSU were winnable games and featured bad coaching decisions by Malzahn. But after dispatching Georgia 40-17 -- excuse me, No. 1 Georgia 40-17 -- Auburn has a chance to take the SEC West, the SEC and make the playoff as a two-loss team. Some of those possibilities are still a ways off, so let's leave it at this: Malzahn has put Auburn in a position in which the Iron Bowl means something. That's a success, one that we knew when we saw it.
The U: I'm not going to declare Miami "back" after a Virginia or Pitt in the coming weeks. Two, some Miami players don't even think this yet. But here's what I am ready to declare: The Hurricanes played their best game of the season against the highest-ranked opponent they've faced; the defense is a fast, athletic and aggressive force capable of disrupting almost any offense; the turnover chain is one of the best things about the season; that, for one night, Hard Rock Stadium sounded something like the old Orange Bowl; this team has a legitimate case to be ranked No. 1 this week. It's been a minute since we've seen this Miami, and I'm just glad that's back.of Notre Dame. For one, that's bad luck and 100 percent ensures a loss to
Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson: It was Anderson, not quarterback Baker Mayfield, who was the star of Oklahoma's 38-20 romp past TCU. Anderson scored four touchdowns in the first half, and wound up with 290 total yards, eclipsing 100 yards rushing and receiving. It has been a long road for Anderson, who basically missed his first two seasons with injuries. He has now posted four consecutive 100-yard rushing games and has emerged as one of the offense's most consistent weapons.
The pain of coaching 3½ good quarters and losing: If we were to rank SEC coaches, I stand firm that No. 2 behind Nick Saban is Mississippi State's Dan Mullen. His record against ranked opponents stinks, but he has taken the toughest program to win at in the SEC to its pinnacle. And for about 53 minutes against Alabama on Saturday, he had the right game plan to beat the gold standard by which all other programs are measured ... and lost 31-24. There are hundreds of things that happen over the course of the game, but this comes down to two instances: Mullen's decision to punt on fourth-and-3 with six minutes and change remaining from the Alabama 42-yard line -- which netted only 22 yards on a touchback -- and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's safety blitz call on a third-and-15 during the Tide's go-ahead scoring drive. The punt was a "play not to lose" call when Mississippi State had winning on ball control all evening. The blitz was just a bad, trigger-happy call. Mullen and Grantham called good games overall, but those were key mistakes.
Michigan State: You won't find me raising an eyebrow, let alone a stink, about College Football Playoff rankings until the actual selection takes place. The weekly unveiling is good television because it lives on debate and outrage. Try as the selection committee chair might to explain its rationale, but the whole thing is a weekly game of moving goal posts. And that's fine. It serves a purpose, and that purpose, in large part, is to maximize interest. A game between No. 12 Michigan State vs. No. 13 Ohio State for the Big Ten East lead obviously has a level of interest tagged to it. Well, that ended sometime in the first quarter of the 48-3 shellacking OSU delivered to MSU. The Spartans had a good victory against Penn State in Week 10 ... but they weren't the No. 12 team in the country. They certainly weren't 12 spots better than they were a week ago. For reference, no team has ever moved up more than eight spots from week-to-week in the playoff rankings era. And, yet, the line for our Expert Picks was minus-14.5 for the Buckeyes. Vegas knows.
Notre Dame: Boy, when things go south for the Fighting Irish, they go south. Notre Dame had just gotten past the sting of going 4-8 from last season, a record pretty much everyone was willing to remind them of if given the opportunity. Now, their playoff hopes are dim after getting trashed by Miami. Social media can be a fishbowl, but there's definitely a widespread sense of joy when Notre Dame loses big, which makes losing big all the more miserable for both the program and the fan base.
Florida, a tragedy in two acts: Things are bad for Florida, which is having its . The 28-20 loss at South Carolina epitomized how frustrating this year has been in two unfortunate plays. The first was the pick-6 that wasn't because of a fumble at the goal line that put the ball back in the Gamecocks' hands.
The second was a Hail Mary from quarterback Feleipe Franks that wasn't actually a Hail Mary because two Gators receivers tackled themselves before the goal line.
Nothing will top two offensive linemen blocking one another, but this year has been a comedy of errors nonetheless.
Best of the rest
Division clinchers: Clemson, Miami, USC and Wisconsin all clinched Power Five divisional titles on Saturday. Clemson's win over Florida State sealed the Atlantic while Miami got the ACC Coastal by virtue of Virginia's loss to Louisville. USC's 38-24 win over Colorado gives the Trojans the Pac-12 South and the tiebreaker over either Arizona or Arizona State. The Badgers claimed the Big Ten West and will likely meet Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game.
The worst beatdown of the weekend: Good news for Georgia and Notre Dame, they didn't didn't suffer the worst losses of Week 11. That would be Division III program St. Olaf, who sustained a heartbreak 97-0 defeat at the hands of St. Thomas.
Baby Frost respects the Civil ConFLiCT: UCF coach Scott Frost became a father for the first time this past week, and UConn coach Randy Edsall celebrated Baby Frost's birth by giving the new dad a Huskies onesie before the annual "rivalry" game. UCF might pretend like the Civil ConFLiCT isn't a thing, but now the Frost house is becoming a house divided.
Tennessee: Missouri -- Missouri -- put a 50 burger and 433 rushing yards on the Vols. Butch Jones is as good as done. He has been for a while, but, for goodness sakes, go ahead and fire the guy. He's not going to show anything now to save his job. His dignity isn't going to be salvaged by waiting and recruiting has to be suffering. Cut the ties, if for no other reason than for mercy.
Iowa State wide receiver Allen Lazard: There were some spectacular catches on Saturday, . However, Lazard's one-handed tip drill while keeping both feet in bounds against Oklahoma State is one of the most impressive individual displays of coordination and concentration I've seen from a pass-catcher in some time. Lazard has been making big catches his whole career and he's going to make some NFL team extremely happy someday.
Nebraska: This season was been a lost cause for the Cornhuskers long ago, but you know you've hit a new low when one of Nebraska's U.S. senators tweets out the number of rushing yards you allowed in a 54-21 loss to a team (Minnesota) gaining 3.84 yards per carry.
Iowa defensive back Josh Jackson: For the second successive week, Jackson opened a game with a pick-6. This time, it was a 43-yard return against Wisconsin by easily undercutting a route on a long throw from Alex Hornibrook. Jackson returned another interception 52 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, marking Iowa's only two scores in a 38-14 loss to the Badgers.
Jokes that write themselves: On Friday, one of the buses carrying Rutgers' football team had to make an emergency stop after a tire on the bus caught fire. The good news is only one person, a state trooper, sustained minor injuries in the accident. But when you lose to Penn State 35-6, it's hard to tell which event is the actual tire fire.
- Ohio State's 48-3 rout of Michigan State is the most lopsided victory in the history of this series.
- NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb set the school career sack record during a victory against Boston College. He has 26, including 10 this season.
- With a 21-16 victory against Duke, Army is 8-2. The last time Army had back-to-back seasons of at least eight wins was 1984 and 1985, when it went 8-3-1 and 9-3, respectively.
- Against Virginia, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson became the first player in NCAA history to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. He's not in the Heisman conversation because the Cardinals aren't even ranked, but he's still the most unstoppable quarterback in the college game.
- After scoring 55 points against Ohio State, Iowa had 66 total yards against Wisconsin. The Ferentzing!
- This is the first time Alabama has allowed three rushing touchdowns in a game in the Nick Saban era.
- Notre Dame has been outscored at Hard Rock Stadium 83-22 in its past two games there (and 55-0 in the first half). The Irish should never play in Miami Gardens again, is the point.
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