Hello college football fans! Another week is in the books and it seems the bigger battles right now are below the Top 4 teams in the Playoff list. Teams 1-4 won comfortably this week so things didn’t change. But, Alabama & Oregon are glaring at each other at 5 and 6. So, let’s dive into the Hot Takes and see what’s cooking!
Buckeyes prepare for Penn State: #2 Ohio State only wrecked things for bookies in their 56-21 win at Rutgers. They didn’t cover the spread, which was 35…AND A HALF. Damnit! Anyway, Justin Fields threw for 305 yards and 4 TD and JK Dobbins added 89 yards and a couple TD. Isaih Pacheco scored on a 26-yard run, Johnny Langan threw a 45-yard scoring pass to Bo Melton and ran a yard for another touchdown with 1:09 left for Rutgers. The loss was the 19th straight conference game for the Scarlet Knights, which fired coach Chris Ash in late September. “I thought our kids played really hard,” Rutgers interim coach Nunzio Campanile said. “They played really hard throughout. They competed for four quarters, all the things that we’re asking them to do, and I think that when you do that, you’re just going to get better. You’re going to get growth.” Ohio State’s spot in the playoff will be threatened with back to back games against Penn State and Michigan to end the season.
Please don’t lose Clemson: Now for this humble correspondent I’m always looking for a pair of great Playoff semifinals. Right now one of the semifinals would be Ohio State vs. Clemson. Man, who wouldn’t want to see that??? Pair Ohio State’s win with Clemson’s 52-3 humbling of Wake Forest Saturday, and that semifinal holds. Trevor Lawrence tied his career high with four touchdowns, three to Tee Higgins. Lawrence, who after a sometimes shaky start to the season has steadied himself to look like the stellar passer who led Clemson to the national title a year ago. Lawrence has thrown for 19 TDs and three interceptions in the past six games. Clemson has a bye this week before the Battle for the Palmetto State war with the Gamecocks in two weeks.
Now another team hates Alabama: There’s battles underneath the Top 4 in the Playoff, as teams with one loss are all thinking they belong there more than Georgia. One of them is Oregon. They’ve won nine straight after a season opening loss to Auburn. Sadly, that’s the difference between Oregon and Georgia. The Bulldogs beat Auburn this past Saturday. Oregon looked great again this week in a 34-6 win against Arizona. The Ducks are still at #6, after Bama’s win over Mississippi State keeps them at #5. Oregon has Arizona State and then the Civil War with the Beavers remaining before a Pac-12 Championship. Plenty of chances for Oregon to keep winning and hope the SEC does what they do best: Beat each other up.
Is THIS the real Notre Dame?: So we’ve seen two different Notre Dame teams this year. The Notre Dame that started 5-1 with the only loss being a hard fought road battle with Georgia. Then two straight weeks of utter garbage in a blowout loss at Michigan and a lackluster win at home against mediocre Virginia Tech. Now back to back blowout wins against Duke and #23 Navy. The Irish jumped out 38-0 Saturday en route to a 52-20 win over the Middies. So, what are we supposed to surmise here? ND finishes with BC and at Stanford. I don’t know if that’s enough to get them a New Year’s bowl. And I do think the program needs to look real hard at Brian Kelly and if perhaps it’s time to turn the page on a new chapter.
Academies Update: Well we saw Navy get crushed by ND, they’re home to ranked SMU this week. Army handled VMI 47-6 Saturday, and is at Hawai’i this week. Air Force beat Colorado State 38-21 and this week it’s the rescheduled game with New Mexico. Right now the Army/Navy game will decide the CID trophy. If Navy wins, they get it with 2 wins. If Army wins, all three teams will have 1 win, and Army retains the trophy from last year.
Alabama Loses Big Despite Victory: The biggest question coming into the Crimson Tide’s game Saturday was how much Tua would play or if he’d even play at all because of his lingering ankle injury. Well, Tua would be the starter for the game and played incredibly well for the almost 2 quarters he ended up playing. The end of that second quarter is where everything went wrong for him and the Tide though. Tua would drop back on a 3rd down and end up just throwing the ball away, but in the process would get tackled by two defenders and wouldn’t get back up. They would end up having to bring the cart out to get him off the field. This injury is diagnosed as a dislocated hip with a fracture on the posterior wall and will end his season and possibly his career at Bama, as he will likely head to the NFL. For Bama as a team, they are still on the outside looking in on the playoff but have a chance to make the committee believe they are worthy in the Iron Bowl. Facing the Auburn defense without Tua will be quite a task, though if there is one coach that can figure it out I believe Nick Saban is that guy.
Oklahoma Pulls Off Huge Comeback: College GameDay rolled into Waco this week for the huge Big 12 clash between Baylor and Oklahoma. For Baylor this was a prove it game, where they could show the committee and the rest of the country they were for real and were national title contenders. For Oklahoma it was another chance to boost their resume and a way to help them hold on to their slim chances of working back into the playoffs. Baylor came out rolling and were able to be 31-10 halftime lead. In typical fashion when comes to games like these the team who built the huge lead took their foot off the gas and let the other team back into the game. Oklahoma would outscore Baylor 24-0 in the second half and come away with a 34-31 victory.
Iowa (Temporarily?) Sinks the Boat: Row the Boat has been the battle cry of Minnesota head coach PJ Fleck going all the way back to his Western Michigan days. The boat for his 9-0 Gophers had been float along just fine so far. They would head to Iowa to play the Hawkeyes in what everyone was calling a trap game, as Iowa is tough to play at home and have a knack to win these kind of games. The Gopher boat did in fact fall into the Iowa trap and they suffered their first loss of the season 23-19. While the Gophers still have an outside chance at a possible playoff spot, they would likely need help and even then it would be a long shot.
Georgia Keeps Momentum Rolling: The big SEC matchup of the weekend was the South’s Oldest Rivalry between Auburn and Georgia. Georgia came into this game needing to keep building their resume and keep forward momentum going toward the SEC Championship and possible playoff hopes. Auburn came into this game needing to prove that they could show up on both sides of the ball when it came to facing stiff and top competition. Well as the narrative seems to be for Auburn this year, the defense came to play but the offense didn’t show up until it was too late. Georgia, on the other hand, did what they needed to do to get a much needed 21-14 victory.
LSU Continues Dominance: The top team in the land, the LSU Tigers, traveled to Oxford this past weekend to play the Ole Miss Rebels. While the Rebels were probably never going to beat the Tigers, they have been much improved on offense as the season has gone on. The Rebels showed up to play and were able to hang the 37 points on the best team in the land, luckily for the Tigers they probably have one of the best if not the best offense in the country. While LSU was able to come away with the 58-37 victory, they will need to figure out how to get more stops on defense as it might cost them dearly down the line if they fall behind against the better teams.
Here’s the updated playoff standings:
In the Playoff:
1. LSU (10-0)
2. Ohio State (10-0)
3. Clemson (11-0)
4. Georgia (9-1)
Outside Looking In:
5. Alabama (9-1)
6. Oregon (9-1)
7. Utah (9-1)
8. Penn State (9-1)
Now for the slate of important games this week, including those involving the Top 4 (Clemson is off). All games are Saturday EST unless noted:
Noon: #8 Penn State at #2 Ohio State
3:30pm: Texas A&M at #4 Georgia
7pm: Arkansas at #1 LSU
7:30pm: #6 Oregon at Arizona State
10pm: #7 Utah at Arizona