With only two games remaining in the regular season for most teams, this college football season is rapidly approaching its end. It has been a crazy ride up to this point, and all the evidence points to an even crazier ending. This past week saw 4 teams in the CFP Top 10 fall: #1 Georgia, #3 Notre Dame, #6 TCU, and #9 Washington. This clears the way for an unpredictable finish to the season.
Here are just a few of the major moments from last week’s games:
- Georgia enjoyed two weeks as the CFP committee’s #1, but that came to a crashing halt against a top-10 Auburn team. Auburn led 16-7 at halftime but exploded in the 3rd quarter, outscoring Georgia 14-3 in the quarter and led 30-10 heading into the 4th Georgia has relied on their run game all season and they couldn’t get anything going on the ground. Nick Chubb was the leading rusher for the Bulldogs on 11 carries for 27 yards. This 2.5 yards/carry average meant that the Bulldogs had to turn to Jake Fromm to lead them through the air and that was unsuccessful as Fromm completed less than 50% of his passes for less than 200 yards. Auburn’s defense was stingy and their offense was led by QB Jarrett Stidham who threw for 214 yards and 3 touchdowns. Auburn has a very weak non-conference game this week against a 4-5 Louisiana-Monroe team before hosting Alabama for their last game of the regular season. Auburn is a fringe playoff team at the moment after this upset of #1 Georgia and looks to keep their momentum rolling this week.
- Notre Dame’s weak offense was exposed this week by Miami (FL) who shut down Josh Adams, one of the top Heisman candidates at this point in the season. He was held to just 40 yards on 16 carries. This caused the Irish to have to turn to Brandon Wimbush through the air and this was an absolute disaster. Wimbush allowed the turnover chain of Miami to be brought out twice after throwing two horrible interceptions. He went 10-21 for 119 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. Backup Irish QB Ian Book entered the game for one drive before he also threw an interception that was returned 65 yards for a Hurricane touchdown. The game ended up 41-8 as Miami’s sometimes stagnant offense came to life to rip Notre Dame’s defense to shreds. Miami outgained the Fighting Irish 374 to 261 and held onto the ball for seven more minutes. Notre Dame should still be in place to be in a good bowl because both of their losses came to teams that currently rank in the top-10, but their dreams of a playoff trip are all but over.
- Alabama finally looked beatable on the road against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs had two good chances to end the Crimson Tide’s perfect season. They got the ball back up 21-17 and drove into Alabama territory before having to settle for a field goal with 14 minutes left to keep it as a one-score game. Later in the game, Alabama drove down the field with the score 24-24 before missing a field goal with 1:40 left in the game. These kinds of mistakes do not happen often with the Crimson Tide and Mississippi State needed to capitalize. However, the Bulldogs were unable to capitalize and had to punt after a -1-yard drive that resulted in a 3-and-out. Alabama got the ball back with 1:09 on their own 32 and Hurts was able to do what MSU couldn’t and drove them down the field on a 6-play, 68-yard drive that resulted in a DeVonta Smith 26-yard touchdown. With only 25 seconds on the clock, Nick Fitzgerald was unable to lead a game-tying drive and his Hail Mary pass fell short of the end zone and Alabama hung on to win. This win should put Alabama back at the #1 spot in the CFP poll, but this game did prove that any playoff-worthy team has a good chance of taking down Alabama.
- Oklahoma most likely cemented their trip to the CFP after beating #6 TCU. Baker Mayfield had another impressive performance on his way to a likely Heisman nomination. He went 18-27 for 333 yards and 3 touchdowns. Oklahoma put up 533 yards of offense as the Big 12 conference continues to be known for its lack of defense. This win will most likely put the Sooners into the playoffs, barring a disastrous loss to 1-9 (0-7 Big 12) Kansas or to #24 West Virginia. Obviously, West Virginia is a matchup that the Sooners can’t take for granted because we have seen this Sooners team slip up earlier in the year to Iowa State in a 38-31 loss. However, Oklahoma looks too explosive to be stopped by a Big 12 team and should be playing football in January.
- As much as most people don’t want to believe it, the Buckeyes of Ohio State are right back into playoff consideration after a 48-3 dismantling of the #12 Michigan State Spartans. Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins both ran for over 100 yards. J.T. Barrett chipped in for 2 more rushing touchdowns as the Buckeyes offense looked explosive again. The defense returned back to normal and gave the Spartans offense fits all day. Brian Lewerke threw 2 picks and only 131 yards and their leading rusher was L.J. Scott, who only was able to gain 30 yards on the ground. The Buckeyes are a lot closer to the playoffs than people think right now. With Miami-Clemson and Alabama-Georgia matchups on the horizon, only 2 of these teams will likely make the playoffs. This means that a team out of the Big 12 (Oklahoma), SEC (Georgia or Alabama), and ACC (Miami or Clemson) will be 3 of the 4 teams in the playoffs. This leaves room for 1 of the 2 other Power-5 conferences, the Big 10 and the PAC-12. The PAC-12 has been a disaster this season as all of the teams continue to beat up on one another. No team from this conference looks particularly good enough to be in the CFP. This leaves the Big 10 to put a team in the playoffs. Wisconsin is the current favorite as they stand undefeated. However, if the Buckeyes steamroll Illinois this week and beat rival Michigan the week after, they will be in the Big 10 title against Wisconsin. Wisconsin hasn’t looked very strong this season due to the weak competition on their side of the conference. If Ohio State can dominate Wisconsin again, the Buckeyes will have little standing in the way of a second consecutive trip to the playoffs. They, along with Alabama, are the team everyone loves to hate so I’m sure there will be criticism about this part of the article but I wouldn’t count the pesky Buckeyes out of things just yet.
This week features no ranked matchups, but trap games are always a possibility this late in the season. No top team should lose this week as we enter the last 2 weeks of the season, but it is college football and you never know.