With each passing week, the college football puzzle comes into focus a little more. In fact, we are just a little over a week away from the first official batch of rankings by the College Football Playoff committee. Let’s run down the top stories of the past week in case you may have missed something important.
The biggest upset of the weekend was undoubtedly Purdue’s 49-20 win over Ohio State. The loss was reminiscent of Ohio State’s 55-24 loss to Iowa last season, a loss that cost them a spot in the College Football Playoff. At no point did the Buckeyes look like a top-5 that was going to take care of business against a lesser opponent. After the game, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer summed up the loss, saying “the glaring shortcoming we have were exposed.” Despite the loss, Ohio State will surely be part of the CFP discussion if they can run the table. Of course, they still have both Michigan and Michigan State on their schedule.
Boys Will Be Boys
Speaking of Michigan and Michigan State, those two teams met this past weekend. Even before the game started, things got a little heated. Michigan State players were a little late for their pre-game ritual of walking arm-in-arm from one end zone to the other. However, Michigan players were already on the field stretching, which led to a confrontation. Michigan linebacker Devin Bush responded by using his cleats to tear up the MSU logo at midfield.
As for the game, the Wolverines won 21-7, keeping them on pace to meet Ohio State the last week of the regular season with a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game on the line. After the game, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh called Michigan State’s pre-game actions “bush league,” claiming that MSU coach Mark Dantonio was standing five yards behind the team and smiling, a statement that Dantonio called “B.S.” Needless to say, we’re all looking forward to next year’s game between these two teams.
Feels Like the First Time
It took seven games, but Scott Frost finally has his first win as the head coach of Nebraska. Dating back to last season, the Cornhuskers had lost 10 straight games before Saturday’s triumph over Minnesota 53-28. Nebraska will have to win out to qualify for a bowl, which would mean beating Ohio State, Michigan State, and Iowa, a near-impossible task. Nevertheless, Frost basked a little in the win but noted the long road ahead by saying:
“I’m thankful we’re finally here, but we haven’t arrived.”
Welcome to the Club
Other than Ohio State dropping, there weren’t a lot of huge shakeups in the top-25 this week. However, one thing to note is the arrival of Appalachian State, who is ranked no. 25 and in the AP poll for the first time in school history. They received votes in the AP poll when they were still an FCS program following the 2007 season on the heels of their third straight national championship. However, the Mountaineers didn’t become an FBS program until 2014, so their rise has been quick. This season, ASU is 5-1, with their only blemish being an overtime loss to Penn State the first week of the season.
Insult & Injury
The USC Trojans suffered their third loss of the season on Saturday, losing to Utah 41-28 in a game that saw them out-gained in total yards 541-205. The Trojans now find themselves as just another team in a crowded Pac-12 South race. To make matters worse, both starting quarterback JT Daniels and backup Matt Fink were injured against Utah. Fink is out with a few broken ribs while Daniels is in concussion protocol.
If Daniels isn’t cleared, it’ll be third-string quarterback Jack Sears getting the start this week against Arizona State. USC shouldn’t worry too much about getting the two wins they need in their final five games to become bowl eligible. However, they can’t afford to lose any of their four remaining conference games and feel secure about a return trip to the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Backfield on the Brink
Oklahoma got back on track with a win over TCU on Saturday, but now there is some concern for running back Trey Sermon, who left the 4th quarter with a leg injury. Sermon’s status going forward is yet to be determined, but it seems likely that he’s going to miss some time, which would be a big blow to the Sooners. Oklahoma has no margin for error coming down the stretch, although their schedule is rather manageable until a trip to West Virginia the final week of the regular season. However, losing Sermon would for an extended period be huge, especially after they lost Rodney Anderson early in the season.