Week 9 of the college football season provided upsets, fantastic finishes, and ugly play. We had a conference say goodbye to any hope of a college football playoff berth. We had another instant classic among the top teams in the land. We had top teams barely survive another day. And finally, we had the Group Of Five hopes put on the ropes for a New Years Day bowl game. All in all, there was plenty of incredible action, and here of my top five stories from this past week.
1. Clemson Holds On In Another Instant Classic
The two ACC powerhouses, No. 3 Clemson Tigers and No. 12 Florida State Seminoles, pushed one another to the limit, but the Tigers escaped with a crazy 37-34 win, the first time doing so in Tallahassee since 2006. DeShaun Watson and Dalvin Cook played a game of “top this,” both bolstering their Heisman candidacies. However, the game was marred by Seminoles’ head coach Jimbo Fisher’s costly 15-yard penalty following a questionable call, which forced Florida State to punt while driving and in control. In the end, the Tigers survived and lived for another week on the match to the playoffs. Cook’s s performance was legendary, finishing with 184 total yards and four touchdowns. But Watson overcame his mistakes to finish strong and keep Clemson undefeated.
2. Bye Bye Big 12 College Playoff Hopes
That’s it for the Big 12’s College Football Playoff hopes – unless something wacky happens in the next few weeks. West Virginia and Baylor, the last hopes for the Big 12 Conference to get into the playoffs, both fell flat on their faces, losing to Oklahoma State and Texas respectively. For West Virginia, they made too many mistakes with the football. For Baylor, their offense went completely flat in the fourth quarter. And for both teams, each defense could not make a major stop when it mattered most. The Big 12 season has been a joke, both on and off the field, and with these losses this week, the season has officially met its end.
3. Washington Shows It’s More Than a Potent Offense
No. 4 Washington and No. 17 Utah were an even match Saturday in Salt Lake City in all facets of the game — all ways except for one. The undefeated Huskies retained their unblemished record in thrilling fashion, winning 31-24. Utah did everything it possibly could to upset Pac 12’s best team. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t quite enough to topple the Huskies. The reason for this was that, in the game’s waning moments, Washington came up with two spectacular special-teams plays. First, a pooch punt by Huskies quarterback Jake Browning that forced the Utes to start at their one-yard line, and second, a Dante Pettis 58 yard punt return for a touchdown. Those two plays showed why the Huskies are more than just a potent offense.
4. Louisville’s Playing With Fire And May Get Burned Soon
We have seen it all year from all the top teams not named Alabama. They play an inferior team, and they play down to the competition. Some teams eke out a win, others get burned and suffer a bad loss. Louisville was very lucky this week, as they played down to their competition, the Virginia Cavaliers, and barely walked out with a 32-25 victory. Heisman front-runner, quarterback Lamar Jackson led the Cardinals once again with four more touchdowns and led a fourth-quarter comeback that showed his mettle and leadership once again. His touchdown pass to Jaylin Smith with 13 seconds left in the game was a thing of beauty and showed why he is “The Man” right now.
5. The Group Of Five On Life-Support
The No. 13 Boise State Broncos, the best hope for the Group of Five, survived two close calls in a row against Colorado State and BYU. Their luck ran out against Wyoming, and with that loss, puts the Group of Five chances of getting into a big New Years Day Bowl on life support. The hopes now lay with Western Michigan of the Mid-American Conference, as they are ranked No 17 going into the next week. Even if the Broncos win out and finish with a perfect record, it seems unlikely they’ll have the juice to earn a spot in the playoff as they will need a lot of help from “big brother” to make a move.