College Football: Winners and Losers from Week 11
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Week 11 of the college football season featured plenty of exciting moments highlighted by No. 25 Washington getting the upset over No. 6 Oregon and making the Playoff discussion a little more interesting.
In the early slate of games Saturday, UConn became bowl-eligible for the first time since 2015, upsetting Liberty 36-33. Vanderbilt also pulled off an upset of No. 24 Kentucky, beating the Wildcats 24-21. No. 7 LSU improved to 8-2, defeating Arkansas on the road 13-10.
In the afternoon slate, No. 10 Clemson improved to 9-1 with a 31-16 win at home against Louisville. No. 9 Alabama rebounded from last week’s loss to LSU by beating No. 11 Ole Miss in Oxford. No. 3 Michigan cruised over Nebraska 34-3.
The late slate featured an Arizona upset over No. 12 UCLA, No. 4 TCU silenced doubters with a 17-10 win over No. 18 Texas and No. 15 UNC clinched a spot in the ACC Championship game vs. No. 10 Clemson.
Let’s run through the winners and losers.
Winner: UConn is Bowl Eligible for the First Time in Seven Seasons!
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AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
Folks, the UConn Huskies are having the best season they’ve had in quite a while. The Huskies improved to 6-5 with a 36-33 upset victory over Liberty, which entered the matchup at 8-1. This is an incredible improvement for UConn in Jim Mora’s first year, and it means that the Huskies will go to a bowl for the first time since 2015.
That season, UConn finished 6-7, with a loss to Marshall in what was then known as the St. Petersburg Bowl. If UConn can beat Army next week, it’ll mark the program’s best finish since its 8-5 record in 2010.
But this was a pretty big upset win for the Huskies, previous wins and losses aside. The Flames hadn’t lost since their Week 3 loss to Wake Forest and were coming off an upset win over Arkansas in Week 10. Liberty entered as a 14.5-point favorite, too, per Caesars Sportsbook.
UConn’s defense came up big in the fourth quarter. Following a touchdown that gave Liberty a 33-28 lead with 14:39 left, the Huskies defense forced a turnover on downs twice and a three-and-out. UConn’s Zion Turner found Kevens Clercius for a 30-yard touchdown to give the Huskies the 36-33 lead at 5:43 that held until the end.
For a program that hasn’t eclipsed three wins since 2015, this has been a fun ride to watch UConn improve in 2022.
Loser: Arkansas’ Offense vs. Harold Perkins
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The LSU Tigers successfully avoided an Alabama hangover a week after upsetting the Tide. The Tigers improved to 8-2 on the season with a 13-10 victory over Arkansas in Fayetteville and clinched the SEC West following Alabama’s win over Ole Miss.
True freshman linebacker Harold Perkins Jr. was a destructive force against Razorbacks. Take a look at his stat line:
- 8 total tackles
- 6 solo tackles
- 4 sacks
- 1 quarterback hurry
- 1 pass breakup
- 2 forced fumbles
LSU capitalized on one of Perkins’ forced fumbles by scoring a field goal in the second quarter to tie the game up at three. Perkins’ second forced fumble of the day cemented LSU’s victory, as Arkansas had the ball back with less than two minutes left in the game.
What’s even more incredible? Apparently Perkins had been battling the flu in the week leading up to this game. Here’s head coach Brian Kelly after the game, who added that he tried to remind Perkins of Michael Jordan’s flu game:
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
Harold Perkins was sick with the flu before playing against Arkansas.<br><br>When Brian Kelly told Perkins that MJ played his best game while sick, Perkins asked:<br><br>”Who’s MJ?”<br><br>(via <a href=”https://twitter.com/CodyWorsham?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@codyworsham</a>) <a href=”https://t.co/QZaFYc5e5C”>pic.twitter.com/QZaFYc5e5C</a>
Perkins is having quite the season in Baton Rouge. Including the game against Arkansas, Perkins has 52 total tackles, 7.5 sacks and an interception. LSU’s defense can stop just about anybody when it has a star player like Perkins. The good news for LSU is that Perkins is just a true freshman, so his career is just getting started.
Winner: Vanderbilt Gets First SEC Win Since 2019
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AP Photo/Michael Clubb
How about Vanderbilt?! The Commodores snapped a five-game losing streak on Saturday with an upset win over No. 24 Kentucky. It also snapped a 26-game losing streak that Vandy had against SEC foes. The last time the Commodores won an SEC game came in 2019, defeating Missouri 21-14.
This game was pretty close throughout, and it looked like Vanderbilt might lose its 27th SEC game in a row. Heading into the fourth quarter, Vandy had a 14-9 lead. The Wildcats scored two touchdowns, with the second one giving Kentucky a 21-17 lead with 5:03 left.
But the Commodores got the ball back and put together a brilliant game-winning drive that took nearly all the remaining time off the clock. Vandy was helped by a personal foul call on 4th-and-7 that kept the drive alive and put the Commodores in Kentucky territory.
Just four plays later, Vandy faced a 4th-and-11, and Commodores quarterback Mike Wright converted with a 40-yard pass to Quincy Skinner Jr. to put his offense inside Kentucky’s 10. Wright found Will Sheppard in the end zone to give Vandy the game-winning touchdown with just 32 seconds left.
On the flip side, Kentucky’s season hasn’t exactly gone as expected. The Wildcats entered this season looking like they could be in the mix in the SEC East race and furthered that notion following their 26-16 win over Florida in Week 2.
But with just two weeks left in the regular season, the Cats are 6-4, having lost four out of their last six games to Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee and now Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt, meanwhile, is on pace to have its best season since 2018. That year, the Commodores went 5-6 with a loss against Baylor in the Texas Bowl.
Sure, head coach Clark Lea has a long way to go before his program challenges Georgia atop the division, but snapping a conference-losing streak that extended across four seasons is a great first step.
Loser: Maryland’s First-Half Yards Total
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AP Photo/Barry Reeger
Things did not go well for Maryland, which played at Penn State. The Nittany Lions went to the locker room with a 27-0 lead at halftime. Unfortunately for the Terps, the PSU defense was dominant. So much, in fact, that Maryland had 27 total yards—yes, the same number of points Penn State had—at halftime.
Things didn’t exactly improve for the Terrapins offense in the second half. By the end of the game, Maryland had just 134 yards. The Nittany Lions forced one fumble, two turnovers on downs and nine punts, including seven three-and-outs.
Meanwhile, the Penn State offense had no problems, scoring on six of its 13 drives with three touchdowns in the first half. Penn State punted just five times.
This marked Penn State’s second consecutive victory over Maryland, as the Terps won 35-19 in 2020. Maryland dropped to 6-4, whereas the Nittany Lions are now 8-2 and third in the Big Ten East behind Ohio State and Michigan.
Loser: Nick Saban and Alabama Haters
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Just a week after an overtime loss to LSU effectively knocked Alabama out of College Football Playoff contention, Nick Saban’s team rebounded. The Crimson Tide had to go on the road to play 8-1 Ole Miss and were looking to avoid their first season with more than two losses since 2010. Unsurprisingly, the conversation surrounding Bama centered on Nick Saban’s future and whether his dynasty was dead.
The Tide silenced those critics, winning 30-24. The game was tight throughout, and the Alabama defense came up big on Ole Miss’ last possession. The Rebels drove to the Tide’s 14-yard line with a minute left. But on 3rd-and-10, Byron Young sacked Jaxson Dart. On 4th-and-16, Brian Branch broke up Dart’s pass into the end zone, and the Tide had a huge victory. I can’t think of a better way for Saban to seal a big road win than with a defensive stand.
The Alabama offense was led, per usual, by quarterback Bryce Young, who finished with 209 yards and three touchdowns through the air. But the running game was more impressive, even though Jahmyr Gibbs was limited to just six carries for three yards. Jase McClellan picked up the slack, finishing with 84 yards on 19 carries.
Will Reichard also kicked a trio of clutch field goals. He hit a 39-yarder early in the third quarter to tie the game at 17 and made two in the fourth quarter—one from 23 yards and the other from 49—to give the Tide their first lead and then the 30-24 advantage.
Ole Miss’ loss coupled with LSU’s win over Arkansas clinched the SEC West title for the Tigers. It also marked the third loss to Saban for Lane Kiffin since he’s been with the Rebels.
Saturday’s win was a good one for Saban and the Tide, who are clearly still a very good football team even if they’re out of the playoff.
Winner: The Big Ten West Race
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The Big Ten West race is an absolute mess.
No. 21 Illinois’ loss to Purdue on Saturday resulted in a four-way tie atop the division between the Fighting Illini, the Boilermakers, Minnesota and the Iowa Hawkeyes at 4-3. Even Wisconsin isn’t that far behind at 3-4.
That means that barring an Illinois victory at Michigan next week, Iowa can win out over the next two weeks and make it to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game.
Here’s a look at the rest of the current Big Ten West scenarios: Iowa has a tiebreaker over Purdue, Purdue has a pair of tiebreakers against Illinois and Minnesota, and Illinois has a tiebreaker over Iowa and Minnesota. Here’s who each of the four Big Ten West leaders still have to play:
- Purdue: vs. Northwestern, at Indiana
- Iowa: at Minnesota, vs. Nebraska
- Illinois: at Michigan, at Northwestern
- Minnesota: vs. Iowa, at Wisconsin
Aside from Illinois blowing a big lead in the division, this is a horrible Iowa offense that looks like it could play in Indy. Entering Saturday, the Hawkeyes were 129th in total offense, 125th in scoring offense, 120th in passing offense and 119th in rushing offense.
The winner of the Michigan-Ohio State will represent the Big Ten East in the conference championship. This one could get ugly in a hurry, as Ohio State came into Saturday first in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 45.8 points per game, while Michigan was sixth, averaging 42.2 per game.
We’ll see who comes out of the Big Ten West. If it does end up being Iowa, that would be pretty fun (for the opposing team) to see. The Hawkeyes played in Indy last year, losing 42-3 to Michigan.
Loser: Oregon’s Playoff Hopes
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Through 11 weeks of the season, it looks like the Pac-12 might finally be eliminated from the playoff race. That’s because on Saturday night, No. 6 Oregon fell 37-34 to the No. 25 Washington Huskies.
The Ducks appeared to be the conference’s best chance at getting into the playoff before the loss to the Huskies, as Oregon’s only loss was to Georgia in Week 1 of the season.
The Ducks’ game against Washington came down to the wire.
Unfortunately, Oregon quarterback Bo Nix left the game late in the fourth quarter due to an injury. After he exited the game, Camden Lewis’ 26-yard field goal extended the Ducks’ lead to seven. However, Washington scored a touchdown on a 62-yard bomb touchdown pass from quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to Taj Davis on the next drive to tie the game up at 34.
On Oregon’s ensuing possession, Ducks running back Noah Whittingham slipped on a 4th-and-1 rush attempt. Nix appeared to look like he wanted to come in for the play with his helmet on, but he remained on the sidelines. The stop set up Peyton Henry’s 43-yard field goal that ended up being the difference.
Nix entered the game on the Ducks’ final offensive drive. It looked like Oregon would have a chance at a game-tying field goal after the quarterback appeared to hit his receiver Terrance Ferguson on Washington’s 23-yard line. Unfortunately, the refs called illegal touching on Ferguson on the play, and Oregon’s last-second pass attempt fell incomplete.
This is obviously a disappointment for Oregon, which was having such a big year under first-year head coach Dan Lanning. Still, the future is bright in Eugene, so there’s still plenty to be proud of for Oregon. A Rose Bowl berth wouldn’t be the worst constellation prize for the Ducks—just saying.
The leader in the Pac-12 is now the USC Trojans, which lost earlier in the season to Utah. USC is currently ranked No. 8 by the playoff committee, so it seems unlikely that the Trojans will creep too far up the rankings, especially considering that every team ahead of them except Oregon won on Saturday.
We’ll have to see if the committee ranks USC, which beat Colorado 55-17 on Friday night, any higher on Tuesday night.
Winner: TCU Lives Up to the Playoff Hype
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No. 4 TCU looked like it might be in for an upset on the road to face a 6-3 Texas team. Instead, the Horned Frogs solidified their case as a legitimate playoff contender on Saturday night.
Both teams’ defenses played very well in the first half, with the Horned Frogs leading just 3-0 at halftime. With the exception of the made field goal, each drive in the first half resulted in either a punt, a turnover on downs, or a missed field goal, and Texas’ Quinn Ewers threw an interception in the second quarter.
The Horned Frogs’ offense finally came alive in the second half. Running back Kendre Miller scored the first touchdown of the night off a 75-yard rushing touchdown with 5:08 left in the third quarter. TCU held Texas to a field goal on the next drive to make it 10-3 heading into the fourth quarter.
Following the Longhorns’ field goal, TCU scored a touchdown off a 31-yard pass to Quentin Johnston. Texas drove down to TCU’s 5-yard line on its ensuing possession, but the Horned Frogs defense stopped Texas on fourth-and-goal.
But this ending wasn’t without drama. Texas scored a touchdown on a 48-yard fumble return to make it 17-10 with 4:25 left, but TCU ran out the clock when it got the ball back to seal the victory.
TCU’s last two games of the regular season are against Baylor on the road and Iowa State at home. The Horned Frogs should be favored in both of those. If TCU’s defense plays as well as it did on Saturday night, an undefeated TCU Big 12 champion on Selection Sunday doesn’t seem all that unlikely.
Loser: Texas A&M and the Jimbo Fisher Situation
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AP Photo/Butch Dill
I’ve written a lot about Jimbo Fisher and the Texas A&M situation this season, and well, it’s still worth talking about.
That’s because the Aggies dropped to 3-7 on Saturday evening, falling 13-10 to an Auburn team that hadn’t won since Sept. 24 and is playing under an interim head coach. With the loss, the Aggies will officially miss out on a bowl game for the first time since 2008.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, TAMU’s 3-7 record is the worst through 10 games by a team ranked Top 6 in the preseason AP Poll since Alabama in 2000.
Also, this is the second time the Aggies have been held scoreless through three quarters since 2012. This is the first six-game losing streak for the Aggies since 1972, too. 1972!
And it’s not like Fisher isn’t dealing with a lack of talent in College Station. In the last two years, the Aggies signed the No. 1 overall and No. 8 overall classes, per 247Sports. The 2022 class was historic as well, as it was the highest-rated class in recruiting history. He has been at A&M for four years, which is plenty of time to see your recruiting classes pan out.
Texas A&M may not want to move on from Fisher, who would be owed $86 million if it were to fire him this year. But it certainly will be thinking about whether or not having mediocre to below-mediocre seasons is worth the amount of money it’s paying Fisher.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Texas A&M boosters are talking about how they can get $86 million in buyout money ready, just in case.