By Peter Santo
Chaos ensued in college football on Saturday, with four top ten teams going down, including Nos. 2, 3, and 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings. Let’s recap the games, starting with the one game that went as planned.
Alabama 51, Mississippi State 3
I’m including this one because it involved the number one team in the country and because I had the chance to attend this game, and I find I learn much more about a team by watching them play live.
Here’s what I learned. Alabama is very, very good, they deserve to be the number one team in the nation, their defense is incredible. I had some hope for a close contest after Mississippi State beat Texas A&M last week, but it was hard to believe they’re in the SEC watching that squad. Nick Fitzgerald was downright dreadful at QB for the Bulldogs, but he was running for his life all afternoon.
Anyways, back to the Crimson Tide. Their defense is unbelievably fast, and their defense and running game could be enough to carry them to another national title. But they’re certainly beatable. Quarterback Jalen Hurts is a true freshman and basically plays running back. He sprinkles in a few passes here and there, but he’s out there for his legs.
The key to defending Alabama’s offense is to make Hurts throw the ball downfield. He can complete the short passes, but his lack of downfield accuracy could come back to haunt the Tide in a big game. Hurts threw an awful interception trying to throw downfield over the middle on Saturday, and while it didn’t matter then, watch for that when the Tide play a meaningful game.
Georgia 13, Auburn 7
This one was a heart breaker, as most Auburn fans already had their sights set on Tuscaloosa for a winner take all Iron Bowl. All the Tigers had to do was go into Sanford Stadium and beat the Georgia Bulldogs. We all overlooked Georgia and their true freshman quarterback.
We should’ve seen this coming, Sean White was clearly less than 100 percent, star Running Back Kamryn Pettway was out with a hamstring injury, and the Tigers hadn’t won at Georgia since 2005.
Jacob Eason may be a true freshman, but he’s also the best quarterback to roll into Athens since Matthew Stafford. He played safe, let his running game do most of the work, and made just enough plays to earn the victory.
The Georgia defense did its job, Auburn didn’t record a first down in the second half, and Nick Chubb simply tired out the Auburn defensive line. We could’ve gone to Franklin at QB, but like Hurts at Alabama, he’s basically a running back. This was the perfect storm for an upset. Let’s hope everyone can get healthy so we can have a competitive Iron Bowl.
Pittsburgh 43, Clemson 42
I’ll be honest here, the thought of Pittsburgh going into Death Valley and defeating DeShaun Watson and the Clemson Tigers never once crossed my mind. Clemson was throwing it all over the field, and had its offense clicking for the most part, but the defense couldn’t stop the Panthers.
DeShaun Watson threw the ball an unheard of 70 times, he did throw for an ACC record 580 yards and three touchdowns, but his three interceptions allowed Pitt to stay in the game.
Pittsburgh just hung in there the entire game, and when their offense got their chance after Wayne Gallman was stopped twice on third and fourth down with 58 seconds left, they capitalized.
Kicker Chris Blewitt then drilled a 48 yard field goal with six seconds left to end Clemson’s 21 game home winning streak, the longest in the nation. It was Clemson’s first loss to an unranked opponent in 46 games, and just like that the College Football Playoff had received its first shakeup of the day.
USC 26, Washington 13
Washington was just humming along in the Pac 12, content to remain undefeated, content to play their games out west away from the watchful eye of the East Coast. For many, this would be their first look at Heisman contender Jake Browning and the Huskies.
We were all wondering just how good the Huskies were, whether they were deserving of their number four ranking. It quickly became apparent that the Huskies looked like a pretender.
Jake Browning struggled mightily and the Trojans were in control all night, the game didn’t appear nearly as close as the 13 point margin indicated.
Iowa 14, Michigan 13
This was another upset we maybe should’ve seen coming, as Michigan has now lost its last four games at Iowa. But come on, Michigan was dominant coming in while Iowa had struggled to a 5-4 record.
The Hawkeyes played an excellent game on both sides of the ball, holding the Wolverines to their lowest point total of the season and rushing for 164 yards. The Michigan offense struggled mightily on a cold and windy night in Iowa, and while their defense kept them in it, it wasn’t enough.
Some notable facts about Iowa, quarterback CJ Beathard isn’t even the most famous guy in his own family, his brother Tucker is a country music star, and their kicker is a walk-on freshman. However that walk on freshman kicker made a 33 yarder to down the Wolverines.
The Wolverines are definitely not out of the playoff picture thanks to losses by Clemson and Washington, but their road certainly just got much tougher. Meanwhile Iowa will probably give Kirk Ferentz a 20 year contract extension.
Despite all these upsets, it’s possible not a lot will change in the rankings. The AP poll has:
- Ohio State
Now this could very well be the rankings the committee decides to go with, however I think there will be one major difference.
Michigan drops to 4, and most notably they are 0-1 on the road against teams with a pulse. Ohio State moves up to number 2, however despite a Michigan loss and better ranking, this was a bad weekend for the Buckeyes, their chances of winning the Big Ten dropped dramatically. Clemson brought back the “Clemsoning” for a week, but I think they only fall to number 3 because of their head to head win over Louisville. Washington only has one loss but falls below two loss Wisconsin due to the strength of schedule gap.
Who’s ready for more college football chaos? I know I am. Let’s just hope the next upset is Auburn over Alabama.