1. Wisconsin passed its test. Wisconsin hasn’t played the toughest schedule in college football this season — to put it lightly — but the Badgers have pummeled their competition in typical Wisconsin style.
With the game tied at 7-7 at halftime, the Wisconsin defense clamped down in the second half, forcing five punts and a turnover on downs in seven second half possessions. The offense put together a pair of third quarter touchdowns, and it was enough for the No. 5 Badgers to pull out a 24-10 win over No. 24 Michigan.
Wisconsin entered the game with the No. 1 rushing defense in the country and improved its numbers by out-rushing the Wolverines — who themselves ranked No. 9 entering Saturday — by a 182-58 margin.
Add it all up and you get 11 wins in 11 games, nine of them by 14 points or more and all 11 by at least eight points.
1a. Despite what you may think, and what I wrote a couple weeks ago, the Big Ten champion is most likely getting in the Playoff. Wisconsin has clinched the Big Ten West, and Ohio State clinched the East with a 52-14 defeat of Illinois. Assuming both sides take care of business next week, either Ohio State or Wisconsin will get in the Playoff.
This means that either No. 9 Ohio State will be the first 2-loss team to reach the Playoff, or Wisconsin will reach the Playoff despite playing only two ranked teams all season (Ohio State in the Big Ten championship and Northwestern, who wasn’t ranked at the time of their Sept. 30 meeting but is now). Georgia losing to Auburn and Notre Dame falling at Miami last week eliminated the most plausible case scenarios.
2. Miami successfully avoided a major letdown. Perhaps we should have all seen it coming. After two straight ABC Saturday Night Football games, the most recent a blowout of Notre Dame, it made perfect sense that the No. 3 Hurricanes would sleepwalk through their noon kickoff with Virginia.
And sleepwalk they did.
The ‘Canes trailed 14-0 in the first quarter and 28-14 in the third, but scored the game’s final 30 points, including 13 in the fourth, to handle pull away for a 44-28 win.
Miami has lost its last 15 games in which it trailed at any point by 14 or more. Trailed 14-0 today, down 21-14 at the half.
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) November 18, 2017
Miami’s next game comes Friday at Pittsburgh in another noon kickoff. Go ahead and bank on Mark Richt having his team ready to go from the start of that one.
3. #Grumors was more entertaining than just about anything that happened on the field. Tennessee hosted LSU on Saturday night. The Vols honored their 1997 SEC championship team, which brought Peyton Manning into town. Before the game, Manning dined at noted Knoxville establishment Calhoun’s. Many people thought the blone-haired man at the head of table was Jon Gruden.
— Chandler Todd (@VFLtodd) November 18, 2017
The restaurant itself even got in on the action.
One problem: Gruden wasn’t at Calhoun’s.
We’d like to take a moment to clear things up as well as apologize. We got excited- like everyone. Please read: pic.twitter.com/AIyVvmppKC
— Calhoun's 🐷🏆 (@calhouns) November 19, 2017
In fact, Gruden was actually in Seattle, preparing for the Monday Night Football broadcast, as he is every Saturday.
— Ian Furness (@IanFurnessSea) November 19, 2017
— bill hofheimer (@bhofheimer_espn) November 19, 2017
The prospect of Gruden coaching the Vols is so intoxicating to Tennessee fans that it causes restaurants to not even know who’s in their own restaurants.
4. It was a great Saturday for comeback stories.
- As recently as Oct. 14, Missouri was 1-5 this season and 5-13 in the Barry Odom era. The Tigers have now ripped off five straight wins and clinched bowl eligibility with a 45-17 blowout win at Vanderbilt. The Tigers visit Arkansas on Friday and will be favored to head into bowl season at 7-5.
- Fresno State was 1-11 a year ago. The Bulldogs hired Jeff Tedford after the season, and on Saturday clinched a trip to the Mountain West Championship. The Bulldogs are 8-3 on the year — two of those losses are at Alabama and at Washington — after beating Wyoming, 13-7 in Laramie. Fresno State will face Boise State on Saturday, and then turn around and face Boise State again a week later in the MW title game.
- After back-to-back-to-back 3-9 seasons, Florida Atlantic clinched its first Conference USA East Divison championship with a 52-24 whipping of Charlotte. The Owls are 7-0 in C-USA, averaging 48.1 points per game.
- I hope you got a chance to read my interview with Austin Peay head coach Will Healy this week. If so, you’ll know that Peay was the very worst Division I program entering the year, and now they’re not. The Governors completed a 7-1 season in the Ohio Valley with a 28-13 win over Eastern Illinois, and afterward Healy took his shirt off.
Austin Peay’s coach 😂 💯 pic.twitter.com/4oBcnSapRq
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) November 19, 2017
5. Baker Mayfield hit Peak Baker on Saturday. Oklahoma visited Kansas, and what appeared to be the dullest game in a dull Saturday became interesting for reasons that had nothing to do with the actual game.
Here’s how the game started.
Oh man, Baker might drop 100 on ‘em now. pic.twitter.com/Dj4Br4Ushk
— Max Olson (@max_olson) November 18, 2017
So, Mayfield and a Kansas player went helmet to helmet after the coin toss. A ref had to run in from the sideline to separate them. And no, I'm not kidding about this.
— Jenni Carlson (@JenniCarlson_OK) November 18, 2017
Then this happened during the game.
According to the ESPN broadcast, Baker Mayfield told Kansas fans to "stick to basketball."
— Kevin Flaherty (@KFlaherty247) November 18, 2017
As did this.
Yeah, I'd say it's personal between KU and Baker Mayfield. Hasan Defense lucky he wasn't ejected. pic.twitter.com/CvMGxwHwYb
— Jesse Newell (@jessenewell) November 18, 2017
Which led to this.
Baker Mayfield on his Johnny Manziel bullshit pic.twitter.com/BnTvhCaNiW
— 5th Year (@5thYear) November 18, 2017
By the way, all of this happened in a game Oklahoma won 41-3.
Mayfield later apologized for grabbing himself. For those scoring at home, it’s Mayfield’s third public apology in the last six months.
Mayfield apologizes for the gesture. Says he’s a competitor, but that was unacceptable. Apologizes to fans on both sides and Kansas athletics pic.twitter.com/dH9GV1R1i9
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) November 19, 2017
5a. If you’re wondering what David Beaty thought of the coin toss snub… he loved it.
“I’m proud of our guys for getting to a point, and not just — we’re not going to take it anymore,” he said. “You’re going to stick your feet in the ground and you’re going to defend your grass. I think we’ve got to display (it) better than that, obviously, but I get it. I understand where they’re coming from. I’ve got to do a better job as their coach maybe teaching them how to manage that a little bit better. … But I certainly don’t think it was anything more than the fact that this is a football game, and we’re going to defend our grass. From that standpoint, I think it helped us. We were ready to go.”
6. The Super 16. The Nuggets is once again honored to vote in this year’s FWAA-NFF Super 16 poll. Here’s this week’s ballot.
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
- Central Florida
- Washington State
- Penn State
- Mississippi State
7. Odds and Ends
a. Virginia Tech beat Pittsburgh, 20-14. The final two plays spanned the complete range of emotions for Bud Foster.
Wow! VaTech gives up a 74 yard TD pass on 4th and long to the one yard line, then come up with the goal line stand to preserve the 20-14 win over Pitt.
— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) November 18, 2017
b. No one outside of Fort Worth noticed, but TCU turned in a heckuva victory in winning 27-3 at Texas Tech. Playing with their backup quarterback, the Frogs limited Texas Tech to its lowest output since a 12-3 loss — to TCU — in 2006, and their lowest output in Lubbock since a 56-3 loss to No. 1 Nebraska in 2001.
c. Memphis clinched the AAC West in a 66-45 win over SMU. The Tigers dropped 664 yards (333 rushing/331 passing), 32 first downs and 8.97 a play on the Ponies.
d. This is the only time this will ever happen: Coastal Carolina played at Idaho — in a conference game. Coastal won, 13-7.
e. North Texas completed its first undefeated home season since 2003 in surviving Army, 52-49. Army ran for 534 yards and seven touchdowns. It’s the second time this season the Mean Green have won a game in which they allowed at least 43 points.
f. Upset of the day, Part 1: Wake Forest 30, No. 19 NC State 24. The Demon Deacons forced a fumble at the goal line with a minute and a half remaining to pull off the win.
g. Upset of the day, Part II: Kansas State 45, No. 13 Oklahoma State 40. The SnyderCats built a 42-13 lead late in the third quarter, then hung on for dear life as Mason Rudolph and company came storming back. Rudolph fired four straight incompletions to allow K-State to survive.
h. Stanford beat Cal, 17-14, giving the Cardinal an 8-game winning streak in the Battle for the Stanford Axe, the longest such streak in a rivalry dating back to 1892. The Stanford win also eliminates Washington from the Pac-12 title hunt. If Washington State beats Washington next week, Wazzu meets USC for the Pac-12 championship. If Washington wins, Stanford goes to the title game.
i. A real final score: Valparaiso 8, Dayton 7. The game was scoreless entering the fourth quarter, and Valpo notched its only touchdown with 1:20 remaining. The Crusaders went for two and the win and it paid off, giving the program its first winning season since 2003.
j. Another real final score: UTSA 9, Marshall 7. A 40-yard Jared Sackett field goal with two seconds left sent the Roadrunners to their second bowl game ever.
k. Texas snapped a 2-year bowl drought with a 28-14 win at West Virginia.
l. USC beat UCLA 28-23, in large part thanks to this fake punt return touchdown.
— Max Meyer (@TheMaxMeyer) November 19, 2017
m. Georgia Southern earned its first win of the season, and what a win it was: 52-0 over South Alabama.
8. And finally… You ever seen a kickoff from the 10-yard line? That’s what happened in the Ithaca-Salisbury game on Saturday. You have no choice but to onside kick, because a blast from the end zone puts the ball at the 25 and loses you 15 yards. And if you recover that onside kick it’s a touchdown.
Strangest play I’ve ever seen. Kickoff from the receiving team’s 10? That was a lot of flags. Glad to be with @twinmomplus to witness our alma mater @BomberSports 27-17 win over Salisbury in #ECACD3FBFEST #d3fb pic.twitter.com/eeZHXSQSg4
— Daniel Ciolek (@deciolek) November 19, 2017