1. Ohio State is in, and Michigan is not. Again. This one was on a platter for the Wolverines. They led 17-7, and Don Brown’s defense had kept Urban Meyer’s offense off the scoreboard to that point.
But, as has happened so many times in this series over the past decade-plus, winning time arrived and the team in scarlet started making the plays that need to be made. The Buckeyes ripped off 17 consecutive points to force overtime and then take their first lead, then won the game in double overtime by forcing a field goal, converting a controversial 4th-and-1 (more on that below), setting up Curtis Samuel’s 15-yard burst one play later, securing a 30-27 double overtime victory in a classic that will be remembered on both sides for eternity.
There’s no way around it: this is a game Michigan should have won. The Wolverines suited 43 seniors on Saturday, compared to Ohio State’s 44 freshmen. They led by 10, with the ball, in the second half. They had Curtis Samuel pinned five yards behind his own line of scrimmage on what could have been a deciding 3rd-and-9 — where a simple tackle would have forced a game-saving 45-yard field goal by an Ohio State kicker with two misses on the ledger already — and they let him squiggle away for an 8-yard gain. Samuel raced in for the game-winning score two snaps later.
That’s been the theme of this series over the past decade and a half, a stretch that has seen Ohio State go 14-2 overall and 7-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less. Oh, and 5-0 in games coached by Urban Meyer.
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) November 26, 2016
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) November 26, 2016
Ohio State will kick its feet up and await its opponent in a College Football Playoff semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl, while Michigan will spend the winter and the spring, summer and autumn that follows wondering how they let this get away.
2. Jim Harbaugh let the refs have it afterward. Echoing the words of Bo Schembechler after Big Ten ADs voted Ohio State over Michigan into the 1974 Rose Bowl, Harbaugh repeated that he was “bitterly disappointed” with the officiating in Columbus.
Michigan was flagged seven times for 59 yards on Saturday. Ohio State? Two for six.
On the other hand, Michigan turned the ball over three times and each was, to echo a phrase, bitterly disappointing: one Wilton Speight interception was returned for a touchdown, another set up a 2-play, 13-yard scoring drive, and a third came in the form of a lost fumble at the Ohio State goal line. Flip one of those plays and it’s a Michigan win. Flip all three and it’s a maize and blue blowout.
3. As Kermit the Frog is to a glass of tea, Urban Meyer is to a glass of milk. Jim Harbaugh is a man that enjoys a nice glass of milk. So, too, apparently do Urban and Shelley Meyer.
When your wife calls, you answer.
Even if it’s after the biggest win of the year. pic.twitter.com/VcoW8jFm9Z
— ESPNU (@ESPNU) November 26, 2016
4. No matter what happens in Atlanta next week, Alabama is going back to Atlanta. Alabama trounced Auburn 30-12 for its third straight Iron Bowl win, but the box score was a more accurate representation of what happened at Bryant-Denny Stadium than the scoreboard.
The Tide have been so far and away the best team through the first 13 weeks of this season that it doesn’t matter what happens in next week’s SEC Championship against Florida, Alabama will be the No. 1 seed when the College Football Playoff committee announces its selections one week from today. The reward for that No. 1 seed will be a short drive to Atlanta to be the de facto home team in the Peach Bowl.
Nobody scored a touchdown on Alabama in November.
— Michael Casagrande (@ByCasagrande) November 27, 2016
5. Clemson and Washington played like teams that want to join the Crimson Tide and the Buckeyes. Washington visited Washington State in a Pac-12 semifinal game on Friday. The Huskies led 28-3 after one quarter, 35-10 at the half and won 45-17. They out-rushed Wazzu 168-65, and quarterback Jake Browning completed 21-of-29 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns.
Clemson hosted South Carolina on Saturday night, and the Tigers led 21-0 after one, 35-0 at the half and rolled to a 56-7 win. Deshaun Watson hit 26-of-32 passes for 347 yards with six touchdowns and one interceptions, and Clemson out-rushed South Carolina 250-111.
Repeat those performances next week and this will be the second straight season a collection of blind chickens could do the selection committee’s job for them.
6. P.J. Fleck, James Franklin and Mike MacIntyre earned the wins of their lives. Until next week. After securing a 22-21 win over Northwestern to open the season, Western Michigan rolled through the rest of its schedule. Average score: Broncos 46, Opponents 17, with more wins by 30-plus points (five) than by wins of less than 20 points (four). Everything built toward Friday, a de facto MAC semifinal at home versus Toledo… and the Broncos played like a team that built its dream season around winning one particular game. WMU led 24-14 at the half and exploded for a 21-0 third quarter en route to a 55-35 win. Beat Ohio on Friday and Western Michigan will likely row its boat to Dallas for the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2, just two years after going 1-11.
Penn State needed Ohio State to beat Michigan and to beat Michigan State to advance to the Big Ten Championship. The Buckeyes took care of business, and so did the Nittany Lions… though not without some drama. Penn State needed two quarters to break Michigan State, turning a 12-10 halftime deficit into a 45-12 win. Just two seasons on the job, still dealing with residual effects from major NCAA sanctions, James Franklin has won a division populated by Urban Meyer, Jim Harbaugh and Mark Dantonio.
Colorado needed to beat Utah to secure the most improbable division championship of the decade. The Buffs allowed a punt return for a touchdown, but Jim Leavitt’s defense stiffened in the red zone time after time after time. The key sequence came early in the fourth quarter. Leading 20-13, CU seemingly allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown. Replay review ruled return man Kyle Fulks out at the 3, and CU pushed Utah backward two yards to set up a white-flag field goal. Colorado held on to win 27-22, sending the Buffs to Santa Clara to meet Washington and match the program’s win total from the last three seasons combined.
— Colorado Football (@RunRalphieRun) November 27, 2016
7. It’s nobody’s fault, but we are witnessing the most anti-climatic Heisman race in recent memory. Let’s start by saying Louisville’s Lamar Jackson will probably win the Heisman, and deservedly so. His 51 touchdowns accounted for are an ACC record, he’s one of six players in college football history in the 20 passing touchdown/20 rushing touchdown club, and his 3,109 passing yards and 1,367 rushing yards didn’t happen by accident.
But, still, Jackson’s season has been the antithesis of every recent Heisman campaign. His signature moment came in September. His team isn’t a factor in the national championship race. His season ended with a 36-10 loss on national TV and a 41-38 loss few people saw, a game in which he tossed three interceptions and lost a fumble that ultimately cost his team the game.
At the same time, Jackson’s closest competitor is… Jake Browning? Adoree Jackson? Jonathan Allen?
Let’s just say this isn’t a season that will evoke memories of Tim Tebow vs. Sam Bradford vs. Colt McCoy in 2008.
8. The Super 16. The Nuggets is honored to serve as a voter in this year’s FWAA-NFF Super 16 poll. Here’s this week’s ballot.
- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Florida State
- Oklahoma State
- Western Michigan
9. Odds and Ends.
a. Ole Miss needed a win to secure bowl eligibility. Mississippi State 55, Ole Miss 20.
b. Nebraska needed to beat Iowa and get some help from Minnesota to reach the Big Ten Championship. Iowa 40, Nebraska 10.
c. North Carolina needed to beat NC State and have Virginia Tech lose to Virginia to reach the ACC Championship. NC State 28, North Carolina 21.
d. In his first season on the job, Frank Wilson secured the first bowl berth in UTSA history with a 33-14 win over Charlotte. Well done.
e. After a 31-13 win over Florida, Jimbo Fisher is now 13-1 against Florida and Miami.
f. Oregon State snapped an 8-game losing streak to Oregon with a 34-24 win over the Ducks.
g. Needing a win to get in, Temple clinched its second straight American Championship berth with a 37-10 whipping of East Carolina.
h. The Owls’ opponents next week are absolutely scorching their way into the post-season. A week after dropping 66 on ECU, Navy beat SMU 75-31. The Middies ran up 496 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground.
i. Justin Fuente is headed to the ACC Championship in his first season at Virginia Tech.
j. Mark Richt beat Georgia Tech this season, but Georgia did not. The Yellow Jackets won 28-27 in Athens on Saturday.
k. Western Kentucky will head to the Conference USA Championship, but Old Dominion claimed a share of the C-USA East title with a 7-1 record. Strong, strong season from Bobby Wilder for a program that joined the league in 2014.
l. If September never happened, USC may be national championship favorites right now. The Trojans closed the regular season with seven straight wins, all but one by 13-plus points.
m. Arkansas State saw its 15-game Sun Belt winning streak snapped by Louisiana-Lafayette, allowing Appalachian State to clinch a share of the conference crown. Troy could do the same next week.
#AppNation that championship feeling has us ready to celebrate….
— App State Football (@AppState_FB) November 27, 2016
n. San Deigo State and Wyoming have already clinched spots in next week’s Mountain West Championship, and it showed in Saturday’s games against Colorado State and New Mexico. Yeesh.
o. Pittsburgh 76, Syracuse 61. Not a misprint. Not a basketball score.
p. Middle Tennessee 77, Florida Atlantic 56. Also not a misprint. Also not a basketball score.
q. Vanderbilt is going bowling after knocking off Georgia, Ole Miss and, on Saturday, Tennessee. The ‘Dores fought back from down 34-24 to win 45-34.
D-Mase: You better fear the V pic.twitter.com/vHmrBk4E3P
— FootballScoop Staff (@FootballScoop) November 27, 2016
r. You didn’t notice, but Stanford put together a 9-3 season and Christian McCaffrey posted (slightly) better rushing numbers than he did a year ago.
10. And, finally… Bill Snyder joined the 200 win club with a 34-19 win over Kansas on Saturday. Kansas State has won 515 games… total.
— K-State Football (@KStateFB) November 26, 2016