Publish date:

#Nuggets: Miami is rising, but is Georgia falling? Week 11 observations

1. No. 1 goes down. No. 10 Auburn needed to beat No. 1 Georgia far, far more than Georgia needed to beat Auburn, and both teams played like it.

A Bulldog defense that entered Saturday getting stops 82.4 percent of the time it stepped on the field and allowed 0.97 points per drive -- both numbers ranked No. 4 nationally -- allowed eight scores on 13 drives and 3.08 points a drive in a 40-17 Auburn victory. It was the largest loss ever by a team ranked No. 1 in the College Football Playoff poll. (Granted, it's an era that goes back only four years.)

Gus Malzahn and Chip Lindsey drew up a great game plan and got their players to to play confident and care free. The end result: 251 yards and three touchdowns on 25 pass attempts and 237 yards and another score on 46 carries. Auburn hit Georgia with a handful of wrinkles, and each wrinkle had its own wrinkle.

More pressing for Georgia was the performance of its offense. The Bulldogs' running backs scratched out only 72 yards on 26 carries, and Jake Fromm was sacked four times. As a result, Fromm hit only 13-of-28 passes for 184 yards with a touchdown that came with two minutes left and Georgia trailing by 30. 1a. So what does this mean? For Georgia, not much. As long as Georgia beats Kentucky and Georgia Tech the next two weeks, Kirby Smart's crew would be in the Playoff with a win in the SEC Championship regardless of Saturday's loss. Of course, today's loss does remove the Bulldogs' mulligan should they slip up again before Atlanta. For Auburn, the Tigers have a great shot at becoming the CFP's first 2-loss participant, provided they beat Alabama in two weeks and then beat Georgia again in Atlanta a week later. Good luck with that. 2. No. 3 goes down, too. There's a debate in the sports dork community on whether or not momentum actually exists in sports. You can decide for yourself how you feel about that, but you can't tell me Miami's 28-10 win over Virginia Tech last week didn't help the Hurricanes this week. No. 7 Miami welcomed No. 3 Notre Dame in the program's biggest game in more than a decade, and the Hurricanes played and coached very much like a team buoyed by a win that confirmed to them, "Yeah, we are as good as we think we are." The Hurricanes scored the first 34 points in a 41-8 blowout of the Irish. (Notre Dame has been outscored 83-22 in its last two games at the Miami Dolphins' stadium.) Mark Richt had a great night calling plays, hitting Notre Dame for 237 yards and three touchdowns on 42 carries while Malik Rozier connected on 15-of-24 passes for 137 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Manny Diaz's defense brought out the turnover chain four times, and Miami didn't give it back once.

2a. So what does this mean? This result means everything for both teams. Notre Dame has two losses and (obviously) doesn't play in a conference, so there's no opportunity here for the Irish to back door their way into the conversation.

Miami, though, is right in the middle of that conversation. The Hurricanes clinched their first ACC Coastal championship with Louisville's win over Virginia, meaning Miami will get a shot at No. 4 Clemson on Dec. 2. The 'Canes get Virginia and Pittsburgh before then, and they'll be heavy favorites in each. Win their next three and Miami is absolutely headed to the Playoff.

And who knows, perhaps Mark Richt's new team will meet Mark Richt's old team there. 3. When it's all over, only the cockroaches, Keith Richards and Nick Saban's Alabama program will keep on ticking. The last time the Nos. 1, 2 and 3-ranked teams lost on the same day was on Jan. 1, 1966. That's still the last time, because Alabama simply refuses to have an off week, even under the most difficult circumstances. Three times on Saturday night No. 2 Alabama trailed No. 16 Mississippi State by a touchdown. All three times, Alabama immediately drove the field to tie the game. Dan Mullen's bunch was a completed pass away from taking a 28-17 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Alabama forced the incompletion it needed, then tied the game at 24-24. The Tide forced a punt to get the ball back, then drove the field to kick a game-winning field goal. That kick clanged off the left upright, giving Mississippi State a chance to win with a field goal with 1:40 left. Instead, Alabama forced a three-and-out, then moved 68 yards in 44 seconds to win, 31-24. It was Alabama's 31st consecutive regular season win. 4. No. 5 Oklahoma cruised to a win No. 6 TCU. Imagine a week ago, as Oklahoma State racked up 661 yards and 52 points, what would happen to OU if the Sooners didn't score for an entire half. That's what happened Saturday night, and Oklahoma still won comfortably over the No. 6 defense in the country. Baker Mayfield threw three touchdowns and running back Rodney Anderson racked up four total scores as OU rolled up 395 yards, 16 first downs and 10.97 yards a play to grab a 38-14 halftime lead.

Lincoln Riley took his foot off the gas in the second half, and his defense kept TCU at a comfortable defense as OU coasted to a 38-20 win.

4a. What's it mean? Oklahoma now needs one win to clinch a spot in the Zombie Big 12 Championship against... TCU. No. 15 Oklahoma State beat No. 21 Iowa State, 49-42 in Ames, thereby removing the Giant Killer Cyclones from the race. Thanks to a 44-31 win at Oklahoma State in September, TCU just to beat Texas Tech and Baylor to earn a rematch on Dec. 2 in Dallas.

5. The Pac-12 makes life harder on itself than it needs to be. Four years into this new system, the Pac-12 and Big 12 have alternated seats at the table, while the SEC, ACC and Big Ten each have one reserved. There are two reasons for this:

  • A plethora of good teams, and a shortage of great ones.
  • A 9-game conference schedule without a 14-team league roster. The ACC, SEC and Big Ten have more filler on their conference schedules than the other two leagues.

But the Pac-12 takes it a step further, for an entirely self-inflicted reason: Short week, Friday night road games. USC lost at Washington State on a Friday after playing (on the road) the previous Saturday. Washington State lost at Cal on Friday after playing (on the road) the previous Saturday. And on Friday Washington eliminated itself -- and the entire league, in the process -- with a 30-22 loss at Stanford after playing the previous Saturday.

Making matters worse is that the Washington-Stanford game -- one of the three biggest games on the entire Pac-12 schedule -- didn't start until after 10:30 Eastern time on a Friday night because Fox Sports 1, a network that still isn't carried in many hotels across the country, had to finish airing a truck race first. Stanford running back Bryce Love is as good as any player in the country, and the Pac-12 offers as entertaining a product as any conference in college football -- but not nearly enough people know about it. And that's partly the conference's own fault. 6. I wrote last week the Big Ten should be eliminated from Playoff contention. But that doesn't mean it will be. The committee has shown a real affinity for Big Ten football thus far. The Big Ten champion jumped ahead of the Big Ten in 2014 and '15, and in 2016 the league became the first to get a non-champion in the 4-team field. Ohio State was the beneficiary in two of those years, and on Saturday the Buckeyes put out a "Iowa loss? What Iowa loss?" performance, whipping Michigan State, 48-3.

Wisconsin faced its first ranked opponent on Saturday and played like a team that had been waiting all season to play its first ranked opponent. The No. 8 Badgers ripped No. 20 Iowa 31-14, and all 14 of Iowa's points came on pick-sixes to the same player.

A week after dropping a double nickel on Ohio State, the Iowa offense put up 66 total yards, five first downs, no third down conversions and no points against Wisconsin.

Wisconsin and Ohio State will (probably) meet for the Big Ten title on Dec. 2, and the committee will look for a reason to put the winner in the Playoff.

7. Tennessee has reached rock bottom. The Vols dropped a 51-17 decision to Missouri, and there's nothing I can say that can summarize the bolded sentence here better than this.

8. The Super 16. The Nuggets is honored to vote again in the FWAA-Super 16 poll. Here's this week's ballot.

  1. Alabama
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Miami
  4. Clemson
  5. Georgia
  6. Auburn
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Ohio State
  9. Notre Dame
  10. Central Florida
  11. TCU
  12. USC
  13. Washington
  14. Penn State
  15. Oklahoma State
  16. Washington State

9. Odds and Ends a. Oklahoma State went to Iowa State and immediately fell behind 14-0, led 21-14, trailed 28-24, led 31-28, trailed 42-34 and and rallied for a 49-42 win that wasn't secured until snaring an end zone interception with less than 30 seconds left.

b. Navy led SMU 34-11 at halftime and had to boot in a field goal on the final play of the game to secure a 43-40 win. The Midshipmen attempted one pass. It was intercepted.

c. College basketball season is underway, so viewers can be forgiven for assuming Wake Forest's 64-43 win over Syracuse came on the hardwood. The Demon Deacons dropped 64 on Cuse while scoring only three points in the second quarter.

d. South Carolina beat Florida, 28-20. It was Will Muschamp's first win over his former employer.

e. North Texas clinched its first C-USA West Division championship with a 45-10 win over UTEP. This is a program that was 1-11 with a 66-7 loss to FCS Portland State on Homecoming just two years ago. f. Florida Atlantic is one win away from clinching its first C-USA East Division title after winning at Louisiana Tech, 48-23. The Owls can clinch with wins over FIU or Charlotte in their final two regular season games.

g. Ohio claimed the top spot in the MAC with a 38-10 blowout of MAC West leader Toledo on Wednesday. The Ohio-Akron game on Tuesday night will most likely decide the MAC East Division title.

h. The Sun Belt will become the final league to add a conference championship game next season, and not a moment too soon. Four SBC teams share the conference lead with one loss apiece.

Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 11.51.29 PM

Appalachian State doesn't play Troy, Georgia State or Arkansas State, and Georgia State and Arkansas State don't play each other.

i. West Virginia led Kansas State 28-20 at the half and won 28-23. You don't see that every day in the Big 12.

j. Something else you don't see every day: Minnesota 54, Nebraska 21.

k. Kentucky has its first 7-3 start since 1998 after beating Vanderbilt, 44-21.

l. Craig Bohl has Wyoming at 7-3 in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1998-99 after a 28-14 win over Air Force.

m. Best game you didn't see (because it ended in the middle of the night): Boise State trailed Colorado State 28-3 in the second quarter, 52-38 with 3:02 remaining, and fought back to win, 59-52 in overtime. The Broncos' only lead was the final score.

10. And finally... This is the greatest thing that has ever happened.