Weekend feast of pivotal college football games
Thanksgiving may be over, but the feast is just beginning. The college football feast, that is. The weekend schedule finds 18 games involving every team in the AP Top 25, with seven contests matching ranked teams. Five of those games take place Saturday.
Thanksgiving may be over, but the feast is just beginning.
The college football feast, that is. The weekend schedule finds 18 games involving every team in the AP Top 25, with seven contests matching ranked teams. Five of those games take place Saturday.
By the end of Saturday, the titles of the Big 12, the Big Ten East, the SEC West, and the Pac-12 South will be decided, as will the participants (possibly Temple?) in the AAC championship game. Of course, building your resumé with the College Football Playoff selection committee also is vital, with one poll remaining before the announcement of the top four on Dec. 6.
The CFP poll's top three teams - Clemson, Alabama, and Oklahoma - are playing in rivalry games. Michigan State climbed into contention at No. 5 after last week's win over Ohio State, and Notre Dame, which fell from fourth to sixth after an uninspiring performance against Boston College, needs a win over Stanford, and some help (are you listening, Penn State?) to move up.
This is the last chance for the Fighting Irish to show their credentials to the committee, the same for Oklahoma. Neither team has a conference championship game.
Bowling for losing teams
The bloated bowl schedule is made up of 40 games, giving 80 teams a chance to participate in the postseason. But finding that many teams with the required six wins may be unfeasible.
The NCAA football oversight committee is waiting until next week to come up with a plan on bringing in sub-.500 teams if the number of bowl-eligible teams falls short of 80. The number is at 71 right now, and there are 14 teams in need of one more victory, including four Big Ten squads - Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Nebraska.
"We will look at one more weekend of outcomes before finalizing," Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who leads the oversight committee, told the Associated Press.
Coming up with "qualified" 5-7 teams for bowls could work in a conference like the Big Ten, which currently has two fewer eligible teams than bowl berths, and could fill the need if it gets the OK from the oversight committee.
The Hat's seat is hot
In Les Miles' 11th season as its head coach, Louisiana State entered November with an unbeaten record and a CFP berth squarely in its sights. But the Tigers have lost three straight for the first time since Miles' arrival to plummet out of contention, and the man they call "The Hat" faces an uncertain future in Baton Rouge.
"I think the question's valid," Miles, 62, said at his weekly news conference while calling talk about his job security "off limits." A loss Saturday to Texas A&M would drop the Tigers to 4-4 in the SEC for the second straight year.
Miles, who led LSU to the 2007 national championship, is under contract through 2019. A buyout would cost LSU $15 million if he were fired at the end of the season, and $12.9 million if done so after Jan. 1.
On the brink
Ohio State still can't figure out what happened last week, when it earned just five first downs, gained 132 total yards, and lost to Michigan State to all but drop out of a chance to defend its national championship. Heisman Trophy candidate Ezekiel Elliott complained after rushing a mere 12 times for 33 yards against a Spartans defense stacked to stop him, and the Buckeyes had no effective Plan B.
"Our downhill run game with tempo is something we're good at, but it's not something you can do all the time," offensive tackle Taylor Decker said.
Ohio State hit a peak in quarterback J.T. Barrett's first start - a 49-7 win over Rutgers on Oct. 24 - but the Buckeyes have not been consistent since then.
The guy ND missed
You can excuse the family of Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan for having a few mixed emotions when Hogan makes his final home start against Notre Dame. Research by Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel showed that 25 members of Hogan's family graduated from either Notre Dame or St. Mary's, its sister school, including his grandfather, father, and sister.
Hogan used to drive with his family from his home Washington, D.C.-area to Notre Dame games as a youth. But the Fighting Irish passed on him, and he ended up at Stanford, where he is the Cardinal's all-time leader in wins as a starter with 33 - better than Jim Plunkett, John Elway, and Andrew Luck.
Terps need a win
The 2015 season has been a mess for Maryland, which is winless since Week 3. Not even a change of coaches on Oct. 11 from Randy Edsall to Mike Locksley has helped, with Locksley taking a 0-5 mark into Saturday's final game at Rutgers. A loss to the Scarlet Knights would be the Terrapins' ninth straight loss, their first 0-9 slump since 1967.
Locksley has remained positive. "To a man, since I took over, I never questioned our effort and the way we've prepared. These guys have continued to fight for us."
Expatriate of the week
Josh Adams, who starred at Central Bucks South, is enjoying one of the best seasons ever posted by a freshman running back at Notre Dame. The 6-foot-11/2, 212-pound Adams has rushed for 592 yards (No. 4 on the school's all-time list for a freshman) while averaging 7.0 yards per carry. His four touchdowns include a 98-yard dash - the longest play from scrimmage in Notre Dame history - against Wake Forest on Nov. 14. His performances of 147 yards against Pittsburgh (Nov. 7) and 141 vs. Wake rank second and fourth, respectively, on the list of best rushing games by a Fighting Irish freshman.
Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama at Auburn
Henry, now the consensus favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, has rushed for 1,526 yards and 21 touchdowns this season. He has scored at least one rushing touchdown in 16 consecutive games and has averaged almost 179 rushing yards in six contests against ranked opponents.
Ohio State at Michigan, noon, 6ABC: Should Penn State perform the Big Ten miracle and upset Michigan State, the winner here will be the Eastern Division representative in the conference championship game. The Buckeyes managed just five first downs and 132 total yards last week.
Alabama at Auburn, 3:30 p.m., CBS3: While the Crimson Tide continue to hold serve in their College Football Playoff push, the Tigers have suffered through a nightmare season that sees them at the bottom of the SEC West. But the Tide knows better than to sleep on their rival . . . don't they?
Notre Dame at Stanford, 7:30 p.m., Fox29: The CFP selection committee dropped the Fighting Irish out of the top four in the latest poll after the team's mistake-filled win over Boston College. It's not going to be easy for them to return, especially on the Cardinal's home field.
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, 8 p.m., 6ABC: The season has come around quite nicely for the Sooners, now No. 3 in the CFP poll, since their upset loss to Texas. Quarterback Baker Mayfield is expected to return after an injury last week, but the Cowboys plan to make it tough on him.