Happy Wednesday college football fans! “Week 11” is officially in the books and we have a lot to cover from this past weekend across NCAA football. It’s important to note that this past week we saw a considerable amount of games cancelled or postponed due to the ongoing pandemic in the world. The Big Ten, SEC, and Pac-12 all had at least one game not take place due to positive COVID-19 tests which is not a promising sign heading into the winter. In fact, there have been some murmurs amongst the conferences of potentially pushing the college football playoff if the cancellation of games continues. Some of the most notable games that were not played included Alabama versus LSU, Ohio State and Maryland, as well as Cal and Arizona State. As of now, I do not see the college football playoff committee delaying the semifinal games but a lot could change between today and the first of the new year. This season, just like this entire year, has been extremely unpredictable and the NCAA may not have any other choice than to be transparent and reschedule. Rather than hopping into hypotheticals just yet, let’s cover the takeaways from the action we did get to see this weekend.
REBELS KEEP POSTSEASON HOPES ALIVE
The Ole Miss Rebels picked up a huge home victory in Oxford Saturday over the struggling South Carolina Gamecocks in an offensive shootout. This contest was back and forth for the majority of the game until the fourth quarter when Mississippi pulled away with two late touchdowns to put the game out of reach. The Rebels came out and were firing on all cylinders on the offensive side of the ball as they have for much of the season thus far. Currently, the Ole Miss offense ranks third in the nation this season when it comes to average yards per game at 569.9. This past week was just an illustration and continuation of those impressive numbers. Mississippi’s redshirt sophomore quarterback, Matt Corral, had a field day against the South Carolina defense carving them up for 513 yards and four touchdown passes. The second-year starter had two favorite targets Saturday in upperclassmen Elijah Moore and Braylon Sanders. Moore popped off, railing in 13 receptions on 13 targets for 225 yards and two touchdowns. Sanders finished with 141 receiving yards on 4 grabs. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Ole Miss have a talented one-two punch at the wideout position in recent years (cough cough A.J. Brown and DK Metcalf). Watchout for these two studs going forward.
This win was crucial for the Rebels squad as they now hold a record of 3-4 with three games left to go this season. The Rebels had a disappointing season last year after finishing at 4-8 and had hoped hiring offensive guru Lane Kiffin in the offseason would turn things around. After starting this season out in a funk, falling to 1-4 at one point, there was some concern the boys in Oxford were in for another long year. That being said, they seem as if they have found their stride heading into the last turn of the regular season. Their upcoming opponents include Texas A&M, Mississippi State, and LSU. Considering the Aggies are ranked No. 5 in the nation right now and how they have been playing this season, I don’t see Ole Miss beating them. That being said, if the Rebels can capture wins against their two rivals who have both been unimpressive this season, they have a chance to finish their campaign at .500 and can qualify to be bowl eligible. This will be a fun team to watch in the next month and if they can sneak into a bowl game, Coach Kiffin will be celebrating like he did this past weekend on the sideline.
UPSET CENTRAL! (ALMOST)
The ACC saw a big upset a week and a half ago when the Notre Dame Fighting Irish overcame the Clemson Tigers in a thrilling double overtime victory. It was almost déjà vu this past weekend with the North Carolina Tarheels and the No. 12 Miami Hurricanes just barely squeezing out wins in their games. The Carolina blue and white, who have been playing very well this season, surprisingly had their hands full with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in Chapel Hill. Wake Forest came out swinging and led against the Tarheels for the majority of the game. UNC though came alive when it mattered most and outscored The Demon Deacons 28-8 in the fourth quarter to get a come-from-behind victory 59-53.
As for the Hurricanes, they headed north over the weekend to Virginia to play Tech in Blacksburg. The Hokies themselves were upset the week prior against a very underrated Liberty team and were looking for some redemption against The U. The Hurricanes have shown promise this season, however they have also had some nail biters against some of their ACC opponents. They beat Virginia by only five points back in October, topped NC State by a field goal last week and came up with only a one-point victory over the Hokies this past Saturday. For a team that was ranked No. 9 heading into the week, Miami did not look it and as a result of their small margin win over VT, they drop down three points to No. 12 heading into week 12.
The Associated Press
BIG TEN TAKEAWAY:
HOPEFUL HOOSIERS & WILDCATS REMAIN UNBEATEN
Coming into this season, who would have thought that the Indiana Hoosiers and Northwestern Wildcats would be the talk of the Big Ten conference? One is notorious for basketball and the other is a prominent institution most often discussed for its renowned academia. Well friends, you can add “impressive football programs” to both of these universities admissions brochures because they have been amazing this year. In fact, if the season were to end today, the Big Ten conference championship would be these two programs facing off against one another as each is their respective division leader right now. Quite amazing stuff. This past week the No. 9 ranked Hoosiers faced the Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing and shut them out on their own turf. The Hoosiers defense showed up to play causing the Spartans to turn the ball over three times in the game. On the other hand, Northwestern took a business trip to Indiana to take on the unbeaten Purdue Boilermakers. It was neck and neck but Northwestern prevailed winning by a touchdown, 27-20.
Both the Hoosiers and the Wildcats have tough games on the horizon, especially this coming weekend and Saturday will show the college football world whether these teams are truly legit. No. 9 Indiana will travel to THE Ohio State University to take on Justin Fields and the No. 3 Buckeyes. If they can pull off the major upset and win out thereafter, they have a serious shot of contending for the fourth and final playoff spot come January. They also have to play Wisconsin in a few weeks which will be another mighty challenge for Tom Allen’s team. A lot has to go in their favor for them to make the playoff but for some reason, I feel like they are a team that could potentially pull it off. And speaking of Wisconsin, that is who the Wildcats will face this weekend meaning their winning streak could be at jeopardy. Coach Pat Fitzgerald will have to come up with one hell of a game plan to be victorious against the No. 10 ranked Badgers.
Indiana University Athletics
BIG 12 TAKEAWAY:
BAYLOR IS MISSING MATT RHULE BIG TIME
The Baylor Bears look more like the Bad News Bears this season and it seems to be getting worse and worse with each week that passes. After starting the season out with a win against the abysmal Kansas Jayhawks, the Bears have lost five straight games including this past weekend against Texas Tech. Baylor is known for typically having electric offenses that score a ton of points and put up crazy numbers. With that in mind, their offense this season has been anything but electric and can’t seem to figure it out. It is quite obvious that Matt Rhule’s departure from this team in the offseason has had a significant negative impact on the roster. Last season, Rhule led the Baylor Bears to a remarkable 11-3 record and that squad came within one touchdown of being the Big-12 champions. Now with Rhule coaching the Carolina Panthers, the Bears rank 112th in overall offense this season out of 126 teams at the FBS level. Seems like new coach Dave Aranda and the Bears are already wishing this season away and are hoping for quite the reset in 2021.
Waco Tribune Herald / Rod Aydelotte
WASHINGTON HOLDS ON IN 2020 DEBUT
The Huskies opened up their 2020 season this past weekend in an “after dark matchup” versus the Oregon State Beavers and came out of that opener victorious. This was one of the games I was most excited to watch heading into the week as I mentioned in last week’s blog. Between Jimmy Lake’s first game as a head coach, no Jacob Eason under center, as well as some other turnover in key positions, there were a whole lot of unanswered questions surrounding this team and how they would perform. The Huskies didn’t start off on the right foot Saturday (no pun intended) as five minutes into the game, Oregon State blocked a punt and recovered the loose ball for a defensive touchdown. After the early mishap, the purple and gold were able to recover and take control of the ground game on offense. Dylan Morris, the Huskies freshman quarterback, played decent and avoided turning the ball over which is always a win for a young quarterback. All in all, the game was a close one and came down to the last drive. The Washington defense was able to stand tall and make a stand, gathering a crucial interception that helped seal the win. They will go on to host the Arizona Wildcats this week and will hope to keep the wins coming as the season progresses.
Icon Sportswire / Jeff Halstead