December has FINALLY arrived college football fans which means that week 13 has passed and the 2020 college football season is winding down to its concluding stages. Although there isn’t much college football left to go this year, the best parts of the season have still yet to arrive. In the coming weeks, we will get to experience rivalry games, conference championships, award ceremonies, as well as bowl season. I know many of us have already eagerly started the countdown to the New Year and are looking forward to putting these past twelve months in our rear-views. Be that as it may, we must appreciate the good that occurred this year and be glad we did get to experience a college football season. Speaking of being appreciative, I hope everyone had a wonderful and relaxing Thanksgiving weekend. Between eating tons of turkey and snoozing on the couch, hopefully you had the chance to sneak in some college football action. Let’s hop into the main points of discussion from Week 13 across the Power Five.
WOLFPACK ESCAPE FROM CARRIER DOME WITH WIN
This team! The Wolfpack have been the type of group this season where you just don’t know what you are going to get each week or how they will compete come Saturday. It could be a blowout in their favor, them getting badly beat by another squad, or a dog fight with their opponent. They have been all over the place since the first time they suited up back in mid-September. Dave Doeren’s team has battled in a ton of close games this season and has performed very well in all of those nail biters. In fact, NC State has played in six games this year within the ACC that were ultimately decided by ten points or less. Their record in those close games stands at 5-1 which shows this team embodies grit and heart and can pull it out when they dig deep.
This past week was no different when they played a struggling Syracuse team. The Orange led by a small margin heading into the half and held onto that lead entering the fourth quarter of play. The Wolfpack however, stepped up huge in the most important quarter of the game, holding the home team to zero points and scored nine points themselves to take the W over Cuse. The narrow win gets the Wolfpack to 7-3 on the year which is extremely impressive considering how they performed last year. During the 2019 campaign, NC State finished with a record of 4-8. If they can string out another win against Georgia Tech this upcoming weekend, they will double their wins from one season ago and will have some great momentum heading into their bowl game. This team will be exciting to watch down the stretch and a player to keep an eye on will be their lefty quarterback, Bailey Hockman, who has played well this season.
NC State University Athletics
BIG TEN TAKEAWAY:
SPARTANS SPOIL WILDCATS MAGIC AND STEAL THE SHOW
The undefeated and previously No. 8 ranked Northwestern Wildcats traveled to East Lansing this past weekend to take on Michigan State in what ended up being the upset of the week in college football. The Spartans came out strong, initially taking a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and never really took their foot off the gas. The final score of this one ended up at 29-20 but the game was really not as close as the scoreboard indicated. Michigan State dominated on both ends of the ball and secured a great team victory. Mel Tucker’s first season has been a disappointing one to say the least but it was clear these guys really wanted to make a statement this past Saturday.
The Spartans have two games to go against undefeated No. 3 Ohio State this weekend and a brutal Penn State team that got their first win this past Saturday against Michigan. If they win their two remaining games, the Spartans will end the 2020 campaign with a winning record of 4-3 and will carry an impressive three game winning streak into next season. Northwestern, although they have been superb this season and Pat Fitzgerald deserves a lot of credit, are not the same caliber team as Ohio State. The Spartans will have to be near-perfect come this weekend if they want to knock off the Buckeyes. If they do indeed pull it off, the college football playoffs may look different at the end of the season compared to how they appear right now. Makes for a good storyline and who doesn’t love an underdog? Let’s see whether the Spartans can knock off another playoff contender.
Getty Images / Adam Ruff
BIG 12 TAKEAWAY:
CYCLONES COMING UP BIG IN THE CLUTCH
The Iowa State Cyclones have been living up to their name this season because they are a force to be reckoned with and are certainly destroying teams that are in their path. The Cyclones have suffered just two losses this season and they were both to strong opponents in the first half of their schedule. Iowa State’s initial loss came in their opener against non-conference opponent Louisiana which left some questioning whether the team was going to be successful or not this season. Fast forward to present day and that Rajun Cajun team they lost to on opening day is ranked No. 20 and has a record of 8-1. The Cyclones also lost to Oklahoma State in Stillwater back in October when OK State was ranked No. 6. They came up short in that matchup by only a field goal.
Since the loss against the Cowboys, the Cyclones have won four in a row including this past weekend when they went to Austin to take on popular quarterback Sam Ehlinger and the Longhorns. The Cyclones came up huge in the clutch and were able to capture the come from behind win to beat Texas in their own house. The Cyclones currently lead the Big 12 conference heading into their final game this weekend against West Virginia. I expect them to finish the season strong, come through in the clutch once again and have a thrilling rematch with either OK State or the Oklahoma Sooners in the Big 12 Championship game.
AP Photo / Eric Gay
COLORADO REMAINS UNDEFEATED AND THEIR ROOF IS ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH
Now before I totally gas the Buffaloes up, I should throw in the obvious disclaimer here. Due to the Pac-12 delaying the start of their season and several of their games getting cancelled once the season did start, Colorado has only partaken in three games this season to date. That being said, within those three contests, the Buffaloes have been running wild and folks in Boulder have to be happy with what they’ve seen out of this team throughout their limited action. Currently they sit at 3-0 and are slightly behind first place in their division trailing only the USC Trojans who have one more conference win. Colorado has secured some big-time shootout wins against opponents UCLA as well as Stanford and have the chance to go unbeaten in conference play this season. The Buffaloes control their own destiny and if they can get some help from UCLA to defeat their cross-town rivals come December 12th, we may be seeing the silver, black, and gold compete for a Pac-12 Championship for the first time since 2016.
Photo by Cliff Grassmick
THANKSGIVING IN TUSCALOOSA..CHECK.. THIS PLACE SHOULD BE THE CAPITAL OF THE USA..BUT REALLY IT WILL BE TITLE TOWN ONCE AGAIN THIS SEASON
My Thanksgiving weekend was an unorthodox one this year as I took a trip down to “T Town” (commonly referred to as Tuscaloosa) for the 2020 Iron Bowl. It has always been a dream of mine to catch this historic rivalry in person and let me tell you, this year’s game at Bryant-Denny Stadium did not disappoint. Even with the Covid restrictions and the stadium not at full capacity, the atmosphere was still electric and through the roof. I joked to a buddy of mine that Tuscaloosa should be the capital of America because it is certainly the capital of NCAA football. In Alabama, college football is a religion and there can be only be one team at the top of the mountain to represent the state each year. This game is for more than bragging rights however, as these two teams are both typically contenders with high playoff aspirations each season. We have seen in years past that this single matchup can make or break the season for these two programs.
This year, Auburn’s goal was to upset the Crimson Tide and to potentially ruin their postseason hopes. There was some speculation coming into the annual rivalry game that the Tigers could make it a close one due to Alabama Coach Nick Saban not being on the sidelines. Once the game started, that idea quickly went out the window. The Tide displayed throughout the game why they are on top and have been on top of the college football world consistently over the past decade. No Nick? No problem! Like almost every week, Alabama looked like the well-oiled machine they are and steamrolled their opponents 42-13 to remain undefeated. Mac Jones tore it up, throwing for 5 touchdown passes and over 300 passing yards, solidifying his spot as a Heisman trophy candidate. Although Alabama has a few games remaining, including an SEC Championship game that will be a competitive one regardless of the opponent, they are my favorite to take it home this year. After watching this team and how well put together and talented they are, it’s hard to say they aren’t going to be National Champs once again this season.
UA Athletics / Crimson Tide Photo