The playoff picture is finally coming into focus, while a few teams have already clinched their spot in their conference championships. The season is coming to a close already, but that doesn’t mean the chaos has stopped. Let’s look back on the week that was with the usual categories.
Game of the Week: The game that was the most fun to watch that week. Importance could be a factor, but it isn’t necessary to qualify.
Most Important Game of the Week: The game that had the biggest impact on the playoff race or the college football landscape as a whole.
Drunkest Game of the Week: The game that scrambled your brain just watching. A drunk game is full of chaos, but not the good kind. As the name implies, it’s a game where it wouldn’t be a shock to find out everyone involved chugged a fifth of Admiral Nelson’s beforehand.
Head-Scratcher of the Week: The result that makes less and less sense the more you look at it. This is a celebration of the random, outlier games that we look back on later in the year in awe.
Sickos Game of the Week: The game that you enjoy for all of the wrong reasons. The train wreck that you can’t look away from. This is the game that makes you shake your head and say “Only in college football.”
Hype Killer of the Week: The game where one bandwagon comes to a screeching halt. The game where a team that looked like a future college football darling crashed back down to Earth.
Seat-Warmer of the Week: The game that pushed a coach’s job security into the danger zone because coach search season never ends. It’s usually about the coach of the losing team, but that’s not always the case.
Seat-Cooler of the Week: The opposite of the seat-warmer, this is the game that will let the winning coach sleep a little more soundly at night. At least for now.
Your Future Coach: A new category where I look at a game involving an up-and-coming G5 coach that probably won’t be sticking around very long. If your team is ever in the Seat Warmer section, this one is for you.
Dealer’s Choice of the Week: The game that I just feel like talking about. It could be because it was especially fun, or stupid, or just because I want to make fun of a team I don’t like. It’s more of a catch-all category than anything.
All caught up? Good, let’s go.
Game of the Week: UConn vs. Liberty
It just so happens that the best result of the week was also the best game of the week. This result was great for a variety of reasons, both because UConn has done the impossible and become bowl eligible, and that it’s a delight to see Hugh Freeze’s blow his audition for bigger coaching jobs this badly. It was a back and forth game, with UConn taking the lead in the fourth quarter and getting a big stop at midfield to seal the win. Because of annoying conference tie-ins, UConn might not actually play in a bowl game, but the fact that they’re even eligible is a miracle, and somehow Jim Mora Jr. should be a real candidate for coach of the year.
Most Important Game of the Week: TCU vs. Texas
TCU doesn’t win games like this. TCU falls behind early, comes back after the other team loses their starting QB, and wins in a shootout. TCU never trailed in the game. Not only did Quinn Ewers play the entire game, but it was the worst game of his young career. Shootout is the last word I’d use to describe this game. Neither team scored until the final minutes of the first half, and the first touchdown took nearly 40 minutes. TCU only scored 17 points, exactly half of their previous low. The Horned Frogs hadn’t held a team under 17 points since their season opener at Colorado, who is probably the worst team in the power 5. TCU has made it past their toughest tests and should cruise to the Big 12 championship game with an undefeated record and the chance to make their first appearance in the College Football Playoff.
Drunkest Game of the Week: Washington vs. Oregon
This game got real stupid real fast. Early in the second quarter, Oregon embodied “doing too much” and ran one of the worst trick plays I’ve seen this year.
This led to the only punt of the game because defense wasn’t just optional, it was discouraged. Both teams traded touchdowns the first five possessions of the second half, before Washington ended their 98-yard drive like this:
Saying a QB “threw into a crowd of defenders” is usually a cliche, but it’s 100% true in this case. Oregon then put together one of the most incredible drives I’ve ever seen, lasting a whopping ten minutes and thirty-three seconds. They kicked a field goal with just under four minutes left, putting them up seven and potentially icing the game. It took Washington forty-seven seconds to answer with one of the best throws of the season.
Oregon now had three minutes to drive down and win the game. They decided to go for it on fourth and one deep in their own territory. The Ducks averaged more than six yards per carry, so picking up one yard should be a piece of cake.
There are a dozen different ways that play could’ve gone, and that might be the worst possible outcome. Washington kicked the short field goal to take the lead. Oregon mounted one last come back that was thwarted by the true stars of the Pac-12: the referees, who made a bad call that kept Oregon out of field goal range, costing them the game and a chance at a playoff berth.
Head-Scratcher of the Week: Boston College vs. NC State
NC State is cursed. Everyone’s favorite 8-4 team cannot live up to expectations. Nothing dooms the Wolfpack faster than preseason hype. Coming into this season, they were the clear second-favorite in the ACC, sitting only behind Clemson in terms of first-place votes. They had a short, understandable slide after star QB Devin Leary was injured, but seemed to figure things out over the last few days. Boston College, on the other hand, has been one of the worst teams in the ACC this year, competing only with the Virginia schools. NC State should not lose this game under any circumstances, even if it was on a last second touchdown. Now, they’ve lost three games and will be heavy underdogs to North Carolina, setting them up for yet another 8-4 season.
Sickos Game of the Week: Oklahoma State vs. Iowa State
Nothing is more college football than having a starting quarterback named Gunnar Gundy, who is also the head coach’s son. The start of the game went exactly as a sickos game should. Before either team scored a point, Iowa State turned the ball over three times, and Oklahoma State turned the ball over on downs once. The three scores that did occur in the first half were all under special circumstances as well. Oklahoma State’s first field goal ended an eight-yard drive after an interception, and their touchdown came on an 83-yard pass, which ended up accounting for 80% of Gundy’s passing yards. Iowa State’s lone touchdown came after a nine-yard drive after a blocked punt. The second half scores were at least semi-normal, especially after Oklahoma State’s usual starting QB decided to play through an injury and came in to save the day, but that first half is as sick as it gets.
Hype Killer of the Week: Arizona vs. UCLA
UCLA fumbled the bag so hard. Everything was set up perfectly. They made it past the most difficult stretch of their schedule with only one loss, controlled their own destiny to make the playoffs, and were all set to host College Gameday next week when they face off with rival USC with a spot in the conference championship on the line. All they had to do was take care of business against lowly Arizona, a team whose best win was against North Dakota State. This is the Pac 12, so obviously that didn’t happen. The Conference of Champions continued its time-honored tradition of cannibalizing itself in November, and now Gameday is headed to Montana for the Brawl of the Wild. The Bruins had the national spotlight just within reach, and let it slip through their fingers.
Seat-Warmer of the Week: Auburn vs. Texas A&M
This is the biggest disaster I have seen in my lifetime. Texas A&M, the richest team in the history of the sport, who just signed the best recruiting class in the history of the sport, and who’s coach has the third largest contract in the history of the sport, will not play in a bowl game. Barring a massive upset, whether it’s them losing to UMass next week or beating LSU the week after, the Aggies will finish 4-8 and 1-7 in the SEC. That would be their lowest win total since 2008 and tied for their lowest win total since 1972, which is also the last time they finished last in their conference. One conference win would be their fewest since 1970, and this one only happened because of a miraculous fumble return. They lost to a G5 team for the first time since 2008, and South Carolina for the first time ever. 4-8 would be the same record as their worst season under Dennis Franchione, a name that gives Aggies fans PTSD. This is rock bottom. If A&M really did pay Jimbo Fisher $86 million to not coach, it would be an indictment on the state of college sports and American society as a whole. But they have to be thinking about it, right?
Seat-Cooler of the Week: West Virginia vs. Oklahoma
This felt like a major win for Neal Brown’s job security. It would be hard to fire the guy who beat Oklahoma for the first time since joining the Big 12. That changed Sunday morning when West Virginia announced that they had parted ways with athletic director Shane Lyons, who was also a major Neal Brown supporter. Maybe his job is safe, maybe it’s not. Losing the AD that hired you is probably the number one killer of job security, so it’s hard to tell what the future holds in Morgantown.
Your Future Coach: UTSA vs. Louisiana Tech
Jeff Traylor is proving that last year’s success at UTSA was not a fluke. The Roadrunners have followed last year’s 12-2 campaign by starting out 8-2. More importantly, they are still undefeated in C-USA. Their first loss was in triple overtime to Houston, and their second was on the road at Texas. They’re clear favorites to repeat as conference champs, perfectly setting them up for their coming transition to the American Athletic Conference. Jeff Traylor signed a (relatively) massive extension last year, and it is already paying off. Traylor seems committed to UTSA for the next few years, but don’t be surprised if he ends up at a big time Texas school in the near future.
Dealer’s Choice: Vanderbilt vs. Kentucky
Shoutout to Vandy for picking up their first SEC win in three years. This wasn’t a fluky win either. Vanderbilt outplayed Kentucky in pretty much every way before finally picking up the game-winning touchdown with 32 seconds left. Head coach Clark Lea had the Commodores playing much better, but the results didn’t reflect that improvement until now. And here’s that fun Vandy fact again just for good measure:
(Header courtesy of the New York Post)