With the season weeks away from championship games and bowl madness, these final matchups are crucial. And whether you’re Ohio State beating Michigan State by 40 points, the Hurricanes pithing a shutout in a revenge game against the Duke Blue Devils, or Louisiana-Lafayette deciding to take safety, every snap is crucial in determining your position in the postseason.
This weekend was full of highlight plays and incredible production from several college football stars. DeVonta Smith had seven catches for 219 yards and three touchdowns, Justin Fields eclipsed 100-yards rushing for the first time in his OSU career, Kyle Trask threw for 433 yards and 4 touchdowns, and D’Eriq King’s 4 total touchdowns lead Miami in their dismantling of Duke. For teams like the Oregon Ducks, BYU, and Oklahoma State, matchups were not as favorable this weekend.
Let’s see how the up and downs launched some teams higher in the polls and sent others to the basement of the college football rankings.
AP Top 25
11.Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
17.Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns
13.Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
17.Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns
Other teams receiving votes: Oklahoma State 100; Missouri 88; Marshall 77; San Jose State 68; Buffalo 59; Nevada 48; Auburn 42; Oregon 30; Boise State 26; Army 25; Washington 19; Southern Methodist 10; Appalachian State 3.
Starting in the Big Ten, Justin Fields’ 70.8% completion percentage and four combined scores helped helped smother the Michigan State Spartans in their 52-12 win this weekend. OSU is now 5-0 with the chance to add two more victories before the College Football Playoff final rankings on Dec. 20. The fact that OSU is ahead of two SEC teams with more and stronger wins, like the one-loss Aggies and Gators, remains a point of contention for many. If the Buckeyes can simply maintain their momentum, they’ll be on pace to lock up a spot in the national semifinals. They are currently ranked at number 3.
Staying in the same conference, Indiana’s 14-6 win against the Wisconsin Badgers keeps them in line to securing a spot in the New Year’s Six. Even without quarterback Michael Penix Jr., sophomore quarterback Jack Tuttle two passing touchdowns was good enough to secure the victory and a number 8 ranking.
Shifting to the SEC, Mac Jones’ 338 yard and four touchdown night night helped trounce the LSU Tigers 55-17. Forty-five of those points and 469 of their final yardage total came before halftime. Alabama’s streak of at least 35 points is now at 22 consecutive games. Their continued offensive dominance and winning ways landed them at number 1 in the polls.
The No. 6 Aggies beat Auburn 31-20 to move to 7-1 and lock up a second-place finish in the SEC West. Senior quarterback Kellen Mond had 256 yards of total offense and two touchdowns. The No. 5 Florida Gators also took care of business when they beat the Tennessee Volunteers 31-19. Kyle Pitts continues to excel after returning from injury. He finished with 7 receptions for 128 yards. Both the Aggies and the Gators will be anxiously waiting to see if any of the top four teams slip in the coming weeks.
In the ACC, the Virginia Tech Hokies caused some tension in the scoreboard for three quarters before Clemson put its foot on the gas. The Tigers won 45-10. The win locked in Clemson for an ACC Championship game appearance and cemented them at No. 4 for this week.
Their opponent in that championship game, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish also started slowly this weekend. At one point in the second quarter, trailed the Syracuse Orange 7-3. The Irish ended up going on a 21-0 run and never looked back. They won 45-21 behind Ian Book’s 285 yards and five total touchdowns. They remain the number two team in the country.
In one of the most dramatic games and endings of the weekend, Dax Milne falling short at the 1-yard line on the game’s final play preserved the 22-17 for Coastal Carolina. The matchup lived up to expectations after being a late addition to the week 14 schedule. They fought and things got heated several times on the field. If Cincinnati slips up in the coming weeks, there’s a very good argument for Coastal Carolina to have a chance at an access bowl bid. BYU’s chances at a New Year’s Six appearance is over after the loss. BYU fell to No.14 and Coastal moved up to No. 11.
No. 10 Iowa State knew they were locked into the Big 12 Championship game before kick-off. The revelation didn’t stop them from stomping the West Virginia Mountaineers 42-6. Quarterback Brock Purdy threw for 247 yards and three scores. Another ranked winner in the conference, Oklahoma, beat the Baylor Bears 27-14. The victory also earned the Sooners an appearance in the Big 12 Championship. It’s another rewarding win for the Sooners after such a shaky start to the season. They are now ranked at 13.
Oklahoma State’s 29-22 loss to the TCU Horned Frogs eliminated from the Big 12 Championship game. It was the Cowboys’ third loss in five games after starting 4-0. The loss dropped them out of the polls.
Speaking of losers and nosedives in the rankings, Oregon’s 21-17 loss to the Cal Golden Bears dropped them out of the rankings completely. Once thought to be the only team in the Pac-12 with a playoff chance, they have dropped two games in a row. They can still win the Pac-12 North outright with a win against the Washington Huskies and an Oregon State Beavers loss to the Stanford Cardinal. Staying in the conference, the No. 16 USC Trojans will also be taking on the Washington State Cougars tonight.
The Miami Hurricanes kept their top ten ranking with a resounding 48-0 victory over the Duke Blue Devils. Although the team chances of an ACC title are officially over, the statement and revenge victory has them on pace for premium bowl game, against the Gators hopefully. The Canes take on the North Carolina Tar Heels this weekend at 3:30. They’re currently 9th ranked in the AP Top 25 and 10th in the College Football Playoffs Rankings, which will release a new ranking on Tuesday.