Wild College Football Weekend
November 17, 2016
The week of the upset hit college football last Saturday.
Number-two Clemson lost. Number-three Michigan lost. Number-four Washington lost. Number-nine Auburn lost. What a week.
It’s hard to know how the playoff rankings will shake out after Clemson, Michigan and Washington all lost.
I thought Clemson fought off its long reputation of losing to teams it should polish off easily. Well, it’s back. And it happened at home no less. The Panthers came into the contest at 5-4 and showed that Clemson’s defense would not be able to survive the four-team playoff. The unbelievable amount of yardage allowed by Clemson’s defense was startling. Pitt had the Tigers’ number all game Saturday and should have actually won by more than just one point. Deshaun Watson had his moments of brilliance in this one, as his 580 yards and three touchdowns passing clearly indicated. But he was also sloppy, turning the ball over three times on bad interceptions, two of which led directly to Pitt touchdowns. There goes the Heisman. Panthers quarterback clearly outplayed Watson as he threw for five touchdowns. Clemson still has a chance to make the playoffs, but I don’t like its chances against the likes of top-ranked Alabama.
Upset number two was Michigan losing at Iowa. The Wolverines fell 14-13 while accumulating just over 200 yards of offense. Michigan has the defense to hang with Alabama but if you can’t score against Iowa, how are you going to put points on the board versus the Crimson Tide.
The late upset was Washington losing at home to USC by a 26-13 count. The Huskies knew they had a chance to move up to the number-two slot but did not respond well to an improving Trojans team.
Even more impressive was USC’s dominance against Washington’s vaunted rushing attack. Heading into the game, the Huskies were averaging 231 yards per game on the ground. Against the Trojans, they managed just 17 yards on 27 carries.
Auburn had a shot to benefit the most from the upsets. But the Tigers looked awful losing 13-7 to a struggling Georgia team that had lost four of their last five games.
Auburn was hoping to extend its six game winning streak heading into their rivalry game versus Alabama.
Now at 7-3 on the season and 5-2 in the conference, Auburn has no shot to overtake Alabama in the race to represent the SEC West in the SEC Championship Game later this year. The best the Tigers can hope for now is to potentially upset the Crimson Tide’s chances of heading to the College Football Playoff when they face off against them at the end of the regular season.
Taking care of the ball is so important for quarterbacks in the NFL. Just ask fans of the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers have lost numerous close games this season due to late turnovers. It happened again on Sunday as quarterback Philip Rivers threw four interceptions in the fourth quarter alone on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. Four interceptions. He threw four interceptions in five possessions, including the game-winning pick-six by Kiko Alonso. Let’s put that into perspective against the best in the game. Tom Brady has thrown four interceptions in his past 400-plus pass attempts. Rivers did it in one quarter.
Speaking of struggling teams, the Green Bay Packers entered this season with Super Bowl aspirations. Now, Mike McCarthy’s squads boasts a 4-5 record and are barely playoff contenders. How can you even think playoffs after yielding five touchdowns in the Tennessee Titans’ first six possessions en route to giving up an absurd 311 yards before the game was even at the midway point of the second quarter. The Titans went on to post a 47-25 victory over the Packers.
Then there is the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are now just the third team in NFL history to lose four consecutive after starting the season with a 5-0 record. Their latest meltdown came against the Redskins in D.C. on Sunday.
How about those Cowboys? For the second time in three weeks, rookies Dak Prescott (QB) and Ezekiel Elliott (RB) stepped up when Dallas needed it the most.
Down by one at the halfway point of the fourth quarter, Dallas took over at its own 25 with an opportunity to win an eighth consecutive game hanging in the balance. Prescott would go on to complete all six of his passes before Elliott capped the drive off with a 14-yard touchdown of his own. It was Elliott’s second score of the game, the first coming on an 83-yard catch and run from Elliott in the first half. Then, within the matter of just over one minute, Pittsburgh regained the lead on a sweet pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown with just 42 seconds left. At that point, it looked like the Cowboys were doomed to lose their second game of the season. That’s when both Prescott and Elliott stepped up again. Dallas drove down the field 75 yards on five plays culminating in this game-winning 32-yard touchdown scamper from Zeke. It’s in this that Dallas won its eighth consecutive game, the team’s longest winning streak since 1977.
And you should check out these numbers. Prescott has combined for 18 total touchdowns compared to two interceptions in his first nine career starts. He’s leading an offense that’s averaging 28.9 points per game. Meanwhile, Elliott is currently on pace to break Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record and also finds himself on pace to put up over 2,200 total yards. Saying that the rookie No. 4 overall pick is an MVP candidate would be an accurate statement.
Seattle came up big as the Seahawks upset New England on the road by a 31-24 count. Russell Wilson put up his best performance of the season, completing 25-of-37 passes for 348 yards and three touchdowns. Even with Wilson’s heroics, it was the team’s defense that stepped up once again. With New England driving for the potential game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter, Seattle stopped Brady and his men four times from the two-yard line to preserve the seven-point victory.