A thrilling regular season of college football is almost in the books.
Next week teams play their final regular season contests before moving on to the conference championship games.
Here’s a look at the winners and losers from the lead-up week to Championship Saturday.
The Hurricanes continued their hot streak with a gutty 44-28 win against upset-minded Virginia. After back-to-back euphoric wins in marquee primetime games, the Canes sleepwalked into a noon game against a well-coached and hungry Cavaliers squad. Miami trailed by 14 twice, but dominated the second half and scored the final 30 points of the game. The “turnover chain,” college football’s latest sensation, made three more appearances; Miami has now forced 19 turnovers in the past five games. Head coach Mark Richt is also 10-0 for the first time in his career. Miami must hold on against Pittsburgh on the road before facing off against defending-champion Clemson in the ACC title game.
Head coach Matt Campbell has done a remarkable job with the Cyclones, notching his seventh victory of the season with a 23-13 road win over Baylor. This is the first time Iowa State has won seven games since 2009. With the regular season finale and the bowl game remaining, the Cyclones have an opportunity to win eight games for the first time in almost 20 years. In a conference dominated by offense, Iowa State is one of the few outliers in the Big XII that plays solid defense and has the capacity to limit the league’s prolific offenses. The Cyclones better enjoy Campbell while they have him, because bigger programs will surely be calling.
Wildcats’ head coach Bill Snyder is the oldest head coach in college football, but he’s still getting results. At 78 years old, Snyder will be taking his team to a bowl game for the 19th time after securing a 45-40 upset over Oklahoma State in Stillwater. The win came only a few days after controversy stirred over Kansas State’s succession plan, but the team rallied around its coach and pulled off the shocker over the 13th ranked Cowboys. The loss eliminates Oklahoma State from Big XII title game contention, a disappointing conclusion to a season that started out with high expectations.
Kansas State stunned Oklahoma State as a 19.5-point underdog, the biggest upset win under Bill Snyder. pic.twitter.com/qj3FlQ5U7S
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) November 19, 2017
The Utes blew numerous opportunities to pull off a huge upset over 18th ranked Washington on the road, but lost in a 33-30 stunner. Utah lost a 7-point lead late in the 3rd quarter after a Defensive Back mistimed his jump and allowed a sure interception to slip through his hands. The blunder resulted in a 76-yard touchdown for the Huskies. Utah rallied to take a late 4th quarter lead, but failed to bleed the clock. They allowed Washington to convert a 4th and long, which led to the game-tying touchdown. Utah’s attempt to get into field goal range failed, and they punted the ball back to Washington with 30 seconds left. Washington seemingly conceded to go to overtime, but Utah inexplicably called a timeout. Washington used the opportunity to get into field goal range with no timeouts left and kick the game-winning field goal. The Utes blew a golden chance to get bowl-eligible, and now they must defeat a hungry Colorado team that’s also looking to become bowl-eligible.
Things aren’t going according to plan in Ann Arbor. Head coach Jim Harbaugh went to his alma mater with the deserved reputation of a miracle-worker; he won big at the University of San Diego, Stanford, and San Francisco. Early returns at Michigan were positive, but the Wolverines are now in year three and haven’t turned the corner. Michigan lost 24-10 to Wisconsin, which marks another big-game loss for Harbaugh. The offense continues to be anemic and will likely get worse after a serious injury to promising redshirt Freshman quarterback Brandon Peters. The Wolverines will have to lick their wounds and prepare for a showdown game with their hated rival Ohio State. Complicating matters for Michigan is the Buckeyes coming into the game after two impressive blowouts with their eye on a Big Ten championship. If Harbaugh can’t win this big game, and it doesn’t appear likely, he could find himself on the hot seat going into year four, something no sane college football fan expected.
Jim Mora Jr. becomes the latest head-coaching casualty after his Bruins fell to hated crosstown rival USC 28-23. UCLA, led by quarterback Josh Rosen (the likely #1 pick in the 2018 NFL draft), played hard for their embattled coach. The Bruins came into the game with the worst run defense in the country (an embarrassing stain for a defensive-minded head coach), but held USC to “only” 153 yards in a gritty performance. Rosen outfielded his highly-touted counterpart Sam Darnold by throwing for 421 yards and 3 touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough. Mora’s tenure got off to an encouraging start; he won 29 games in his first three seasons and beat USC all three times. But Mora recruiting slipped under Mora and the bottom fell out of the team the past two seasons. UCLA can still become bowl-eligible with a win over Cal, but the school decided to pull the trigger on Mora now and announce to potential head-coaching candidates that they’re open for business. Perhaps the most disappointing thing about Mora’s tenure is he had a phenom at quarterback, but couldn’t put a winning team around him.
“Josh Rosen is overrat…”
— Barstool UCLA (@BarstoolBrewin) November 19, 2017