Week 11 in college football was the sort of week we had all feared before the season began. No fewer than 15 games had been cancelled or postponed by Saturday morning. No conference was safe. Hardest hit was the SEC: Alabama @ LSU, Texas A&M @ Tennessee, Georgia @ Missouri and Auburn @ Mississippi State all felt Covid’s wrath.
Nevertheless, there was still plenty of college football action to feast upon in Week 11, starting with some midweek MACtion.
Akron 10-24 Ohio
Kent 62-24 Bowling Green
Miami (OH) 10-42 Buffalo
Eastern Michigan 31-38 Ball State
Western Michigan 41-38 Toledo
Central Michigan 40-10 Northern Illinois
The MAC is well and truly back!
The conference’s premium talent, Jaret Patterson of Buffalo, was at his old tricks. Patterson had another 2 touchdowns to contribute to his excellent start to the season. In fact it was lesser-known Bull, Kevin Marks Jnr, who led the team in rushing. He finished the game with 109 yards (6.8 per carry).
If you truly want to know what the MAC is all about, check out Western Michigan’s game winning score against Toledo. Down four and with 17 seconds left on the clock, Broncos’ quarterback Kaleb Eleby hoodwinked the Toledo defence with a fake spike. Wide open in the end zone was Jaylen Hall, who caught the easiest score of his life to give his side the lead.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we love us some MACtion.
Boise State 52-21 Colorado State
(#7) Cincinnati 55-17 East Carolina
Florida Atlantic 38-19 Florida International
Iowa 35-7 Minnesota
The Bearcats just keep on winning. Cincinnati goes 7-0 with this walkover win against the Pirates. The football world is slowly waking up to the fact that Cincinnati is one of the best teams in the college game. With the rise of Cincinnati comes added attention on their quarterback, Desmond Ridder. Ridder has taken a big step forward this year (his pass completion rate in 2019 was just 55%). Another 3 touchdown passes to add to his tally for the year will have talent evaluators adjusting their QB rankings. If this run of form continues, Ridder will be a Day Two draft pick.
The early hours of Saturday morning brought us another one-sided affair, this time in the Big Ten. The Iowa Hawkeyes breezed past Minnesota to retain Floyd of Rosedale (a bronze pig trophy) for the sixth year. The tradition of playing for Floyd dates back to 1935, when Minnesota Governor Floyd Olsen wagered a prized hog that Iowa could not defeat them. This game was never close, with the Golden Gophers only able to put a score on the board with seconds remaining in the 4th quarter. The Hawkeyes have recovered from a slow start (0-2) with two convincing victories. The defence has conceded just 14 points in two games, 7 less than they did against Northwestern in game week 2.
Vanderbilt 35-38 Kentucky
Arkansas 35-63 (#6) Florida
South Carolina 42-59 Ole Miss
With a raft of cancellations in the SEC, Week 11 gave the chance to cast eye on some teams that have had less attention this season.
Often, matchups between two losing teams can be more than they first appear. These 2-4 programs were in no mood to hold back. If you love watching offences go to-to-toe, this one will be right up your street. It was a clash of philosophies: 72% of Mississippi’s yards came in the air, and 58% of South Carolina’s on the ground.
The opening score was the most impressive, a superb one handed grab from SC receiver Shi Smith. At just 5′ 10″, Smith makes up for his lack of size with clean route running and strong hands. Practicing daily against fellow Gamecock Jaycee Horn has certainly improved his game. He finished the day with 117 yards (11.7 YPC).
Kevin Harris ended the day as the Gamecocks’ most productive player on offence, with 243 yards (9.7 average) and an incredible 5 rushing touchdowns. It is easy to see why the Gamecocks pound the rock when Harris continues to tear through college football defences.
Corral and the clipboard
Matt Corral had a characteristically productive day under centre for The Rebels, with 513 yards and 4 TDs (and 87.5% pass completion). He has surpassed his total yards from 2019 already. Lane Kiffin’s offence has transformed Corral’s future. With the team down 6 in the 4th quarter, Corral found Elijah Moore for a 91 yard touchdown. Kiffin responded by throwing his clipboard 15 feet in the air. The future is bright for Ole Miss under the leadership of one of college football’s most brilliant minds.
To end on a more disturbing note, South Carolina Director of On Campus Recruiting Jessica Jackson accused Ole Miss fans of spitting, throwing trash and charging their opponents. In a world where people are dying of a ruthless virus, can we all please behave like decent human beings? We’re lucky to have football at all, let’s enjoy it.
(#10) Indiana 24-0 Michigan State
Penn State 23-30 Nebraska
Illinois 23-20 Rutgers
(#23) Northwestern 27-20 Purdue
(#13) Wisconsin 49-11 Michigan
It is a rule of college football that the Michigan Wolverines lose under Jim Harbaugh when going into a game as the underdog. It happened again here against the Badgers, despite having 43 top recruits (4 and 5 star) to their opponent’s 13.
The differing fortunes of the two sides was clear from the start. A tipped pass was intercepted. With their offence in possession, Graham Mertz led his side to their first score. Milton threw another pick when line-backer Leo Chenal dropped off to pluck a slant pass out of the air. Different play call, same result: Mertz threw to Mason Stokke for the score. Two running TDs followed, and the score was 28-0 at the half. It was safe to say that the Badgers had not rusted during their enforced break from the field.
28 down in the second half, the Wolverines went for it on 4th and goal. The run was stuffed at the goal line. It was just going to be one of those days.
Harbaugh’s Hot Seat
Mertz connected with Jake Ferguson for the Tight End’s fourth score in two games. It was a timely reminder of their danger in the air on a day where the run game pummeled the Michigan defence.
The Wolverines had a third quarter touchdown thanks to replacement quarterback Cade McNamara. Joe Milton had been pulled after a poor performance (9/19, 98 YDs, 2 INTs).
Is that the end of Jim Harbaugh in Ann Arbor? Many Michigan fans will be hoping so, as their team falls to 1-3 on the year. It seems to now be a matter of when, rather than if, Jim’s time in college football comes to an end.
(#9) Miami 25-24 Virginia Tech
Wake Forest 53-59 UNC
(#2) Notre Dame 45-31 Boston College
Louisville 17-31 Virginia
Florida State 22-38 NC State
Well, kids. Sam Howell is the real deal. Howell threw for 550 yards and 7 total touchdowns in a performance that had analysts salivating.
Wake Forest took the game to the Tar Heels early on, and it was soon clear that Howell would be called upon in a high-scoring game. In fact, the lead changed 7 times in this one. Dazz Newsome and Dyami Brown had 2 scores each and 352 receiving yards between them. Javonte Williams had another 100+ yard game, and many consider him a contender for RB1 in his draft class.
This North Carolina offence has been widely praised for their running game. This win showed that Howell can throw his way to victory in shootouts. Next year, he will have to cope without Newsome and Brown.
While this game was not a day for defences to remember, quarterback turned linebacker Chazz Surratt had another fine showing. Surratt may have to wait longer than his brother to hear his name called on draft weekend, but expect to hear his name called on Day Two of the Draft in April.
TCU 6-24 West Virginia
Baylor 23-24 Texas Tech
As the score line suggests, this was a close one. The Bears just can’t catch a break. Last week, they lost by a score at Iowa State. This weekend, the Red Raiders launched a 4th quarter comeback to put Baylor 1-5 on the year. After falling behind to a field goal, the Bears led for the entirety of the game, until a 25 yard Jonathan Garibay field goal attempt gave Texas the win with time expired.
Charlie Brewer just isn’t the same quarterback without Matt Rhule at the helm. His completion rate, average length of throw and TD:INT ratio are all down on 2019. In this one, the Senior had 17/26, 153 yards and an interception. His rushing score aside, Baylor’s points came on 3 field goals and a pick six from Jalen Pitre. It meant interception touchdowns for Pitre in consecutive weeks.
Freshman running back Tahj Brooks had two touchdowns in this game to double his tally for the season. The second on the day put Tech within a score, and kicker Garibay did the rest with two late field goals. Garibay, a junior transfer, had four successful attempts on his debut after replacing struggling starter Trey Wolff.
That’s five straight losses for Dave Aranda since the season-opening win over Kansas. The Red Raiders need to win out (including in a potential Bowl Game) to avoid a losing record for the eleventh consecutive season.
(#20) USC 34-30 Arizona
Colorado 35-32 Stanford
(#11) Oregon 43-29 Washington State
Oregon State 21-27 Washington
We can look at USC’s start to the year in two very different ways. On one hand, the Trojans are making a habit of winning close games. The other? Well, USC are making hard work of games they’re expected to win with ease. They were two score favourites over Arizona this week, but needed a late touchdown from Vavae Malepeai to seal their victory.
It should have been a routine victory, but two fruitless trips to the Arizona red zone kept it close. Poor discipline cost USC 110 yards in penalties, too.
Luckily, Kedon Slovis proved once again that he can close games out. He had 325 yards and a score, but most impressive was his second game-winning drive in two weeks. Amon-Ra St. Brown is an exciting wide receiver entering the 2021 NFL Draft, and proved a downfield threat with 113 yards from 7 receptions.
The Trojans need to clean up if they want to top the Pac-12 this year.
Best of the Rest
Middle Tennessee 14-42 (#16) Marshall
This game was never about what was happening on the field. It wasn’t about touchdowns and field goals and turnovers. It certainly wasn’t about Middle Tennessee.
This game was about remembering the 75 people who lost their lives 50 years to the day of the fixture in a tragic plane crash that killed all on board. The college football gods were smiling down on Marshall as they sauntered to an expected victory.
The history of The Herd is laced with tragedy, revival and remembrance. This game provided a measure of all three.
Sunday College Football?
Cal 10-31 UCLA
With their original fixtures against Arizona State and Utah cancelled, Cal and UCLA were able to arrange a fixture at the Rose Bowl. It was the first college football fixture to be played on a Sunday since 2017.
It was abundantly clear from the outset that this was Cal’s first game of the year. As Cal worked off the rust, UCLA came out determined to make up for last week’s defeat to Colorado.
In the early stages, Cal looked like they might get the better of the Bruins. The Golden Bears opened the scoring with a field goal, before intercepting Dorian Thompson-Robinson on his first drive. After that, UCLA took control.
DT-R: Better by Far
Thompson-Robinson knew he needed to improve this year; 300+ passing yards and 4 touchdowns last week was the first sign of his development. It also helps when a quarterback can run for 100+ yards and a score, too. The Junior continued his good form, with 4 total first half touchdowns against a shell-shocked Golden Bears’ defence.
The second half was played at a slower pace as defences took control. There were three punts in the entire first half: there were three to start the third quarter. In the fourth, the deadlock was broken when Brittain Brown broke away for a 31 yard rushing touchdown. Breaking through the middle, he resisted defensive pressure to get his first score as a UCLA player.
With that, The Bruins sat their starters and began to run the ball up the middle. Cal didn’t use their timeouts as time ran down. It proved to be an appropriate end to their performance in this game.
There has been speculation this week after it was revealed that Chip Kelly had sold his California home. Whether he is HC for much longer remains to be seen. A win here certainly helped his case, but he’s still got a $23m deal to justify. We’ll see what he’s made of when his team take on Oregon next week.
@5yardcollege – where Saturdays (and sometimes Sundays) are for rushing, too!