The postseason is right ahead of us. With players declaring for the Draft daily, Week 15 gave some younger players the opportunity to shine, and make their case for a starting spot in the 2021 college football season.
Florida Atlantic 31-45 Southern Mississippi
Pitt 34-20 Georgia Tech
Nevada 20-30 San José State
North Texas 45-43 UTEP
Arizona State 70-7 Arizona
Patrick Jones II played his last college football game in Pitt’s win over Georgia Tech. He led the team in tackles (7, 4 solo), and deflected a Jeff Sims pass. He should command a first round draft pick when April rolls around. Georgia Tech led for most of the 1st quarter, after a Jeff Sims TD run put the Yellow Jackets 7-3 ahead.
At the top of the 2nd quarter, an interception on a Kenny Pickett pass was then fumbled by Quez Jackson. Hiccup avoided, Pitt reclaimed the lead in the 2nd quarter. After that, it was plain sailing for the Panthers.
San José State went 6-0 with their win over Nevada, and in doing so booked their place in the Mountain West Championship game. It is a fabulous story for a program that faced being cut in 2003. In the last four years of college football, they’ve had 3 wins or less. With this victory, they have confirmed their spot in their first championship game as a Mountain West team.
Alabama 52-3 Arkansas
Georgia 49-14 Missouri
Tennessee 42-17 Vanderbilt
LSU 37-34 Florida
Auburn 24-10 Mississippi State
Ole Miss P-P Texas A&M
With the participants of the SEC Championship game confirmed, all eyes were on how they would close their regular seasons. Alabama, who will be taking part in their third SEC Championship game in 5 years, continued to breeze past its opponent. There was a shock defeat for #6 ranked Florida in The Swamp.
Arkansas Head Coach Sam Pittman claimed that this was the best ‘Bama side he had ever seen, as the Crimson Tide swept away the Razorbacks. After a slow start, ‘Bama had 4 touchdowns in 11 minutes of game time. The pick was DeVonta Smith‘s 84 yard punt return touchdown. Is there anything he can’t do right now? Najee Harris had two scores on short touchdown runs, but conceded touches to freshman Jase McClellan. McClellan had 6 carries for 95 yards and a score. The Tide had 6 rushing touchdowns and the Smith return on special teams. It is the first time that they haven’t scored a passing touchdown this college football season.
This game was supposed to be confirmation that LSU had surrendered their reputation as a good football team. Florida were supposed to win and cling onto their slim hopes of that final college playoff spot.
Freshman QB Max Johnson threw for 239 yards and 3 touchdowns on his first start for The Tigers. They have long needed a reason to be cheerful in Baton Rouge – with a self-imposed off-season game ban this year, could Johnson be it?
With Kyle Pitts missing this game, it was up to Kadarius Toney to fill the void on The Gators’ offence. Toney, who has risen up draft boards with eye-catching performances this year, had 9 receptions for 182 yards and a score.
Kyle Trask broke a school record for regular season touchdowns (40) in this game. However, first half turnovers cost his side 10 points, and eventually the win. LSU kicker Cade York scored a 57 yard field goal to put The Tigers up with less than thirty seconds to play. The circumstances behind the field goal are bizarre. After getting a sack on 3rd and 6, Florida’s Marco Wilson threw an opponent’s shoe downfield in celebration. He was penalised for unsportsmanlike conduct, and the first down was granted to The Tigers.
Trask got his kicker into range before the end of regulation, but Evan McPherson missed from 51 yards. It was a shock defeat for a Gators team that will have its work cut out against Alabama in the SEC decider.
Rutgers 27-24 Maryland (OT)
Minnesota 24-17 Nebraska
Michigan State 24-39 Penn State
Illinois 10-28 Northwestern
Wisconsin 7-28 Iowa
Michigan P-P Ohio State
Purdue P-P Indiana
The news in the B1G this week was that the rules for Championship game eligibility were changed, ensuring that the 5-0 Ohio State Buckeyes would be guaranteed their spot. For many fans of rival teams and neutrals, this was confirmation of the B1G’s bias towards its dominant program. A valid question must be asked: would the B1G rules committee have done this for less prominent college football programs like Iowa, or Northwestern?
Speaking of Northwestern, that is who will be tasked with beating OSU in the B1G Championship game. In their win over Illinois, they rushed for 411 yards. Freshman Cam Porter ran for 142 of those yards, and two touchdowns.
Northwestern has just 14 wins over Ohio State in school history. It goes into the Championship game on an 8 game losing streak against The Buckeyes. Can they pull off a shock on December 19th?
Wake Forest 21-45 Louisville
UNC 62-26 Miami
Duke 35-56 Florida State
Virginia 15-33 Virginia Tech
The ACC’s best two teams, Clemson and Notre Dame, did not have fixtures in Week 15. Eyes instead were cast towards the UNC Tar Heels, who have been nothing if not exciting to watch in 2020. They did not disappoint with a dominant win over the ‘Canes.
Michael Carter and Javonte Williams, who are both destined for the NFL Draft in April, combined for 544 yards and 5 TDs. It is the first time in ACC history that two backs on the same team have rushed for over 200 yards each. This is a dual-headed monster that the Tar Heels will miss in the 2021 college football season.
Sam Howell wasn’t content to be outshone. He had a touchdown pass, run and catch in this game. The trick play catch from receiver Rontavius Groves was salt in the wounds to Miami. He now has a touchdown pass in every game of his college career.
The Tar Heels ended the day with 778 total yards, a school record for both teams. It was a day to remember for North Carolina and Mac Brown, but one to forget for Manny Diaz.
Oklahoma State 42-3 Baylor
Louisiana Tech 10-52 TCU
Oklahoma P-P West Virginia
Texas P-P Kansas
Like the ACC, this was a week where the two programs headed for the Championship game, Oklahoma and Iowa State, did not play. As a result of postponements, there were only two Big XII games to enjoy this weekend.
The most striking news in the Big XII this weekend was Mike Gundy’s announcement before the game with Baylor that running back Chuba Hubbard had declared for the NFL Draft, and would not play in this game. Hubbard has had an underwhelming 2020 after posting more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage in 2019.
Step up, freshman
In his place, freshman Dominic Richardson stepped up. He averaged over 7 yards per carry, ending the day with 169 yards and 3 touchdowns.
However, this game was for senior Dylan Stoner. The Cowboys were without their best receiver this year in Tylan Wallace. Once more, the next man stepped up. Stoner had 8 catches for 247 yards and 3 touchdowns on a simple day at the office for Mike Gundy’s program.
Baylor had a plethora of both players and staff absent due to COVID contact tracing. It showed. This was never a contest, despite the absence of Wallace (injury) and Hubbard (opt-out). We should see Oklahoma State in a meaningful Bowl Game. We won’t see Baylor and Dave Aranda until next September.
Utah 38-21 Colorado
USC 43-38 UCLA
Stanford 27-24 Oregon State
Utah State P-P Colorado State
Washington P-P Oregon
Cal P-P Washington State
It was all to play for in the Pac-12. Although COVID related postponements might get in the way of the “play” part of that.
One cancellation that wasn’t COVID related this week was Utah State’s game with Colorado State. The Aggies’ players overwhelmingly decided not to play this game, after comments made by their university president, Noelle Cockett. Allegedly, Cockett made derogatory comments about interim Head Coach Frank Maile. The Utah State players believed these comments to be “religious discrimination”, and completed an anonymous questionnaire to discuss whether they should opt out in protest. They overwhelmingly decided to do so.
Trojans march on
On the field, USC continued their impressive 2020 season with a close victory over UCLA. They had already claimed the Pac-12 South when Utah defeated Colorado, but mounted a late touchdown drive to remain perfect on the year.
Kedon Slovis seems to have that clutch gene. He threw a TD pass to Amon-Ra St Brown with just seconds left on the clock, which gave The Trojans the win. It is not the first time that Slovis has led his team to a late victory. He had 5 touchdown passes and 344 yards in this game.
USC (5-0) will take on Washington (3-1) in the Pac-12 Championship game. Their game with Oregon this week was cancelled, handing them top spot in the Pac-12 North.
Best of the Rest
Navy 0-15 Army
Coastal Carolina 42-38 Troy
San Diego State 14-28 BYU
Although an historic game, the best part of this matchup was the two sides’ uniforms. This game was played at West Point for the first time since 1943. Usually, the fixture is played on neutral ground, but COVID restrictions meant that was impossible this year.
This was Army’s first victory over the Midshipmen at West Point. The only other times they have met there, it was Army who were shut out. That was to be reversed in this one. It was Army’s first shutout of Navy since the 1960s.
The heavy fog was almost impossible for spectators to deal with. It gave these two run heavy offences another reason to hand the ball off. In the entire game, just 2 of 8 attempted passes were completed. I think they call games like this “one for the purists”.
See you in the college football postseason! Saturdays are for rushing over at @5yardcollege