Week 13 was the host to some Thanksgiving excitement in college football. It is a weekend where some of the oldest and fiercest rivalries come to a head. COVID did its level best to ruin the festivities, but there were plenty of games still able to go ahead despite a smattering of cancellations across all Power 5 conferences.
Jaret Patterson and Sarah Fuller must receive a special Thanksgiving mention, even though their team’s performances aren’t discussed below.
Fuller became only the third woman (and the first in Power 5 history) to take the field in a college football game when Vanderbilt hosted Missouri. The Commodores were humbled 41-0, and as such Fuller was only called upon to kick off the second half. She was the soccer team’s goalkeeper until Thursday, but by playing another sport this weekend, she has inspired a generation of young women to chase their sporting dreams.
Patterson had a historic game for the Buffalo Bulls in their game against Kent State. In 36 carries, Patterson had 409 yards and 8 touchdowns. That’s right, 8 touchdowns. It was enough to tie the college football record for rushing touchdowns in one game. At 18 yards shy of the record for rushing yards, fingers will be pointed at Head Coach Lance Leipold. Had he not pulled Patterson from the game, he would have walked away with the all-time record for rushing yards and touchdowns.
(#13) Iowa State 23-20 Texas (#17)
Iowa 26-20 Nebraska
(#2) Notre Dame 31-17 UNC (#19)
Oregon State 41-38 Oregon (#15)
Stanford 24-23 California
UMass 0-45 Liberty
UCF 58-46 USF
Back in October, Iowa State delivered a blow to the Sooners with a 37-30 victory, their first over Oklahoma at home since 1960. Not content with one shock result, Matt Campbell’s players kicked off Thanksgiving weekend with a shock win in Austin.
Breece Hall’s late touchdown run gave the Cyclones their first lead of the game with just 1:25 remaining. It seemed ample time for Sam Ehlinger to march downfield and restore the Longhorns’ advantage, one they had held for practically the entire game.
Ehlinger, on his Senior Day, confirmed most Cyclones’ fans’ fears when he got Texas to the Iowa State 36. However, the Cyclones got a much needed sack of Ehlinger by Latrell Bankston on 3rd down with time expiring. That left kicker Cameron Dicker with a 58 yard FG attempt to tie the scores headed into overtime. He missed, and Iowa State had confirmed a famous win in Austin.
5 Star Culture
At the end of the game, star RB Breece Hall said that Iowa State pits “5 star culture” against 5 star players. It is this culture that could take the 7-2 Cyclones all the way to the Big XII Championship game this year. Could it also propel Matt Campbell to an NFL head coaching job, too?
It was only the second time that Iowa State had come away from Austin with a victory. For the first time in school history, the Cyclones have beaten both Texas and Oklahoma in the same season, and look set to take part in this year’s Big XII Championship game. They’ve never won the Big XII (their last conference title came way back in 1912). Beat West Virginia next weekend, and the 108 year wait in Ames could soon be over.
It was a disappointing end to Ehlinger’s time as Horns QB, but an appropriate chapter in a disappointing year for Tom Herman’s side. Consider Herman firmly on the hot seat now that Texas’ chances of clinching the Big XII seem all-but impossible.
Kentucky 10-34 Florida (#6)
Vanderbilt 0-41 Missouri
(#22) Auburn 13-42 Alabama (#1)
Mississippi State 24-31 Ole Miss
LSU 7-20 Texas A&M (#5)
(#9) Georgia 45-16 South Carolina
Nick Saban was forced to miss this game after testing positive for COVID earlier in the week. A Thanksgiving weekend without Saban seems almost sacrilegious.
The Iron Bowl has given us some historic matchups, including the infamous Kick 6 game in 2013. Last year, Auburn took advantage of Tua Tagovailoa’s absence to defeat their old foes 48-45. This time, the Crimson Tide would reassert their dominance over their old rivals.
Just Too Easy
Alabama’s first touchdown was a microcosm of how the entire game would be played out. Mac Jones sold the Auburn defense on a pump fake, and found a wide open DeVonta Smith for a 66 yard score. Smith breezed past the coverage with a simple in-and-out route, and was in acres of space by the time Jones could release the ball.
It was a low scoring first quarter, with ‘Bama up 7-0. Jones opened the second half with a short pass to John Metchie III to make it a two score game. Bo Nix struggled to create situations to trouble a dominant Alabama defense. Mac Jones had no such problems. Lanes began to open up for Najee Harris, and Auburn simply could not stop the chains from moving.
Down 21-3, Seth Williams dropped a certain touchdown pass from Nix. A score there would have brought Auburn within two scores with just 40 seconds left in the half. The drop was just another example of the kind of day it was for The Tigers. Rather than get more points on the board, Nix threw an interception to Malachi Moore. Moore has had an impressive freshman season, and had his third INT of the year in this one. He will no doubt be considered one of the best corners in the college game in 2021.
DeVonta Smith: Day One Pick
At 21-6 in the third quarter, Jones found Smith on a simple slant route, but Smith’s nimble feet and blistering speed powered past the Auburn coverage once more for a 58 yard score. Although he is slender, Smith’s catching ability and elusive running make him a sure fire first round draft pick.
Fearing he was missing out on the fun, Najee Harris broke away later in the third for his first touchdown of the day. It was typical Harris, a powerful run between the gaps in the line. A shimmy right found space, and once in space there was no doubt he was taking it to the house.
At 42-6, Auburn fans might have thought their day wouldn’t get any worse. It did when Nix threw his second INT of the game, this one returned inside the Auburn 10 yard line by Brian Branch.
With the game lost, Nix did lead a 96 yard touchdown drive. He avoided a safety on 3rd and 3 to scramble for the first down, and ended the drive himself with a keeper run. It gave the Auburn supporters a brief moment of celebration on an otherwise miserable day.
Happy Thanksgiving, Crimson Tide. Tiger’s on the menu this year.
Pitt 17-52 Clemson #3
Duke 33-56 Georgia Tech
Virginia P-P Florida State
NC State 36-29 Syracuse
Louisville 27-34 Boston College
On a day where Trevor Lawrence was treated to Senior Day treatment, the Clemson defence did all they could to make his day a special one.
Wearing purple to appreciate the work of the American armed forces, Clemson dominated on both sides of the ball. They had three interceptions to celebrate Thanksgiving weekend in the first quarter alone. The second of these was an incredible coverage and catch from cornerback Andrew Booth Jnr.
This incredible defensive effort, coupled with the incisive return of Lawrence under centre, gave the Tigers 31 first quarter points. That is a new school record.
If you thought the Tigers would have taken their foot off the gas, you’d be wrong. Lawrence found Cornell Powell for a 70 yard one-handed grab to Pitt’s 5 yard line. The strength of this Pitt side is the defensive front: Lawrence was simply too quick, too accurate, too good for the opposition. As you would expect for the presumptive #1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
“If it’s the last one”
Lawrence stopped short of announcing that he was entering the NFL Draft, but confirmed that “that’s kind of been the plan going into the season” (on leaving at the end of his Junior year). Of the win, he said “this one, if it’s the last one, is a good one to go out on”.
Lawrence was rested in the fourth quarter. He ended the day, most likely the last of his Clemson career, with 26/37 passes completed for 403 yards and 2 touchdown passes.
Tigers fans got another glimpse at the future with DJ Uiagalelei and running back Lyn-J Dixon. Once more, the offense was helped by the defensive backs: the fourth quarter opened with Kenny Pickett’s fourth INT of the game, the second for Mario Goodrich.
(#4) Ohio State P-P Illinois
Maryland 11-27 Indiana (#12)
Penn State 27-17 Michigan
(#8) Northwestern 20-29 Michigan State
Rutgers 37-30 Purdue
Minnesota P-P Wisconsin
Just when the world was waking up to Northwestern, they lost their unbeaten start to the season. Pat Fitzgerald has done an incredible job in Illinois, and has this week been linked to a move to the NFL.
The Wildcats trailed 17-0 to the Spartans in this one, but led an unlikely comeback to level the scores in the fourth quarter (20-20). However, two turnovers (the Wildcats had four in total) resulted in 9 points for Michigan State. First, an interception by quarterback Peyton Ramsey led to a Spartan field goal. With time expiring, Ramsey fumbled, which was seized on by sophomore cornerback Kalon Gervin for the score.
Any slim chance of Fitzgerald leading his #11 ranked Northwestern side to the college football playoffs ended here on Thanksgiving weekend. However, in the grand scheme of things, the Wildcats have a lot to be thankful for.
Texas Tech 44-50 Oklahoma State (#23)
TCU 59-23 Kansas
(#11) Oklahoma P-P West Virginia
Kansas State 31-32 Baylor
What a game it was in Stillwater! Texas Tech had back-to-back wins over the Cowboys going into this game, but it was Mike Gundy’s men that sealed victory this time. There were 1,173 total yards of offense between both sides. Though the lead switched four times in the game, Oklahoma State did not surrender the lead they secured from midway in the 3rd quarter, largely thanks to some Red Raiders mistakes.
Oklahoma State’s Dezmon Jackson has 235 yards from 36 carries and 3 scores, leading a dominant Cowboy run game. When Spencer Sanders took to the air, Tylan Wallace was on hand to capitalise. He finished the day with 129 yards from 7 catches and a touchdown. Between them, Jackson and Wallace made up 67% of all offensive yards for the home side.
Red Raiders’ quarterback Alan Bowman impressed once more, keeping the underdogs within touching distance of the 5-2 favourites. SaRoderick Thompson and Xavier White ran for 231 yards and 3 touchdowns. However, it was wide receiver Erik Ezukanma that shone for Texas Tech. Ezukanma averaged 29 yards on his 6 catches, ending the day with 174 yards and 2 touchdowns. It was by far the sophomore’s most productive game of the year. Analysts will be salivating at his potential progression before the 2022 NFL Draft.
In a game they lost by just 6 points, Matt Wells will regret his side’s 3rd quarter onside kick that was somehow returned by Jason Taylor II for a touchdown. That was soon followed by a 65 yard pick six from Tre Sterling, which proved to be salt in the wounds.
SDSU 10-20 Colorado
Utah 21-24 Washington
Arizona 10-27 UCLA
Cancellations really took the shine off the Thanksgiving weekend in Pac-12 football. Cancellations between Washington and Washington State, Colorado and Utah led to some last minute changes to the schedule.
Of course, the weekend peaked with Oregon State’s shock victory over favourites Oregon. It was duck, not turkey, on the menu in Corvallis. It was the Beavers’ first win over a ranked team since 2014, made all the sweeter by the fact that it was their fiercest rivals on Thanksgiving weekend.
Best of the Rest
(#20) Coastal Carolina 49-14 Texas State
(#7) Cincinnati P-P Temple
(#25) Tulsa P-P Houston
As expected, the Chanticleers beat an interior Texas State team to go 9-0 and seal their place at the top of the Sun Belt East Division.
The Bobcats led an emotional tribute to Khambrail Winters, who was fatally shot earlier this week. His former teammates carried his jersey with them onto the field. It was a beautiful gesture on sombre Thanksgiving for a program reeling from the tragic loss of Winters’ life.
@5yardcollege – Saturdays are for rushing, too. To our American followers, Happy Thanksgiving!