Want to get a head start on Christmas shopping but afraid you’ll miss some good games? Fear not, because this weekend is the cupcake weekend for college football where teams schedule lesser-worthy opponents to get ready for the home stretch.
Catch up on last week’s action and preview the upcoming weekend below while you’re out shopping.
The Weekend That Was
The biggest result of Week 12 was undefeated Mississippi State losing its first game as the Bulldogs fell in Tuscaloosa to Alabama, 25-20. However, the weekend was also unkind to many other ranked teams, as well.
The Crimson Tide raced out to a 19-3 lead before Mississippi State clawed its way back in.
Blake Sims came up huge down the stretch for Alabama, scrambling for two key third down conversions and throwing for another to keep a drive alive after Mississippi State finally found the end zone to cut the lead to 19-13. That drive engineered by Sims ultimately resulted in a touchdown to put Alabama up 25-13.
Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott had a regrettable day as the Crimson Tide defense put the clamps on the Bulldog offense. Prescott was 27-of-48 for 290 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but Alabama picked him off three times, all in Tide territory. Alabama also limited Josh Robinson to just 37 yards on 12 carries.
That impressive win looks even better considering how some of the other contenders struggled. Florida State remained unbeaten, but the Seminoles did not look very good. They were down 23-7 to Miami halfway through the second quarter, but once again, Florida State was able to rally in the second half.
Jameis Winston threw for 304 yards and a touchdown, and Dalvin Cook rushed for 92 yards and a pair of scores on just seven carries. Miami quarterback Brad Kaya threw for 316 yards with two touchdowns, and running back Duke Johnson had a huge game, running for 130 yards with a touchdown. However, Miami only managed a field goal in the second half.
TCU got all it could handle from lowly Kansas before managing to escape with an underwhelming 34-30 win. Kansas was ahead 27-17 in the third quarter, but Cameron Echols-Luper returned a punt for a 69-yard touchdown return that put TCU on top for good after an Aaron Green touchdown had brought the Horned Frogs within 27-24.
Trevone Boykin threw for 330 yards and a touchdown on 26-of-36 passing, and Green rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns. Kansas’ Jimmay Mundine caught seven passes for 137 yards with a touchdown.
Arizona State and Auburn both wish they could have had unimpressive victories. Both times lost, pretty much ending any chance they had for a playoff spot.
The sixth-ranked Sun Devils fell 35-27 to five-loss Oregon State. The Beavers had a huge day on the ground, with Storm Woods rushing for 125 yards on 11 carries with a 78-yard touchdown run. Fellow running back Terron Ward had 148 yards on 19 carries, including a 66-yard touchdown scamper. Receiver Jordan Villamin also participated in the big play parade, hauling in a 66-yard touchdown pass as part of his four-catch, 127-yard performance.
Leading 28-27 in the fourth, the Beavers sealed the game with a pick-six by Michael Doctor.
Auburn was trampled by Georgia 34-7. Nick Chubb rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries while Todd Gurley had 138 yards and a touchdown in his return from suspension before leaving the game with a knee injury that will force him to miss the rest of the season.
Auburn’s Nick Marshall was ineffective, completing 11-of-23 passes for just 112 yards with an interception while rushing for 41 without a touchdown. Cameron Artis-Payne rushed for 86 yards on 20 carries and scored the Tigers’ lone touchdown. Auburn mustered just 292 yards and committed three turnovers.
At least Auburn managed to score. LSU was shut out 17-0 by Arkansas, as the Razorbacks ended a 17-game conference losing streak to win their first SEC game since October 2012.
It was a tough weekend for ACC as #19 Clemson and #21 Duke both lost. Notre Dame, ranked 18th and a pseudo-member of the ACC in football, also was upset. Clemson was blown out by #22 Georgia Tech 28-6.
Tiger quarterback Deshaun Watson left the game in the first quarter due to injury, and his replacement, Cole Stoudt, completed just 3-of-11 passes for 19 yards with three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Clemson managed just 190 yards of offense.
Virginia Tech scored a road upset over Duke (yes, you read that right). The Hokies forced three turnovers in their 17-16 win, which led to all their points.
Notre Dame blew an 11-point lead thanks to some questionable decision-making then lost in overtime to Northwestern. The Irish were up 40-29 in the fourth quarter when coach Brian Kelly opted to go for two. The conversion attempt failed, and that loomed large when Northwestern tied the game on a 45-yard field goal with 19 seconds left. The Irish missed a field goal in their overtime attempt while the Wildcats’ Jack Mitchell nailed his 41-yard attempt to give Northwestern the win.
In the Pac-12, Arizona kept its season alive with a 27-26 victory over Washington. Casey Skowron kicked a 47-yard field goal as time expired after earlier scoring a touchdown on a fake field goal attempt. Anu Solomon was only 17-of-39 for 242 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions while running back Nick Wilson was held to 3.5 yards a carry. However, Arizona forced three crucial turnovers.
Utah once again won a close game, defeating Stanford 20-17 in double overtime in a game that was 7-7 at the end of regulation. Ute defensive lineman Nate Orchard forced a fumble and finished with 3.5 sacks on the day.
The Big Ten had quite the day, too. Ohio State used a big day from J.T. Barrett to get past Minnesota 31-24 in a bitterly cold game. Barrett accounted for four total touchdowns and rushed for 189 yards on 17 carries while going 15-of-25 for 200 yards. He passed for three touchdowns and scored on an 86-yard run.
Minnesota running back David Cobb ran for 145 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries, but quarterback Mitch Leidner was only 7-of-19 for just 85 yards with two picks and a touchdown.
The win puts Ohio State squarely back into the playoff discussion, especially if they face Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game and can come away with a victory.
Wisconsin gashed #16 Nebraska 59-24 behind a record-setting performance from Melvin Gordon. Gordon set a record for single-game rushing yardage with a mind-boggling 408 yards. The previous record was 406 yards, set by LaDanian Tomlinson against UTEP in 1999.
Gordon broke that in just three quarters.
He did all that on just 25 carries, averaging an astounding 16.3 yards per carry. He scored four touchdowns and had six rushes that went at least 35 yards.
Texas A&M returned to the top 25 after defeating Auburn, but it was short-lived. The Aggies fell to Missouri 34-27 as Mizzou running back Russell Hansbrough had 199 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
Looking Ahead to Week 13
There’s not much going on in Week 13–on paper, at least. With a few exceptions, pretty much every ranked team faces an unranked opponent.
Nine of the top ten teams face unranked teams this week: #1 Alabama against FCS Western Carolina, #2 Oregon against Colorado, #3 Florida State faces Boston College, Mississippi State takes on Vanderbilt, Ohio State squares off against Indiana, and #7 Baylor against Oklahoma State.
Ole Miss travels down to Fayetteville to take on Arkansas. The Razorbacks are unranked but have given every opponent all they could handle. Arkansas relies on a power run game while Mississippi has shown that in is vulnerable against such a style. Plus, the Rebels are pretty banged up and missing several key players such as Laquon Treadwell and Denzel Nkemdiche.
There are two other matchups featuring ranked teams, excluding our Game of the Week pick: #16 Arizona against #17 Utah and #23 Nebraska against #25 Minnesota.
Both the Utes and Wildcats are still in the picture when it comes to the Pac-12 South title race, but both need a lot of help. That makes this game a must-win for both teams.
Arizona’s Anu Solomon is enjoying a breakout season with 3,058 yards passing and 25 touchdowns, but he’s struggled the last couple of games. Utah has struggled all year at the quarterback position, but the Ute defense has been excellent. Utah leads the country in sacks as a team, and Nate Orchard ranks first nationwide in that category with 16.5.
Nebraska and Minnesota are both coming off losses that put dents in their Big Ten title hopes, but the two teams probably must have felt quite differently after the games. Minnesota hung tough with Ohio State before falling by a touchdown while Nebraska was torched by Wisconsin.
Both teams can run the ball, which is a concern for each defense since those units struggled in that department last week. Minnesota’s David Cobb rushed for 145 yards on 27 carries and scored three touchdowns against the Buckeyes, and Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah averages nearly 140 yards a game.
Game of the Week
#19 USC vs. #9 UCLA
Ninth-ranked UCLA hosts #19 USC in the Rose Bowl in the latest iteration of this rivalry. The Bruins have won the past two games in the series after only winning one of the past 13 games.
There will be a lot on the line in this one. Both teams have two Pac-12 losses, with USC currently atop the standings. However, UCLA holds the advantage with Arizona State ‘s loss last weekend. If the Bruins win out, they’ll represent the Pac-12 South in the league title game and still have an outside shot as a playoff berth.
Playmakers abound in this game. For UCLA, quarterback Brett Hundley, running back Paul Perkins, and receiver Jordan Payton make the Bruins’ offense go. Hundley is completing 72.1 percent of his passes for 2,547 yards with 17 touchdowns and four interceptions while also rushing for 564 yards and seven touchdowns.
USC counters with Cody Kessler (70.2 percent for 2,919 yards and 29 touchdowns), Javorius Allen (1,184 yards rushing) and Nelson Agholor (1,079 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns).
Featured image via Bleacher Report