By far the biggest shocker of Week 11 was Auburn’s stunning upset at the hands of Texas A&M. The Tigers have enjoyed plenty of fortuitous bounces over the last couple years, but their luck finally ran out.
Auburn rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit and drew within three at 41-38 but couldn’t get the go-ahead score. Twice late in the fourth quarter, the Tigers appeared poised to score the go-ahead touchdown only to fumble.
Auburn got down to the two-yard line before a botched handoff was recovered by Texas A&M. The Aggies had to punt, and Auburn drove inside the 30. There was a miscommunication on the snap, and the ball was snapped before the quarterback was ready. A&M recovered and ran out the clock.
A&M’s freshman quarterback, Kyle Allen, threw four touchdowns passes, and Auburn running back Cameron Artis-Payne rushed for 221 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort.
Elsewhere in the SEC, Mississippi State had no trouble with UT-Martin, and Ole Miss shut out Presbyterian 48-0. Georgia blasted Kentucky 63-31 behind 170 rushing yards from Nick Chubb and four touchdown passes from Hutson Mason.
Alabama survived on the road in Baton Rouge, outlasting LSU 20-13 in overtime. A fumble by T.J. Yeldon deep in Alabama territory allowed LSU to kick a go-ahead field goal with 50 seconds left. Blake Sims drove the Crimson Tide down the field to get in position for a tying field goal then threw a touchdown pass in overtime. LSU couldn’t match it.
In ACC action, Florida State rallied from an early deficit yet again and defeated Virginia 34-20. Clemson beat Wake Forest 34-20 while Duke took down Syracuse 27-10. Georgia Tech manhandled NC State 56-23.
The Big 12 had an eventful day. Baylor had taken plenty of flak for its weak schedule, but the Bears served notice that they are a team to be reckoned with after demolishing #15 Oklahoma in Norman 48-14. Bryce Petty threw for 387 yards on 32-of-42 passing with a touchdown, and Corey Coleman caught 15 passes for 224 with one receiving touchdown and one rushing touchdown.
It was Baylor’s first win over the Sooners in Norman and the Bears’ first road win over a ranked team under Art Briles. The Sooners jumped out to an early 14-3 lead, but Baylor scored the game’s next 45 points.
In the later game, #9 TCU ran all over #7 Kansas State 41-20. Trevone Boykin threw for 219 yards with a touchdown while also rushing for 123 yards and three touchdowns. Aaron Green also had 171 yards rushing on 18 carries for the Horned Frogs. Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett caught 11 passes for 196 yards, breaking the school record for career receiving yards held by his father.
Texas upset #23 West Virginia 33-16 behind 101 yards rushing and three touchdowns from Johnathan Gray.
In the Big Ten, Ohio State got past its nemesis, Michigan State, 49-37. Buckeye quarterback J.T. Barrett accounted for five touchdowns as Ohio State racked up 568 yards of offense against the Spartans’ much-heralded defense.
Wisconsin easily beat Purdue, 34-16.
The Pac-12 managed to avoid any upsets as #18 UCLA beat Washington 44-30 while Arizona pulled away from Colorado late, 38-20.
Fourth-ranked Oregon got all it could handle from #17 Utah before putting the game away in the fourth quarter. The Utes pulled to within 30-27 early in the fourth before the Ducks scored 21 unanswered points to get some breathing room.
Marcus Mariota threw for 239 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 114 yards and a score. Royce Freeman also ran for 99 yards and touchdown for the Ducks, who held Utah running back Devontae Booker to just 65 yards rushing. Booker did tally 110 receiving yards, though. Utah also sacked Mariota four times, but it wasn’t enough.
Arizona State prevailed over #10 Notre Dame in a wild affair. The Sun Devils raced out to a 34-3 lead in the first half then nearly gave it away as the Fighting Irish clawed back to make it a 34-31 game. ASU responded, however, scoring 21 unanswered points to put the Irish away 55-31.
The Sun Devils forced five turnovers out of Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson, including two interceptions returned for touchdowns. Golso did throw for 446 yards with two touchdowns, but his four picks doomed the Irish.
Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly was 17-of-28 for 227 yards and three touchdowns while running back D.J. Foster had a big day on the ground, rushing for 120 yards on 21 carries. Along with the five turnovers, ASU’s defense also sacked Golson seven times.
Looking Ahead to Week 12
Week 12 is going for quality rather than quantity as there aren’t many marquee matchups on the docket.
Florida State, undefeated and ranked third in the latest playoff committee rankings, travels to Miami in a game many feel is ripe for an upset.
The Hurricanes are unranked but have really come on over the past few weeks. True freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya leads the ACC in touchdowns, quarterback rating, yards per attempt, and yards per completion. He has thrown 20 touchdowns against just nine interceptions; Florida State’s Jameis Winston, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, has thrown 17 touchdowns with 11 picks.
Duke Johnson gives Miami a clear edge in the running game, rushing for 1,213 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 7.7 yards-per-carry. The Hurricanes lead the conference in making big plays on offense and also preventing them on defense. However, Miami hasn’t beaten the Seminoles since 2009 and has been outscored 142-70 in the last four games in the series.
Florida State has made a habit of falling behind early only to come roaring back in the second half. That’s not something that can be sustained, and if the Seminoles fall behind again, will this be the time it comes back to bite them?
The ACC also features one of the weekend’s few games pitting ranked teams. Georgia Tech, ranked 22nd, takes on #19 Clemson in a game that is crucial to both teams’ ACC title hopes. Both teams are a game behind their division leaders and need a win to keep pace.
Clemson is stout against the run and is the country’s stingiest third-down defense, but the Tigers will be tested by Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense. The Yellow Jackets are the best in the land at converting third downs and are second in rushing with an of average 335.6 yards a game.
Clemson should receive a huge boost with the return of quarterback Deshaun Watson, who missed three games with a hand injury. The freshman has thrown for 1,176 yards and 12 touchdowns with only two picks, and Clemson averages nearly 18 points more a game with him at the helm.
The nineteenth-ranked Duke Blue Devils are leading the ACC Coastal and face a struggling Virginia Tech team at home.
The Big Ten has a pair of big games with conference implications this weekend.
Ohio State moved up to #8 in the latest committee rankings after beating Michigan State, but the Buckeyes will have to avoid becoming complacent if they want to stay there. Ohio State takes on #25 Minnesota.
The Golden Gophers are 7-2 and coming off a 51-14 shellacking of Iowa. They are also undefeated at home this year, where it figures to be quite cold this weekend.
Still, Ohio State has J.T. Barrett and an explosive offense that torched Michigan State. Barrett has vastly improved over the course of the year and is completing nearly 65 percent of his passes for 2,156 yards and 26 touchdowns against only seven interceptions. He’s also rushed for almost 600 yards and eight touchdowns.
The other big game in the conference pits #16 Nebraska against #20 Wisconsin in a game featuring two of the country’s best running backs: Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah and the Badgers’ Melvin Gordon.
Abdullah, who will likely be hobbled by a knee injury, leads the country in all-purpose yards per game while Gordon is tops in the nation in rushing yards per game. Abdullah averages 6.7 yards a carry and has rushed for 1,250 yards and 17 touchdowns while Gordon averages 7.6 yards per carry with 1,501 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.
Provided Ohio State defeats Minnesota, the winner of this game will be in the driver’s seat in the Big Ten West.
Michigan State takes looks to rebound from its devastating loss to Ohio State as it faces unranked Maryland.
Along with the weekend’s biggest game–which we’ll get to in a moment–the SEC also boasts a matchup between top-15 teams as #9 Auburn looks to rebound against #15 Georgia.
The Tigers have to regroup after falling unexpectedly to Texas A&M, and it will be a tall order. Auburn may be without its leading receiver while Georgia will have star running back Todd Gurley back. Gurley was a leading Heisman contender before being suspended due to NCAA rules violations. Freshman Nick Chubb shined in Gurley’s absence, giving the Bulldogs a 1-2 punch at running back few teams, if any, can match.
Georgia needs a win to keep pace with Missouri in the SEC East while Auburn can’t afford another loss and already needs help if it wants to win the SEC West and have a shot at the playoff.
LSU has to regroup after falling to Alabama and faces a tough task against Arkansas. The LSU-Alabama game is always a physical, hard-fought affair, and the Tigers now have to recover by taking on a tough, physical Razorbacks squad eager to notch its first SEC win under Bret Bielema.
Texas A&M returns to the rankings after taking down Auburn, a position the Aggies haven’t been in since the early part of the season. The Aggies face a Missouri team that is unranked but is still 7-2 and leading the SEC East.
Texas A&M has a capable offense but can’t stop anyone while Missouri struggles to move the ball but has a capable defense. This game does feature two of the premier pass rushers in the country, though, with Mizzou’s Shane Ray and the Aggies’ Myles Garrett.
Sixth-ranked Arizona State takes on struggling Arizona State while in-state rival Arizona hosts Washington. Utah looks to end a two-game losing streak as it travels to California to take on Stanford.
The Big 12 has a pretty light weekend. Fourth-ranked TCU takes on woeful Kansas, and that’s about it.
Game of the Week
#1 Mississipi State vs. #5 Alabama
By far the biggest game this weekend, Mississippi State heads down to Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Bulldogs are one of just three undefeated teams in the nation, but they’ll face their biggest test to date.
The winner will be in first place in the SEC West and in control of their conference and playoff destiny. If Alabama loses, the Tide will likely be out of the running for a playoff berth. If Mississippi State loses, they will still have a chance but will need some help.
Alabama is a remarkable 3-1 against number one teams in the past five seasons and is favored in this game.
It will be a matchup of strength versus strength as the SEC’s top offense (Mississippi State) squares off against the conference’s toughest defense (Alabama). Led by Heisman candidate Dak Prescott (2,231 passing yards; 18 touchdowns; 779 rushing yards; 11 rushing touchdowns) and running back Josh Robinson (second in the SEC in rushing), the Bulldogs average almost 40 points a game.
Alabama gives up just 13.9 points a game.
The Crimson Tide also has some weapons of its own on offense. Quarterback Blake Sims has thrown for over 2,200 yards with 17 touchdowns, and receiver Amari Cooper is second nationally in receiving yards with 1,215.
These are uncharted waters for Mississippi State, and Alabama is outscoring its opponents at home by an average of 40.2 points. However, they Crimson Tide have struggled at times this year and are coming off a draining, physical game against LSU. Will there be a letdown?