Big 12 Offenses Show Off Once Again
The Big 12, outside of maybe Gary Patterson and TCU, has never been known for playing strong defense. That was never more evident than on Saturday when four of the top teams in the conference put on a couple of offensive shows.
West Virginia and Texas provided the excitement early on, facing off in a thrilling back and forth game where neither team led by more than seven points. The two teams combined for 1,098 yards and 83 points with three touchdowns being scored in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter. It looked like the Longhorns had sealed a win after Sam Ehlinger connected with Devin Duvernay for a 48-yard touchdown with just 2:34 remaining.
They left too much time for the Mountaineers and Will Grier, who threw his best pass of the game when it mattered most and possibly put his name back in the Heisman conversation, throwing a 33-yard touchdown to Gary Jennings with 16 seconds remaining. Dana Holgorsen made the gutsy decision to go for two while down 41-40, and Grier ran into the corner of the end zone to give West Virginia a huge 42-41 victory, which lets them control their own destiny on the path to the Big 12 championship game. As for Texas, they may not be ready to compete for championships yet; we’ll see how they fare against their next two games: On the road against Texas Tech, followed by a home matchup against a solid Iowa State team.
The other anticipated Big 12 matchup, Oklahoma at Texas Tech, didn’t disappoint either. There was more offense in this game, with the teams combining for 1,156 yards and 97 points, including 31 in the final quarter. Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray doubled his season interception total in the first quarter, throwing two of them, and Tech took advantage, jumping out to a 14-0 lead. Murray was able to bounce back, accounting for four total touchdowns and 460 total yards. Although Tech led 31-28 at halftime, QB Alan Bowman left the game with an injury, and the Red Raider offense just couldn’t get it going after he was taken out. Trey Sermon also had a career day for OU, rushing for 206 yards and three touchdowns, with two of them coming in the fourth quarter to put the game away. After Texas Tech scored to bring the game to 42-40, an interception on the two-point try was returned by Oklahoma, and the game was never in doubt after the onside kick was recovered. Oklahoma won by the final score of 51-46.
West Virginia and Oklahoma are now tied atop the Big 12 standings with 5-1 conference records and both are favored in their next two games before the final week of the season, where these teams will face off in Morgantown. Whoever wins that matchup will likely need to win the championship game the following week, as well for the Big 12, to have any chance at putting a team in the playoff. We know the conference is known for offensive power, and these teams especially have the ability to light up the scoreboard, possibly in back-to-back weeks.
Michigan “Revenge Tour” Rolls On
What a difference a year can make.
After getting blown out by Penn State 42-13 last year in Happy Valley, it was Michigan’s turn to take a huge victory in this series by defeating the Nittany Lions 42-7. The win gave Michigan their third straight over a ranked opponent and their eighth overall following a season-opening loss to Notre Dame. Per usual, the defense led the way for the Wolverines. They sacked Penn State QB Trace McSorley five times while holding the offense to 186 total yards and forced three turnovers.
Rashan Gary returned after missing the past month with an injury and immediately helped make an impact on that side of the ball, as if Michigan needed it. They have only given up three touchdowns over their last three games, and have only allowed 187.6 yards per game in that same span. Gary and Chase Winovich give Michigan one of the best pass-rushing duos in the nation, and they still have a talented group of linebackers lining up behind them; not to mention one of the best defensive coordinators in the country in Don Brown.
The Wolverines offense has been improving every week, which could make the difference if they hope to make the College Football Playoff for the first time. Running back Karan Higdon had his seventh straight 100-yard game, Donovan Peoples-Jones scored for the third time in four games, and Shea Patterson hasn’t thrown an interception in his last 15 quarters of football. The team ranks 28th in the country in points per game, with still plenty of room to improve.
The biggest question facing Michigan is how it will compare to teams such as Alabama or Clemson. Sitting in the top 10 in the country in yards and points allowed per game is a positive sign, and being third in defensive efficiency is even better. Before that becomes an issue, there’s still ‘The Game’ against Ohio State during the last week of the season, which ESPN’s football power index gives Michigan a 45% chance to win currently. If the offense can keep improving, and the defense can continue the high level they’re at right now, the Wolverines could easily make their way into the CFP; maybe even fight for a National Championship.
Miners Snap their Streak
UTEP had lost 20 straight games heading into their contest against Rice, although they did have a few close calls this season. Kai Locksley and Quardraiz Wadley ran for two touchdowns each in the first half to give UTEP a 27-3 lead at the break. Treyvon Hughes added another in the third quarter as the Miners defeated Rice 34-26 for their first win since November 26th, 2016 and snapped the nation’s longest losing streak. The new longest losing streak in the country? Rice, with 9 straight losses.
Projected CFP Top 6
(1) Alabama vs (4) Notre Dame
(2) Clemson vs (3) Michigan
(5) Georgia, (6) Oklahoma
Top Games of Week 11
AP Poll Rankings shown
(16) Fresno State at Boise State
(18) Mississippi State at (1) Alabama
(2) Clemson at (17) Boston College
Oklahoma State at (6) Oklahoma
Auburn at (5) Georgia
Northwestern at Iowa
Three Stars of Week 10
1. Clemson’s Rushing Offense
37 Att, 492 Yds, 5 TD
11 different players had at least one rushing attempt, and three went over 100 yards, so we couldn’t single out just one player from this rushing attack. Led by 153 yards from Travis Etienne and 116 yards from Lyn-J Dixon, Clemson ran all over Louisville en route to a 77-16 win. Even defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence got in on the fun with a two-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter. The 14th-ranked rushing offense set a season high in yards, and will look to continue their success next week in primetime against Boston College.
2. Darrin Hall, RB, Pittsburgh
19 Att, 229 Yds, 3 TD
It was a rainy day in Charlottesville when Pitt faced Virginia, but Pitt has played in the rain 5 times this year, and Darrin Hall looked like he knew how to play in the adverse weather scoring on runs of 41, 2, and 75 yards to help defeat Virginia 23-13. His 12.1 yards per carry was the highest allowed by Virginia this season. Hall is a bruiser at 225 pounds, but he showed great speed as well throughout the game. The power running game of Pitt will be put to the test next week against a Virginia Tech team coming off consecutive losses.
3. Andy Isabella, WR, UMass
9 Rec, 303 Yds, 2 TD
— UMass Football (@UMassFootball) November 3, 2018
The most exciting game of the week went to UMass and Liberty’s 62-59 3OT thriller, and Andy Isabella had the standout performance in that game. He set a school record with 303 yards, averaged 37.9 yards per catch, and caught touchdowns of 89 and 61 yards. It was his fifth 100-yard game on the year, and he leads the nation in receiving yards with 1,394. Isabella is a speed threat who could potentially make the NFL as a late-round pick. He will likely only get two more chances to showcase his ability this season, as UMass has two games remaining against BYU and Georgia.
Khalil Tate, QB, Arizona: 17/22, 350 Yds, 5 TD
Ben Hicks, QB, SMU: 28/43, 314 Yds, 4 TD
Ross Comis, QB, UMass: 29/44, 540 Yds, 4 TD, INT
Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas: 25/36, 354 Yds, 4 TD (1 Rush)
Brady White, QB, Memphis: 21/30, 362 Yds, 3 TD
Reggie Corbin, RB, Illinois: 13 Att, 213 Yds, 2 TD
Devin Singletary, RB, FAU: 27 Att, 184 Yds, 3 TD
Aca’Cedric Ware, RB, USC: 17 Att, 205 Yds, 3 TD
Trey Sermon, RB, Oklahoma: 26 Att, 207 Yds, 3 TD
Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR, Liberty: 9 Rec, 205 Yds, 2 TD
Damion Willis, WR, Troy: 10 Rec, 213 Yds, TD
Anthony Johnson, WR, Buffalo: 8 Rec, 238 Yds, 3 TD
Trevon Brown, WR, East Carolina: 10 Rec, 193 Yds, 2 TD
Image Credit: WolverinesWire