Notre Dame Nearly Clinches Playoff Spot
In one of the more anticipated games of the week, Notre Dame showed everything they were capable of in a 36-3 win over Syracuse. Although it was supposed to be the biggest test of the season for Notre Dame, it was difficult to see them losing after star Syracuse QB Eric Dungey left the game with an injury in the first quarter. Replacement Tommy DeVito couldn’t get anything going, as the Irish defense held Cuse to only 122 yards through the first three quarters, 234 total, and it would’ve been a shutout if Syracuse hadn’t kicked a short field goal with 11 seconds remaining.
The Notre Dame defense has been solid all season, but are also peaking at the right time, only allowing 16 points in their last two games against Florida State and Syracuse(who was averaging 44.4 points per game going into that contest). The Irish have also been excelling on offense ever since Ian Book took over at QB. They’ve scored at least 30 points in six of his seven games, and Book has at least two passing touchdowns in all seven of his games. He is also the most accurate passer in the country, completing 72.6 percent of his passes and can still return for his senior season next year to give Notre Dame a stable QB situation for 2019.
With the final CFP rankings coming out in just a few weeks, Notre Dame seems to be penciled into the top four with just one game remaining, a trip to Los Angeles to face USC. ESPN’s FPI gives the Irish a 76 percent chance to win the game, along with a 98 percent chance to make the playoff with a win over the 5-6 Trojans. Another advantage they may have is common opponents with Clemson and Michigan, which could help their seeding. Notre Dame has played Florida State and Syracuse, along with Clemson; and Northwestern, just like Michigan. The only game where the Irish didn’t have a larger margin of victory in comparison to their CFP top four counterparts was Florida State, the Irish won by 29, Clemson beat the Seminoles by 49. Regardless, Notre Dame knows all they have to do in order to secure their first CFP birth is win by any amount against USC, but we’ve seen crazy things happen during rivalry week before.
3 Teams Still Alive for Big 12 Championship
The situation in the Big 12 is simple as well, there are three teams still alive, and all three could play for the conference championship game in Arlington with wins on Saturday. Oklahoma and West Virginia will face off in Morgantown, a game where Oklahoma has a 51 percent chance to win; while Texas will go up against Kansas in Lawrence with an 84 percent chance of victory. If Texas loses, however, then the result of the other game will determine whether or not the Longhorns will play for a conference title. They hold a tiebreaker over Oklahoma, so if the Sooners lose in
Texas may face a few more problems than expected against Kansas after QB Sam Ehlinger suffered an AC contusion in his shoulder, although there was no fracture. Ehlinger has started every game this season for Texas, but backup Shane Buchele should have enough talent to get the Longhorns over the Jayhawks. If they make it to the championship, Texas should like their chances, they are 4-1 against ranked opposition this season, with the loss coming by one point to West Virginia
The more interesting game of the week will likely be Oklahoma and West Virginia. Two of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12, Kyler Murray and Will Grier face off in what should be a high scoring affair. Both teams have top 10 scoring offenses and average 500+ yards per game, but Oklahoma has the 88th ranked scoring defense in the country and have allowed at least 40 points in three straight games, while West Virginia has allowed 40+ in two of their last three. If the Mountaineers win, there’s a strong chance that the Big 12 will miss the playoff entirely, since the top three teams in the conference would all have at least two losses. Even if Oklahoma wins out and remains the only one-loss team in the conference, they would need some help to make it into the top four, especially with their horrible defensive record.
More News from Week 12
- Alabama and The Citadel were tied 10-10 at halftime before the Tide pulled away to win 50-17
- Colorado fires Head Coach Mike MacIntyre after six seasons after going 0-6 following their 5-0 start
- Kansas hires Les Miles, who won the 2007 National Championship with LSU, as Head Coach
- Army enters the AP Poll at 23, the first time they have been ranked since 1996
- The Sun Belt still has 5 teams that can potentially reach the conference championship game
- Mountain West and C-USA also have three teams that could potentially clinch conference championship game spots
- Virginia Tech adds a conditional game with Marshall to try and win a 26th straight bowl bid
- Ohio State opens as 3.5 point underdog against Michigan, were favored in 51 straight games before this week
- Samford QB Devlin Hodges breaks Steve McNair’s FCS career passing record with 14,584 yards
- North Dakota State once again #1 seed in FCS playoff bracket
Top Games of Week 13
AP Poll Rankings Shown
(4) Michigan at (10) Ohio State
(8) UCF at USF
(6) Oklahoma at (12) West Virginia
(16) Washington at (7) Washington State
(3) Notre Dame at USC
(19) Syracuse at Boston College
Auburn at (1) Alabama
Troy at Appalachian State
(14) Utah State at (21) Boise State
Three Stars of Week 12
1. Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State
43/55, 473 Yds, 7 TD
Minshew threw for five touchdowns in the first half as Washington State ran out to a 55-14 halftime lead against Arizona in a game that was never close, eventually winning 69-28. His seven touchdown passes set a school record, and11 different receivers were able to catch a pass for the Cougars, who own the best passing offense in the country averaging 392 yards per game. Minshew has thrown for 400+ yards in six games this season and has thrown multiple touchdowns in all but one game, which should send him to New York for the Heisman ceremony. But Washington State’s work isn’t done yet: Minshew will lead them into the Apple Cup against rival Washington and Jake Browning next week, with the Pac-12 North on the line.
2. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
33 Att, 321 Yds, 3 TD
Taylor continues to strengthen his case for best running back in the country after wearing down Purdue’s defense in Wisconsin’s 47-44 triple overtime win. He scored three times in the second half, including twice in overtime to help seal the game for the Badgers, who improved to 7-4 on the year. Taylor has rushed for over 1,500 yards on the season and has hit 100 in all but one game this season. He has also scored three times in four different games, all of which resulted in Wisconsin victories. The Badgers face Minnesota next week, so Taylor may just find himself back on our stars list once again.
3. Taylor Cornelius, QB, Oklahoma State
30/46, 338 Yds, 5 TD; 13 Att, 106 Yds, TD
One week after a near upset of Oklahoma, Cornelius and the Cowboys finished the job this time. Cornelius connected with Tylan Wallace for an 11-yard touchdown with 42 seconds left to beat West Virginia 45-41. He made up for his two first-half interceptions by accounting for three scores in the fourth quarter to pull the upset and make Oklahoma State bowl eligible. Making plays with both his arms and his legs in the second half helped the Cowboys recover from trailing 31-14 at the half, and 41-31 with just 7:37 remaining in the game. Cornelius will lead Oklahoma State against TCU next week in an attempt to give the Cowboys even more momentum before their bowl game.
Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma: 21/32, 272 Yds, 2 TD; 8 Att, 99 Yds, 3 TD
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State: 28/35, 457 Yds, 3 TD; 15 Att, 59 Yds, 3 TD
David Blough, QB, Purdue: 31/48, 386 Yds, 4 TD
Holton Ahlers, QB, East Carolina: 22/31, 242 Yds, 4 TD; 12 Att, 130 Yds, TD
Anthony McFarland, RB, Maryland: 21 Att, 298 Yds, 2 TD
DeAndre Torrey, RB, North Texas: 17 Att, 184 Yds, TD
Pooka Williams Jr, RB, Kansas: 15 Att, 252 Yds, 2 TD
Joshua Kelley, RB, UCLA: 40 Att, 289 Yds, 2 TD
Lopini Kotoa, RB, BYU: 19 Att, 155 Yds, 4 TD
Dante Smith, RB, The Citadel: 9 Att, 130 Yds, 2 TD
Andy Isabella, WR, UMass: 15 Rec, 219 Yds, 2 TD
James Proche, WR, SMU: 12 Rec, 134 Yds, 2 TD
Sean Modster, WR, Boise State: 9 Rec, 129 Yds, 3 TD
AJ Brown, WR, Ole Miss: 9 Rec 212 Yds, TD
Image Source: Rich Barnes/USA Today Sports