What we learned from Week 11 of College Football

Four teams in the top 10 of the College Football Playoffs rankings fell this Saturday, likely ending their championship hopes. With the bottom half of the contenders losing, this opens the door for several other teams that were on the outside looking in prior to Week 11. There were six unbeatens heading into the week, and now only five remain, (Iowa, Oklahoma State, Houston, Clemson, Ohio State). In addition, one Power 5 conference potentially killed its playoff hopes with too many losses. And do we have a new Heisman front-runner? Let’s check it out with what we learned.

 

Big 12’s playoff hopes are now down to two teams

TCU’s loss last week pushed them out of the playoff picture and subsequently for the conference as well. Not to worry, surely Baylor will save the Big 12 and maintain their undefeated stretch for one more week. Well, don’t tell that to Oklahoma and ruthless QB Baker Mayfield.

The Sooners’ withstood distinct scoring attacks from Baylor’s Jarrett Stidham all night. But in the end, survived and received a major road win, that as of now vaults them right back into playoff discussion. Oklahoma’s Mayfield was nearly flawless in dissecting the Bears’ defense, completing 24-out-of-34 passes for 270 yards and 3 TDs. Countless times receiver Sterling Shepard found holes underneath Baylor’s coverage. Shepard hauled in 14 catches that went for 177 yards and 2 TDs. In fact, his 14 receptions tied the most in a game from a Sooner receiver in program history. The relentless outpour offensively didn’t stop there. Running back Samaje Perine ran free often through gaps in Baylor’s run defense. All together, Perine accounted for 166 yards and 2 scores on 28 carries. Mixed-in with Mayfield’s unexpected mobility, the Sooners’ are starting to peak at the right time. And this is bad news for the rest of the conference.

With losses from presumable favorites, both Baylor and TCU’s playoff aspirations have been shot dead. However, Baylor’s Big 12 championship hopes are still breathing, they must navigate past two treacherous road tests to finish the season– next week at Stillwater, and then at Fort Worth. A role of spoiler is also a possibility for Art Briles’ team, and next week against unbeaten Oklahoma State would be the perfect time. Speaking of Oklahoma State, the Cowboys escaped a sizeable death trap in Ames. For the first time since September, QB Mason Rudolph experienced vast inaccuracy problems and could never find rhythm with his receivers. Thankfully, back-up J.W. Walsh proved to be the beneficiary, as he ran for two TDs and revitalized the Cowboys running game.

Oklahoma State’s last two remaining games reside in Stillwater, and there’s a chance that the Bedlam matchup–between the Sooners and Pokes could not only be an elimination for the Big 12 crown, but a playoff spot as well.

Pac 12 is officially eliminated from Playoff discussion

As the only Power 5 conference without an undefeated team, the Pac-12 entered Saturday already on the outside looking in for a playoff berth. But losses to its top two contenders sent the league’s national championship hopes spiraling down the drain.

The Pac 12’s nightmare started when unranked and three-loss Oregon outlasted No. 7 Stanford, 38-36. Oregon’s QB Vernon Adams Jr. threw only two incompletions the entire game, and managed to sustain drives with quick tempo and a balanced offense. Stanford, who coming into Saturday ranked 33rd in the FBS in total defense. Allowed over 600 yards offensively. When it wasn’t Adams, the Ducks used a variety of backs such as Royce Freeman Taj Griffin to stretch the Cardinal’s defense vertically and up-the-middle. Despite Kevin Hogan hitting his receivers often, the Cardinal lost the turnover battle, 2:1. Stanford’s turnovers came at the worst time. Hogan, a senior, was responsible for both of them. His two fumbles in the red zone, wasted potential scoring opportunities late in the second half. Stanford still controls its own destiny in the Pac 12 North, as it maintains a slim one-game lead over both Oregon and Washington State. However, there are plenty of confusing tie-breaking scenarios. If Oregon were to win out and Stanford loses to Cal, by rule of the tie-breaker, three-loss Oregon wins the North.

The conference’s next culprit, Utah, let a chance slip away to get one-step closer to the playoffs and Pac 12 Title Game. The Utes unexplainable bad loss against Arizona in Tuscon, in which came against back-up QB Jerrard Randall, only completed one pass for the entire game. Randall, playing in place of injured Anu Solomon, only completion was a 25-yard touchdown pass to Nate Phillips on the first play of the second overtime. Before the injury, Solomon passed for 277 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a season-high 86 yards for Arizona (6-5, 3-5) before leaving the game after a helmet-to-helmet hit with 9:25 left in regulation.The loss knocked the Utes (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12) into a first-place tie in the Pac-12 with USC, and the Trojans hold the tiebreaker by beating Utah.

Now, no team in the Pac-12 has fewer than two losses, which all but ends the league’s shot at playing for the national title. The Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 all boast teams that could end the year undefeated. A handful of one-loss teams in the SEC and Big 12 also remain in playoff contention. Plus, Notre Dame, an independent, has just one loss and sits at No. 4 in the selection committee’s current rankings. So barring a complete collapse by the other Power 5 contenders, the Pac-12 will likely extend its national championship drought, which extends back to 2004.

A late November push has sent Derrick Henry as the Heisman front-runner

Last week, TCU’s Trevone Boykin’s Heisman campaign stalled out in Stillwater. This time Leonard Fournette fell victim to the Heisman spell after being locked down in back-to-back weeks. For now, after both leading candidates have fallen. New contenders have emerged, and maybe one already has sealed his fate.

Alabama’s Derrick Henry’s last two weeks have been very Heisman-esque. With back-to-back 200+ yard performances, on top of his five touchdowns. Henry now currently sits 2nd in the FBS in terms of rushing yards (1,458), and 1st in TDs (19). If memory serves Alabama fans well, the Tide’s lone Heisman winner, 2009’s Mark Ingram, ran away with the award by cause of his late November push. Right now, Derrick Henry is on pace of re-writing the same history.

Given the quality of opponents Alabama has already beaten, such as LSU and Mississippi State. As long as Alabama continues to win games, Henry’s chance at the award will eventually come. At the very least, his Heisman moment will come in the SEC Championship Game.

Week 11 Leaders

Passing

  • QB Brett Rypien (Boise State)- 41/75, 506 yards, 3 TDs against New Mexico
  • QB Nick Arbuckle (Georgia State)- 23/34, 471 yards, 4 TDs against Texas State
  • QB Jared Goff (Cal)- 26/37, 453 yards, 6 TDs against Oregon State

Rushing

  • RB DeAndre Washington (Texas Tech)- 27 carries, 248 yards, 3 TDs against K-State
  • RB Jalin Moore (Appalachian State)- 27 carries, 244 yards against Idaho
  • RB Jordan Howard (Indiana)- 35 carries, 238 yards, 2 TDs against Michigan

Receiving

  • WR Thomas Sperbeck (Boise State)– 20 receptions, 281 yards against New Mexico
  • WR Jalen Robinette (Air Force)- 7 receptions, 210 yards, 1 TD against Utah State
  • WR Jehu Chesson (Michigan)- 10 receptions, 207 yards, 4 TDs against Indiana

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