The final week of the regular season is in the books, and we can now safely say we know at least one of the four teams that will make the College Football Playoff. As well as a few other re-arrangements in the top 15. Here’s what we learned in Week 12.
Oklahoma is the first team to seal a playoff berth
The Sooners made a big jump to No. 3 in Tuesday’s playoff rankings, and after their performance this Saturday, there should be no question of them leaving the top four. Oklahoma dominated rival Oklahoma State in Stillwater, 58-23, in a game where Oklahoma’s offense fired from all cylinders.
It all started behind a devastating run game that ripped apart the Cowboys for 344 yards. Both running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon collectively generated 130 yards on the ground, averaging in total for 8.2 yards per carry. Not to mention, the Sooners’ defense came up with two interceptions, including a 32-yard pick-six that was part of a 30-point second quarter.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield’s Heisman Trophy candidacy became solidified on Saturday. He may not win it, but a trip to New York certainly seems likely after he played brilliantly again, completing 17-of-25 for 180 yards with two touchdowns and running for 77 yards and a score on 11 carries.
There’s a bit of reckless abandon about the way Mayfield runs, which is probably a bit scary given that he was removed from the TCU game last week after a suspected concussion. But he’s certainly fun to watch and brings a playground mentality that is unpredictable and hard to defend. Mayfield is the preeminent catalyst that makes this Sooners offense run. And when Mayfield is on his best game, not many defenses can account for him.
Oklahoma doesn’t have to play in a conference championship game so this was the Sooners’ last chance at a resume building win. Given the fact of Notre Dame losing to Stanford, who was on the outside looking-in in terms of playoff rankings. Their convincing win will be more than enough. So, feel free to pencil-in Oklahoma committee.
Big Ten champion will secure a spot next week
We don’t know which Big Ten team will make the playoff, but Week 13’s results all but guarantees the conference champion will snag the last spot. On Friday, Iowa remained perfect by finishing off Nebraska in another non-flashy performance. After Ohio State dismantled rival Michigan at the Big House, they needed a Michigan State loss to slip into the title game. But instead, the Spartans pummeled Penn State 55-16 behind the efficient passing of Connor Cook, who played despite clearly suffering through a shoulder injury. Cook still completed 19-of-26 passes for 248 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions to secure the Spartans’ Big Ten East title.
That means that essentially next weekend’s B1G Championship Game in Indianapolis will be de-facto elimination game for the playoffs.
Stanford and Ohio State need some help if they want a shot for it all
If Clemson beats North Carolina and Alabama beats Florida, there will be little suspense for the reveal of the final playoff rankings next Sunday. The field would clearly comprise the Tigers, the Tide, the Big Ten champion and Oklahoma.
However, in all improbable scenarios. If either North Carolina or Florida win their conference championship games, then the rankings could get interesting. For now, a loss by Clemson or Alabama would more than likely knock them out of the playoff discussion. It’s hard to evaluate, but a one-loss Clemson wouldn’t make a strong claim to the committee considering how weak the ACC is outside of Florida State, a team which the Tigers defeated. Also, a second loss for Alabama this late in the season all but shatters their hopes.
With the No. 6 and No. 7 teams falling out–Notre Dame and Baylor. This opens up one last sprint of survival for Ohio State and Stanford to navigate their way into the final four. Ohio State’s path is more feasible as they have only one blemish on their resume. Despite losing head-to-head to a potential playoff team in Michigan State, Ohio State’s best win at the moment is a drubbing of No. 10 Michigan on the road. When going by the eye test the Buckeyes could be okay. Ohio State seemed to have responded to it’s heartbreaking loss to the Spartans last week, as their win over their arch rival was the most impressive this season.
For Stanford on the other hand, their road might not be so cut and dry. Unlike Ohio State, the Cardinal have two losses that hopefully the committee rules over. With all things considered, their losses aren’t bad at all–despite Northwestern being at an early kick, the Wildcats finished its season strong, going 10-2. Their next loss came to Oregon, who after starting off 3-3, has saved its season by now standing at 9-3 and ranked in the Top 15. By earning wins over Notre Dame, USC, and Washington State, you could make an argument the Cardinal’s wins are in deed better than Ohio State’s. But one last notion that Stanford can hang their hat on is winning their conference, something Ohio State will be unable to do. Another victory over USC in next week’s Pac 12 Championship Game would send a statement that the committee could not ignore.
Top Performers in Week 13
- QB Jared Goff (Cal)- 30/51, 542 yards, 5 TDs against Arizona State
- QB Mike Bercovici (ASU)- 27/43, 395 yards, 4 TDs against Cal
- QB Cooper Rush (CMU)- 25/39, 391 yards, 2 TDs against Eastern Michigan
- RB Chris Warren III (Texas)- 25 carries, 276 yards, 4 TDs against Texas Tech
- RB Derrick Henry (Alabama)– 46 carries, 271 yards, 1 TD against Auburn
- RB Marquis Young (UMASS) – 35 carries, 240 yards, 3 TDs against Buffalo
- WR Keyarris Garrett (Tulsa)- 10 receptions, 216 yards, 1 TD against Tulane
- WR Devin Lucien (ASU)- 8 receptions, 200 yards, 3 TDs against Cal
- WR Leonte Carroo (Rutgers)– 7 receptions, 183 yards, 1 TD against Maryland