After Week 11’s chaos, the rest of the country was put on “anything can happen” alert only for Week 12. There were a few surprising results. No one expected No. 5 Louisville to get humiliated by unranked Houston. No. 12 Utah’s last-second loss to Oregon was a bit of a shocker. Aside from that, though, all of the highly ranked teams had their way during the second-to-last week of the regular season.
Should a rather mild week make for a captivating finish to the regular season, or will we see more of the same? We’ll see, but nonetheless here are the biggest winners and losers from Week 12.
Winner: Ohio State. Talk about avoiding disaster. Amid the cold and wet conditions in East Lansing, Ohio State escaped the upset-minded Michigan State Spartans, who at 3-8, were looking to play spoiler to the Buckeyes’ College Football Playoff hopes. From the game’s outset to its finish, it was safe to say that Sparty lived up to its worth, holding Ohio State’s offense to only two touchdowns the entire game. However, Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer should be proud of his veteran quarterback J.T. Barrett and freshman running back Mike Webber for moiling past the Spartans’ rigid run defense. Collectively, the Barrett and Webber duo rushed for 216 yards and one score, punishing the will out of Michigan State’s defensive line.
In a week that could have proved deadly to the team’s metal, the second-ranked Buckeyes demonstrated flawless composure to finish down the stretch, limiting Michigan State to three successful 3rd down attempts all game. Next week bodes as Ohio State’s most stiffest yet as they host the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines in Columbus. While Ohio State still doesn’t control their own destiny to the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis, (needing Penn State to stumble next week versus Michigan State to win the East division), the Buckeyes could essentially punch their ticket to the playoffs with a victory over Michigan anyway.
Loser: Charlie Strong. The only thing left between Charlie Strong’s job security at Texas and unemployment is a thick layer of embarrassment. Strong and his Longhorns were already tight roping a razor-thin line this season. A season, that depended on a 8 or 9 win campaign to instill confidence and stability for the program moving forward. However, none of that has materialized in 2016, and Texas’ most recent debacle to the hands of two-win Kansas on Saturday, losing 24-21 and committing six turnovers, might have been the dagger to Strong’s head coaching tenure.
Winner: Colorado. Colorado’s sudden rise back to the top of college football has been one of the feel-good stories of the season. A doormat for the past decade, the once-proud program finally turned a corner under coach Mike MacIntyre. At first, the Buffaloes made good on that turnaround by achieving bowl eligibility. But then they kept winning, and a 38-24 victory over red-hot Washington State – by far the game of the week – completely changed the narrative. This is no longer just a nice story; Colorado is a legitimate team with a real chance to win the Pac-12 South, maybe more.
Loser: West Virginia. Entering Saturday, the Mountaineers were the only one-loss team in the Big 12 and perhaps the league’s best hope for the Playoff. But after a demoralizing 56-28 loss to No. 9 Oklahoma that included four turnovers in the Morgantown snow, the Mountaineers are out of that chase and out of the chase for the Big 12 title. The College Football Playoff committee, which had the Mountaineers at No. 14 in the most recent rankings, evidently had it right after all.
What was learned from Week 12?
- Oklahoma hasn’t stopped making noise in Playoff picture: Hey, does anyone remember that team who kicked off its 2016 season with two losses in a span of three weeks to ranked opponents by a combined margin of 45 points? Remember when the entire nation wrote them off for dead, yearning the head coach to be fired? Who was that team again? That team is the Oklahoma Sooners, who have now strung together eight straight wins and are still unbeaten in Big 12 play. And that coach, Bob Stoops, has brought back an urgency to the Sooners’ offense which has averaged 54.5 points and 577.6 yards per game throughout its winning streak. With one game left on the schedule (a home game versus 13th ranked Oklahoma State), the chance for the program’s 10th Big 12 championship is in the crosshairs, and if the dominoes fall precisely, a playoff berth could be in store, although the Sooners need some help.
- You almost want to feel bad for Rutgers at this point: Everyday there’s always someone in the world who needs comfort, a little bit of nurturing. Please, if you spot any Rutgers fan wandering the streets, embrace them with a consoling hug. It would mean a lot to their overall esteem. Because, after getting blanked by No. 8 Penn State, 39-0. It marked the fourth Big Ten shutout of the season for the Scarlet Knights, who have now lost to Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State by a combined score of 224-0. To make matters worse, Rutgers now sits at 0-8 in the Big Ten and is a Maryland loss away from finishing win-less in the Big Ten.