Winners and Losers from Week 11 of College Football
A wild Thursday night started Week 11 off with a bang, as Baylor introduced itself to the world, while Stanford knocked Oregon out of the BCS national title conversation.
The Heisman Trophy picture was also shaken up, as a poor game from Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota opened the door for Florida State's Jameis Winston, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and others.
The week settled down a bit on Saturday. A few conference races were clarified, while several others only became more muddled, including the ACC Coastal Division with the loss by Miami (Fla.).
While many of the outlooks for teams around the country are still up in the air, the scenario in Tuscaloosa couldn't be more clear. Alabama checked off a decisive win against rival LSU to show that it's still the favorite to take the crystal football at season's end.
Baylor aced its first test.
The Bears, with their weak schedule to start the season, had a few skeptics going into their matchup with Oklahoma, despite boasting the most explosive offense in college football.
But they stepped up and passed their first test at home with flying colors, topping the Sooners 41-12 in one of the biggest games in school history.
BU endured a slow start and injuries to receiver Tevin Reese and running backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin. With the three key playmakers out, third-string back Shock Linwood picked up the slack, tallying 182 yards on 23 carries. Quarterback Bryce Petty was excellent as well—both running and throwing—as he amassed 249 total yards and five touchdowns.
The Baylor defense was the biggest surprise. It kept the Bears in the game early, and even once the offense picked up, continued to silence OU.
The Sooners gained just 237 yards, compared to 459 by the Bears. With the victory, BU solidified itself as the Big 12 Conference favorite and as a legitimate candidate for the national title.
The next test for BU will come next Saturday in Dallas against Texas Tech.
Oregon had it sights set on playing Alabama in the national title game, but couldn't take care of business against Stanford to even make it there.
The Cardinal controlled the line of scrimmage and pounded away at the Ducks for four quarters in their 26-20 win.
The Oregon offense struggled as quarterback Marcus Mariota wasn't himself, hampered by a "partially strained MCL," as reported by ESPN's Ivan Maisel. Wearing a brace on the injured knee, he seemed reluctant to run throughout the night, forcing throws into coverage rather than taking off upfield himself.
As a result, the UO offense was nonexistent through the early going, causing the Ducks to fall behind 26-0. That deficit also came thanks to fumbles by Mariota and star running back De'Anthony Thomas, both deep in Stanford territory.
The Cardinal saw big games from quarterback Kevin Hogan and running back Tyler Gaffney, but it was the dominance up front, as well as 14 third-down conversions in 21 tries, that allowed them to sustain long drives and hold the ball an overwhelming 25 minutes longer than the Ducks.
With the loss, Oregon is out of the national title picture and will need a Stanford loss to have a shot at the Pac-12 title.
Winners: Florida State and Ohio State
As Oregon was booted out of the national title conversation by Stanford, Florida State and Ohio State became the biggest benefactors.
If UO had won, it likely would have taken over the No. 2 spot it the BCS rankings from FSU. And it likely would have held that spot for the remainder of the season.
The Seminoles will be the outright No. 2 team and, unless they lose, they are a lock for the national championship game.
Meanwhile, Ohio State also moved a step closer to a national title berth. The Buckeyes, who had Week 11 off, will still need some help, though. Either an Alabama or FSU loss would do the trick, unless Baylor continues to climb.
OSU's outlook isn't as good as Florida State's, but every time a contender loses, its forecast improves.
Loser: Marcus Mariota
Not only was Oregon knocked out of the national title picture with its loss, but Marcus Mariota also lost his chance at the Heisman Trophy.
In just one game, the redshirt sophomore went from being the favorite to win the trophy to out of the picture altogether. Mariota did throw for 250 yards and two touchdowns in the 26-20 defeat, and he still hasn't thrown an interception yet this season.
However, he was a non-factor on the ground, netting minus-16 yards thanks to three sacks. Without his production on the ground, the Ducks offense stalled.
Mariota tried to spur a comeback in the final frame, but the 20 fourth-quarter points were too little, too late.
Winners: Winston, Manziel and Petty
As Marcus Mariota and Oregon fell, the door was opened for Florida State's Jameis Winston, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Baylor's Bryce Petty in the race for the Heisman Trophy.
Winston didn't have to do too much over the weekend against Wake Forest. FSU forced the Demon Deacons into seven turnovers in the 59-3 blowout. Winston was 17-of-28 passing for 159 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Petty had an enormous game against Oklahoma, tallying 249 total yards with five total touchdowns (three passing, two rushing) to enter the Heisman conversation. He has tallied 2,657 passing yards, 118 rushing yards and 29 total touchdowns on the season (21 passing, eight rushing).
Manziel was his usual gunslinging self in a 51-41 win over Mississippi State. The defending Heisman winner was 30-of-39 passing with 446 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions, tallying 47 rushing yards as well.
Loser: Florida's Bowl Streak
The nation's second-longest bowl streak in the country is in serious jeopardy. Florida has been to a bowl game 22 straight years, second only to 31 by Florida State.
That streak could very well come to an end thanks to the Gators' 34-17 home loss to Vanderbilt. The UF defense was strong against Vandy, holding the Commodores to just 183 total yards. However, they were often faced with defending a short field thanks to four Gator turnovers.
UF fell to 4-5 and has one winnable game against Georgia Southern remaining but will have to beat either South Carolina or Florida State to break even on the regular season.
The Gators have been decimated by injury, losing nine players and five starters to season-ending injuries. That, coupled with one of college football's toughest schedules, is proving to be the perfect storm for a losing season in Gainesville.
Florida will head on the road next week to take on South Carolina. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt is now one win away from bowl eligibility, but could conceivably finish 8-4. The Commodores are 5-4 with three manageable games remaining against Kentucky, Tennessee and Wake Forest.
Winners: Branden Oliver and Buffalo
Thanks to an enormous performance from running back Branden Oliver, Buffalo moved one step closer to the MAC East title on Tuesday.
Oliver hammered the Ohio run defense for 249 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries. His 249 yards were more than 233 total yards gained through the air and on the ground by the Bobcats offense.
Buffalo also benefited from an atrocious safety call, but it didn't end up mattering in the 30-3 blowout. Oliver put the Bulls up 7-0 with a two-yard score in the second quarter, and the Bobcats later answered back with a field goal.
Then the safety came just after halftime, and it sparked a 23-point Buffalo run.
With the Bulls' win, the MAC East should now come down to a tilt between Buffalo (7-2, 5-0) and Bowling Green (6-3, 4-1) on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Loser: Tennessee Rush Defense
Normally, when a starting quarterback has a stat line like Auburn's Nick Marshall did against Tennessee—3-of-7 passing for 35 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT—it would mean his team lost miserably.
But thanks to the atrocious Volunteers run defense, that wasn't the case. Marshall amassed 214 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries, while running back Tre Mason had 117 yards and three touchdowns on 20 touches to lead Auburn to a blowout 55-23 win in Knoxville.
The Auburn rush defense wasn't much better, as UT tallied 226 yards on the ground. That allowed the Vols to stay in the game early, though they couldn't keep up.
AU also returned a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown. The kick was taken back 90 yards by running back Corey Grant, who also had 48 rushing yards on four carries. The punt was an electric 85-yard scamper that came despite a muff by returner Chris Davis.
With the loss, Tennessee must now win each of its last two games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky to reach bowl eligibility.
With the win, Auburn moved one step closer a date with Alabama in the Iron Bowl with serious BCS implications. The Tigers must beat Georgia at home next week for that scenario to play out.
After four straight losing seasons, Minnesota has made a miraculous turnaround and is now 8-2 after beating rival Penn State, 24-10.
The Gophers haven't won more than seven games since 2003. So after breaking that mark, it isn't surprising that they got so excited they broke the Governor's Victory Bell trophy.
It was also their fourth straight Big Ten win—a task they haven't accomplished in 40 years, according to ESPN's Big Ten blog.
Minnesota's defense was huge, holding Penn State to just one conversion in nine tries on third down. Meanwhile, the Gopher offense converted 9-of-17 third downs. That allowed the Gophers to hold the ball more than 10 minutes longer than the Nittany Lions.
Minnesota is still alive in the Big Ten Legends Division, but will have to hope for a Nebraska loss, while also beating Wisconsin and Michigan State to close the regular season.
Bonus: Check out Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill dropping it low and showing off his dance moves in the locker room after the win.
Loser: Texas Tech
The slide continues for Texas Tech, which has now lost three straight after winning its first seven.
The Red Raiders were trounced at home by Kansas State, 49-26.
TTU decided to pull quarterback Davis Webb in the second quarter. The freshman was ineffective early, tallying just 78 passing yards on 20 attempts.
He was relieved by fellow freshman Baker Mayfield, who was more productive but threw two picks. Mayfield finished 34-of-44 for 276 yards and brought TTU back within two possessions in the third quarter but couldn't complete the comeback.
K-State was too strong on the ground for the Red Raiders defense. The Wildcats were led by 157 yards and a touchdown from running back John Hubert and a combined 119 rushing yards and four scores by quarterbacks Daniel Sams and Jake Waters.
At 5-4, a bowl bid looks probable for KSU, which needs just one win in its final three games against TCU, Oklahoma and Kansas to ensure bowl eligibility.
TTU is already a bowl lock at 7-3, but could see its slide continue with Baylor and Texas still on the slate to close out the regular season.
USC tied an NCAA record with three punt returns for a touchdown in its 62-28 annihilation of California in Berkeley.
Wide receiver Nelson Agholor took two of the kicks back, a 75-yarder after Cal's first punt early in the first quarter and a 93-yarder just before halftime. The second return gave USC a 41-14 lead going into the break.
Josh Shaw notched a return TD of his own between the two by Agholor, a 14-yard score off a block.
The Trojans didn't need too much more to top Cal, but got a rock-solid performance from quarterback Cody Kessler. The sophomore finished 14-of-17 passing for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Running backs Javorius Allen and Ty Isaac combined for 222 rushing yards and four scores.
USC will ride a three-game winning streak into a date with Stanford next week in Los Angeles.
For the second straight game, Michigan was held to negative rushing yards. For the second straight game, quarterback Devin Gardner was sacked seven times, this time giving him minus-32 rushing yards. And for the second straight game, the Wolverines lost.
After netting minus-48 rushing yards last week against Michigan State, UM netted minus-21 in a 17-13 loss to Nebraska. The Wolverines were also abhorrent on third down, converting just three times in 15 tries.
Nebraska, meanwhile, posted its second straight fourth-quarter comeback. The Huskers didn't match their Hail Mary against Northwestern from a week ago, but they did the job.
Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. hit Ameer Abdullah with a shovel pass on an option play and the running back took it in for the go-ahead score with just over two minutes left on the clock.
Armstrong finished 11-of-19 passing for 139 yards and that score, while Abdullah tallied 105 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground on 27 carries. Abdullah has 98 rushing yards or more in every game this season.
With the win, Nebraska knocked UM out of the Big Ten Legends Division race and can take first-place in the division by beating Michigan State next week in Lincoln.
Winner: Arizona State (Barely)
At this time of the season, winning is all that really matters.
Whether it's a 50-0 victory or a 20-19 nail-biter like Arizona State picked up on the road against Utah, a win is a win.
The Sun Devils were on the ropes in Rice-Eccles Stadium, down 19-7 going into the fourth quarter. However, quarterback Taylor Kelly ran for a touchdown in the final frame, then hit Richard Smith for the go-ahead score in the final three minutes to lead ASU to the comeback victory.
As Utah tried to regain the lead in the waning minutes, quarterback Travis Wilson threw two interceptions on the final two drives.
Defensive tackle Will Sutton brought down the second pick and tallied nine tackles and a tackle for a loss.
With the win, the Sun Devils remained in sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 South Division. They will face three crucial tests against Oregon State, UCLA and Arizona in the next three weeks.
Loser: Ron English
Eastern Michigan head coach Ron English was fired Friday after the release of a profane tirade, capping off an overall rough tenure in Ypsilanti.
When he left, the Eagles were 1-8, their only win coming in Week 1 against Howard. The day after his firing, his team posted win No. 2.
EMU running back Ryan Brumfield punched in a four-yard touchdown in overtime to give the Eagles a 35-32 win over Western Michigan.
Brumfield and fellow running back Bronson Hill combined for 259 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. Linebacker Ike Spearman paced the EMU defense with 13 tackles, 0.5 tackles for a loss and an interception in the fourth quarter.
A lot was on the line in Orlando where Central Florida hosted Houston.
The Knights and the Cougars stood atop the American Athletic Conference as the only teams still undefeated in league play. A UCF loss would have given Louisville new hope for the AAC title, as the Cardinals are set to host UH next week.
The Cougars were down five in the fourth quarter, just seven yards from pay dirt, but consecutive John O’Korn passes fell incomplete in the end zone, giving UCF a 19-14 win.
The Knights were led by big days on the ground by running backs Storm Johnson and William Stanback. The duo combined for 201 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
With the victory, the Knights took full control of the AAC and can win the league by winning out. UCF now holds tiebreakers over its biggest conference competitors, Louisville and Houston, and will take on Temple next week.
Loser: Miami (Fla.)
A week ago, Miami was in the driver’s seat in the ACC Coastal Division as the only team without a loss in league play.
Then the Hurricanes were crushed by Florida State. But still, The U was in control of its own destiny to win the division.
The ‘Canes decided to break out some new "smoke" gray uniforms for Week 11, only to be smoked 42-24 by Virginia Tech. And now, the Coastal race has gone up in flames.
Chip Patterson of CBSSports.com broke down the situation regarding the four Coastal contenders—Miami, VT, Duke and Georgia Tech.
The division is an absolute mess, as Duke needs a GT loss, VT needs a Duke loss and Miami needs a VT loss to become champion. As of right now, the Blue Devils actually have the most promising outlook, but anything could still happen.
Miami and Duke will square off next week, VT will take on Maryland and GT will visit Clemson Thursday night.
LSU hung tight with Alabama—for about two-and-a-half quarters.
The Tigers entered the half down by just three and with an advantage in total yards. They even tied the game up at 17 early in the third quarter.
From there, it was "Roll Tide."
Running back T.J. Yeldon punched in two touchdowns in the second half and tallied 133 yards on the night. The Crimson Tide defense locked down in the second half, holding the Tigers to just one field goal, while their offense notched 21 unanswered points to runaway with a 38-17 win.
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger played well (16 of 23, 241 YDS, 1 TD, 0 INT), but the UA run defense shut down Jeremy Hill and Co., limiting the Tigers to a net of 43 yards on the ground.
With the win, Alabama will stay at No. 1. The Tide have just two roadblocks remaining: a trip to Auburn on Nov. 30 and the SEC title game.
As for now, it looks like they’ll have a date with Florida State at the Rose Bowl for the crystal football.
Loser: Notre Dame
A round of applause goes to anyone who predicted Pitt would be the team to end Notre Dame’s BCS hopes.
The Fighting Irish entered their tilt with the Panthers at 7-2 and No. 23 in the BCS, still hoping to climb their way into a BCS berth. It seemed likely that those dreams might end on Nov. 23 or Nov. 30 when the Irish take on BYU and Stanford.
However, that end came early for ND, as they were dropped 28-21 in the Steel City. Irish quarterback Tommy Rees threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter, including one that set up the go-ahead touchdown, punched in by Pitt running back James Conner.
With the loss, ND will drop out of the Top 25.
In one of the most thrilling games of the day, Texas remained undefeated in Big 12 play.
The Longhorns were knocked to their knees in Morgantown against West Virginia, but scrambled to their feat and edged out a 47-40 win in overtime.
WVU took the lead midway through the fourth quarter on a 72-yard touchdown reception by junior Mario Alford and was one play away from handing UT its first Big 12 loss. However, quarterback Case McCoy hit Jaxon Shipley for a fourth-down conversion late in the final frame that set up Anthony Fera’s game-tying field goal.
McCoy then hit fullback Alex De La Torre on a short scoring strike in overtime. Later, linebacker Steve Edmond sealed the deal for the ‘Horns, intercepting WVU’s Paul Millard to end the game.
Texas still has three tough games remaining against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor. The Big 12 race is down to just the Cowboys, the ‘Horns and the Bears, with all three teams still in control of their own destiny.
UT will ride a six-game winning streak back home to host OSU next week.
With its loss to UCLA, Arizona was effectively knocked out of the Pac-12 South title race.
The Wildcats suffered their third conference loss and fell to 6-3 overall in the 31-26 defeat to the Bruins.
UA had a chance late, but quarterback B.J. Denker was intercepted by UCLA's Ishmael Adams on fourth down of its final drive of the game.
The 'Cats benefited from another strong day from running back Ka'Deem Carey, who tallied 149 yards and a touchdown. Carey has now eclipsed 100 yards in all eight of his appearances this year, but it hasn't been enough to keep his team alive in the division.
Arizona will host Washington State next week and Oregon the following week.
Winner: Myles Jack
If you're looking for college football's next big star, look no further than UCLA's Myles Jack.
The true freshman out of Bellevue, Wash., has starred at linebacker all season long and filled in at running back for the Bruins against Arizona.
But the former 247Sports composite 4-star didn't just fill in, he stood out, amassing 120 yards on six carries, including what proved to be the game-winning touchdown.
Jerry Hinnen of CBSSports.com has video of Jack's 66-yard score that proved to be the game-winner in a crucial 31-26 victory by UCLA over the Wildcats.
The Bruins running game has struggled since starter Jordon James went down with an injury a month ago. Now, head coach Jim Mora might be facing a tough decision on whether or not to keep Jack in the backfield.
No matter what side of the ball he plays on, Jack is bound to be a star.