Winners and Losers from Week 11 of College Football

Ben Kercheval@@BenKerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterNovember 9, 2014

Winners and Losers from Week 11 of College Football

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The biggest college football weekend of the year had a few surprising results, which is just the way fans should like it. 

    Unless you're a fan of Auburn. In that case, perhaps it's best to bypass this list altogether. 

    Week 11 has had no shortage of drama, from Texas A&M's upset over Auburn to Alabama surviving LSU in overtime. On the other hand, Ohio State, Baylor, TCU and Oregon had statement blowouts over quality opponents. 

    This weekend's results will definitely have major implications for the College Football Playoff rankings. Auburn may have lost its way out of a playoff spot, while Arizona State showed it has a legitimate case for one by winning against Notre Dame. But most of all, it's weekends like this one that make the college game so much fun.

    Which teams and players came out as winners? Which ones didn't?

Winner: Minnesota Tight End Maxx Williams

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    Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

    After an inexplicable loss to Illinois two weeks ago, Minnesota beating the doors off of Iowa 51-14 is what you would call a nice rebound win. 

    Gophers tight end Maxx Williams helped lead the way, as he hauled in five catches and scored three touchdowns. Both of those numbers are season highs. One of those catches came on a nifty sideline grab in which Williams, stretching for the ball, managed to drag one of his feet inbounds.

    With the win, Minnesota now has the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy and the Little Brown Jug trophy (over Michigan) for the first time since 1967. As it so happens, that's the last time the Gophers won a Big Ten title in football. 

    Foreshadowing? Let's not get ahead of ourselves, but it's been an impressive season for Minnesota nonetheless.

Loser: Oklahoma

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    There aren't many other ways to describe Oklahoma's 48-14 loss to Baylor other than awful. Before the season, this was supposed to be the Big 12 game of the year. However, because of losses on both sides, plus the rise of TCU and Kansas State, Baylor-Oklahoma was knocked down to the noon spot.

    And then it wasn't even competitive. Baylor stormed back from an early 14-3 deficit to completely take control of the game. To make matters worse, quarterback Trevor Knight needed to be carted off the field after an apparent hit to the head/neck area. 

    It wasn't just the offense that struggled. Oklahoma's defense played soft coverage on Baylor's receivers, giving Bears quarterback Bryce Petty all kinds of room to throw. Even former Sooners defensive back Tony Jefferson tweeted his displeasure

    Oklahoma has now lost back-to-back home games for the first time under head coach Bob Stoops. The Sugar Bowl win over Alabama seems like a distant memory now. 

Winner: Baylor

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    With about a month until the College Football Playoff selection committee names its final field of four, Baylor needed to make a statement. By throttling Oklahoma 48-14 in Norman, yeah, you could say it did just that. 

    Following last week's win over Kansas, Bears quarterback Bryce Petty channeled his inner Bill Belichick by answering all media questions with, "We're just ready for OU." Boy, was Baylor ready. It just took Art Briles' team a little time to get warmed up. 

    The Bears got off to a slow start against the Sooners, falling behind 14-3. Then, down 14-10, Baylor linebacker Bryce Hager intercepted a Trevor Knight pass and returned it to the 1-yard line. One play later, Baylor scored to make it a 17-14 game and never looked back. 

    Baylor had lost 37 straight road games against AP Top 25 opponents heading into Saturday, according to ESPN's College GameDay Twitter account. Obviously, that streak has been shattered.

    But more importantly, the Bears got a statement win to bolster their playoff case. Baylor needed one, too, with no marquee non-conference games. As David Ubben of Fox Sports Southwest tweeted, it'll be difficult to find a more impressive Big 12 conference win this season. 

    Baylor's toughest game may still be ahead of it, too, with Kansas State coming to Waco on Dec. 6. There could be a lot on the line for that game, which is exactly what Baylor wants.

Loser: Notre Dame Quarterback Everett Golson

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    Turnovers and ball security have been an issue for Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson for most of the season. That's a shame, because when Golson spins it, he can throw it with the best of them. 

    However, Golson's turnover issues reared their ugly head again in a 55-31 loss to Arizona State. It was the first time Notre Dame had given up more than 50 points in a game since a 58-7 loss to Miami in 1985. 

    In all, Golson had four interceptions and a fumble, which led to 28 Sun Devils points. 

    Granted, not everything was solely Golson's fault. One interception came on a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage and another, a pick-six, was a bobbled reception.

    "Our guys were ready to play and you can't play sloppy like that," head coach Brian Kelly said, via Dan Wolken of USA Today. "It's ridiculous."

    Still, those turnovers loomed large. The Irish defense played well enough to win by itself, allowing less than six yards per play. 

    Once the Irish turnovers stopped, the game—not surprisingly—settled down. In fact, Notre Dame made a bit of a run. 

    Golson still put up solid passing numbers—446 yards—but turned the ball over late and was unable to overcome the deficit.

Winner: Texas Defensive End Cedric Reed

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Slowly, it would appear things are coming together for Texas. In a 33-16 win over West Virginia, the Longhorns got their first home victory over a ranked team since 2008 and are now one win away from bowl eligibility. 

    There are several players who deserve credit for Texas. Cornerback Quandre Diggs had an interception. Running back Johnathan Gray had 101 yards rushing and three touchdowns. But how about some kudos for defensive end Cedric Reed? Reed had three sacks—one of them a safety—and a forced fumble. 

    It was by far his best game of the season. Texas' defense played superbly, limiting West Virginia's offense even when backed up in its own territory. 

    Things haven't always been pretty for the Longhorns this year, and there's clearly a long way to go before the program is back to the level it wants to be. That said, credit head coach Charlie Strong and this coaching staff. Their team has almost always been competitive in games and, more often than not, forced other teams to work for everything they've earned.

    It just hasn't always resulted in a win. On Saturday, it did in a much-needed way. And Strong got his crowd-surfing in

Loser: Everyone Who Watched Michigan-Northwestern

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Big Ten jokes are fun. They're not always accurate, but they're fun to make because, well, college football is more enjoyable (and less likely to cause health problems) when you can laugh about what you just saw. 

    But Michigan's 10-9 win over Northwestern was...definitely something, and with an ugly box score to match. Granted, the box score doesn't tell you everything, but go ahead and take a look. Just make sure small children aren't around. 

    What actually made the game interesting, though, was Northwestern's decision to go for two with just three seconds remaining to win the game rather than go for the tie and play for overtime. Of course, quarterback Trevor Siemian rolled out to his right, slipped and fell when pressured by Michigan's Frank Clark.

    It was an appropriate ending of sorts, considering everything else that happened in the game.

Winner: Texas A&M Quarterback Kyle Allen

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    How's that for your first SEC start?

    Texas A&M true freshman quarterback Kyle Allen—a former 5-star recruit, according to 247Sports.com—was perhaps seen as the future of the Aggies offense. However, Allen was beat out at the beginning of the year by sophomore Kenny Hill. Once Hill threw for 511 yards against South Carolina in the season opener, breaking Johnny Manziel's single-game passing record, Allen became a distant memory.

    Or at least he was, until Hill was suspended two games for a violation of team rules. Allen struggled in his first start last week in a win over Louisiana Monroe, but he threw for 277 yards and four touchdowns in a surprise 41-38 win over Auburn on Saturday.

    No, Allen hasn't won the Heisman. No, he's not patenting a nickname like "Kyle Ballin'" or anything like that. Rather, let's sit back and acknowledge that Allen is 1-0 as a starter in the SEC West—on the road, no less. 

Loser: Auburn

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Well, Auburn. This was most unfortunate. 

    The Tigers played with fire over the past couple of weeks in wins over South Carolina and Ole Miss. Whether it was poor defense, penalties, late turnovers or a combination of the three, Auburn exploited its opponents' mistakes to squeak out victories.

    In a stunning 41-38 loss to Texas A&M on Saturday, the Tigers' magic ran out. A blocked field goal returned for a touchdown gave A&M a 35-17 halftime lead. In the final minutes of the game, a miscommunication on a snap resulted in a fumble that gave A&M the ball to seal the win.

    Those were just two of the costly mistakes committed by Auburn, which also lost receiver Duke Williams to a knee injury. 

    That, and Gus Malzahn's defense made poor tackles all evening. Texas A&M may have had a rough October defensively, but the Aggies still have athletes on offense. Those athletes ended up burning Auburn on more than one occasion. A&M's Malcome Kennedy led all players with 118 yards receiving, while Josh Reynolds had two touchdown receptions for the Aggies.

    The loss likely knocks Auburn out of the playoff discussion. At the very least, the Tigers are a two-loss team in a field of plenty of undefeated or one-loss teams. A lot of chaos needs to ensue for Auburn to think about getting back in this. 

Winner: Northern Iowa

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Meghan Trainer is all about that bass, but Winners and Losers is all about that FCS love.

    No team from that level deserves it more than Northern Iowa, which knocked off three-time defending Division I NCAA champion North Dakota State 23-3. The Panthers limited North Dakota State to just 175 yards of offense. 

    The win snapped a 33-game winning streak for the Bison, longest in the Football Championship Subdivision. To put a date on that, the last time North Dakota State lost a game was on Oct. 13, 2012, to Indiana State. 

    That's a heck of a streak, and a heck of a win by Northern Iowa. 

Loser: Kansas State's Offense

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    Kansas State is at its best on offense when it can run the ball. Not surprisingly, the Wildcats are 0-2 this season when the ground game fails to take off. 

    K-State rushed for just 40 yards in an early-season loss to Auburn and had a season-low 34 yards against TCU in their 41-20 loss on Saturday. 

    To be clear, Kansas State abandoned the run by the second half. It wasn't working to begin with, and the Wildcats had to play from behind. As a result, as bittersweet as it may be, receiver Tyler Lockett had an impressive game and caught 11 passes for 196 yards.

    That made Lockett Kansas State's all-time leading receiver in yards, passing his father, Kevin Lockett. 

    It was a nice moment in an otherwise disappointing outcome. Yes, Lockett got his touches and his stats, but K-State's offense is still best when it runs the ball well and throws downfield off of that. Credit TCU's defense for stopping that plan before it started. 

Winner: UCLA Linebacker/Running Back Myles Jack

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    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    Winners and Losers has been a big fan of Washington two-way player Shaq Thompson. However, UCLA linebacker and part-time running back Myles Jack showed on Saturday that he can still play both ways as well. 

    And in a 44-30 win over Thompson's Huskies, of all games. 

    Jack, of course, became famous last year as a freshman when he played linebacker and running back for the Bruins. Against the Huskies, he had just four carries but picked up 38 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown run that featured a nasty stiff arm and a sick spin move. 

    Jack's future lies at linebacker, and he's smart to want to stick to that position. But he's also been good when UCLA has asked him to carry the ball. 

Loser: Florida Defensive Tackle Leon Orr

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    A strange story emerged before Florida took on Vanderbilt in Nashville on Saturday. According to Scott Carter of GatorZone.com, defensive tackle Leon Orr left the team and returned home to Gainesville on a bus. The reason, per Carter, was that Orr was not happy when he found out he would not be starting against Vanderbilt. 

    After the game, which Florida won 34-10, head coach Will Muschamp said, "If you go home you're done," which indicates Orr is no longer with the team. A fifth-year senior, Orr has played in 37 games during his career, starting 10.

Winner: The Big 12's Playoff Hopes?

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    Coming into Saturday, Baylor at Oklahoma and Kansas State at TCU were the two games that would mold the top of the Big 12 standings.

    As it turned out, they produced two statement wins—by the Bears and the Horned Frogs. Baylor took care of Oklahoma in impressive fashion, 48-14, and TCU beat Kansas State, 41-20. 

    The potential conundrum: If TCU and Baylor win out, how will the playoff selection committee view them if a playoff spot is on the line? Baylor owns the head-to-head win over TCU, but as of last week, the Frogs were six spots higher in the College Football Playoff poll. 

    Following both wins, coupled with Auburn's loss to Texas A&M, another possibility is emerging: What if Baylor and TCU make the playoff

    Yes, yes. We're still several weeks away from the end of the season, there's still important football to be played, Baylor's non-conference schedule is soft, etc. It's just an intriguing idea that is starting to pop up. As some playoff doors close, others potentially open. 

    TCU and Baylor have shown that at least one of them is a legitimate player in the postseason conversation.

Loser: Michigan State

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    Al Goldis/Associated Press

    As far as playoff hopes are concerned, Michigan State's likely bit the dust Saturday night. A road loss at Oregon early in the season—even if by double digits—wasn't insurmountable.

    But losing at home to Ohio State 49-37? That should do the trick. Not only do the Spartans have two losses, but neither ended up being all that close. Even if things get chaotic at year's end, that's probably not going to cut it in the committee's eyes. 

    A hope for a Big Ten East (and Big Ten) title isn't out of the question yet. Ohio State has to go on the road to Minnesota next week in what could be a tricky game. Then, there's the season-ending game against Michigan if you believe rivalry games require tossing out the record books. 

    Meanwhile, the Spartans would have to take care of their business against Maryland, Rutgers and Penn State. 

    This was a statement win for Ohio State and another instance where Michigan State came up short.

Winner: Ohio State

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Everything Ohio State has done leading up to Saturday was broken down into two parts: how much the offense has grown since the Virginia Tech loss in Week 2, and whether it could handle Michigan State.

    The answers now are clear: a lot, and yes. 

    The Buckeyes put up 568 yards of offense in a 49-37 win over the Spartans, an unconventional shootout for both teams given how the series has gone recently. It also marked head coach Urban Meyer's first win over a top-15 team with the Buckeyes. 

    Quarterback J.T. Barrett had perhaps his best game of the season, throwing for 300 yards, rushing for another 86 and accounting for five total touchdowns. Running back Ezekiel Elliott had one of his best days as well, rushing for 154 yards and two touchdowns.

    The Spartans defense isn't as stingy as it was a year ago, but putting up 49 points is impressive all the same. Ohio State's new-look offensive line was torn to shreds by Virginia Tech's defense early in the year; for it to come together like it has over the past two months has been special to watch.

    The Buckeyes improved on offense against lesser opponents, but Saturday's win showed it wasn't just the competition. As Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports tweeted, whether Ohio State gets into the playoff remains to be seen, but does anyone want to play the Buckeyes right now?

    This is arguably college football's most improved team over the past eight weeks. 

Winner: Alabama Quarterback Blake Sims

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Once again, we ask: Remember when Jake Coker was Alabama's next starting quarterback and the jury was out on Blake Sims?

    It seems so long ago now. 

    Sims has been a pleasant surprise for most of the season, but one of his biggest tests as a first-year starting quarterback came at LSU on Saturday. Sims didn't have his finest game in a 20-13 overtime win over the Tigers, but he came through when his team needed him most.

    Down 13-10 with under a minute remaining, and with the help of a kickoff out of bounds, Sims drove Alabama's offense 55 yards on nine plays to set up the game-tying field goal. Sims was 4-of-6 passing and had one of the lengthiest and undoubtedly most important five-yard scrambles of the game to get a key first down. 

    Sims then threw the go-ahead touchdown to DeAndrew White in overtime. 

    Alabama has its flaws, but it stayed alive in the SEC West and playoff race with a win. It wouldn't have happened without Sims' big drive. 

Loser: Utah Wide Receiver Kaelin Clay

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    USA TODAY Sports

    You’d think by now one of the top priorities for every football player across every level of the sport would be the same: Make sure you secure the football while you cross the goal line. Let go of it too soon in celebration and you risk fumbling for a touchback.

    As Utah receiver Kaelin Clay found out, however, a touchback would have been a best-case scenario.

    Clay released the ball early on what would have been a 78-yard touchdown. The ball, resting in bounds, was recovered by Oregon and returned 100 yards for a score. Instead of Utah holding a 14-0 lead, Oregon tied the game at 7-7.

    The Ducks would go on to win 51-27, so the outcome of the game may not have rested on Clay’s gaffe per se, though it certainly influenced momentum. Either way, it wasn't what you'd call his finest hour. 

Winner: Oregon Quarterback Marcus Mariota

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    USA TODAY Sports

    We're getting to the point where we're running out of things to say about Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. He's just special and without a doubt one of the Heisman front-runners—if not the clear favorite. 

    For the second straight week Mariota and Oregon handled one of the better defenses in the Pac-12, and maybe the country, in a 51-27 win over Utah. Mariota accounted for 353 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns against the Utes. It was the seventh game this season he recorded at least four touchdowns. 

    Mariota is making performances like these look almost pedestrian, and he's even more impressive when plays break down. 

    An underlying storyline that's developing is the mounting injuries for Oregon. Tight end Pharaoh Brown and center Hroniss Grasu were just two of the players banged up against Utah. How that affects Oregon going forward remains to be seen, but Mariota has been playing well all season despite injuries around him.

    With a fairly easy road to the Pac-12 championship, that shouldn't change. 

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