Winners and Losers of Week 13 in College Football
College football entered Week 13 with four undefeated teams, but only two survived a weekend full of movement on—and off—the field.
While a couple of twists shook up the playoff race, the entertaining slate also finalized several matchups for conference championships. Auburn's victory in the Iron Bowl was the most important story of the weekend because it fit both criteria.
Second-ranked Miami also couldn't hold off an upset, so the rankings are due for an overhaul entering the conference-championship slate. Plus, the final regular-season week for most programs around the country has sent the coaching carousel spinning.
We're recapping all the madness in one handy place.
Note: This piece will be updated as games turn final.
Winner: Central Florida Knights
The selection committee has shown no respect for an enjoyable Central Florida team. At this point, it is what it is.
And the Knights are what they are—which is undefeated at 11-0.
UCF Quarterback McKenzie Milton accounted for 429 yards and five touchdowns in a thrilling 49-42 triumph opposite a 9-1 South Florida team. Mike Hughes provided the game-winning score when he returned a kickoff 95 yards with 1:28 remaining.
It's a shame the College Football Playoff isn't a reasonable possibility for UCF, but the Knights can still secure a national stage. They'll take on Memphis, a team they obliterated 40-13 in September, with a chance to earn the AAC crown and a New Year's Six bowl bid.
Loser: Miami's Undefeated Year
On the bright side for the Miami Hurricanes, they didn't absolutely, positively need a win Friday at Heinz Field.
Because that was ugly.
While Miami had consistently found a way to escape close games with victories earlier in the season, Mark Richt's club basically failed to show up at Pitt. The Panthers had more energy and played a more physical game in a 24-14 upset of the nation's No. 2 team.
Hurricanes quarterback Malik Rosier posted a horrid 12-of-30, 129-yard line before he picked up 58 yards and a touchdown in garbage time. He was so ineffective that Richt brought in second-stringer Evan Shirreffs for an ill-fated fourth-quarter drive.
Miami can still reach the playoff with a victory over Clemson in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 2, but the regular season ended on a sour note.
Winner: Chip Kelly
Chip Kelly is back in the coaching game.
Kelly enjoyed four successful seasons at Oregon prior to coaching the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers, so he's familiar with the West Coast and the Pac-12. That experience may have provided a key difference in his choosing UCLA instead of Florida.
Although he shouldn't be considered a sure thing, Kelly had three 12-win years at Oregon. He's worth the risk for a program that has never won 11 games in a season.
Loser: Texas Longhorns
Tom Herman's debut season has another game remaining, but the Longhorns are limping into their eventual bowl matchup.
Friday night, Texas held a 23-13 advantage early in the fourth quarter. Texas Tech brought in former starting quarterback Nic Shimonek to replace an ineffective McLane Carter, and the Red Raiders scored a pair of touchdowns to steal a 27-23 road win.
By no means should a 6-6 regular season result in anything more than reasonable criticism for things such as late-game collapses and overall inconsistency. For now, year one is simply a blemish on the resume.
Yet it's OK to say this was a terrible loss.
Winner: Bill Clark, Coach of the Year
UAB finished the 2015 and 2016 seasons with zero wins in zero games. The Blazers tallied eight victories in 2017.
That's a school record. After a two-year hiatus.
If Bill Clark doesn't win Coach of the Year, why does the award exist?
UAB capped the regular season with a 28-7 triumph over UTEP, which failed to record a win. Quarterback A.J. Erdely tossed a pair of scores, and the defense limited the visitors to a mere 208 yards of total offense.
The Blazers will soon prepare for only the second bowl appearance in program history, and it's a testament to Clark's achievements.
Losers: Coaches Who Were Fired This Year
Florida, Tennessee, UCLA, Ole Miss, Oregon State, Georgia Southern, South Alabama and UTEP were already looking for new head coaches.
UCLA and Oregon State found replacements in Kelly and Beau Baldwin, respectively, but three more schools—Arkansas, Nebraska and Kent State—joined the group after Week 13.
Arkansas fired Bret Bielema following a 4-8 season, ending his five-year tenure with a 29-34 record. Nebraska moved on from Mike Riley, who mustered a 19-19 mark in three seasons. Paul Haynes only had 14 wins in five campaigns with Kent State.
The coaching carousel has reached a full-speed spin, and it's a certainty that more changes—heads up, Texas A&M—are coming.
Winner: Ohio State Buckeyes
Michigan made Ohio State earn it, but the eighth-ranked Buckeyes survived a hard-fought clash in Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines—who claimed an early 14-point lead—held a 20-14 advantage in the third quarter when J.T. Barrett exited due to a knee injury. However, backup quarterback Dwayne Haskins entered the game and soon completed the most important pass of the day.
Facing a 3rd-and-13 following two straight false-start penalties, Haskins lofted a perfectly thrown ball to Austin Mack for a 27-yard gain. J.K. Dobbins finished the drive with the go-ahead score, and Ohio State added 10 more points for the final 31-20 margin.
The No. 9 Buckeyes are a win over Wisconsin away from putting the selection committee in a challenging spot.
Loser: Big 12 Drama
Through 10 games, West Virginia had only fallen to ranked teams and played competitively in each of those contests. The regular-season finale at Oklahoma looked like it would be entertaining game.
Quarterback Will Grier's finger injury changed that in a big way. Rather than the Mountaineers giving the nation's No. 4 team a legitimate battle, the Sooners won a laugher.
Baker Mayfield sat out the first possession, which lasted two plays and resulted in a Rodney Anderson rushing touchdown. He did that four times, while Mayfield wrecked the West Virginia defense for 238 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 completions.
Then the first half ended.
Oklahoma cruised to a 59-31 win. It's 11-1 entering the Big 12 Championship Game, and a victory against TCU on Dec. 2 will mean a playoff berth.
Winner: Auburn Tigers
After coughing up a 20-point lead to LSU in mid-October, Auburn saw its championship hopes become extremely thin.
Thanks to the 26-14 triumph over No. 1 Alabama in the Iron Bowl, though, the Tigers successfully navigated five consecutive must-win games to close the regular season.
Gus Malzahn's team earned that victory in impressive fashion, only trailing for about 10 minutes in the third quarter. Kerryon Johnson collected 125 offensive yards and one touchdown before he exited with an injury, and Auburn ceded just 7.7 yards per Jalen Hurts pass attempt.
No. 6 Auburn will climb a couple of spots in the playoff rankings, and a rematch with No. 7 Georgia in the SEC title game will determine whether the Tigers finalize an improbable surge to the four-team tournament.
Loser: Alabama's Undefeated Year
Alabama did some very un-Alabama-like things in the loss to Auburn. The defense surrendered nine third-down conversions, had a couple of errant snaps—even if a penalty bailed out the Tide once—and extended a drive because of an offsides on a punt.
Plain and simple, Auburn was the better team.
So, now the question is: Will the committee think Alabama is one of the nation's four best teams?
That cannot be answered at this moment, since championship-week results will determine whether we have straightforward conference winners. If Ohio State beats Wisconsin, and TCU defeats Oklahoma, however, things will get weird.
Alabama's playoff dreams are dependent on the success of top-ranked teams and the mercy of the committee.
Winner: Wisconsin Badgers
It's going to take a playoff contender to knock off Wisconsin.
Minnesota, the last regular-season hope for anyone who doubted the Badgers, played like you'd expect a 5-6 team to. Wisconsin is excellent, whether you've accepted it or not.
Freshman running back Jonathan Taylor, who would be a deserving Heisman Trophy finalist, scampered for 149 yards and a score. Alex Hornibrook tossed three touchdowns, and the Badgers limited Minnesota to a meager 133 yards of offense.
Wisconsin has now tied a school record with 12 wins, and one final victory opposite Ohio State would propel the Badgers to the playoff.
Loser: Washington State Cougars
Washington State wasn't a threat to reach the CFP, but Mike Leach's crew still could've won the Pac-12 North Division by defeating rival Washington in the Apple Cup.
Well, that wasn't close to happening.
Huskies running back Myles Gaskin collected 192 yards rushing and four touchdowns, and the defense intercepted a pair of Luke Falk passes inside the 25-yard line to kill drives. The Dawgs steadily built a 34-0 advantage before Washington State finally dented the scoreboard, ultimately rolling to a 41-14 blowout.
Though the Cougars weren't expected to win the showdown anyway, they'll be disappointed at the way they lost. And as a result, Stanford will represent the North in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Winner: Clemson's Case to Be No. 1
While the nation's No. 1 and No. 2 teams fell in Week 13, No. 3 Clemson left no doubt it should assume the position of top-ranked program.
Cornerback Ryan Carter kicked off the scoring with a 12-yard pick-six for the 11-1 Tigers, and QB Kelly Bryant twice connected with Hunter Renfrow for a touchdown. Travis Etienne also scored to help Clemson build a 34-0 advantage over South Carolina en route to a 34-10 win.
The No. 24 Gamecocks didn't have a chance in the Palmetto Bowl. They mustered a season-worst 207 yards of total offense and failed to score until the fourth quarter.
Most importantly for Clemson, its fourth straight win in the series means the ACC title is officially a winner-to-the-CFP matchup with Miami.
Loser: Notre Dame's Slim CFP Hopes
Miami effectively eliminated Notre Dame from the playoff chase two weeks ago, but a segment on ESPN's College GameDay featuring blind resumes suggested the Irish shouldn't be counted out. The debate was worth having, even if improbable.
However, loss No. 3 rendered the conversation irrelevant.
Notre Dame edged ahead 20-17 late in the third quarter on a field goal, and that was basically the last positive thing that happened to Brian Kelly's squad in a 38-20 loss at Stanford.
Within the opening five minutes of the final frame, Stanford scored a touchdown, intercepted a pass, scored another touchdown, recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and scored again.
With a win, the Irish would've appeared in a New Year's Six bowl game. But a 9-3 record means they're headed somewhere far less noteworthy.