We saw a lot top teams stumble over an epic Thanksgiving weekend. Wisconsin shocked Minnesota to steal a spot in the Big Ten Championship, and Auburn fans stormed the field after the Tigers beat Alabama in a wild Iron Bowl. We still have no idea who will take that fourth and final College Football Playoff spot, and thankfully we only have to wait one more week to find out.
In the meantime, let’s look at the biggest winners and losers from a crazy Week 14:
1. Wisconsin’s resurgence
The Badgers clinched a spot in the Big Ten Championship game with a 38–17 road win over No. 9 Minnesota, securing their fifth 10-win season in the last six years. Quarterback Jack Coan had two momentum-changing touchdowns passes, while star running back Jonathan Taylor scored three more. Since consecutive October losses to Illinois and Ohio State, Taylor has 102 carries for 752 yards and five rushing touchdowns.
Now, No. 12 Wisconsin has a chance for revenge against the top-ranked Buckeyes in next week’s conference title game. In their first matchup this season, Taylor was held to a season-low 52 rushing yards on 20 carries as Ohio State stud defensive end Chase Young wreaked havoc on the offense. Can Paul Chryst & Co. sustain their November momentum and pull off one of the biggest upsets of the season?
2. Virginia wins ACC Coastal
Virginia won the ACC Coastal for the first time ever by beating Virginia Tech, 39–30. Bryce Perkins threw for 311 yards, rushed for 164 yards, and scored two touchdowns to become the first Virginia quarterback to lead his team to victory over the Hokies since Matt Schaub in 2003.
So, what’s UVA’s prize for beating its rival and winning the division? A date with Clemson in the ACC title game next week. Can Virginia play spoiler to the Tigers’ perfect season?
3. Upcoming CFP chaos
Who doesn’t love a bit of pandemonium on the final weekend before the selection committee names its four-team playoff field? We know the top three will include some ranking of Ohio State, LSU and Clemson, but who will earn that fourth spot?
Alabama is out after Auburn upset the Tua Tagovailoa–less Tide, 48–45. Meanwhile, Utah clobbered Colorado, Baylor blew out Kansas, and Oklahoma looked like its old self with a road win over Oklahoma State in the annual Bedlam matchup.
Now it’s up to those three teams to make their final cases in their respective conference championship games. The Utes can make a statement with a dominant win over Oregon in the Pac-12 title, while the Big 12’s hopes lie in the top-10 rematch between the Bears and Sooners.
1. Michigan can’t beat Ohio State
Ohio State beat Michigan again, this time by a score of 56–27 at the Big House. The Wolverines have lost 16 of their last 18 to the Buckeyes, and Jim Harbaugh is now 0–5 against his program’s greatest rival.
The latest loss shows that the Wolverines are nowhere near the Buckeyes’ level. After the game, a reporter asked Harbaugh whether his inability to beat Ohio State was due to a “talent gap, a preparation gap, or a coaching gap.” Clearly offended, Harbaugh told the reporter that he would “answer your questions, not your insults.”
Perhaps the answer is that there’s a gap in all three areas. At least when it comes to the Buckeyes. And until Harbaugh can figure out a way to address those problems, Michigan will never be a championship team.
2. Alabama’s shot at the CFP
Alabama’s College Football Playoff hopes are officially over after a 48–45 loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl. This will be the first time the Tide won’t participate in the semifinal since the playoff’s inception in 2014.
Nick Saban’s team gave up two pick-sixes, including this one Zakoby McClain returned for 100 yards in the third quarter:
Later, with two minutes left to play, Bama’s Joseph Bulovas missed a game-tying 30-yard field goal. Auburn couldn’t get a first down on its final drive, but on fourth down the Tide was called for an illegal substitution after the Tigers lined up with its punter as a wide receiver. The penalty prevented Alabama from getting one final shot to tie or win the game. Saban was infuriated, Malzahn pumped his fists, and Auburn fans rushed the field. Although, some got caught in the bushes on their way.
The Tide end the regular season 10–2 with losses against two very good teams (LSU and Auburn) by a total of eight points. But this is a program that’s always national championship or bust. Now Saban will work on regaining program dominance by turning his focus to the recruiting trail.
3. Texas A&M flailing under Jimbo
Losing to LSU this season is not something to get too upset about—the Tigers and their explosive offense have been dominating teams all year. But on Saturday, the Tigers took Jimbo Fisher’s team down in extra embarrassing fashion. LSU had a 21–0 lead after the first quarter, was up 31–0 by halftime, and won 50–7.
In his final game at Death Valley, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow only helped his Heisman Trophy candidacy by completing 23 of 32 passes for 352 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Meanwhile, A&M quarterback Kellen Mond had a rough night, going 10-of-30 for just 92 yards passing with three interceptions.
There’s no question Texas A&M had one of the toughest schedules in the country, going 7–5 this season with losses to five top 10 teams (Clemson, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia and LSU). But we expect more from Fisher in his second year coaching the Aggies.