Michigan, Alabama and Oklahoma State star in a blockbuster Rivalry Week

Rivalry Weeks are quite a bit like “Quick and Livid” films. There’s typically enormous quantities of animosity among the many stars. The plots make completely no sense. And most importantly, there are not any unhealthy ones, simply various quantities of bloodshed and pyrotechnics.

The 2020 installment was basically the “Tokyo Drift” of Rivalry Weeks — many huge names not collaborating, a somewhat lackluster outing — however 2021 was one thing totally different. It was drama and heartbreak. It was heroism. It was the underdog lastly reaching greatness. It was the villain getting back from the lifeless. It was Oscar bait. It had all the things.

And like all nice Rivalry Weeks, the twists and turns of this one have been solely surprising.

In The Sport, Jim Harbaugh lastly peeled the monkey off his again, as Michigan‘s protection held Ohio State to a season low in factors and yardage, and the Wolverines’ floor sport ran for miles.

Within the Iron Bowl, Auburn practically pulled off the inconceivable, solely to see Bryce Young claw his method down the sector for a game-tying landing, then win in additional time.

At Bedlam, it was absolute chaos — from defensive touchdowns to particular groups disasters to 2 late stands by the Oklahoma State protection, which delivered the ultimate stake by means of the center of an Oklahoma group that had miraculously survived one nail-biter after one other this season.

We start each Rivalry Week by throwing the information out the window, as was agreed upon within the Camp David accords of 1978, however this nonetheless felt like some delirious fiction.

This season has had however one true certainty: The Georgia protection. The Bulldogs stomped on little brother Georgia Tech as anticipated, they usually wrapped the common season having allowed simply eight offensive touchdowns. For some perspective, FBS defenses have allowed that many in a single sport 30 occasions this yr. However there was a ray of hope to cease Georgia’s Dying Star. It was the Ohio State offense, behind C.J. Stroud and TreVeyon Henderson and a trio of ridiculously proficient receivers. Per week in the past, the Buckeyes embarrassed Michigan State, and the narrative was set. It is simply that Harbaugh did not learn that narrative. (He solely listens to Nicholas Sparks books on tape.)

A yr in the past, Michigan followers have been able to run Harbaugh out of city, a big-name coach who could not win a giant sport. Now, the Wolverines have halted an eight-game shedding streak to that group down south, they usually’re however a single win over Iowa away from a berth within the Faculty Soccer Playoff. They did it not with a big-play passing sport or an up-tempo offense, however with an old school ground-and-pound assault that racked up 297 yards and 6 touchdowns on the bottom towards an overwhelmed Buckeyes protection. They did it on the energy of Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, probably the most ferocious go speeding tandem within the nation, who harassed Stroud all through the sport, racking up 4 sacks between them. They did it with a coach who thinks sun shades and khakis are a trend assertion, chickens are nervous birds and the sixth time’s the appeal. The Wolverines have been going to beat Ohio State “or die making an attempt,” Harbaugh mentioned this week, and each he and the Wolverines dwell to struggle one other day. Michigan is a nostalgic throwback in an period of stylized pleasure — proper right down to singing “Mr. Brightside” when it was over.

Nick Saban made his personal headlines this week, calling out his “self-absorbed” fans for dismissing so many shut wins as one thing beneath the Tide’s anticipated brilliance. However after Younger drove the Tide 97 yards on 12 performs and floated a pinpoint throw over Ja’Corey Brooks‘ shoulder within the last minute of the Iron Bowl, no Alabama followers shall be complaining. It was magic. That Auburn’s Tank Bigsby blew a chance to run down the clock on the Tigers’ last drive or that Bryan Harsin by no means thought-about going for 2 within the first additional time affords ample room for criticism on The Plains, however what’s true is Younger’s place in Iron Bowl lore was predestined. Whether or not the most recent shut win was fodder for critics or precise ammunition for the committee stays to be seen, however for one good Saturday afternoon, it did not matter.

What to make of Bedlam? Oklahoma State scored on a 100-yard kick return, gave up a security, allowed a scoop-and-score TD, missed a discipline objective and scored after Oklahoma muffed a punt contained in the 5. It is uncommon Mike Gundy can put on a turtleneck below a sweater and that is not even near the ugliest a part of an Oklahoma State sport. And but, all of it someway labored. The Sooners had crushed the Pokes 16 of the previous 18, together with six straight, however this yr, issues have been totally different. The Oklahoma State protection has been a revelation all season, arguably the most effective unit within the nation after the Dawgs’ D, and regardless of being left for lifeless a half-dozen occasions this season — together with halfway by means of the third quarter Saturday — Oklahoma State has an actual shot on the playoff, too. When Collin Oliver, splayed on the bottom, grabbed Caleb Williams‘ ankles and ended the Sooners’ last comeback try, one other domino fell.

By seven seasons, the Faculty Soccer Playoff was outlined by 4 groups: Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma. No less than three will not be on this yr’s playoff, and Alabama is hanging on by the pores and skin of its tooth. Who would’ve guessed?

It is becoming that this ridiculous season started with Clemson and Georgia slugging one another into oblivion in a sport that did not embrace an offensive landing. It was a precursor for what this season has grow to be — a yr destined to be totally different, not outlined by elite QBs or offensive fireworks or the identical blue bloods who’ve owned the game for the previous decade. From Georgia to Oklahoma State, Michigan to Cincinnati, it has been a yr for the old-school, for the bodily punishing floor video games and the heavyweight defenses. It has been ugly at occasions, however maybe, as a mid-2000s alt-rock band as soon as sang, that is simply been the value we pay when future is looking, and once we open our eyes, we’ll see a complete new faculty soccer world awaits.

Unhealthy home friends

It has been a wild year for fans storming the field, from Kansas followers partying after narrowly escaping an FCS opponent in Week 1 to UMass followers speeding onto the turf after beating winless UConn.

However Rivalry Week is an altogether totally different animal, and so Washington State and Virginia Tech followers took it up a notch.

On Friday, the Cougars scored a mammoth win over Washington within the Apple Cup — and out got here the followers onto the sector. Solely, it was Washington’s discipline. The customer field-storming instantly joined the pantheon of nice moments of celebrating behind enemy traces, proper up there with Baker Mayfield planting the flag on the Horseshoe or that point the children at Valley kidnapped Screech earlier than the massive cheerleading competitors at Bayside on “Saved by the Bell.”

To not be outdone, Virginia Tech’s followers stormed the sector at Scott Stadium after the Hokies toppled rival Virginia for the seventeenth time in 18 years, regardless of firing their coach two weeks in the past. Afterward, Hokies followers raided Virginia’s fridge, trashed the lounge and crashed on the sofa. Do not wake them up too early Sunday. It was an extended night time.

Rivalry Week rundown

Not each Rivalry Week sport has playoff implications, however all of them matter. Let’s test in on a few of the greatest video games that did not upend the committee’s rankings.

The Land Grant trophy

Amid heavy snow, Kenneth Walker III ran for 138 yards and a TD, Drew Beesley tormented Sean Clifford, and regardless of his hefty new contract, Mel Tucker apparently could not afford a pleasant hat to maintain heat throughout the sport. Both method, Michigan State dumped Penn State 30-27 to get to 10 wins and earn the title of the most effective group that wasn’t Michigan or Ohio State of their division.

The Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe

Essentially the most-played rivalry in faculty soccer is the one between Wisconsin and Minnesota, and several other of the followers who tuned in for the 2021 version have been nonetheless awake when it ended with a 23-13 Gophers win. Graham Mertz was simply 21-of-38 for 171 yards and an interception within the loss, which price the Badgers a visit to the Massive Ten title sport. On the upside, he is already designing an excellent cool new brand utilizing comedian sans and 2022 is certainly going to be his yr.

Clear, Outdated-Original Hate

It is no shock that Georgia gained this one simply. The excellent news for Georgia Tech is nobody was so demoralized that they gave up on their soccer desires and have become an English main. The Yellow Jackets completed with three wins for the third straight season, shedding their previous two by a mixed rating of 100-0.

The Palmetto Bowl

Think about a group that gave No. 1 UGA by far its hardest take a look at of the yr, gained 5 straight to finish the season, topped 30 factors in every of these video games, and had one of the dominant defenses within the nation. Fairly good group, proper? Nah. Large disappointment. That is 2021 Clemson.

The Territorial Cup

Arizona State threw for simply 86 yards however nonetheless gained 38-15 over Arizona and gained this yr’s award for probably the most meh group within the nation. Was Arizona State good? Meh. Have been they unhealthy? Meh. Ought to Herm Edwards get fired? Meh (although he apparently won’t). Completely nothing about this group evokes a robust opinion.

The Scorching Rooster Trophy

We do not really know what the TennesseeVanderbilt rivalry is named, however all the things is sweet with a bit of scorching sauce on it. Tennessee was a 20-point favourite within the first half of this sport and led 24-0 simply earlier than the break, however Vandy threw a 56-yard TD as time expired. As unhealthy beats go, there’s nothing fairly like getting demoralized by Vandy.

The Land of Lincoln Trophy

Illinois demolished Northwestern 47-14. It was a stable first season in Champaign for Bret Beilema, and the Illini completed a decent 5-7. Northwestern, then again, adopted up its journey to the Massive Ten championship sport in 2020 with a horrific 3-9 marketing campaign that included seven losses by 14 or extra. Additionally, Lincoln was born in Kentucky.

The Governor’s Cup

In Kentucky, there are solely 4 sports activities achievements that basically matter: The Derby, the Closing 4, the Governor’s Cup and, in fact, seeing how a lot they’ll offload a bottle of Blanton’s on eBay for to some sucker in New York. Mark Stoops has owned at the least a kind of competitions, profitable the Governor’s Cup for the third straight yr and, within the course of, will get Kentucky to 10 wins on the season.

The Legends Trophy

Notre Dame secured one other simple win, and with Ohio State’s loss and Alabama’s shaky efficiency, the door definitely appears open for the Irish to make the playoff. In the meantime, Stanford finishes 3-9 after Saturday’s 45-14 beatdown by the Irish, nevertheless it’s OK as a result of nobody in Silicon Valley is anticipated to truly have a steady monitor document of success. It is about knowledge assortment.

The Seven-OT Cup

Ed Orgeron’s career at LSU came to an end (at the least till he returns because the chair of the division of crawfish research) however the Tigers gave their coach a becoming send-off with a nine-play, 85-yard landing drive within the last two minutes of motion towards Texas A&M. A once-promising season for the Aggies now consists of 4 losses (and a win over Alabama, which counts for, what, three wins?) and LSU salvaged a depressing marketing campaign by profitable its last two (after a three-point loss to Alabama, which counts for at the least a win and a half) to get bowl eligible. Nonetheless, it did not go seven overtimes, so it isn’t near the most effective model of this sport.

The Massive Ten’s Mistake Bowl

Maryland thrashed Rutgers 40-16 in a sport that decided that, no, huge East Coast markets do not actually matter that a lot.


Championship Week preview

The common season is within the books. Subsequent up: Convention title video games. So, who wins? We have your early predictions.

SEC matchup: Georgia Bulldogs vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

Keys to the sport: Alabama’s offensive line has been shaky all through the season as evidenced within the Iron Bowl, with Auburn racking up seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss. If Bama’s line appears to be like as shaky towards Georgia, it is solely doable Jordan Davis will merely inhale Bryce Young like a Varsity chili canine.

Who will win: It is an fascinating coincidence that Stetson Bennett, Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey aren’t simply the names of our monetary advisor, normal contractor and life insurance coverage salesman (respectively) but in addition the offensive keys to a giant Georgia win within the SEC title sport.

Massive Ten matchup: Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Michigan Wolverines

Keys to the sport: For Michigan, Cade McNamara might want to flip in a greater efficiency than he did towards Ohio State (159 yards and an INT) as Iowa’s stout protection focuses on shutting down the run. For Iowa, determining that it is doable to maneuver the ball ahead on the sector offensively could be enormous.

Who will win: It will be a good, low-scoring affair in the end determined in Michigan’s favor when, in lieu of regular additional time guidelines, Jim Harbaugh beats Kirk Ferentz in a milk-chugging contest.

Massive 12 matchup: Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Baylor Bears

Keys to the sport: Baylor did not have beginning QB Gerry Bohanon for its must-win sport towards Texas A&M, however the Bears survived 27-24 behind 117 yards on the bottom from Abram Smith. Baylor’s floor sport is its energy, nevertheless it’ll be a troublesome process to run on Oklahoma State’s elite protection.

Who will win: Oklahoma State, however the Cowboys will nonetheless someway open subsequent season ranked decrease than Texas.

ACC matchup: Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. Pittsburgh Panthers

Keys to the sport: Like Samson, Kenny Pickett derives his energy from his hair, which is attractive and flowing. This follows Trevor Lawrence, who gained the previous three ACC championships. Sure, Wake has had a particular season, attending to 10 wins for simply the second time in program historical past with Saturday’s win over Boston Faculty, however the ACC calls for nice groups have nice hair and, actually, Sam Hartman‘s look wants some work.

Who will win: Notre Dame, someway.

Pac-12 matchup: Oregon Ducks vs. Utah Utes

Keys to the sport: After topping Colorado 28-13 on Friday, Utah can rightly declare to be among the many hottest groups within the nation. It is too little, too late to make the Faculty Soccer Playoff, however a Rose Bowl journey could be a pleasant comfort prize. Oregon has its sights set on Pasadena, too, after escaping Oregon State 38-29 Saturday. This one is more likely to come right down to whoever’s coach is not employed away by a group that is not within the Pac-12.

Who will win: The 2021 season had a lot potential for Oregon, however there’s a value to be paid for enjoying within the Pac-12 with an ACC switch at QB. That is an excessive amount of unhealthy mojo. Utah wins this. Devin Lloyd scores on a pick-six, then hits up the Bellagio to rejoice, places all his NIL cash on double zero on the roulette wheel, and wins that, too. He is actually good.

Convention USA matchup: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. UTSA Roadrunners

Keys to the sport: Bailey Zappe threw for 328 yards and 4 touchdowns because the Hilltoppers took down Marshall to safe their bid to the Convention USA title sport. In the meantime, UTSA misplaced its bid for an undefeated season, shedding in blowout trend to North Texas. Zappe has been distinctive all season, together with 523 yards and 5 TDs in a loss to UTSA of their first assembly again in October. This time, nonetheless, Zappe has the proper plan to cease the Roadrunners: Paint a tunnel on the facet of a mountain and simply watch them plow proper into it. Hilarious.

Who will win: WKU has gained seven straight, scored 42 or extra in six of these video games, and actually, actually would adore it if the MAC would invite them to hitch its convention. Severely, MAC, do not make the Hilltoppers sit on the identical lunch desk as UConn and New Mexico State.

Mountain West matchup: Utah State Aggies vs. San Diego State Aztecs

Keys to the sport: Utah State has loved one of many nation’s greatest turnarounds this season below first-year coach Blake Anderson. San Diego State is 11-1 regardless of not having scored an offensive landing all season. (We’ve not fact-checked that stat, nevertheless it feels proper.) First group to twenty wins.

Who will win: There is no universe through which the soccer gods enable each Michigan and Brady Hoke to have concurrent success. It’d simply be too bizarre in the event that they confirmed as much as the identical awards dinner and needed to fake like they have been each blissful and there have been no exhausting emotions and, oh, you look very nice in that uniform. How’s your mother? Seeing anybody? No? Oh. That is fascinating. Then, again on the resort room at 3 a.m., Michigan texts Hoke with a “you up?” and Hoke asks if possibly Michigan simply needs to hang around and go over some performs for outdated time’s sake. Anyway, Utah State wins.

American matchup: Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Houston Cougars

Keys to the sport: Sauce Gardner and Coby Bryant make for a ferocious secondary, however Houston’s passing assault, led by Clayton Tune, supplies arguably the Cincinnati protection’s greatest take a look at to date.

Who will win: The committee simply referred to as the officiating crew from a burner cellphone it purchased at a close-by Buc-ee’s and supplied the situation of a cache of unmarked bearer bonds that could possibly be theirs if a couple of calls go the fitting method.

MAC matchup: Kent State Golden Flashes vs. Northern Illinois Huskies

Keys to the sport: Kent State’s floor sport is outstanding, and QB Dustin Crum is a savvy veteran. NIU has loved a unbelievable turnaround after a dreadful 0-6 marketing campaign in 2020. The Golden Flashes gained the primary matchup by 5 in a shootout.

Who will win: NIU QB Rocky Lombardi appears to be like astonishingly like Flash Gordon. The theme tune to “Flash Gordon” is superior. Subsequently, NIU wins. We’ve not watched plenty of MAC soccer. Sorry.

Solar Belt matchup: Appalachian State Mountaineers vs. Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

Keys to the sport: Louisiana escaped rival ULM on Saturday 21-16. App State rolled Georgia Southern 27-3. Each groups had already secured their place within the Solar Belt championship sport, nonetheless. Louisiana has gained the previous two towards App State, however the distinction this time is head coach Billy Napier seems poised for an even bigger job — presumably Florida.

Who will win: If the Gators identify Napier their subsequent coach, their boosters can wager a hefty sum on App State right here, then use the winnings to pay for Napier’s buyout in 2025 after they get offended about losses to Georgia and Missouri.


Heisman 5

If it have been as much as us, the Heisman would go to whichever participant could be probably the most entertaining in future Nissan Heisman Home advertisements. (The reply, by the best way, is Jordan Davis. The comedy choices listed below are virtually limitless.) Sadly, most voters go by issues like touchdowns and wins and desires crushed. We dwell in a world with very problematic priorities.

1. Alabama QB Bryce Younger

There is a state of affairs, maybe, the place issues go so poorly subsequent week towards Georgia that Younger would not win the Heisman — and given how the Tide’s O-line seemed versus Auburn, that state of affairs is not notably far-fetched — however at this level, it is clearly his to lose. One week after salvaging a win towards Arkansas with 5 landing throws, Younger once more rescued his group, albeit with much more pedestrian numbers. The Bama QB was completely brutalized by the Auburn go rush, and but he was by no means flustered. He was with out his finest receiver for a lot of the sport after Jameson Williams was tossed for targeting, but he put the ball on the cash to the receivers who remained. He received nearly no assist from his working sport, and Younger nonetheless battled. It has been an unimaginable run of QBs at Alabama — from Jalen Hurts to Tua Tagovailoa to Mac Jones — however Younger’s season is perhaps probably the most spectacular, if solely as a result of his supporting solid is arguably the least spectacular.

2. Georgia DT Jordan Davis

There is no such thing as a statistical case to be made for Davis. There may be solely this: He is the most effective participant on the most effective unit on the most effective group. However in case you insist on placing Nakobe Dean in your poll as an alternative, properly, that is additionally a suitable reply. Or go along with c.) All the Above.

3. Alabama LB Will Anderson Jr.

This is the defensive participant with the numbers to again up the Heisman case. Anderson was distinctive once more towards Auburn. He had six solo tackles, three for a loss, plus a sack. Anderson now has 29.5 tackles for loss this season. No FBS participant has had 30 since 2012.

4. Pitt QB Kenny Pickett

Saturday was in all probability Pickett’s worst sport of the season — and he nonetheless threw for 4 touchdowns in a 31-14 win over Syracuse. For all of the gaudy numbers and Heisman moments for the opposite high contenders, there’s one critical case to be made for Pickett: He is not had a foul sport. He is had a number of TD throws in each sport this season, and he is completed with at the least three TDs 10 occasions. He is had 200 yards passing in each sport, 300 eight occasions and topped 400 yards of whole offense 5 occasions. He is not had a sport with fewer than 22 completions or accomplished lower than 58% of his throws. He is been remarkably constant and continuously nice. It is why Pitt has an opportunity at profitable its first ACC championship.

5. Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud

He was hardly terrible Saturday. Stroud completed with 394 passing yards and two TDs. However what shall be remembered, rightfully, is Michigan’s win, and the best way Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo constantly harassed Stroud within the pocket. His numbers rival these of any latest Ohio State QB, however towards the 2 finest groups he performed this season — Oregon and Michigan — his group fell quick. Prefer it or not, that is a part of the Heisman résumé as of late.

Underneath-the-radar sport of the week

MACtion is finest served on Tuesdays, however Kent State and Miami (Ohio) gave us some distinctive leftovers on Saturday, with a spot within the convention championship sport on the road. The RedHawks jumped out to the early lead, 16-7, however Kent State roared again behind tailback Xavier Williams, who completed with 168 yards on the bottom and two scores. From there, the 2 groups traded scores, with Miami marching 80 yards on 17 performs and kicking a game-tying discipline objective with 4 seconds to play. In additional time, Kent State scored on a 1-yard run by Dustin Crum, and Miami matched, however opted to go for 2. Kent State nook Montre Miller swatted away Brett Gabbert‘s throw, and the Golden Flashes gained 48-47.

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Michigan RB Hassan Haskins torches Ohio State with 169 yards speeding and 5 touchdowns because the Wolverines defeat the Buckeyes.

Underneath-the-radar play of the week

Florida State engineered arguably probably the most painful landing drive in faculty soccer historical past late within the fourth quarter of its sport towards Florida — going 92 yards on 16 performs, together with a dumb-luck fumble restoration, six penalties and three sales space opinions — and had an opportunity to win the sport if it may correctly execute an onside kick. Enter Parker Grothaus doing his impression of me taking part in tee ball as a child.

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Kent State wins MAC East as Miami (OH)’s 2-point conversion falls quick

The play is humorous sufficient by itself, however there isn’t any joke that Twitter cannot make a bit funnier.



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