College Football Recap- Week 13

Truly, the “Cluster” of life consumed me last week! Between a busy work schedule, Thanksgiving, preparing for Christmas, and many family duties; I struggled to keep my head above water. As a result, I was unable to post my “College Football Recap- Week 12” and my “College Football Picks- Week 13”.

I apologize to all of you who visited “The Cluster” last week, but came away “empty handed”- much like Michigan and Washington State! Trust me, I was very upset with myself for not getting the recap and picks completed. This past week was so important for college football because it was “Rivalry Week”!

For most teams the regular season concluded either on Saturday, or at some point during the Thanksgiving week. With the exception of Army and Navy, the remaining teams will finish-up this week. Some will be playing in a make-up game due to weather (severe lightening, hurricanes, wild fires, etc.), some will be playing in their final regular season match-up, and the rest will be playing in their respective conference championship game.

Obviously there is much to discuss with so many games and story lines to unravel. But as always, I will give you my perspective on what I thought was important and/or entertaining. So after a week off, here is the much anticipated College Football Recap- Week 13!

“TTFDB”- 62, Michigan- 39 
If you have been keeping up with my posts, then you know that I am a life-long Michigan fan who was born and raised in the state of Ohio. So of course I am disgusted, disappointed, frustrated, etc. However, other than the very high score, I was not surprised by the final outcome.

I have had an uneasy, sick feeling the entire season leading up to “The Game”. For some reason, the “Sports Gods” have put a curse on Michigan Football since the beginning of the 21st Century. I don’t understand it, and I certainly can’t explain it; but over the years I have grown very accustomed to defeat, disappointment, mediocrity, and heartbreak.

In my gut I somehow knew that “TTFDB” would come out and play their best game of the season. “TTFDB” has been floundering ever since week #5, and honestly should have been no better than an (8-3) team heading into Saturday. But when it mattered most, when the stakes were at the highest peak, “TTFDB” decided to rise-up in dominating fashion!

The Wolverine defense could not stop “TTFDB” at all!!! Honestly, they couldn’t even slow them down…not even a little. Quarterback, Dwayne Haskins, led his offense up and down the field with great ease and comfort. When it was all said and done, Haskins finished with 396 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Michigan appeared to be moving in slow motion (especially the defensive backs) as they tried to chase the “TTFDB” receivers all over the field. The Wolverine defense was supposed to be “great”, but they looked like a bad “JV” squad going against a talented varsity unit.

I think that the game can be summarized in 3-main points:
(1) “TTFDB’s” offensive game-plan was perfect.
(1) Michigan had no answer on defense.

(2) “TTFDB’s” offensive execution was perfect.
(2) Michigan’s execution was far from perfect (non-existent on defense).

(3) “TTFDB’s” intensity was very high (right where it should have been for this kind of game).
(3) Michigan seemed to have very little intensity or “fight” (which was absurd considering all that was on the line).

Now, “TTFDB” will be playing in the Big Ten Championship Game this Saturday night against Northwestern. If they win, it will be their second consecutive Big Ten Title. And of course, with this dominating win, “TTFDB” has kept their college football playoff hopes alive. They may need some help from Texas, but overall they have put themselves in a good position.

Oklahoma- 59, West Virginia- 56 
Believe it or not, this was not an early season Big 12 match-up in Men’s Hoops! It was just another typical football game for these two teams…No Biggie!!!

Total Yards: West Virginia- 704, Oklahoma- 668
First Downs: West Virginia- 33, Oklahoma- 25

This was a game that West Virginia could have easily won, and it really boiled-down to 3-main things:
(1) Two, poor coaching decisions by Dana Holgorsen
(2) Two, careless fumbles by Will Grier
(3) A really bad penalty by a West Virginia wide receiver

Bad Decision #1 
Each team scored touchdowns on their first two possessions of the game, resulting in a 14-14 score. On West Virginia’s third possession, they drove back down the field where they faced a 4th-and-6 from the 10 yard line.

Instead of kicking a short field goal to regain the lead, coach Holgorsen elected to go for it. Will Grier’s pass sailed incomplete and the Mountaineers came away with no points. I thought that it was a really bad decision because you don’t want to give away easy points in a game such as this.

Bad Decision #2 
Late in the 4th quarter West Virginia scored to pull within 3. At this point, there was 4:20 on the clock and the Mountaineers had 2 (maybe 3) timeouts remaining. Instead of kicking it deep, coach Holgorsen decided to go for an on-side kick, which Oklahoma recovered. Again, I didn’t agree with the decision.

West Virginia’s defense actually got the Sooners into a 4th-and-5 situation, but since Oklahoma was far enough in “plus territory” because of the on-side kick, they went for it. The Sooners got the first down, and from there they were able to run-out the clock. Had the Mountaineers kicked it deep, Oklahoma would have been forced to punt, which would have given West Virginia one last chance.

The Fumbles 
Despite the lack of defense being played by both teams, Oklahoma actually scored 2 defensive touchdowns! In each case, the Sooner defense created pressure on quarterback, Will Grier, and caused him to fumble both times. Oklahoma returned each fumble for a touchdown.

We definitely want to give credit to the Sooner defense for making a couple of “Big-Time” plays. However, these touchdowns would not have occurred if Will Grier had properly secured the ball. He should have held the football firmly in his arms and been content with taking the sack.

The Penalty 
The truly painful reality for West Virginia fans is that the 2nd scoop-and-score should have never even happened. Before this game-changing play ever occurred, the Mountaineers had made another explosive run which advanced the ball inside the Oklahoma 10 yard line.

At this point, the score was 52-49 and West Virginia was looking to regain the lead! However, this huge run got called back because of a personal foul on wide receiver, T.J. Simmons. Simmons had made a great, down-field block for his teammate. However, he continued to push and block the defender out of bounds (way out of bounds…at least 5 yards). The referee had no choice but to throw the flag.

Instead of West Virginia taking the lead, Will Grier ended-up fumbling, and Oklahoma ended-up scoring. The Sooners went up 59-49, which was all the points that they would need to win the game.

Other Great Games 

Texas A&M- 74, LSU- 72 (7 Overtimes) 
Again, not a basketball score!!! LSU probably should have won this game, but the Aggies were able to pull-out a minor “miracle” to come up with an incredible victory. Texas A&M has lost a couple heart-breaking games this season. However, on Saturday, it seemed as if “Lady Luck” was on their side.

Washington- 28, Washington State- 15 
This game looked like it was being played in one of those “winter wonderland” snow-globes. I think that the weather greatly benefited the Huskies because of their style of play. Needless to say, it was very entertaining to watch!

Arizona State- 41, Arizona- 40 
This one is going to sting Arizona for a very, very long time! Going into the 4th quarter, the Wildcats held a 40-21 lead over their bitter, in-state rivals. However, the Sun Devils scored 20 unanswered points and Arizona missed a 45 yard field goal as time expired…Wow!!!

Virginia Tech- 34, Virginia- 31 (Overtime) 
This was a pretty wild contest from start to finish which had a little bit of everything. The Cavaliers scored 17 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to take a 31-24 lead. The Hokies responded with a quick touchdown drive and tied the game with less than 2 minutes remaining. In overtime Virginia fumbled a hand-off exchange which secured the win for Virginia Tech.

Utah- 35, BYU- 27 
This is a fantastic rivalry game known as the “Holy War”. BYU took a 20-0 lead into the half, and proceeded to go up 27-7 late in the 3rd quarter. But the Utes came storming back by scoring 28 straight points (21 in the 4th). Utah broke the hearts of their very bitter, in-state rivals!

There were several other great games that took place on “Rivalry Week”, but I just can’t possibly mention them all. College Football- Week 13 was definitely filled with plenty of excitement, drama, and heart-break!

Remaining Playoff Contenders 

Despite all the chaos, despite all the upsets, despite all the “close calls”, “What are we left with”? We are left with the “Same old, same old”- Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Georgia, Oklahoma, and “TTFDB”. Of course, Notre Dame is new to the CFP discussion this year, and Georgia was new to the party last season. But when it’s all said and done, we have the same 4 or 5 teams that we always do…What a bummer!

If you remember, I predicted this back in September in my College Football Recap- Week 5. It may not have been a “literal” prediction, but it was definitely a realistic, projected outcome. Anyways, let’s look at the CFP Rankings as we head into the final weekend.

1. Alabama (12-0)
2. Clemson (12-0)
3. Notre Dame (12-0)
4. Georgia (11-1) 
5. Oklahoma (11-1) 
6. “TTFDB” (11-1) 
7. Michigan (10-2) 
8. UCF (11-0) 

I included the “Top 8” because of UCF. I know that it is a “long-shot”, but technically UCF still has a chance to make it. Personally, I think that that the Golden Knights should have been ranked #7 (ahead of Michigan), but obviously the committee felt differently.

Alabama will play Georgia on Saturday, so one of them will lose. Almost everyone is under the belief that if Georgia pulls-off the upset, then both Georgia and Alabama will finish in the “Top 4”. But if Alabama wins as expected, then most likely Georgia will be knocked out of the discussion.

Notre Dame is not in a conference; therefore, they will not play (no chance to lose). So all eyes will be on Oklahoma, “TTFDB”, and UCF. The outcomes of these three games will determine “Who’s In” and “Who’s Out”. Each of these teams will need to win, and win impressively in order to “make their case” before the committee.

I can’t wait for this Saturday to see how everything shakes out! Get ready for one more “action-packed” and exciting weekend in College Football!!!