Faculty soccer, by its nature, is supposed to be loved within the second. Positive, the historical past and traditions endure, however the sport is inherently fleeting. Right this moment’s star is tomorrow’s NFL draft decide. A season-defining win can evaporate amid a brutal loss per week later. For all of the consistency of Alabama and Clemson, each Saturday manages to supply a brand new revelation.
The ephemeral nature of the game was on the forefront Saturday, when faculty soccer welcomed Baylor to the massive time, then kicked the Bears to the curb an hour later, capsized Minnesota’s playoff boat and equipped an absolute intestine punch to everybody who has witnessed the brilliance of Tua Tagovailoa, solely to look at him scream right into a towel as his hip throbbed and blood gushed from his face.
There will likely be debate within the days to come back about whether or not Tagovailoa ought to’ve even been on the sector when the damage occurred, what it means for his predicted future within the NFL, how Alabama will rebound, what this second — the sight of one of many sport’s most recognizable stars writhing in ache — might do to vary the dialogue round paying gamers. All are worthy conversations, however within the second, let’s take into account this:
It has been lower than two years since Tagovailoa stepped into the highlight within the second half of the nationwide championship recreation and delivered some of the thrilling comebacks within the sport’s historical past. It has been lower than a yr since he noticed his surefire Heisman hopes eclipsed by the ascendant Kyler Murray. It has been only a week since he performed by means of a severe ankle damage, keen his crew again into rivalry in opposition to LSU, solely to fall quick there, too. If that is the final we see of Tagovailoa in an Alabama uniform, it should have been an all-too-brief flirtation however an overwhelmingly memorable one.
It is virtually laborious to do not forget that, till Tagovailoa emerged from the tunnel to guide the Tide again to beat Georgia within the nationwide championship recreation in January 2018, Alabama’s current run had little to do with the boys enjoying quarterback. His predecessors have been superb, however Alabama’s run was constructed largely by elite defenses and dominant runners, and the QBs have been alongside for the trip. Keep in mind Jacob Coker? He received a title.
Then Tagovailoa got here alongside and altered every part. All of the sudden Alabama, the crew that oozed custom and brute-force swagger, grew to become some of the explosive offenses within the nation. For all of the deserved accolades afforded Mike Leach and Chip Kelly and Lincoln Riley, it was Tagovailoa who turned old-school Bama right into a new-school juggernaut that actually modified the game. As soon as the Tide did it, there was no going again.
Now, it is doubtless over. Not the change in Bama’s method. There will likely be different big-name QBs and many extra factors, even when they did not come within the second half in opposition to Mississippi State. The magic of Tagovailoa’s tenure, although, will likely be powerful to duplicate. As a result of guys akin to Tagovailoa — quiet and reserved however completely joyous on the sector, a participant whose greatness was acknowledged in actual time — do not come round fairly often.
In Minnesota, the playoff hopes proved fleeting. The high that followed a stunning win over Penn State lasted just a week, as the Gophers went to Iowa and ran into a buzzsaw. Minnesota’s offensive line always made a run through the Big Ten unlikely, and A.J. Epenesa & Co. finally took advantage, utterly smothering the Gophers’ ground game and sacking Tanner Morgan six times in a 23-19 win.
But nothing was more fleeting than Baylor’s playoff push, which went from an emphatic statement to an utter disaster in the span of a half. Baylor jumped to a 28-3 lead and led by 21 at the half. The Bears have lived on the brink often this season, but Saturday initially looked to be an easy one against Oklahoma. That didn’t last.
Baylor didn’t score in the second half, Jalen Hurts moved the ball at will and that big lead couldn’t hold. Hurts threw for 297 yards, ran for 114 more on a whopping 27 carries and finished with four TDs in a 34-31 win.
That Hurts’ playoff hopes remain alive while Tagovailoa’s season is over offers yet another reminder of the often merciless, occasionally exhilarating and always dramatic ups and downs this sport provides.
The SEC’s Achilles’ heels
The SEC currently has three teams in the nation’s top five, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some serious questions looming at the top of the country’s best conference.
The Tagovailoa injury certainly puts Alabama’s playoff chances under even more scrutiny. The Tide already needed help, but we’ve seen the committee give Saban’s crew the benefit of the doubt before. Will that same luxury be afforded to Alabama without its star QB if it finishes 11-1? Is 11-1 even possible without Tagovailoa in the Iron Bowl?
Jake Fromm throws for 110 yards and three touchdowns as Georgia survives Auburn’s fourth-quarter comeback.
It was Georgia that moved into the No. 4 spot last week, edging Alabama. The Dawgs added a huge line to an already strong résumé with a 21-14 win over Auburn. The Georgia D was dominant, stuffing the run and forcing Bo Nix to throw 50 times. Still, the lingering questions about UGA’s offense remain. Jake Fromm made the big throws he needed to win, but he was just 13-of-28 passing for the game, and the Auburn D-line made life uncomfortable for him. Auburn finished with seven pass breakups and five QB hurries, and Georgia mustered just 251 yards of offense. It was the fifth time this season that Georgia has failed to crack 400, which, given the offensive fireworks Clemson, LSU and Ohio State are capable of producing, certainly makes for a stark contrast.
Meanwhile, LSU’s offense continued to chug along, but that defense provided more fodder for folks looking for a weakness in the Tigers’ seemingly stellar facade. Ole Miss racked up 614 yards of offense in a 58-37 loss Saturday, marking the fourth time this season that LSU has allowed 450 or more yards. Clemson, Ohio State, Georgia, Oregon and Utah have yet to allow 450 yards in a game this season.
That Tagovailoa won’t be part of this conversation down the stretch is heartbreaking, and he’ll join a group of elite QBs who never came away with the award, including Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson in recent years. Here’s to hoping Tagovailoa’s future includes as much success as those guys’ have.
Joe Burrow throws five touchdowns as LSU breezes past Ole Miss 58-37.
1. Joe Burrow, LSU
This game wasn’t supposed to require much playing time for Burrow down the stretch, but because Ole Miss kept coming back, Burrow kept throwing. The end result was 489 yards and five touchdowns (though with two picks!), which will help boost Burrow’s Heisman stats.
2. Justin Fields, Ohio State
It’s a shame that playing Maryland and Rutgers doesn’t give Fields much time in the second half to run up his stats. He had to settle for 335 total yards and four touchdowns on Saturday.
3. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
Hurts’ second-half effort is everything a Heisman run is made of, and his 27 carries underscored the physicality he showed. Four touchdowns aren’t bad, either.
4. Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
With another 164 yards and two touchdowns for Hubbard in an easy win over Kansas, what looked like an all-QB affair at the Heisman ceremony seems increasingly likely to include the Cowboys’ tailback.
5. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
He finished the first quarter vs. Louisville in Week 8 with three completions on seven attempts and two picks. Since then, Lawrence’s stat line: 77.5% completions, 11.4 yards/pass, 16 TD, 0 INT.
Now you see them …
Indiana did something momentous last week. For the first time in 25 years, the Hoosiers cracked the AP top 25. After a 7-2 start, IU found itself ranked No. 24, marking the first time the Hoosiers made the poll since 1994. Much like grunge, flannel and “House Party” movies, it was all downhill from there for Indiana.
How’d the new ranking treat the team? About the same as the last one. In ’94, Indiana climbed to No. 25 on Sept. 25, then promptly lost its next game 25-14 to Minnesota. This season, the one-week stint at No. 24 likely came to a screeching halt with a slightly more competitive but nevertheless fruitless 34-27 loss to Penn State.
Bouncing back at the Big House
Remember when we wrote off Michigan and started scripting Jim Harbaugh’s epitaph in Ann Arbor? Well, a funny thing has happened since the Wolverines fell behind 21-0 last month at Penn State. Shea Patterson & Co. came charging back in that one only to fall just short 28-21. Since then, they’ve been dominant, demolishing Notre Dame, Maryland and rival Michigan State.
Saturday’s 44-10 win gave Michigan rights to the Paul Bunyan trophy (not the same as Paul Bunyan’s axe trophy because the Big Ten is really into Paul Bunyan-related trophies) and marked the first time since 2013 that the Wolverines posted 38 or more points against three straight Big Ten opponents.
Harbaugh’s team will still be a heavy underdog against Ohio State on the final Saturday of the regular season, but that game suddenly has a little more cache than we might’ve thought a month ago.
Two-hundred and history
Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor posted his 11th career game with at least 200 yards on the ground, going for 204 and two touchdowns in a win over Nebraska on Saturday. Taylor is now tied with Ricky Williams, Marcus Allen and Ron Dayne for the most 200-yard rushing games in college football history.
While Taylor and the Badgers celebrated the moment, Nebraska fell to 4-6 and will need to win its final two games (at Maryland, vs. Iowa) to become bowl-eligible. If the Cornhuskers can’t get to six wins, this will be their third straight season without a bowl bid — something that happened just twice in the previous 48 seasons.
Big bets and bad beats
College kickers haunt the dreams of every bettor, and for good reason, as Minnesota fans found out Saturday. The Gophers were 3-point dogs at Iowa, despite their 9-0 record, and a strong second half was called with a Rodney Smith TD run with 3:27 to play to pull within four, pending the point-after try. Unfortunately, freshman Brock Walker missed the kick, putting the Gophers in position to need a TD for the win and Minnesota backers just a point shy of a push. Neither came away happy, as the Gophers fell for the first time in 2019.
Honestly, if you were betting hapless Northwestern on Saturday, you knew you were flirting with danger, so there’s no use complaining now. Still, the Wildcats left most of their backers shaking their heads (or their fists) after a woeful first quarter in which UMass’s awful defense held Northwestern scoreless, another awful third frame in which they mustered just a field goal, three brutal turnovers and just 76 yards from the passing game. In the end, Northwestern covered the 38.5-point spread — for anyone who got their bets in just before kickoff. Until four minutes before kickoff, the spread was 39.5, which left most bettors on the wrong end of an ugly game.
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Clemson doesn’t seem to have much trouble covering a big number this season, having put up an impressive 8-1 record against the spread when favored by at least 24 points against FBS competition this season. That trend held Saturday, as the Tigers walloped Wake Forest, but in order to also provide a payday to bettors who had Clemson -21.5 in the first half, the Tigers needed a little luck. Leading 17-3, Clemson got the ball with just 2:15 to play in the half. Trevor Lawrence made quick work of the Wake defense, engineering an 80-yard TD drive in 1:34. Still, Wake was covering — until Jamie Newman tossed a pick with 20 seconds left, and Lawrence hit Tee Higgins for a 30-yard touchdown pass on the next play — scoring with just 13 seconds left until the break.
Entering Saturday, there were two teams still undefeated against the spread in the first halves of games: Navy and Ohio State. The Midshipmen were +4.5 against Notre Dame, and … it didn’t go well. The Irish trucked Navy, leading 38-3 at the break and winning 52-20. Ohio State at least offered a bit more drama. The Buckeyes were favored by 35 in the first half but failed to cover thanks to two straight stops by Rutgers at the 1-yard line. The Scarlet Knights covered a 52-point spread for the game because not even Rutgers is quite that embarrassing — this week, anyway.
Colorado State looks like it will trim Air Force’s lead, but Zane Lewis jumps the pass and goes 99 yards for a Falcons touchdown.
Colorado State was a 10.5-point underdog against rival Air Force, but Mike Bobo’s crew got off to a hot start and jumped to a 14-0 lead. Air Force punched its way back after a woeful first half, but with fewer than two minutes remaining, the Rams trailed by just 10 and were knocking on the door of ensuring a cover with a second-and-goal at the Air Force 1-yard line. As many a Georgia fan yelled during Bobo’s years as the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator, he should’ve just run the ball. Instead, a Patrick O’Brien pass was picked off by Zane Lewis and returned for a touchdown, ending any hopes of a win and blowing what should’ve been an easy cover.
Under-the-radar play of the week
OK, so it wasn’t a play, but good luck finding a moment Saturday that was infused with more meaning than Casey O’Brien, a four-time cancer survivor playing for Minnesota, getting a chance to wave to the kids at the Iowa Children’s Hospital.
Minnesota’s Casey O’Brien is a four-time cancer survivor.
On Saturday, he was part of Iowa’s traditional wave to the children’s hospital ��
– ESPN (@espn) November 16, 2019
Beneath-the-radar recreation of the week
Maybe you have been centered on Minnesota’s late drive in hopes of staying undefeated at Iowa. Maybe you have been glued to the Georgia-Auburn recreation, questioning if the Tigers might come all the way in which again from down 21-0. Properly, disgrace on you as a result of whereas neither of these come-from-behind efforts labored out, you have been lacking a really epic comeback within the coronary heart of Indiana, the place Central Michigan put up 34 second-half factors and edged Ball State 45-44.
Ball State led by 16 on the half, was up 41-24 late within the third quarter and had a six-point lead with 5 minutes to play. It was all for naught, as Central Michigan engineered a 10-play, 72-yard TD drive, then picked off Drew Plitt to seal the win.
Why’s all this noteworthy? Properly, you would possibly’ve written off Jim McElwain because the man who could not win sufficient at Florida and, presumably, because the coach who appears just like the man who took a unadorned picture with a shark. However that’d be underestimating McElwain, who now has CMU — a crew that went 1-11 final season and had misplaced 15 of its previous 16 FBS contests getting into October — at 7-4, winners of 5 of its previous six and with an opportunity to win the MAC West.
Give Rice a trophy
Saturday was an enormous day for winless groups, as each New Mexico State and Rice managed to select up win No. 1 of the season.
For New Mexico State, the win was rather less spectacular, because it upended FCS Incarnate Phrase. Nonetheless, a win’s a win.
At Rice, nonetheless, the 31-28 victory over Center Tennessee has big ripple results. Or no less than it does should you like enjoying with the transitive property, as ESPN Stats & Information famous. Rice (1-9 on the season) beat MTSU, which beat Marshall, which beat Ohio, which beat Toledo, which has a win vs. Ball State, which beat BYU. And, in fact, BYU has a win over Tennessee, and the Vols have a win over South Carolina, and South Carolina gave Georgia its solely loss. So all we’d like is for the Dawgs to go on to win the nationwide championship, and so they’ll actually be partying in Houston.