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Beyond the Fort: Week 11

With Penn State now eliminated from the College Football Playoff race where do things stand heading into the last few weeks of the season?

NCAA Football: Michigan at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan continues to look dominant.

Many pundits and analysts had given Michigan grief for “not playing anyone” up until this week, so Michigan made sure to silence all the doubters on Saturday. It took the Wolverines a few series to get going on offense, and once they did it wasn’t the best showing. JJ McCarthy finished the day with just 8 passing attempts as the Wolverines ran the ball over 30 times to close out this game.

As usual, James Franklin received heavy criticism from fans and analysts alike for some of the decisions he made on Saturday. Franklin tried to be aggressive, as Penn State went for it on fourth down 3 times, and they also attempted two 2 point conversions. I didn’t have a problem with most of the decisions he made, but the decision to go for it on 4th and 6 from their own 30-yard line with 4:30 left in the game is one I’ll never understand. It was 17-9 at the time. Michigan would score on the next play to put the game out of reach.

Michigan’s win sets up another showdown with Ohio State to finish the season. The winner will more than likely be on their way to a playoff appearance. With the game being in Ann Arbor, I think the Wolverines win, with or without Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines.

Georgia destroys Ole Miss in top 10 matchup.

I’m not sure many people thought Ole Miss had a shot to win this game, but I don’t think most saw a 52-17 demolition coming our way. Georgia continued its impressive winning streak that dates back to 2021 with a dominant performance. The Bulldogs held Ole Miss to 352 yards of offense while putting up 628 of their own. Carson Beck continued his impressive form, finishing 18/25 for 306 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. This game was tied early in the second quarter, but once Georgia went up 21-14 it was over. The Bulldogs will travel to Tennessee, who just got blitzed by Missouri, before their annual matchup with Georgia Tech on their way to another SEC Championship game appearance.

Washington's defense lifts the Huskies to a big win over Utah.

We may be talking about an upset if this game had been played in Salt Lake instead of Seattle, but the Washington Huskies continued their undefeated season with another win. The Utes took a 28-24 lead into halftime and were unable to score after the break. Washington held the Utes to just 70 yards of offense in the second half, and they were able to do just enough to find their way to a 35-28 victory.

Michael Penix didn’t have his greatest game, finishing 24/42 for 332 yards and 2 touchdowns, but the left-handed quarterback continues to be the Heisman favorite. Washington was also able to find some success on the ground against a stingy Utah defense as Dillon Johnson ran for 104 yards on 23 carries. The Huskies travel to Oregon State this week, and I’ve got them on serious upset alert.

Mizzou blows out Tennessee at home.

The Missouri Tigers earned a statement win on Saturday as they dominated Tennessee in a 36-7 victory. The Tigers lost by just 9 at Georgia last week, and it seems as if Eliah Drinkwitz has this program rolling. Cody Schrader rushed for 205 yards on 35 carries, and he also added 116 yards receiving, becoming the first player in SEC history to accomplish 200+ rushing and 100+ receiving in one game. Defensively, Missouri held the Volunteers to just 83 yards rushing on 23 attempts. The Tigers will host Florida before finishing the season at Arkansas, and I think it’s highly likely they finish the season 10-2.

Florida State, Oregon, Texas, North Carolina, and Arizona avoid upsets.

Week 11 was the week of “almost” around the country. We were gifted with a lot of entertaining games, and while 2 Big 12 teams were actually upset on Saturday there were almost some massive results.

The Florida State Seminoles hosted their rival Miami on Saturday night and came away with a 27-20 win. Miami’s pass rush was problematic for the Noles and it resulted in Jordan Travis finishing the night 19/31 with 265 yards and a touchdown. Florida State also struggled to get going in the run game, averaging just 1.8 yards per carry on their 31 rush attempts. The fortunate thing is that Florida State is elite on defense. Miami’s freshman quarterback Emory Williams was just 8/23 passing for 175 yards (he did have 2 touchdowns, however) before he left the game with a gruesome injury (compound fracture of his left arm). Tyler Van Dyke would enter the game and throw an interception on 4th and 10 that ended the game. The Seminoles finish the season with North Alabama and Florida and should roll into the ACC Championship game 12-0.

The Oregon Ducks score looks much closer than the game actually was. Two fourth-quarter touchdowns from USC made the final score look respectable. Bo Nix put on a show once again, passing for 412 yards and 4 touchdowns on 23 completions in 31 attempts. The Ducks also did a pretty good job of holding Caleb Williams in check as the former Heisman winner finished just 19/34 with 291 yards and a touchdown. Oregon should cruise in their game over Arizona State next week before their showdown with Oregon State to end the season. I expect the Ducks to enter the Pac-12 Championship game 11-1.

Texas traveled to Fort Worth to take on TCU. Quinn Ewers returned to play for the Longhorns. While he finished with 317 yards on 22/33 passing, he only threw 1 touchdown and he also threw an interception. It wasn’t the best performance from this Texas offense. The Texas secondary continues to look suspect, and the loss of star running back Jonathon Brooks is huge for this team. With Brooks out, I’m not sure this Texas team will win out and find itself in the playoff.

North Carolina found their way into the top 10 just a few weeks ago before their collapses against Virginia and Georgia Tech. The Tar Heels needed double overtime to beat Duke, who is still without quarterback Riley Leonard. Drake May and the North Carolina offense had a good night, putting up 537 yards and going 9/9 in the red zone. This is another one of those games where you look at the box score and it doesn’t really make sense. Duke 5/15 on third down, they were outgained 537-379, and the Blue Devils had 8 penalties for 83 yards. Yet somehow they managed to get this game into overtime. Mike Elko might be the most underrated coach in the country.

The Arizona Wildcats made their first appearance in the top 25 of the season after their upset win over UCLA last week. The Wildcats traveled to Boulder to take on Deion Sanders and the Colorado Buffaloes and needed a walk-off field goal to win it 34-31. Freshman quarterback Noah Fifita continues his outstanding play, and he finished the day with 214 yards and 2 touchdowns on 21/35 passing. Running back Jonah Coleman rushed for 179 yards on just 11 carries. Colorado continues to have issues up front on both sides of the ball, and coach Prime is going to have to do some serious work this offseason to improve again next year.

Texas A&M fires Jimbo Fisher.

The final story of the weekend hit yesterday, as Texas A&M has finally decided to part ways with head coach Jimbo Fisher. The timing of the announcement was a bit funny, considering the Aggies won 51-10 over Mississippi State on Saturday, but this is one that most people have seen coming. Fisher was able to put together the best recruiting classes in Texas A&M history, but he was unable to transfer those successes to wins on the field. Jimbo finished his time in charge less successful than his predecessor, Kevin Sumlin. But at the end of the day, Jimbo truly is the winner here. Fisher made over $30 million in salary during his time at Texas A&M, and now he’s going to be paid $76 million to go away. I won’t be surprised if we start to see universities protect themselves more when it comes to these ludicrous coaching contracts.

If I were a Texas A&M fan, my top choices to replace Jimbo Fisher would be the following:

  1. Dan Lanning - Oregon
  2. Chris Kleiman - Kansas State
  3. Kalen DeBoer - Washington
  4. Mike Elko - Duke
  5. Jonathan Smith - Oregon State
  6. Dan Campbell - Detroit Lions

Quick Hitters

#1 Ohio State dominated Michigan State 38-3.

#8 Alabama handled Kentucky 49-21.

#9 Louisville survived against Virginia on Friday 31-24.

#12 Oregon State demolished Stanford 62-17.

#15 Oklahoma State was blown out by UCF 45-3.

#16 Kansas was upset by Texas Tech 16-13.

#17 Oklahoma got back on track with a 59-20 win over West Virginia.

#19 LSU pulled away to beat Florida 52-35.

#22 Iowa shut out Rutgers 22-0.

#23 Tulane survived Tulsa 24-22.

#25 Kansas State destroyed Baylor 59-25.

Coach Perry’s Power Rankings: Week 11

  1. Georgia - The Bulldogs obliterated Ole Miss this weekend to secure their spot in the SEC Championship game against Alabama. The two heavyweights will most likely meet with a playoff spot on the line.
  2. Michigan - The final score was only 24-15, but the Wolverines dominated Penn State despite all of the controversy surrounding the program.
  3. Ohio State - Same deal as last week. The Buckeyes have loads of talent, the defense is elite, and Marvin Harrison Jr is a game-changing wide receiver. I still don’t think they beat Michigan in two weeks.
  4. Florida State - The Seminoles should finish the regular season undefeated. If they win out, they’re in the playoffs. A loss, however, probably removes Florida State from the conversation.
  5. Washington - The Huskies continue to find ways to win. I’ve got them on serious upset alert at Oregon State this weekend.
  6. Oregon - The Ducks were up 36-14 before two fourth-quarter touchdowns got USC back into the game late, but they were never in real danger of losing. I think the Ducks are going to win the Pac-12 and be in the playoffs.
  7. Alabama - The Crimson Tide have the most talented roster in the country, according to the 247 Sports Team Composite ratings. They have gotten better every week, and Jalen Milroe is turning into a star. I won’t be surprised if the Tide win out and find their way into the playoffs.
  8. Texas - I’m aware that Texas beat Alabama, but if you think they would beat them again if they played this weekend you’re out of your mind. Texas has played 1 complete game in their last 5, and the loss of Jonathon Brooks is huge! I won’t be surprised if the Horns lose at least 1 more game.
  9. Louisville - The Cardinals also keep finding ways to win, even if it’s not pretty. They’re 1 of 4 Power Five teams with just 1 loss.
  10. Missouri/Oregon State - I think these two teams are about the same level. Both looked pretty great this past weekend.