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Beyond the Fort: Week 13

The final week of the regular season delivered some spectacular games! What is the national picture headed into conference championship week?

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan makes it 3 straight over Ohio State.

On Saturday morning all eyes were on The Game. Michigan had won 2 straight over Ohio State for the first time since 2000. Given all the controversy surrounding the Michigan football program this season one could argue this was one of the biggest regular season games of all time. Michigan’s 30-24 victory secured back-to-back undefeated regular seasons for the first time since 1948.

The Wolverines controlled this entire game, and there wasn’t ever a time where it looked like Ohio State was going to win. The game was tied at 17 in the 3rd quarter, but the Buckeyes never held a lead on the afternoon. It was one of those games where every time Michigan’s defense needed to make a stop it did. Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord was incredibly inconsistent on the afternoon, finishing 18/30 for 271 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Despite being bracketed most of the afternoon, Marvin Harrison Jr. was able to catch 5 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown. On the other side, JJ McCarthy didn’t put up incredible numbers, but he took care of the football and was accurate. McCarthy would finish 16/20 with 148 yards and a touchdown.

With the win Michigan heads into the Big Ten Championship game looking like it will certainly be in the playoff. I still think Michigan and Georgia are the two best teams in the country.

Alabama’s 4th and 31 miracle.

The Iron Bowl is one of those rivalry games where records simply do not matter. Especially when the game is played at Jordan Hare Stadium. Alabama came in to this one as 13.5 point favorites on the road and a 10-1 record. Auburn, on the other hand, was sitting at 6-5 and had just been blown out at home by New Mexico State.

This back-and-forth affair featured 5 lead changes, including the dagger to end it with 30 seconds left. Alabama’s offense moved the ball well, but really struggled to score. The Tide finished with 451 yards and just 27 points. They were 6/17 on 3rd down, and settled for 2 field goals in the red zone. Kicker Will Reichard also missed a 42 yard attempt in the 3rd quarter.

On the other side, Auburn completed just 6 passes on the night for 93 yards. Payton Thorne threw 2 interceptions, and Keionte Scott muffed a punt that set up the game-winning touchdown for Alabama. Auburn going -3 in the turnover and still looking like they might win in this rivalry game is college football at its finest.

Alabama would move the ball to the Auburn 8 yard line with just under 2 minutes to play. On 2nd and goal the ball was snapped while Jalen Milroe wasn’t looking and the Tide recovered on the 26 yard line. On 3rd and goal Jalen Milroe would be penalized for an illegal forward pass, resulting in 4th and goal from the 31 yard line. Alabama’s game winning touchdown broke the hearts of Auburn fans who thought they’d ruined their rivals season, and it was done on the 10th anniversary of the legendary Kick 6.

Oregon dominates rival Oregon State en route to Pac-12 Championship.

The Oregon Ducks hosted their rival Oregon State for the final time as Pac-12 rivals on Friday and dominated the game on their way to a 31-7 victory. With the victory, Oregon moves to 11-1 on the season, and a win in the Pac-12 Championship game should send them to the College Football Playoff. Oregon has turned into one of the most dominant teams in the country since their 3 point loss at Washington earlier this year. In the Ducks’ final 6 games they’ve outscore their opponents by 156 points! That’s an average margin of victory of 26 points per game. Quite honestly, I don’t expect the Pac-12 Championship game to be all that close, and I think the Ducks could even score an upset in the first round of the playoffs. They’re that talented.

Also, props to Bo Nix on his transformation. If you had told me 5 years ago that little freshman at Auburn would turn into a top five quarterback in the country I would’ve called you crazy.

Many top-25 teams survive scares.

We haven’t had a huge amount of upsets in this college football season. The teams that started the season in the top 15 are a combined 151-29, and USC is the only pre-season top-15 team who didn’t win at least 8 regular season games. For a moment on Saturday, it looked like we might see some huge upsets.

#1 Georgia fended off a feisty Georgia Tech team in their 31-23 win on Saturday night. I don’t think many people would have guessed that the Yellow Jackets would strike first, and then carry a 10-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. Georgia was a 24.5 point favorite, but just couldn’t put away Georgia Tech. They’ll take on Alabama in Atlanta next weekend.

#4 Washington needed a game winning field goal as time expired to win the Apple Cup over Washington State. The 24-21 win took Washington to 12-0 on the season. The Huskies resemble last year’s TCU team in a lot of ways, and I think they’ll meet a similar fate as the Frogs in the Pac-12 title game.

#5 Florida State fell behind early at Florida and looked like they might see their dream season come to an end. Without quarterback Jordan Travis the offense has struggled to find success, but the Seminoles were able to find their way to a 24-15 win.

#12 Ole Miss struggled to find success on offense at Mississippi State on Thanksgiving, but ended up finding a 17-7 win. The win moves the Rebels to 10-2 on the season.

#14 LSU pulled away late to beat Texas A&M 42-30. This was a 5 point game with 7 minutes remaining, but the LSU offense proved too much for the Aggies.

#18 Iowa did as Iowa often does, beating Nebraska 13-10 on Saturday to move to 10-2 on the season. The question has to be asked: would Iowa be a legit playoff contender if their offense was even remotely close to average?

#20 Oklahoma State needed a comeback and double overtime to beat BYU at home, securing their spot in the Big 12 Championship game in what has become Mike Gundy’s most hilarious 9-3 season yet.

#24 Clemson held off South Carolina in a 16-7 win to move to 8-4 on the year.

Louisville and Kansas State upset.

There were two upsets of top-25 teams on Saturday, and one of them was arguably the strangest game I’ve ever seen.

Let’s start with the Louisville Cardinals. The 10-1 team was riding high in Jeff Brohm’s first season in charge. A win at home against their SEC rival would’ve meant an 11-1 regular season. But it wasn’t meant to be. Despite huge advantages in time of possession and total yards (Louisville outgained Kentucky by 114 yards) 3 turnovers would hinder the offense and provide Kentucky with enough short fields to get the job done. Louisville would come up short in the 38-31 loss. However, it was a big first season under a new coaching staff, and things are looking up in Louisville.

The Kansas State-Iowa State game was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. Just take a look for yourself.

The box score of this game is one of the strangest things you’ll ever see in football. If I told you that Kansas State ran 102 plays, had 36 minutes of possession, 32 first downs went 11/23 on third down, went 6/7 in the Red Zone, and won the turnover battle you’d assume they won the game right? RIGHT?? Wrong. Kansas State somehow lost this game 42-35. Iowa State ran 35 plays on the night and racked up 488 yards! I really don’t know the last time I saw a team have more points than plays run. Iowa State had touchdowns on 71, 77, 79, 60, 33, and 82 yards on the night. They ran 4 plays in Kansas State territory! Just one of the strangest, most fun games you’ll ever see.

Coach Perry’s Power Rankings: Week 13

  1. Michigan - They’ve silenced the doubters. They have the best win in the country, and they did it without their head coach on the sideline.
  2. Georgia - The Bulldogs are a very close second by my count. I think the top 2 will meet in the national championship game.
  3. Washington - Until they lose they stay here. The Huskies have a great win over Oregon, and continue to find different ways to win games.
  4. Florida State - Winning a rivalry game on the road without your starting quarterback is not easy! I don’t care how bad you think the other team is.
  5. Oregon - As mentioned earlier, since the loss to Washington Oregon has just destroyed everyone they’ve played.
  6. Ohio State - Honestly, Ohio State is a good quarterback (doesn’t even have to be great) away from being the best team in the country. McCord couldn’t get it done against Michigan.
  7. Texas - The Longhorns have a win over Alabama and finally looked dominant this week. I think if they win the Big 12 Championship they’re in the playoff.
  8. Alabama - The Tide found a way to win at Auburn, but I think their luck runs out in Atlanta next week.
  9. Ole Miss - The Rebels have impressed this year. Their 2 losses are to teams that clearly have superior talent in Alabama and Georgia. They’ve taken care of business everywhere else.
  10. Penn State - With losses to Michigan and Ohio State, this team is in the same boat as Ole Miss.