College football hurts my brain. By way of the Don’t Feed the Bears podcast, I was wrong a lot this week. I didn’t expect any of the Big 12 losses, I had Notre Dame covering against the Wolverines and I thought Wisconsin would have been competitive. At least now things are more fun to talk about.
Big 12 Twister
The conference that has seen 70% of its’ teams ranked at some point this season has parity. Who knew?
Each of the four teams who were favored Saturday lost, creating a black hole in the power dynamic. No. 12 Baylor is now on top of the conference, something nobody, except possibly LTVN’s Drake Toll, saw coming heading into this season. The Bears are the only undefeated squad left after Oklahoma lost to the Wildcats, setting up a massive matchup for Nov. 16 in Waco.
The Sooners lost a wild one to Kansas State, 48-41. Jalen Hurts continued his highlight real-driven Heisman campaign, posting 491 yards and four scores. CeeDee Lamb notched five receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown, as well. The problem isn’t the offense. It hasn’t been for the entire Lincoln Riley run.
The defense just couldn’t keep the Wildcats from scoring. Kansas State scored at will, making a touchdown in each quarter and 17 points in the middle two frames. KSU quarterback Skylar Thompson totaled 318 yards and four touchdowns, and the Wildcats punched it through on the ground two more times.
After the UT matchup, I was confident in the other side of the ball. Obviously, that was a mistake. The Baylor game looks tasty for every Bear fan, but be careful: OU’s offense is still dangerous.
Meanwhile, Texas and Iowa State continue their fall from grace to 5-3 with losses to TCU and Oklahoma State respectively. Both dropped out of the rankings after their losses, leaving Baylor as the only ranked school left in Texas.
Everything so far is shaping up for the Bears. Upper-tier Big 12 schools are losing while they sit at home on bye. Weaknesses are being exposed in their tough matchups with Oklahoma and UT coming up next month, and it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that Baylor could make it to the conference championship game as the top seed.
The big worry is that the Bears sleep on those lower-end teams. West Virginia and TCU have knocked off teams and been competitive all season, and Kansas just beat Texas Tech. Those three won’t necessarily be easy victories, but they’ll be easy to look past as Baylor dreams of bigger things.
John Harbaugh Hype Train
Welp. The Wolverines might be back. The two-loss squad ran its way to victory over the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame Saturday, 45-14. Shea Patterson threw for only 100 yards, but Michigan ran for 303 in total on 57 carries to put away their South Bend rivals. Yes, folks, you read that right, 57 carries!
Honestly though, as good as Big Blue’s running-game looked, the defense just finally looked up to snuff as Jim Harbaugh expects them to. Notre Dame was held to only 180 total yards on offense and only mustered two scores, both coming after the Fighting Irish were down at least three scores.
Harbaugh’s defense forced two fumbles, and Notre Dame punted the ball on 10 drives. The loss practically forces the losers out of playoff contention, now with two losses, but it propels Michigan back into the national discussion. The Wolverines’ only two losses have come to ranked squads, and they still have Ohio State coming to the Big House on Rivalry Weekend.
Not Too Wary of Wisconsin
Before I get to LSU’s quarterback, Chase Young of Ohio State needs to be in the Heisman conversation. Ohio State’s defense was stout Saturday in their 38-7 win over Wisconsin, and it’s all thanks to the star defensive end.
Young sacked Wisconsin’s quarterback four times, showing his dominant speed and power, both on plays where he got the stat and also when he just affected the entire flow of the offense based purely on his on-field presence.
The Badger offense just looked awful. They totaled only 191 yards, holding another Heisman hopeful, Jonathan Taylor, to just 52 yards on 20 carries. The lack of a run game for Wisconsin affected its’ air attack, as Jack Coan threw for only 108 yards, lost two fumbles and garnered a 13.9 QBR.
Ohio State, by comparison, rushed for 264 yards. It firmly established itself as a strong playoff contender, but it still has matchups with No. 5 Penn State, No. 14 Michigan and either No. 13 Minnesota or a rematch with No. 18 Wisconsin left on the docket.
Joe Burrow for Heisman
Now, I’m just going to heap some praise on the savior of LSU football. Joe Burrow, with the help of passing-game coordinator Joe Brady, has revamped offense down on the bayou.
Burrow threw for 321 yards and a touchdown, also rushing for a touchdown against the staunch Auburn front line. The receivers definitely helped, but he has performed like an NFL quarterback so far this season.
Burrow has thoroughly established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the country this year with a 30:4 touchdown to interception ratio, thrown for 2,805 yards and completed 78.8% of his passes. The LSU quarterback averages 10.8 yards per attempt this season, and he ranks fourth in the nation in QBR at 91.4.
The numbers are a massive improvement from last year, and that success has shown itself in the team’s performance this fall. The Bayou Bengals already have three top-ten wins this season, and they have looked dominant each time.
If Joe Burrow and the Tigers defeat Tua Tagovailoa and Alabama Nov. 9, which would be LSU’s first win over the Crimson Tide since 2011, Burrow will be hard to deny college football’s most prestigious award this December.