Every Monday at noon, Luke Carlton will post an easily digestible recap of the weekend’s top news and what it means moving forward.
1. Ohio State’s offense was exposed, and it was a long time coming
Put it down to coaching, put it down to execution, Ohio State looked flat, blunt and lost.
The team looked like they had no idea how to play in wet conditions. Their identity was lost. They looked like a sitting duck.
The defense kept up their bargain and stifled a Michigan State team determined to run the ball, but the offense laid an egg. The defending National Champions had more three-and-outs (6) than first downs (5).
The game plan looked set around running the ball, specifically with J.T. Barrett, against the 15th best run defense in the country. The Buckeyes only targeted the 66th best pass defense 15 times.
While the results weren’t there early on, there was a lack of Ezekiel Elliott in the second half. Though Elliott had been hospitalized on the Monday and Tuesday of the week building up to the game, the Heisman hopeful only rushed the ball twice. It was his lowest rushing total since facing Virginia Tech last year.
2. The importance of the backup quarterbacks shines through
It’s something that happens to every team at some point.
Your starting quarterback, the man you game plan around, gets injured and you have to turn to your bench.
In the case of TCU, you see the importance of having a player who can step up, or at least coaches who are smart enough to adapt and work around their strengths.
In the case of Oklahoma, you see the downside.
The Sooners were cruising towards a comprehensive victory over TCU until Baker Mayfield was pulled from the game for precaution for a concussion.
Up stepped Trevor Knight, who made everyone question why there was a spring competition between the two quarterbacks. And to the confusion of everyone, the Sooners didn’t run the ball more.
Stud running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon combined for 21 carries in the first half with Baker Mayfield in the game. Despite leading the entire second half, Perine and Mixon ran the ball 16 times.
Oklahoma put the ball in the hands of Trevor Knight to guide them home, which resulted in 5/16 for 76 yards and an interception.
On the other sideline, TCU had the tough challenge of replacing Trevone Boykin. In Foster Sawyer, the game plan was right on track until his first interception and the bubble burst.
Prior to the interception, Foster Sawyer was 7 of 8 for 103 yards and a touchdown. After his good start, Sawyer went 1 of 10 for five yards and three interceptions.
With the confidence broken and Oklahoma elevating their game defensively, they turn to another backup quarterback. Bram Kohlhausen stepped in with two minutes left in the third quarter.
Down 17 points, Kohlhausen led the Horned Frogs to 16 points on five drives, coming a two-point conversion away from putting Oklahoma’s playoff hopes to bed.
His fresh approach and unbroken confidence led TCU on a comeback Sawyer wouldn’t have been able to.
3. A healthy Vernon Adams is a scary Vernon Adams
While offensive sadness was ensuing in Columbus, Vernon Adams and the Oregon offense were lighting up the scoreboard as bright as an Oregon alternative uniform.
Against a lax Southern California defense, Adams threw for 407 yards and all six of Oregon’s touchdowns. The Ducks have won five straight against teams with a record of .500 or better and are showing their true potential.
Mark Helfrich might not want to think about what could have been, but Oregon has looked incredible under a healthy Vernon Adams.
Once again, it just goes to show the importance of backup quarterbacks, as the Ducks still could be in the running for the Pac-12 North title and a playoff spot if they would have been able to beat Washington State and Utah under Jeff Lockie.
Unfortunately for them, three early season losses without a fully fit Vernon Adams cost them the shot at playoff redemption. With the improved play of the Ducks, they’re actually helping the Michigan State playoff bid.
4. Overrated to underrated
Baylor got the attention they feel they deserved, and all it took was losing to Oklahoma and beating Oklahoma State.
While Baylor doesn’t control their own destiny, they provided a statement win over the previously undefeated Oklahoma State this weekend in Bedlam, their first win since 1939.
Under the guidance of third string quarterback Chris Johnson, the offense didn’t skip a beat, which is incredibly scary. Call it a broken record, but good teams find a way of getting the job done in the face of adversity, whether that be playing in horrid conditions or losing their starting quarterback or two.
5. Christian McCaffrey Heisman Train hits full speed
Another outstanding performance for #WildCaff, with a bamboozling 389 total yards for the Cardinal in their win over Cal.
With a 73 percentage share of Stanford’s total yards on Saturday, it’s not difficult to see why McCaffrey is in the discussion for the Heisman. Similar to the role Dalvin Cook brings to the Florida State offense, McCaffrey is the heartbeat of the offense.
#WildCaff sits just 36 yards behind Leonard Fournette for the FBS rushing title, and faces a Notre Dame team which is giving up 4.62 yards per attempt, good for 89th best in the country.
6. Hang your head in shame, SEC East
South Carolina lost to FCS level The Citadel.
Florida was taken to overtime by 2-8 Florida Atlantic.
Georgia survived a close one in overtime against Georgia Southern.
Vanderbilt was shut out at home by a struggling Texas A&M
Tennessee and Missouri battled each other in arguably the most forgettable game of the season.
Kentucky, as the saving grace for the SEC East, beat up the 2-8 Charlotte 49ers 58-10.
When scheduling easy late season games, you’re either going to blow the team out and get a small confidence boost, or you’re going to get caught playing with fire.
In a season where the SEC East has been unremarkable at best, it’s single handedly destroying any argument that the SEC is the strongest conference in football. Look no further than the division winner for proof of this.
The AP Poll inexcusably has Florida at #10 in their latest rankings, ahead of North Carolina and Michigan. This is the same Florida who are fresh off an overtime win over Florida Atlantic, a 10-point win over 3-8 South Carolina and a fourth quarter comeback win at home to 4-7 Vanderbilt.
7. Miles better with Les
The talk going around that Les Miles is on the hot seat and people behind the scenes want to oust him is very similar to what Jim Harbaugh went through in San Francisco.
As exciting as adding Jimbo Fisher to this stacked team would be, you have to look at the impact Les Miles has on this program, or how realistic getting Fisher would be.
LSU sits at the top of this year’s 24/7 and ESPN recruiting rankings. Jimbo Fisher might be a great recruiter, but nobody recruits the state of Louisiana as well as Les Miles. Nobody converts talented recruits into talented NFL prospects.
And while LSU might not be in the playoff picture, he continually produces teams that challenge for the national spotlight.
If they do decide to depart with Les Miles, you’re looking at Jimbo Fisher, Chip Kelly or bust. And once you release Les Miles, you bet your bottom dollar there will be a fight from many schools to hire him as their next coach.
8. Navy @ Houston is the dark horse game of the week
Houston went with savior QB Kyle Postma for the clash against Connecticut last Saturday. Unfortunately, there were no heroics as the emotionally spent Cougars fell to the Huskies of UConn.
Now, Houston returns home to play arguably the in-form team of the group of 5, Navy.
The Midshipmen are on a hot streak and the winner represents the West in the American Championship Game (we’re still not sure why Navy, based in Maryland, are in the West division either).
Under record breaker Keenan Reynolds, Navy’s only loss came to Notre Dame. Outside of that game, Navy has had double digit wins every week of the season.
Should they go on the win the American, they will almost certainly be the Group of 5 representative in the New Year's Six.
9. Air Bert
Out in Arkansas, Bret Bielema is trying his hardest to steal the national spotlight for a team that is now only 6-5.
Two weeks ago, it was the 4th and 25 backwards lateral for a first down in overtime.
Last week, it was walking into Death Valley and comfortably taking care of LSU.
This week, it was the 101-point shootout between Arkansas and Mississippi State.
Arkansas and Mississippi State brought 14 touchdowns and over 1,100 offensive yards to the table on Saturday in a game that neither team had much stock in; both teams have already secured playoff berths and are out of the SEC title picture.
But credit to the two teams for putting on a show. Brandon Allen has developed incredibly over the past year, from uneasy handoff machine to a surgeon of opposing defenses.
This is remarkably the second game in November where Brandon Allen has passed for over 400 yards and six touchdowns. Coming into the year, Allen’s career high was 296 yards.
10. FCS bracket announced
The NCAA released their bracket for the FCS playoffs this week, with some names sure to catch the eye of most college football fans.
Sitting pretty at #1 is Jacksonville State, of “hey, aren’t they the team who nearly beat Auburn?” fame. Four-time consecutive national champions North Dakota State take the #3 seed while College GameDay hosts James Madison occupy the #5 seed.
Portland State, who beat Washington State and whooped North Texas, are #6 and recent Alabama victims Charleston Southern take the last seeded spot as the #8 seed.
The first round of playoff action takes place this weekend.