Alabama, Ohio State Take Big Playoff Steps – College Football Week 10
Alabama’s shutout and Ohio State’s blowout have set up an epic playoff chase as we near the end of the football season. Here are the big takeaways from Week 10 in college football.
Alabama’s Defense is Scary Good
We all knew No. 1 Alabama’s defense was solid. But after yesterday’s matchup with LSU, it might be time to consider that this could be Nick Saban’s best defense ever.
Consider what they did last night to No. 13 LSU. The Crimson Tide pitched a 10-0 shutout while holding the Tigers to just six first downs and 125 total yards. And this was an LSU squad that came in averaging 42 points per game under interim coach Ed Orgeron. Over the last two years, Alabama has held LSU running back Leonard Fournette to a combined 66 yards on 36 carries.
Alabama leads the nation in rushing defense and is second (behind Michigan) in both scoring and total defense. And with 4-5 Mississippi State (yes, I know they just beat A&M) and FCS Chattanooga as the only two potential speed bumps before the Iron Bowl (more on that in a minute), the Crimson Tide defense should keep Alabama in the driver’s seat for the playoffs.
Cancel Any Plans You Might Have Made for Nov. 26
If you’re reading this, you’re probably a football fan. And if you’re a fan, you probably know better than to schedule any big events for the weekend after Thanksgiving. But just in case, here’s your reminder that you need to make sure you’ve cleared your calendar on the final Saturday of the month.
No. 9 Auburn just has to get past 5-4 Georgia and FCS Alabama A&M to set up an epic for-all-the-marbles Iron Bowl showdown with Alabama. The winner will win the SEC West and all but lock up a playoff bid. Likewise, Ohio State took a big step toward the playoff with a 62-3 beatdown of No. 10 Nebraska. The No. 6 Buckeyes and No. 3 Michigan will be heavy favorites in each of their games the next two weeks and should enter The Big Game with the Big Ten West title and a playoff spot on the line.
Throw in a bunch of other rivalry games that could have conference and playoff implications (Washington/Washington State, South Carolina/Clemson, Florida/Florida State, etc.) and this will be must-watch television.
Karma is Real for Baylor
So this week’s 62-22 blowout loss to TCU was just the tip of the iceberg for Baylor’s problems. Earlier this week, federal investigators with the US Department of Education found that Penn State should be given a record fine of $2.4 million for its part in covering up the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. The Baylor situation is, at best, comparable and looks to be even more widespread than that at Penn State. While the case is certainly far from concluded, Baylor athletics—and the university as a whole—could face far worse consequences down the road.
Dede Westbrook. Remember the Name.
Since Desmond Howard won the Heisman Trophy in 1991, only two wide receivers have finished higher than fourth in the voting for the trophy (Larry Fitzgerald finished second in 2003 and Amari Cooper third in 2014). But Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook is making a late-season push to be added to that last. After a slow start (just 154 total yards during the Sooners’ 1-2 start), the senior has poured it on lately, racking up over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns during OU’s current six-game winning streak. His numbers certainly compare favorably to the past receivers who took home the trophy.
While Lamar Jackson remains the solid Heisman frontrunner (he has more touchdowns this year than 100 FBS teams), Westbrook is making a solid push to become that rare receiver who gets an invite to the party. And even if Heisman voters haven't taken notice, it's a safe bet NFL scouts have.
You Need the Ball to Win
Yes, we’ve all seen games where a defensive or special teams touchdown wins the game. But those are the exception. The rule is that you usually need to have the ball in order to win, a fact that was proven true in this week’s Notre Dame/Navy game, which featured one of the strangest drive charts you’ll ever see.
No, that’s not a typo. Notre Dame only had six possessions in its 28-27 loss to the Midshipmen, the fewest by any one team in a game since Northern Illinois (coincidentally also against Navy) in 2008. The Fighting Irish scored on five of the six but, when you only have the ball twice total in the second half, it’s tough to put a lot of points on the board.
Notre Dame needs to win out to guarantee bowl eligibility and, with No. 19 Virginia Tech and USC (riding a five-game win streak) still on deck, the Irish could be looking at an early offseason.