Michigan ready to make deep playoff run, Jackson stakes claim for Heisman

Image By: Graphic by Thomas Valtin-Erwin through Tableau Public

It is officially November in college football. Each weekend will feature elimination games for teams vying for various conference titles. So, expect to see title dreams crushed on national television as the playoff race heats up.

Although Alabama remains at the top of both the AP and Coaches Polls, the Crimson Tide did not play a perfect game against LSU last weekend. Nick Saban’s group did not score until the fourth quarter, making last Saturday the first time since 2007 that Saban’s team failed to score in the first half. Regardless of their offensive struggles, Alabama’s defense dominated yet again and shut out the LSU Tigers 10-0. Alabama will probably not be tested like this until the playoffs, and is in the driver’s seat for a top seed.

Another undefeated team that has been hitting its stride is the Michigan Wolverines. The Wolverines’ 59-3 blowout over Maryland in Week 10 was over well before halftime. Offensive contributions from Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight and running back De’Veon Smith propelled the Wolverines to a 35-0 lead at half which they only extended in the game’s final 30 minutes.

An almost identical score to the Michigan-Maryland game comes from the No. 3 Clemson Tigers’ 54-0 victory over Syracuse. Clemson (9-0, 6-0 ACC) had its second shutout of the year while winning its 21st straight game in Death Valley. The Tigers had a bit of a scare when quarterback Deshaun Watson left the game with an injured shoulder in the second quarter. But after the game Watson told reporters he is fine to play in Week 12, which could have been a major issue for the dominant Tigers.

Right on the tail of Clemson and Michigan is the Washington Huskies. Off to their best start since 1991, quarterback Jake Browning is mounting a Heisman Trophy-worthy campaign. Saturday evening, Browning threw six touchdown passes for a school record, giving him 34 on the year. After their 66-27 win at California, the Huskies are winners of 12 straight games and using its playoff committee snub as motivation.

Similar to Washington, the Ohio State Buckeyes look to cement their status as a legitimate playoff team in the upcoming week. A 62-3 victory over Nebraska though will certainly help their cause. No. 5 Ohio State (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten) had arguably its best performance of the season last week. Quarterback J.T. Barrett had 290 yards and four touchdowns and appears to be heating up since his mediocre performance against Wisconsin only a few weeks ago. 590 yards and points on eight possessions will certainly make Urban Meyer happy as the Buckeyes move to Maryland this week.

The Louisville Cardinals, led by Heisman front-runner Lamar Jackson, continue to impress the college football world. Yet again last week, Jackson played a dominant game accumulating 416 offensive yards in the 52-7 win over Boston College. If you missed this game, take to the Internet. Hundreds of clips show Jackson speeding through the open backfield for a 69-yard touchdown run. Currently, Jackson has 45 touchdowns in nine games. The FBS single-season record is 63 TD’s in 14 games, so keep an eye on Jackson to potentially break more records if he continues at this prolific pace.

The streaking Wisconsin Badgers defeated Northwestern 21-7 in Evanston, Ill., in an impressive performance by UW. The Chicago Cubs’ World Series Parade helped soften the blow for Wildcat fans though. History was not on the Badgers’ side as UW had not won at Northwestern since 1999, but a great performance from Jazz Peavy reversed history. Another strong showcase for Corey Clement—106 yards and one touchdown—certainty offsets the balance between the team’s improving running game and struggling quarterback play.

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