Editor’s note: College football is nothing without its fans, and its fans are nothing without their passion. In an attempt to capture that unique intensity and Overreactability, we’ve asked washed-up sports editor and Southerner Bremen Keasey to give us a weekly breakdown of college football happenings around the country like only a true fan could.
We’re getting into the stressful part of college football season and things are getting truly chaotic for some teams. Despite a lack of huge upsets, there were some topsy-turvy things that happened this week that may change how the season turns out. Let’s recap.
Thank you Kirk Ferentz
After an inexplicable loss to Illinois which I still refuse to talk about, and a more explicable loss against Ohio State that still sucked, the Badgers looked dead in the water in the Big Ten.
Meanwhile, our hated rivals and boat rowers Minnesota Golden Gophers were perfect, and shocked Penn State last weekend to vault up the polls into the number 8 spot. If Minnesota won two of their last three games, they would sew up a berth in the Big Ten title game.
Then they went to Kinnick Stadium.
The mighty, glorious, wonderful, heroic Iowa Hawkeyes upset Minnesota in Iowa City 23-19 to give the Gophers their first loss of the year, and more importantly, give Wisconsin a path back into the Big Ten title game.
How did Iowa beat Minnesota? Well they got off to a quick start, going up 20-3 late in the second quarter, and then they kind of just let time run out.
See that’s the glorious thing about their head coach Kirk Ferentz. He doesn’t care about needing to score a lot. He just let Minnesota try while Iowa’s defense put a stop to a lot of their tries. The Gophers had over 400 yards of offense, while Iowa only had 290. Minnesota’s Tanner Morgan was allowed to pass for 368 yards. It didn’t matter! The Hawkeyes weren’t gonna let Minnesota come back.
Kinnick Stadium is a graveyard for Big Ten teams with a lot of hopes. Especially at night. Iowa is exceptionally good at beating visiting top ten teams in recent seasons, knocking off No. 3 Michigan in 2016, throttling No. 3 Ohio State in 2017 and now handing No. 8 Minnesota their first loss this season.
Mostly though, I want to thank Iowa for letting Wisconsin back into the title chase. Minnesota plays Northwestern next week while Wisconsin plays Purdue. If both teams win, it sets up the ultimate showdown for the Axe and a Big Ten West title. That’s kinda fun.
Sooners complete comeback against Baylor
Everything was going so well for Baylor.
Another undefeated team that had really not played anyone, the No. 12 Bears hosted College Gameday and the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners as they looked to make an impression to the college football world.
And boy did they.
The Bears stormed off to a 28-3 lead with 11:02 to go in the second quarter and it looked like all they’d do is add to it. The normally steady OU quarterback Jalen Hurts had three turnovers, and two of them lead to quick touchdowns by Baylor as the crowd was getting amped up in Waco. Their lead was cut to 31-10 at the half, but the Bears were in control.
And then they weren’t.
Suddenly, the tide flipped and it was Oklahoma who had the game by the scruff of its neck. By the time that Oklahoma stormed all the way back against the Bears with a kick from freshman Gabe Brkic to go up 34-31, Baylor had run 10 plays all half.
10 measly plays.
Hurts turned it around and tossed four touchdowns despite his top wide receiver CeeDee Lamb sitting on the bench with an injury. Running back Kennedy Brooks also started to gash Baylor’s defense, picking up 93 big rushing yards.
A game-sealing interception from Nik Bonitto allowed the Sooners to breathe a sigh of relief after their disaster of a first half. Meanwhile, the Baylor Bears and head coach Matt Ruhle were left wondering what went wrong in that second half.
UGA survives Auburn trying to Auburn
In another edition of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, the No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs held off the No. 12 Auburn Tigers 21-14.
That’s about all I could say without going to the boxscore and other recap articles because I ended up falling asleep during this game.
Of course, a sleepy pace is exactly what Georgia head coach Kirby Smart wants in his offense. 251 total yards on offense was the exact amount required by UGA, and despite only throwing for 110 yards, just 3.9 yards per attempt, but quarterback Jake Fromm tossed all three touchdowns in the win.
Luckily for me, I woke up in the fourth quarter, when it looked like something was finally going to happen in the game. Auburn also woke up in the fourth quarter, scoring 14 points in three minutes and making Dawgs fans start to sweat as Tiger fans on The Plains finally had something to cheer for.
But in the end, in a game where both teams combined for 18 punts, it seemed fitting that it once again ended in some pitiful offensive displays that almost put me back to sleep. Quarterback Bo Nix couldn’t pull a final bit of magic out of his butt and UGA clinched a spot in the SEC Championship Game.
At least we know likely opponents LSU can bring some offense to Atlanta.
Injuries suck. Who cares about the Playoff?
The Crimson Tide shook off the loss to LSU last week with a 38-7 victory on the road against Mississippi State. That could be the end of the story and everyone could just move on with their lives.
However, Bama’s star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered an injury in the last couple of minutes in the first half that saw him carted off the field. Doctors eventually diagnosed Tagovailoa with a dislocated hip, which will put him out for the season and send him down a long road to recovery for the potential first round pick.
Obviously at this point, the announcers of other games across the country were just expressing condolences and hoping that this wonderful brilliant athlete could have a speedy recovery, especially considering his high draft stock and the way he captivated almost everyone who watches college football.
Instead, so much of the commentary surrounding the injured Tagovailoa was about what this would mean for the Crimson Tide in the playoff rankings. Hell, CBS analyst Gary Danielson already started saying that maybe the Playoff Committee will end up bumping Alabama into the final four if they beat Auburn with a backup because blah blah blah blah blah.
Sure, that kind of thing will matter to Alabama in the end. They are a football team that prides itself on winning national titles, they want to be in the Playoff conversation no doubt.
But think of what it tells players that the “grownups” calling their games don’t care about their well-being first and foremost. As soon as they go down with an injury — even if it’s one of the greatest college football players of all time in Tua — all that matters is how it affects the playoff race.
I can’t pretend when I saw the news that I started thinking about various playoff machinations and implications of his injury. But the first thing I thought was “God. That sucks. I hope he gets healthy soon.”
I guess I’m just asking to show some compassion and sympathy before wondering how it will affect the NFL Draft class in 2020. Because we’re not just talking about a football player, we’re talking about a human.
Get well soon Tua.