Just because four of the top five teams in the country were idle this weekend doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great week of college football. To prove it, let’s check out all of the top highlights from this weekend’s action.
Unbeaten No More
While most of the undefeated teams in the power conferences had this week off, two undefeated teams from the Group of Five didn’t survive.
On Thursday night, Appalachian State suffered its first loss of the season, losing at home to rival Georgia Southern, 24-21. Then on Saturday night, SMU suffered a similar fate, losing 54-48 on the road to Memphis. Those two teams losing means the race among Group of Five teams to qualify for a New Year’s Six bowl game is wide open.
Meanwhile, there will be at least two fewer undefeated teams after next weekend, as we are less than a week away from No. 1 LSU playing No. 2 Alabama and No. 5 Penn State taking on a surprising unbeaten team in No. 13 Minnesota.
The road to the Pac-12 title game officially goes through Eugene and Salt Lake City. Both No. 7 Oregon and No. 9 Utah faced challenging games this week, and both managed to survive.
The Utes had to come from behind at Washington 33-28. Meanwhile, the Ducks overcame a sluggish start to trounce USC at the Coliseum 56-24. Oregon’s win over the Trojans actually helped give Utah control of its own destiny in the Pac-12 South.
As it stands, both Oregon and Utah are on track to face off in the Pac-12 Championship Game, and if both arrive with just one loss, it’s possible that the Pac-12 title game could serve as a play-in game for the College Football Playoff.
Of course, that could depend on what happens elsewhere around the country. We’ll find out where those two teams stack up in the initial CFP rankings on Tuesday.
I’m My Own Defense Lawyer
After that ugly 56-24 loss to Oregon, USC head coach Clay Helton came to his own defense amidst speculation about his job status and a fanbase that’s a little upset about the state of the program. After the loss, the Trojans are 5-4 and should be able to secure a bowl spot over their final three games.
However, after going without a bowl last season, the natives are getting restless, and Helton had to make a stand after Saturday’s loss about why he’s still the best man for the job.
“I’ve been here 10 years, and I believe in being a servant to this university and to the young men that are here,” said Helton. “Each and every day, I wake up and I represent them and our school; and I will continue to do that, each and every day. And I’ll fight like hell with the people that I believe in and the people that I love until they ask me not to do it anymore. And I’m gonna show up on Monday and work my butt off for the next one.”
Cocktail Party Fallout
The Georgia Bulldogs were triumphant over the Florida Gators 24-17 in their annual rivalry game in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday. The Bulldogs dominated throughout, leading 16-3 going into the fourth quarter, although they had to withstand a late rally from the Gators to hang on by a touchdown.
With the win, Georgia is now in the driver’s seat in the SEC East. The Bulldogs are also alive in the CFP race. However, Georgia faces a tough schedule down the stretch that includes Missouri, Auburn, Texas A&M, and Georgia Tech.