CFB Roundup: Big 12 Playoff Hopes Take Huge Hit, Clemson Survives Again

Ryan Mayer

Every college football weekend is jam packed with games starting on Thursday night and running through the early morning hours of Sunday. You probably didn’t have a chance to watch all the action, nobody does. So, we’re here every Monday to recap some of the highlights (or lowlights) of the weekend.

The Big 12 has had an interesting season to say the least. First, there was the whole drama of possible expansion, which really turned out to be nothing at all. Then, the conference’s expected top dog, Oklahoma, got blown out in its two biggest out of conference games early in the season. Heading into Week 9, it was two unexpected teams that sat atop the conference undefeated and with a clear shot to the Playoff if they could win out. Now, Bob Bowlsby and company are hoping for anarchy from the rest of the nation after a pair of upsets.

Baylor, West Virginia Suffer First Losses

The Bears and Mountaineers had two different challenges facing them this weekend. The Bears had to head on the road to face a Longhorns team coached by Charlie Strong who is trying to save his job. The Mountaineers, meanwhile, squared off with an Oklahoma State team that has shown itself to be one of the better offenses in the conference. Both teams came up short.

The Mountaineers’ loss is probably less surprising than Baylor’s as the Cowboys are one of the better teams in the conference and on this particular day, they decided to play defense. That said, the Mountaineers did have their chances, but quarterback Skyler Howard threw two crucial interceptions that killed drives and set the Cowboys up in great field position that allowed them to put more points on the board.

As for the Bears, the game against Texas was one of those back-and-forth contests where it felt like the last team with possession would win. D’Onta Foreman carried 32 times for 250 yards and two touchdowns for the Longhorns, while quarterback Seth Russell, normally a passing threat, ran 21 times for 138 yards and a touchdown. The Longhorns took the lead with a 39-yard Trent Domingue field goal with :46 left.

However, that seemed like plenty of time for the Bears to mount a comeback. But, then came some bizarre play calling. The Bears ran consecutive QB draw plays with Russell gaining 12 yards out to their 37, but not attacking the Longhorns’ suspect secondary at all. Three plays later it was over and now the Big 12 is in a precarious spot. The best team in the conference is clearly Oklahoma (6-2), but a two loss Big 12 champ likely would be left out of the Playoff barring some big upsets and changes in the landscape over the next month.

Clemson Escapes…..Again

The Tigers have been walking the high wire throughout this season. Every game seemingly, they have moments where you believe that this is the time that their mistakes and missed big plays will catch up to them. That was the case again Saturday in Tallahassee when the Seminoles came back to take a 28-20 lead into the fourth quarter.

Dalvin Cook went off against the Tigers defense with 18 carries for 169 yards and four touchdowns. He gashed Brent Venables defense for multiple long runs as the ‘Noles stormed back into the lead.

However, as he has all season, Deshaun Watson showed up late when the Tigers needed him to most, leading a five-play, 75-yard drive in 1:17 for the game-winning touchdown. The Tigers have exposed weaknesses and flaws throughout the season and Saturday night was no different. But, just as Florida State did in 2014, they’ve found ways to win. Now, their path to a 13-0 season seems pretty clear as their toughest tests left will be against Pittsburgh on November 12th and then the ACC Championship Game. A playoff spot seems likely once again.

Wyoming Upsets Boise State, Sits Atop Mountain West’s Mountain Division

The Wyoming program hasn’t exactly been a football powerhouse since joining the Mountain West in 1999 with just four winning seasons in that time. They’ve never won a conference title in the MWC, and in fact, have never appeared in the conference championship game. They’ve had six wins in the last two seasons combined. Now, they’ve equaled that total thanks to a massive upset of No. 13 Boise State on Saturday. The upset came thanks to a late defensive play.

The ‘Pokes are now 6-2 on the season and 4-0 in the Mountain West, which puts them atop the Mountain Division. Their toughest test left on the schedule comes against San Diego State, who currently leads the West Division. If the Cowboys can beat Utah State and UNLV in the lead up to that contest, we could be looking at a preview of the Mountain West title game. Head coach Craig Bohl, previously the head man at North Dakota state, has engineered a remarkable turnaround with this program.

One other interesting implication that arises from the Broncos loss? It leaves the door wide open for Western Michigan, the Group of Five’s lone undefeated team, to grab the coveted New Year’s Six bowl spot if PJ Fleck and company can wrap up their season with no blemishes.

First College Football Playoff Rankings Tomorrow Night

Wrote this last week, but it’s worth repeating. When the first official rankings from the College Football Playoff committee are released on Tuesday night, don’t freak out if your team is outside the Top 4. In the first two years of the playoff system, just three of the eight teams that appeared in those four spots in the first rankings of the year went on to make the playoffs come December.

So, in the immortal words of Aaron Rodgers: R-E-L-A-X. Tomorrow night will provide fun debate, but it’s just that: debate.

Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him.

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