Week 15 of the college football season has already been a busy one, and we’re just now to Saturday.
We lost one of the great rivalry games when Michigan and No. 4 Ohio State had to cancel. No. 5 Texas A&M lost its game against Ole Miss, too. Everyone wanted them to play, even a Texas district judge who issued a court order via Twitter (more on that later), but that was never a thing that was going to happen.
Then on Thursday, Pitt and Georgia Tech brought the heat in the postgame handshake after the Panthers’ 34-20 win.
After their game last night, Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins ripped his hand away during a handshake with Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi, who responded with some words for Collins. pic.twitter.com/DA7Cov60Fl
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 11, 2020
Michigan State fans are even happy that they’re gruff, as you’ll see. Everything is topsy-turvy, but we’re here for you. We’ll have the Top 25 analysis, as well as the best (or worst) of what the day has in store.
Top 25 games
All times Eastern; lines courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
The Trojans secured a place in the Pac-12 title game before their game against rival UCLA kicked off, then won one of the more exciting games in college football this season. After UCLA took a 38-36 lead with 52 seconds left, USC returned the kickoff to the UCLA 43-yard line, then scored two plays later on an 8-yard pass from Kedon Slovis to Amon-Ra St. Brown. The victory ensured a perfect regular season for the Trojans (5-0) headed into Friday championship game against Washington — or Oregon if the Huskies can’t play — at home. — Kyle Bonagura
In very 2020 fashion, the Gators’ playoff hopes went poof, in part, because of an airborne cleat. In truth, there were many more issues Florida had that led to their defeat, but regardless of the reason, the three-point loss to rival LSU will send Florida tumbling down the College Football Playoff rankings before they head to the SEC championship against Alabama. Kyle Trask‘s 400-yard, four-touchdown performance was admirable, but it was marred by turnovers. The Gator offense scored four touchdowns in eight red zone opportunities, and that proved costly. — Sam Khan Jr.
The Cowboys dominated a significantly undermanned Baylor squad and concluded their regular season at 7-3. Oklahoma State outgained Baylor by a whopping 608-156 margin, which included a 261-70 advantage on the ground. Though they didn’t reach the Big 12 title game, it was a solid season for the Pokes, whose defense took a big step forward while the offense endured missing key players (quarterback Spencer Sanders, running back Chuba Hubbard) for multiple games at various points. —Sam Khan Jr.
What a strong finish to the regular season for the Hawkeyes. After dropping their first two games by a combined five points, Iowa went on to win its past six in a row, and all but one of them by at least two touchdowns, including Saturday’s three-touchdown victory over Wisconsin to reclaim the Heartland Trophy. RB Tyler Goodson turned in another solid performance (106 yards) and the defense held the Badgers to just 3.2 yards per play. — Sam Khan Jr.
When the Tar Heels play a complete game, they are one of the best teams in the country, and they proved it in a dominant victory over Miami. Michael Carter and Javonte Williams posted the most rushing yards by teammates in a game in FBS history (544). In addition to their prolific run game, Dyami Brown had 167 yards receiving, making North Carolina the first ACC school to have multiple 150-yard rushers and a 150-yard receiver. Bottom line: The Tar Heels were in control from start to finish, and their physicality in the trenches paved the way for a historic performance.
Let’s just say the Hurricanes might want to burn the game tape and never speak of their loss to North Carolina. A season that led them to a top-10 ranking and only one loss to Clemson ended with an abysmal performance against the Tar Heels. The defense was helpless and couldn’t slow down the UNC run game, while quarterback D’Eriq King could get nothing going for the Miami offense. Though Miami has struggled through coronavirus issues over the past month, the Hurricanes were not as short-handed as they had been in recent games, yet seemed totally out of sorts. There is no doubt the performance put a damper on what has been a noteworthy season to date. — Andrea Adelson
Coastal Carolina avoided the trap game and knocked off. The Trojans came into this one healthier than they’ve been most of the season and gave the Chanticleers a run for their money. Despite giving up the most points it has all season, Jamey Chadwell’s team improved to 11-0 after a go-ahead touchdown with 35 seconds left, and now a rematch against Louisiana in the Sun Belt title game is on the horizon. QB Grayson McCall and RB CJ Marable led the way for Coastal on offense, with Marable posting 120 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. — Harry Lyles Jr.
The Buffaloes came out hot in the second half with Brenden Rice‘s 61-yard touchdown, and it appeared Colorado might come out with an easy win. But Utah — which has had a challenging season with cancellations and losses to USC and Washington — fought back and put the game away. With five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Utah stopped Colorado on fourth down and then had a 66-yard touchdown rush the play after. The Buffaloes’ first loss of the season gives USC the Pac-12 South title. — Harry Lyles Jr.
So much for Georgia sleeping on upstart Missouri. The Bulldogs came out firing as quarterback JT Daniels put on a clinic with three touchdowns and no interceptions, while the running game more than held up its end of the bargain, led by Zamir White and his 126 yards. But most impressive was the play of the defense, which continues to prove that it’s among the best in the country. Missouri entered the game on fire, having scored 91 points against its previous two opponents, and was held to 14 points at home.
Eventually Missouri’s run of success was going to come to an end, and Georgia was just the team to do it. The Bulldogs’ defense snuffed out the running game, which had been the linchpin to the Tigers’ recent run, and frustrated freshman quarterback Connor Bazelak into throwing for the fewest yards since his debut against Alabama. But for a team no one expected to be ranked at any point this season, it isn’t all bad news. A win against 2-6 Mississippi State in the regular season-finale would set Missouri up for a quality bowl game and a chance to close things out on the upswing. — Alex Scarborough
Putting up 52 points on Arkansas isn’t surprising as Mac Jones and DeVonta Smith continue to put up Heisman Trophy numbers. But it’s the defense that we should really be talking about coming out of Saturday. It’s a group that was much maligned early in the season when it was torched by Ole Miss to the tune of 48 points. Since then, it has gotten its act together and now leads the SEC in points allowed per game. Keep an eye on the status of linebacker Christian Harris, though. Harris was knocked out of the Arkansas game, and Alabama will need him back when it goes head-to-head with Florida’s high-powered offense in the SEC title game next week. — Alex Scarborough
The Wildcats did not overlook Illinois with the Big Ten championship game ahead of them against Ohio State, finishing the regular season with a 28-10 victory. Northwestern running backs Cam Porter and Evan Hull led the way with a combined 289 yards rushing and three touchdowns, with the team running for a total of 411 yards. Illinois’ offense wasn’t able to get anything going, and now the Wildcats get to prepare for their biggest test of the season against the Buckeyes, who had the week off because of coronavirus issues at Michigan. — Harry Lyles Jr.
Can’t bring me down
USC wideout Drake London decided no Bruin could bring him down on this reception.
— USC Football (@USC_FB) December 13, 2020
If it works, it works
Though maybe Iowa shouldn’t always try to kick punts like this.
Iowa punter Tory Taylor drops the snap and tries to punt it from the ground.
Two of these things are not like the others
Wonder who decided to suit up in costume for the game.
— Ryan McGee (@ESPNMcGee) December 12, 2020
Army’s defense is locked in
Army isn’t letting Navy get away with anything fancy.
Navy attempts to run a reverse and Mark Walker goes backward into the end zone but is tackled for a safety.
The extra point is GOOD
Sarah Fuller continues to make history. With this extra point, she became the first woman to score in Power 5 history.
Sarah Fuller is the first woman to score in a Power 5 game. pic.twitter.com/Paq7WS24zu
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) December 12, 2020
Sarah Fuller just nailed that XP. Awesome stuff
— Andrea Adelson (@aadelsonESPN) December 12, 2020
You really need to see this ending
In one of the most bizarre endings to a game this season, Western Michigan was going for a last-second touchdown, made a bunch of laterals, but then both squads were on the field before the game was really done. WMU scored a touchdown that didn’t end up counting, and yeah, it’s about as confusing as it sounds. Ball State ended up winning the game, but we cannot stress it enough, you need to watch how it all went down.
With time for only one last play, Western Michigan laterals more times than you can count and Ball State rushes the field before the whistle in what appears to be a Broncos touchdown.
Thanks again, Nebraska
Maybe it’s overplayed, but Big Ten teams are still ever so grateful to the Cornhuskers.
— ??️♈️? (@ADavidHaleJoint) December 12, 2020
Just like dad
Brenden Rice, Jerry Rice’s son, showed off his speed with these two long touchdowns.
Brenden Rice, son of NFL legend Jerry, takes a punt 81 yards to the house, then follows that up with a 61-yard touchdown for Colorado.
Can we agree that hurdles on a snowy field just look cooler?
Utah’s Cole Fotheringham leaps over a defender to pick up a first down for the Utes.
Introducing the Wake Forest-Bachelor franchise pipeline
Wake Forest is establishing itself as a new sort of breeding ground for reality TV, it seems.
— Mike Golic Jr (@mikegolicjr) December 12, 2020
Slip and slide
The field condition for the Northwestern-Illinois game wasn’t exactly perfect.
why isn’t everyone watching this game pic.twitter.com/bj1l2Ce3H5
— maize and soup ? (@AceAnbender) December 12, 2020
Arizona State accomplished a lot Friday in a 70-7 rout of rival Arizona, but none was more important than the touchdown that concluded the night’s scoring.
? JACKSON HE FOR SIX ?
THE FIRST CHINESE BORN PLAYER TO SCORE A TOUCHDOWN IN FBS HISTORY.
— Sun Devil Football (@ASUFootball) December 12, 2020
Nothing too scary about this cat
And it’s not really a rivalry game unless the winning team gets to have a little fun at the loser’s expense.
— Sun Devil Football (@ASUFootball) December 12, 2020
It’s a major award
Mac Jones is one of the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy. But Alabama has launched a campaign for another national award: the Mortell Holder of the Year Award. This is not the first time a star Alabama QB has lobbied for the award, either.
?????? ??????? ?? ??? ?????. pic.twitter.com/aAE33wvO3F
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) December 10, 2020
Gruff but lovable
Back in March, during a Twitter Q&A, a Michigan State fan asked new Spartans coach Mel Tucker if there would be a “Gruff Sparty” helmet this season. That logo is a rendition of Sparty — but, you know, gruff — and is a longtime fan favorite. Tucker replied, “Let me look into it.“
It appears that he did, and the fans got their wish.
— Michigan State Football (@MSU_Football) December 10, 2020
Pitt remains appropriately excited
After all the handshake drama, Vincent Davis, who had 247 rushing yards, had to temper his enthusiasm a bit.
PITT IS LITT
(not too lit tho) ? pic.twitter.com/S2VW8a3kDL
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) December 11, 2020
A history lesson
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Army and Navy played America’s Game at West Point for the first time since 1943.
The teams each brought out special uniforms for the game. Army’s honored the 25th Infantry Division from the Korean War.
We honor the past by re-telling the story of #TropicLightning, a story of valor, courage and sacrifice.
Inspired, humbled and motivated by the soldiers that came before us.
— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) December 1, 2020
Navy’s are meant to evoke the school’s chapel and Bancroft Hall, the massive academic dorm that holds 4,000 midshipmen. The school called the design on the helmets and shoulders “ocean camo.”
175 years of history, tradition, and honor all lead to this.
— Navy Football (@NavyFB) December 1, 2020
The legal notices
No. 4 Ohio State and No. 5 Texas A&M are not playing each other this weekend after their respective games (against Michigan and Ole Miss) were canceled and fans clamored for a College Football Playoff play-in game of sorts. It was always a pipe dream. But just know that the lack of a game does not please the court.
Or, at least, one judge, who just happens to be an Aggie. Judge Tom Nowak of the Texas 366th District Court, near Dallas, tried to use the long arm of the law to make college football miracles happen.
— Tom Nowak (@VotingForTom) December 8, 2020
We launched into investigative mode this week and asked the judge about his (not-at-all serious) motivation and the minutes that he spent typing up this order. Here’s what transpired:
How legally binding is this order?
“About as far as my nose goes, I think. I wish I had some jurisdiction over all this to make some changes. But I don’t know that the Texas constitution actually gives me the authority to tell the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Aggies what to do and how to do it.”
Is there legal bias because he’s an A&M grad?
“I’m not asking to be in the replay booth. I’m just telling the teams they have to play. So I think it’s pretty fair.”
What happens if Ohio State doesn’t follow the order?
“I don’t really have any jurisdiction over them, but the College Football Playoff committee does meet in Texas, in Grapevine, so I’ll have a little more ability to do some things there if they’re not willing to come down here and play the game.”
Is that a threat?
“Oh, no. No. I’m just discussing jurisdiction.”