College Football: Week 12 Observations

While the overall slate of games left a lot to be desired this past week in college football, there were not an absence of storylines by any means. Things are a little clearer in the Big Ten although a particular rivalry is set to take place next weekend. The annual rivalry between Alabama/Auburn will have mega postseason implications draped from it. A week after getting trounced, Notre Dame dodges a close bullet with a narrow win over Navy. The Heisman campaign has a clear favorite and he took it upon himself to obtain a tight grip on things this past weekend. Here are the key observations across college football this past weekend.

Oklahoma State’s Slim Hopes Now Dashed 

The odds of Oklahoma State making the College Football Playoff were not greatly in their favor but their chances were still alive. Those chances are now up in flames after a 45-40 defeat by Kansas State in which the Oklahoma State defense allowed 217 yards on the ground and 15.7 yards per pass. It was the Cowboys third loss this season with all three coming at home against conference foes. Many programs would be happy with an 8-3 season with one of the most electric offenses in the country, but this 2017 campaign for Oklahoma State has been underwhelming.

Rosen Wins The Battle, Darnold Wins The War

It is one of the more recognized rivalries in college football and this year’s version was hyped as the battle between two future 1st round quarterbacks in UCLA’s Josh Rosen and USC’s Sam Darnold. The internal battle between the quarterbacks was won by Rosen, as he passed for 421 yards and three touchdowns to Darnold’s 264 and one interception. However, Darnold and the Trojans won the contest between the two teams, 28-23. USC has beaten UCLA in the past three contests and seven of the past ten meetings. The focus was on the quarterbacks in this one and with plenty of scouts in attendance, it was Rosen who shined the brightest.

Michigan’s Quarterback Woes 

It has been a constant issue all season for the Wolverines and there appears to be very little resolve. This past weekend’s matchup against Wisconsin was a clear presentation of why the Wolverines are probably one efficient quarterback away from being a contender in the College Football Playoff. Sophomore quarterback Brandon Peters started the game but did not finish due to injury although he was faring well against the top-notch Badgers defense. Senior quarterback John O’Korn replaced Peters but was 2-for-8 for just 19 yards. It is still unknown whether or not Peters is the quarterback of the future but this season proved Michigan is in dire need of difference-making talent at the position.

Memphis Continues To Impress 

We seem to be heading towards a collision course in the American Athletic Conference. In one corner are the undefeated UCF Knights, a team ranked in the top 15. In the other corner are the 9-1 Memphis Tigers. The Tigers are fourth in the country in scoring offense, sixth in total offense, and tied for tenth in takeaways per game. Expectations were fairly modest for Memphis coming into the season yet they continue to prove on a weekly basis that they have what it takes to be crowned conference champions.

The “Return” of Barkley 

He had a small hiatus during Penn State’s last three games but in the 56-44 Penn State win over Nebraska this past weekend, elite running back Saquan Barkley restored his dominance as he gashed the Nebraska defense with 244 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns. With his past three games of being bottled up by defenses, Barkley lost his stance as a Heisman favorite. However, the landscape has produced very little Heisman possibles which means Barkley is comfortably in the race. Many see Barkley as a possible 1st overall pick in next year’s draft and outings such as this one against Nebraska showed scouts why he has an incredibly high ceiling.