7 things you need to know in college football
Oklahoma continues to roll, the Heisman race is wide open and much more following Week 12.
7 things you need to know in college football
Here are the seven things you need to know in college football this week:
- Oklahoma Sooners continue to roll.
After a disappointing and somewhat embarrassing loss to the Texas Longhorns earlier in the season, it’s been a long road back for the Oklahoma Sooners. With big wins over Baylor and TCU, they now head to Stillwater to take on their rival Oklahoma State Cowboys, with the Big 12 championship, and a potential place in the College Football Playoff on the line. The good news for the Sooners is that quarterback Baker Mayfield (+44.0), who is tied for our highest-graded player at the position, has passed two concussion tests and has a chance to be able to play. With Cowboys’ QB Mason Rudolph (+40.0) our fourth-highest graded player at the position, it sets up an exciting matchup with a lot on the line.
- Notre Dame is struggling, but still winning.
When the Notre Dame Fighting Irish beat the Boston College Eagles at Fenway Park on Saturday night, they were hoping to make an impression on the College Football Playoff committee. If they did make an impression, it wasn’t a good one, as they came away with the win, but left it much closer than they would have liked. Quarterback Deshone Kizer (+12.0) had his lowest graded game since the loss to Clemson, and even when he was on target, top wide receiver Will Fuller (+8.7) dropped three of the seven catchable passes thrown his way. Considered a top-four team by many, they get the chance to make a statement this weekend, but it will involve slowing down our highest graded running back in Christian McCaffrey (+38.4) and the Stanford Cardinal.
- LSU’s season is spiraling.
Heading into the Alabama game just three weeks ago the LSU Tigers had it all to play for. Many had them pegged as the best team in the country and they continued to roll behind Heisman favorite running back Leonard Fournette (+30.5). Since then they’ve lost three in a row and a season where looked like ending in glory is now spiraling out of control. Fournette had his lowest graded game of the year by far (-3.3) against Ole Miss and now even his once certain Heisman Trophy bid is in trouble, especially with how well McCaffrey is playing for Stanford.
- The Iowa Hawkeyes are still lurking.
With more teams falling from the ranks of the unbeatens week by week, the Iowa Hawkeyes are slowly climbing the rankings. Their schedule is what limits them in most people’s eyes, but they do have wins on the road against both Wisconsin and Northwestern, so it’s not like they have beaten nobody. Quarterback C.J. Beathard (+18.5), had had several big games this year, and just the one really poor game against Wisconsin. They’ll need him at his best over the next two weeks, with a big game against Nebraska before trying to take down Michigan State, Ohio State or Michigan in the Big 10 Championship game.
- Is Ohio State on the outside looking in?
We’ve talked about their struggles at quarterback all year, and a poor game by J.T. Barrett (-2.9) helped doom Ohio State to their first loss of the year. Worse still, it means they now need help to even reach the Big Ten Championship game. Making matters worse was Ezekiel Elliott questioning the play calling, but after a season where he has racked up a grade of +30.9, he’ll likely feature heavily once again against Michigan this weekend. They still need some help, but with talent like Elliott on offense, and Joey Bosa and Adolphus Washington on defense, they are still big threat if they do make it.
- Navy could still surprise everyone
There is still the potential, if results go the right way, that we could see a two loss Stanford win the Pac-12 and a two loss Michigan win the Big Ten. At that point, the College Football Playoff committee are potentially going to face a selection nightmare for the final spot in the top four. It’s highly unlikely that they will, based on strength of schedule, but based on what we’ve seen this year, both from them and the rest of the teams in the top 25, Navy isn’t that far away from being deserving of a chance. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds (+16.4) has been outstanding on the ground, breaking the single season rushing touchdowns record, and they have some solid wins on their resume. They easily handled a Memphis team that beat Ole Miss, and the only loss on their resume came against another potential playoff team in Notre Dame. Is it likely to happen? Probably not, but this Navy team is good enough to surprise people.
- The Heisman race is wide open
With Fournette’s struggles and McCaffrey excelling as an all purpose superstar, the race for the Heisman trophy this year is getting more and more interesting by the week. Joining the top two at running back, Ezekiel Elliott has had a big season at Ohio State, but still lacks that Heisman moment. He could get that against Michigan this weekend, but he definitely needs a big game, especially with a championship game not looking likely right now. At quarterback it’s Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield who has been the late riser, overtaking TCU’s Trevone Boykin (+43.2) as the most likely winner at quarterback, while receiver Corey Coleman’s (+17.7) huge season has been damped by the Baylor loss. Either way, the race for the Heisman is wide open with just a few short weeks to go.
Gordon McGuinness | Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst
Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.