Despite an apparent lackluster schedule of games, college soccer was able to meet its crazy quota. Many of the participating teams were involved in upsets or near-upsets during the race for national championship.

The unbeaten Michigan State was one of the victims. In just a few weeks, it suffered a second defensive breakdown and fell to Purdue.

The Big Ten also saw Ohio State be pushed to its limits by Nebraska. This slowed down the most prolific offense in America, but it was stopped once more by special teams failures and red-zone errors.

Cincinnati is another, and is making it more difficult even for its most passionate defenders to defeat Tulsa.

Wake Forest is the fourth team, as it was the league’s sole hope for the College Football Playoff. The Demon Deacons have a chance to reach a New Years Six bowl, but they are unlikely to finish in the top four. They lost in a shootout with North Carolina.

Georgia is the team with most business, as it overwhelmingly beat Missouri in a regular season that was unbeaten. These teams, along with others, are the winners and losers of this week’s weekly list.

WINNERS

Georgia

At halftime, Missouri was ahead 26-3. The Bulldogs, the top-ranked team in this poll, cruised past Missouri 43-6 thanks to Stetson Bennett’s impressive game. He completed 13 out of 19 throws for 255 yards with two touchdowns and threw another solid pass. Bennett was JT’s backup going into the season and has thrown for at minimum 230 yards in each of his previous four games. Bennett is among three Power Five quarterbacks who average more than 10 yards per attempt over 100.

Army

Army made a huge step toward the Commander-inChief’s Trophy reclaimation by defeating Air Force 21-14 in overtime. If the Black Knights beat Navy in their final regular season game, they can claim the trophy. Navy lost to Air Force earlier in the year which eliminated any chance for the Midshipmen. Even with a loss to Navy, tiebreaker rules would allow the Black Knights to possess the trophy for another year.

Miami (Fla.

Despite the lack of beauty points, Miami has put together a three-game winning streak to bring coach Manny Diaz off the hot seat and raise the possibility of an eight-win regular season. Tyler Van Dyke, a young quarterback, was impressive in his 33-30 win over Georgia Tech. The Hurricanes have Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Duke closing the year. They could enter the playoffs with nine wins and a chance to contend for the Back End of the Top 25, and possibly win another title.

Arizona

California lost 10-3 to the Wildcats who gave up 122 yards. UNLV was the last team left without a win in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Golden Bears’ ineptitude is nearly entirely the result of missing more than two dozen players to COVID-19 protocols, including starting quarterback Chase Garbers; his replacement, Ryan Glover, completed 11 of 29 attempts for 94 yards. This win marks Arizona’s first victory under Jedd Fisch, and the first in Arizona since Oct. 5, 2019. It also snaps a 20-game drought.

Texas A&M

Auburn managed just 226 yards and 3.2 yards per pass by the SEC. They were held down 20-3 by A&M in an SEC game that had playoff implications. The win also keeps A&M in line to win the SEC West, which would demand a clean sweep of November and one Alabama loss — maybe to the Tigers in the Iron Bowl. Bo Nix, Auburn’s quarterback, completed only 20 of 41 passes for 153 yards with an interception. This is perhaps his best stretch in two years.

LOSTERS

Minnesota

In addition to September’s devastating defeat to Bowling Green in September, the Golden Gophers have another horror loss. Illinois managed just 58 plays while throwing for 80 yards. But they still won the upset by 14-6. This loss, which was a controversial one in the inaugural playoff rankings will knock Minnesota out of contention for major-bowl play.

SMU

SMU’s loss to Memphis, 28-25, is bad news. Cincinnati also has two consecutive losses. Cincinnati needs to win marquee regular season games but cannot rely on Memphis to make it happen with the playoff selection panel. SMU coach Sonny Dykes, who is also a top candidate for TCU’s opening, was hurt. It’s not a terrible loss at all: Memphis dropped four out of five games with defeats to Temple and Tulsa.

Wake Forest

Wake’s slim playoff hopes are erased by a 58-55 loss at North Carolina  in a game between the two ACC programs that has no impact on the Demon Deacons’ status as the only team still unbeaten in league play. Although the offense managed to gain 615 yards and 35 first downs, it was not able to overcome a defense that allowed more than 500 yards in each of its five previous games. The Demon Deacons next face North Carolina State, Clemson and other opponents in matches that will determine who wins the ACC Atlantic.

Michigan State

The Spartans are not eliminated from the playoff race by a 40-29 loss to Purdue but no longer have any wiggle room heading into season-defining games against Ohio State and Penn State. The defense’s play is a concern. They gave up 552 yard in the rivalry win against Michigan, then 594 yards to the Boilermakers and 536 through the air. One positive thing is that Kenneth Walker III’s Heisman Trophy bid shouldn’t be affected by the loss. He ran for 136 yards with a touchdown. Purdue’s latest defeat of an unbeaten Big Ten squad is the result, which joins recent victories against Iowa and Ohio State. 

Cincinnati

In the midst of a string of tight games against inferior opponents, it’s almost impossible to justify the Bearcats’ selection in the playoff. The highlight of the run was a 28-20 victory against Tulsa. It was sealed by two late goal-line stands. Cincinnati’s playoff ranking will suffer if they lose to the Golden Hurricane on a single possession. However, this could help offset any potential for the Spartans to move up and make it closer to the top four.

Paul Myerberg is a college reporter. Follow him on Twitter @PaulMyerberg



Source: USAToday.com

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