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 other is Michigan State. It was previously undefeated and suffered another defensive collapse in the same time span. They lost 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 overpowered once more by the failures of special teams, and within the red zone.

Cincinnati is another example, making life more complicated for even the most dedicated defenders of its cause by trying to eliminate Tulsa.

Wake Forest is a fourth team. This was Wake Forest’s last chance to win the College Football Playoff. After losing to North Carolina in a shootout, the Demon Deacons are still in a good position to win a New Year’s Six bowl. However, they have little chance of reaching the top four.

Georgia is the team with most business, as it swarmed Missouri in a battle to maintain its unbeaten regular season. These and other teams are among the week’s winners and losers.

WINNERS

Georgia

After leading 26-3 at the halftime, the Bulldogs were victorious over Missouri 43-6. Stetson Bennett’s strong performance as a quarterback saw him complete 13 of his 19 attempts to gain 255 yards and score two touchdowns. Bennett, who was JT Daniels’ backup heading into this season, has thrown at least 230 yard in his four previous games. He is also one of three Power Five quarterbacks that averages more than 10 yards per pass over 100 throws.

Army

Army made a huge step toward the Commander-inChief’s Trophy reclaimation by defeating Air Force 21-14 in overtime. The Black Knights will be able to claim the Trophy in Round-Robin Series format if they beat Navy in the last game of the regular season. Navy defeated Air Force earlier this year and eliminated the Midshipmen’s chance. 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 was outstanding in the 33-30 win against Georgia Tech. He ran for 389 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. The Hurricanes have Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Duke closing the year. They could enter the playoffs with the possibility of winning nine more games and contending for the Back End of the Top 25,

Arizona

California lost 10-3 to the Wildcats, who allowed only 122 yards. This ended a losing streak of more than two decades. 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. Arizona won its first game under Jedd Fisch. It is also the first win since October 5, 2019, which snapped a 20-game dry spell.

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 of Auburn was unable to complete 20 of 41 throws, resulting in a disappointing two-game run.

Clemson

After a disappointing year, expectations have been raised for Dabo Swinney’s Tigers. While not destined for the playoff — or maybe even the ACC championship game — climbing out of a 17-7 hole, making a late goal-line stand and beating Louisville 30-24 is by far the best moment of a frustrating season. This win is also a testament to DJ Uiagalelei as he was criticized for not meeting the absurd standard established by Clemson’s most recent quarterbacks, but he managed to put together 232 yards and three touchdowns in spite of sustaining a leg injury. 

Tennessee

Although the Volunteers held the ball only for 13:23 minutes, they scored 45 points to beat Kentucky and earn the first ever marquee victory under Josh Heupel. Tennessee managed to hold on to the ball at an incredible 3.5 points per minutes despite being faced with a stream of snaps from Kentucky. Kentucky ran 99 plays, gained 612 yards and was unable convert a fourth down try to win the series. This is the first such victory since 1976-1977. The Volunteers are now 5-4 and should provide hope for a passionate fan base that is optimistic about the future of their program as they face the last three regular-season games. How has Heupel already influenced this offense. What is UT’s defense potential?

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Losers

Florida

This loss of 40-17 to South Carolina was one of the low points in the program’s history. And it is also the best sign yet that Dan Mullen lost his way late in his fourth season. The year that was already wildly unsustainable has reached its climax. USC lost all five of their SEC games, including the win against Vanderbilt. USC also had to start a third-string quarterback in Jason Brown. They hadn’t scored over 23 points against FBS competitors. For Mullen, about the only good news is that he won’t need to answer any questions this week about Florida’s recruiting — he’ll just have to answer for how this program has dropped off a cliff.

Texas

There’s good news. Texas held a two-digit lead for the first four games. Although Texas led at halftime though. Iowa State, however, scored 21 points during the third quarter to win a convincing victory of 30-7. This defeat drops the Longhorns’ record to just 4-5. UT now stands at 1-5 against Power Five rivals with a winning record. Texas Tech was the only one to lose. The optimism and excitement of August and September have been replaced by concerns about Sarkisian’s chances of missing a bowl in his first season.

Minnesota

After September’s harrowing defeat to Bowling Green, the Golden Gophers could add another nightmare to their already traumatic loss: Illinois played just 58 plays and threw only 80 yards. However, they pulled off the upset 14-6. This is a major blow to the Big Ten West, which had been dominated by the Gophers. The loss of Minnesota in this game will be a surprise for those who were not familiar with the first playoff rankings.

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 Wake’s offense had 615 yards of offense and 35 first downs in the game, they were unable to counter the defense’s continued woes that have allowed 500+ yards in at least four of five of their last five games. The Demon Deacons next face North Carolina State, Clemson and other opponents in an encounter that could decide 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. More immediate concerns are the defensive play. The Spartans gave up 552 yards against Michigan in their rivalry victory and then 594 to Boilermakers. 536 of those were through the air. The loss of Kenneth Walker III running back should not have a major impact on his Heisman Trophy run. He ran for 136 yard and scored a touchdown. Purdue is celebrating the win against an unbeaten Big Ten team. This follows recent victories over Iowa State 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 position will change dramatically if it beats the Golden Hurricane on one possession.

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



Source: USAToday.com

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