I mentioned last week that this weekend was my favorite in college football. Rivalry weekend, for me, is on par with the men's March Madness basketball tournament. You can always count on upsets and at least two bench clearing brawls. I was not disappointed.
Most of the games feature either in state battles, or, a long time history of meeting each other. In both case the hatred built up between the two schools is palpable, and that doesn't even take into consideration the feud between fans.
It's funny how you always hear players saying that the games are for the fans and that they don't really get into it as much themselves. That it's just another game on the schedule, blah, blah, blah. Lies, all of it.
When the opening kick-off is in the air, trust me, the players are amped up just as much, or more, than the fans in the stands. Northwestern still hates Iowa because Iowa coach Hayden Fry told Gary Barnett after the game in the early 1990's that he hopes his team didn't hurt Gary's boys after a particular tough beating.
Current Northwestern coach, Pat Fitzgerald, was on that team and is still so incensed that he reminds his players at the start of each season, and the week they play Iowa, about what Fry said. The players get it.
This year there were a few games that stood out for me, and I watched most of the big games, or at least portions of the games. Several will have playoff implications. For me the top games were, in no particular order:
Miss St - 24
Miss - 22
A beautiful way to kick-off the weekend as Ole Miss fails on a 2-point conversion at the end of the game and Mississippi State walks away with a huge win.
Florida - 38
Florida State - 45
This was a ridiculous game. Scoring back and forth, it was like watching a track meet as Florida State holds off a late Florida charge to win by a touchdown.
Oregon - 34
Oregon State - 38
Another crazy game, including the eye hurting uniform combinations for the two schools. It was like watching football on an old computer monitor that only had amber and green colors. Oregon led 31-10 at one point and State made a furious comeback to kill Oregon's chance at a Pac-12 crown.
The games that had the most implications for poll positions and playoff slots were:
Michigan - 45
Ohio State - 23
This was close for about a quarter and a half and then Michigan went nuts. Their defense held OSU to only 3 points in the second half. A complete domination of a team many expected to win the national championship. Number 3 beat number 2 and it might cost OSU a chance for a playoff.
LSU - 23
Texas A & M - 38
If ever LSU needed to not throw a stinker this was the day and they just couldn't stop themselves. It is not so much that A & M beat them, which they did, as it was that LSU played horrible. So number 2 goes down in the game above and now number 5 goes down in this one.
Notre Dame - 27
USC - 38
Which set up things quite nicely for USC. With a win on Saturday, and another in the PAC-12 championship game next weekend against Utah, they will be hard pressed to keep out of the playoff picture. All they did was relentlessly thump Notre Dame. They took an early two touchdown lead and then matched them score for score the rest of the way.
For me, there were three players that stood out, and possibly etched their names on the Heisman Trophy. QB Jordan Travis - Florida State. He passed and ran his team to this win and might be the new front runner for the award. QB Caleb Williams - USC. He was unstoppable all night and the Irish had no answer for him. QB Matt Duggan - TCU. He was a man playing against boys and, for me, was a revelation. He is really good.
Honorary mentions for this weekend include, QB C.J. Stroud - Ohio State, QB Drew Pyne - Notre Dame, and QB Bo Nix - Oregon. All had great games but their teams lost and that hurts their chances for the Heisman.
So now, next weekend are the conference championships and then the selectin committee will announce the final four for 2022.
Georgia will hold on to their #1 slot, Michigan will likely move up to #2, and TCU will also move up to #3. Unless Michigan loses to Purdue in the Big 10 championship, and USC loses to Utah in the Pac-12, USC will round out the top four slots and open against Georgia in the playoffs. Michigan will play TCU and the winners of the opening rounds will face each other for the national title.
This was an awesome weekend and just imagine how much fun things will be in 2026 when the playoffs expand to 12 teams.