Week 11 wrap

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Khalil Tate runs for over 200 yards (again) in another record-setting romp for Arizona

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A college football Saturday can be a very long day. You get up early, eat some breakfast with the sun peeking through and, depending on your time zone, won’t go to bed until it gets dark — in Hawaii.

But let me tell you, no matter how long the day can drag on, watching Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate should be on your list of things to absolutely tune in for every single week. I mean it, every single week.

The Heisman contender had another stellar outing on #Pac12AfterDark this week, which should come as no surprise given that the Wildcats were playing a pretty bad Oregon State team at home (they won 49-28) and set a new school record for rushing yards in the process. The opponent doesn’t really matter though because Tate is just so fun to watch and might be the closest thing we have to a human cheat code in the real life version of NCAA Football.

Just watch this 71 yard touchdown run he had and pay attention to that extra gear the final 30 yards or so he uses to simply blow past some defenders that had an angle on him:

According to the school, that was Tate’s fifth rush of 70 or more yards on the season and his 11th rushing touchdown on the year, which ties him for 8th all-time (Trung Canidate) in single-season school history. Keep in mind he’s only been the starter — at quarterback — for six games.

All told he finished the game against the Beavers with 206 yards on the ground and two scores in just three quarters-worth of work, while also throwing for 68 yards on 5-of-7 passing. That puts him at 1,293 yards for the season — on just 111 carries for what would be an FBS record 11.6 yards/carry if he keeps things up.

We were all pretty impressed with the video game numbers that Louisville’s Lamar Jackson has been putting up but Tate has been just as good if not more so after taking over as the starter for Rich Rodriguez. There are still two games left in the regular season for the Wildcats (against Oregon and in-state rival Arizona State), which gives us two more opportunities to see if anybody can stop the most dynamic player in the country right now.

Biscayne Beatdown: No. 7 Miami destroys No. 3 Notre Dame to state playoff case

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Heading into Saturday’s showdown with No. 3 Notre Dame, there were still plenty of questions about whether No. 7 Miami was a bona fide College Football Playoff contender. By the time the night was over, it’s safe to say there were no more doubts.

The Hurricanes brought back plenty of memories of those title contenders from yesteryear — and created several more over four quarters — after a nostalgia-filled rout of the Irish at Hard Rock Stadium, delivering a 41-8 Biscayne Beatdown that will reverberate well beyond South Florida and could allow the team to move into the top two of the polls by next week.

As much as the night was about the offense looking sharp, it was the swarming Miami defense that ruled supreme with their best effort of the year coming in the biggest game of the season. The team racked up five sacks and nine tackles for loss, combining with four ‘turnover chain’ appearances to utterly shutdown the previously prolific Notre Dame attack. That helped lead to 24 points the other way, seven of which came off Trajan Bandy’s first career interception that he returned 65 yards for an eardrum-shattering pick-six.

That was off the arm of backup quarterback Ian Book, who entered briefly  in the second quarter to replace an ineffective Brandon Wimbush (119 yards passing, one touchdown, two INTs). Star tailback Josh Adams spent most of the second half on the exercise bike after appearing to suffer an undisclosed injury and recorded only 40 yards on the ground as the Irish put up points with only seconds left in the third quarter to avoid a shutout.

Though things slowed down after halftime, it was another efficient effort on the other side for head coach Mark Richt’s offense to build upon what they’ve been doing the past few weeks. Quarterback Malik Rosier was solid throwing the football even if the stats weren’t eye-popping (137 yards, 1 TD) and also managed a rushing score that broke things open early on. He teamed up with Travis Homer (146 yards) and DeeJay Dallas (53 yards, two scores) to form quite the deadly combo in the backfield.

The end result of all that carnage in South Florida? Given No. 1 Georgia’s loss to No. 10 Auburn earlier in the day, it’s possible that Richt’s current team could pass his old one in the standings on both Sunday (AP/Coaches Polls) and Tuesday (selection committee). They’ve already clinched their first ever ACC Coastal Division title and will play Clemson for the conference title in what sure seems like a quarterfinal game up in Charlotte in a few weeks.

As for Brian Kelly’s side, their second loss of the year should end any hopes of reaching the playoff after that kind of lopsided result. The Irish still figure to be in a New Year’s Six bowl if they win out and could remain in the top 10 but it’s pretty clear that any hopes of aiming higher need to be reset after that kind of game against a potential playoff team in Miami.

Tennessee now 0-6 in SEC play in Butch Jones’ fifth season on Rocky Top

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For the sake of the coach and the fan base, the trigger has to be pulled tomorrow, right?  Right?!?!

For the better part of the 2017 season — hell, even heading into it — it’s been a foregone conclusion that it’s a matter of when, not if, Butch Jones is fired as Tennessee’s head football coach.  In Week 11, that drumbeat of an argument got even louder and more resounding as UT went into Columbia and headed back to Knoxville on the receiving end of a 50-17 woodshedding by Missouri.

With the loss, the Volunteers are now 0-6 SEC play.  Since the SEC was formed in 1933 until 2010, the Vols had never been 0-6 in the conference.  From 2011 until now, they’ve been 0-6 in SEC play three times — twice under Derek Dooley (2011, 2012) and this year under Jones.

Dooley was fired with one game left in the 2012 season after going 15-21 in nearly three seasons.  With two games left in Jones’ fifth season, the Vols are 34-26 under the beleaguered coach’s stewardship.

While the cupboard may have been bare when he arrived, the lack of success can’t be blamed on the paucity of on-paper talent.

It’s gotten beyond obvious that there’s no way Jones can survive this season.  Why not cut ties now and begin the process of resurrecting the storied program?

Full disclosure that needs to be made: the Vols are 57-54 and on their third head coach since Phil Fulmer was fired in 2008. Just saying is all.

As No. 1 falls, No. 2 Alabama claims 31st straight regular season win in gut check at No. 16 Mississippi State

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The top three teams in college football all went on the road Saturday, all against top-16 teams. No. 1 Georgia already lost, and No. 3 Notre Dame is in the process of going down. No. 2 Alabama went to No. 16 Mississippi State and trailed much of the night, was nearly doubled up on time of possession, and it didn’t matter. A late touchdown pushed Alabama over Mississippi State for a 31-24 win, the program’s 31st consecutive regular season win.

Alabama nearly found itself down 28-17 in the fourth quarter and missed a would-be game-winning field goal with two minutes remaining, but absorbed and survived those blows to take over at its own 32 with 1:01 remaining and a full holster of timeouts. The drive appeared in danger in facing a 3rd-and-15 at its own 43 with 31 seconds remaining, but Jalen Hurts found Calvin Ridley for his third long catch-and-run of the night, this time for 31 yards. That set up a game-winning 26-yard snatch-and-dash to Devonta Smith with 25 ticks left.

The win pushed Alabama to 10-0 overall, 7-0 in the SEC and an unquestioned No. 1 in every poll that matters with three weeks remaining in the regular season.

Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3 SEC) utterly controlled the first quarter, but found itself locked in a 7-7 tie. The Bulldogs accepted the ball to open the game and clicked off 11 plays, moved the ball to the Alabama 41, killed the first half of the frame and then punted, pinning Alabama at its own 5.

The Bulldog defense forced a three-and-out, and its offense pushed its way down the field on a 6-play, 57-yard touchdown drive punctuated by an 11-yard Aeris Williams run.

On the ensuing possession, Mississippi State forced a 3rd-and-5, where a conversion would have given Mississippi State the ball with a 7-0 lead while Alabama’s offense ran a total of six plays over the first quarter. Instead, Hurts found Ridley for a 63-yard catch-and-run, and Hurts rushed in a 1-yard score two plays later.

The next two drives played out the same. Mississippi State strung together an 11-play, 73-yard drive again capped by a Williams run. And again Hurts and Ridley connected, this time for 61 yards. Ridley finished the game with five grabs for 171 yards, and Hurts hit 10-of-19 passes for 242 yards with a touchdown and no turnovers. Josh Jacobs rushed in from a yard out two plays later, tying the game at 14-14 with 9:26 left in the second quarter.

Alabama grabbed its first lead to open the second half, moving 63 yards in seven plays to set up a 30-yard Andy Pappanastos field goal. Mississippi State, however, picked up where it left off, reclaiming the lead on a 13-play, 69-yard drive that consumed more than 6:30 off the clock and concluded with a 2-yard Nick Fitzgerald rush. Fitzgerald completed 13-of-24 passes for 158 yards, and Mississippi State pounded out 49 rushing attempts, which gave the Bulldogs a near 18-minute edge in time of possession. 

The Bulldogs forced a three-and-out on Alabama’s next possession and had a chance to seize complete control of the game after moving to a 1st-and-10 at the Tide 11, but Fitzgerald’s 3rd-and-7 pass sailed incomplete. Jace Christmann knocked in a 25-yard field goal to give Mississippi State its third touchdown lead of the night, a 24-17 edge with 14:13 to play.

And for the third time of the night, Alabama erased Mississippi State’s touchdown lead with an immediate touchdown of its own. The Crimson Tide rumbled 82 yards in 10 plays, in the process converting a 4th-and-4 at the MSU 34 with a 13-yard Hurts rush. Damien Harris tied the game two plays after that with a 14-yard rush.

An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Alabama offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood helped Mississippi State begin its next drive at its own 40 and the Bulldogs eventually penetrated to the Alabama 42, but Dan Mullen elected to punt on 4th-and-3 with 6:30 to play. Logan Cooke‘s punt sailed into the end zone, and Alabama had the crease it needed to grab control of the game.

Three straight Bo Scarborough rushes pushed the ball to midfield, and a Harris run placed it at the Mississippi State 33. Mississippi State forced a 3rd-and-8, but a pass from Hurts to Ridley drew a pass interference flag, staking Alabama to a 1st-and-10 at the MSU 16 with 4:05 to go. However, three straight Hurts run lost yardage, and a 41-yard Pappanastos field goal clanged off the left upright. 

Mississippi State moved into Hail Mary territory on its last gasp drive. Fitzgerald’s first heave from the Alabama 49 was fell incomplete, but he was given another chance after a pass interference flag. His second chance, from the 34, sailed out of the end zone, sealing the win for Alabama.

Kansas now owns second-longest road losing streak at any level in NCAA history

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Woohoo?

Heading into their Week 11 matchup with Texas, woebegone Kansas was tied with Div. II Western Colorado State (1926-36) for the second-longest road losing streak at any level of NCAA football at 44 in a row. Heading out, that streak is now at 45 straight as the Longhorns went home with a 42-27 win in Austin.

And it’s not like they have been a plethora of close calls along the way as 38 of the 45 losses have been by 10 points or more.  The last single-digit loss came in Nov. of 2015 as 15th-ranked TCU escaped with a 23-17 win.

Up next on the docket? FCS Idaho State, which lost 48 in a row from 2006-2014. Tying and/or breaking that mark will have to wait until next season, however, as KU has just one road trip left this season — to Stillwater for the regular-season finale against Oklahoma State. They could tie Idaho State’s mark against Baylor Sept. 22 next season, with a chance to set a new standard Oct.6 in Morgantown against West Virginia.

Theoretically, I guess they could also snap the streak in their 2018 road opener against Central Michigan Sept. 8, but even that’s going out on a dangerously-thin limb giving the direction the football program is headed under David Beaty.

For the record, KU’s last win away from Memorial Stadium came in September of 2009 — 2009!!! — against UTEP. The last road win against a Power Five foe? In October of 2008 — 2008!!! — against Iowa State.  Taking it back even further, they haven’t beaten a non-conference Power Five opponent on the road since winning at Oregon State in Corvallis in the 1992 season opener.  In fairness, there have only been a handful of such games since, but still.

UTEP, ironically enough, held the previous FBS record for stumbling road streaks when they lost 35 straight from 1974-80.  KU broke that record in September of 2016 in a 43-7 loss to Memphis.