Week 11 wrap

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Awash in upsets, how much impact will Week 11 chaos have on playoffs?


If it’s possible to have too much of a good thing, Week 11 of the 2016 season may ultimately prove that there could be too much of a bad thing as well.

It was a historic night in college football, with the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 teams going down in upsetting flames on the same day for the first time in three decades. Add in No. 8 Texas A&M and No. 9 Auburn stubbing their collective toes a second time this season, and it was chaos as far as the eye could see.

When the dust had settled, we were left with just two undefeated current Top 25 teams with three weeks left in the regular season: the Tuscaloosa juggernaut Alabama and The Little Boat That Could in Western Michigan. Clemson, Michigan and Washington, the aforementioned Nos. 2-4, came into Saturday unbeaten; they’re all unblemished no more.

The tumult leaves the FBS with nine one-loss teams: that trio, plus Boise State, Louisville, Ohio State, San Diego State, Troy and West Virginia. You can take the four Group of Five teams already mentioned, Boise, SDSU, Troy and WMU, out of the equation as no one-loss team from that group will ever get playoff consideration, nor will an undefeated MAC school.

Add it all up, and you’re left with Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Washington, Louisville, Ohio State and West Virginia as unbeaten/one-loss teams very much a part of the playoff discussion; wasn’t that the case entering the weekend? Two-loss teams like Penn State and Oklahoma and Colorado and Utah and North Carolina are, at the moment, at least on the periphery of the conversation, and would certainly gain a larger voice if they win a P5 conference championship; wasn’t that also the case before Week 11 kicked off?

Yes, teams like Auburn and A&M played themselves out of the playoffs with losses. Other than that, though, the players remain essentially the same as they were before the games kicked off at noon Saturday because of the sheer volume of the upsets. How we get to the four semifinalists, though, could very well have been irreparably altered by the results.

In fact, we’re closer to a two-loss team breaking that particular glass ceiling than ever before. Most notably, Penn State may have been such a team that gained the most from what went down this weekend. Another? Oklahoma, with two games against ranked opponents remaining that, if they win, the playoff committee would give serious weight too, although that same committee would gig them for the lack of a conference championship game.

The thing is, though, the three Top Four teams that lost stumbled, despite the losses, tilt toward still controlling their own destiny. If Clemson wins out, including the ACC title game, they’ll likely be in the playoffs. The same likely holds true for Michigan and Washington in the Big Ten and Pac-12, respectively.

We’re still at least a week away from really gauging how much impact Week 11 had on the playoff race. It could’ve meant little or nothing… or it could’ve been monumental, changing the entire complexion of the postseason. Either way, save the post-mortem on Upset Saturday’s carcass for later this month.

Until then, though, enjoy the chaos that makes this the greatest sport in the country.

North Dakota State takes jab at Michigan over loss to Iowa

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Michigan’s loss to Iowa certainly stung.  This likely won’t make them feel any better.

Playing what was easily its worst game of the season, Michigan was stunned on a last-second field goal by Iowa in a 14-13 loss at Kinnick Stadium.  While the loss didn’t end the Wolverines’ playoff hopes — if they win out they’re in — it did put a damper on what had been UM’s rampage through the first nine games on its schedule.

The fact that the loss came to a Hawkeyes team that came into the game at a middling 5-4 made it hurt a wee bit more, losing to an “inferior” opponent.  One of those four losses for Iowa came at the hands of North Dakota State in Week 3, and the FCS power was more than eager to take a shot at Michigan over the loss and pour a 55-gallon drum of salt on the still-fresh wound.

Yeah, that one’s going to leave a mark.

Nick Saban expounds on forgetting it was Election Day

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While discussing the woodshedding of yet another opponent, Nick Saban felt the need to address an issue from the week leading up to the Mississippi State game.

On Wednesday of this week, Saban raised some eyebrows when he claimed that he “didn’t even know yesterday was Election Day.” Of course, those comments came after the culmination of the most rancorous presidential election in American history, leaving those to wonder how even the ultra-focused Alabama head coach could not have known.

Best as I could tell, though, no one actually accused the coach of not voting.  Following the win over Mississippi State, Saban decided to set the record straight on that front.  Just in case.

“I never didn’t vote,” Saban said. “Now, that’s like the big news story all over the country. I got an absentee ballot. Tuesday’s our biggest workday and game plan day, and I forgot it was Election Day until I got home at 11 o’clock at night.

“So, I don’t know how all of these things sort of get twisted around. I guess it makes a better story.”

The coach added that, “It was so important to me that I didn’t even know it was happening. We’re focused on other things here.”

And that’s part of the reason why Saban’s squad was on the right side of the most upsetting day in the Top Five since the mid-eighties.  And why the Crimson Tide is the hands-down favorite to repeat as national champions.

Florida loses S Marcus Maye to season-ending broken arm

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If Florida is to lay claim to the SEC East, the Gators will have to do so without one of their top players on the defensive side of the ball.

In the first half of UF’s win over South Carolina Saturday, Marcus Maye went down with what was later diagnosed as a broken arm.  The injury will cost the defensive back the remainder of the 2016 season.

Not only that, it brings to an end the collegiate career of the senior safety.

I just feel horrible, but he’s done so much,” head coach Jim McElwain said afterwards. “His draft stock looking down the road has risen drastically because of how he’s played. So this won’t have any bearing on it.

“He’s got a broken something in his arm, so he put a cast on it and get back after it, right? So he’ll be fine long-term.”

Maye has started 32 games the past four seasons, including 21 the last one-plus seasons.  He’s expected to be a first- or second-round draft selection in the 2017 NFL draft.

Div. III power Mount Union sees staggering 112-game regular season winning streak snapped


One of the most incredible streaks in any sport at any level is no more.

Sunday in Alliance, Div. III power Mount Union and John  Carroll clashed in a battle for Ohio Athletic Conference supremacy.  When the dust settled, John Carroll had come away with a stunning 31-28 win and officially slayed Goliath.  And what a Goliath it has been.

The loss ended Mt. Union’s regular season winning streak at 112 straight games.  The Purple Raiders had not lost a regular season game since Oct. 22, 2005, to Northern Ohio.

In fact, Mount Union had won an astounding 222 of 223 regular season games dating back to the 1994 season.  They had a 54-game winning streak (including playoffs) during that time that set the all-level NCAA record, and broke their own mark a few years later with a streak of 55 in a row.  The Purple Raiders have won 11 national championships in that span, including the 2015 title pictured above.

John Carroll (9-1 on the season, 16th-ranked), on the other hand, won its first league championship since 1994 and its first win over the iconic power since 1989.

“This is something that you dream about,” said Blue Streaks head coach Tom Arth told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “This is a win for John Carroll University and everyone that supports us.”