There was some thought that No. 1 Alabama would be in for a bit of a letdown this week against No. 16 Mississippi State as they return home for an early afternoon game following a big win over rival LSU last week. While we might not be to letdown status in Tuscaloosa, the Tide were not quite their dominant self on offense as they started fast before easing off the pedal for a comfortable 21-0 lead over the Bulldogs on a crisp fall day in the South.
Heisman front-runner Tua Tagovailoa was efficient throwing the ball around as expected, finishing with 127 yards and a touchdown through the air and adding a handful more on a several scrambles that made the fans at Bryant Denny Stadium hold their breath with each carry against one of the nation’s best defenses.
There were some blemishes for the Tide’s offense, make no mistake though. They turned the ball over on a botched handoff, saw Tagovailoa get sacked twice and had a three-and-out to go along with their two punts The flip side was the ground game was fairly strong all things considered, with Josh Jacobs running for 45 yards and a score while Damien Harris chipped in with another 33 yards and a touchdown of his own.
As close as the score is — all things Alabama-in-2018 considered — MSU still has to wonder how the margin wasn’t worse. The Bulldogs have to were well into the second quarter before they got their first 1st down of the game, missed a short field goal and their defense allowed three touchdowns in the first half after giving up just nine all season prior to the game.
Nick Fitzgerald didn’t have a great performance behind center in throwing for just 61 yards and taking four sacks. The vast majority of the team’s offense came on one 38 yard run by Kylin Hill just before halftime and there was not a ton to write home about on that side of the ball. Penalties were also a killer, with six flags for 45 yards by the Bulldogs, including one questionable call wiping out a touchdown.
There’s still another two quarters to go but this is looking like yet another Alabama victory in the exact same fashion that you’re used to seeing the past few years out of the Tide.
The playoff field is set for the FCS Playoffs. Defending national champion and No. 1 North Dakota State took the top seed overall but will face a challenging bracket if the Bison are to claim another national title this year.
As the top seed, North Dakota State will own home-field advantage in the Fargo Dome for as long as they are in the playoffs, with the exception of a possible national title game appearance, which will be played in Frisco, Texas on January 5. North Dakota State’s portion of the bracket includes No. 4 seed Kennesaw State (who was the No. 2 team in the FCS top 25) and last year’s national title runners-up from James Madison. The Dukes were not seeded in this year’s tournament with a record of 8-3, but they are always to be considered a dangerous opponent this time of year.
A handful of teams ended playoff droughts with this year’s bracket. East Tennessee State is making its first playoff appearance since 1996, ending the longest drought among this year’s playoff teams. Delaware and Southeast Missouri State are each back in the playoff for the first time since 2010. The field also includes three first-time playoff teams; Incarnate Word, Lamar, and UC Davis.
The FCS Playoffs begin next weekend.
Michigan running back and special teams player Berkley Edwards was carted off the field on a stretcher in the fourth quarter at Michigan Stadium on Saturday in a scary scene that paused the game for roughly 10 minutes. The morning after the Wolverines beat Indiana, however, there is good news to report on Edwards. Edwards shared an update on his Twitter account to tell his followers and Michigan fans he has been released from the hospital and he is OK.
“Just got out the hospital,” Edwards said. “[E]verything is good!”
Edwards followed that up to say he did not see the Indiana player who hit him (Cam Jones, who was ejected for the hit) and his head is still hurting a bit.
It is unknown at this time what the status of Edwards will be for Michigan’s regular-season finale at Ohio State this week. The winner of the Michigan-Ohio State game will play in the Big Ten Championship Game as the East Division champion.
Send another coach through the coaching carousel. Multiple reports on Sunday say Texas State will move on from Everett Withers after this season. Football Scoop and The Athletic each reported news of the coaching change for the program.
According to Football Scoop, as reported by College Football Talk contributor Zach Barnett, Withers will not coach for Texas State this week in the regular season finale against Arkansas State.
Withers was hired by Texas State prior to the 2016 season to replace Dennis Franchione. Texas State had back-to-back 2-10 seasons in his first two years on the job and the Bobcats are just 3-8 this season with one game remaining. This will be the fourth straight season Texas State has had no more than four wins (and it could be a fourth straight year with no more than three wins).
The former James Madison head coach will likely manage to find a job somewhere on a coaching staff, even if not as a head coach. Texas State is now looking for its third head coach since jumping up from the FCS to the FBS in 2012.
After arguably the biggest weekend in UCF football history, the Knights are now enjoying their highest ranking in the AP Top 25 of the season and second-highest ranking in program history. UCF moved up to No. 8 in this week’s AP Top 25 poll as they finally managed to jump ahead fo a couple of power conference programs that have been standing in the way the past few weeks.
Alabama claimed all 61 first-place votes from the AP voters this week. The top-ranked Crimson Tide are followed by Clemson, Notre Dame, Michigan, Georgia, and Oklahoma as there were no changes in the top six. No. 7 Washington State, UCF, and LSU all took advantage of No. 12 West Virginia falling five spots after a loss at Oklahoma State.
UCF moved into a tie with LSU for the No. 8 spot in the ranking this week, but the Knights have officially moved ahead of Ohio State. The Buckeyes slipped to No. 10, dropping one spot.
Army is also making some headlines in the AP Top 25 by appearing in the ranking for the first time since 1996. Army cracked the Ap Top 25 at No. 23 to be in the AP Top 25 for just the third time since 1985.
Here is this week’s AP Top 25:
1. Alabama (61)
3. Notre Dame
7. Washington State
8. (tie) UCF
8. (tie) LSU
10. Ohio State
12. West Virginia
14. Utah State
15. Penn State
21. Boise State
22. Mississippi State
25. Iowa State