College football winners and losers for Week 11

Winners Wisconsin . The No. 13 Badgers (2-0, 2-0 Big Ten) were shut down for two weeks because of a coronavirus outbreak, and re-emerg...



Winners

Wisconsin. The No. 13 Badgers (2-0, 2-0 Big Ten) were shut down for two weeks because of a coronavirus outbreak, and re-emerged with a classic Wisconsin showing while walloping Michigan 49-11.

There were the 341 rushing yards. There was the defense allowing 6 total yards on 10 plays in the Wolverines’ first four possessions while picking off two passes to help build a 28-0 lead. And just for fun, there were few soul-crushing, clock-churning drives, a Wisconsin specialty in the best of times.

The result was a thorough clubbing, which sets up what could amount to a Big Ten West title game next week against Northwestern (4-0, 4-0). Only one other team in the West has less than two losses (Purdue, which fell to Northwestern this week), and while Wisconsin could have trouble with Indiana or Iowa in December, the Badgers have shown little vulnerability in either of their outings to date.

Oregon. The No. 11 Ducks were down 12 at Washington State with 24 seconds to go in the first half, and probably feeling fortunate things weren’t much worse after the Cougars had settled for field goals on their previous two possessions. Three Oregon turnovers had imperiled the Pac-12 favorite’s chances of running the table in a shortened season.

But why settle for a two-possession hole? Oregon got a 39-yard kickoff return from Mykael Wright, Tyler Shough’s 57-yard pass to Jaylon Redd and CJ Verdell’s 3-yard rumble into the end zone to pull within five.

The Ducks (2-0, 2-0 Pac-12) would go on to win 43-29, but the tenor of the rest of the game was determined when they closed within 19-14 at the break. Oregon was vulnerable for the first 29 minutes plus against the Cougars (1-1, 1-1). They had little trouble afterward. Oregon probably needs some style points to make a serious playoff push. It got some on the Palouse in its first road game.

Kyle Trask. It was a quiet day for Heisman contenders because most of them had the week off either because of a scheduled open date or a pandemic postponement. But Trask did his part to add to his monster statistical season, ripping Arkansas for 356 yards and six touchdowns on 23 of 29 passing as No. 6 Florida hammered the Razorbacks 63-35.

There was no letdown from last week’s dissection of Georgia, and Florida (5-1, 5-1 SEC) played exactly the way a conference and national title contender should at home against a midpack team. The Gators’ remaining schedule: Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee and LSU, all of which sit below .500.

Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane’s dealt with four postponements this season, and that bit of scheduling misfortune has overshadowed the quality of its defense. So naturally, Tulsa spotted Southern Methodist the first 21 points in a game that figured to help sort out who was the best non-Cincinnati team in the American Athletic Conference.

But that defense came through, holding the Mustangs (7-2, 4-2) scoreless for the second half and sealing a 28-24 victory when linebacker Zaven Collins picked off SMU’s Shane Buechele with 1:29 to go. Zach Smith threw for 325 yards and three scores in the comeback as Tulsa (4-1, 4-0) created a two-game cushion in the loss column with the AAC’s third-place teams.

UL Lafayette. The No. 25 Ragin Cajuns became the first team to lock up a spot in a conference title game this season, breezing past South Alabama 38-10 to lock up the Sun Belt’s West Division.

Levi Lewis threw for 252 yards and three touchdowns for UL Lafayette (7-1, 5-1), which (pandemic permitting) will play in the Sun Belt championship game for the third year in a row.

Notre Dame. The No. 2 Irish can be forgiven for spotting Boston College a touchdown lead in the early going. Notre Dame was coming off a double-overtime defeat of Clemson, and it wasn’t hard to imagine it would be easy to regroup.

Then the Irish went ahead and controlled the final 48 minutes, rolling to a 45-31 victory over the Eagles. Notre Dame (8-0, 7-0 ACC) rolled up 278 yards on the ground and 283 yards courtesy of quarterback Ian Book’s arm, and led by two touchdowns throughout the second half.

One of the stars of the day was tight end Ben Skowronek, who caught three touchdowns in the first half and helped the Irish remain undefeated. Their remaining regular season schedule includes trips to North Carolina and Wake Forest sandwiched around a home game against Syracuse.

Southern California. Once again, the No. 20 Trojans were the definition of being good when it mattered most. A week after scoring a pair of late touchdowns to eke out a defeat of Arizona State, Southern Cal twice wrested the lead away from Arizona in the final four minutes to earn a 34-30 victory in the desert.

Kedon Slovis completed his final 12 passes and Vavae Malepeai rumbled 8 yards for the winning score with 25 seconds left to keep the Trojans (2-0, 2-0 Pac-12) undefeated in their abbreviated season.

It’s easy to say Clay Helton’s bunch will need to be sharper to make it through the next four weeks unscathed, but they’ve been just good enough so far to collect a pair of victories to begin the year.

Sam Howell. It took until the middle of the third quarter for North Carolina’s defense to assert itself against Wake Forest. Fortunately for the Tar Heels, Howell was sharp from the start.

The sophomore threw for 550 yards, tied an ACC record with six touchdown passes and rushed for another score as North Carolina erased a 21-point hole and earned a 59-53 defeat of the Demon Deacons.

After Wake took a 45-24 lead, Howell threw for three touchdowns in less than 11 minutes to tie it and then gave the Tar Heels (6-2, 6-2 ACC) the lead for good with a 20-yard touchdown run with 4:11 to go.

Ty Fryfogle. The Indiana receiver had 10 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns against Michigan State … in the first half. Tack on a 9-yard grab in the fourth quarter, and Fryfogle finished with Indiana’s first 200-yard receiving day since 2016.

The No. 10 Hoosiers (4-0, 4-0 Big Ten) wisely kept throwing to the senior in their 24-0 defeat of the Spartans, and they’ll roll into next week’s game at No. 3 Ohio State — which could very well serve as a de facto Big Ten East title game — with a top-10 ranking to their credit.

Kentucky. It was a rough week in Lexington as offensive line coach John Schlarman died of cancer at age 45. The Wildcats honored Schlarman, an all-SEC left guard in 1997 at Kentucky, who had been on coach Mark Stoops’ staff since 2013, with a missing man formation on the first play of the game.

Kentucky (3-4, 3-4 SEC) went on to roll up 308 rushing yards in a 38-35 victory over Vanderbilt.

James McCourt. The Illinois kicker shook off a pair of fourth-quarter misses, connecting from 47 yards with 3 seconds remaining to send the Illini to a 23-20 victory over Rutgers.

It capped a fourth quarter that included not just McCourt’s misses from 54 and 46 yards, but a pair of Rutgers interceptions — the latter of which set up Illinois’ winning score. There was another intriguing subplot for the Illini (1-3, 1-3 Big Ten); Isaiah Williams became their fourth starting quarterback in as many games and rushed for 192 yards and a touchdown in the victory.

Miami. For much of the last decade and a half — and most definitely a season ago — the Hurricanes would have found a way to lose to Virginia Tech after falling behind by 11 in the third quarter. That the No. 9 Hurricanes (7-1, 6-1 ACC) rallied for a 25-24 victory in Blacksburg warrants at least a modest hat tip in their direction. That they did it without 13 players available makes it even more impressive.

It wasn’t a vintage performance, and that makes three consecutive dicey encounters for Manny Diaz’s team (following a 19-14 defeat of Virginia and a 44-41 rally to upend N.C. State). Still, Miami remains in the ACC title race with three games to go. That counts for something.

Friday night pettiness. In a span of less than an hour, there were a couple eyebrow-raising moments.

Start with the battle for Floyd of Rosedale (a bronze trophy of a pig), where Iowa was up five touchdowns in the final minute when Minnesota called a timeout as it tried to get into the end zone. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz’s response was to call three timeouts in a row before the Gophers narrowed the gap to 35-7.

It was the Hawkeyes’ sixth consecutive victory in the series, and Iowa (2-2) indeed brought home the bacon after a thorough throttling.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati was up 32 points in the fourth quarter when it ran a successful fake punt against East Carolina and scored a touchdown moments later to cap the drive.

Coach Luke Fickell apologized after the Bearcats completed the 55-17 victory.

Losers

Michigan. Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke never trailed 28-0 at halftime during their Michigan tenures. Jim Harbaugh has twice — in back-to-back seasons to the same opponent.

Last year, it was a late September loss at Wisconsin that made it perfectly clear the Wolverines weren’t terribly special. The 35-14 margin masked the Badgers’ complete control of the proceedings, and Michigan went on to finish 9-4, with losses to Penn State, Ohio State and Alabama.

That seems just dandy in comparison to this year’s iteration of the Wolverines, who lost to a limited Michigan State bunch and were then manhandled by Indiana. Saturday night was more of the same, Wisconsin pulverizing Harbaugh’s team 49-11 while keeping Michigan to a mere 219 total yards.

There are problems all over for the Wolverines (1-3, 1-3 Big Ten). There’s inexperience at quarterback, a limited rushing game that’s cobbled together 60 yards on 37 carries over the last two games and a defense with answers for virtually no situation. And just think: Michigan still has Ohio State waiting at the end of the schedule.

Will Muschamp. The South Carolina coach is not just presiding over a three-game losing streak, but a three-game run in which the Gamecocks’ defense has thoroughly checked out.

First came a 52-24 loss at LSU. Then a 48-3 blowout loss at home to Texas A&M. And then there was Saturday’s 59-42 loss at Mississippi as the Rebels rolled up 708 total yards and marched inside the South Carolina 10 on 10 of the 11 drives they were trying to score.

It figures to be a relatively quiet year for coaching changes, both for financial reasons and because the difficulty in evaluating performance in this strangest of seasons. But with the Gamecocks sliding from 9-4 to 7-6 to 4-8 to 2-5 (with Missouri, Georgia and Kentucky still to come), the trajectory of Muschamp’s program is perfectly clear.

Penn State. It might be time for the Nittany Lions to opt out of the 2020 season.

That’s not to say Penn State has already. It made things interesting despite trailing Nebraska by three touchdowns at halftime. But the Nittany Lions (0-4, 0-4 Big Ten) still dropped a 30-23 decision, and there isn’t much left to salvage in the second half of the schedule.

Sure, the switch from Sean Clifford to Will Levis at quarterback proved an upgrade against the Cornhuskers (1-2, 1-2). And yes, Penn State made it inside the Nebraska 15 twice in the final four minutes before turning it over on downs. The Nittany Lions didn’t pack it in.

Nonetheless, it is their first 0-4 start since 2001, and it’s come in a year when they were generally regarded as the second-best or, at worst, third-best team in the Big Ten. They’ve never opened a year 0-5, and they get Iowa next week in Happy Valley. Of the teams wishing they could take a mulligan on the entirety of 2020 — LSU, Michigan and Minnesota all spring to mind — Penn State might just top the list.

Louisville. This isn’t really about Saturday’s showing for the Cardinals, who fell 31-17 at Virginia while playing without receiver Tutu Atwell and running back Javian Hawkins. Given the absences of those two, quarterback Malik Cunningham (197 yards and two touchdowns rushing) acquitted himself quite well.

The real issue is Louisville is 2-6 overall and 1-6 in the ACC a year after going 8-5 in coach Scott Satterfield’s first season. An 0-3 record in one-possession games doesn’t help and the weirdness of this season doesn’t necessarily suggest some greater meaning. But it’s still a disappointing season, and Saturday’s loss clinches a losing regular season record.

Still to come for the Cardinals: A Friday night home game against Syracuse, a trip to Boston College the day after Thanksgiving and a home finale against Wake Forest on Dec. 5. There’s a chance to finish the year much better than Louisville started it, but a 3-8 finish is just as plausible.

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Newsrust: College football winners and losers for Week 11
College football winners and losers for Week 11
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