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What We Learned in NCAA Football Week 13

Tigers Declawed in Final Week of Regular Season

More teams saw their national-title hopes dashed. It was an especially difficult week for the Tigers with Clemson and Louisiana State both suffering crushing losses.

While The Game moniker that seems to be accompanying the Michigan-Ohio State would be best saved for the Yale-Harvard contest, there can be no underplaying what Michigan did by winning in Columbus for the first time since 2000. TCU also finished undefeated in the regular season with a dominating win over Iowa State.

Tigers Declawed in Final Week of Regular Season
Tigers Declawed in Final Week of Regular Season | Ron Jenkins / getty images north america / getty images via afp

The conference title games are set with Clemson and North Carolina playing for the ACC title, Tulane and UCF going after the American Athletic Conference championship, Michigan facing Purdue in the Big 10 title tilt, TCU-Kansas State (Big 12), Utah-USC (Pac-12), Georgia-LSU (SEC), North Texas-UTSA (Conference USA), Toledo-Ohio (MAC), Coastal Carolina-Troy (Sun Belt) and Fresno State-Boise State (Mountain West) are the other conference championship matchups.

When looking at the college football playoff odds, Georgia and Michigan solidified their spots in the College Football Bowl Playoff field. Georgia is already listed as a 14½-point favorite against LSU in the SEC title game.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest stories from last week’s college football action.

Let’s check the latest NCAAF picks, stats, injury reports, and NCAAF predictions. We’ve plenty of NCAAF expert picks for you to consider.

Michigan Does It Again

Michigan hasn’t won back-to-back games against rival Ohio State since the 1999 and 2000 seasons and when the season began, the thought that it would be quarterback J.J. McCarthy and Donovan Edwards who would assume starring roles would not have crossed the mind of even the most optimistic Michigan fans.

McCarthy threw for 264 yards and three touchdowns, including TDs of 69 and 75 yards to Cornelius Johnson while Edwards ran for 216 yards and two scores in a 45-23 win.

Michigan had four touchdowns and a missed field goal on its first six possessions of the second half while Ohio State managed one field goal after halftime.

Michigan moves into the Big Ten title game against Purdue and can also start preparing for the College Football Playoffs.

The good news for Ohio State is that No. 5 Louisiana State, No. 8 Clemson and No. 9 Oregon all lost so the Buckeyes could well be in the CFP field though they won’t play for the Big Ten title

Trojans Remain in Title Chase

How many times in Notre Dame’s glorious football history have the Fighting Irish spoiled another team’s championship aspirations?

Well, the Southern California Trojans were not about to add another chapter to Notre Dame’s folklore.

Caleb Williams is better known for his ability to throw the ball, but his three scoring runs lifted USC to a 38-27 win over Notre Dame. He has moved ahead of Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and is the current front-runner in the odds to win the Heisman Trophy.

With LSU’s loss, Southern California will move up at least one spot in the CFP rankings.

The biggest question is whether the Trojans will move into one of the top four slots following Ohio State’s loss to Michigan.

USC’s lone blemish this season is a 43-42 loss to Utah and the Utes happen to be USC’s opponent in the Pac-12 title game.

Gamecocks Pull Off Another Upset

Two weeks ago, both Tennessee and Clemson had dreams of being part of the College Football Playoff field. South Carolina made certain that wouldn’t happen.

A week after crushing Tennessee, South Carolina took down Clemson 31-30 as a 14-point underdog according to the sportsbook.

A fumble on a punt return that would have given the Tigers the all near midfield ended the comeback hopes. Then Spencer Rattler completed a 5-yard pass on third down with a minute left to play as South Carolina ended a seven-game losing streak to the Tigers.

Once again struggles in the passing game proved to be Clemson’s undoing.

In losses to Notre Dame and South Carolina, Clemson was 35 of 69 for 290 yards with just two TD passes.

Rattler threw for 360 yards and two scores and ran for another touchdown. Clemson had won the last five meetings against South Carolina by an average of 26.5 points.

With Clemson’s loss and North Carolina dropping its last two games, the ACC title game between the Tigers and Tar Heels will be an afterthought on championship weekend.

Beavers Go Duck Hunting

There was nothing fancy about the way Oregon State rallied from a 21-point deficit late in the third quarter to end rival Oregon’s Pac-12 and national title dreams.

Oregon State rallied without attempting a pass. It didn’t hurt that the final three touchdown-scoring drives for the Beavers only needed to go for 36, 2 and 28 thanks to a long kickoff return, an Oregon fumble and decision by the Ducks to go for it on fourth down on their own 29.

Oregon outgained Oregon State 370-328 but the failure to finish off drives was the difference. Even with all the mistakes, Oregon was five yards away from taking the lead with less than five minutes to play. However, three runs gained a total of two yards and Bo Nix’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete as defending champion Utah moves onto the Pac-12 title game to face Southern California instead of the Ducks.

Kitan Oladapo had 17 tackles to lead an Oregon State defense that stopped Oregon on fourth down five times.

Bo Nix #10 of the Oregon Ducks
Bo Nix #10 of the Oregon Ducks | Todd kirkland / getty images north america / getty images via afp

Aggies Pull Off a Surprise

It has been a season to forget for Texas A&M. With the nation’s top-rated recruiting class joining a solid group of returning players from a team that won eight games, including a thriller against Alabama, expectations were rather high in College Station.

It took 12 games for Texas A&M to live up to the hype with an emphatic 38-23 win over Louisiana State that knocked the Tigers out of the national title conversation.

Devon Achane ran for 215 yards and two touchdowns while Demani Richardson returned a fumble 27 yards for a score to put the Aggies up for good.

Georgia, TCU Take Care of Business

Not all the title contenders came up short on Saturday.

Defending national champion Georgia didn’t play its best game of the season but still had more than enough to top Georgia Tech 37-14 to finish the season undefeated.

It is hard to imagine a scenario where the Bulldogs get left out of the College Football Playoff field even if they stumble against Louisiana State in the SEC title game.

Nearly half of Georgia’s offense came on three plays, including Kenny McIntosh’s 83-yard reception. He led the Bulldogs with 86 rushing yards and 96 receiving yards.

After a series of close calls and thrilling comebacks, Texas Christian finally had a laugher.

Millard Bradford and Josh Newton returned interceptions for touchdowns while Max Duggan had three TD passes in a 62-14 win over Iowa State.

With Kansas State rolling to a 47-27 win over Kansas, the last thing standing between the Horned Frogs and a spot in the College Football Playoffs is a win against the Wildcats in the Big 12 title game.

If there was anybody who bet online who foresaw this championship matchup, it is time to buy some lottery tickets.

Kansas State (+1000) and TCU (+1200) came into the season with the fifth and sixth-best odds to win the Big 12 title according to the Las Vegas odds.

UCF Not Headed to Big 12 Just Yet

It took a touchdown pass from Mikey Keene with 20 seconds left to play to lift the UCF Knights past rival South Florida and into the American Athletic Conference championship game.

UCF, which will join defending conference champion Cincinnati and Houston in the Big 12 beginning next season, gets to play one more conference game when the Knights face Tulane in the AAC championship game.

Tulane, coming off a 2-10 season, punched their ticket with a 27-24 win over Cincinnati on Friday. Tyjae Spears posted his sixth straight 100-yard rushing game with 181 yards and a pair of touchdowns as he went over 1,000 yards this season.

UCF Knights quarterback Mikey Keene #13
UCF Knights quarterback Mikey Keene #13 | Alex menendez/getty images/afp

Purdue Wins the Wild, Wild West

If only Indiana could have found a way to upset Purdue, there would have been a four-way tie for first place in the Big Ten West Division.

Instead, the Boilermakers earned a spot in the conference title game with a 30-16 win as Aidan O’Connell threw a pair of TD passes and Charlie Jones had 143 yards on four catches.

Jones came to Purdue from Iowa and the Hawkeyes’ 24-17 loss to Nebraska opened the door for the Boilermakers to earn the program’s first trip to the Big Ten championship game.

Four More Teams Go Bowling

The list of bowl eligible teams is up to 79 as wins by Georgia Southern, Louisiana, Missouri and Southern Mississippi all improved to 6-6 with Week 13 wins.

Things didn’t go as well for Florida Atlantic, Georgia Tech, Miami, Michigan State, Rice and UTEP as those teams lost to finish 5-7.

Buffalo can become bowl eligible with a win against Akron on Friday. The game was originally scheduled for Nov. 19 before the Buffalo area was engulfed by a major snow storm.

That still leaves some open slots.

New Mexico State is 5-6 after rolling past Liberty with a game against San Jose State called off after San Jose State running back Camdan McWright was struck and killed when the scooter he was riding was hit by a bus.

Will a 5-6 team be considered before the 5-7 squads? What about an 8-3 James Madison team that is in its first season at the Football Bowl Subdivision level and ineligible for a bowl game. The Dukes would need a waiver to be granted one of the available bowl slots and they are more deserving than 5-7 teams.

The Academic Progress Rates of the non-.500 teams are supposed to be utilized to fill out the available bowl slots so there will be teams that will play in bowl games with losing records.

Warner Finishes Strong

It was a tough year for the Temple Owls but there at least they have a quarterback to build around.

In four games in November, freshman E.J. Warner is second only to Houston’s Clayton Tune with 1,524 passing yards and his quarterback rating of 149.5 ranks 25th.

He ended the season by throwing for 527 yards and five TD passes.

As for the individual leaders now that nearly every team has completed the regular season, Washington’s Michael Penix leads the country with 4,354 passing yards, Tune and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud have 37 TD passes, UAB’s DeWayne McBride leads the way with 1,713 rushing yards after a 272-yard effort against Louisiana Tech, Southern Methodist’s Rashee Rice edged out Houston’s Nathaniel Dell 1,355-1,354 in receiving yards,

Old Dominion’s Jason Henderson (186 tackles), USC’s Tuli Tuipulotu (12.5 sacks) and Liberty’s Durrell Johnson (22.5 tackles for loss) are national leaders in major defensive categories. Six players are tied for the national lead with six interceptions.

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