Rivalry weeks are so much like “Quick and Livid” motion pictures. There’s typically big quantities of animosity among the many stars. The plots make completely no sense. And most importantly, there are not any unhealthy ones, simply various quantities of bloodshed and pyrotechnics.
The 2020 installment was primarily the “Tokyo Drift” of rivalry weeks — many massive names not collaborating, a relatively lackluster outing — however 2021 was one thing completely different. It was drama and heartbreak. It was heroism. It was the underdog lastly reaching greatness. It was the villain getting back from the useless. It was Oscar bait. It had every part.
And like all nice rivalry weeks, the twists and turns of this one had been fully surprising.
At Bedlam, it was absolute chaos — from defensive touchdowns to particular groups disasters to 2 late stands by the Oklahoma State protection, which delivered the ultimate stake by the center of an Oklahoma crew that had miraculously survived one nail-biter after one other this season.
We start each rivalry week by throwing the data out the window, as was agreed upon within the Camp David accords of 1978, however this nonetheless felt like some delirious fiction.
This season has had however one true certainty: The Georgia protection. The Bulldogs stomped on little brother Georgia Tech as anticipated, they usually wrapped the common season having allowed simply eight offensive touchdowns. For some perspective, FBS defenses have allowed that many in a single recreation 30 instances this yr. However there was a ray of hope to cease Georgia’s Loss of life Star. It was the Ohio State offense, behind C.J. Stroud and TreVeyon Henderson and a trio of ridiculously gifted receivers. Every week in the past, the Buckeyes embarrassed Michigan State, and the narrative was set. It is simply that Harbaugh did not learn that narrative. (He solely listens to Nicholas Sparks books on tape.)
A yr in the past, Michigan followers had been able to run Harbaugh out of city, a big-name coach who could not win a giant recreation. Now, the Wolverines have halted an eight-game dropping streak to that crew down south, they usually’re however a single win over Iowa away from a berth within the Faculty Soccer Playoff. They did it not with a big-play passing recreation or an up-tempo offense, however with an old school ground-and-pound assault that racked up 297 yards and 6 touchdowns on the bottom towards an overwhelmed Buckeyes protection. They did it on the energy of Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, probably the most ferocious cross speeding tandem within the nation, who harassed Stroud all through the sport, racking up 4 sacks between them. They did it with a coach who thinks sun shades and khakis are a vogue assertion, chickens are nervous birds and the sixth time’s the allure. The Wolverines had been going to beat Ohio State “or die making an attempt,” Harbaugh stated this week, and each he and the Wolverines stay to struggle one other day. Michigan is a nostalgic throwback in an period of stylized pleasure — proper right down to singing “Mr. Brightside” when it was over.
Singing Mr. Brightside from the Michigan Stadium discipline after beating Ohio State pic.twitter.com/RzrrS7cOoa
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) November 27, 2021
Nick Saban made his personal headlines this week, calling out his “self-absorbed” followers for dismissing so many shut wins as one thing beneath the Tide’s anticipated brilliance. However after Younger drove the Tide 97 yards on 12 performs and floated a pinpoint throw over Ja’Corey Brooks’ shoulder within the closing minute of the Iron Bowl, no Alabama followers will probably be complaining. It was magic. That Auburn’s Tank Bigsby blew a chance to run down the clock on the Tigers’ closing drive or that Bryan Harsin by no means thought-about going for 2 within the first additional time presents ample room for criticism on The Plains, however what’s true is Younger’s place in Iron Bowl lore was predestined. Whether or not the most recent shut win was fodder for critics or precise ammunition for the committee stays to be seen, however for one good Saturday afternoon, it did not matter.
What to make of Bedlam? Oklahoma State scored on a 100-yard kick return, gave up a security, allowed a scoop-and-score TD, missed a discipline objective and scored after Oklahoma muffed a punt contained in the 5. It is uncommon Mike Gundy can put on a turtleneck underneath a sweater and that is not even near the ugliest a part of an Oklahoma State recreation. And but, all of it someway labored. The Sooners had crushed the Pokes 16 of the previous 18, together with six straight, however this yr, issues had been completely different. The Oklahoma State protection has been a revelation all season, arguably the very best unit within the nation after the Dawgs’ D, and regardless of being left for useless a half-dozen instances this season — together with halfway by the third quarter Saturday — Oklahoma State has an actual shot on the playoff, too. When Collin Oliver, splayed on the bottom, grabbed Caleb Williams ankles and ended the Sooners’ closing comeback try, one other domino fell.
By means of seven seasons, the Faculty Soccer Playoff was outlined by 4 groups: Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma. No less than three will not be on this yr’s playoff, and Alabama is hanging on by the pores and skin of its enamel. Who would’ve guessed?
It is becoming that this ridiculous season started with Clemson and Georgia slugging one another into oblivion in a recreation that did not embrace an offensive landing. It was a precursor for what this season has grow to be — a yr destined to be completely different, not outlined by elite QBs or offensive fireworks or the identical blue bloods who’ve owned the game for the previous decade. From Georgia to Oklahoma State, Michigan to Cincinnati, it has been a yr for the old-school, for the bodily punishing floor video games and the heavyweight defenses. It has been ugly at instances, however maybe, as a mid-2000s alt-rock band as soon as sang, that is simply been the worth we pay when future is looking, and once we open our eyes, we’ll see an entire new faculty soccer world awaits.
Dangerous home friends
It has been a wild year for fans storming the field, from Kansas followers partying after narrowly escaping an FCS opponent in Week 1 to UMass followers speeding onto the turf after beating winless UConn.
On Friday, the Cougars scored a mammoth win over Washington within the Apple Cup — and out got here the followers onto the sphere. Solely, it was Washington’s discipline. The customer field-storming instantly joined the pantheon of nice moments of celebrating behind enemy traces, proper up there with Baker Mayfield planting the flag on the Horseshoe or that point the youngsters at Valley kidnapped Screech earlier than the large cheerleading competitors at Bayside on “Saved by the Bell.”
WASHINGTON STATE RUSHED WASHINGTON’S FIELD 😂😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/AyJRzWGrqT
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) November 27, 2021
To not be outdone, Virginia Tech’s followers stormed the sphere at Scott Stadium after the Hokies toppled rival Virginia for the 17th time in 18 years, regardless of firing their coach two weeks in the past. Afterward, Hokies followers raided Virginia’s fridge, trashed the lounge and crashed on the sofa. Do not wake them up too early Sunday. It was a protracted evening.
Rivalry Week rundown
Not each Rivalry Week recreation has playoff implications, however all of them matter. Let’s verify in on a number of the largest video games that did not upend the committee’s rankings.
The Land Grant trophy
Amid heavy snow, Kenneth Walker III ran for 138 yards and a TD, Drew Beesley tormented Sean Clifford, and regardless of his hefty new contract, Mel Tucker apparently could not afford a pleasant hat to maintain heat through the recreation. Both approach, Michigan State dumped Penn State 30-27 to get to 10 wins and earn the title of the very best crew that wasn’t Michigan or Ohio State of their division.
The Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe
Probably the most performed rivalry in faculty soccer is the one between Wisconsin and Minnesota, and several other of the followers who tuned in for the 2021 version had been nonetheless awake when it ended with a 23-13 Gophers win. Graham Mertz was simply 21-of-38 for 171 yards and an interception within the loss, which value the Badgers a visit to the Huge Ten title recreation. On the upside, he is already designing a brilliant cool new brand utilizing comedian sans and 2022 is certainly going to be his yr.
Clear, Previous-Normal Hate
It is no shock that Georgia received this one simply. The excellent news for Georgia Tech is nobody was so demoralized that they gave up on their soccer desires and have become an English main. The Yellow Jackets completed with three wins for the third straight season, dropping their previous two by a mixed rating of 100-0.
The Palmetto Bowl
Think about a crew that gave No. 1 UGA by far its hardest check of the yr, received 5 straight to finish the season, topped 30 factors in every of these video games, and had some of the dominant defenses within the nation. Fairly good crew, proper? Nah. Enormous disappointment. That is 2021 Clemson.
The Territorial Cup
Arizona State threw for simply 86 yards however nonetheless received 38-15 over Arizona and received this yr’s award for probably the most meh crew within the nation. Was Arizona State good? Meh. Had been they unhealthy? Meh. Ought to Herm Edwards get fired? Meh. Completely nothing about this crew evokes a powerful opinion.
The Scorching Rooster Trophy
We do not really know what the Tennessee–Vanderbilt rivalry is known as, however every part is sweet with a bit of scorching sauce on it. Tennessee was a 20-point favourite within the first half of this recreation and led 24-Zero simply earlier than the break, however Vandy threw a 56-yard TD as time expired. As unhealthy beats go, there’s nothing fairly like getting demoralized by Vandy.
The Land of Lincoln Trophy
Illinois demolished Northwestern 47-14. It was a strong first season in Champaign for Bret Beilema, and the Illini completed a good 5-7. Northwestern, alternatively, adopted up its journey to the Huge Ten championship recreation in 2020 with a horrific 3-9 marketing campaign that included seven losses by 14 or extra. Additionally, Lincoln was born in Kentucky.
The Governor’s Cup
In Kentucky, there are solely 4 sports activities achievements that actually matter: The Derby, the Last 4, the Governor’s Cup and, after all, seeing how a lot they will offload a bottle of Blanton’s on eBay for to some sucker in New York. Mark Stoops has owned a minimum of a type of competitions, profitable the Governor’s Cup for the third straight yr and, within the course of, will get Kentucky to 10 wins on the season.
The Legends Trophy
Notre Dame secured one other straightforward win, and with Ohio State’s loss and Alabama’s shaky efficiency, the door definitely appears open for the Irish to make the playoff. In the meantime, Stanford finishes 3-9 after Saturday’s 45-14 beatdown by the Irish, however it’s OK as a result of nobody in Silicon Valley is anticipated to really have a steady monitor file of success. It is about knowledge assortment.
The Seven-OT Cup
Ed Orgeron’s career at LSU came to an end (a minimum of till he returns because the chair of the division of crawfish research) however the Tigers gave their coach a becoming send-off with a nine-play, 85-yard landing drive within the closing two minutes of motion towards Texas A&M. A once-promising season for the Aggies now consists of 4 losses (and a win over Alabama, which counts for, what, three wins?) and LSU salvaged a depressing marketing campaign by profitable its closing two (after a three-point loss to Alabama, which counts for a minimum of a win and a half) to get bowl eligible. Nonetheless, it did not go seven overtimes, so it is not near the very best model of this recreation.
The Huge Ten’s Mistake Bowl
Maryland thrashed Rutgers 40-16 in a recreation that decided that, no, massive East Coast markets do not actually matter that a lot.
Championship Week preview
The common season is within the books. Subsequent up: Convention title video games. So, who wins? We have got your early predictions.
Keys to the sport: Alabama’s offensive line has been shaky all through the season as evidenced within the Iron Bowl, with Auburn racking up seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss. If Bama’s line appears as shaky towards Georgia, it is fully attainable Jordan Davis will merely inhale Bryce Young like a Varsity chili canine.
Who will win: It is an attention-grabbing coincidence that Stetson Bennett, Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey aren’t simply the names of our monetary advisor, normal contractor and life insurance coverage salesman (respectively) but in addition the offensive keys to a giant Georgia win within the SEC title recreation.
Huge Ten matchup: Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Michigan Wolverines
Keys to the sport: For Michigan, Cade McNamara might want to flip in a greater efficiency than he did towards Ohio State (159 yards and an INT) as Iowa’s stout protection focuses on shutting down the run. For Iowa, determining that it is attainable to maneuver the ball ahead on the sphere offensively could be big.
Who will win: It should be a good, low-scoring affair finally determined in Michigan’s favor when, in lieu of regular additional time guidelines, Jim Harbaugh beats Kirk Ferentz in a milk-chugging contest.
Keys to the sport: Baylor did not have beginning QB Gerry Bohanon for its must-win recreation towards Texas A&M, however the Bears survived 27-24 behind 117 yards on the bottom from Abram Smith. Baylor’s floor recreation is its energy, however it’ll be a tricky process to run on Oklahoma State’s elite protection.
Who will win: Oklahoma State, however the Cowboys will nonetheless someway open subsequent season ranked decrease than Texas.
Keys to the sport: Like Samson, Kenny Pickett derives his energy from his hair, which is beautiful and flowing. This follows Trevor Lawrence, who received the previous three ACC championships. Sure, Wake has had a particular season, attending to 10 wins for simply the second time in program historical past with Saturday’s win over BC, however the ACC calls for nice groups have nice hair and, actually, Sam Hartman‘s look wants some work.
See you in Charlotte 🏆 pic.twitter.com/ArTktyDZVs
— Wake Forest Soccer (@WakeFB) November 27, 2021
Who will win: Notre Dame, someway.
Keys to the sport: After topping Colorado 28-13 on Friday, Utah can rightly declare to be among the many hottest groups within the nation. It is too little, too late to make the Faculty Soccer Playoff, however a Rose Bowl journey could be a pleasant comfort prize. Oregon has its sights set on Pasadena, too, after escaping Oregon State 38-29 Saturday. This one is prone to come right down to whoever’s coach is not employed away by a crew that is not within the Pac-12.
Who will win: The 2021 season had a lot potential for Oregon, however there’s a value to be paid for taking part in within the Pac-12 with an ACC switch at QB. That is an excessive amount of unhealthy mojo. Utah wins this. Devin Lloyd scores on a pick-six, then hits up the Bellagio to have a good time, places all his NIL cash on double zero on the roulette wheel, and wins that, too. He is actually good.
Keys to the sport: Bailey Zappe threw for 328 yards and 4 touchdowns because the Hilltoppers took down Marshall to safe its bid to the Convention USA title recreation. In the meantime, UTSA misplaced its bid for an undefeated season, dropping in blowout vogue to North Texas. Zappe has been distinctive all season, together with 523 yards and 5 TDs in a loss to UTSA of their first assembly again in October. This time, nevertheless, Zappe has the right plan to cease the Roadrunners: Paint a tunnel on the aspect of a mountain and simply watch them plow proper into it. Hilarious.
Who will win: WKU has received seven straight, scored 42 or extra in six of these video games, and actually, actually would find it irresistible if the MAC would invite them to hitch its convention. Significantly, MAC, do not make the Hilltoppers sit on the identical lunch desk as UConn and New Mexico State.
Keys to the sport: Utah State has loved one of many nation’s largest turnarounds this season underneath first-year coach Blake Anderson. San Diego State is 11-1 regardless of not having scored an offensive landing all season. (We’ve not fact-checked that stat, however it feels proper.) First crew to 20 wins.
Who will win: There isn’t any universe by which the soccer gods permit each Michigan and Brady Hoke to have concurrent success. It’d simply be too bizarre in the event that they confirmed as much as the identical awards dinner and needed to faux like they had been each glad and there have been no exhausting emotions and, oh, you look very nice in that uniform. How’s your mother? Seeing anybody? No? Oh. That is attention-grabbing. Then, again on the lodge room at Three a.m., Michigan texts Hoke with a “you up?” and Hoke asks if perhaps Michigan simply desires to hang around and go over some performs for outdated time’s sake. Anyway, Utah State wins.
Keys to the sport: Sauce Gardner and Coby Bryant make for a ferocious secondary, however Houston’s passing assault, led by Clayton Tune, offers arguably the Cincinnati protection’s largest check so far.
Who will win: The committee simply referred to as the officiating crew from a burner telephone it purchased at a close-by Buc-ee’s and supplied the situation of a cache of unmarked bearer bonds that could possibly be theirs if just a few calls go the fitting approach.
Keys to the sport: Kent State’s floor recreation is phenomenal, and QB Dustin Crum is a savvy veteran. NIU has loved a improbable turnaround after a dreadful 0-6 marketing campaign in 2020. The Golden Flashes received the primary matchup by 5 in a shootout.
Who will win: NIU QB Rocky Lombardi appears astonishingly like Flash Gordon. The theme track to “Flash Gordon” is superior. Subsequently, NIU wins. We’ve not watched a number of MAC soccer. Sorry.
Keys to the sport: Louisiana escaped rival ULM on Saturday 21-16. App State rolled Georgia Southern 27-3. Each groups had already secured their place within the Solar Belt championship recreation, nevertheless. Louisiana has received the previous two towards App State, however the distinction this time is head coach Billy Napier seems poised for a much bigger job — presumably Florida.
Who will win: If the Gators identify Napier their subsequent coach, their boosters can wager a hefty sum on App State right here, then use the winnings to pay for Napier’s buyout in 2025 after they get offended about losses to Georgia and Missouri.
If it had been as much as us, the Heisman would go to whichever participant could be probably the most entertaining in future Nissan Heisman Home advertisements. (The reply, by the way in which, is Jordan Davis. The comedy choices listed below are nearly limitless.) Sadly, most voters go by issues like touchdowns and wins and desires crushed. We stay in a world with very problematic priorities.
1. Alabama QB Bryce Younger
There is a situation, maybe, the place issues go so poorly subsequent week towards Georgia that Younger would not win the Heisman — and given how the Tide’s O-line seemed versus Auburn, that situation is not notably far-fetched — however at this level, it is clearly his to lose. One week after salvaging a win towards Arkansas with 5 landing throws, Younger once more rescued his crew, albeit with much more pedestrian numbers. The Bama QB was completely brutalized by the Auburn cross rush, and but he was by no means flustered. He was with out his greatest receiver for many of the recreation after Jameson Williams was tossed for targeting, but he put the ball on the cash to the receivers who remained. He acquired nearly no assist from his working recreation, and Younger nonetheless battled. It has been an unimaginable run of QBs at Alabama — from Jalen Hurts to Tua Tagovailoa to Mac Jones — however Younger’s season may be probably the most spectacular, if solely as a result of his supporting solid is arguably the least spectacular.
2. Georgia DT Jordan Davis
There isn’t a statistical case to be made for Davis. There may be solely this: He is the very best participant on the very best unit on the very best crew. However in case you insist on placing Nakobe Dean in your poll as a substitute, effectively, that is additionally a suitable reply. Or go together with c.) All the Above.
3. Alabama LB Will Anderson
This is the defensive participant with the numbers to again up the Heisman case. Anderson was distinctive once more towards Auburn. He had six solo tackles, three for a loss, plus a sack. Anderson now has 29.5 tackles for loss this season. No FBS participant has had 30 since 2012.
4. Pitt QB Kenny Pickett
Saturday was most likely Pickett’s worst recreation of the season — and he nonetheless threw for 4 touchdowns in a 31-14 win over Syracuse. For all of the gaudy numbers and Heisman moments for the opposite prime contenders, there’s one severe case to be made for Pickett: He is not had a nasty recreation. He is had a number of TD throws in each recreation this season, and he is completed with a minimum of three TDs 10 instances. He is had 200 yards passing in each recreation, 300 eight instances and topped 400 yards of complete offense 5 instances. He is not had a recreation with fewer than 22 completions or accomplished lower than 58% of his throws. He is been remarkably constant and ceaselessly nice. It is why Pitt has an opportunity at profitable its first ACC championship.
5. Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud
He was hardly terrible Saturday. Stroud completed with 394 passing yards and two TDs. However what will probably be remembered, rightfully, is Michigan’s win, and the way in which Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo persistently harassed Stroud within the pocket. His numbers rival these of any current Ohio State QB, however towards the 2 greatest groups he performed this season — Oregon and Michigan — his crew fell brief. Prefer it or not, that is a part of the Heisman résumé lately.
Beneath-the-radar recreation of the week
MACtion is greatest served on Tuesdays, however Kent State and Miami (Ohio) gave us some distinctive leftovers on Saturday, with a spot within the convention championship recreation on the road. The RedHawks jumped out to the early lead, 16-7, however Kent State roared again behind tailback Xavier Williams, who completed with 168 yards on the bottom and two scores. From there, the 2 groups traded scores, with Miami marching 80 yards on 17 performs and kicking a game-tying discipline objective with Four seconds to play. In additional time, Kent State scored on a 1-yard run by Dustin Crum, and Miami matched, however opted to go for 2. Kent State nook Montre Miller swatted away Brett Gabbert‘s throw, and the Golden Flashes received 48-47.
Kent State wins MAC East as Miami (OH)’s 2-point conversion falls brief
Beneath-the-radar play of the week
Florida State engineered arguably probably the most painful landing drive in faculty soccer historical past late within the fourth quarter of its recreation towards Florida — going 92 yards on 16 performs, together with a dumb-luck fumble restoration, six penalties and three sales space opinions — and had an opportunity to win the sport if it may correctly execute an onside kick. Enter Parker Grothaus doing his impression of me enjoying tee ball as a child.
Florida State kicker Parker Grothaus whiffs on his onside kick try, however the ball nonetheless falls over, and Florida is granted possession on the spot.
The play is humorous sufficient by itself, however there isn’t any joke that Twitter cannot make a bit funnier.
On the Giff pic.twitter.com/dplqTBpp7K
— Thomas from Lutz (@tcpipman) November 28, 2021