The Farrell Awards: Big Saturday in Ohio, Oregon falls flat
The 2021 college football season is in full swing! Here are Mike Farrell's biggest takeaways from Week 12.
FACT OR FICTION: Mel Tucker will stay at Michigan State
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LOUD AND STROUD
Ohio State absolutely demolished Michigan State in the first half, leading 49-0 at the break. C.J. Stroud had one of the best halves of football we've ever seen - 393 yards and six touchdowns and the Spartans simply had no answers. The Buckeyes' big three receivers each went over 100 yards as well. Ohio State is playing like one of the two best teams in the country right now.
Alabama needed every one of Bryce Young's 559 passing yards against Arkansas, as the Tide won 42-35. Young set the school single game passing record and threw for five scores, including three to Jameson Williams, who had another stellar game with 190 yards.
Cincinnati had been underwhelming over the past month - while the Bearcats kept winning, they did not blow out teams in the way that most people expected them to. That all changed against SMU, as Desmond Ridder put together one of his strongest performances of the year, leading the Bearcats to a dominant 48-14 victory. That's the kind of big win that the committee had been waiting to see.
Wisconsin's 17-year-old true freshman Braelon Allen had the biggest game of his career against Nebraska, going for 228 yards and three touchdowns, including scores of 71 and 53 yards. The 6-foot-2, 238-pound tailback topped the century mark for the seventh straight game, a new school record for a freshman. Nebraska lost another one score game, moving the Huskers to 1-7 in conference play despite a positive point differential.
BIG PLAY BONANZA
UCLA won the battle for Los Angeles, in large part to a flurry of big plays by the offense and special teams. Kazmeir Allen took a kickoff 100 yards to the house and had touchdown receptions of 45 and 58 yards to pace the Bruins. Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw interceptions on his first two passing attempts, but settled in to score six total touchdowns as UCLA put up a record 62 points in its rivalry game with USC.
Michigan continues to look strong, this week destroying Maryland on the road 59-18 and doing it in a variety of ways. Cade McNamara has played efficient football and had another strong game with 259 yards and two touchdowns. And more importantly he had zero turnovers. The Big Game next week is going to be the most meaningful one in a long time.
Notre Dame is the quietest 10-1 team in the country. They absolutely spanked Georgia Tech on Saturday, winning 55-0 behind a great performance from Jack Coan and a devastating rushing attack. While the Fighting Irish won't make the playoff this year unless a lot of things change between now and selection Sunday, Brian Kelly has done another fantastic job this season.
A WIN IS A WIN
Baylor managed to not have the classic letdown loss against Kansas State after their huge victory over Oklahoma last weekend. But it wasn't pretty along the way. After Gerry Bohanon went out with a hamstring injury, backup Blake Shapen stepped in and played mistake-free football to lead the Bears to a 20-10 victory.
THANKS, I'LL PASS
We knew going in to the weekend that the Virginia-Pittsburgh game had the potential to have some big offensive numbers. And it lived up to the billing, with Brennan Armstrong and Kenny Pickett combining for 827 yards and seven touchdowns between them. Pickett's Panthers managed to pull out the 48-38 victory, but it was not a pretty game if you like defense.
Auburn lost again on Saturday, its third-straight setback. But this one has got to hurt even more as the Tigers were beaten 21-17 by a mediocre South Carolina team starting its third-string QB. Assuming they lose to Alabama next weekend, they'll end the regular season at .500, not exactly the start to the Bryan Harsin era that they had been hoping for.
Utah was a small favorite at home against Oregon, despite the Ducks' top three ranking, and the Utes showed why our friends in the desert had the line where it was. They demolished Oregon, stymieing Joe Moorhead's offense and running the ball down the throat of the Ducks' defense. Tavion Thomas had another productive day for Utah, and the Pac-12 is now officially out of the playoff yet again.
Even though the Spartans were down big early, Michigan State needed to get the ball in the hands of Kenneth Walker more. He had six rushes and one catch for a total of 29 yards, all season lows for the Heisman contender. This reminds me of the Ohio State loss to Michigan State years ago when Urban Meyer forgot to utilize a guy named Zeke Elliott. Puzzling.
LOOK WHO FINALLY SHOWED UP
Clemson took down No. 10 Wake Forest, playing their most complete game of the season, and looking like the team we all expected. The running game really got going, as Kobe Pace and Will Shipley combined for over 300 yards and four touchdowns and the Tigers' defense stymied the usually potent Wake Forest attack. The win kept Clemson in division title contention, and should bring Dabo Swinney's team back into the rankings next week.
IT AIN'T PRETTY, BUT IT WORKS
Oklahoma managed to avoid back-to-back upset losses by squeaking past Iowa State 28-21, despite being outgained by the Cyclones. It was the Sooners' defense that won the game for them, forcing three turnovers and holding Iowa State to only 1.6 yards per carry. Caleb Williams again struggled at times, but Oklahoma looks like they'll be heading back to the Big 12 title game again this season.
CAN'T CATCH A BREAK
Texas has now lost six games in a row after falling to West Virginia on Saturday, as Jarret Doege threw for 290 yards and three scores. The Longhorns were outgained by over 100 yards and just looked lethargic throughout the game. They're now certain of not making a bowl game, and are going to have a tough time again next week with Kansas State. Not the season that Steve Sarkisian was imagining.
LUCKY NUMBER SEVEN
On Thursday night, Louisville punched its ticket to a bowl game in style, with quarterback Malik Cunningham having a performance that would make Lamar Jackson proud. Cunningham threw for 303 yards and five touchdowns while adding another 224 yards and two more touchdowns with his legs. One of the best performances we've seen from any QB all season.
DON'T LOOK NOW...
But Florida State is on the precipice of making a bowl game after rebounding from its 0-4 start. The Seminoles held on against Boston College to move to 5-6 on the season, and given all of Florida's struggles this season, there's a good chance Florida State will be able to pull the upset. Jordan Travis had an efficient game for the 'Noles, throwing for 251 yards and three touchdowns against the Eagles.