Michigan upends the CFP picture with a win over Ohio State, is Bryce Young the favorite to win the Heisman and coaching carousel rumors and predictions.
Anyone telling you the NFL is better than college football must not have watched the action, drama and storylines that played out over rivalry weekend.
It began on Thanksgiving night with Lane Kiffin getting his first Egg Bowl win at Ole Miss with a win over Mississippi State. It continued on Friday night with NC State scoring nine points in the final minutes, which included recovering an onside kick to beat North Carolina and stay alive for the ACC Championship Game.
And it reached a crescendo on Saturday afternoon when Michigan beat Ohio State for the first time since 2011 and Jim Harbaugh got his first win over the rival Buckeyes in his sixth try.
This is what makes college football the greatest sport in the world.
The rivalries, the players, the coaches, the history, the tradition, the communities and it was all on display over the last three days as the regular season saved its best for its last weekend.
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan snap losing streak vs. Ohio State
Michigan desperately needed this win. Harbaugh wasn’t going to be fired if they lost but any hope that he would be able to get a win over Ohio State would have been gone like the last of your Thanksgiving leftovers by Saturday afternoon. This wasn’t just a win for Michigan over Ohio State. This was a butt-kicking. It was a one-sided affair. Total domination. It wasn’t as close as the 42-27 final score would indicate.
Michigan’s offensive line set the tone with 297 yards and six touchdowns, five from Hassan Haskins, on 41 carries for a whopping 7.2 yards per carry average. This is lining up against the other team and punching them in the mouth over and over and over and over and over again. Marshawn Lynch would be proud of this philosophy. It was old school. It was something Bo Schembechler would be proud to see from his former star quarterback who was 2-0 as a starting quarterback vs. the Buckeyes.
The trenches is where the game was won.
Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson may have made a case to be in the Heisman conversation after his seven-tackle, three-sack performance. He changed the game. He was unblockable. He will be living in the nightmares of Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud who got too familiar with him.
Hutchinson set the Michigan single-season sack record and he’ll have the Big Ten Championship Game vs. Iowa to add to his 13 on the year. A win vs. the Hawkeyes and Harbaugh and the Wolverines are in the playoff for the first time with a chance to win the program’s first national title since 1997.
The best part of The Game happened after the game when Harbaugh took a not-so-subtle shot at Ohio State coach Ryan Day, saying some are standing on third base and think they hit a triple. A clear jab at Day who took over a ready-made program from Urban Meyer.
This was a long-time coming for Harbaugh who had to stomach Day saying they were going to hang 100 on Michigan, but Harbaugh had to wait to get a win after last year’s game was canceled due to COVID.
Hutchinson returned to Michigan this year after an injury-shortened 2020 in part because of the unfinished business with Ohio State. He had a mic-drop quote in the post-game press conference that won’t go unnoticed either.
“They were disrespecting us, stepping on our jerseys, saying they were going to hang 100 on us. A lot of talking (about it). We were about it today,” Hutchinson said.
Michigan fans should celebrate this win all weekend, classes should be canceled on Monday and drinks at the campus bars should be half price the rest of the week.
Alabama survives Auburn to keep playoff dreams alive
Just when it looked like Ohio State and Alabama were going to lose on the same day since Nov. 10, 2007, the Crimson Tide went on a 12-play, 97-yard drive in 1:11 to tie the game with 24 seconds and force overtime vs. Auburn in the Iron Bowl.
Bryce Young was held in check all game, Alabama was scoreless until the 8:44 mark in the third quarter when they got a 30-yard field goal, but he showed why blood was replaced with ice water in his veins when the season was on the line.
Young accounted for all the offense on the game-tying drive, rushing twice for 12 yards and completing four passes, including the touchdown to Ja’Corey Brooks from 28 yards out.
The Heisman front-runner entering the game may not have done enough to win it, but that was a defining moment for the first-year starter. If he can lead Alabama to a win over Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, the Trophy will be his, giving Alabama back-to-back winners after DeVonta Smith won last year.
Heisman leaderboard: Is it Bryce Young’s Trophy to lose?
Young is the leader because he’s a quarterback on a top-three team, but he’s got some company, including some defensive players with a legit shot to join Charles Woodson as Heisman winners.
Hutchinson had the biggest Heisman statement of the year with his three-sack performance against Ohio State in what may prove to be the most-watched game of the year. Hutchinson’s teammate, Haskins, may join him in New York if he has a 150-yard, three-touchdown showing vs. Iowa to win the Big Ten.
Young’s teammate, Will Anderson leads the nation in sacks and tackles for loss and has been a game-wrecker all year. Young’s presence may preclude Anderson from getting an invite but he’s been unblockable.
Georgia’s massive nose tackle Jordan Davis doesn’t have the box score stats of Anderson or Hutchinson and his value to the nation’s best defense isn’t as easy to see as a top quarterback but he’s been one of the four or five most valuable and best players all year.
It’s wild but there are more defensive players worthy of consideration for the Heisman than there are offensive players.
Consider Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum who may be the most dominant player at any position for a spot in the Heisman ceremony in New York on Dec. 11. He has a stronger argument than any other quarterback besides Young and may have a better case than Haskins. If Iowa wins the Big Ten, send him to New York.
CFP rankings after Michigan beats Ohio State, Alabama survives Auburn
- Notre Dame
- Oklahoma State
If Alabama loses to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, Oklahoma State has a chance to vault over Notre Dame and take the No. 4 spot with a Big 12 Championship Game win. If Oklahoma State doesn’t win the Big 12, Notre Dame is ready to slide into the No. 4 spot as they watch championship weekend from their couches as an independent. Notre Dame’s only loss is to Cincinnati so it’s the best quality loss at this stage of the game for contenders.
If Alabama wins against Georgia, the rankings will have a hard time not setting up a rematch in the semifinal. It would be hard to have a two-loss Alabama as the No. 1 seed and it would be hard to drop Georgia from No. 1 to No. 4 so Alabama is going to have to beat Georgia twice to have a chance at the national championship.
Meanwhile, Michigan would meet Cincinnati as long as both win. If either slips up in their conference championships, Notre Dame is the biggest beneficiary.
Coaching carousel predictions
You know it’s a crazy coaching carousel when Wake Forest, Baylor and UTSA are seeing their coaches sign extensions rather than entertain offers at USC, LSU, Florida, Washington and Virginia Tech. With Dave Clawson, Dave Aranda and Jeff Traylor happy with their jobs, that leaves Luke Fickell as the biggest name with the most options. USC AD Mike Bohn would love to hire the coach he hired at Cincinnati but the Bearcats potentially making the playoff makes for tricky timing. USC waiting any longer to have a coach effectively tanks this year’s recruiting class even more and without a guarantee, Fickell is taking the job, they are putting all their eggs in the Fickell basket.
Who will get the USC football job?
Iowa State’s Matt Campbell has hit his head on the glass ceiling at Iowa State and should want to leave while his stock is as high as it’s going to get. Campbell is a beloved coach in Ames but could be a superstar at USC. If I’m USC, I’m going all-in for Campbell under the assumption that Fickell is staying at Cincinnati.
Who does Florida hire to replace Dan Mullen?
This one is easy. Louisiana coach Billy Napier, a former assistant at Alabama under Nick Saban and at Clemson under Dabo Swinney is the guy. He’s won double-digit games the last three years and knows what he’d be walking into at a pressure-cooker like Florida. He’s also been an assistant at Florida State so he’s got a sense of what it takes to recruit the state, something Mullen didn’t want to do or couldn’t do. Florida could make this official as early as Sunday or Monday morning.
Who takes over for Ed Orgeron at LSU?
It’s not going to be Jimbo Fisher who lost to Ed Orgeron in his final game on Saturday night. Fisher’s team was No. 6 in the preseason AP Top 25 but finishes fifth in the SEC West. Yikes. Is this who LSU wants?!
The Texas A&M coach has said he’d be dumb to leave A&M with the recruiting class he has coming in, so he’d look even dumber to make that comment only to leave for LSU. Fisher was an assistant under Saban at LSU and LSU AD Scott Woodward hired him at A&M so it’s understandable he’d want to get him again. However, with Fisher saying he’s staying in College Station, Woodward doesn’t want to go settle for a coach at one of the five best jobs in the nation.
That’s why all the Lincoln Riley rumors refused to die. Until they died.
It seemed preposterous when the rumors began because Riley can coach at Oklahoma for 30 years if he wants. He’s won big there, had quarterbacks win the Heisman and be No. 1 picks in the NFL Draft. Riley out the rumors to bed once and for all after Oklahoma’s loss to Oklahoma State, saying he won’t be the next LSU coach.
So much for all the message board posts saying it was a done deal.
There is no clear leader or candidate for LSU with all the top coaches not wanting to come to the Bayou. Does Kentucky coach Mark Stoops get the nod? Does that excite anyone at LSU? He’s already saying he’s planning on being at Kentucky.
No one seems to have any idea who the next LSU football coach will be but it won’t be Riley. It won’t be Orgeron or Saban or Les Miles.
Maybe Woodward goes back to Fisher’s agent and offers $130 million for 10 years and makes him say no?