Has anyone told OSU Halloween was a few weeks ago and it’s time to stop scaring us? Other than the mild heart attack they gave Buckeye fans, this weekend in college football seemed to have it all. Underdogs annihilating favorites. Rivalry matchups with playoff implications. Snowball fights. Actual fights.
The fun started early in the day and continued all the way through Pac-12 after dark, leaving us with no shortage of moments that were scary, fun, or entertaining as hell. Let’s unpack the weekend that was in college football.
Ohio State vs. Maryland
This dumb team has really aged me lately, and yesterday’s chaos perhaps took more years off my life than any game up to this point. Let’s be clear – if we play like this next week, we are going to get absolutely creamed. I’m sure this was a fun game to watch for someone with no stakes in the game, but for me personally, it was very stressful. Flirting is fun, but flirting with disaster is not.
I’ll be naming my gray hairs after Ohio State’s defensive backs, who looked a total mess yesterday. We’ve had close calls before, but suffice it to say this felt like the first real test – against a team that was shut out by Penn State last week.
It wasn’t that we were down 13-10 at halftime that had me a little panicked. OSU tends to be a second-half team, after all. I was much more concerned when we turned the ball over on downs about halfway into the Fourth Quarter while we held onto a marginal 33-30 lead. But a three-and-out seemed to shift something, and from there, the Buckeyes we know and love seemed to take the field.
It wasn’t all bad. TreVeyon Henderson returned, and while his performance was underwhelming, it was great to see him on the field again after sitting out the last two with an injury. But this was the second-most points the Buckeyes allowed this season (topped only by Penn State), and the performance we saw this weekend won’t be enough to smash through to victory next week.
Illinois vs. Michigan
The good news is OSU wasn’t the only one who had a tough time in the week going into The Game. Illinois gave Michigan a very solid run for its money on the road in Ann Arbor, with Michigan’s victory coming down to the final drive of the game.
With that said, it’s not much consolation for me, as the Wolverines were missing running back Donovan Edwards, and then Blake Corum – a Heisman contender – went down with a knee injury early in the second.
There were so many ways for this game to have ended poorly for the Wolverines in what was an unpredictable and chaotic game, and yet, they came out victorious. And I can’t really tell you why, but the fact that they walked away with this win given how these four quarters went? Well, it leaves me a little nervous about this Saturday.
TCU vs. Baylor
Baylor unexpectedly made TCU work for their win this week, which perhaps makes TCU’s win even more frustrating. I don’t particularly think TCU is the real deal, and perhaps the real deal wouldn’t have gotten themselves into such a sticky situation in the first place, but as a Buckeye fan, we can’t really be one to talk after yesterday. Perhaps what makes a team the real deal is the ability to walk away with the win in spite of many, many missteps.
Which is what happened yesterday, when TCU – down 28-26 to Baylor with mere seconds left in the game, positioned themselves to kick a field goal on 4th down for the win. Did I make it sound like a seamless late-in-the-game comeback? Oh, I’m sorry. This was after a botched 2-point conversion and a strange run-play call from Baylor on a 3rd down where they could have run the clock out. TCU got the ball back with only 1:34 left on the clock and managed 45 yards in 9 plays, leaving me to wonder whether maybe they are the real deal after all.
Did Baylor roll over and hand them this win, or did TCU fight it out to the last second? No matter which way you spin it, this was once again a game that reminds us why we love this dumb sport. It was exciting. It came down to the final seconds. A team that was expected to get blown out nearly walked away with an upset victory that would have sent ripple waves through the college football playoff rankings. And still, this “little team that could” keeps “coulding” to victory.
Lehigh vs. Lafayette
Here are two names you don’t see making headlines all that often in the college football world, unless you live in Pennsylvania and pay close attention to this annual matchup, apparently known simply as The Rivalry.
Though The Rivalry has been fairly evenly matched since it began in 1884, Lehigh has dominated in recent years, winning 10 of the last 14 matchups, including 5 on the road. But the real story yesterday wasn’t about wins and losses (for what it’s worth, Lafayette did win 14-11). But people aren’t talking about that. We’re talking about the fight on the field after the final play.
Because after the game ended, as Lafayette fans, cheerleaders and players started to celebrate, a tussle broke out between members of the Lafayette team and the Lehigh team, which then had to be broken up by coaches. I can’t express to you how many times in my life I’ve wanted to sock a Michigan player, but that doesn’t mean you can go around acting on it!
Michigan State vs. the Snow
A very different kind of fight broke out in MSU’s stands on Saturday.
During the Spartans’ matchup at home against Indiana, their fans turned East Lansing’s snowy nightmarish weather into a way to have a little fun – with a good, old-fashioned snowball fight.
The lighthearted battle among spectators in the fan section was captured on video, and it perfectly encapsulates the unadulterated joy of being a college student cheering on your team no matter the weather.
SNOWBALL FIGHT IN EAST LANSING pic.twitter.com/EeVZsv8rWJ— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 19, 2022
Fans also crafted a snowman (snow-fan?) who parked it in the bleachers and probably wished he could melt away, along with the Spartans’ lead. Because it’s not Big Ten football without a little wildness, and Indiana delivered by edging out the favored MSU (who led 21-7 at halftime), 39-31 in a game that went into double overtime after a brilliant 3rd quarter performance by Indiana.
We have another college football snowman fan in the stands. pic.twitter.com/MmMg2a9UxN— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) November 19, 2022
Tennessee vs. South Carolina
Three days ago, I was arguing Tennessee still had a good chance to make the playoffs. Those dreams were dashed Saturday when they were absolutely annihilated by the Gamecocks, 63-38.
The Gamecocks have been a very middle-of-the-road team all season ... average enough to be forgettable. Boy, did they change the narrative on Saturday night? It was a heartbreaker for Vols fans who saw a real path to glory after years of being the SEC laughing stock. Their win against Alabama was the apex of a season that felt a bit like a dream ... until Saturday reminded them that often, being a Vols fan is actually just a nightmare. Smoky, the goodest boy, did not deserve that.
To add insult to injury, Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker went down with a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the season, likely ending his Heisman hopes if the two losses hadn’t already done so.
On the other side, you have to hand it to the unranked Gamecocks for this victory. They looked fantastic, and it was their coach Shane Beamer’s first win over a top-five team. If shocking underdog wins are your thing, this was the game for you.
Pac-12 After Dark
USC and UCLA delivered a bar fight of a rivalry game. While USC looked like a burly, brawny guy who could knock you out with one right hook, UCLA was the scrappy guy who just keeps swinging until something connects.
And the result was a game that ultimately came down to UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s interception on the Bruins’ final drive, positioning USC to win this game by a mere three points.
Though the margin of victory was small, the implications were huge, as this game put the Trojans in a genuine position to sneak into the playoffs.
And it wasn’t just USC and UCLA delivering excitement late into the night. Oregon and Utah delivered a defensive showdown that also ended in a mere three-point victory. Now, if Oregon wins against Oregon State next week, they could be USC’s final roadblock to the playoffs. Assuming both teams win out (but as a chaos monger, I am obligated to remind you what they say about people who assume), they’ll meet in the Pac-12 Championship in two weeks in a game that could determine whether USC gets to return to postseason conversations for the first time since Pete Carroll was running the show.