College soccer Week 12 highlights

The final time the Pac-12 had a Saturday in November as consequential within the nationwide dialog because it did in Week 12, California was little greater than rows of orange groves and some small studios churning out speaking footage.

OK, possibly it wasn’t fairly that way back, however it’s been some time for the reason that Pac-12 was middle stage at this level within the season, and on Saturday, the league delivered.

USC and UCLA traded haymakers in a shootout with playoff implications.

Oregon and Utah traded frustrations in a defensive battle during which each QBs struggled to seek out traction.

The tip consequence was a pair of three-point video games that would finally outline who performs for the Pac-12 title.

USC’s 48-45 win over UCLA wasn’t precisely a heavyweight bout. It was extra like two drunk guys attacking a plate of wings — frenzied, haphazard and unrelenting.

On one aspect, Caleb Williams was a magician, throwing for 470 yards and two touchdowns and discovering wide-open receivers repeatedly and once more. In all, he related with 9 totally different gamers, together with 11 completions to Jordan Addison, who completed with 178 yards. The Trojans punted simply as soon as, on their penultimate drive of the sport, and even that appeared like a concession from Lincoln Riley to accept a area place battle quite than chuck the ball one final time to seal the sport. At no level did it appear as if UCLA had a solution for Williams and the Trojans’ offense.

On the opposite aspect, there was Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who really regarded as if he had been by a boxing match. By the fourth quarter, he was so battered, he may as effectively have been flickering pink like Little Mac after one too many punches from Bald Bull. But he saved getting up, saved operating by tackles and launching deep balls to maintain the Bruins within the recreation.

Thompson-Robinson’s 4 turnovers — together with an interception to seal the sport on UCLA’s remaining drive — proved to be the distinction. This has been the story of USC’s season. The Trojans at the moment are plus-20 in turnover margin for the season. So what if USC’s protection is a mirage? Slightly luck and numerous offense has taken it a good distance, and with Tennessee and North Carolina eradicating themselves from playoff competition Saturday, the Trojans are in prime place to earn the Pac-12’s first playoff bid since 2016.

For UCLA, a as soon as promising season has devolved with two brutal losses in a row. Chip Kelly can now flip his consideration to his actual job as everybody’s bizarre uncle who brings up convoluted conspiracy theories about authorities corn subsidies at Thanksgiving.

For USC, its playoff résumé received a lift, however the Trojans will face one other large take a look at subsequent week towards Notre Dame.

Oregon may discover itself as the ultimate hurdle for the Trojans after Saturday’s 20-17 win over Utah.

Removed from the high-scoring affair in Los Angeles, this one felt like making an attempt to purchase Taylor Swift tickets — tedious, irritating and stuffed with technical gaffes.

Bo Nix struggled by an ankle harm however nonetheless threw for 287 yards and transformed a crucial third-and-1 along with his first run of the night time to ice the sport.

Cameron Rising had his worst recreation as a Ute, throwing three picks with no touchdowns within the loss, together with one which Noah Sewell celebrated by doing his impression of a toddler refusing to study to stroll.

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Utah’s Cameron Rising tosses INT

Every week earlier, Oregon could not maintain off a late cost from Washington. On Saturday, the Geese fumbled by the second half, however their one profitable drive resulted in three factors that proved to be the distinction within the recreation. The Oregon protection totally annoyed Rising, who was simply 6-of-13 for 29 yards and an interception on Utah’s remaining three drives.

If the Geese win subsequent week towards Oregon State, they’d face off towards USC within the Pac-12 title recreation, the place Kevin Warren shall be ready with a bouquet of roses and a few Yankee candles for the winner.

Till then, the Pac-12 can get pleasure from no less than one weekend during which it was one of the best present.


TCU’s gamble pays off, Michigan avoids catastrophe

Saturday’s video games have been primarily each film the place a fearless hero has to defuse a bomb, shut his eyes and clip the blue wire, not solely positive if it is the precise one.

It was each airline catastrophe movie the place a passenger known as to fill in for the unconscious pilot and land the aircraft.

It was Nic Cage, shirt unbuttoned and fluttering within the wind, screaming incoherently as explosions wreak havoc round him.

Saturday walked the faculty soccer season proper to the sting of the cliff and jumped — solely to seize a department on the way in which down and climb again to security.

In Waco, Texas, TCU’s miracle season went from absurd to elegant because the Horned Frogs botched a two-point conversion, almost ran out the clock with a curious run name, then completely executed a particular groups scramble drill for a game-winning area purpose.

On the Massive Home, Illinois had Michigan on the ropes, however the Wolverines inched their manner down the sphere on a remaining drive, watched J.J. McCarthy throw two passes that would’ve resulted in catastrophe, then booted a area purpose to win.

The Nos. 3 and 4 groups within the nation stay undefeated. Barely.

The ultimate moments weren’t fairly so dramatic for No. 1 Georgia or No. 2 Ohio State, however they, too, flirted with catastrophe. The Bulldogs discovered the tip zone simply as soon as in a 16-6 win over Kentucky. The Buckeyes trailed on the half and wanted a late pick-six to fend off Maryland 43-30.

Georgia’s made a behavior of sleepwalking previous lesser foes. It hasn’t mattered.

Ohio State was really examined for the primary time all season. We are able to forgive the Buckeyes falling into the lure with that group up north on deck subsequent week.

In the long run, neither recreation felt really doubtful.

For TCU and Michigan, nevertheless, their place within the prime 4 appeared about as protected as the typical crypto funding.

Baylor led the Horned Frogs 28-20 with lower than 7 minutes to play, however because it has seemingly completed each week, TCU had a solution. Max Duggan drove the offense 90 yards on 11 performs for the rating, then had Emari Demercado large open for a game-tying two-point strive however led his operating again only a contact too far.

Baylor had an opportunity to expire the clock, however Blake Shapen determined to run on third down regardless of a large open receiver past the sticks, giving the ball again to TCU one final time. The Horned Frogs managed 9 performs and 45 yards within the remaining 1:34, however as a result of Sonny Dykes is the kind of one that likes to hit on 18 simply to see what is going to occur, the ultimate scrimmage play of the sport was a run. Demercado went up the center for two yards with the clock ticking down. The sphere-goal unit sprinted onto the sphere and snapped the ball simply earlier than the clock hit zeroes, and Griffin Kell drilled the 40-yarder for the win.

After the sport, Dykes mentioned there was by no means a doubt. The hearth drill is one thing his group practices routinely. Whether or not Dykes is conscious that practising fireplace drills would not require you to mild your own home on fireplace to make them worthwhile is irrelevant. The gamble labored.

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TCU scrambles to kick a game-winning area purpose within the remaining seconds towards Baylor.

At Michigan, the Wolverines have been with out RB Donovan Edwards and Heisman Trophy candidate Blake Corum went down early within the second half with a knee harm, all of which made discovering the tip zone one thing akin to a The place’s Waldo puzzle for Jim Harbaugh’s offense. (Like Dykes’ special-teams scramble, we additionally assume Harbaugh practices The place’s Waldo puzzles each day.) Michigan had six second-half possessions. One resulted in a punt, one a 10-play drive thwarted by a failed fourth-down strive on the Illinois 37 and 4 others with a area purpose.

Fortunate for Michigan, it has arguably one of the best kicker within the nation.

Trailing by a landing at first of the fourth quarter, Michigan received area targets of 41, 33 and a 35-yard recreation winner from Jake Moody. The ultimate sequence concerned two harmful throws from McCarthy — one into the tip zone that simply missed the outstretched arms of Illinois DB Devon Witherspoon and the opposite batted into the air on the line of scrimmage, and Michigan survived.

That whooshing sound you may’ve heard after these last-second area targets? That was the playoff committee respiration an infinite sigh of aid. Oh, how shut we got here to chaos however Dykes reduce the precise wire, and Harbaugh landed the aircraft.

There have been so some ways this might’ve gone mistaken. Most likely ought to have gone mistaken. And but, right here we’re, the playoff image tattered and worn, however nonetheless in a single piece.


Someplace on the backside of the Tennessee River, a purpose publish is grateful it did not need to witness what occurred to the Volunteers on Saturday.

No. 5 Tennessee had an actual path to the College Soccer Playoff. It merely wanted to beat South Carolina and Vanderbilt after which relax and wait.

Seems, that was simpler mentioned than completed.

South Carolina totally annihilated Tennessee 63-38 on Saturday in as unlikely a efficiency as there was in faculty soccer this season.

For 11 weeks, South Carolina’s season was chugging alongside simply because it ought to. The Gamecocks weren’t adequate to warrant a lot consideration, nor have been they dangerous sufficient to be fascinating. That is the South Carolina manner. They’re like each U2 album launched up to now 20 years. Individuals are vaguely conscious they exist, however nobody can recall any particular particulars about them.

Every week in the past, South Carolina scored six factors.

In seven SEC video games this season, Spencer Rattler had 5 landing passes.

In 84 years for the reason that first AP ballot, based on ESPN Stats & Data analysis, no unranked group had ever scored greater than 60 towards a top-five group.

And but, on Saturday, unranked South Carolina scored 63 behind six landing passes from Rattler.

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Spencer Rattler slings six landing passes as South Carolina completes the upset victory over Tennessee.

The loss primarily eliminates Tennessee from the playoff, and star QB Hendon Hooker went down with an harm within the second half besides. It might be a transparent low level for this system if the years between 2008 and 2020 hadn’t occurred.

The win was South Carolina coach Shane Beamer’s first over a top-five group. That now ties him along with his dad, Frank, who was 1-21 vs. groups ranked within the prime 5 in his profession.


Tales of the SEC by way of Twitter

It is probably the most depressing week of the season within the SEC, as half the league tunes up for rivalry video games by demolishing decrease tier opponents getting paid to lose massive.

However spending a bunch of cash simply to look at a catastrophe unfold is not distinctive to the SEC. That is what’s taking place at Twitter, too. In order our favourite social media community circles the drain, we figured we would have a good time the SEC’s blowouts by remembering a number of the finest tweets ever despatched.

Alabama 34, Austin Peay 0

It has been a bizarre yr for Alabama. On one hand, the Tide’s two losses are by a mixed three factors. Then again, that is the primary season in current reminiscence that Alabama hasn’t been within the title hunt in mid-November. It is clear there are issues at Alabama. However are they massive issues or one thing extra akin to a bowl caught inside one other bowl?

Issues Nick Saban has tried:

-warm soapy water
-oil on edges
-microwave
-aggressive shaking
-WD-40
-Scheduling Austin Peay

That final one appeared to supply some hope, as Jermaine Burton caught seven balls for 128 yards and two touchdowns whereas Jase McClellan ran for 156 and two scores within the win.

Texas A&M 20, UMass 3

Effectively, the Aggies lastly snapped their six-game shedding streak after paying UMass $1.7 million to return play at a largely empty Kyle Area.

And whereas a win is a win, this was hardly a turning level for Jimbo Fisher’s group. The offense largely sputtered but once more, and has not topped 28 factors towards an FBS opponent all season (and has gone 13 straight FBS video games with out topping 28).

For reference, here is an inventory of groups that scored lower than Texas A&M did Saturday towards UMass within the final 4 years: Stony Brook this yr UConn in 2021 UConn in 2018

That is the entire listing.

And that brings us to our Twitter reminiscence to have a good time all that A&M has achieved this yr.

Permit us to paraphrase for the parents in College Station …

Meals $200
Information $150
Lease $800
Teaching buyout $86 million
Utility $150

Somebody who is nice on the financial system please assist me funds this. My NIL collective is dying.

Mississippi State 56, East Tennessee State 7

The japanese a part of Tennessee gave us Dolly Parton, and ETSU should absolutely be pondering Mississippi State may’ve had its alternative of cupcakes, however now ETSU might by no means rating once more. Regardless, the Buccaneers shall be speaking about Will Rogers and his 5 TD passes of their sleep.

However here is the true query: Do you assume Mike Leach has ever been to Dollywood?

Auburn 41, Western Kentucky 17

Cadillac Williams has Auburn’s floor recreation working, with each Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter every speeding for greater than 100 yards Saturday. The win will get Auburn to 5-6 and now all of the Tigers have to do is win the Iron Bowl to get bowl eligible.

What we have considered the Tigers:

Hey, good nationwide championship in 2010.

Wow, a second nationwide championship look in 2013.

Oh, they’d two good seasons.

Missouri 45, New Mexico State 14

Brady Prepare dinner threw three TD passes, and the Tigers gained with ease. They will now host Arkansas subsequent week with bowl eligibility on the road. Which brings us to our Missouri tweet.

The Tigers have 5 wins and might make a bowl. Is that good?

Effectively, listed below are the Tigers’ 5 wins up to now: Louisiana Tech, Abilene Christian, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and New Mexico State.

They’re in a balloon. Arkansas is the ability strains.

LSU 41, UAB 10

Sure, Brian Kelly is a little bit of an odd duck. And positive, these jokes concerning the accent and the dancing have been hilarious. However the man can coach, and if LSU wins out, there’s an actual likelihood the Tigers may develop into the primary two-loss group within the College Soccer Playoff.

Additionally, he’d in all probability be sporting a kind of rasta caps and name it mac-uh-roo-nuh.


Sooners win Bedlam

Oklahoma went 1-of-15 on third and fourth down, held the ball for 15 fewer minutes of possession time and did not rating within the second half Saturday towards Oklahoma State.

The consequence: One of the best win of the season for the Sooners.

Do not trouble digging into these particulars. Saturday was a high-water mark for the struggling Sooners. The protection lastly regarded like a unit coached by Brent Venables, choosing off 4 Spencer Sanders passes within the win and instantly angering Lincoln Riley that he did not lure a couple of extra Sooners defenders to USC this offseason.

Dillon Gabriel accounted for 3 touchdowns, the Sooners ran for 175 yards, and Venables earned his first win in Bedlam as a head coach.

On every week during which former Oklahoma QBs Spencer Rattler and Caleb Williams earned wins, too, Oklahoma lastly had one thing to really have a good time after a season of distress, and within the course of, secured bowl eligibility for the twenty fourth straight season, the second-longest energetic streak within the nation (after Georgia).


Texas vanquishes arch nemesis

In Austin, they will lastly breathe straightforward. These plucky upstart Longhorns have lastly felled the monster.

Texas toppled Massive 12 energy Kansas Jayhawks 55-14 Saturday in a surprising upset that has, in the end, delivered a message that the large, dangerous Jayhawks aren’t invincible.

Oh, positive, the rivalry had been solely one-sided of late. Texas hadn’t tasted victory over the Jayhawks since 2019 — historical historical past, actually. It was a time when a legend named Tom Herman roamed the sidelines, the one Texas coach up to now decade with out an L towards Kansas. These have been the glory days for the Longhorns.

However Saturday, Bijan Robinson unearthed a little bit of that very same glory as soon as once more. He ran for 243 yards and 4 touchdowns towards the mighty Kansas protection, a large fraction of Texas’ 427 speeding yards on the day.

Quinn Ewers received his first style of the rivalry, and accomplished simply 12 of 21 passes for 107 yards. Nonetheless, he earned the win — one thing no Texas QB had achieved this decade. Ewers then celebrated by unrolling a pack of cigarettes from his t-shirt sleeve and stress-free on the hood of a 1982 Trans Am.

It was an emphatic win for the Longhorns, their greatest margin towards the Jayhawks since 2011. It was a press release, actually. Not would Texas be the Massive 12’s laughing inventory whereas Kansas basked within the highlight of true supremacy. The tide has turned. Texas lastly has the monkey off its again. And sure, we assume the monkey then attacked a bunch of youngsters.


Heels tripped up

At North Carolina, the ceiling is the roof. However the flooring? That is Georgia Tech.

For the second straight season, a ranked UNC group fell to the Yellow Jackets. This one, nevertheless, stings a lot worse.

The Tar Heels noticed their lengthy shot playoff hopes disappear together with a 17-0 lead due to myriad red-zone failures and a protection that could not get off the sphere on Georgia Tech’s remaining drive.

For the primary time this season, Drake Maye did not throw a landing. He may’ve had one — and a game-winner — when he hit a large open Josh Downs on the 1 on a fourth-and-11 with 4 minutes to play. However Downs dropped the move, UNC turned the ball over on downs and Georgia Tech transformed a third-and-4, third-and-9 and third-and-1 to empty the clock to zeroes.

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Josh Downs drops a wide-open landing move that will have restored North Carolina’s lead.

The Tar Heels had 4 journeys contained in the Georgia Tech crimson zone and got here away with simply 13 factors from them.

For the Yellow Jackets, interim coach Brent Key’s now 4-3 towards ACC competitors, staking a robust declare for the full-time job.

For North Carolina, a season’s price of come-from-behind wins got here to a screeching halt when Maye and the offense ran out of magic.

UNC will nonetheless play for an ACC championship and has an opportunity to knock off rival NC State subsequent week. And, after all, basketball season is underway, so there’s nonetheless a lot for Heels followers to debate over a pleasant Château Margaux sauvignon blanc and a few Bitto Storico.


No New Yr’s Six for UCF

UCF’s hopes for an American Convention championship are nonetheless alive, however one week after taking command within the quest for the Group of 5’s New Yr’s Six bid with a win over Tulane, the Knights ran right into a Navy protection that performed its finest recreation of the season.

UCF was with out beginning QB John Rhys Plumlee within the second half, turned the ball over twice, was simply 3-of-12 on third-down tries and its protection could not get off the sphere as Navy chewed up the ultimate 5:54 of the sport on an 11-play drive to safe the 17-14 win.

The Knights’ loss additional scrambles each the AAC championship recreation image and the New Yr’s Six bid. Tulane and Cincinnati have been each ranked within the committee’s most up-to-date prime 25, however they will face off towards one another in Week 13. UCF wraps its season towards hapless USF, and would nonetheless make the convention title recreation with a win. Whether or not a three-loss UCF may make a New Yr’s Six bowl even with a convention title, nevertheless, is an enormous query, leaving the door open maybe for Coastal Carolina or UTSA to make a late push, too.


Essentially the most faculty soccer factor to occur Saturday

This season has had far too few random animal leisure throughout video games. Final yr we had the Louisville canine and the Arizona State fox. We have had jackrabbits and squirrels and geese over time, and so they’re all the time a pleasant distraction throughout a very boring soccer recreation.

So, an enormous tip of the cap to this yr’s first really memorable animal act: The tip zone pigeon.

The pigeon appeared ultimately zone within the second half of Oregon State’s 31-7 win over the Solar Devils and spent almost everything of the rest of the sport there, with out worry that Arizona State’s offense may intrude on his actual property.

With the sport a blowout, the pigeon turned prime TV fodder, and a star was born.


Heisman 5

Caleb Williams made a press release in his bid for the Heisman in Week 11. Drake Maye’s possibilities took a nosedive. Bryce Younger performed a cupcake, C.J. Stroud was mediocre, and Hendon Hooker received harm. Lengthy story brief, the Heisman race stays up within the air and Week 11 did little to outline the result. However we have written sufficient concerning the Heisman this season. For this week, let’s flip our consideration to the Group of Fivesman — one of the best gamers outdoors the Energy 5.

1. UTSA QB Frank Harris

Harris threw for 103 yards, ran for 124 and accounted for 5 touchdowns within the Roadrunners’ 41-7 win over Rice. For the season, Harris is finishing almost 70% of his passes, with 24 passing touchdowns and eight extra on the bottom, whereas posting a Complete QBR of 78.9 — higher than every other QB outdoors the Energy 5. Extra importantly, Harris has UTSA with a real shot at a New Yr’s Six bid if it wins out and will get a bit of assist.

2. Houston WR Nathaniel Dell

Dell led the way in which for Houston on Saturday with 9 catches for 176 yards and a landing within the Cougars’ dominant win over ECU. Dell now has a landing seize in eight straight video games, the longest streak by an FBS receiver since 2019. In his previous 4 video games, Dell has 43 catches for 566 yards and 6 touchdowns.

3. Cincinnati LB Ivan Tempo Jr.

Tempo entered the weekend because the nation’s chief in tackles for loss with 19. He did not add to that complete Saturday, however he did assist key one other dominant defensive efficiency in Cincinnati’s 23-3 win over Temple. For the season, Tempo has 9 sacks, seven QB hurries, two pressured fumbles and three move breakups, too.

4. Marshall RB Khalan Laborn

Laborn added one other 105 complete yards to his season tally in Marshall’s 23-10 win over Georgia Southern on Saturday. The previous Florida State tailback has been the centerpiece for Marshall’s offense this season, and he has topped 100 yards of offense 9 occasions. He is one in every of simply six gamers within the nation — and one in every of simply two outdoors the Energy 5 — with 1,400 complete yards and 14 touchdowns.

5. Ohio QB Kurtis Rourke

The Bobcats have gained six straight video games and have an opportunity to lock up a spot within the MAC title recreation with a win subsequent week towards Bowling Inexperienced. The important thing to Ohio’s success? Rourke has been almost flawless. He has averaged higher than 10 yards per move six occasions this season, together with in three straight video games. For the yr, he has 25 passing TDs and simply 4 INTs whereas rating among the many most prolific gamers within the nation with greater than 3,500 yards of offense by 11 video games.


Below-the-radar play of the day

Once we debate who made the yr’s finest catch in faculty soccer, you should definitely embody this one from Duke’s Jordan Moore.

On a second-and-6, QB Riley Leonard threw a back-shoulder move towards the sideline. Moore was effectively coated, and the ball was thrown excessive. Meh. No downside.

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Pitt’s Jordan Moore makes an astounding one-handed catch.

Moore completed the sport with 14 grabs for 199 yards and a landing, however the Blue Devils got here up simply brief in a 28-26 loss to Pitt.


Below-the-radar recreation of the day

Aidan Sayin hit Trey Flowers for a 5-yard landing on fourth-and-goal with 5 seconds to play to steer Penn over Princeton, a win that handed the Ivy League title to Yale.

Little question it will lead to these new cash Yalies ribbing their rivals with some droll remarks between bits of crudité down on the marina. However allow them to have their American soccer. Princeton will all the time excel at gentlemanly membership life.


Massive bets and dangerous beats

This week, Las Vegas set the bottom over-under for a university soccer recreation up to now 20 years for Iowa and Minnesota’s matchup. The Hawkeyes thought of it a dare.

With a complete that closed at simply 31.5, Iowa and Minnesota by no means even sniffed the over. Iowa took a 10-7 result in the half, however after the break, the 2 groups opted to interact in a conflict of attrition that included much less motion than the typical staring contest.

The Gophers had a main likelihood to place the sport away halfway by the fourth quarter (although, in equity, a second landing towards Iowa at any level throughout a recreation normally ensures a win) when Mohamed Ibrahim carried 14 occasions on a 16-play drive however fumbled on a third-and-4 within the crimson zone. After a Minnesota interception on its subsequent drive, Iowa scored a area purpose to safe the win.

Ibrahim completed simply 10 yards shy of matching Iowa’s complete yardage, carrying 39 occasions for 263 yards (with a catch for seven extra), however it wasn’t sufficient.

The underneath coated simply. Iowa gained for the fourth time this season in a recreation during which it did not crack 300 yards of offense.


The highest 4 groups within the nation all gained Saturday, however none of them coated.

Georgia was a 22.5-point favourite towards Kentucky however gained by simply 10. Ohio State was a 26-point favourite towards Maryland however led by simply three within the remaining minutes of the sport. Michigan was a 17-point favourite and wanted a last-second area purpose to tug out the victory over Illinois. And TCU, favored by simply two, escaped Baylor by a degree.


This yr’s installment of Cal-Stanford will not be remembered because the wildest ending within the rivalry, however bettors of the underneath will definitely be speaking about it for some time.

The overall closed at 46 and the underneath regarded like a simple winner with Stanford main 17-6 after three quarters. However Cal responded with three fourth-quarter touchdowns to take a 27-17 lead with 58 seconds to play. It was sufficient to get bettors sweating, however at 44 factors, the underneath remained protected.

Effectively, it ought to have anyway.

Stanford received the ball again, ran 9 performs for 37 yards to the Cal 43 after which, with simply 5 seconds remaining, lined up for a 61-yard area purpose strive.

Why? Our solely guess is crypto is within the tank and too many Stanford boosters had the over.

In any case, Joshua Karty’s kick was good — sealing Stanford’s 27-20 loss and a wild cowl for the over.