It sure does not feel like the college football season is coming to a close yet, and not because Camp Randall is not covered in snow, but because we are still learning new things about the nationʻs top teams week after week. With the penultimate Saturday of the regular season in the books, here is a look at what went down and what made the Week 12 Saturday Takeaways.
The Game to decide the East
Week 12 Saturday Takeaways No. 1: Yet again it will come down to the final day of the regular season to determine the Big Ten East winner. It will be another must-see matchup between Ohio State and Michigan come next Saturday. While Ohio State rolls into Ann Arbor clicking on all cylinders, the Wolverines have had their hands full of distractions ahead of the biggest game of the season.
Michigan nearly ran into trouble on Saturday as Maryland gave the Wolverines all they could handle. Along with their 11th win of the season, Michigan was able to celebrate their 1,000th win in program history, the only program to do so in NCAA history. Coach Jim Harbaugh will be missing from the sideline for the Ohio State game as well as he serves a three-game suspension.
Ohio State destroyed Minnesota 37-3, as they were expected to do. The biggest takeaway for the Buckeyes was a monster performance from running back TreVeyon Henderson who ran for 146 yards and two touchdowns. The knock on Ohio State all year has been the health and overall performance of the running back group.
The most impressive feature of both teams are their ferocious defenses. The only teams in the FBS to hold opponents under ten points per game are Michigan and Ohio State. The Wolverine defense is one of the best against the run while the Buckeye pass coverage has been impeccable all season. It will be some old-fashioned football next week as the East division is decided.
Louis-thrill is moving on
Week 12 Saturday Takeaways No. 2: All because Louisville lost that random game to Pittsburgh way back when, the Cardinals are not in the College Football Playoff discussion this. The Cardinals, led by first-year head coach Jeff Brohm, back at his alma mater, are on to the ACC Championship Game. The Cardinals were able to survive quite the jostle from Miami to punch their ticket to Charlotte.
The offense gets the attention with their three weapons, Jack Plummer, Jawhar Jordan and Jamari Thrash, but the defense is what could do the trick for Louisville. The Cardinals rank first in the ACC in scoring defense and second in run defense as well as total defense.
Come Dec. 2, when Louisville faces Florida State in the ACC Championship, the Cardinals defense will ramp up the aggressive play as the Seminoles will roll out an offense led by backup QB Tate Rodemaker after starter Jordan Travis suffered a bad leg injury in Week 12.
No Travis, no problem?
Week 12 Saturday Takeaways No. 3: As mentioned earlier, Florida State lost their starting quarterback, Jordan Travis, in the first quarter against North Alabama on Saturday. Travis, a sixth-year senior playing his final game at Doak Campbell Stadium, was carted off the field after an injury to his left leg. There are currently no updates on his status.
At the time, undefeated and fourth-ranked Florida State was trailing FCS North Alabama 13-0. Backup Tate Rodemaker replaced Travis late in the first quarter and got the Seminoles rolling as Florida State would end up scoring the next 58 points to improve to 11-0.
The shaky start and of course the injury could not come at a worse time for Florida State as they are right in the heat of a blazing College Football Playoff race. Next week, FSU travels to Gainesville to play rival Florida in the regular season finale.
In order to make the CFP field, the Noles will also have to get by red hot Louisville in the ACC Championship. Whether Rodemaker finds the same success as Travis with the many offensive threats that Florida State does possess is to be determined, but things are not looking as positive as they used to in Tallahassee.
Week 12 Saturday Takeaways No. 4: Maybe it was all the attention, maybe it was the NCAA ruling, it could have been anything, but James Madison University lost a football game. Give the Dukes credit, down 17-5 in the third quarter and the offense going nowhere, things got turned around and eventually JMU forced overtime after a wild 4th & 18 conversion and a touchdown pass to follow. However, it was Appalachian Stateʻs Kaedin Robinson that scored the winning touchdown in overtime to end the Dukesʻ perfect season.
It was a fun ride watching James Madison accomplish all they did during their two-year FCS-to-FBS transition that comes with a postseason ban, much to the publicʻs disapproval. From now on, the gates have been lifted and JMU can finally become the newest elite member of the Sun Belt Conference.
Arkansas State is bowl eligible
Week 12 Saturday Takeaways No. 5: It may be hard to believe if you have not been paying attention to what has been brewing in Jonesboro, Arkansas, but the Arkansas State Red Wolves are on their way to the postseason. Led by former Tennessee head coach Butch Jones, Arkansas State secured bowl eligibility with a 77-31 dismantling of Texas State.
After going to eight-straight bowl games from 2011-19, the Red Wolves have not been since. Arkansas State will attempt to finish the regular season 7-5 with a win over Marshall, who will be fighting for their own bowl eligibility next week. The two Sun Belt opponents have never met before on the gridiron.
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