College Football Week 12 Takeaways: Title Contenders Avoid the Traps

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By usawebstories

Sometimes it’s the sleepy Saturdays that get you.

The traps were clear: Maryland has been leaking oil the last five weeks. They’ve lost inexplicably and embarrassingly. Ames is always a tricky place to play for any highly ranked conference opponent. And Oregon State, with wet weather at home, had as much of a reason to be ticked off as any team in the country regarding how Washington helped bring the end of the Pac-12. The mark of a great team is seeing the traps and not getting caught in them. That’s what MichiganTexas, and Washington did on this penultimate Saturday of the regular season.

The Wolverines notched win No. 1,000 in the process, and triumphed for the second time without Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines. They needed two safeties and a Taulia Tagovailoa fumble in the end zone to do it, but they took advantage of the breaks they got and played complementary football to bail out a passing offense that wasn’t giving much in the way of explosive outputs (again). 

Michigan ascended to a level no program has reached Saturday despite the sign-stealing controversy swirling around the program.

Nick Wass/AP

There were questions about how Texas would fare without Jonathan Brooks, but they got more than enough offense from their other skill players and another big defensive effort from T’Vondre Sweat and Byron Murphy on the inside to win. Sweat’s blocked extra point in the second half was returned for two points, and helped Texas gain some much needed breathing room. Washington held on while taking Oregon State’s best punches all night when their own passing game failed to connect in miserable conditions. You’d think Washington would be used to playing in the rain, but they looked out of sorts throughout. None of that matters as long as you win, though.

Those wins preserve a hefty amount of drama coming down the stretch. No stakes need be explained for undefeated Michigan vs. undefeated Ohio State. But Texas still has its Playoff hopes alive and Washington is still unblemished with the Apple Cup and a potential tilt with Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game all but assured. It’s all because no traps got sprung today.

SI Top 10

1. Georgia

These different Dawgs continue to prove that they will win with offense, although their defense didn’t play half bad in the 38–10 drubbing of Tennessee. Carson Beck, at this point, is a certified good quarterback, and gives Georgia a dimension they haven’t had the last few years.

2. Ohio State

The Buckeyes are playing really good football. While Michigan has taken up all the energy and headlines in the Big Ten as of late, their massive game next week will determine the national title aspirations for both teams, just as it should be.

3. Florida State

On senior day in Tallahassee, Jordan Travis’s serious-looking leg injury was a heartbreaking way for the Noles to end their home season. While their Playoff hopes are one thing, Travis’s health and wellbeing are another.

4. Michigan

The Wolverines played their second game against an opponent with a pulse on Saturday and the results were the same: not much passing game but enough defense to win. Will that be enough against Ohio State?

5. Texas

The Longhorns haven’t looked as explosive over the last few weeks on offense, but they keep winning. And for a Texas program that long lacked this killer instinct when they didn’t have their best, it’s a big step in the right direction.

6. Washington

Bless the rains down in Corvallis. They gave Washington quite the amount of adversity. But Oregon State bowed down in the end as UW’s dream season continues.

7. Oregon

Maybe the Ducks have something to prove, because they keep burying teams. No doubt about it against Arizona State today. Now, Oregon State beckons.

8. Alabama

The Tide had FCS UT-Chattanooga at home today. No sweat, on to the Iron Bowl.

9. Louisville

The Cardinals had to outlast Miami in a close game, but despite some sloppy play, their faint hope at a Playoff berth remains.

10. Missouri

The Tigers survived Florida at home as the Gators took them to the wire. But Mizzou has proved this season they’re a different team than they have been in years past.

SI players of the week

Dillon Bell, WR, Georgia, T’Vondre Sweat, DL, Texas

  • Bell threw for a touchdown and caught a touchdown in addition to 90 yards receiving and 34 yards rushing. An all-around great day for the wideout.
  • What Sweat (and his defensive line cohort Murphy) do cannot often be measured on the statsheet, but these guys are the reason Texas’ defense has a cutting edge this season without a doubt.

Did you see that?

-The turnover props are very good: 

  • Darude came to Columbia to play “Sandstorm” live. It didn’t disappoint: 
  • Chip Kelly is every opponent who has to play Caleb Williams: 
  • Talmage Gunther running out with his kid on senior day is the wholesome thing you need to see today: 
  • Jordan Travis.

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