All the drama usually centers around Rivalry Week when it comes to the final phase of the regular season. This year, however, college football’s top playoff contenders were on thin ice against tough competition in week 12. No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 TCU needed marvelous field goals to win games against Illinois and Baylor, respectively. No. 2 Ohio State had to counter Maryland’s late attack, while No. 1 Georgia went through the fourth quarter against Kentucky. No. 7 USC also stayed alive in the national title race, surviving No. 16 UCLA’s failed attempt to take control of the Pac-12 title race.
So, as the action of Week 12 drew to a close, the Trojans joined the Bulldogs, Horned Frogs and the winner of next week’s showdown between the Buckeyes and Wolverines as the undisputed favorites to make up the college football playoff field. USC has a slightly more difficult path than the others with No. 18 Notre Dame and probably No. 12 Oregon in the Pac-12 title game on schedule, but win both and the Trojans are a lock.
Clemson, meanwhile, remains on the fringes, but his best wins continue to drop like flies. No. 13 North Carolina was the Tigers’ latest upcoming opponent to lose to Georgia Tech. Aside from absolute chaos, which gets smaller and smaller as the last week of the regular season approaches, five teams are vying for four spots.
The only team that did not receive a survival and promotion memorandum was No. 5 Tennessee, who were wiped out on the road by unranked South Carolina as the Bullocks watched their CFP hopes fade in the process.
Here are more winners, losers, and overreactions from around the college football world in week 12.
USC quarterback Caleb Williams: Williams has been one of the most scrutinized players in college football over the past two seasons, but his ability came to the fore during the biggest performance of his career. The sophomore threw for 470 yards, rushed for 32 yards and threw three full touchdowns in a massiveto effectively rank in the Pac-12 championship game. Williams should have been perfect against UCLA’s audacious offense and hit a couple of touchdown passes in the last two periods. The performance could earn him a trip to New York for the Heisman ceremony if USC can find a way to win the Pac-12 for the first time since 2017. However, it was a special season for the former five-star prospect.
Oklahoma coach Brent Venables: Perhaps no one in college football needed a win more than the Venables. The Sooners had already set their first conference losing record since 1998 and the most regular season losing streak since 2009, but the Bedlam winning streak returned after the Sooners thrashed Oklahoma State 28–13. Oklahoma unleashed some demons in the first quarter, taking a 28-0 lead they will never give up. Things got a little more complicated later on when the Sooners offense completely collapsed, but the advantage was big enough for the Venable Sooners to take the win and go into the bowl. There are plenty of issues to work out, but Oklahoma will happily take the state championship trophy in what has otherwise been a miserable season.
Tennessee: After beating Alabama and the LSU Vols have proven themselves to be the sure next in the CFP rankings if things go wrong. After Oregon lost to Washington, Tennessee became the favorite when the losing state of Ohio-Michigan fell out. Unfortunately, no one told Shane Beamer at the South Carolina Gamecocks. Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler threw five touchdowns in what was arguably the best game of his career as South Carolina thrashed Tennessee 63-38, dropping the Vols to 10-2. Even worse, quarterback. It’s hard to imagine him moving on to talk about Heisman now that the American football playoff race in Tennessee has come to an end.
North Carolina QB Drake May: The redshirt freshman had the perfect opportunity to make his mark in the Heisman Trophy race by playing strong against Georgia Tech. Instead, May put up the worst game of his young career when the Tar Heels lost to Georgia Tech 21–17. May completed just 53.3% of his passes for 202 yards and an interception, well below his season-high total of nearly 400 yards of total offense and four touchdowns per game. UNC had one last chance to survive the game, but star wide receiver Josh Downes threw a wide open pass in the end zone. North Carolina could still win an ACC championship game over Clemson, but any chance of a Heisman dark horse or a college football playoff event is likely to be squandered.
Heisman Trophy will be determined next week: All eyes will be on the game as No. 2 Ohio State takes on No. 3 Michigan with a trip to the Big Ten championship game, and while a place in the college football playoffs is also up for grabs, more equipment may be coming. player on the winning side.
It remains one of the darkest Heisman races in recent memory, but everything will be decided on the field at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud remains the betting favorite for the award despite the volatile season, according to Caesars Sportsbook. If the Buckeyes recover and avenge last season’s defeat, Stroud will take home the coveted trophy. However, if Michigan running back Blake Corum is healthy and the Wolverines win, the bounty goes to him.
The game has had huge stakes before, even last season, but the 2022 iteration will go down in the history books as one of the biggest college football games ever — for several reasons.
Mass contracts continue to be regrettable: A new era of obscure football deals began last season when Jimbo Fischer, Mel Tucker and Mario Cristobal signed $250 million deals. A year later, these three coaches look like the worst investment this side of FTX with a 14-19 overall. On Saturday, Miami and Michigan lost shamefully to Clemson and Indiana, respectively. Texas A&M defeated UMass (the team is currently at the bottom of the CBS Sports 131), but scored the fewest points of any FBS Minutemen opponent.
However, massive guaranteed contracts raise a more existential question: what happens when a coach needs be fired? Under any normal circumstances, Fischer’s record of 4-8 in 5th grade would likely spell the end of his tenure. Will Texas A&M spend $85 million on a buyout? Does the sports department have any leverage?
There have been few truly unprecedented situations in the history of college football, but the amount of guaranteed coaching money flying around the sport will be a test. All eyes will be on College Station to see how Texas A&M handles the Fischer situation, and this could be a cautionary tale that slows the money flow, at least for a moment.