SPORTS COLUMN: Finding clarity in the chaos after week 12

No. 23 Utah handled No. 3 Oregon 38-7 to claim the Pac 12 South title last week. (Utah Athletics)

Another One Bites The Dust: Another week, another chaotic outcome that’s beginning to paint a clear picture. No. 23 Utah ended the first half with a shocking punt return for a touchdown to down the No. 3 Ducks 28-0 at the half. Utah finished what they started and ended the Pac-12’s chance for a playoff berth by knocking out their last contender. 

Even more shocking however is the fact that there was another top 10 team that suffered an even worse fate in the first half of their game. No. 7 Michigan State found themselves down 49-0 to the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes. The hottest team in college football is getting better every week and they wasted no time putting this one away. More on the Buckeye Quarterback later.

Not that the Spartan defense could do anything any different, but the Michigan State offense was hopeless from the start. Heisman hopeful Kenneth Walker III rushed only six times in the first half, being limited due to a lingering injury that rendered him useless. The Spartans had to revert to their passing game, which they lack severely, and the rest was history. 

Rivalry Week: While Auburn’s season has quickly went downhill, especially after losing starting quarterback Bo Nix for the season, they’d love nothing more than to reclaim in state bragging rights for the next year. Alabama could lose to Auburn, beat Georgia in the SEC championship game, and still make the playoff, but no one is Tuscaloosa wants things to go that way. Alabama should win big on the road, but Jordan-Hare is a magical place so there’s no guarantee. 

If there is one game that will shape the college football playoff more than any other this week, look up north to “The Game.” No. 2 Ohio State takes on No. 5 Michigan in their biggest matchup since 2016 when the Buckeyes knocked them off 30-27 in double overtime. The Wolverines will certainly have their work cut off for them. 

For those wanting a playoff expansion, you have it! This game is essentially the first of four rounds for Ohio State and Michigan. Winner goes onto the Big 10 Championship game, which will serve as a quarterfinal play-in to the College Football Playoff. 

No. 7 Oklahoma State will also be hosting No. 10 Oklahoma, but it may not mean anything more than a New Year’s Day bowl. The winner will get a shot at No. 8 Baylor in the Big 12 Championship Game, but there is a lot of ground to catch up for the Big 12 to make the playoff. 

The final matchup highlighted is just a state over in “The Egg Bowl.” Two of the top offenses in the country will go head to head. If you like offense this is the game to tune into as Will Rodgers and Matt Corral have lit up scoreboards all season. With 63 combined touchdowns scored this year between the two it may come down to who gets the ball last or can simply make a single stop. 

Two Horse Race: Heisman Watch. The Heisman will invite a third person to New York in just three weeks, but it’s become a two-horse race between Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud. 

Each made strong statements this past weekend with Stroud going 32 for 35 for 432 yards and six touchdowns, in the first half. Young would follow that up with his own school record breaking performance. He completed 78% of his passes for 561 yards and five touchdowns. 

They are neck and neck overall for the season as well. Young is 264 for 368 (71.7%) for 3,584 yards and a 38:3 touchdown to interception ratio. Stroud is 246 for 346 (71.1%) for 3,468 yards and a 36:5 touchdown to interception ratio. While Young is expected to add to his numbers this week against Auburn, Stroud will have a chance to really impressive voters with a back to back dismantling of the schools from the state of Michigan. Young however will have a chance to seal the Heisman trophy if he can take down the Goliath that is the Georgia defense in the SEC Championship game. 

Clarity in the Chaos: College Football Playoff PictureAs mentioned above the Ohio State-Michigan game will have the biggest impact on the CFP but heading championship week there are several possible scenarios that can play out. The following teams are all in the conversation: Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Three of those teams are guaranteed to get another loss, but in case you’re not doing the math that still leaves five teams and only four spots. 

What would the committee do with a two loss Alabama? Would they get in over a one loss Notre Dame? Or a one loss Big 12 champion? That may be the debate. What happens if the Ohio State – Michigan winner gets beat in the Big 10 Championship game? If Alabama wins out, Ohio State wins out, Georgia gets in with a loss to Alabama, who gets in: a one loss Oklahoma State or undefeated Cincinnati? So many scenarios are in front of us and if there are two things we know it’s that there will be clarity in the chaos in just two weeks.

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