College Football Playoff watch: Week 11

By on November 13, 2016

By Dalton Ray–

One week removed from a very calm weekend in college football, this weekend was everything but. Five teams in the top 10 lost and flipped the College Football Playoff picture upside down.

Louisville was almost a sixth top 10 casualty this weekend. Trailing for more than half the game, Louisville finally came through with a 34-point fourth quarter and sped past Wake Forest. Scoring 41 points unanswered, the Cardinals won 44-12.

The Cardinals have to rely on winning out their schedule while other teams lose. This is the first weekend Louisville made solid ground into the CFP since defeating Florida State early in the year.

Upsets across the nation

Then-No. 2 Clemson played a tight game against Pittsburgh. Clemson had their chance to put the game away against the Panthers in the fourth quarter. Leading 42-34, the Tigers had the ball at the three yard line, but Deshaun Watson’s pass was intercepted in the endzone and led to a Pittsburgh score.

Once again, Clemson had a chance to seal the game when they led 42-40 with 58 seconds left. Going for it on fourth-and-one, Pitt stuffed Wayne Gallman at the line of scrimmage to take over. The Panthers took the ball down the field and kicked the game-winning field goal with seconds remaining.

Next to fall was then-fourth-ranked Washington. Facing off against No. 20 USC, the Huskies couldn’t get their explosive offense rolling. The Trojans held Washington to 17 rushing yards and forced Jake Browning to make plays. The Heisman-contender ended with 259 yards and two interceptions. USC upended Washington 26-13.

The final top-ranked team to fall was then-third-ranked Michigan. The Wolverines got into a slugfest with Big Ten opponent Iowa. Michigan was forced to punt with under a minute left and a facemask penalty placed the Hawkeyes in favorable field position. Iowa then hit a game-winning field goal of their own and caused fans to rush the field.

Texas A&M lost their second straight game 29-28 after allowing Ole Miss to score 23 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. Right behind A&M, Auburn was upset by Georgia in a low scoring affair. The Tigers fell 13-7 on the road in against UGA.

In the ACC, the Coast leaders North Carolina and Virginia Tech both dropped games against unranked teams. Carolina and VT now move to 5-2 in conference play.

What the losses mean

For Louisville, the loss that benefits them the most is the Michigan loss. The Wolverines now move to 9-1, the same record as Ohio State. Now when the two teams play on the final week of the year, one will be completely knocked out of the playoff picture. Instead of the committee having to choose whether or not to put both teams in, the team with two losses simply won’t get in.

Washington losing also helps Louisville. Previously undefeated, the Huskies don’t seem to have enough left on the schedule to boost them back into the playoff picture. The loss also puts them behind Washington State in the conference race, placing even more emphasis on their match-up at the end of the year.

Clemson’s loss is the game that is most confusing. Louisville fans are happy the Tigers finally dropped a game, but the Clemson still holds the tiebreaker over U of L. Louisville’s biggest calling card on the season is how well they played against the second-ranked team in the nation. With the loss at home, the Tigers could face a steep drop in the rankings.

The losses of Auburn and Georgia don’t mean too much to Louisville. If anything, it creates a little more separation and gives the Cards some breathing room.

Photo by Dalton Ray / The Louisville Cardinal

About Dalton Ray

Sports editor (2016-2018) that is technically award winning.Email: dray@louisvillecardinal.com

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