Let’s dive into what happened in week 13 and what’s coming up on Championship weekend this Friday and Saturday.
It’s almost here. The day we look forward to all year long - TaxAct Texas Bowl announcement day is coming up on Sunday December 3rd! Can’t wait! So, let’s dive into what happened in week 13 and what’s coming up on Championship weekend this Friday and Saturday.
TaxAct Texas Bowl Team of the Week - Oklahoma State - The Cowboys fought back, in horrid weather in Stillwater, for one of their greatest regular season victories ever. BYU jumped out to a 24-3 lead, bringing all the tricks and gadgets to the Stillwater party, looking to get to six wins and bowl eligibility. But, the Cowboys, behind the sensational running of RB Ollie Gordon II (166 yards and FIVE touchdowns), staged a furious rally to take the lead late in the game. BYU K Will Ferrin tied it and sent it to overtime where Gordon II locked in Oklahoma State’s trip to Arlington and the Big 12 Championship game with two OT TDs.
TaxAct Texas Bowl Honorable mention Team of the Week - Alabama - Somehow, someway, the Crimson Tide found a way to pull out a win on the road in the Iron Bowl. QB Jalen Milroe’s Gravedigger toss laid Auburn to rest with less than a minute remaining in what’s typically been a house of horrors for the Tide over the past few decades. The win kept Alabama in the playoff picture for the time being, setting up a gargantuan matchup with the Georgia Bulldogs in Atlanta for the SEC title on Saturday.
TaxAct Texas Bowl Player of the Week - Alabama QB Jalen Milroe - When Milroe was asked to take a back seat after the loss to Texas early in the season, I don’t think anyone could foresee how Milroe would eventually respond. He not only responded; he became a legend in Alabama football lore with one of the greatest throws for a game winning touchdown in the history of the Iron Bowl. 366 total yards. 16 of 24 for 259 yards and two touchdowns passing. 18 carries for 107 yards rushing. What a performance for Milroe against Auburn!
TaxAct Texas Bowl Honorable mention Player of the Week - Oklahoma State RB Ollie Gordon II - Oklahoma State just kept giving Gordon II the ball and he responded with another gem of a performance. 34 carries for 166 yards and FIVE touchdowns, including both scores in overtime. The Cowboys have ridden Gordon all the way to Arlington and a spot in the Big 12 Championship game against Texas
National Team of the Week - Michigan - It was the biggest game of the weekend, with an interim coach at the helm, against its biggest rival that just happened to be the #2 team in the nation. When S Rod Moore intercepted a hurried Kyle McCord pass late in the fourth quarter, Michigan solidified a third straight win over rival Ohio State and a third straight undefeated regular season. Interim head coach Sherrone Moore did a wonderful job for the Wolverines this year, winning the final three games down the stretch in place of head coach Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines will play Iowa on Saturday for the B1G Championship and a shot at a third straight trip to the college football playoff.
Honorable Mention National Team of the Week - Arizona - The Wildcats put up 52 in three quarters in a demolition of rival Arizona State. All Jedd Fisch’s Wildcats have done is win six in a row, having lost just three games by a total of 16 points (Mississippi State, USC and Washington). A bowl win will give Arizona ten wins for the first time since 2014 and just the second time since the magical season of 1998.
National Player of the Week - Boise State RB Ashton Jeanty - The Broncos star ball carrier went 100/100 in their biggest win of the year. He ran 14 times for 107 yards and a touchdown and had five receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown in Boise State’s 27-19 win over Air Force. The win propels Jeanty and the Broncos into the MWC Championship game against one of the biggest surprise teams in the nation - UNLV.
Honorable mention National Player of the Week - Florida State LB Jared Verse - The Seminoles needed every last tackle, pressure and/or hurry from Verse against the Gators in Gainesville. He finished with six tackles, 2.5 sacks and 3.0 TFLs in the 24-15 win over rival Florida in The Swamp. He was nearly unblockable in the fourth quarter and Florida couldn’t throw the ball late in the game as a result.
…to Oregon QB Bo Nix for locking in his trip to NYC in a revenge game against Oregon State - 33-40 for 367 and two touchdowns in a 31-7 win.
…to former Duke head coach Mike Elko for taking on the challenge at Texas A&M.
…to Texas and Oklahoma for putting 50-burgers up on opponents in their final regular season contests in the Big 12 (57 for Texas v. Texas Tech, 69 for Oklahoma v. TCU)
…to Eli Drinkwitz leading the Missouri Tigers to a top ten finish and ten wins.
…to Kentucky RB Ray Davis for finishing his college career the absolute right way with a 37-yard game winning TD AT Louisville, leading the Cats to a 38-31 upset win on the road.
…to LSU QB Jayden Daniels *standing and applauding for minutes at a time* BRAVO, young man, BRAVO. What a season!
…to Cal head coach Justin Wilcox and the Golden Bears getting to bowl eligibility in a massive road win over UCLA.
…to Rice head coach Mike Bloomgren and the Owls for hanging on to a 24-21 win over a game FAU squad to get Rice into a bowl for the second straight season.
…to San Jose State for winning its sixth game in a row over a really good UNLV squad. That was the GREAT news; the bad news? The Spartans lost the coin flip (basically) and will miss out on a trip to the MWC Championship game…to the team they just beat - UNLV.
Week 13’s Big games
#20 (9-3) Oklahoma State v. #7 (11-1) Texas - I’ll be brutally honest, at the outset of the season, I thought Oklahoma State was going to struggle to win five games in 2023, but Mike Gundy’s crew fought its way to nine wins and the Big 12 Championship Game. Oklahoma State’s win sets up one final Big 12 contest with the longtime conference behemoth and heavy favorite - the Texas Longhorns. There will be blood.
#1 (12-0) Georgia v. #8 (11-1) Alabama - These two just seem to find themselves in the SEC Championship game more often than not. This will be the fourth matchup since 2012 when Alabama beat Georgia in a classic. Alabama is 3-0 in the first three matchups (2012, 2018 & 2021). Can Georgia finally win one in Atlanta over the Tide or will an Alabama win completely tip over the College Football Playoff apple cart?
(10-2) #25 SMU v #17 (11-1) Tulane - I LOVE this matchup between two RISING teams. SMU won eight in a row to finish the season, while Tulane won ten in a row after losing to Ole Miss in week two. A MAJOR question is the health of SMU QB Preston Stone. He went out with an apparent ankle injury in the win over Navy and his status is unclear. Tulane QB Michael Pratt led the Green Wave to an AAC title last year and is back to repeat.
#4 (12-0) Washington at #6 (11-1) Oregon - When these two met back in November, it was one to remember. Now that the calendar has turned to December, this one is WAY MORE important. It’s also one final act for two Heisman candidates - Oregon QB Bo Nix and Washington QB Michael Penix Jr.
TaxAct Texas Bowl Potential teams
Big 12 candidates
(8-4) Kansas State - The Wildcats lost to Iowa State in their white jerseys in the snow in a 42-35 loss in Manhattan, the first home loss of the year.
(9-3) Oklahoma State - The Cowboys roared back, again, for an indescribable 40-34 2OT win over BYU in Stillwater. A win over the Longhorns in the Big 12 Championship game would upset the entire bowl universe.
(8-4) Kansas - The Jayhawks’ big win over Oklahoma in November was massive for the Jayhawks respective bowl opportunities.
(7-5) Texas A&M - The Aggies now have a new coach (Mike Elko, if you missed it) and an opportunity to finish the season in Houston against a team from the Sunflower State - that’s as bold as I’m getting…for now.
(6-6) Auburn - I still don’t see any other team than Texas A&M out of the SEC, but if there’s another squad that could make some sense, it’s Auburn.