Three of the four teams who will be in the four-team playoff have essentially been decided. Now, we wait to see who will be the fourth team. Will it be Oklahoma? Will it be Georgia? Will it be Ohio State? We’ve seen some really wild results in this weekend before, so don’t be surprised if there is a curveball left in the process.
It’s hard to keep track of all the games, especially if you have a day job and are doing this on the side. I’ll highlight several games and what made the final score misleading. Keep these in mind as you update you handicap moving forward.
Utah 35 BYU 27 – BYU actually outgained Utah 357-296 yards in this one. This bitter rivalry is always a very hard fought game. BYU blew a great chance at pulling the upset. The Cougars once led 20-0 in this contest. BYU averaged 4.7 yards per play. Utah averaged 4.55 yards per play. This game should have been much lower scoring than it was. You very rarely see 62 points from a game with a total of just 653 yards of total offense. BYU had the ball first out of halftime with a 20-0 lead, but Utah picked off a pass and ran it back for a touchdown. That was the turning point.
California 33 Colorado 21 – This is one of the most misleading scores I’ve seen all year. Cal scored 33 points, but they had only 211 total yards of offense. They averaged only 3.3 yards per play. Cal was 1/17 on third down and they easily won the game. None of that makes any sense until you realize that the Golden Bears were up 14-0 before their offense even touched the football here. Steven Montez threw pick-sixes on Colorado’s first two possessions of the game. Colorado had 318 yards here, and they averaged 4.18 yards per play. Cal had zero turnovers though, and Colorado turned it over a whopping five times.
Oregon 55 Oregon State 15 – I’m not going to tell you Oregon State should have won this game, but this is one of the craziest box scores you’ll ever see. Oregon scored 55 points because they averaged 8.17 points per trip into the red zone. You won’t see that one very often. The Ducks benefited from four Oregon State turnovers here. Oregon averaged 6.71 yards per play, but Oregon State also averaged a respectable 5.01 yards per play. Oregon should have won here, but not by 40 points.
Northwestern 24 Illinois 16 – Northwestern didn’t have anything to play for here, and it showed in their performance. The Wildcats were outgained 435-371 by Illinois. Illinois averaged 6.13 yards per play. Northwestern averaged 5.8 yards per play. Northwestern was whistled for only one penalty, while Illinois was penalized seven times. Illinois had 24 first downs and Northwestern had only 19. Northwestern finished plus one in the all-important turnover margin battle. Illinois probably should have won this game, and the game definitely should have been higher scoring.
Minnesota 37 Wisconsin 15 – Wisconsin outgained Minnesota 359-325 yards. The Badgers averaged 5.61 yards per play. Minnesota averaged 5.16 yards per play. Minnesota won the field position battle in a big way here. The Golden Gophers averaged starting on their own 42.1 yard line. Wisconsin averaged starting on their own 26.6 yard line. Wisconsin turned the ball over four times. Minnesota didn’t turn the ball over. This win made Minnesota bowl eligible.
Western Kentucky 30 Louisiana Tech 15 – Louisiana Tech was already bowl eligible, but this was a pretty bad loss for the Bulldogs. Western Kentucky pulled the upset, but it didn’t save Mike Sanford Jr. from being fired right after the season. This was a misleading score though. Louisiana Tech outgained Western Kentucky 380-288 yards. LA Tech also averaged 5.0 yards per play compared to only 3.89 for the Hilltoppers. Western Kentucky averaged 5.6 points per trip into the red zone. Louisiana Tech botched their scoring chances in a big way. The Bulldogs averaged only 1.86 points per trip into the red zone. Western Kentucky was 2/3 on fourth down. Louisiana Tech was 1/4 on fourth down.
Charlotte 27 Florida Atlantic 24 – Would you believe that Charlotte and Florida Atlantic finished with the same record after Charlotte upset the Owls in this one? Both teams finished 5-7, and Charlotte actually finished ahead of Florida Atlantic inside the conference. Florida Atlantic outgained Charlotte 492-380 here. The Owls averaged 6.39 yards per play. The 49ers averaged only 5.67 yards per play. Charlotte averaged 6.75 points per trip into the red zone. Florida Atlantic averaged 4.0 points per trip into the red zone. Florida Atlantic was just 2/5 on fourth down conversion attempts, and that crushed their chances in this game.