Photo courtesy of Northwestern athletics

It’s turkey week! 

That means it’s the last weekend of the regular season, right? Wrong! Because, you know, COVID-19 and stuff.

It’s almost like we’re going to a full 17-week NFL schedule in this weird season, and in a sense, we’ll get close if you’re counting that Dec. 19 weekend where plenty of regular season games will be played. 

That means we’re going to have a lot more top performing teams to break down. But let’s focus on this week. We take a glance at our top performing teams for Week 12 of the 2020 season. 

5. Iowa State

The Cyclones were a powerful storm this weekend against the Kansas State Wildcats. Iowa State breezed right through by a final score of 45-0. 

It was the three-headed monster show for Iowa State on offense, led by quarterback Brock Purdy. The junior quarterback went 16-for-20 passing with 236 yards and three touchdown passes. Star running back Breece Hall ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns while leading receiver Xavier Hutchinson gained 111 yards and a touchdown on six catches for the ‘Clones.

Defensively…well, you can just look at that score. Iowa State turned the Wildcats over three times, including two fumbles that kept Kansas State off the board. 

Kansas State misses Skylar Thompson badly at quarterback. Nick Ast threw for 44 yards in the loss. 

4. Pittsburgh

Turkey was certainly on the menu for the Pittsburgh Panthers this past weekend against Virginia Tech. The Panthers ate up the Hokies by a final score of 47-14 against a free-falling Virginia Tech team under Justin Fuente.

This was just an overpowering, impressive win by the Pitt Panthers. Pat Narduzzi’s ball club was missing 16 players due to COVID reasons, but failed to make excuses in this dominant win over Virginia Tech. 

Quarterback Kenny Pickett shined on Senior Day for Pitt. The star quarterback went 35-for-52 with 404 passing yards and two touchdowns. That included a 64-yarder to DJ Turner to cap off a 4-play, 99-yard drive. Turner totaled a Pitt record with 15 receptions and 184 yards. This, after Turner had only hauled in 21 through Pittsburgh’s first eight games. 

Following a 4-game skid that dropped Pittsburgh to 3-4, the Panthers have now climbed up to 5-4 and will have a shot at a decent bowl game this December. 

3. Coastal Carolina

The Fighting Chickens strike again! 

The Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina stayed unbeaten this weekend, winning a 34-23 thriller over preseason Sun Belt favorite and reigning conference champion Appalachian State.

After getting off to a slow start, and finding themselves trailing at halftime, Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall started heating up for the 15th-ranked Chanticleers, throwing for 200 yards and two touchdowns. McCall also added a 62-yard touchdown on the ground, to close the gap to 17-15 a minute into the third quarter. 

Isaiah Likely also had a big game for the Chants. The junior receiver only had three receptions, but he made it count for 118 yards and a touchdown. 

This was a fantastic win for Jamey Chadwell and Coastal Carolina. On a day where they turned over App State three times, the undefeated Chants picked up their first win over the Mountaineers in program history. They continue to be one of the most fun stories in college football. 

Reese White’s touchdown run with 2:24 to go put Coastal Carolina ahead for good. A late interception return for a touchdown by D’Jordan Strong widened the final score to 34-23. Good teams win, great teams cover. 

2. Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Sooners took Bedlam by storm this weekend, taking down their cross-state rival Oklahoma State in Norman, 41-13. 

What a win it was. After a 1-2 start to the season, Lincoln Riley’s team was forgotten about for a brief period of time before their thrilling win over Texas. Forgotten no more, the 18th-ranked Sooners demolished a top-15 Oklahoma State team that had playoff hopes up until this past weekend. 

Quarterback Spencer Rattler threw for 301 yards and four touchdowns, while the Sooner defense locked down the Cowboy offense. Oklahoma held quarterback Spencer Sanders to just 97 passing yards, and star running back Chuba Hubbard to just 44 rushing yards. 

The Cowboys found themselves down 21-0 just nine minutes into the game, and Oklahoma never looked back. The Sooners cruised to their sixth straight win in the series and continued their dominance in Bedlam. They now lead the all-time series, 90-18-7.

The Sooners appear to again be the front-runners in the Big 12 and are now back in the thick of things for a potential New Year’s Six berth. 

1. Northwestern

The Northwestern Wildcats opened eyes on Saturday. 

The 19th-ranked Wildcats beat up on the 10th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers, simply outmatching them in a 17-7 victory.

Northwestern holding a high-powered Wisconsin offense to only seven points in this one may be the biggest storyline. The Badgers moved the ball OK, but sloppy play led to their downfall. Wisconsin gave the ball away to the surprising Wildcats five times in the contest. Wisconsin scored to tie it at 7-7 with around six minutes remaining in the opening quarter.

After that, nothing.

Northwestern quarterback Peyton Ramsey continued to impress by putting up 203 yards and two touchdowns. The Wildcats, picked sixth in the preseason poll in the Big Ten West, continue to be one of college football’s biggest surprises. Northwestern is now poised to win the division and secure a spot in the Rose Bowl. 

Pat Fitzgerald may have already locked up the distinction of Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Honorable Mentions

LSU (27-24 vs. Arkansas)

Illinois (41-23 vs. Nebraska)

Alabama (63-3 vs. Kentucky)

Tulsa (30-24 vs. Tulane)