Photo credit: Gus Stark/LSU athletics
Championship weekend is here. As we closed out the majority of the regular season in college football this past Saturday, there was a lot of fun that took place in Week 15.
Rivalries renewed, some shoe fun, a lateral that wasn’t a touchdown, then was a touchdown, then not a touchdown again. You get the gist.
There were definitely some standouts though, so let’s take a look. We countdown the top five performing teams for the final time this season.
How about Greg Schiano and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights?
For a program that was left for dead, Schiano returned to Rutgers with a bang, finishing the scheduled regular season with a record of 3-5 after a 27-24 overtime win over Maryland.
This was a fun one as two Big Ten foes duked it out in College Park. The game was back and forth all afternoon long before Bo Melton went 18 yards into the end zone with eight minutes left to play to put the Scarlet Knights in front, 21-17. Maryland struck back however, as third-string quarterback Eric Najarian found Brian Cobbs from 52 yards away for a long touchdown strike that put the Terps back on top 24-21.
The fun had just begun. Schiano used all three timeouts to stop the clock as Rutgers forced a quick Maryland three-and-out. Rutgers got the ball back with 82 yards to go to win it. It settled for a field goal as Valentino Ambrosio, a soccer player who wasn’t on the team until November, booted a 39-yarder to send us to overtime.
Ambrosio did it again in OT — this time from 42 yards out. The Rutgers’ defense then stepped up. The Scarlet Knights pushed the Terrapins backwards to set up a 50-yard attempt from Joseph Petrino. Petrino pushed it left, giving Rutgers the thrilling victory.
4. Arizona State
It’s got to feel good to beat up on your in-state rival, 70-7. That’s exactly what the Arizona State Sun Devils did against the floundering Arizona Wildcats. They won the Territorial Cup for the fourth consecutive season.
Arizona State came into this game winless having only played two games in a season with modest expectations coming in. The Sun Devils took all that frustration out on Arizona, as they rushed for 259 yards and turned the Wildcats over seven times.
133 of those rushing yards came from Rachaad White, who added three touchdowns on the ground. Quarterback Jayden Daniels threw for 203 yards and two touchdowns, but there was no real need to throw the ball with how well the Sun Devils ran the football, and how well set up Arizona State was after the ridiculous amount of turnovers.
Running back Jackson He also added a touchdown. In the process, he became the first Chinese born player to score a touchdown in FBS history.
Arizona State finally has a win, and it did so so handily that it ran Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin right out of Tucson.
Similar to Arizona State, the Utah Utes had played very minimal games heading into Saturday’s contest with the undefeated Colorado Buffaloes. But that didn’t seem to phase the fighting Kyle Whittingham’s. The Utes outplayed the 21st-ranked Buffaloes to a final score of 38-21.
Colorado actually led for a good chunk of this ballgame, but after leading 21-10 early in the third quarter, everything went downhill. After a Ty Jordan 18-yard touchdown, and a pass from Jake Bentley to Britain Covey from 20 yards out, the Utes found themselves up 24-21 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Now 27-21, the Utes got a huge stop on fourth down as Colorado was driving. Jordan immediately burst 66 yards into the end zone to put this baby to bed. The stud freshman running back led Utah with 147 yards and two touchdowns.
Utah picked up a much-needed win, and now finds itself with a record of 2-2 on the season.
2. North Carolina
Boy, did the Tar Heels make a statement Saturday afternoon in South Beach. It was a dominant performance all around as North Carolina obliterated the Miami Hurricanes 62-26 after the most complete Tar Heel performance in quite some time. It was such a dominant game that we’re going to throw some stats at you, and we think it’ll make your eyes open.
North Carolina’s Michael Carter and Javonte Williams rushed for a combined 544 yards, setting an NCAA record for rushing yards between teammates.
Carter had 308 yards and two touchdowns.
Carolina averaged 10.1 yards per carry.
The Tar Heels had 778 total yards.
North Carolina averaged 11.2 yards per pass.
Was it enough for a New Year’s Six berth? Time will tell.
Ah, we’ve reached that one.
This will be known in Gainesville as the “Shoe Game” for quite some time. The LSU Tigers stunned the sixth-ranked Florida Gators 37-34 in a thriller “The Swamp.”
Welcome to big-time college football, Max Johnson. In a year where LSU has started three different quarterbacks for the first time since 2008, Johnson was the one to take down the Gators on the road, doing so in his first career start.
The Tigers were playing for pride in this one. LSU had self-imposed a bowl ban for 2020, so no postseason was at stake for the defending national champions.
To the fourth quarter we go. After Florida kicker Evan McPherson tied it up with a 31-yard field goal with just under three minutes, the fun really got started.
Florida forced a quick three-and-out and was poised to get off the field for a potential winning drive on its own. But wait. Gators’ defender Marco Wilson carelessly picked up an LSU receiver’s shoe, and chucked it 20 yards down the field. This resulted in an automatic first down, and an eventual 57-yard boomer from kicker Cade York to put the Tigers up three with 23 seconds remaining.
Florida was hoping for a miracle of its own, marching inside the LSU 35-yard-line. But a 51-yard attempt from McPherson sailed left and LSU picked up a huge upset win in a literal foggy swamp.
USC (43-38 vs. UCLA)
Georgia (49-14 vs. Missouri)
Ball State (30-27 vs. Western Michigan)
Virginia Tech (33-15 vs. Virginia)