The last full week of the college football regular season is upon us. Week 12 gave us some really fascinating box scores to scroll through. It is hard to accuse a player or a team of quitting, but it absolutely does happen and there were some instances in which we really saw it happen. We’re going to see it happen next week as well.
Going back through the previous week’s box scores can give you an indication of the teams in question. We also saw some crazy outliers unrelated to motivation and engagement level.
Let’s dig into the box scores and find some nuggets for the finale.
Southern Miss 35, Louisiana Tech 19
This is a great starting point. Southern Miss had not scored more than 19 points against any FBS opponent this season prior to this game. The Golden Eagles “exploded” for 35 points against Louisiana Tech.
Well, let’s rephrase that. Southern Miss had 294 yards of offense in the game, managing 4.9 yards per play. By the Golden Eagles’ standards, that is an offensive explosion. The game featured eight turnovers and one turnover on downs, six of which came from Louisiana Tech.
This game was terrible, to be totally honest. Southern Miss fumbled the first offensive play of the game. The Golden Eagles missed a field goal, got second life with a running into the kicker penalty and then had the 20-yard follow-up field goal blocked. Both teams had a defensive touchdown. This was a brutal beat for under bettors with some long fumble returns.
Play on Southern Miss – I don’t know if I’ll have the heart to do this, but Southern Miss ends the season with FIU. Remember that intro about quitting teams? Well, FIU lost 49-7 last week to North Texas on Senior Day and gave up 611 yards. The Panthers have been outscored 184-41 over the last four games. Make no mistake, the Golden Eagles are awful, but at least they’re still trying. FIU is not.
Cal 41, Stanford 11
On the subject of teams that have quit, would it be fair to say that Stanford fits the bill? Cal, who had a game canceled because of a major COVID outbreak, came back to win by 30 and outgained Stanford 636-282. The Golden Bears only ran 63 plays, so they had over 10 yards per play. Stanford managed 4.09 YPP and threw the ball 43 times.
Stanford has lost six in a row. The Cardinals aren’t supposed to be this bad, but they’ve lost by 30, 21 and 45 over the last three weeks. David Shaw’s job doesn’t seem to be on the line, but maybe it should be. Maybe his messaging has just gone stale in Palo Alto.
Fade Stanford – Notre Dame takes the long flight west to California to face the Trees next week. As we saw against Georgia Tech, the Fighting Irish are attempting to rack up some style points that they might need if the next two weeks work out in their favor.
Stanford doesn’t seem very engaged or invested right now. This looks like a team ready for it all to be over.
Louisiana 42, Liberty 14
Louisiana has made a few appearances in my articles this season. The Ragin’ Cajuns are a very frustrating and irritating team. They’ve also been remarkably inconsistent for a 10-1 football team. The 42-14 win looks like a huge triumph on the surface, but the box score tells a different story.
Louisiana outgained Liberty 296-293. The Cajuns had 4.55 yards per play to Liberty’s 4.13. The difference in the game was that the Flames had six turnovers and also went 2-for-5 on fourth down. Liberty fumbled on the opening possession, forced a punt, fumbled the return and Louisiana missed a field goal. Louisiana led 21-7 at half with 105 yards of offense.
To put this game in perspective, Liberty had a 1st-and-Goal at the 2-yard line and wound up punting from the 44.
Fade Louisiana & Liberty – Louisiana plays a plucky rival in UL Monroe this week, as the Warhawks have had a knack for upsets this season and just kept it close with LSU. The Ragin’ Cajuns have Appalachian State on deck in the Sun Belt Championship Game. They’ve lost two of those to the Mountaineers, so it wouldn’t be a total stunner if they overlook the rivalry.
Liberty plays Army. Malik Willis’s draft stock has probably taken a bit of a hit this season, but his offensive line is horrendous. The Flames have allowed 45 sacks in 11 games with a QB as mobile as Willis. This last game should be about self-preservation for the youngster as he looks ahead to the next level.
Colorado 20, Washington 17
This is absolutely the box score game of the week. Washington had 426 yards to Colorado’s 183. The Buffaloes had nine first downs and went 2-of-14 on third down. The Huskies were 14-of-21. Washington ran 84 plays to just 52 for Colorado. And, yet, the Huskies lost the game and lost a chance at bowl eligibility in the process.
Washington was -4 in turnovers and also had a turnover on downs. One of the turnovers was a fumble returned 88 yards for a touchdown after a 12-play, 63-yard drive for Washington got to the Colorado 3-yard line. Three of Washington’s four turnovers were in plus territory and another was inside the Huskies’ 15-yard line that resulted in a field goal.
The Buffaloes crossed midfield on their own volition just three times. It was a suffocating defensive effort for the most part from Washington, but to no avail.
Bet Washington Under – Washington hosts Washington State in the Apple Cup this week. The Cougars still have a chance at winning the Pac-12 North, but would need help. Washington will not go to a bowl game and will be hiring a new coach this offseason. The Huskies actually played well in losses to Oregon and Arizona State. They played well here. The offense is still rather limited.
They should show up and fight here because recent history tells us that they’re still engaged. Washington State has played well for interim Jake Dickert and has punched a bowl ticket. I’d expect this to be a slugfest on the defensive end.
UTSA 34, UAB 31
Bill Clark decided to put the game on his defense and it backfired. Faced with a 4th-and-1 at his own 42, Clark took a delay of game and then punted the ball away. UAB gave up 77 yards in seven plays and UTSA remained perfect on the season. It was a devastating loss for UAB and one you’ll read about in my situational spots article that will post Tuesday night.
The Blazers outgained the Roadrunners by 99 yards, despite running 61 plays to UTSA’s 70. UAB even threw 14 fewer times. It was a pretty efficient offensive performance from UAB overall, but the Blazers could not get a stop.
Fade UTSA – We suddenly have a really interesting game in Denton next week between North Texas and UTSA. The Mean Green can actually become bowl-eligible with a win. The Roadrunners can continue their perfect season, which now includes a Conference USA Championship Game in two weeks.
Lately, though, UTSA has wavered a bit. They struggled with UAB and having all sorts of issues with Southern Miss before putting the Golden Eagles away in the fourth quarter. The pressure mounts with an undefeated record and the Roadrunners are a double-digit road favorite in the finale.