The college football regular season mostly came to a close this past weekend. USC and Cal play this week and Army and Navy play in two weeks. Other than that, it will be conference championship weekend and then we’ll look ahead to the bowl games and the playoff.
As the offseason goes along, I’ll write about some teams to keep an eye on for the early part of 2022 and in the futures markets. For now, I’ll only look at the box scores from Week 13 for bowl-eligible teams only to see if there are things we can use for the bowl games or the championship games.
Ball State 20, Buffalo 3
Ball State beat Buffalo to finish 6-6 and will be under consideration for a bowl game. There are actually too many six-win teams, so some teams will be shut out. Maybe the Cardinals will be one of those teams. They beat Buffalo by 17 to at least be under consideration, but it wasn’t very pretty. Ball State was actually outgained 336-230, but finished + 4 in turnover margin.
Ball State did not have a scoring drive longer than 57 yards. With a win over a solid Army team, maybe Ball State makes a bowl. If so, they could be a good fade team, as their entire body of work is lacking.
Western Michigan 42, Northern Illinois 21
This one is misleading for an altogether different reason. NIU only ran 37 offensive plays in the blowout loss to Western Michigan, but the Huskies had no interest in the game. They already had the MAC West Division wrapped up. Rocky Lombardi didn’t play. Backup QB Ethan Hampton was 4-of-10 passing. The Huskies only had 291 yards and 97 of them came on one touchdown run, which was devastating for the under.
Don’t read anything into NIU’s performance here. They had no interest in this game on a cold and windy night. They’ll play Kent State on Saturday in Detroit for the MAC Championship.
NC State 34, North Carolina 30
What an unbelievable ending to this game. North Carolina outgained NC State 444-360 and ran 71 plays to the Wolfpack’s 60. It was NC State’s final five plays that made all the difference. The Wolfpack scored on a 64-yard pass with 1:35 left to get within two, recovered an onside kick and scored 26 seconds later on a three-play, 54-yard drive.
NC State only had 250 yards of offense up until that point. The Wolfpack’s first touchdown was a blocked punt. The yards per play wound up 6.25 to 6.00, but NC State’s final two drives turned this game in a big way.
We know that UNC QB Sam Howell will head for the NFL. There are some whispers that NC State HC Dave Doeren could be getting another job. I’m not sure if this last game says anything about the bowl games for either team, but this was a devastating loss for North Carolina to be sure.
Alabama 24, Auburn 22 (4OT)
Alabama more than doubled Auburn in yardage, as the Crimson Tide outgained the Tigers 388-159. Alabama was 1-of-4 on fourth down and ran 89 offensive plays to just 66 for Auburn. Alabama’s passing attack was surprisingly inefficient, as Bryce Young did throw for 317 yards on 25 completions, but he had 51 pass attempts. The Tide managed just 1.9 yards per carry, but did hold Auburn to 0.6 YPC.
Something has been off with Alabama for a while this season. Young is one of the finalists for the Heisman Trophy, but the running game has been lackluster and Alabama’s defense has been hit or miss. If the Tide lose to Georgia, they’ll still be a very big favorite against an inferior team in the Sugar Bowl. It will be about motivation at that point, but this is not the same Alabama team we’ve always seen.
Arizona State 38, Arizona 15
I’ll be looking to fade Arizona State in the upcoming bowl game if the matchup is right and the line fits. This has not been a good team this season, despite the 8-4 record. This past Saturday was another example. ASU had an 87-yard pick-six and a safety, as well as a 1-yard TD drive off of an Arizona turnover.
Arizona outgained Arizona State 396-314, but it is worth noting that the Wildcats ran 73 plays to just 51 for the Sun Devils. The Wildcats settled for three red zone field goals, along with that huge pick-six, otherwise this game could have gone a lot differently.
Memphis 33, Tulane 28
Memphis looks ticketed for a bowl game, but the Tigers did not look great in the regular season finale against Tulane, who finished the season 2-10. The Tigers were outgained by 40 yards, but Tulane’s four turnovers played a huge part in the outcome. The Green Wave ran for 6.9 yards per carry and were 10-of-16 on third down.
Memphis has been a Jekyll-and-Hyde team all season long, but this was not an impressive showing at all heading into the bowl practices. Seth Henigan looked fine, but the wrong kind of matchup for this run defense and the Tigers will be in trouble.