The first week of November was full of excitement across the College Football world. To be honest, I am not sure even where to start. I’ll start by what we saw from a few of the ranked teams we saw play Friday Night and then work my way through the games I got to watch on Saturday. Let’s get into the wild weekend of College Football!
#11 Miami @ NC State
Friday night was a night of terrific quarterback play and it all started with D’Eriq King of the Miami Hurricanes. King got off to a great start last night throwing two touchdowns in the first quarter and he never took his foot off the gas. King finished with 6 total touchdowns ( 5 passing, 1 rushing) while throwing for 430 yards and picking up an extra 105 on the ground. The NC State defense had no answer for King as Miami rallied from down 10 in the fourth quarter, to take down the Wolfpack in Raleigh 44-41. The Hurricanes improve to 6-1 and are now ranked #9 in the AP Top 25.
#9 BYU @ #21 Boise State
As I said, Friday night was for great quarterbacks. If you are a football fan and haven’t watched BYU’s Zach Wilson, you need to clear your schedule for their next game on the 21st, because this kid can sling it. Sure Wilson’s numbers for the year look great (75% completion percentage, 2,511 passing yards, 21/2 TD/INT) but until I watched him with my own eyes, I didn’t believe the hype. He plays for BYU, in a weaker WAC conference, there’s no way he compares to that of Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields. Right? Wrong. Wilson tore apart the Boise State defense Friday on just about every play and he made throws that I have seen very few quarterbacks be able to make.
Now the competition may not be as great but Wilson is not the only great piece of that team. From what I have seen of BYU, they dominate in the trenches and their offensive line creates a great run game to balance out their superstar power they have running their passing game. BYU blew out Boise State 51-17 and moved to #8 in the AP Top 25, and with some help around the country in the next few weeks, they could be one of the teams hoping to get the #4 spot in the College Football Playoff.
#25 Liberty @ Virginia Tech
The Clemson-Notre Dame game was definitely the best game of the weekend, but this game flew under the radar and actually was a game for the ages. This was my first opportunity to see Liberty play this year, and I can’t state how happy I was that I picked this one. The game was back and forth pretty much the whole way, no team boasting a lead larger than 7 at any point. The ending of the game though may have been the craziest ending I have seen to a game since the Iron Bowl Kick-Six back in 2013.
Skip to just under two minutes remaining when it was a tie game, Liberty had the ball inside the VT 20 with a chance to run down the clock and kick a game-winning field goal. Instead, Liberty runs the ball in the end zone with 1:41 left to take a 7 point lead. Virginia Tech marches down the field in 5 plays, which included a questionable 15-yard facemask penalty, and scores to tie the game with 52 seconds remaining. After a few hurried plays, Liberty, with 8 seconds left sets up to attempt a 59-year field goal for the win, significantly further than their kicker’s career-long to this point. The kick was blocked and taken back for a Virginia Tech Touchdown with no time remaining which normally means they would win the game. Unfortunately for Tech, their own coach called a timeout right before the ball was snapped, so the play did not count. Liberty lines up with their offense, completes an 8-yard play to set up a 51-yard field goal, and knocks it through to win (38-35) one of the biggest wins in Liberty Football history.
Although I do not see Liberty as a legit playoff contender, Coach Hugh Freeze has done an amazing job so far this year in transforming a brand new FBS program into a well-respected football team. Liberty is 7-0 on the year but still has 4 remaining games including traveling to NC State and Coastal Carolina, both games that they will probably be the underdog.
#8 Florida @ #5 Georgia
This was a very highly anticipated game going into the weekend with first place in the SEC East on the line. In the first quarter, this game looked like it was going to be back and forth the whole way through, maybe one of those ‘whoever has the ball last is going to win’ games. Not quite. In the second quarter, Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennet began to fall apart, leading to a quarterback change, and Georgia never found their stride for the rest of the night. As for Florida, Quarterback Kyle Trask found open receivers the whole game, throwing for 474 yards and 4 touchdowns en route to a 44-28 win over the 5th ranked Bulldogs.
Florida(5-1) will face a sneaky good Arkansas team next week that the Gators should be able to handle but do not be surprised if the Razorbacks give them some early trouble. As for the Georgia Bulldogs(4-2) they travel to Nashville to play Vanderbilt. As long as the Bulldogs fix their quarterback situation, they should be able to roll over Vandy.
#1 Clemson @ #4 Notre Dame
The game everyone had circled on their calendars, the biggest game of the year to this date and the best game of the year, the Clemson Tigers and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. It was no surprise that Clemson was missing a key player when the Tigers took the field. Star quarterback Trevor Lawrence was sidelined due to the Covid-19 protocol in place by the ACC conference. But what if I told you Trevor isn’t where the Tigers were most depleted?
I am not going to sit here and make excuses for why Clemson lost because that would be discrediting Notre Dame who had a phenomenal game plan and executed near perfectly. By the end of the game, Clemson only had 4 starters remaining on the defensive side of the ball. Maybe that played a factor in why the Tigers allowed the most points in a game since their shootout win against NC State in 2012. Also, it would make no sense in saying Clemson lost because of a backup quarterback because D.J. Uiagalelei played fantastically.
Throughout the whole game, the Irish dominated upfront, showing off their offensive line as what I think is the best part of their team. With the win, the Irish moved to #2 in the AP poll and shouldn’t really be challenged the rest of the season until the inevitable rematch with Clemson in the ACC championship game. As long as both teams avoid disaster just until the conference championship, I think their rematch will determine which of the two will have a spot in the College Football Playoff.