ESPN

Season in ReviewDrawing Conclusions


A week-by-week sketch of the games that led us to the inaugural College Football Playoff field.


Illustrations by Chris Morris

Week 1

August 31, 2014

Week 1

No. 1 Florida State 37, Oklahoma State 31

Jameis Winston's 28-yard TD run in the third quarter helped overcome a shaky start by the defending champions, as FSU held off unranked OSU despite Winston's two interceptions.

Week 1

No. 12 Georgia 45, No. 16 Clemson 21

Todd Gurley set a school record with 293 all-purpose yards, averaging 17.2 yards every time he touched the ball in an early season showdown.

Week 1

No.13 LSU 28, No. 14 Wisconsin 24

The Tigers overcame a 24-7 deficit in the fourth quarter to roar back and stun the Badgers.

Week 1

No. 21 Texas A&M 52, No. 9 South Carolina 28

Kenny Hill broke Johnny Manziel's single-game passing record with 511 yards, as the Aggies ended the Gamecocks' 18-game home win streak.

Week 2

September 7, 2014

Week 2

No. 14 USC 13, No. 13 Stanford 10

The Trojans got a late field goal, then forced a fumble to thwart a Stanford comeback bid and end the Cardinal's 17-game home winning streak.

Week 2

No. 3 Oregon 46, No. 7 Michigan State 27

Despite trailing MSU at the half, Oregon reeled off the game's final 28 points to blow by the Spartans.

Week 2

The Big Ten's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

On a rough day for the league, Michigan got shut out 31-0 by Notre Dame, Northwestern lost at home to Northern Illinois and No. 8 Ohio State lost to Virginia Tech.

Week 2

No. 1 FSU, No. 2 Alabama, No. 4 Oklahoma all coast

Top teams feasted on cupcakes as Florida State beat the Citadel 37-12, Alabama beat Florida Atlantic 41-0 and Oklahoma whipped Tulsa 52-7.

Week 3

September 14, 2014

Week 3

No. 24 South Carolina 38, No. 6 Georgia 35

"I think I may be the winningest coach against Georgia here at South Carolina," said Steve Spurrier, who has now won more games than any other coach against Georgia, including four victories in five tries with South Carolina.

Week 3

Boston College 37, No. 9 USC 31

In its "red bandanna" game honoring Welles Crowther, a Sept. 11 victim and hero, Boston College shocks USC for its first victory over a top-10 team in a decade.

Week 3

No. 12 UCLA 20, Texas 17

UCLA backup quarterback Jerry Neuheisel, subbing in for an injured Brett Hundley, threw a 33-yard TD pass with three minutes left to rally past upset-minded Texas in Arlington, Texas.

Week 3

East Carolina 28, No. 17 Virginia Tech 21

A week after upsetting Ohio State, Virginia Tech is toppled by East Carolina after Pirates quarterback Shane Carden threw three touchdown passes and scored a rushing TD with 16 seconds left.

Week 4

September 21, 2014

Week 4

Mississippi State 34, No. 8 LSU 29

Louisiana native Dak Prescott passed for 268 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 105 and a TD at Tiger Stadium as the Bulldogs snapped a 14-game losing streak to LSU.

Week 4

No. 1 Florida State 23, No. 22 Clemson 17 (OT)

Jameis Winston, suspended for the game after making "offensive and vulgar" comments earlier this week on campus, was reduced to cheerleader as Karlos Williams scored on a 12-yard touchdown run to rally Florida State past Clemson in overtime.

Week 4

No. 2 Oregon 38, Washington State 31

Marcus Mariota threw for 329 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 58 net yards despite being sacked seven times as the Ducks scraped by the Cougars 38-31.

Week 4

No. 3 Alabama 42, Florida 21

Alabama held Florida's Jeff Driskel to 93 yards passing, completing just 9-of-28 with two interceptions, as the Gators could muster only 200 total yards. Alabama's 645 total yards were the most Florida has ever allowed.

Week 5

September 28, 2014

Week 5

No. 1 Florida State 56, NC State 41

Florida State survived a furious upset bid by NC State, as Jameis Winston threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns to help FSU rally from 17 points down.

Week 5

No. 6 Texas A&M 35, Arkansas 28 (OT)

Kenny Hill rallied Texas A&M past the surging Razorbacks, throwing three touchdown passes during the fourth quarter and overtime before the Aggies made a game-ending defensive stop.

Week 5

No. 11 UCLA 62, No. 15 Arizona State 27

Brett Hundley threw for 355 yards on Thursday night as UCLA had 582 yards of total offense and scored the most points in the 55-year history of Sun Devil Stadium.

Week 5

Top-five teams watching, waiting

Three top-ranked teams were idle before big matchups, beginning with Thursday's showdown between No. 2 Oregon and 4-0 Arizona. On Saturday, No. 3 Alabama travels to Oxford to play No. 10 Ole Miss, while No. 4 Oklahoma visits 3-0 TCU.

Week 6

October 5, 2014

Week 6

Mississippi looming large

For the first time ever, both Mississippi teams defeated teams in the AP top 10 in the same week. Dak Prescott had five touchdowns in Starkville as No. 12 Mississippi State dominated No. 6 Texas A&M 48-31. In Oxford, Bo Wallace is the toast of the town after his three touchdown passes led No. 11 Ole Miss to a 23-17 win over No. 3 Alabama.

Week 6

No. 25 TCU 37, No. 4 Oklahoma 33

Trevone Boykin had 395 total yards as the new-look Horned Frogs stayed undefeated after picking off two passes by Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight in an upset of Oklahoma.

Week 6

Pac-12 upsets

The Pac-12 is doing some self-reflection after both of its top-10 teams suffered upsets. No. 8 UCLA missed two chances at a game-winning field goal as time expired and Utah beat the Bruins 30-28. On Thursday night, Arizona went to Eugene and beat No. 2 Oregon for the second year in a row.

Week 6

Going up

The remaining undefeated top-10 teams that avoided the upset bug and are headed up in the polls. No. 5 Auburn dismantled No. 15 LSU, No. 7 Baylor beat Texas 28-7, and No. 9 Notre Dame pulled out a last-minute victory against No. 14 Stanford.

Week 7

October 12, 2014

Week 7

No. 5 Baylor 61, No. 9 TCU 58

The Bears and Horned Frogs rolled up the most points ever between two teams in the Associated Press top 10, but Baylor withstood the punches, scoring the game's final 24 points in the last 11 minutes to win on a field goal with no time remaining.

Week 7

No. 3 Mississippi State 38, No. 2 Auburn 23

The Bulldogs won their ninth straight game as Dak Prescott ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, roasting Auburn after jumping out to a 21-0 lead.

Week 7

No. 3 Ole Miss 35, No. 14 Texas A&M 20

The Rebels' dominating defense stymied the Aggies, helping Ole Miss take a 35-7 lead in the fourth quarter after scoring touchdowns on a 75-yard interception return and a 21-yard fumble return.

Week 7

No. 12 Oregon 42, No. 18 UCLA 30

After a home loss to Arizona last week, the Ducks vaulted back into playoff contention, jumping out to a 42-10 lead early in the fourth quarter in a victory over UCLA.

Week 8

October 19, 2014

Week 8

No. 2 Florida State 31, No. 5 Notre Dame 27

The Seminoles strong-armed the Fighting Irish, wrestling back from a 17-10 halftime deficit to win their 23rd consecutive game and overcome perhaps their toughest remaining test. FSU has five unranked opponents left, beginning with a road trip to Louisville on Oct. 30, followed by Virginia.

Week 8

Big 12 balance of power shifting

No. 4 Baylor's playoff hopes took a massive hit in a 41-27 loss to unranked West Virginia. No. 14 Kansas State is rising by virtue of a 31-30 win over No. 11 Oklahoma, which suffered its second loss. Meanwhile, No. 12 TCU rebounded strongly after a wrenching loss to Baylor by pummelling No. 15 Oklahoma State 42-9.

Week 8

No. 7 Alabama 59, No. 21 Texas A&M 0

The Crimson Tide stomped the Aggies, notching their most lopsided SEC victory since beating Vanderbilt 66-3 in 1979 and blanking Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin for the first time in his 86 games as a head coach.

Week 8

Spartans, Buckeyes, keeping above the fray

No. 8 Michigan State and No. 13 Ohio State continue to quietly ease back into the playoff picture as teams beat each other up in the Big Ten and other national contenders stumble. Both teams posted 56-17 victories on Saturday, the Spartans over Indiana and the Buckeyes over Rutgers.

Week 9

October 26, 2014

Week 9

No. 24 LSU 10, No. 3 Ole Miss 7

Ole Miss' undefeated streak was swallowed up in Death Valley -- LSU's Tiger Stadium -- as Hugh Freeze's decision to throw a last-second pass backfired when Bo Wallace tossed an interception with 2 seconds remaining. "I wish I could do that over, for sure," Freeze said.

Week 9

No. 8 Michigan State 35, Michigan 11

Michigan State piled on the Wolverines, scoring a statement touchdown with 28 seconds left after Michigan players planted a stake on the Spartan Stadium turf before the opening kickoff. "It just felt like we needed to put a stake in them at that point," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said.

Week 9

Feelin' fine with 59

Two of the Pac-12's top teams rolled up big scores. Marcus Mariota threw five touchdown passes as No. 6 Oregon beat Cal 59-41 on Friday night, and No. 15 Arizona scored 24 straight points in the first quarter as the Wildcats beat Washington State 59-37.

Week 9

No. 10 TCU 82, Texas Tech 27

Trevone Boykin led a record-setting day for TCU. The junior QB threw a school-record seven touchdown passes as the Horned Frogs scored the most points in their history and set the Big 12 scoring mark for a conference game.

Week 10

November 2, 2014

Week 10

No. 3 Auburn 35, No. 4 Ole Miss 31

With less than two minutes remaining, Laquon Treadwell seemingly scored to give Ole Miss the lead. But on replay, the officials reversed the call. To make matters worse, Treadwell was injured on the play and is likely done for the season. Auburn, meanwhile, escapes with a win and its College Football Playoff hopes intact.

Week 10

No. 2 Florida State 42, No. 25 Louisville 31

Louisville jumped out to an early lead and seemed in control of the game. Nothing was going right for the Seminoles -- including a missed field goal attempt by the can't-miss kid, Roberto Aguayo. But the Cardinals couldn't keep up the pace in the second half, and Jameis Winston led Florida State to another comeback win.

Week 10

Rumble in the Pac-12

It was a wild weekend in the Pac-12, where No. 5 Oregon ran past rival Stanford to clear its way to the College Football Playoff. No. 12 Arizona was tamed by No. 22 UCLA. And No. 17 Utah took No. 14 Arizona State to overtime before succumbing to the Sun Devils. Which teams will emerge from the wild, wild West unscathed?

Week 10

Florida 38, No. 11 Georgia 20

In the day's most surprising result, Florida and embattled coach Will Muschamp took out No. 11 Georgia, the presumptive favorite in the SEC East. The loss throws the division race into chaos -- giving Florida, a team that most wrote off weeks ago -- a chance to play in the championship game. The loss effectively ends Georgia's playoff hopes.

Week 11

November 9, 2014

Week 11

Alabama, Auburn in SEC West shakeup

No. 5 Alabama survived, rallying past No. 16 LSU for a 20-13 win in Death Valley, as Blake Sims drove the Crimson Tide to the tying field goal with 50 seconds remaining before throwing a 6-yard touchdown pass to DeAndrew White in overtime. Meanwhile, No. 3 Auburn fumbled away two late chances to beat Texas A&M in a 41-38 loss.

Week 11

Ohio State, Oregon march on

No. 4 Oregon and No. 14 Ohio State each pulled away late in crucial games. The Ducks took advantage of a 14-point swing on a bizarre fumble to beat No. 17 Utah 51-27. J.T. Barrett threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more as the Buckeyes beat the eighth-ranked Spartans 49-37.

Week 11

No. 9 Arizona State 55, No. 10 Notre Dame 31

The Sun Devils saw a 31-point lead dwindle to three with 6:37 remaining in the fourth quarter before making a firm stand, scoring three late touchdowns and pulling away for a 55-31 victory.

Week 11

Baylor, TCU hanging on in Big 12

No. 12 Baylor whipped No. 15 Oklahoma 48-14 for their first-ever win in Norman, keeping a hold on the conference title race. No. 6 TCU, whose sole loss was to the Bears, trounced No. 7 Kansas State 41-20.

Week 12

November 16, 2014

Week 12

No. 5 Alabama 25, No. 1 Mississippi State 20

The Tide barged into the playoff mix with authority, beating the Bulldogs with a late touchdown drive that put the game out of reach. While Alabama now holds the SEC West lead, Mississippi State's performance in Tuscaloosa could keep them in the playoff picture as well.

Week 12

No. 3 Florida State 30, Miami 26

Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles are basking in the glow of their 26th straight victory. FSU survived yet another close call to remain undefeated, rallying back from 16-0 and 23-7 deficits and outscoring the Hurricanes 23-3 in the final 2 quarters.

Week 12

No. 8 Ohio State, No. 4 TCU outlast opponents

Ohio State plowed through the Minnesota weather and the No. 25 Gophers, beating them 31-24 as J.T. Barrett threw for three touchdowns and ran for an Ohio State quarterback-record 189 yards and a score. The Buckeyes, who were No. 8 in last week's College Football Playoff rankings, could threaten for a spot in the top four, where TCU was ranked last week before escaping Kansas with a 34-30 win.

Week 12

Oregon State 35, No. 6 Arizona State 27

Oregon State running backs Terron Ward and Storm Woods combined for 273 rushing yards and two touchdowns as the Beavers wreaked havoc on Arizona State's playoff hopes with an upset in Corvallis.

Week 13

November 23, 2014

Week 13

No. 3 Florida State 20, Boston College 17

Jameis Winston moved an official and, eventually, the Eagles out of the way, driving the Seminoles 66 yards to put Roberto Aguayo in position for a 26-yard game-winning field goal with three seconds remaining.

Week 13

Baylor, Ohio State, UCLA look to impress

Three teams sitting just outside the top four vamped for the selection committee: No. 7 Baylor eased past Oklahoma State 49-28, No. 6 Ohio State clinched the Big Ten's East Division title with a 42-27 win over Indiana and No. 9 UCLA defeated No. 19 USC 38-20.

Week 13

Three of top four cruise

It's back to the real world for three of the top four after smooth sailing. No. 1 Alabama beat FCS team Western Carolina 48-14, Marcus Mariota had four touchdowns as No. 2 Oregon beat Colorado 44-10 and No. 4 Mississippi State rolled over Vanderbilt 51-0.

Week 13

Arkansas 30, No. 8 Ole Miss 0

The Razorbacks are feeling good about themselves, winning their second straight SEC game after losing 17 straight. After a 17-0 win over LSU last week, Arkansas hammered Ole Miss to become bowl eligible, while also shutting the door on an outside playoff shot for the Rebels.

Week 14

November 30, 2014

Week 14

TCU celebrates Egg Bowl

TCU, No. 5 in the College Football Playoff standings and fresh off a 48-10 Thanksgiving roasting of Texas, watched No. 4 Mississippi State get bounced by Ole Miss in a 31-17 loss.

Week 14

No. 1 Alabama 55, No. 15 Auburn 44

Amari Cooper was unstoppable for the Crimson Tide, tying his own Alabama record with 224 receiving yards and catching three of Blake Sims' four touchdown passes. The performance helped Alabama rally past Auburn, which had jumped out to a 33-21 lead early in the third quarter.

Week 14

Arizona waiting for Oregon again

Arizona, the lone team to beat the Ducks this season, claimed the Pac-12 South with a 42-35 win over rival Arizona State on Friday combined with UCLA's 31-10 loss to Stanford. The Ducks and Wildcats will play for the Pac-12 title this Friday.

Week 14

No. 3 Florida State 24, Florida 19

The Seminoles pulled off their latest escape act, beating Florida despite four interceptions by Jameis Winston. It's the sixth FSU win this season by six or fewer points -- but the Seminoles have won 28 straight games, the first time in school history they have finished with consecutive undefeated regular seasons.

Week 15

December 7, 2014

Week 15

No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Oregon arrive early

The two top teams had no wait for seats at the table. The Ducks kicked things off on Friday night with a 51-13 rout of No. 7 Arizona in the Pac-12 title game. On Saturday afternoon, Alabama beat No. 16 Missouri 42-13 to claim the SEC title.

Week 15

No. 5 Ohio State 59, No. 13 Wisconsin 0

There was no consolation pizza for Urban Meyer in this year's Big Ten title game. The Buckeyes delivered a statement win in hopes of grabbing a slice of the playoff.

Week 15

No. 4 Florida State 37, No. 11 Georgia Tech 35

Florida State navigated a season's worth of traps, winning seven games by six points or fewer, to make it unscathed to the final hurdle. Did the Seminoles unlock a spot in the bracket?

Week 15

TCU and Baylor feuding, waiting

On the field, the Horned Frogs beat Iowa State 55-3 and the Bears beat No. 9 Kansas State 38-27. Off the field, they took aim at each other to state their cases for a Big 12 title and a playoff payoff.

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