The strangest thing about the response to USC hiring Lincoln Riley a year ago had nothing to do with the school itself. Riley was a home run. That much was obvious, and the only question seemed to be when he'd revive the Trojans program, not if. No, the real twist was in the way it was celebrated as a win for the entire Pac-12, a league so desperate for national relevancy that, even if its best team made a hire likely to upend the power structure of the rest of the conference, it was still a communal celebration. It was a win for everyone because, after years inhabiting college football purgatory, the Pac-12 would again have a chance for top billing.
On Saturday, Riley and the Trojans delivered on that promise.
It's not that USC's ticket to the College Football Playoff is punched just yet. There's still the small matter of a conference championship game that awaits. But with the 38-27 win over Notre Dame in a prime-time game in which the entire college football world was focused, there was a clear feeling that something seismic had changed.
Alabama's playoff hopes are on life support.
Clemson's playoff hopes ended with a loss to South Carolina on Saturday.
Ohio State was dealt a potentially fatal blow by rival Michigan in emphatic fashion, too.
Oklahoma and Notre Dame, two of the other teams with as many playoff berths alone as the Pac-12 has as a league, have long since been afterthoughts.
And so here we have USC, the feel-good story of the season.
The truth is, USC may have stepped into a far more interesting role with its dominant win over the Irish. In a year in which Clemson, Alabama and Oklahoma didn't dominate the headlines, on a Saturday when Ohio State lost to Michigan for the second straight year and Brian Kelly, despised by thousands of fans who can't quite articulate why, got his comeuppance against Texas A&M, the college football villainy vacuum was never so clear.
Enter the Trojans.
The narrative certainly fits. After all, this is a team built with a checkbook, luring Riley from Oklahoma, who in turn, lured a host of key players via the transfer portal (with some help from hefty NIL deals) to completely transform the roster after a 4-8 campaign just a year ago. It's a program poised to shrug off a century of history to chase money in the Big Ten, possibly destroying the Pac-12 in the process. It's a team that rose up the rankings despite a soft schedule and zero particularly impressive wins until a week ago.
Want to root against somebody in a year in which Alabama and Clemson and Ohio State don't warrant that type of attention? USC sure makes for a perfect bad guy. And make no mistake, college football loves a bad guy. To be the heel is not a slight. It's an honor that's earned only by teams that can command genuine ire on a national stage.
The only problem with this theory is that, once USC stats playing, the Trojans are awfully hard to dislike, and Saturday was a perfect example of why.
Quarterback Caleb Williams might be the most riveting player in the sport right now. He's college football's closest thing to Patrick Mahomes -- though perhaps that's not even a proper comparison. He's more like the dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, his every move feeling both perfectly executed and entirely improvised. He pinballed off Notre Dame pass-rushers repeatedly Saturday, even his incompletions generating as much edge-of-your-seat excitement as most QBs muster with a 50-yard bomb. He finished with four touchdowns.
Without Travis Dye, USC's ground game still ran roughshod over a ferocious Notre Dame front, with Austin Jones going for 154 yards. Yes, USC lured Mario Williams and Jordan Addison into the fold via the transfer portal, but Williams actually completed passes to nine different receivers Saturday. There is an absolute wealth of riches in the receiving corps.
And the defense -- the maligned unit that nearly coughed up a lead to UCLA a week ago -- looked fantastic. In USC's loss to the Utah Utes on Oct. 15, it was tight end Dalton Kincaid who did the bulk of the damage, catching 16 passes for 234 yards. Surely USC would have its hands full with Michael Mayer then, right?
Mayer had a fine game -- 8 catches, 98 yards and 2 touchdowns -- but he hardly dictated the action, and for most of the second half he was a mirage. His last touchdown came as USC looked to simply run out the clock.
Notre Dame's power run game, strong tight end play, stout defense -- it's the poor man's version of what Georgia and Michigan offer, and it proved no match for USC. How fun might these Trojans be in the playoff then?
And in the end, isn't that worth rooting for?
We've seen so many semifinal blowouts, so many mismatched games, so few truly interesting matchups in the playoff and such a small regional footprint for the biggest games. But whether you love them or hate them, the Trojans are most certainly interesting. More important than that, Saturday proved that this USC team is really good.
Michigan beats Ohio State with style and brazenness
The beauty of the showdown Saturday between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan is that it was not simply a matchup of playoff contenders in a heated rivalry game, but such a stark contrast in styles.
Ohio State is the sports car, all flash and speed with more skill position talent than the average Big Ten team has in a decade.
Michigan is a Jeep, a rugged machine designed for brute force. The Wolverines win not by sprinting past opponents, but by running over them.
And if that had been the script that played out Saturday -- and, for much of the first half, it was -- the Buckeyes might be headed to the Big Ten title game.
Instead, Jim Harbaugh's team showed it's far from a one-trick pony. On Saturday, Michigan was Meryl Streep, effortlessly slipping into a new role, cast against type and playing the part perfectly.
In the end, of course, Michigan still ran the ball for 252 yards, forced two Ohio State turnovers and held the Buckeyes to 5-of-17 on third and fourth downs, but that was simply the denouement. Michigan won through the air, through style, pizzazz and an almost comical level of brazenness from Harbaugh that he has rarely shown in the course of his coaching career.
Blake Corum suited up, but he touched the ball just twice in the game. Instead, Michigan relied on quarterback J.J. McCarthy to deliver the big plays.
Back in September, Harbaugh gambled on McCarthy as his starter, benching the QB who took the Wolverines to the College Football Playoff in 2021, Cade McNamara, in favor of the more versatile sophomore. For much of the season, the gamble paid minimal dividends, with McCarthy deferring to his run game in a series of entirely formulaic wins against lesser opponents, like a poker player checking again and again waiting for just the right hand to go all-in.
Saturday, McCarthy was dealt one ace after another.
Entering the game, Michigan had just 12 completions of 30 yards or more all year. Against Ohio State, McCarthy delivered four of them, including touchdown throws of 69, 75 and 45.
And if McCarthy's shredding of an overmatched Ohio State secondary wasn't enough, Michigan used its linebacker-turned-running back to throw a 15-yard jump pass on third down in what was less a play call and more akin to slipping a whoopee cushion onto Ryan Day's seat just as he sat down for Thanksgiving dinner. It was designed to embarrass as much as to succeed. Such is the beauty of a rivalry like this one.
Indeed, it was bad enough that even Michigan's punter was dunking on the Buckeyes.
- Weather was nice— Brad Robbins (@__BR91) November 26, 2022
- We were taken seriously
- They didn't have the flu
Any more excuses?
Perhaps as shocking as Michigan's role reversal on offense was the way Ohio State simply cashed in its chips down the stretch. The Buckeyes mustered just three points in the second half, turned the ball over twice and watched as Michigan's Donovan Edwards reeled off touchdown runs of 75 and 85 yards on consecutive drives. Had Ohio State kept the game close, fought to the end, took Michigan to the brink -- perhaps there'd still be a reasonable case to put the Buckeyes into the College Football Playoff.
Instead, the epitaph on their season will read, "Lost by 22 at home to that team up north."
It's hard to know what this means in the bigger picture for Michigan. Last year, the Wolverines made the playoff, but their fate always felt all but assured, a sacrificial lamb just happy to live long enough to get a free trip to South Beach before getting whipped by Georgia.
Saturday showed something more to the 2022 incarnation though. While Day punted away chances to close the gap in the second half, Harbaugh seemed like a hedge fund manager on a heater at a Vegas craps table -- all gas, no brakes, tipping the waitress with $100 bills on every fresh glass of 2% milk she brings (which is what we assume Harbaugh would be drinking in Vegas). While Ohio State was unable to maneuver the foothills in its souped-up sports car, Michigan showed it can sling it around the field, then run it down your throat. And while the Buckeyes were knocked from their place atop the list of contenders for Georgia's throne, Michigan may well have delivered a statement that reverberates beyond Big Ten country. This team is for real.
Gamecocks ice the ACC
There was a time, two whole weeks ago, when the South Carolina offense was a mess. This was a different era, of course, back before our long national nightmare waiting for Taylor Swift tickets and well before Matt Rhule could locate Nebraska on a map. Many people had only seen "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" twice. So much has changed since then.
Back in those dark days of mid-November, South Carolina was embarrassed by Florida 38-6 and its offense was in shambles.
But now, the Gamecocks have the hottest offense in the country and Spencer Rattler suddenly looks like ... well, 2020 Spencer Rattler.
After throttling No. 5 Tennessee 63-38 last week, the Gamecocks put on an encore performance by toppling No. 8 Clemson for the first time since 2013, 31-30, and effectively ending the ACC's playoff hopes in the process.
Caleb Williams does a great job to keep the play alive for the completion, tops it off with a TD run later in the drive and then strikes the Heisman pose.
Rattler was dazzling again, completing 25 of 39 passes for 360 yards and two touchdowns while adding a third on the ground.
Clemson's DJ Uiagalelei, on the other hand, was a mess, completing 8 of 29 throws, as the Tigers turned the ball over three times while wasting a 14-0 lead.
Will Shipley ran for 132 yards on the ground, but had just two carries on Clemson's final four drives.
Now, the ACC championship game will feature two teams that both lost their rivalry games to close out the year, with North Carolina losing to NC State 30-27 Friday night in double overtime.
South Carolina, on the other hand, will wrap the regular season with a likely top-25 ranking and enough cachet to warrant some serious buzz heading into their bowl and beyond. The Gamecocks won eight regular-season games for the first time since 2017 and snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Tigers -- handing Dabo Swinney his first home loss in 41 games to boot.
On the upside, Swinney will insist Clemson's biggest goal remains in front of it and will then return to sipping tea at a table in a room engulfed in flames.
TCU makes playoff statement
The playoff committee has spent the past few weeks pointing out all the flaws in TCU's game. The Horned Frogs just haven't won impressively enough to wow anyone.
On Saturday, however, Sonny Dykes basically held the severed head of Cy the Cardinal aloft and yelled, "Are you not entertained?"
TCU destroyed Iowa State 62-14 behind three touchdown passes from Max Duggan and a defense that forced three turnovers and scored twice.
It was TCU's first win by more than 10 points since beating Oklahoma by 31 on Oct. 1, and it sealed a perfect regular season for the Horned Frogs, who'll move on to the Big 12 title game with a chance to force their way into the College Football Playoff -- unless of course the committee finds that a 48-point win over the last-place Big 12 team isn't as impressive as a 22-point loss to Michigan. Got to appreciate those quality losses, and frankly, it's a real knock on TCU that it doesn't have any of them.
Indeed, here's the very definition of irony: What if TCU loses the Big 12 title game next week, then is passed by Ohio State in the committee's final rankings?
That would mean that the Horned Frogs lost out on a playoff berth to Ohio State in 2014 because the Big 12 didn't play a title game ... then lost out on a playoff berth to Ohio State in 2022 because it did.
It's rivalry weekend. So, how did some of the less competitive rivalry games go? We've got you covered with a full rundown.
Iron Bowl: Alabama 49, Auburn 27
Scene: Clenching a glass of scotch and sweating nervously, Boo Corrigan stares out the window of his room at the Gaylord Hotel, where the playoff committee is set to meet one final time.
Below, a low fog hangs over a graveyard. Lightning flashes. A thunder crash booms.
Suddenly, the ground begins to move. From the fresh dirt bursts a clenched fist with championship rings on every finger.
"My God," Corrigan gasps. "It can't be."
Into the moonlight, the visage is clear. It's him. He lives.
Who beat up Saban? pic.twitter.com/yUaJLl8c1J— Anita (@neetsark) November 26, 2022
OK, so it's still a long shot, but we're not writing off Nick Saban. The man is indestructible.
As a side note: Bryce Young belongs in New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony. He won't win it, but he has been incredible.
The rivalry formerly known as the Civil War: Oregon State 38, Oregon 34
Oregon led this game 34-17 with 13 minutes to play.
Oregon State led by four with eight minutes to play and never looked back.
How is this possible? It was a sheer comedy of errors. There was the 43-yard run Oregon allowed that set up a critical third-quarter TD. There was the Ducks settling for a field goal after having the ball with first-and-goal at the 10. There was the huge kick return and face mask penalty that set up another Beavers touchdown. There was the fumble at the 2 recovered by Oregon State. There was the failed fourth-and-1 conversion that gave Oregon State the ball back again deep in Ducks territory.
But more than anything, there was this guy. He isn't the hero Oregon State deserved. He's the hero it needed.
Oregon State is clearly leading Oregon by dozens of hats pic.twitter.com/LcfctJYZ9S— Red Scott 🏈 (@red_scott_fb) November 26, 2022
Governor's Cup: Kentucky 26, Louisville 13
Will Levis threw two touchdown passes and the Wildcats won the Governor's Cup for the fourth straight year -- all by double digits. What this means for Scott Satterfield's future at Louisville will be the big question for Cardinals fans, but the more important question for everyone else: How is the trophy for this game not just an oversized bottle of Pappy Van Winkle?
Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate: Georgia 37, Georgia Tech 14
Georgia Tech scored on its first possession and led this game well into the second quarter. By any reasonable metric, that's a huge success. (Note: Actually winning this game would've been an unreasonable metric.) Meanwhile, Georgia can now fully turn its attention to the SEC championship game, where Stetson Bennett can accomplish the one thing he has yet to do in his career.
Old Oaken Bucket: Purdue 30, Indiana 16
The Boilermakers secured a trip to the Big Ten championship game with the win Saturday. Purdue is unranked. Purdue in its history has nine wins as an unranked team against top-two opponents, more than double any other program in the country. Purdue will play a likely second-ranked Michigan next week. What could go wrong?
Land of Lincoln Trophy: Illinois 41, Northwestern 3
Remember when Northwestern stunned Nebraska in Week 0? The Wildcats scored 31 in that game. They didn't top 24 in another game all season. In the month of November, Northwestern scored a grand total of 22 points. Maybe we shouldn't have been making fun of Iowa all this time. The Hawkeyes are the 2000 St. Louis Rams compared with Northwestern.
Paul Bunyan's Axe: Minnesota 23, Wisconsin 16
What to make of Minnesota's season? The advanced metrics loved the Gophers all year. Actually winning games, however, was difficult. After a 4-0 start, Minnesota topped 23 points just twice -- against Rutgers and Northwestern. But the Gophers did close out the regular season on a high note Saturday, winning the axe for a second straight season after Wisconsin had dominated the rivalry for much of the previous 25 years. As a side note, we appreciate all rivalry trophies that can also be used to fell a tree. More schools should consider getting trophies from Home Depot.
Land Grant Trophy: Penn State 35, Michigan State 16
Penn State won easily, allowing the Nittany Lions to celebrate with a trophy that is actually just a bunch of things Joe Paterno once found in an old storage unit that he stuck together using a glue stick and duct tape. Anyway, the important thing here is the Nittany Lions are now 10-2 and officially count as a good win for Ohio State as it makes its case to still be invited into the playoff.
The Eighth Overtime Cup: Texas A&M 38, LSU 23
OK, we made that name up, but after the 2018 seven-overtime game between these two teams, it feels appropriate. Instead of a trophy for the winner, Jimbo Fisher's nephew can just sucker punch the losing coach. There's a lot of potential here. Let's keep workshopping.
On the field, the Aggies pulled off the stunning upset behind 215 yards and two touchdowns from Devon Achane, who has essentially been like Paul McCartney in Wings this season. He's a generational talent. Everyone else? A bunch of session musicians. Still, it was the right combination to topple the Bayou Bengals, whose playoff hopes were nixed in the loss. Will this result in a three-year contract extension for Jimbo Fisher? Jimmy Sexton is making some calls as we speak.
The (other) Governor's Cup: Kansas State 47, Kansas 27
The Wildcats punched their ticket to the Big 12 title game, where they'll look for a little revenge against TCU. Deuce Vaughn finished with 229 yards of offense, Will Howard threw for two touchdowns, and the K-State offense had more than 200 yards passing and rushing.
But let's take a moment here to recall that, at one point, Kansas was 5-0. "College GameDay" went to Lawrence. The world felt like a safer, better place. In the end, Kansas finishes the regular season at 6-6, which feels like a disappointment after the hot start. But it's actually immense progress for a team that was incredibly fun all season long and one that has genuine cause for optimism moving forward. Somewhere, a now-grown Baby Mangino is thinking of starting a family of his own, knowing he might have a little baby Lance Leipold one day. And all will be right with the world once more.
The no-name rivalry: Tennessee 56, Vanderbilt 0
How have these schools had 130 years to come up with a good name for this game and it's never happened? At the very least, the winner should get possession of the Sun Sphere. This year, thankfully, the sphere stays in Knoxville, as Tennessee dominated in its first game without Hendon Hooker, relying on a ground game that accounted for 362 yards and six touchdowns. If Tennessee hadn't fallen apart against South Carolina last week, the Vols' playoff hopes would actually be looking pretty strong right now. Meanwhile, after winning back-to-back SEC games, Vandy was back to being Vandy. But we feel confident that Clark Lea's promise that the Commodores would be the best team in the country will come to fruition next year.
Apple Cup: Washington 51, Washington State 33
In another year, with less high-profile competition, perhaps at a school enough of the country stayed up to watch, Michael Penix Jr. would be a Heisman contender. The Washington QB continued his prolific season with more than 500 yards of offense and five touchdowns in a win over Washington State. It was Penix's third game with 400 yards passing and his 10th with more than 300 yards through the air (while ending another at 298). Penix led Washington to 704 yards of offense against the conference's best defense. The Huskies look like a top-10 team.
Beyond the implications in Washington, the win -- combined with Oregon's loss and Utah's routing of Colorado -- means the Utes will go to the Pac-12 championship game for a rematch with USC. The Trojans would be a clear-cut playoff team if they were to avenge their lone loss (which came on a 2-point conversion), but they'll need to find an answer for Cameron Rising, Dalton Kincaid and the Utes' explosive offense.
There's also this: The Pac-12 has six teams with nine wins or more and can make a reasonable case as the nation's best conference (as long as you pay absolutely no attention to Colorado).
What had been a wide-open race for so much of the season now seems down to one guy: Caleb Williams. The rest of the pack is still deep and talented, but each has run into rough waters at some point, but Williams keeps plugging along. As good as some of his competition might be, it's hard to argue that he's not been the most entertaining player in college football this year.
1. USC QB Caleb Williams
Not only is Williams the clear favorite to win the Heisman now, but he's quickly building a case as the best of the Lincoln Riley winners, too.
Through 12 games in 2017, Baker Mayfield had 4,342 yards, 42 touchdowns and 5 turnovers.
Through 12 games in 2018, Kyler Murray had 4,527 yards, 48 touchdowns and 9 turnovers.
Through 12 games this year, Williams has 4,063 yards, 44 touchdowns and 3 turnovers.
One more game left to go before the trophy is handed out, but ultimately, that debate might come down to what happens after.
Caleb Williams throws for one touchdown and rushes for three in a impressive performance as USC defeats Notre Dame 38-27.
2. Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud
Stroud threw for 349 yards and two touchdowns Saturday, but he also threw two picks and, for the second straight year, lost to rival Michigan. Stroud's case for the Heisman is still a good one, but without a chance to play one more game on a championship stage, it's hard to imagine he can overcome Williams for the top spot.
3. Texas RB Bijan Robinson
He has been off the national radar for much of the season, but there's no question at this point that Robinson is among the game's best players. His 179 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Baylor put Texas in position to make the Big 12 title game Friday, and he's hit 100 yards in nine of his past 10 games. In fairness, it does feel weird to write nice things about Texas, but that's just how good Robinson is.
4. Alabama QB Bryce Young
Where would Alabama be this year without Young? His 2022 candidacy feels much like Jameis Winston in 2014 or Lamar Jackson in 2017 -- gritty, smart, entirely impressive, but just not as magical as the preceding year. A lot of that can be pinned on a lesser supporting cast and a midseason injury though, and the ultimate takeaway remains that Young is just an incredibly impressive quarterback and worthy of a spot in New York.
5. TCU QB Max Duggan
There's something rewarding about a Heisman finalist who opened the season on the bench. That could certainly be the story for Duggan, who threw for three more touchdowns in Saturday's win over Iowa State that secured an undefeated regular season for TCU, and it would give hope to all of the rest of us spending time on life's bench, knowing that Heisman contenders can blossom after Week 1 and guys who write snarky college football columns every Saturday don't often reach their peak until their mid-50s.
Under-the-radar game of the day
So maybe UTSA's comeback against UTEP didn't carry the same significance on the national stage as the Oregon State win over Oregon, but it was still pretty wild.
UTEP scored on its first four possessions to go up 24-0. Then UTSA decided to play.
The Roadrunners scored on a 65-yard Frank Harris TD pass, got a pick-six, then scored on their first three drives of the second half to tie the game at 31.
Among the ridiculousness of the frenetic comeback was this wild -- or perhaps really smart -- play that turned a big gain for UTEP into a drive that ended with a punt.
Game might have turned on the smartest (?) personal foul ever.— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) November 26, 2022
UTEP QB runs for 45 yards. Grabs defender's facemask at end. No big deal, right? Still gained 30. But UTSA defender then grabs horse collar, which is an offsetting penalty. Whole play is wiped out.
UTEP still had a shot to retake the lead, setting up shop with a first down at the UTSA 14, but Calvin Brownholtz tossed his second INT of the game to end the drive.
In the end, UTSA drilled a 28-yard field goal as time expired, sending the Roadrunners to their 10th win of the season.
Under-the-radar play of the day
Nate Cox's final throw of Nevada's 27-22 loss to UNLV had more drama than most (but notably, not all) Siegfried and Roy shows.
First off, were you aware that there's a rivalry trophy for the winner of the Nevada-UNLV game each year? It seems redundant since Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world and Reno is a place to find a cheap steak and dispose of evidence, so no trophy could matter all that much in determining which campus is better. But alas, here we are.
In any case, this year's installment of the Wayne Newton Trophy* came down to the final drive, and Nevada nearly pulled off the type of miracle 90-year-old chain-smoking women dream of while playing the nickel slots.
(*Note: OK, we made that up. The actual trophy is a life-sized rendering of the Blue Man Group playing rock, paper, scissors mounted atop Celine Dion's original tour bus.**)
(**Note: OK, we made that one up, too. The real trophy is called The Fremont Cannon and was once used by the mafia to fend off a hit outside the Golden Nugget.***)
Nevada trailed 27-16 with less than seven minutes to play but engineered a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that included a fourth-and-5 conversion to pull to within 27-22.
UNLV's ensuing drive went nowhere, and the Rebels punted.
Nevada got the ball back with 2:05 remaining, managed 12 plays and had a shot at the game winner on a fourth-and-1 from the UNLV 5 with 7 seconds to go. Nate Cox's pass to Jamaal Bell looked like a possible completion -- with one official signaling touchdown and another waving it off -- but in the end, the call was incomplete, and UNLV hung on for a 27-22 win.
(***Note: OK, we don't know if the cannon was used by the mafia either.)
Freeze ends cold
Liberty opened the year 8-1, its lone loss coming on a failed 2-point try against Wake Forest.
Since then, however, the wheels have come off, and Hugh Freeze appears to still be flying down the highway, rims sparking, bumper hanging off, en route to Auburn.
If the Freeze era at Liberty is over, there might be a real argument that this departure, following a 49-14 loss to New Mexico State, is even more embarrassing than the one at Ole Miss.
Freeze is in talks to take the vacant head-coaching job at Auburn, which three weeks ago might've seemed a home run hire for the Tigers.
Now? Well, hard to blame Freeze for the result Saturday. New Mexico State had only beaten one FBS team by 35 or more in the past 20 years, so clearly the Aggies were due.
Saturday was the cherry on top of the embarrassment sundae Liberty has enjoyed the past three weeks. First came a loss to UConn, getting the Huskies bowl-eligible for the first time since the Taft administration (Note: We didn't fact-check that, but it feels right). Then came a loss to a 2-8 Virginia Tech team that hadn't won since mid-September. And now, an absolute demolition by New Mexico State.
Of course, there's a lot more that will go into Auburn's ultimate decision than just three mostly meaningless games. The important thing on The Plains is to ensure the Tigers get a coach who will happily collect a $40 million buyout in 2025.
The most college football thing to happen Saturday
New Hampshire won its first-round game in the FCS playoffs 52-42 against Fordham, and tailback Dylan Laube got to celebrating early.
Laube's 87-yard touchdown run in the first quarter put UNH up 7-0, but he didn't bother with the full 87 before high-fiving teammate Brian Espanet, who was trailing him down the field.
He gave his teammate a high-five before scoring the TD 😅 pic.twitter.com/noX4qP1O4C— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) November 26, 2022
This is a far better way to celebrate than the now entirely derivative fake hamstring pull. But here's an even better idea: a high-five heading into the end zone but then tuck your arm inside your jersey and make it seem like the high-five was so emphatic, your arm fell completely off. We've done that with toddlers and it always kills.
Big bets and bad beats
Clemson closed as a 14.5-point favorite against South Carolina on Saturday, which should've been a sure thing for the Tigers. Dabo Swinney was 62-1 straight up when favored by two touchdowns or more. Alas, the Gamecocks don't care about history. They only care about melting faces and covering spreads. South Carolina won outright, a money line payout of +430.
One bettor dropped $753,535 on a money line bet on Ohio State at -315. That wasn't all that smart.
Largest reported Michigan-Ohio St game: $753,535 Buckeyes moneyline (-315). Bet was placed Friday in New Jersey with @WynnBET. It would win $239,214.— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) November 26, 2022
Michigan's win will make for a lot of rough Sunday mornings in Ohio, and at least one in Las Vegas.
Trailing 31-10, Oregon State's hopes of beating rival Oregon seemed slim. Vegas agreed. The live odds on the game topped out at +2500 at Caesars Sportsbook, meaning a $100 bet on the Beavers to win would've paid $2,500. And that's exactly what happened, as Oregon State erased a 17-point deficit in five minutes of action in the fourth quarter and won 38-34, giving any bettors who still had faith a nice payday.
After next week's championship games, the College Football Playoff committee will determine the best teams in the country. But bettors don't need to wait that long to know who the most profitable teams of the season were.
Based on closing lines, Oregon State and Tulane both delivered big results for backers this season, going 10-2 against the spread. TCU (9-2-1), Penn State (9-3), UConn (9-3), Ohio (9-3) and Tennessee (9-3) also paid solid dividends.
On the flip side, if you were looking to fade a team, you couldn't have done better than Miami or Colorado, each of whom finished 2-10 against the spread this year. Nothing goes with a miserable season quite like losing cash for anyone who believed in you.
And when it came to betting totals, no one was a safer bet than the Kentucky Wildcats, who went under the number in 11 of 12 games this season. Houston handled the opposite end of the spectrum, hitting the over in 10 of 12 games.