Winners & Losers From College Football’s Week 14
It is one of the Saturdays that every true college football fan looks forward to each year. Championship Saturday 2015 did not disappoint. The day started with two good ones – the first-ever American Athletic Conference title game and the Conference USA championship. It ended with the Big Ten and ACC titles and left many wondering what will happen when the College Football Playoff field is announced. Here are the winners and losers from Week 14, championship week.
Dino Babers capped off his two-year stint at Bowling Green with a 34-14 win over Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship on Friday night. Babers was then named the new head coach at Syracuse. RB Travis Greene rushed 29 times for 183 yards, and two touchdowns and QB Matt Johnson continued his impressive season with 235 passing yards and two scores to take his season total to 43 TD passes. Babers high octane offense and 18 wins in two seasons with the Falcons will hopefully usher Syracuse into a new era.
Trailing 28-21 in the third quarter, Western Kentucky QB Brandon Doughty led the Hilltoppers offense on a scoring spree that netted 24 unanswered points and a Conference USA championship in the process. It was the school’s first title, a 45-28 win over Southern Mississippi. Doughty ended the day 34-of-52 for 410 yards passing and three touchdowns.
The Texas Longhorns had a hard time beating anybody this season but somehow managed to beat Oklahoma and Baylor. The Longhorns jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead before winning 23-17. QB Tyrone Swoopes completed 12-of-19 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown for Texas. The victory gives the Longhorns and head coach Charlie Strong a 5-7 record for the season.
The American Athletic Conference held its first conference title game, and 19th-ranked Houston outlasted 22nd-ranked Temple, 24-13, to claim the championship. The Cougars, now 12-1, will enjoy a New Year’s Six bowl bid, their first major bowl game in 30 years. Junior QB Greg Ward Jr. only threw for 88 yards, but he ran 17 times for 148 and two touchdowns. Temple had trouble running the football (just 98 yards on the ground) but ends the season with a 10-3 record. Add in 9-2 Navy and 9-3 Memphis, both of whom were ranked at some point during the season, and the AAC had quite a year.
Banged up Baylor was held to season lows, 17 points, and 479 yards, in its season-ending loss to Texas. Head coach Art Briles was down to his fourth QB after Chris Johnson got hurt. The Bears threw for just 84 yards. They did, however, run for 395, but it wasn’t enough. The loss takes 9-3 Baylor out of the Sugar Bowl.
Is the Florida offense really that bad? Well, yes. Head coach Jim McElwain’s unit is simply terrible. Against Alabama in the SEC championship game, the Gators rushed for minus three yards. Not only did they not gain any yards; they went backward. QB Treon Harris is just not much of a threat. The Gators only touchdown came on a punt return. That makes it two games in a row that the Florida offense has not scored a point.
After all the turmoil surrounding the Illinois football program at the beginning of the season, the Illini looked like they might take their 5-7 record to a bowl game. That all changed when Georgia State upset Georgia Southern to finish the season 6-6 and take a bowl spot that was expected to be available. San Jose State, Minnesota, and Nebraska are all 5-7 but have higher APRs and will likely fill those extra bowl slots.
The ACC title game was one of the most entertaining championship games, one which top-ranked Clemson won 45-37, but the end of the game will continue to be talked about for all the wrong reasons. ACC officials blew a call that could have made a difference in the outcome of the game. Trailing by eight, North Carolina attempted and successfully recovered an onside kick with 1:13 remaining in the game. For some reason, officials threw a flag against the Tar Heels claiming they were offside. Every replay angle clearly showed that North Carolina was, in fact, not offside. It was not the first display of poor officiating by ACC officials. Remember the Miami kickoff return against Duke? That crew was suspended as a result of their missed calls.