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College Football Takeaways: Pac-12 South boiling down to final week

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Jim Gensheimer/Bay Area News Group
Stanford's Christian McCaffrey runs (5) for a first down against Cal in the first quarter of the Big Game at Stanford Stadium in Stanford, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015. (Jim Gensheimer/Bay Area News Group/TNS)

There is still much to play as the college football season winds down. All four spots in the College Football Playoff are up in the air, conference titles are still up for grabs and there is still no clear-cut favorite to bring home the Heisman Trophy. Brace yourself football fans: You are in for one wild ride to end the season.

Heartbreak in Columbus

It was bound to happen eventually. Ohio State’s 23-game win streak was shattered by a game-winning field goal as time expired. Then No. 9 Michigan State handed the No. 3 Buckeyes a 17-14 loss.

The Spartans entered the game without starting quarterback Connor Cook and while backup Tyler O’Connor wasn’t a game-changer, he did enough to help Michigan State pull off the upset.

On the other side of the ball, workhorse Buckeye running back Ezekiel Elliott was shut down and held to 33 rushing yards on 12 carries as Ohio State’s offense failed to get anything going.

Michigan State and Ohio State are now on the outside looking in on the playoff race as they both look to outlast No. 10 Michigan in the Big Ten East. The Buckeyes will need to knock off Michigan this week if they hope to keep an outside chance of defending their national title alive.

No room for error

The Pac-12 South is down to a two-team race as No. 22 UCLA and USC are tied at 5-3.

Utah, though tied at 5-3 as well, saw its chances crumble with a home loss to UCLA last weekend. With losses to USC and now UCLA, the Utes were eliminated from championship contention.

The Bruins will play USC on Saturday in a game that will send one team to Santa Clara, California, for the Pac-12 Football Championship Game against Pac-12 North winner Stanford.

The Cardinal, ranked No. 11 in the College Football Playoff rankings, will play No. 4 Notre Dame on Saturday. Although Stanford has already clinched a spot in Santa Clara, it stands as the last realistic hope of the Pac-12 earning a bid to the College Football Playoff.

The Cardinal will face Notre Dame knowing very well what kind of statement they can make to the committee.

Party crashers

With many teams focusing on whether they will get into the playoffs, many certainly played like they deserved it last weekend.

Four top-15 teams that suffered upsets: No. 3 Ohio State (No. 9 Michigan State), No. 6 Oklahoma State (No. 10 Baylor), No. 13 Utah (UCLA) and No. 15 LSU (No. 22 Ole Miss).

Oklahoma and Florida—two teams on the outside looking in—were nearly upset, with the Gators needing overtime to beat Florida Atlantic. Notre Dame also struggled throughout its game with Boston College at Fenway Park, but wound up with a 19-16 victory.

This season has been full of upsets and don’t be surprised if you see a few more in the final week of the regular season.


Follow Noah Sonnet on Twitter.


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