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Week 13 NCAA football takeaways

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Eric Seals
Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel (4) jumps for joy and into the end zone in the second overtime to clinch a 30-27 win against Michigan at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016. (Eric Seals/Detroit Free Press/TNS)

The college football season is drawing to a close and games matter now more than ever. With conference titles on the line and playoff spots still up for grabs, the last weekend of the regular season promises to be one worth watching. Here are the takeaways from Week 13.

One for the ages

“The Game” did not fail to live up to the hype, as Michigan and Ohio State treated us to a thrilling double overtime game—the first overtime affair in this historic rivalry.

Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes walked away with a 30-27, that without a doubt makes a fantastic case for them up to be feature in this years playoff, despite his team not appearing in the Big Ten title game. Meyer also became the first coach to start 5-0 in games against Michigan.

Quarterback J.T. Barrett struggled throughout the day passing the football, unable to overcome the elite Michigan defensive backs. However, when Barrett’s team needed him the most, the junior playmaker took to the ground and racked up 125 rushing yards.

Barrett wasn’t the only Buckeye that stepped up big time in this classic matchup. Ohio State’s defense showed why it’s one of the best in the country, forcing three Michigan turnovers, one of which was a pick six.

For the Wolverines, this loss comes at the hands of their bitter rival, as Jim Harbaugh’s team allowed a late 17-7 lead slip away and will regret Saturday’s loss for the entire offseason. Making matters worse, Michigan likely will be out of the playoff picture as they now join a pack of two loss teams seeking playoff recognition.

Despair, disappointment and denial

It was only a matter of time before Charlie Strong would depart from Texas. Strong leaves as the only coach in the program’s history to have three straight losing season; his 21 losses in three years are also the most the Big 12 powerhouse has ever had in a three-year span.

The former head coach only made matters worse for himself by constantly talking about progress his players had made and where the team would be a year from now.

Ultimately, the big dogs in the Texas athletic department had an easy choice to make: keep a coach who has failed to deliver, even though he has every possible resource a university could give a collegiate coach, or hire college football’s most desired coach in Tom Herman, who was in the state of Texas (Houston) and had an outstanding track record at a non-Power Five program.

It’s unclear where the 56-year-old will be calling plays next; it’s also unclear if he will be given that chance now carrying the title of worst coach in the history of Texas football.

His replacement, Herman, fits the bill in so many ways that Strong was seemly unable to. For starters, Herman is a “Texas man,” a trait needed when taking over one of college football’s storied programs. Second, he learned the ropes as a graduate assistant at Texas, giving him a common connection shared with the team’s boosters and the athletic director.

His future looks bright as he inherits a program that is current in shambles.

A Cinderella story

Preseason predictions didn’t see Colorado and Penn State as threats, no one did. However, here are two teams that stand in the doorway of possible conference championships wondering if they have the resume to be in the national championship picture.

For Colorado, the defense has been the driving force, propelling a team which was predicted to finish dead last in the Pac-12 South Division. The Buffaloes won back-to-back games versus ranked opponents to secure their place in Santa Clara on Friday night.

Colorado will face playoff hopeful Washington, a team that boasts an explosive passing game that is among the best in the conference. It will collide with the Buffaloes secondary which ranks as the Pac-12’s best pass defense.

The story of Penn State is one that comes out of the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal that shocked the nation back in 2011. Since that incident, a new coach was hired and with that hire came about a new atmosphere and once again accept the “We Are” attitude of Penn State.

Senior leadership has put the Nittany Lions where they are currently, sitting outside the top four and making noise to be considered as a playoff team despite the teams two-losses. The only obstacle left for Penn State is Wisconsin in the Big 10 Conference title game. Should they win that, a case can be made that they deserve a seat at the CFP table over both Ohio State and Michigan.

Regardless of what occurs in the Pac-12 and Big Ten title games, praise should be given to college footballs two Cinderella stories this season. To rise from the ashes as Penn State did and to prove doubters wrong like Colorado has, is yet another reason why college football can be rewarding for teams, players and coaches alike.


Follow Noah Sonnet on Twitter.


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