Georgia won’t be the juggernaut that captured back-to-back national championships.
There are drawbacks. There is a running game that disappears in the background. A passing game that’s afloat without star tight end Brock Bowers, but won’t be up to the challenge of carrying the full load until Bowers returns, which won’t be until the postseason. There is a defense that is still dominant at times, but can give up yardage in chunks, including on the ground.
But the Bulldogs continue to win, and in doing so resemble a team capable of running the table and making history as the first team in modern bowl division history to make the three-peat. Saturday’s 30-21 win over Missouri was the program’s 26th in a row and the first pass in a November full of high-profile challenges.
It might be a serious stretch to say Georgia’s chances of pulling off a three-peat died after Bowers’ ankle injury, but the questions and concerns that arose from that loss are understandable: a big piece of the puzzle behind Bowers. –back-to-back championships and consistently bailed out Georgia’s offense through the first two months of the season.
However, through two games, the Bulldogs have been able to put those fears to rest for the most part. Behind another strong performance from quarterback Carson Beck, who had 254 yards and two touchdowns, and a balanced passing game in which seven receivers had at least one catch, Georgia was able to find enough in the air to avoid a crushing upset. A Beck and Bowers-less passing game has picked up the slack to keep Georgia atop the SEC and FBS.
The running game fizzled against Missouri, putting up 131 yards on 33 carries. At the same time, the Tigers managed to chew up 151 yards on the ground, with most of the damage coming from running back Cody Schrader, who had 112 yards on 22 carries and a score.
Among other things, the last two Georgia teams were defined by individual excellence — at quarterback, tight end and every level of the defense, the Bulldogs were loaded with some of the best performers in program history.
This year’s team may be more than the sum of its parts. That would be enough to get Georgia back into the College Football Playoff and a place in college football history.
Bulldogs and Tigers Biggest Winners and Losers This Weekend:
Nick Saban has won six national championships at Alabama and put together some of the best teams in program, SEC and college football history, most recently battling through the coronavirus pandemic to dominate the FBS in the 2020 edition. But after Alabama’s 42-28 victory over LSU, it’s time to start talking about the 2023 season as the best coaching job of his obscenely successful tenure. After losing to Texas in September and being sidelined after struggling against South Florida, the dismissed Crimson Tide rallied to form at just the right moment — painting a picture of a team that could still make significant strides ahead of postseason play. Not surprisingly, given LSU’s defense, the Tide racked up 507 yards of offense, while quarterback Jalen Milroe threw for 219 yards and ran for 155 yards, setting an Alabama quarterback record with four rushing scores. If the offense sees confidence and momentum coming out of this win, watch out: Alabama may find another gear this month.
The final scheduled meeting between Oklahoma State and Oklahoma went to the Cowboys, who pulled off another strong 27-24 win from the pursuit of Ollie Gordon and suddenly found themselves in the Big 12 Championship Game for the New Year. River Berth. After losses to South Alabama and Iowa State, getting Oklahoma State into the conversation in early November was one of the best coaching jobs of the Mike Gundy era. One of the most productive players in the nation, Gordon continued to move up the Heisman Trophy pecking order with 137 more yards and two touchdowns. Coupled with three Oklahoma turnovers, it was enough to pull off a memorable win that got the Sooners out of this contest on a low note. And it gets worse: Oklahoma now has two losses and is out of playoff contention.
You can’t find any criticism of Kansas State’s fourth-down attempt near the end zone in overtime. With some struggles in the Wildcats’ kicking game, as the underdog, it made more sense to try to shut down the game from three yards out than extend things into extra overtime. The failure of that effort essentially saved the Longhorns’ season: Not only was Texas eliminated from the playoffs with a second loss, but it would have struggled to get into the conference championship game without back-to-back tiebreakers against Oklahoma and Kansas State. . Instead, the Longhorns could be the team to beat in the Big 12 after the Wildcats’ fourth-quarter comeback passed the biggest test of the month, even by the skin of their teeth.
Clemson entered the weekend a complete mess, with losses mounting, confidence in the offense in tatters and even Dabo Swinney ranting against members of the fan club on local radio. Beyond being one of the most surprising results of the day, the Tigers’ 31-23 win over the Fighting Irish could spark a November turnaround that bleeds into the season and helps Clemson get back on its feet in 2024. Will Shipley retreated. , the Tigers drew a career day from backup Bill Maffa, who ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
Kansas had to play a different game to pull off its seventh win, the Jayhawks’ most in a season since 2008. After weeks of up-and-down, up-tempo contests against Texas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, Kansas. Adapted to a more physical style to beat Iowa State 28-21. With the running game struggling against one of the best defenses in the Big 12, Kansas saw quarterback Jason Beane replace Jalon Daniels, who continued to play well with 14 completions on 23 attempts for 287 yards and a touchdown. No wonder the Jayhawks do anything anymore.
It’s that time of the year. A handful of teams clinched bowl eligibility with wins on Saturday, surpassing expectations for a sixth win of the season or season with just a few weeks left in the regular season. One was West Virginia, which saved coach Neil Brown’s job after beating Brigham Young 37-7. In August, Brown was named the Power Five coach who could lose his job; A few months later, he goes for an extension. Also in lockout bowl eligibility: Kentucky topped Mississippi State 24-3, North Carolina State beat Miami 20-6, Coastal Carolina beat Old Dominion 28-24, Texas-San Antonio beat North Texas 37-29 and Texas State scored another goal. Georgia defeated Southern 45-24 to win the first bowl bid in school history.
Notre Dame met Clemson on a roll after defeats in Southern California and Pittsburgh, presenting an image of two national brands going in opposite directions: Irish up, Tigers down. Eliminated from the playoff chase weeks ago, the third loss of the season ends Notre Dame’s hopes of reaching a New Year’s Six bowl and reflects a major disappointment in coach Marcus Freeman’s second season. The Irish improved under Freeman, but his tenure was defined by inexplicably bad losses.
There is nothing sadder than watching the USC defense in college football right now. Comparing Caleb Williams and this offense, as Lincoln Riley’s offense often does, puts up 42 points and 515 yards against Washington. But it was to no avail: USC gave up 52 points and 573 yards to the Huskies, including 256 yards and four scores from running back Dillon Johnson, in a loss that essentially eliminated the Trojans from New Year’s Six contention. A completely lost season. Even after last year’s ugly bowl loss to Tulane, there was a feeling around USC that this year would mark another step forward and the start of something great. Instead, what you’ll see is a complete collapse of the defense and a rudderless, lost program that has more questions than answers midway through Riley’s sophomore year.
When it comes to the Jimbo Fisher era, the writing is on the wall, on the floor, on the ceiling, on the back of your hand and everywhere else, and Texas A&M could have saved it if it had gone one to 25. Most talented rosters in the FBS. After losing to Mississippi 38-35 and falling to 5-4 overall and 3-3 in the SEC, the Aggies must run the schedule against Mississippi State, Abilene Christian and LSU to make it eight wins. regular season. Even then, there’s enough tape to draw a pretty solid conclusion: Fisher isn’t going to make it in College Station.
Arkansas’ 39-36 overtime win at Florida marked the program’s first win in the Swamp in six tries and successfully took some pressure off coach Sam Pittman, who had come under much scrutiny in the Razorbacks’ winless start to SEC play. The loss is absolutely devastating for the Gators, who have taken care of the business of reaching the threshold of bowl eligibility against the weakest teams on the schedule this year. State of Florida. After going 6-7 in Billy Napier’s debut, missing the postseason entirely in 2023 may be too much for his tenure to overcome.
Air Force was ranked No. 25 in the first College Football Playoff rankings. After a 23-3 home loss against rival Army, the Falcons’ path to the New Year’s Six as the best team in Group of Five requires a clean sweep of the regular season and some help. Shockingly, Army allowed 155 carries on 40 carries, well below Air Force’s season average, while the Falcons had to make 24 pass attempts to make up for a huge deficit in the second half.