Ohio State and Michigan gave us a game for the ages and the playoff is starting to take shape. Here are some of the key takeaways from the penultimate week of college football.

The Longest Yard

Michigan v Ohio State
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The Ohio State/Michigan has had some epic games with close, controversial calls over the years, but this year’s edition might just top them all.

After missing two field goals earlier in the game, No. 2 Ohio State’s Tyler Durbin nailed a 23-yarder with just one second left to force overtime. The two teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime, followed by a Michigan field goal to lead off the second extra period. That’s when things got interesting.

Facing fourth-and-one at the Michigan 16-yard line, rather than kick the field goal and send the game to a third overtime, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer rolled the dice and went for the first down. Buckeye quarterback JT Barrett ran into the back of his own player right at the first down marker. The on-field officials gave Ohio State a first down and the call was not overturned by replay officials. On the next play, running back Curtis Samuel took the ball in from 15 yards out for the game-winning touchdown.

The controversial call aside, this was one of the more epic college football games we’ve seen in some time. It’s one that Buckeye and Wolverine fans will argue about for years to come and, in the short term, left the playoff selection committee with a very interesting dilemma.

The Big Ten Could Throw Things For a Loop

Minnesota v Wisconsin
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One could argue that Ohio State and Michigan are two of the nation’s best four teams, but neither of them will be headed to the Big Ten championship game. Rather, No. 6 Wisconsin and No. 7 Penn State will square off for the conference crown and a potential playoff spot.

The playoff selection committee has said it would place heavy value on conference championships. But can anyone really imagine the committee suddenly dropping No. 2 Ohio State—with wins over Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan—out of the top four? Not likely. However, the committee has also said it also values strength of schedule. So the question becomes what would the committee do with a two-loss Big Ten champion who played a much tougher schedule than, say, a one-loss Washington out of the Pac-12?

If Clemson and Washington both win out, the committee has a tough job on their hands deciding between those two and the Big Ten champ for the final two playoff spots.

Alabama is Still the Team to Beat

Auburn v Alabama
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Weird things happen in rivalry games and, for a while, it looked like No. 13 Auburn was going to give No. 1 Alabama a game. The Tigers turned two interceptions into two field goals to pull within 10-9 with 3:30 to play in the first half. But that was as close as they would get as the Crimson Tide rolled off 17 unanswered points in the second and third quarters to coast to a 30-12 victory. This is the first time Alabama has won three straight against Auburn since 1990-92.

The win all but locked up a playoff spot for the Crimson Tide. Even if Alabama was to somehow fall to Florida in next week’s SEC championship, nobody else can match their body of work and it would be all but impossible for them to fall out of the top four. And there’s no doubt Alabama will be a heavy favorite to take home another national championship. The Crimson Tide has not allowed a touchdown since October 23 and freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts has quietly worked himself into the Heisman discussion. While nothing is ever certain in the crazy world of college football, everybody else definitely has an uphill climb to get past the Crimson Tide.

It Was A Good Day for the Military

Any red-blooded American can’t help but like to see the service academies do well, so this was a good week for the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Air Force got a late goal-line stand to upset No. 19 Boise State on Friday night. The next day, No. 25 Navy rolled SMU, 75-31. And to make it even better, that loss knocked SMU out of bowl eligibility, which means Army (currently 6-5 but with two wins over FCS opponents) will most likely find its way into a bowl game.

Let freedom ring.

The Coaching Carousel Begins

Notre Dame v Texas
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While Texas is obviously the biggest job likely to come open this season, it certainly won’t be the last. So any coach on the hot seat or young up-and-comer looking to make a move better have their resume updated.

Quick Hits

  • SMU gave up 75 points, 600 yards and 11.2 yards per play. No wonder Mustang coach Chad Morris is rumored be a favorite for the Baylor job—his defense is already in prime Big 12 form.
  • And if the Big 12 is looking to expand, Pitt beat Syracuse, 76-61, in the highest-scoring FBS game ever.
  • Congrats to Western Michigan’s Corey Davis, who set a new FBS record for career receiving yards (5,068).
  • Michigan has lost 11 of the last 12 to Ohio State and has not won in Columbus since 2000.
  • Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is now an amazing 23-2 in his biggest rivalry games. He was 2-0 against BYU while at Utah, his Florida squads went 16-2 against Florida State, Georgia and Tennessee and he is now 5-0 against Michigan. He is also now 8-0 all-time in overtime games.

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