College football Week 13 highlights

The beauty of Saturday’s showdown between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan was that it wasn’t just a duel of playoff contenders in a heated rivalry game, but such a stark contrast in styles.

Ohio State is the sports car, all lightning and speed with more skill positional talent than the average Big Ten team has in a decade.

Michigan is a jeep, a tough machine built for brute force. The Wolverines don’t win by sprinting past opponents, they run over them.

And if that was the script that played out on Saturday — and it was for much of the first half — the Buckeyes could be headed to the Big Ten title game.

Instead, Jim Harbaugh’s team showed that it’s anything but a one-trick pony. On Saturday, Michigan was Meryl Streep, who effortlessly slipped into a new role, was cast against the guy, and played the part perfectly.

Of course, in the end Michigan still ran the ball for 252 yards and still forced two turnovers at Ohio State and kept the Buckeyes at 5-of-17 on third and fourth downs, but that was just the resolution. Michigan won through the air, through style, momentum and an almost comical audacity from Harbaugh that he has seldom displayed in his coaching career.

Blake Corum passed, but he only touched the ball twice in the game. Instead, Michigan relied on QB JJ McCarthy to deliver the big games.

Back in September, Harbaugh had McCarthy as his starter, benching the QB, Cade McNamara, who led the Wolverines to the 2021 college football playoffs, in favor of the more versatile sophomore. For much of the season, the gamble paid minimal dividends, with McCarthy shelving his running game in a series of totally formulaic wins over weaker opponents, like a poker player who keeps checking and waiting for just the right hand to go all-in.

On Saturday, McCarthy was dealt ace after ace.

Early in the game, Michigan had only 12 completions of 30 yards or more all year. McCarthy had four of those against Ohio State, including touchdown shots of 69, 75, and 45.

And as if McCarthy’s shredding of an overwhelmed Ohio State secondary wasn’t enough, Michigan used his linebacker turn running back to throw a 15-yard jump pass into third, which was less of a play call than a whoopee cushion in Ryan Day’s seat , just as he was sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner. It was designed to embarrass as well as succeed. That’s the beauty of a rivalry like this.

Perhaps as shocking as Michigan’s offensive role reversal was the way Ohio State later simply conceded its chips. The Buckeyes accumulated just 3 points in the second half, spinning the ball twice and watching Michigan’s Donovan Edwards unroll touchdown runs from 75 and 85 yards on back-to-back drives. Had Ohio State kept the game tight, fought to the end, brought Michigan to the brink — maybe there would still be a valid reason to put the Buckeyes in the college football playoffs.

Instead, the epitaph on their season will read: “Lost by 22 at home to that teaX up north.”

It’s hard to say what this means for Michigan as a whole. Last year, the Wolverines made it to the playoffs, but their fate always felt all but assured, a sacrificial lamb just happy to live long enough to get a free trip to South Beach before being flogged by Georgia became.

Saturday showed something more for the 2022 incarnation, however. While Day blew chances in the second half to close the gap, Harbaugh looked like a hedge fund manager on a heater at a Vegas craps table – all gas, no brakes, Tip the waitress with $100 bills 2% on each fresh glass of milk she brings. While Ohio State wasn’t able to maneuver the foothills in their souped-up sports car, Michigan showed they can hurl it across the field and then run it down the throat. And while the Buckeyes have been ousted from their place on Georgia’s list of contenders for the throne, Michigan may have made a statement that resonates far beyond Big Ten country. This team is real.

And as if McCarthy’s shredding of an overwhelmed Ohio State secondary wasn’t enough, Michigan used his linebacker turn running back to throw a 15-yard jump pass into third, which was less of a play call than a whoopee cushion in Ryan Day’s seat , just as he was sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner. It was designed to embarrass as well as succeed. That’s the beauty of a rivalry like this.

In fact, it was bad enough that even Michigan’s punter dug into the Buckeyes.

Gamecocks freeze the ACC

There was a time two full weeks ago when South Carolina’s offense was a mess. This, of course, was a different era, before our long national nightmare awaiting Taylor Swift tickets and long before Matt Rhule could pinpoint Nebraska on a map. Many people had only seen Black Panther: Wakanda Forever twice. So much has changed since then.

Back in those dark days of mid-November, South Carolina was embarrassed by Florida 38-6 and his offense was in shambles.

But now the Gamecocks have the hottest offense in the country and Spencer Rattler suddenly looks like…well, 2020 Spencer Rattler.

After throttling No. 5 Tennessee 63-38 last week, the Gamecocks pulled off an encore by toppling No. 8 Clemson 31-30 for the first time since 2013, effectively ending the ACC’s playoff hopes.



South Carolina’s special teams recover from fumbling in the final minutes to regain control.

Rattler was dazzling again, completing 25 of 39 passes for 360 yards and two touchdowns while adding a third on the floor.

On the other hand, Clemson’s DJ Uiagalelei was a mess, executing 8 of 29 throws as the Tigers rotated the ball three times and squandered a 14-0 lead.

Will Shipley ran 132 yards on the ground but only had two carries on Clemson’s last four drives.

Now the ACC championship game will feature two teams, both of whom lost their rivalry games to end the year, with North Carolina losing to NC State 30-27 in double overtime on Friday night.

South Carolina, on the other hand, will finish the regular season with a likely top-25 ranking and enough cache to warrant some serious excitement going into their bowl and beyond. The Gamecocks won eight regular-season games for the first time since 2017 and broke a seven-game losing streak against the Tigers — giving Dabo Swinney his first home loss in 41 games.

Freezing ends cold

Liberty opened the year 8-1, his only loss coming on a failed two-point try against Wake Forest.

However, the wheels have since fallen off, and Hugh Freeze still appears to be flying down the highway en route to Auburn with rims sparking and bumper hanging down.

With Liberty’s freeze era over, there could be a real argument that this exit after a 49-14 loss to New Mexico State is even more embarrassing than Ole Miss’s.

Freeze is in talks to take on the vacant head coaching job at Auburn, which three weeks ago may have looked like a home game for the Tigers.

Now? Well, it’s hard to blame Freeze for Saturday’s result. New Mexico State had only beaten one FBS team by 35 or more in the past 20 years, so the Aggies were clearly due.

Saturday was the icing on the embarrassing sundae Liberty has been enjoying for the past three weeks. First came a loss to UConn, making the Huskies bowl eligible for the first time since the Taft administration (note: we haven’t checked, but it feels right). Then came a loss to a 2-8 Virginia Tech who hadn’t won since mid-September. And now an absolute rundown of the state of New Mexico.

Of course, there’s a lot more that will go into Auburn’s final decision than just three mostly meaningless games. The most important thing at The Plains is making sure the Tigers get a coach who will happily concede a $40 million buyout in 2025.

Big bets and bad beats

Clemson finished Saturday as a 14.5-point favorite against South Carolina, which should have been a safe bet for the Tigers. Dabo Swinney was 62-1 straight up when favored by two or more touchdowns. Unfortunately, the Gamecocks don’t care about the story. They only care about melting faces and covering spreads. South Carolina won instantly, a +430 moneyline payout.

A bettor lost $753,535 on a money line bet on Ohio State at -315. That wasn’t so smart.

Michigan’s win will make for many rough Sunday mornings in Ohio and at least one in Las Vegas. College football Week 13 highlights

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