Georgia Oklahoma State have big days – Despite winning back-to-back national championships, Georgia may not be the dominant force it once was.
It has flaws. There is a running game that can blend into the background. Without star tight end Brock Bowers, the passing game has remained afloat, but it may not be capable of carrying the entire load until Bowers returns, which may not be until the postseason. The defense can still be dominant at times, but can give up yards in chunks, in particular on the ground.
As a result, the Bulldogs remain undefeated, demonstrating their ability to run the table and make history by becoming the first team in modern Bowl Subdivision history to threepeat. In a November full of high-profile challenges, the team passed its first test of the month by beating Missouri 30-21 on Saturday.
It might be an extreme stretch to say that Georgia’s chances of pulling off the threepeat were for dead after Bowers’ ankle injury, but the questions and concerns resulting from that loss were understandable: Bowers has been a key piece of the puzzle behind back-to-back championships and has continued to bail out Georgia’s offense through the first two months of this season.
The Bulldogs, however, have largely put these fears to rest after two games. Through the air, Georgia was able to avoid a shattering upset thanks to another strong performance by quarterback Carson Beck, who had 254 yards and two touchdowns. With Bowers gone, Beck has picked up the slack to keep Georgia at the top of the SEC and Bowl Subdivision.
Despite gaining 131 yards on 33 carries, the running game failed to gain traction against Missouri. Meanwhile, the Tigers racked up 151 yards on the ground, with most of it coming from running back Cody Schrader, who gained 112 yards on 22 carries.
In addition to individual excellence, Georgia’s past two teams have been loaded with some of the best defensive performers in program history.
The team this year might be more than the sum of its parts. It will be enough to get Georgia back into the College Football Playoff and potentially put Georgia in the history books.
This weekend’s biggest winners and losers are the Bulldogs and Tigers:
In the final scheduled meeting between rivals Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, the Cowboys won 27-24 behind another strong performance from running back Ollie Gordon to secure a spot in the Big 12 championship game and a New Year’s Six berth. To even get Oklahoma State into this conversation in early November after losses to South Alabama and Iowa State is an accomplishment of Mike Gundy’s.
As one of the most productive skill players in the country, Gordon continued to climb the Heisman Trophy standings with another 137 yards and two touchdowns. Three Oklahoma turnovers combined with that score gave the Sooners a memorable victory that ends their rivalry on a low note. As a result, Oklahoma is no longer in contention for the playoffs after suffering two losses.
Kansas State’s fourth-down attempt near the end zone in overtime, which would have sent the game to an extra frame, won’t be criticized; coupled with the Wildcats’ struggles with the kicking game, it made more sense to try and lock down the game from three yards out rather than extend the game into further overtimes. If the attempt had succeeded, Texas would have been eliminated from the playoffs and would have struggled to get into the conference championship game without head-to-head tiebreakers against Oklahoma and Kansas State. Instead, the Longhorns remain perhaps the toughest team to beat in the Big 12, even if they only won by a hair after the Wildcats came back in the fourth quarter.
Dabo Swinney went on a local-radio rant against members of the fan base curious about how he planned to reverse a troubling decline as Clemson entered the weekend in utter disarray, with losses mounting, faith in the offense crumbling and even the program itself in chaos. In addition to being one of the most shocking results of the day, Clemson’s 31-23 victory against the Fighting Irish might spark a turnaround in November that will carry over into the offseason. Running back Will Shipley was out of the game, so the Tigers turned to backup Phil Mafah, who ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
After beating Southern California and Pittsburgh, Notre Dame puts Clemson on a roll, presenting an image of two national brands on opposite trajectories: the Irish up, the Tigers down. Having already been eliminated from playoff contention, Notre Dame’s third loss this season is a major disappointment in coach Marcus Freeman’s second season. Freeman has improved the Irish, but his tenure has been marked by inexplicable losses.
When it comes to the Jimbo Fisher era, the writing is all over the wall, on the floor, on the ceiling, on the back of your hand, and everywhere else, which may have been salvaged had Texas A&M managed to put together a Top 25 finish with one of the best rosters in the FBS. As a result of their 38-35 loss to Mississippi, the Aggies will have to run the table against Mississippi State, Abilene Christian, and LSU – possible, not probable – to earn eight wins. It is still possible to come to a very solid conclusion about Fisher’s chances in College Station based on the tape.
In Arkansas’ 39-36 overtime win at Florida, the Razorbacks claimed their first win in the Swamp in six tries, which relieves some pressure off coach Sam Pittman after the Razorbacks’ winless start to SEC play. Florida State is now in danger of falling short of six wins after taking care of business against weak teams on this year’s schedule to reach bowl eligibility, but they still have three games left: at LSU, at Missouri and at home. To miss out on the postseason entirely in 2023 after going 6-7 in Billy Napier’s debut could be too much for him.
Despite being undefeated, Air Force landed one spot behind Tulane in the inaugural College Football Playoff rankings. It will take a clean sweep through the regular season and some help for the Falcons to reach the New Year’s Six as the best team in Group of Five after losing 23-3 at home to Army as heavy favorites. Army allowed only 155 carries on 40 carries in the second half, well below Air Force’s season average, while the Falcons had to make 24 pass attempts to make up the deficit.