Week 11’s Plays That Shaped the College Football Landscape

    Week 11 of the college football season saw Clemson clinch the ACC Atlantic and Northwestern clinch the Big Ten West. Oklahoma narrowly avoided taking a

    November 11, 2018

    Week 11 of the college football season saw Clemson clinch the ACC Atlantic and Northwestern clinch the Big Ten West. Oklahoma narrowly avoided taking a second loss this season and Ohio State won on the road to remain in the Big Ten Championship (and therefore, playoff) discussion.

    Here are the plays from Week 11 that shaped the college football landscape.

    Ohio State’s punting in the second half

    Who would’ve guessed that a game between a pair of top-20 teams may have been decided by a punter? Ohio State’s trip to East Lansing featured 17 punts between the Buckeyes and Spartans. After his first punt went just four yards, Ohio State punter Drue Chrisman was outstanding, pinning Michigan State inside its own 10-yard line five times in a row to start the second half.

    Michigan State’s first five drives of the half started on its own 5, 6, 3, 1 and 2-yard lines. The last two of those drives ended in a safety, which the Spartans took voluntarily as they intentionally snapped the ball out of the back of the end zone to avoid giving up a touchdown and to try to flip the field, and a touchdown after the Buckeyes recovered a botched snap in the end zone.

    Wide receiver Terry McLaurin and cornerback Jeffrey Okudah came up big in punt return coverage, preventing three of Chrisman’s punts from bouncing into the end zone for touchbacks with athletic plays on the goal line.

    The combined special teams play of Ohio State and Michigan State wasn’t perfect. Both teams missed a field goal when the game was scoreless, Chrisman’s 4-yard punt gave Michigan State the ball on the Buckeyes’ 35-yard line and the Spartans sent their free kick out of bounds after they took a safety. But overall, Ohio State’s ability to repeatedly pin Michigan State against its own goal line prevented the Spartans from gaining any momentum offensively, even after they made a change at quarterback by putting backup Rocky Lombardi into the game.

    Oklahoma stops Oklahoma State’s game-winning two-point conversion attempt

    There was exponentially more offense in Oklahoma-Oklahoma State than Ohio State-Michigan State but you could make the case that special teams decided the final outcome in Bedlam. After Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard scored a touchdown to tie the game at 41, Cowboys kicker Matt Ammendola missed the PAT wide left.

    That proved to be costly as Oklahoma State quarterback Taylor Cornelius later led a 71-yard touchdown drive, capped off by a 24-yard touchdown pass to Tylan Wallace on 4th & 12, to cut Oklahoma’s lead to 48-47. If the previous PAT had gone through the uprights, Oklahoma State only would have needed a PAT after Wallace’s touchdown grab to go ahead 49-48 with just 1:03 left in the game.

    Instead, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy elected to go for the two-point conversion and the win. Wallace was open in the end zone on the two-point conversion attempt but Cornelius’ throw was behind his receiver and Oklahoma broke up the pass.

    The Cowboys nearly picked up their second win over a top-10 team in three weeks, which could have effectively knocked Texas and Oklahoma out of the College Football Playoff race, but the Sooners’ playoff hopes will live to see another day.

    Clemson’s goal-line touchdowns

    Trailing 7-3 late in the first quarter, Clemson faced 4th & Goal from Boston College’s 2-yard line. The Tigers brought on its “Fridge Package” featuring defensive linemen Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence, who lined up in Clemson’s backfield behind quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

    Rather than handing the ball off to Wilkins or Dexter Lawrence, Clemson used a play-action fake and Trevor Lawrence sailed a jump pass over the outstretched arm of a Boston College linebacker to Milan Richard for a 2-yard touchdown pass.

    Early in the third quarter, Trevor Lawrence ran for a six-yard touchdown on despite not being known as a runner. Before Saturday, he ran the ball 28 times for 56 yards and no touchdowns on the season.

    The two goal-line touchdowns showed Clemson’s versatility and creativity on offense if it’s willing to line up defensive linemen in the backfield (even if they’re a decoy) and have a quarterback who rarely runs the ball keep it himself on the goal line.

    Bennett Skowronek’s diving touchdown catch

    There weren’t many points to be found in Iowa City, where the Big Ten West clash between Iowa and Northwestern was scoreless until there were 56 seconds left in the first half. Northwestern won 14-10, clinching the Big Ten West in the process, thanks to Bennett Skowronek’s diving touchdown catch on a 32-yard pass from quarterback Clayton Thorson.

    It was a good throw by Thorson but an even better catch as Skowronek fully extended in the end zone to make the grab and he kept the ball from bouncing off the turf. The catch was confirmed by the booth and it sends Northwestern to the Big Ten Championship Game for the first time.

    Jake Fromm’s touchdown pass to Terry Godwin on 4th & 3

    Georgia led Auburn 13-10 late in the first half when quarterback Jake Fromm and running back D’Andre Swift engineered a two-minute drill, scoring drive for the Bulldogs. On 4th & 3 from Auburn’s 38-yard line, Fromm hit wide receiver Terry Godwin on a slant route over the middle. It wasn’t a deep route – Godwin caught the ball about 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage – but he was fast enough to outrun Auburn’s secondary, with the help from a block from Swift.

    The touchdown gave the Bulldogs a 10-point lead and momentum entering halftime, whereas a stop for Auburn on fourth down would’ve kept the Tigers within a field goal. Georgia kept Auburn from scoring in the second half of its 27-10 win.

    Qadree Ollison’s 97-yard TD run

    Since starting the season 2-3 with blowout losses to Penn State and UCF, Pittsburgh has moved to the top of the ACC Coastal standings and the Panthers are in control of their own destiny to reach the conference championship game.

    They ran away, quite literally, with a 52-22 win over Virginia Tech on Saturday, capped off by running back Qadree Ollison’s 97-yard touchdown run in which he stiff-armed Virginia Tech defensive back Caleb Farley, knocking him to the ground around mid-field, causing the only other defender who could have potentially chased down Ollison to fall down as well. Ollison finished the touchdown run with a flip into the end zone.

    Ollison carried the ball 16 times for 235 yards and three touchdowns, while fellow running back Darrin Hall ran the ball seven times for 186 yards and a score as Pitt racked up 492 yards on the ground.

    As long as Pitt wins at Wake Forest next week or at Miami (FL) in Week 13, it’s guaranteed to play for the conference title.

    The Panthers nearly put a major dent in Notre Dame’s playoff hopes earlier this season as they led the Fighting Irish 14-12 entering the fourth quarter before losing 19-14. They’ll potentially have another chance to knock off a playoff frontrunner if they meet Clemson in the ACC Championship.

    The Tigers entered Saturday limiting opponents to a national-best 2.24 yards per carry so it’d be a fascinating matchup if the Panthers could replicate even a fraction of their powerful rushing attack that was on full display in Week 11.

    Boston College QB Anthony Brown knocked out of the game against Clemson

    Boston College’s starting quarterback, Anthony Brown, was knocked out of the Eagles’ game against No. 2 Clemson after getting tackled by Christian Wilkins. Who knows if Brown could have been the difference in the game but Boston College’s defense kept Clemson’s high-powered offense in check: Clemson led 10-7 after the first quarter, 13-7 at halftime and 20-7 after the third quarter.

    Brown was 2-of-3 for six yards on the Eagles’ opening drive. Backup EJ Perry struggled to move the ball downfield, completing 12-of-21 passes for 98 yards and rushing 12 times for seven yards.

    Boston College’s only points came on Michael Walker’s 74-yard punt return, where he picked up the ball after it had bounced off a Clemson player, and it wouldn’t have taken more than one or two scoring drives from Boston College’s offense in the first three quarters to have made the game interesting.

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