College football winners, losers, overreactions: Playoff contenders survive, advance through Week 12 tests

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All of the drama typically centers around Rivalry Week when it comes to deciding the final phase of the regular season. This year, however, top College Football Playoff contenders were on thin ice against tricky competition in Week 12. No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 TCU needed miraculous field goal drives to clinch games against Illinois and Baylor, respectively. No. 2 Ohio State had to withstand a late charge from Maryland, while No. 1 Georgia ambled through the fourth quarter against Kentucky. No. 7 USC also stayed alive in the national title race by surviving an upset bid by No. 16 UCLA to take control of the Pac-12 title race. 

So as the Week 12 action wrapped, the Trojans joined the Bulldogs, Horned Frogs and the winner of next week’s showdown between the Buckeyes and Wolverines as overwhelming favorites to make up the College Football Playoff field. USC has a slightly more difficult path than the others with No. 18 Notre Dame and likely No. 12 Oregon in the Pac-12 title game on the schedule but win both and the Trojans are a lock.

Clemson, meanwhile, remains on the periphery, but its best wins keep dropping like flies. No. 13 North Carolina became the latest upcoming Tigers opponent to fall against Georgia Tech. Short of absolute chaos, which is becoming less and less as the final week of the regular season looms, there are five teams fighting for four spots.

The one team who didn’t get the survive-and-advance memo was No. 5 Tennessee, who was demolished on the road by unranked South Carolina as the Vols watched their CFP hopes fade in the process.

Here are more winners, losers and overreactions from around the college football world in Week 12.

Winners

USC quarterback Caleb Williams: Williams has been one of the most scrutinized players in college football over the past two seasons, but his ability shone through in the biggest performance of his career. The sophomore threw for 470 yards, rushed for 32 yards and posted three total touchdowns in a massive 48-45 victory over UCLA to effectively clinch a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Williams had to be perfect against a feisty UCLA offense and delivered with a pair of touchdown passes in the final two periods. The performance might earn him a trip to New York City for the Heisman ceremony if USC can find a way to win the Pac-12 for the first time since 2017. Regardless, it’s been a special season for the former five-star prospect.

Oklahoma coach Brent Venables: Perhaps no one in college football needed a win more than Venables. The Sooners already clinched their first losing record in conference play since 1998 and most regular season losses since 2009, but the Bedlam winning streak is back after the Sooners shellacked Oklahoma State 28-13. Oklahoma let out some demons in the first quarter, jumping out to a 28-0 lead it would never relinquish. Things got a little hairy down the stretch as the Sooners offense completely collapsed, but the lead was large enough that Venables’ Sooners clinched the win and a bowl appearance. There’s plenty of issues to clean up, but Oklahoma will happily take the state championship trophy in what has otherwise been a miserable season.

Losers

Tennessee: After beating Alabama and LSU, the Vols established themselves as the surefire next-in-line in the CFP Rankings if things got crazy. After Oregon lost to Washington, Tennessee became the favorite to slide in when the loser of Ohio State-Michigan fell out. Unfortunately, no one told Shane Beamer’s South Carolina Gamecocks. Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler threw for five touchdowns in perhaps… Visit Source www.cbssports.com.

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