Winners, losers, college football Week 13 overreactions: The playoffs move on to a new era

In the first seven years of the College Football Playoffs’ existence, Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma accounted for 20 of 28 available appearances and six of the seven national championships. With the regular season coming to a close in Week 13, it’s highly likely that none of these four heroes will feature as contenders on the 2022 College Football Playoff field.

Instead, say hello to new money on the table: Georgia and Michigan. The No. 3 Wolverines shocked rivals Ohio State on their home field thanks to a stellar performance from quarterback JJ McCarthy and are now shortlisted for back-to-back playoff candidates. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are the reigning national champions and should be overwhelming favorites to repeat them.

College football has always been cyclical, but we are experiencing the sports cycle in real time. Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State are still among contenders for the championship, but the stranglehold has been loosened as new programs present an opportunity to crash the oligarchy for the first time in years. Lincoln Riley’s USC and Sonny Dykes’ TCU are programs with an immediate opportunity. Brian Kelly’s LSU, Josh Heupel’s Tennessee, and Dan Lanning’s Oregon are programs that could make their case sooner rather than later.

Granted it is technically possible that the state of Ohio or Alabama will sneak into the field. A second loss for USC in the Pac-12 title game could wreak havoc at No. 4. Regardless, the new era is clearly ahead.

Here are more winners, losers, and overreactions from college football action in Week 13.


Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh: Most of the attention has shifted to Ohio’s collapse over the past two years, but Michigan’s rise is unmistakable. The Wolverines had not beaten Ohio State since 2011 before Harbaugh and his team shocked the Buckeyes in Ann Arbor, Michigan last season. Michigan had not beaten Ohio State in consecutive seasons since 2000. Now it’s over. Harbaugh was saddled with near-impossible expectations for a Michigan program that hasn’t established consistent Big Ten dominance in 20 years, but after six seasons, Harbaugh has evolved that program and transformed it into one that’s ready for the national stage.

Texas Technology: The Red Raiders took a chance by hiring former high school coach Joey McGuire, but the decision quickly paid off. Texas Tech shocked Oklahoma 51-48 in overtime to beat the Sooners and Texas Longhorns in the same season for the first time in program history. The Red Raiders had not beaten Oklahoma since 2011, losing their last three games by a total of 104 points. Texas Tech quarterback Tyler Shough threw for 436 yards and two touchdowns in the win while running back SaRodorick Thompson added two rushing scores. Oklahoma ended up with 672 yards of offense, but it wasn’t enough to survive the atmosphere in Lubbock, Texas. The Sooners ended the first year of the Brent Venables era 6-6.

Tulane: The Green Wave came into the season and finished seventh in the AAC preseason poll after missing a bowl game. After defeating two-time defending AAC No. 24 champion Cincinnati in Tulane’s first ranked victory since 1984, the Green Wave will host the AAC championship game and only be playing for their second conference crown since 1949. Running back Tyjae Spears was huge with 181 yards rushing and two points in the narrow 27-24 win, and now Tulane UCF is being welcomed on the line with a trip to the Cotton Bowl. This has the potential to end up being one of the most successful seasons in the program’s history.


LSU: LSU No. 5 was about to enter the college football playoffs and went into an easy matchup against bottom-bottomed Texas A&M. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the Aggies had other plans. Texas A&M eventually pulled off a 30-point performance against the FBS competition with a 38-23 thrashing of LSU to give the Tigers their third loss of the season. Texas A&M running back Devon Achane injured LSU with 215 yards and two touchdowns to give the Aggies some hope as they enter a bitter offseason. LSU should still finish in the SEC’s Sugar Bowl slot, but a brutal one-point loss to Florida State in the opener and that performance will be remembered by first-year coach Brian Kelly for an entire offseason.

Memphis: The Tigers have recently been one of the most dominant programs at the Group-Five level with three division titles and two conference championships since 2014. But three years into the Ryan Silverfield era, Memphis is headed in the wrong direction. After a 30-11 record in the last three years of the Mike Norvell era, Silverfield sits at 20-14, including consecutive 6-6 seasons after a disappointing loss to SMU. The two-year stint in Memphis is the worst since 2013. The fighting couldn’t come at a worse time as the program prepares to enter a new era of AAC after being sidelined from the Big 12 expansion. Under athletic director Laird Veatch, there has perhaps never been a more important offseason for Memphis athletics.


This is Caleb Williams’ sport: When Ohio State vs. Michigan ended, in which CJ Stroud struggled and Blake Corum was injured, the Heisman race was officially up. Luckily for voters, USC quarterback Caleb Williams was perfectly happy making some of his wonderful plays and being the center of attention.

Williams completed 18 of 22 passes for 232 yards, rushed for 35 yards, and scored four touchdowns in a crucial 38-27 win over No. 15 Notre Dame. That doesn’t even come close to describing the magic Williams found with countless highlight games in showed a highly efficient performance against defense that brought down Clemson.

Remember, the Heisman Trophy is a narrative award, and there’s no better narrative in college football than Williams making the switch to a 4-8 USC team in his freshman season and leading them to the college football playoff door.

CFP is a four-team race: There are four teams that stand out from the rest of college football: #1 Georgia, #3 Michigan, #4 TCU, and #6 USC. Michigan stole Ohio State’s No. 2 lunch money for the second straight season, this time on the Buckeyes’ home field. Georgia overcame a slow start to shoot past Georgia Tech. TCU wiped out the state of Iowa 62-14 to nearly quadruple the Cyclones’ worst loss to date.

On the other side, No. 5 LSU was fired upon by a last-placed Texas A&M squad. No. 8 Clemson and No. 9 Oregon squared off against lesser opponents, while No. 7 Alabama’s best win could fall out of the rankings after No. 20 Ole Miss lost to Mississippi State on Thursday night.

TCU and USC face difficult matchups against competitive opponents in conference championship games. Georgia has a manageable LSU roster, while Michigan, on the other hand, has a lackluster Purdue team. Regardless, these are the four most deserving teams in America. Anybody other than these four stepping in on November 4th would be a huge disappointment.