College football winners and losers: Georgia gets back to being Georgia – Washington Post


Georgia got back to being Georgia in the second half of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party on Saturday, and that was more than enough to brush aside Florida, 36-17, and remain in the national title hunt.

The Bulldogs had two weeks to ponder an ugly loss at Louisiana State, two weeks to consider how their wiggle room in chasing a second consecutive playoff berth was gone. Then, on Saturday, they had a little more than a half of Florida hanging around. The Gators even snagged a 14-13 lead on the first possession of the third quarter.

And from there? Running back D’Andre Swift had six carries for 66 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Jake Fromm was 9 of 13 for 143 yards and two scores. The Bulldog defense surrendered just four more first downs and allowed the Gators to run just four more plays inside Georgia territory.

The outcome reflects that even with identical records entering the day, Georgia (7-1, 5-1 SEC) remains well ahead of the Gators (6-2, 4-2) for the time being. Given some time, first-year Coach Dan Mullen can change that. He’s already got Florida well past its 4-7 record from a year ago.

For the moment, Georgia is the SEC East power best equipped to make a run at a playoff berth. The loss at LSU exposed some of Georgia’s defensive limitations, something Florida wasn’t as effective at exploiting (though the Gators rushed for 170 yards at 4.6 yards an attempt).

Georgia’s most pressing matter is clinching the SEC East title. Then comes navigating the rest of November (including a date with Auburn) in the hopes a semifinal slot can still be claimed. When the Bulldogs are themselves, as they were Saturday, they’re capable of earning a place in the sport’s final four.

This post has been updated.

Taking a look at the highs and lows of the day in college football from around the country:

Winners

Kentucky. The Wildcats are 7-1, which is generally not something that is said of Kentucky’s football program. For it to have occurred required some good player development, some good fortune and, well, some weirdness.

Like scoring the game-winning touchdown on an untimed down, as the Wildcats did in Saturday’s 15-14 defeat of Missouri. After a pass interference penalty wiped out an incompletion, Terry Wilson tossed a 2-yard touchdown to C.J. Conrad as the Wildcats improved to 5-1 in the SEC.

Next up: A visit from Georgia in a de facto SEC East title game.

Pittsburgh. Conference realignment has offered up plenty of byproducts devoid of much interest, but it has also provided a series no one ever would have guessed would be entertaining — but has proven to be, and then some: The Panthers’ annual series with Duke.

Saturday marked the third time in the last six years both teams reached the 45-point plateau against each other, with the Panthers scoring a go-ahead touchdown with five seconds remaining in a 54-45 triumph. (Pitt also tacked on a safety on the ensuing kickoff.)

The truly wacky part of the day: True freshman V’Lique Carter, listed on the Panthers’ roster as a defensive back and making his college debut, rushed for 137 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries in the victory.

Washington State. A week after knocking off Oregon, the Cougars (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12) tacked on another vital victory in the chase for the Pac-12 North with a comeback 41-38 defeat of Stanford. Gardner Minshew threw for 438 yards and three touchdowns as Washington State erased a two-touchdown deficit.

Combined with Washington’s 12-10 loss at California, Washington State now sits alone atop its division. The Cougars close with three of their last four at home, including the Nov. 23 Apple Cup against Washington.

Northwestern. Look who controls their own destiny in the Big Ten West. The Wildcats (5-3, 5-1) dealt Wisconsin a 31-17 defeat, their fourth victory in a row heading into a nonconference date with Notre Dame.

It isn’t a dominant Northwestern team; its five victories have come by a combined 44 points, with Saturday’s dismissal of the Badgers the most lopsided of the bunch. Nonetheless, the Wildcats were opportunistic, scoring a pair of touchdowns on short drives following Wisconsin turnovers.

Northwestern’s path to its first Big Ten title game involves beating Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois in the season’s final three weeks. It isn’t an easy task — especially not with the Hawkeyes game in Iowa City — but it’s still an enviable spot for the Wildcats considering they were 1-3 at the end of September.

Virginia. The Cavaliers are bowl-eligible in back-to-back seasons for the first time since making four consecutive postseason appearances between 2002 and 2005. Virginia upended North Carolina 31-21, earning its first home victory over the Tar Heels since 2008.

Virginia (6-2, 4-1 ACC) now has a clear path to the Coastal Division title. If it defeats Pittsburgh (next week) and Virginia Tech (Nov. 23), it will play in the ACC title game for the first time, regardless of what it does against Georgia Tech in the season’s penultimate week.

Matt Colburn II. The running back ended up with Wake Forest in 2015 only after Louisville changed its offer just before signing day. The Cardinals wanted Colburn to grayshirt, meaning it wanted him to wait till spring to enter college. Colburn didn’t headed instead to Winston-Salem.

That subplot has surfaced every time the ACC Atlantic Division rivals have met over the last four seasons, though never more than Saturday. Colburn steamrolled for 243 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries in 56-35 humiliation of the Cardinals.

For his career, Colburn will finish with 66 carries for 528 yards and three touchdowns in four games against Louisville.

Losers

Texas Christian. Gather ’round and hear the tale of when the Horned Frogs were 2-0, and were getting the better of Ohio State in the third quarter. It was a distant time — no, wait, scratch that. It was Sept. 15, and for TCU, things have gone downhill ever since.

There’s another month to play, so maybe this lost season will get worse. But it’s hard to fathom how the Horned Frogs (3-5, 1-4 Big 12) will have a much worse week than the one they just concluded. TCU dismissed wide receiver KaVontae Turpin after an arrest for assault, then went out and lost, 27-26, to hapless Kansas. TCU remains one of the season’s most disappointing teams.

Colorado. On the shortlist of things a team should never, ever do is blow a 28-point lead against a team that has dropped 17 of its last 19 games, and has not defeated an FBS opponent since November 2016.

This is precisely what the Buffaloes (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12) did at home against Oregon State, dropping a 41-34 overtime decisions to the Beavers. Colorado’s 5-0 start is an increasingly distant memory, and even though the Buffaloes aren’t out of the mix in the underwhelming Pac-12 South, Saturday didn’t inspire much confidence in the team heading into November.

South Florida. And then there was one undefeated team in the American Athletic Conference. The Bulls (7-1, 3-1) couldn’t slow down Houston, which isn’t surprising because no one has been able to slow down Houston. The Cougars (7-1, 4-0) compiled 682 total yards and received a monster day from quarterback D’Eriq King (419 yards and five touchdowns passing, 134 yards and two touchdowns rushing) in a 57-36 victory.

Two fourth-quarter touchdowns helped Houston pull away and remain in firm control of the AAC West. The Cougars lead the division by two games with four to play, and it would appear they are the greatest threat to derail a perfect season by Central Florida.

Coastal Chaos. The flickering dream of a seven-way tie at 4-4 in the ACC’s Coastal Division is dead. With Virginia at 4-1, both Pitt and Virginia Tech at 3-1, and all three teams still to play each other, somebody in the Coastal is now assured of reaching five conference victories.

Florida State. The Seminoles suffered their most lopsided home loss ever, a 59-10 pummeling administered by Clemson. It was also the most points Florida State (4-4, 2-4 ACC) had ever allowed in Doak Campbell Stadium.

Yes, it was against Clemson, which had separated itself from the Seminoles even before Coach Willie Taggart’s first season. But it was still a humbling day for a program a mere five years removed from winning a national championship.

Purdue. A week after throttling Ohio State, the Boilermakers didn’t reload the musket. Instead, they were on the wrong end of a 23-13 loss at Michigan State, committing three turnovers (all David Blough interceptions) and struggling to get star freshman Rondale Moore going despite making plenty of attempts to do so (16 targets, 11 catches, 74 yards).

It’s really no knock on Purdue (4-4, 3-2 Big Ten). It’s more a reminder of the up-and-down nature of the sport, especially for teams on their way to a finish between 4-8 and 8-4.

Wisconsin. Granted, the Badgers (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) didn’t have quarterback Alex Hornibrook. But that’s only a partial explanation for their latest loss, a 31-17 setback at Northwestern.

Wisconsin now needs help to get back into the Big Ten West title race, and that’s assuming it can sweep past Rutgers, Penn State, Purdue and Minnesota.


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