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6 takeaways from the weekend in college football

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Michigan State’s Michael Dowell, left, Kalon Gervin, center, and Tre Person, right, celebrate Gervin’s fumble recovery for a touchdown at the conclusion of an NCAA college football game against Northwestern, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, in East Lansing, Mich.

Al Goldis, AP

Don’t look now, but another weekend of college football has come and gone.

With Week 13 officially in the books, only three weeks of football remain before the postseason and that includes the week of Dec. 19, which will be filled with conference championship games.

Before the title games and the bowls arrive, though, there is still football to be played and analyzed.

Here are six takeaways from Week 13’s Utah and Utah State games, Pac-12 action and more:


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Utah wide receiver Bryan Thompson (1) celebrates with quarterback Jake Bentley, right, and wide receiver Solomon Enis after Thompson scored a touchdown against Washington during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, in Seattle.

Ted S. Warren, AP

Top-notch recruiting pays immediate dividends for the Utes, just not enough

Twenty-ninth. That is where Utah’s 2020 recruiting class ranked nationally when the recruiting cycle was all said and done in February.

Even back then, there was an expectation that the players that made up that high-profile class would be relied upon heavily this season, and through two games those expectations do not appear misplaced.

Yes, Utah lost to Washington on Saturday night, in devastating fashion no less. The Utes were outscored 24-0 in the second half, after leading 21-0 at the half. It was a collapse in every sense of the word, but Utah’s latest recruiting class showed its worth.

Here are the numbers:

  • Safety Nate Ritchie — 7 tackles, second on the team behind linebacker Devin Lloyd.
  • Running back Ty Jordan — A team-high 10 carries for 97 yards, including a long run of 46 yards.
  • Running back Micah Bernard — 3 carries for 13 yards.
  • Linebacker Sione Fotu — 3 tackles
  • Defensive back Clark Phillips III — 4 tackles
  • Cornerback Faybian Marks — 2 tackles, a pass breakup and an interception
  • Defensive end Van Fillinger — 1 tackle
  • Safety Kamo’i Latu — 1 tackle

Of the 24 Utes who recorded some kind of statistic against the Huskies, eight were true freshmen.

It wasn’t all great, of course. Jordan had a costly fumble, there were missed tackles in the secondary and in reality, no Ute truly played well in the second half. Still, Utah’s youngsters are already making an impact and considering how well Utah’s 2021 recruiting class is shaping up to be, the Utes might actually be entering ‘reload, rather than rebuild’ territory as a program.


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Utah State Aggies quarterback Andrew Peasley (6) carries the ball against New Mexico Lobos linebacker Devin Sanders (19) and linebacker Brandon Shook (46) during an NCAA football game at Maverik Stadium in Logan on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020.

Yukai Peng, Deseret News

Youth movement gives Utah State hope for the future, but also just maybe the present

Similar to Utah, Utah State is all in on a youth movement of its own. The Aggies are the 13th youngest team in the FBS, and it was that youth that propelled USU to its first win of the season on Thanksgiving night.

Whether it be sophomore quarterback Andrew Peasley, who had a career outing in his first-ever start, freshman linebacker Kina Maile, who blocked a punt and returned a fumble for a touchdown, sophomore wide receiver Justin McGriff, sophomore cornerbacks Dominic Tatum or Cam Lampkin or sophomore linebacker AJ Vongphachanh (the list could go on), it was underclassmen, largely inexperienced ones, who led the Aggies to the win over New Mexico.

“Proud of our guys, man,” USU interim head coach Frank Maile said after the game. “They continue to stay focused and hungry. They did a great job staying locked in and I couldn’t be more proud to be in charge of this team right now.”

The success of the Aggies’ youth, especially when compared to the lack of success had earlier in the year by more established players, inspires hope for the program’s future, whether that be under Maile or a new head coach.

Give the way that Peasley in particular played on Thursday, that future could even be this season. Utah State has Air Force and Colorado State left on the schedule and the Falcons and Rams are a combined 3-4. While unlikely, it is possible that USU finishes the year with multiple wins, which would surely go a long way towards helping Maile keep the head coaching job.


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Timpview special teams’ Logan Fano (5) and Edwin Alatini (48) knock down a three-point attempt from Alta kicker Mitch Heaton (87) during a high school football game at Alta High School in Sandy on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019.

Colter Peterson, Deseret News

What did the bye week mean for BYU? Lots of speculation about future opponents and some wins on the recruiting trail

Hubbub. That is the best way to describe everything that went on around the BYU program over the past week and into the weekend. Just a lot of busy noise.

First, there was the ‘will they or won’t they’ scheduling drama with the Washington Huskies, without the endearing Ross and Rachel element to it.

Then came the uproar that followed the release of the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season, and BYU’s position at No. 14. That went on for a while. Let’s be honest, it’s on-going.

A positive of all the hubbub was the Cougars remained in the national discussion even during a bye week. When the ACC announced that the Miami-Wake Forest game scheduled for Dec. 5 had been postponed because of COVID-19 issues within the Demon Deacons’ program, it took mere seconds for the suggestion that Miami play BYU instead be voiced.

Whenever a Power Five team or high-profile Group of Five team has a game canceled going forward, the Cougars will likely be the first potential replacement mentioned. Whether or not any of the speculation leads to a game is yet to be seen, but at the very least, BYU football is in the national consciousness.

A line can be drawn between the Cougars’ new high-profile standing and a pair of commitments, or rather re-commitments secured over the weekend. Timpview High stars Raider Damuni and Logan Fano both pledged to join BYU as members of the 2021 recruiting class.

Both committed to BYU early in their playing careers, Damuni as early as eighth grade, and then wavered or backed off those commitments entirely, only to come back to the Cougars in the end. An argument can be made that BYU’s success this season showed both players that they can gain national notoriety playing in Provo, something that was considerably less certain in the first four years of Kalani Sitake’s tenure as head coach.

Damuni and Fano each had offers from multiple P5 programs, and in the case of Fano, the Cougars won out over Utah, Oklahoma and Washington, among others.


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Oregon State wide receiver Zeriah Beason (18) catches a pass from Oregon State quarterback Tristan Gebbia (3) in the end zone for a touchdown despite Oregon cornerback Deommodore Lenoir (0) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Corvallis, Ore., Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. Oregon State won 41-38.

Amanda Loman, AP

Oregon’s loss dealt the Pac-12 a serious blow on the national stage, as did COVID-19

When the first CFP rankings were released, the Pac-12 actually wasn’t in bad shape as a conference.

Sure, no Pac-12 program was ranked in the top 10, but Oregon, with only three games under its belt, was No. 15. USC was not far behind at No. 18 and with both Washington and Colorado undefeated and 2-0, there appeared to be an avenue, however slim, that the Pac-12 champion could find a way into the College Football Playoff.

Thanks to Oregon State and COVID-19, that dream is all but dead.

The Beavers upset the Ducks on Friday night in the as-of-yet-to-be-renamed rivalry game. The game itself was spectacular, the officiating spectacularly awful, and the final result damaging to the conference.

With so few games on the schedule this season, the Pac-12 needed a pair of ranked and undefeated teams to meet in the conference championship game to have a hope of a berth in the playoff. The higher ranked the teams, the better. With Oregon’s loss, the best hope from the North Division now is Washington, and the Huskies weren’t to be found in the first CFP rankings.

The best hope for the South Division remains USC, but the Trojans have COVID-19 problems currently and as such missed out on the chance to take on the undefeated Buffaloes.

Can USC (or Colorado) and Washington rise high enough in the rankings to have the Pac-12 championship game stand as a CFP play-in game? As of right now, it doesn’t seem likely.


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Iowa State tight end Charlie Kolar (88) makes a catch against Texas during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020, in Austin, Texas.

Eric Gay, AP

Losses by five Top 25 teams should shake up the CFP rankings, if only a little

One of the greatest things about college football are the upsets. When ranked teams lose, the weekend is great (unless the team that lost is yours, of course). When favorites overwhelmingly win, though, things are considerably less exciting.

There was some excitement to be had in Week 13 as five Top 25 teams fell, although there was only two real upsets.

One, as previously mentioned, came when Oregon State took down Oregon. The other came courtesy of the Michigan State Spartans, who took down previously unbeaten and No. 8-ranked Northwestern. The Wildcats loss should, in theory, drop them out of the top 10, possibly even the top 15, though Northwestern has defeated three teams with .500 records or better (Wisconsin, Iowa and Maryland).

Other losers were No. 15 Oregon, No. 17 Texas, No. 19 North Carolina and No. 22 Auburn. Three of those teams — Texas, North Carolina and Auburn — were largely expected to lose, but considering all now have three losses, their standing in the Top 25 is shaky at best.

Oregon only has one loss, and three wins over .500 teams, but the Ducks should at least fall behind USC and Wisconsin, maybe even Coastal Carolina (that last one is a probably not).

It won’t be a big shakeup, but at the very least No. 14 BYU shouldn’t be jumped and could move up a spot, if Northwestern falls further than expected.


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Vanderbilt’s Sarah Fuller, right, kicks off as Ryan McCord (27) holds to start the second half of an NCAA college football game against Missouri Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, in Columbia, Mo. With the kick, Fuller became the first female to play in a Southeastern Conference football game.

L.G. Patterson, AP

History was made again and again Saturday and it wasn’t COVID-19 related, mostly

For as weird and different as the 2020 season has been, there hadn’t been a whole lot of history made prior to Week 13, but was history made over the weekend.

First, Buffalo Bulls running back Jaret Patterson had himself an outing to remember. A junior from Glendale, Maryland, Patterson tied the FBS record for rushing touchdowns in a game with eight, and he also had the second-highest single-game rushing total ever with 409 yards.

It was all in a winning effort, too, as Buffalo defeated Kent State 70-41.

“Obviously, he’s very special,” Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold told ESPN. “Some of those big plays, it’s the patience. It’s the vision once he sees it. Today, even more so, I think there were some broken tackles for either first downs or ones that ended up being huge gains or even touchdowns. Now you start adding his speed, quickness and balance, that’s what makes him one of the best in the country.”

Patterson wasn’t the one to etch their name in the record books. Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller made history herself.

Fuller became the third woman ever to kick in an FBS game, following in the footsteps of Katie Hnida of New Mexico and April Goss of Kent State. Fuller is the first woman to ever kick for a Power Five program.

The goalkeeper for Vanderbilt’s women’s soccer team, Fuller was approached by a member of the Commodores’ coaching staff on Monday, per ESPN’s Alex Scarborough. Down too many specialists, Vanderbilt needed a kicker and Fuller did well enough in practice during the week to earn the gig.

Fuller didn’t get much of an opportunity to kick Saturday — Vanderbilt lost to Missouri 41-0 — but the moment was still something to remember.

“All I want to do is be a good influence to the young girls out there because there were times I struggled in sports,” she told ESPN, “but I’m so thankful that I stuck with it, and it’s given me so many opportunities and I’ve met so many amazing people through sports, and I just want to say that literally you can do anything you set your mind to.”