College Football Corner: Can anyone beat ‘Bama?

WASHINGTON — For all of the hype surrounding the clash between a pair of top five teams, didn’t Alabama-LSU feel a little underwhelming? Yes, the Crimson Tide led by only 16 at the half, and quarterback Tua Tagovialoa actually threw an interception for the first time all season, but the 29-0 shutout had the strange feel of a predetermined outcome.

I’m not saying the Tide were toying with the Tigers at any time Saturday night, but even the interception had the feel of a punt intended to pin LSU inside their own five. And this is the toughest competition in the SEC? Thank goodness Georgia beat Kentucky yesterday to win the East, or we’d have to hide our eyes while the SEC Championship Game took place.

While Alabama still has Mississippi State and Auburn on their slate, coach Nick Saban’s team appears to be on its way to another appearance in the College Football Playoff. Enjoy another Crimson autumn.

Maryland (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten) wrapped up a whirlwind week where their coach was reinstated and then fired by falling at home to Michigan State 24-3. The Terps had a chance in the second half with consecutive possessions on the Spartans’ side of the field, only to come up empty. How bad was the bouncing ball? Michigan State recovered two fumbles in the end zone: one of theirs for a touchdown and one by the Terps on an interception return that became a Spartans touchback. Incidentally, they’d score the backbreaking touchdown on the very next play.

  • Terrapin Triumphs: The defense tallied a pair of take-aways while Tre Watson’s 13 tackles paced the team. Wade Lees averaged 45 yards per punt … and he had plenty of practice with a season-high eight kicks.
  • Terrapin Troubles: The offense went three-and-out the first three times it had the ball, and converted only 3-of-15 third downs on the afternoon. Kasim Hill was held to 8-of-21 passing for 74 yards while getting sacked four times.

Next: Saturday at 4-5 Indiana in what will likely be the Terps’ best chance to become bowl-eligible (they face Ohio State and Penn State to close the year).

Virginia (6-3, 4-2 ACC) lost control of the Coastal Division race on a rainy Friday night in Charlottesville, as Pitt emerged atop the three-team scrum thanks to a 23-13 victory at Scott Stadium. I’m sure announcers will say that “the Panthers control their own destiny,” and while Pitt does control its road to the ACC Championship Game (win out and they take the division), they do not control their own destiny. Nobody controls their own destiny; that’s why it’s called “destiny.”

  • Cavalier Congrats: Bryce Perkins completed 17-of-24 passes for 205 yards and U. Va.’s lone touchdown. Joey Blount led the defense with 11 tackles. Lester Coleman averaged 44.8 yards per punt.
  • Cavalier Concerns: Perkins had issues staying upright all evening, getting sacked five times. The defense held Qadree Ollison in check (24 yards rushing), but had no answers for senior Darrin Hall, who rumbled for 229 yards on 19 carries. Ten penalties for 80 yards didn’t do the Cavs any favors.

Next: Saturday at 3 p.m. vs. 4-4 Liberty in the final home game of the year.

Navy (2-7, 1-4 AAC) saw its skid reach six games, and unlike the other five losses, this was a cradle to grave blow-out. While the 42-0 defeat at Cincinnati was the fourth time the Mids allowed 40+ points this fall, it’s the first time they’ve been shut out since October of 2012.

  • Midshipman Medals: Not a lot to highlight on one long afternoon by the Ohio River. Hudson Sullivan notches 10 tackles to pace an overmatched defense.
  • Midshipman Miscues: Zach Abey was held to 37 yards rushing on 28 carries and the offense converted just 3-of-13 third downs. Cincinnati reached the end zone the first five times they had the football.

Next: Saturday at No. 12 UCF. The Knights are unbeaten.

Virginia Tech (4-4, 3-2 ACC) saw its season take another unfortunate turn in a 31-21 loss to Boston College. While the Hokies can still capture the Coastal Division with three straight victories, they haven’t won three straight all season. Meanwhile, they’re still two wins away from reaching bowl eligibility. It could be a long winter in Blacksburg.

  • Hokie Highlights: Ryan Willis threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns while also leading the team with 49 yards rushing. Rico Kearney paced the defense with 18 tackles. Oscar Bradburn averaged 45 yards per punt.
  • Hokie Humblings: A tale of two halves saw the offense generate three straight 3-and-outs to start the second half (its fourth possession was an interception); the defense that allowed seven first half points coughed up 24 after intermission.

Next: Saturday at 5-4 (but 4-1 in the ACC) Pitt.

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