The first “Separation Saturday” of the 2015 college football season is in the books and its time to assess the damage.
The biggest winner on Saturday was Northwestern. The Wildcats cemented themselves as contenders in the open Big 10 West with a win over Minnesota. Wisconsin lost to Iowa and now the Wildcats have a shot to grab an early advantage this week against No. 18 Michigan. Northwestern has one of the best defenses in the country and Justin Jackson provides enough in the running game to control the clock. Northwestern avoids Michigan State and Ohio State in the cross matchups, which is a huge benefit.
Game to watch this week: No. 13 Northwestern @ No. 18 Michigan
Clemson was another winner last Saturday, although the Tigers tried hard to choke this one away. Notre Dame was a two-point conversion away from completing a miraculous comeback where the Irish coughed up the football twice in the final five minutes. The Clemson defense is legitimate and if Deshaun Watson can regain his form, the Tigers should run away with the ACC. Defending ACC champion Florida State almost lost to Wake Forest. The Seminoles aren’t good this year.
Game to watch: Miami @ 12 Florida State
Ohio State and Michigan State also won close. The Buckeyes got lucky at the end of the Indiana game with some poor penalties and a bad snap. The Spartans dominated the first half and then decided to take a nap for 20 minutes before providing three points that would eventually decide the game.
The Big 12 bounced back in a big way. TCU nearly gave away the game against Texas Tech and unfortunately, the Texas Longhorns had to face TCU’s wrath. Trevone Boykin had 332 yards and five touchdowns in a 50-7 route that may have cost Charlie Strong his job. Baylor dealt with Texas Tech handily as Shock Linwood carved up the Red Raiders on the ground with 221 rushing yards.
Game to watch: No. 2 TCU @ Kansas State
The SEC got demolished on Saturday, albeit by each other. Georgia entered its contest against Alabama ready to bury the Tide and ended up being on the receiving end of a tsunami. Alabama dominated all phases of the game and didn’t let Nick Chubb carry Georgia. Ole Miss looked poised to continue its stellar play before the Gators devoured them in Gainsville. Will Grier played a great game and the Gator defense didn’t let Chad Kelly get comfortable in a 38-10 chomping. Texas A&M was the only SEC team unscathed as the Aggies took care of Mississippi State.
Game to watch: No. 11 Florida @ Missouri
The Pac-12 had some crazy good luck aside from UCLA. The Bruins dropped their game because Arizona State literally pushed Kalen Ballage into the endzone from 21 yards away to seal the victory. California kept its record clean after converting on a third and 36 late in the game against Washington State. Utah had an open week after its monumental win over Oregon. The Utes get a shot at Cal when College GameDay comes to town.
Game to watch: No. 23 California @ No. 5 Utah
Luckily for college football fans and contenders that lost, there are still two more editions of “Separation Saturday”. That’s bad news for winning teams, because that’s two more opportunities to give away a spot in the playoff.