BY RALPH D. RUSSO
No. 5 Wisconsin handled its close-up in a most Wisconsin way and No. 2 Miami went back to being the Cardiac ‘Canes.
Saturday was the sort of the calm before and after college football’s storms. The past two weeks featured 14 games matching ranked teams. The next two weeks are rivalry weekend and championship weekend.
This weekend No. 1 Alabama played Mercer and Baker Mayfield taunted Kansas.
Thoughts, takedowns and takeaways from week 12.
1. If you are entrenched in the anti-Wisconsin in the College Football Playoff camp because of a light schedule, the Badgers methodical smothering of a Michigan team that is offensively challenged is not likely to change your mind.
2. This is Wisconsin football: A superbly coached defense, a talented tailback and a big ol’ offensive line. Is it good enough to win a national championship? Probably not, but the Badgers are two wins away from getting a shot.
3. A little something for the Jim Harbaugh haters from Toledo Blade reporter Kyle Rowland : It has been 414 days since Michigan beat a team with a winning record.
4. Next week Michigan gets Ohio State at the Big House, Round III of Harbaugh vs. Urban Meyer. No better way to quiet the critics than beating the Buckeyes.
5. Some of the skepticism that still remains about Miami — and really there is not much — comes from all those games the Hurricanes won during the first two months of the season with a late score here and a fortunate bounce there. Miami was not quite done getting all that out of its system, apparently.
6. Three more times the ‘Canes got to pay homage to the Turnover Chain and they scored the last 30 points to dodge an upset at home against Virginia . Miami had four takeaways in each of its last four games.
7. Miami gets Pitt on Black Friday in what promises to be a stadium void of energy. Be careful, ‘Canes.
8. The Josh Rosen era at UCLA will likely end having produced not one victory against USC . Of the many reasons Bruins fans have to be frustrated right now, that has to be near the top.
9. This might the worst football season BYU has ever had. The Cougars lost at home to Massachusetts to fall to 3-9, the first nine-loss season since 1955.
10. Losing to Navy would have been a terrible setback for No. 9 Notre Dame in what has been an otherwise fine turnaround season for Brian Kelly and the Irish. It was ragged, but the Irish got their ninth victory headed to Stanford next week.
11. A 10-2 finish will all but assure Notre Dame a spot in the New Year’s Six bowls. And maybe some chaos gets the Irish back into the playoff discussion. Don’t scoff. That’s not so crazy.
12. This week in embarrassing Nebraska losses: Penn State 56, Nebraska 44 , the second straight game the Cornhuskers have allowed 50 points. That has not happened since 1945. Hard to believe but Bob Diaco’s one season as Nebraska defensive coordinator could be worse than his three seasons as Connecticut head coach.
13. In related news, former Nebraska quarterback, Lincoln native and UCF coach Scott Frost said after his 14th-ranked Knights improved to 10-0 there was absolutely no truth to rumors that he was close to agreeing to become the Huskers next coach.
14. The latest Nebraska debacle did allow Penn State star Saquon Barkley to pad his stats (158 yards rushing, 66 receiving, three touchdowns) which he needed to revive a Heisman Trophy campaign that will probably max out at finalist.
15. Lamar Jackson had a similar day for Louisville, tormenting Syracuse for a second straight season . Jackson has 971 total yards in two games against the Orange, accounting for nine touchdowns.
16. The Orange are now 4-7, which every Miami and Oklahoma fan will remind us on Tuesday when the playoff selection committee ranks their teams behind Clemson, which you might remember lost to the Orange.
17. As for the Heisman front-runner, maybe a little too much moxie this time from Mayfield?
18. Mayfield is making a Johnny Manziel-type transition from entertaining to polarizing among college football fans. Fair? Depends on who you ask, but expect a lot of talk about integrity and the Heisman over the next couple weeks.
19. A Heisman ballot from a non-Heisman voter: 1, Mayfield; 2, Jackson; 3, Bryce Love, Stanford; 4, Barkley; 5, Maurice Hurst, Michigan.
20. Want a top Heisman contender for next year? Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert . Oh, what could have been for the Ducks this season if Herbert didn’t get injured and miss five games. Oregon went 1-4 without him.
21. Big day in the Big 12 for teams trying to get bowl eligible: Texas beat No. 24 West Virginia after Mountaineers quarterback Will Grier had something happen to his finger that you might not want to see on a full stomach.
22. Kansas State coach Bill Snyder earned himself another bowl game freebie wind-breaker by beating No. 10 Oklahoma State . The question in Manhattan, Kansas, is: Will whatever bowl game the Wildcats make be the last game for the 78-year-old Snyder. And if it is the finale for the Hall of Famer, will he go quietly?
23. Arizona State also got to six wins , with the Territorial Cup against Arizona still to come. Has Sun Devils coach Todd Graham done enough to get another year?
24. Back in the American Athletic Conference, UCF, No. 23 USF (9-1) and No. 18 Memphis (9-1) are poised to lock up the Group of Five New Year’s Six spot for the league even before a conference champion is crowned. UCF and USF play for the East Division title on Black Friday. Memphis has already clinched the West and plays woeful East Carolina next. The AAC championship game will be for a spot in probably the Peach or maybe the Fiesta Bowl.
25. Please hire a coach soon, Tennessee athletic director John Currie, because the Jon Gruden rumors have reached absurdity .
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