Coming into week 12 of the college football season a trio of games between top-25 opponents were set to have the biggest impact on the still forming playoff picture. Instead, after the games had been played, an injury to one of the best players in the country dominated conversations and headlines around the country.
With 3:10 remaining the first half and a more than comfortable 35-7 lead, No. 5 Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa rolled out of the pocket under pressure from two Mississippi State defenders. They caught him, dragged him to the turf and, unintentionally, ended his season. Quite possibly his career.
After being flown by helicopter to St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Birmingham, reports indicated that Tagovailoa suffered a dislocated right hip that would need to be surgically repaired. The same type of injury that ended Bo Jackson’s career. The surgery was scheduled for Monday and only then will the extent of damage and length of recovery be known.
The fact that the Crimson Tide went on to win the game 38-7 was of little consolation to the coaching staff and players as talk quickly turned to why he was on the field in that particular situation. Head Coach Nick Saban indicated in post-game comments that the team wanted to work on the two-minute drill, and it would be his last drive.
Both of these explanations are understandable and ring true as Alabama’s path to the post-season all but disappeared with the loss to LSU one week ago. The team needed to be ready for any scenario, and good coaches and good players are always looking for ways to improve. Unfortunately, the cost may far exceed the pay-off in this case.
The three games that headlined the weekend?
No. 4 Georgia held off a furious fourth quarter comeback attempt from the No. 12 Auburn Tigers to secure the SEC East Championship for the third consecutive season. The win locked them into the SEC title game, most likely against No. 1 LSU, and ensured that they will remain No. 4 for at least one more week.
No. 8 Minnesota has not won in Kinnick Stadium since 1999. That did not change this weekend as the No. 20 Iowa Hawkeyes once again defended their home turf and knocked the Golden Gophers from the ranks of the undefeated by a final score of 23-19.
Oddly enough, the loss didn’t change Minnesota’s path to the playoffs. They must still win over Northwestern and No. 14 Wisconsin over the next two weeks and beat either No. 2 Ohio State or No. 9 Penn State in the Big 10 championship.
The Big 12 gave us a preview of things to come as the No. 10 Oklahoma Schooners took on the undefeated No. 13 Baylor Bears. The game looked well in hand for Baylor as they led 31-10 at halftime, but Heisman contender Jalen Hurts led the Schooners on an epic 24-point second half comeback to win the game by a final score 34-31 to bring the teams into a tie atop the conference.
Overall, the results from a weekend that featured all 25 of the nation’s top teams in action changed very little in the playoff picture. The top four will remain the same and the rest of the pack still controls their own destiny.
Week 12 Scoreboard: