Top takeaways from college football’s Black Friday

By Jesse Reed

Black Friday was a dark day indeed for the Miami Hurricanes, who were knocked off by a four-win Pittsburgh team in dominating fashion. While Miami’s playoff hopes aren’t completely dead — the ‘Canes could potentially win the ACC Championship Game and get in — it’s safe to say this was a huge loss for the U.

On the other hand, Pitt once again gets to lay claim to knocking off a No. 2 team in the nation, which also occurred a decade ago against West Virginia.

And this was just the biggest early game. Much of college football’s Black Friday was just as fun for those watching at home.

These were the top takeaways from an exciting slate of games.

Pitt does it again!

Almost ten years ago to the day — Dec. 1, 2007 — a four-win Pittsburgh team took down West Virginia, knocking off the No. 2-ranked team in the nation in what became known simply by its score, “13-9.”

Crazy enough, when Pitt went into halftime up 10-7, head coach Pat Marduzzi predicted it would happen again.

The Panthers backed their coach in a big way, coming through with a 24-14 win over Miami. In every way, they dominated the No. 2 team in the nation, out-gaining the ‘Canes by over 100 yards, dominating the time-of-possession battle and winning the turnover battle.

It was a huge win for the Panthers, who have been in some very close games they lost this year. We didn’t exactly predict the upset previewing Rivalry Week this week but did note the Hurricanes had a lot going against them in this game.

In the end, Pitt simply outclassed its opponent to pull off one of the bigger upsets of the 2017 college football season.

Miami’s offense MIA

It was a miserable game for Miami, and the entire team struggled. Though, in particular the offense’s inability to do much of anything was the biggest reason the Hurricanes are no longer undefeated this year.

The rushing attack was stuck in a bucket of molasses. Take away the 31 yards gained by quarterback Malik Rosier and Miami managed just 14 yards on 11 carries. That’s a problem, and it needs to get fixed quick because Clemson’s defense is much more formidable than Pitt’s.

Rosier had his worst game of the season throwing the ball. He completed just 15-of-34 passes for 187 yards and ended up getting benched at one point in the fourth quarter due to his inaccuracy.

It was a total meltdown at the worst possible time. The Hurricanes won’t be a playoff team when the next CFP committee rankings come out, though a win against Clemson in the ACC Championship Game could potentially amend that.

Kenny Hill sparks TCU victory, trip to Big 12 title game

For a while, it sure looked like the Horned Frogs might lose their third game of the season. Baylor put up a heck of a fight, both on the scoreboard and quite literally when push came to shove in the third quarter.

Midway through the third quarter, Baylor was down by just six points, 28-22, and the Horned Frogs had lost their cool on more than one occasion. An upset was absolutely on the table. And that’s when Kenny Hill took over, engineering three scoring drives in a row to turn the competitive game into a 45-22 blowout.

Hill finished with 345 total yards and four touchdowns. His leadership when the game was on the line was a big reason the Horned Frogs are going to be playing for the Big 12 Championship Game instead of wondering where it all went wrong on Black Friday.

Rashaad Penny deserves some Heisman love

The 2017 Heisman Trophy is Baker Mayfield’s already. We get that. Sports books aren’t even giving odds on it any more, because the race is over.

That said, when a running back goes over 2,000 yards on the season, he deserves to at least take a trip to New York to participate in the announcement ceremony. Rashaad Penny went over 2,000 yards on Friday as San Diego State hosted New Mexico. He did it on a 51-yard touchdown run, his 19th of the season.

Penny would finish the game with 203 yards rushing to bump his seasonal total up to 2,027 yards. He’s scored two touchdowns receiving and two more on kickoff returns, making it 24 touchdowns on the season.

Those numbers, folks, are ridiculous. And they deserve a bit more Heisman love than this kid has gotten all year long. Especially when you consider Bryce Love, a likely top-three vote-getter, has rushed for fewer yards with fewer touchdowns and has done next to nothing on special teams.

Kenny Pickett has some big brass ones

Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett

Freshman quarterback Kenny Pickett had very little experience heading into Friday’s game against Miami. He hadn’t thrown a single touchdown pass yet this year and was starting his first game ever.

So it’s safe to say expectations weren’t exactly sky high for him to have a huge game against one of the nation’s better defenses. But if you didn’t know all that and had to base your opinion of Pickett based solely on what he did against the ‘Canes you’d think he was a seasoned player.

Pickett put the Panthers up heading into halftime on a tremendous rushing touchdown in which he ended up getting flipped into the end zone (watch here). He also repeatedly ran over Miami defenders, trucking them Beast Mode style throughout the game.

All told, the freshman finished with 193 yards and one touchdown passing and another 60 yards and two scores on the ground. He also proved he’s impervious to pressure by coming up huge in a game that will go down as legendary in school history.

Drew Lock continues torrid play, sets SEC record

Though he doesn’t get mentioned often when discussing the nation’s top quarterbacks, Missouri’s Drew Lock has had a phenomenal 2017 campaign. Heading into Friday’s game against Arkansas, the junior gunslinger had amassed 38 touchdowns in 11 games and had thrown four or more touchdowns five times.

Before halftime, Lock had already added three more to his tally to set a new SEC record.

He would finish with five on the day to bump his total on the season to 43, and he helped the Tigers win their seventh game in the process.

Depending on what kind of opponent Missouri ends up going against in its bowl game, that number should continue to swell in December.

War on I4 was an instant classic, and UCF deserves CFP committee love

UCF Knights celebrate win over South Florida on Black Friday

What. A. Game! Honestly, it’s hard to think about another game this year that had as much excitement from start to finish as the War on I4.

Perhaps all you need to know about the fun factor in this one is this: Bulls quarterback Quinton Flowers (who was a naughty fellow at one point) finished with 605 total yards and five touchdowns, and he was on the losing side.

UCF has been putting up over 48 points per game this year and exceeded that average to stay undefeated. McKenzie Milton passed for 373 yards with five total touchdowns, matching Flowers in terms of scoring. Dredrick Snelson caught two of those touchdowns, and Milton distributed the ball to nine different receivers. Speed demon Adrian Killins Jr. totaled 113 yards and scored once on the ground.

All those stats tell you it was a crazy game. But the end was truly out of this world. Flowers tied it all up with an insane 83-yard touchdown strike and amazing two-point conversion with less than two minutes remaining. On the impending kickoff, Mike Hughes ripped South Florida’s heart out with a return for touchdown, sending social media into a frenzy.

It was an instant classic.

We said it heading into Rivalry Week: If UCF won against South Florida, the CFP committee has no excuse not to give the Knights some love. And if they end up winning against Memphis in the AAC Championship Game, a playoff spot should be in the cards.

We’re not holding our breath that the committte will hold the same view. After all, Mississippi State somehow jumped UCF after Week 12 after beating … four-win Arkansas? None of that made any sense, yet the Knights were stuck at No. 15 heading into Friday’s huge game against in-state rival USF.

Akrum Wadley saved his best for last

Iowa absolutely crushed Nebraska in Lincoln, 56-14, in what was senior running back Akrum Wadley’s final regular-season game as a member of the Hawkeyes. Not surprisingly, he showed up in a big way to push his team to seven wins on the season.

Rushing for 159 yards and three touchdowns on just 19 carries, Wadley was a man possessed.

This was Wadley’s best showing all year long, both in terms of yardage and touchdowns.

Wadley will have one more chance to make a big impression when Iowa plays its bowl game later this winter. It’s likely he’ll be playing with the big boys at the pro level next season, which is great. But we’ll miss seeing him break off huge gains in big games for Iowa, too.

Bret Bielema’s unceremonious dismissal 

Did Bret Bielema deserve to keep his job as head coach at Arkansas? Not in the least.

His Razorbacks went 1-7 in the SEC this year, the only win coming against a hapless Ole Miss squad. And in five years at Arkansas, Bielema went 29-33, including a 2-1 record in bowl games.

Yet Bielema was fired literally as he walked off the field, he told reporters after the game. That’s harsh. The coach put a good face on it all, saying he’d rather be fired that way than have to wonder.

Yet being fired in this manner can’t be easy to stomach. At least the coach was able to handle it all with great class, which says a lot about him as a man.