SportsPulse: Dan Wolken details what the College Football Playoff committee got right and wrong in the first ranking of the season.
Penn State beat Michigan 27-17 for its first win of the season, snapping the worst start in program history and dropping the hapless Wolverines to 2-4 amid questions over coach Jim Harbaugh’s immediate future.
Those questions may not have any basis in reality: Harbaugh’s contract does not expire after next season, leaving plenty of time for both parties to reconvene and recommit to a longer partnership.
The better question asks whether Michigan and Harbaugh believe there is reason to maintain the relationship long into the future given this year’s slide into irrelevancy.
Losing to previously winless Penn State feels like the lowest point of this already lost season, which had already surfed through a series of low moments — losing to Michigan State, getting blown out by Wisconsin, even needing overtime to rally back and beat Rutgers a week ago.
Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara talks to coach Jim Harbaugh during the first half against Penn State at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020. (Photo: Junfu Han, Imagn Content Services, LLC)
Barring a miraculous upset win against Ohio State next month, should that game be played as scheduled, Michigan will finish with a losing record for the first time since 2009 and just the fourth time since 1968.
As a program, Michigan has ceded enormous ground to the Buckeyes, which have lapped the field, and fallen behind several others in the Big Ten. Is there one missing ingredient that would vault the Wolverines back into the College Football Playoff in 2021? Is the strangeness of this offseason and regular season to blame for the Wolverines’ plummet?
HISTORY MADE: Vanderbilt’s Sarah Fuller is first female player in Power Five
Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 13, including the games played Friday:
The Bulls are the class of the MAC and a contender for the Top 25 after beating Kent State 70-41 in a battle of the league’s two best offenses. The win moves Buffalo to 22-9 since the start of the 2018 season under coach Lance Leipold, who will be in the running for Power Five job openings. The biggest star of the day: Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson tied the Bowl Subdivision single-game record with eight rushing touchdowns and ran for 409 yards, 18 shy of the FBS record. Patterson scored more touchdowns Saturday alone than 10 teams have scored this entire season.
After a fast-paced first quarter, Notre Dame slowed the tempo into its comfort zone against North Carolina and pulled away in the second half to beat the North Carolina 31-17 and remain on track for the College Football Playoff. Another very solid performance on defense — the Irish held UNC to under 300 yards of total offense and held