A busy Friday to get things going in rivalry week, with implications on the College Football Playoff and conference championship games. Iowa beat Nebraska to finish first in the Big Ten West, go to play for the Big Ten title game and keep their playoff hopes alive. TCU and Baylor won’t be winning the Big 12 or going to the playoff. Oregon and Washington felt good about hurting their rivals, Oregon State and Washington State hard on the final day of the season, while Houston beat Navy for the American Conference Championship Berth, while Western Michigan beating Toledo denied the Rockets of theirs.
#4 Iowa (12-0) 28 Nebraska (5-7) 20: The Hawkeyes finish the regular season with a 12-0 record. They were already going to the Big Ten Championship Game, but after winning in Lincoln, they’re going to that game knowing that winning it isn’t just going to be their first Big Ten championship since 2004, but clinching their ride into the College Football Playoff. It’s also their first undefeated record in conference play since the 2002 season, which ended with a loss in the Orange Bowl. In the game itself it was Jordan Canzeri who stood out, rushing for 140 yards and two touchdowns. His second touchdown with 6:43 to go in the third quarter put it a bit out of reach for the Cornhuskers, unable to come back from 11 points down, finishing Mike Riley’s season at a disappointing 5-7, with all but one of those losses by a single possession.
#7 Baylor (9-2) 21 #19 TCU (10-2) 28: A great game in the pouring Texas rain ended as Trevone Boykin threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to KaVontae Turpin in the second overtime of the game between these two fierce rivals, which are at the forefront of the Big 12 these days. The importance for TCU, out of the playoff race and the running for the Big 12 title, was screwing Baylor, making sure the Bears can’t win the conference, and won’t be playing in the playoffs as well, this time without the ability to whine about it.
#15 Navy (9-2) 31 Houston (11-1) 52: Turns out running the ball can’t get you to the championship game, so Navy turned to the air, but couldn’t keep up with Greg Ward (throwing three touchdown passes) who also ran for 83 yards and a touchdown. The meaning is simple: Houston go to the American Conference Championship game bouncing back from their first loss of the season to Connecticut, while Navy finish the regular season with a pass to their best bowl game in years (although their ranking will take a hit), but stumbled at the finish line, falling behind too much from the middle of the second quarter.
Oregon State (2-10) 42 #23 Oregon (9-3) 52: Oregon State put up more of a fight than they usually do in recent Civil War games, but dropped their sixth straight to the Ducks, finishing the season without a single Pac-12 win. Vernon Adams threw three touchdown passes while Royce Freeman ran for 167 yards and a couple of touchdowns, as Oregon can feel quite good about themselves despite not going as far as last year, winning their last six games, including against ranked Stanford and USC, making sure they’re not forgotten when it comes to the better bowl game invites.
#20 Washington State (8-4) 10 Washington (6-6) 45: The Cougars turned the ball over 7 times, with three of them returned for touchdowns. Myles Gaskin added to the hurting by running for two touchdowns and 138 yards. Mike Leach had his best season in Pullman, having WSU ranked for a short while, but the loss in the Apple Cup leaves a bitter taste at the end of this season, suggesting it’s a long road for Washington State before they’re taken seriously as contenders in the Pac-12 North. Washington? They’re just happy to become bowl eligible.
Western Michigan (7-5) 35 #24 Toledo (9-2) 30: Western Michigan opened up a lead Toledo couldn’t catch up with in the third quarter with two touchdown passes from Zach Terrell. While they finish the season on a positive note and above .500, they mostly screw Toledo out of the division title, which means Norther Illinois, the other team to beat Toledo this season, goes on to play for the MAC championship game.