Breaking news, rankings, predictions and analysis all in one place.

My Favorite Moments from the 2018 College Football Season

Now that bowls have been announced and the four Playoff teams are known, the college football season has nearly reached its inevitable end. While there are still some memorable moments left to come, I took some time to reminisce on some of my favorite moments from the 2018 college football regular season: 

Kentucky Beating Florida For the First Time Since 1986

For so long, Kentucky has struggled to have their success on the football field match up with what they do on the basketball court and nowhere has that been more evident than their annual rivalry with Florida. The Wildcats have consistently found ways to choke away games against the Gators and entered this fall without a victory against UF in over three decades. That all changed the second Saturday of the year, when they shocked the 25th-ranked Gators in Gainesville, behind 175 rushing yards from running back Benny Snell Jr. Kentucky wasn't able to win the division despite their hot start, but there was no denying how successful the season was for them. They won nine games, and beating their fierce rival gave their fans something they hadn't seen in much too long. 

Ohio State-Penn State Part Three

The last two Ohio State-Penn State games prior to 2018 for some of the most thrilling college football you could hope to watch, and this year's edition didn't disappoint either. The Nittany Lions jumped out to an early lead and looked ready to take control of the Big Ten East before another furious comeback from the Buckeyes. The victory helped Ohio State later on lock up the division, making this the third consecutive OSU-PSU game that decided who would win the division. This game was also the real coming out party for eventual Heisman finalist Dwayne Haskins, and seeing the young gunslinger get better every week was one of the most exciting parts of the fall.

The Return of the Red River Rivalry

The Red River Rivalry, which features border rivals Oklahoma and Texas, is one of the most iconic and important rivalries the sport has to offer. However, the rivalry has taken a back-seat over the past decade, as Texas has struggled to return to their old, National Title-contending form. Yet, the Longhorns made the game relevant once again in early October, putting together a masterful offensive showing to win a thriller by three. Texas fans are hopeful that the victory over eventual Playoff participant Oklahoma and future Heisman winner Kyler Murray was really the first step to their resurgence as national power. Considering they came very close to their first Big 12 Title since 2009, that very well might be true.

Purdue's Upset of Ohio State & Rondale Moore's Coming Out Party

There was few upsets that were as surprising in the 2018 campaign as Purdue smacking Ohio State in front of their home crowd. Ohio State was ranked second in the country and looked like they were going to roll to another Playoff run, but that came to a crashing halt at the hands of Purdue. The Boilermakers played superb football en route to a 29-point domination, and the world was introduce to freshman receiver Rondale Moore. Many hardcore fans were aware of Moore, but few knew the true extent of what he could do. Moore accounted for nearly 200 yards of offense and two touchdowns that helped fully seal the deal. It is going to be very fun to watch the dazzling wide out for at least two more seasons, and we will see what other damage he can achieve during his time in West Lafayette.

Gardner Minshew Carried Off the Field

Carrying the quarterback off the field is one of the most sacred traditions in college football and the sport in general, and it was thrilling to see it happen at Washington State, a school not known for its football prowess. It happened following the Cougars upset victory against 12th-ranked Oregon, which asserted Washington State as the top threat in the Pac-12 North, before an eventual loss to their in-state rivals. This was particularly awesome because of Minshew, who had recently transferred from East Carolina. A transfer leaving his original school and finding success somewhere else, considering the adversity they can face. Minshew even planted himself in the Heisman race, finishing up fifth in voting, highest for a WSU player since Ryan Leaf in 1997.

Kyler Murray & Will Grier's Duel

Seeing two gunslinging Big 12 quarterbacks go at it is a different type of football, and watching Will Grier and Kyler Murray duel was eye-popping. The eventual Heisman winner led his team to a victory behind 478 total yards and four touchdowns, but Grier kept things interesting, tossing for 539 yards himself. Sure, traditional football fans may whine about the little defense that was on display, but this game was a perfect encapsulation of modern football, and went down to the wire. It didn't quite match the numbers of 2016's epic battle between Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes, but it still entertained all the same.

Minnesota Reclaiming the Axe

As a Minnesota native, I have to admit some bias comes into placing this in my favorite moments of the year, but it deserves the recognition. Minnesota had found new and unique ways to lose to Wisconsin year-in, year-out for over a decade before a superb showing in their annual battle for "Paul Bunyan's Axe". The defense looked completely different from the one once manned by fired defensive coordinator Robb Smith, while the offense jolted behind the play of young stars Mohamed Ibrahim and company. It was a huge victory for head coach P.J. Fleck, who had just four wins in nearly two seasons of Big Ten football prior to the win over the Badgers.

The SEC Championship

Nick Saban still has yet to lose to a former assistant, but Kirby Smart and Georgia really put that to the test in this year's SEC Championship. The fourth-ranked Bulldogs held a lead over the mighty Crimson Tide for most of the game, but a late rally led by former starting QB Jalen Hurts kept Alabama undefeated and No. 1 in the polls. Credit has to be given to Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm for a terrific showing against Alabama's tenacious defense, but even more to Hurts, who could have easily transferred after losing his starting job but decided to stick it out for one more season. He was rewarded handsomely, being the hero on a team that might win the National Title. Its important to note that players that chose to transfer (Minshew, Murray) and stay put (Hurts) both had different moments and successes. Players are going to do what is best for them, and we should appreciate any player making the most out of any situation.

Other Moments & Players to Recognize

  • Herm Edwards shocking the critics and upsetting Michigan State early on in 2018
  • Florida improving from 4-7 to 9-3 in the first season of new head coach Dan Mullen
  • UCF putting together another undefeated regular season despite the loss of QB McKenzie Milton late in the season
  • Northwestern playing for their first Big Ten Title since being co-champions in 2000
  • North Dakota State winning the FCS Championship, their sixth National Title in seven seasons
  • Breakout performances by players such as Kyler Murray, Tylan Wallace, Dwayne Haskins, Rondale Moore and Darrell Henderson
  • Impact freshman including Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence, Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, Purdue wide out Rondale Moore and Oregon State running back Jermar Jefferson

No comments:

Theme images by LUGO. Powered by Blogger.