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College Football Booms and Busts From Week 12: Auburn, Clemson, USC and More

Blake Corum - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, RB, NFL Draft Sleepers

One week left in the college football regular season. One. Single. Week. Where did the time go? It seems like we were all just counting down the days until Labor Day Weekend and getting ready to kick off the start of the 2023 season. Fast forward to today, and we are on the cusp of knowing what four teams will compete for the national championship, what coaches will be cleaning out their offices, and what teams are going bowling to cap off another season. 

Before we figure out all that, there are still games from this past weekend to unpack. Weather, injuries, and coaching rumors impacted Saturday’s games, as well as the games still to come. There was a cold, wet rock fight that saw Washington survive once again in Corvallis. Unfortunately, we saw a gruesome injury that caused Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis's college career to end, not to mention putting the Seminoles' playoff hopes in question. We all love late-season drama, but we never like to see injuries impact so much of the storylines. 

The push for the College Football Playoff is not the only thing teams are playing for. Some coaches are pushing for one more win to help keep their job. Teams are playing for a bowl game to cap a memorable season. We still do not know who will be playing in all of the conference championship games just yet. Before we get too far ahead, let's look at the penultimate edition of college football booms and busts.

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College Football Booms From Week 12

Clemson Tigers

The Clemson Tigers were 4-4 and left for dead in late October. Coach Dabo Swinney, easily the most successful coach in program history, was fielding calls from Tyler in Spartanburg and justifying his resume to whoever would listen. College Football is a tough business, but it seemed unfair to forget everything that Dabo has accomplished at Clemson. November has been a completely different story. Wins over Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, and 20th-ranked North Carolina on Saturday night have the Tigers at 7-4 with a chance to salvage a rocky season. Dabo told us to “buy stock in Clemson now” after the win over the Irish. Was he on to something? 

UCLA Bruins

UCLA heard rumors all week that their head coach, Chip Kelly, might be out the door at the end of the season. The Bruins went out and demolished cross-town rivals USC in a game that was not as close as the 38-20 score suggests. While USC is a sinking ship, the win is still monumental in Westwood. You would think that if UCLA can tame the Cal Bears in the final regular season game, an 8-4 record probably buys Kelly another season. UCLA leadership needs to be patient, and an eight or even nine-win season and a win over USC has to be considered a step in the right direction. 

Kansas State Wildcats

Kansas State is one of the most underrated programs in the country. They sit at 8-3 with another win over in-state rival Kansas on Saturday. Chris Klieman has proved to be an incredible hire in Manhattan and seems a perfect match for this program. Kansas State is an eyelash away from being 10-1 and potentially in the playoff conversation as they suffered heart-breaking losses to ranked teams Missouri and Texas early in the season. Even so, the Wildcats look poised for another ten-win season, and Klieman has this program rolling.


College Football Busts From Week 12

USC Trojans

USC is no stranger to the bust list. In fact, we would like to put USC on the season-long bust list. What an embarrassment the Trojans have been this year. They look like they quit on the season in mid-October, and appear uninterested in playing inspired football. At this point, it is safe to wonder if head coach Lincoln Riley is overrated. He has had three Heisman quarterbacks and another top 5 NFL quarterback, yet he has never won a big game outside of the Red River Showdown. A 7-5 record with Caleb Williams is inexplicable, and unless things change quickly, Riley will get bullied in the Big Ten. Watch out if there is a repeat performance in 2024. 

James Madison has had a fantastic season. That is still true. Their transition to the College Football Division I FBS has gone as well as they could have dreamed. Still, the table was set for the Dukes. The College GameDay crew was in town for their matchup against Appalachian State. They were undefeated. They had a chance to keep the train rolling and stick it to the NCAA for holding up the ruling that they cannot compete in postseason play in 2023. Appalachian State had other ideas. In a thrilling game, James Madison fell 26-23 in overtime, and the perfect season was no more. This loss was a letdown in Harrisonburg, but there will be much brighter days. This program has a chance to grow as they get more FBS seasons under their belt.
Auburn Tigers

How could we leave Auburn off of this list? Given the circumstances, 2023 has been a pretty good first season for Hugh Freeze. He took over a program that was a mess, and they have been solid all year. That is until the mighty New Mexico State Aggies visited Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday night. Auburn was a 26-point favorite against New Mexico State and had reportedly paid them more than $1.5 million to play the game. The Aggies mopped the floor with the Tigers, beating them 31-10. The Aggies' win is one of the more shocking results of the season. It has been a couple of days, and it still does not make sense. This Auburn performance might be the biggest bust in college football this year.

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