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🏈 Football Five

  1. The AFC playoff picture continues to heat up. The Broncos won their fifth straight, 29-12 (scorigami!), over the Browns, and Sean Payton was one of this week's biggest winners. The Steelers' new-look offense led Pittsburgh to a 16-10 win over the Jake Browning-led Bengals. The Jaguars topped the Texans, 24-21 (earning an "A" in our grades), to stay atop the AFC South. But it's the 6-5 Colts that currently hold the final AFC playoff spot after a 27-20 win over the Buccaneers. Here's the full playoff picture.
  2. Zay Flowers scored twice -- including a 37-yarder on the ground to clinch it -- in the Ravens' 20-10 win over the Chargers. Baltimore forced four turnovers.
  3. The Chiefs got back on track, beating the Raiders 31-17Patrick Mahomes is now 15-11 over his career in games he trails by double digits. Isiah Pacheco scored twice, Travis Kelce reached 11,000 career yards receiving, and Andy Reid became the first coach to hold the career wins record for two franchises.
  4. Without star quarterback Jordan Travis, Florida State struggled early before rallying past Florida, 24-15, to move to 12-0. Trey Benson ran for 95 yards and three scores. Also just barely moving to 12-0 was Washington, which topped Washington State 24-21 on Grady Gross' 42-yard field goal as time expired. Gross received a scholarship after the game.
  5. Louisville's (slim) College Football Playoff hopes ended with a 38-31 loss to Kentucky, the Cardinals' fifth straight loss to the Wildcats. Louisville can now play spoiler, facing Florida State in the ACC Championship Game.

💪 Good morning to everyone but especially ...


Stop me if you've heard this before (like, maybe in this newsletter six days ago): I don't want to hear about all of the Eagles' supposed "problems" because all they do is win. The latest triumph was 37-34 in a rain-soaked, overtime Game of the Year candidate against the Bills.

  • After the Bills made it 34-31 in overtime, Jalen Hurts walked it off with a 12-yard rushing touchdown.
  • It's the first game in NFL history that saw multiple players (Hurts and Josh Allen) score multiple touchdowns passing and rushing.
  • Of course, overtime wouldn't have ever happened if Jake Elliott hadn't nailed a 59-yard field goal late in regulation. He remains incredibly clutch.

This game had it all, but once again it's the Eagles (7-1 in one-score games) that had all the answers, while the Bills (2-6 in one-score games) are looking for them. The Bills outgained the Eagles 505-378 in yards, but ...

  • Allen and Gabe Davis were on separate pages on a potential game-winning pass in overtime.
  • Tyler Bass missed two field goals.
  • Buffalo had 11 penalties for 80 yards.

The Bills (6-6) have the second-best point differential (+101) by a team .500 or worse through 12 games in NFL history. Allen is 0-6 in overtime in his career.

But credit the Eagles. Hurts was magnificent, and he's now won 14 straight games over teams with winning records and eight straight in games he trails by double digits. And the Eagles just win and win and win.

Speaking of winning and winning and winning, Michigan does it with or without its coach. The Wolverines topped Ohio State to win "The Game," 30-24. It's Michigan's third straight win in the rivalry, something it hadn't accomplished since 1995-97; in 1997, Michigan won the national championship.

  • The Michigan defense, which leads FBS in interception rate, came up with two huge picks: Will Johnson's set up the Wolverines' first touchdown, and Rod Moore's clinched the win.
  • In between, J.J. McCarthy threw a touchdown to Roman Wilson, and Blake Corum had two touchdowns rushing.
  • The only downside for Michigan was stud offensive lineman Zak Zinter carted off with an injury. Corum scored a touchdown on the very next play and held up a 6-5 for Zinter's No. 65.

Sherrone Moore guided Michigan to another win in Jim Harbaugh's absence, and Dennis Dodd says he'll be a hot head-coaching candidate.

  • Dodd: "Moore was swiftly named acting coach earlier this month when the Big Ten suspended Harbaugh. Moore is not only a master play caller, he is also the offensive line coach. His last two units were named the best in the country, winning consecutive Joe Moore Awards. ... 'Our guys didn't flinch,' Moore said."

😁 Honorable mentions

😓 And not such a good morning for ...



For two years, Michigan ran over, around and through Ohio State. So, Ryan Day brought back a tougher team and wanted everyone to know it. After two years of losing to Michigan with C.J. Stroud as his quarterback, Day lost in large part due to Kyle McCord's two turnovers.

Urban Meyer says Day isn't on the hot seat, though some former players want him gone. Furthermore, unlike last year, the Buckeyes won't have a College Football Playoff berth to cushion the blow. And that makes this loss for his "tough" team even tougher to swallow. As Will Backus writes, "Ryan Day makes $9.5 million a year to win one game. The Game."

Mission failed. Again.

👎 Not so honorable mentions

🌊 Alabama converts miracle fourth-and-goal to win Iron Bowl

NCAA Football: Alabama at Auburn

Put it up there with Tua Tagovailoa to DeVonta Smith to win the national championship: Jalen Milroe and Isaiah Bond produced one of the greatest plays in Alabama's storied history, connecting on a 31-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal (watch it here) to rescue victory from near-certain defeat in a 27-24 Iron Bowl win over Auburn.

  • How do you even get to fourth-and-goal from the 31-yard line? After a first-down run went backwards 1 yard, the second-down snap went past Milroe. He recovered at the 26-yard line. On third down, Milroe ran beyond the line of scrimmage, retreated and threw incomplete. That's a 5-yard illegal forward pass penalty.
  • Then came the magic, which, again, you can watch here. It's so worth it, even if you've already seen it.

Yes, Auburn was coming off a 21-point home loss to New Mexico State. Alabama should have cruised. But crazy things happen in the Iron Bowl, and this is just the latest.

If you told an Alabama fan that the Tide would face Georgia in the SEC Championship Game with a potential CFP bid on the line, they'd take it no matter how they got there. Remember, this is a team that lost to Texas in Week 2 and benched Milroe ahead of an underwhelming 17-3 win over South Florida. Alabama looked to be in crisis mode, but Milroe retook the reins and saved his best for his last play of the regular season.

🏈 College football head-coaching carousel spinning

With the college football regular season over, the coaching carousel started spinning quickly.

The biggest opening was held by Texas A&M. The Aggies fired Jimbo Fisher over two weeks ago (and paid a massive buyout). The search was a long and winding one. With Mark Stoops, initially the top target, declaring he's staying at Kentucky, the Aggies have turned to a familiar face as they are set to hire Duke's Mike Elko.

Elko was Fisher's first defensive coordinator in College Station (from 2018-21) before going 16-9 in two seasons with the Blue Devils.

Shehan Jeyarajah outlines Elko's keys for success, including ...

  • Jeyarajah: "Maintaining the roster -- Texas A&M recruited at an elite level over the past several years, reaching No. 4 in the 247Sports Team Talent Composite. Hiring Elko and retaining [interim coach] Elijah Robinson is a direct attempt to try and keep together one of the most talented rosters in Texas A&M history."

Elsewhere around the country ...

  • After a disastrous, scandal-disrupted season, Michigan State hired Jonathan Smith, who left his alma mater of Oregon State. In a cruel twist of fate for the Pac-2 Beavers, athletic director Scott Barnes said just days earlier that a new contract for Smith was the "No. 1 priority."
  • Mississippi State hired Jeff Lebby, the Oklahoma offensive coordinator. Lebby knows the Magnolia State well, having previously served as Ole Miss' offensive coordinator.
  • Indiana fired Tom Allen after a third straight losing season.
  • Houston fired Dana Holgorsen after the Cougars' rough SEC debut season.

We're tracking every hiring and firing with grades and analysis right here.

📺 What we're watching Monday

🏀 Lakers at 76ers, 7 p.m. on NBA TV
🏀 New Hampshire at No. 5 UConn, 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network
🏈 Bears at Vikings, 8:15 p.m. on ABC/ESPN
🏀 Nuggets at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. on NBA TV