Seventeen ranked teams were in action on Saturday in Week 12 of the 2020 college football season, including three Top 25 meetings. In one, No. 3 Ohio State narrowly defeated No. 9 Indiana 42-35 in a top-10 matchup. Here are nine takeaways from this week's action.
The Buckeyes appeared to be on their way to an easy victory early in the third quarter. A nine-yard touchdown pass from Justin Fields to Garrett Wilson gave Ohio State a 35-7 cushion just 2:50 into the second half. But the Hoosiers wouldn't go down without a fight. Indiana's Michael Penix Jr. led back-to-back touchdown drives of 75 and 60 yards to cut the deficit in half, 35-21. Even after Buckeyes cornerback Shaun Wade returned an interception for a score, putting Ohio State back up by 21, Indiana refused to go away. Penix threw two touchdown passes in a two-minute span early in the fourth to make it a 42-35 game with 10:26 left. The Hoosiers defense did its part the rest of way, holding the Buckeyes scoreless in the fourth quarter.
Before Oklahoma State could even blink, the Cowboys were down 21-0. The Sooners scored three straight touchdowns in the first nine minutes of the game. Oklahoma cooled off a bit, but OU never allowed Oklahoma State back into the contest. Sooners quarterback Spencer Rattler threw for 301 yards and four touchdowns while completing 17 of 24 passing attempts. Oklahoma State signal callers Spencer Sanders and Shane Illingworth both struggled. The two combined for 15-for-40 passing for 168 yards. The Cowboys couldn't draw closer than 14 points, and were shut out in the second half. Oklahoma has now won six straight against its in-state rival.
Mac Jones threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns while Najee Harris ran for a pair of scores on the ground — after 30 minutes of play. The Crimson Tide had the game all but wrapped up by then, leading Kentucky 28-3. After Harris' second touchdown, he became the only player in Alabama history to record 16 rushing touchdowns through seven games. The second half was more of the same, with the Tide putting up another 35 points. Four different ball carriers (Jase McClellan, Roydell Williams, Brian Robinson Jr. and Harris) found the end zone for Alabama. Its defense also held the Wildcats to 179 yards of total offense.
Led by quarterback Kyle Trask, the Gators continue to roll. The senior threw for 383 yards and three touchdowns while completing 26 of his 35 passing attempts in Florida's 38-17 win over Vanderbilt. Nine different Gators caught passes, and six caught more than one. The Commodores managed to take an early 7-0 thanks to a 16-yard touchdown pass from Ken Seals to Chris Pierce Jr. roughly five minutes into the game. They led 10-7 after the first, but it was all Florida from that point on. The Gators scored the next 24 points before Vanderbilt finally responded with a touchdown late in the third quarter.
The Wildcats forced five Wisconsin turnovers in a grueling 17-7 win over the Badgers. Those five giveaways were the most by Wisconsin since a 13-7 loss to Northwestern on Nov. 21, 2015, exactly five years to the day. Both offenses struggled to find any rhythm. Following a 25-yard touchdown pass from Northwestern's Peyton Ramsey to Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman in the final minute of the first half, the next (and final) score wouldn't come until Charlie Kuhbander's 32-yard field goal with 11:35 remaining. His kick gave the Wildcats that 17-7 lead. Ramsey threw for 203 yards and two touchdowns while completing 23 of his 44 passing attempts. Northwestern joins Ohio State as the only undefeated teams left in the Big Ten.
After falling behind early, No. 7 Cincinnati held off UCF. The Knights jumped out to a 14-3 lead less than eight minutes into the game. But Cincinnati settled in, scoring 16 in a row before UCF kicker Daniel Obarski nailed a 36-yard field with one second to play in the half. Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder threw for 338 yards and two touchdowns while running for 57 yards and two scores as well. UCF's Dillon Gabriel (243 yards, three touchdown passes) had a strong outing, but threw a costly interception that Cincinnati safety Darrick Forrest returned to the Knights' 16-yard line. The Bearcats needed just four plays to score the go-ahead touchdown on a one-yard run from Ridder.
The Cyclones posted their first shutout victory since 2017 in dominating fashion over the Wildcats. Iowa State held a slim 7-0 lead at the end of the first before dropping 28 points in the second quarter. Quarterback Brock Purdy was superb, completing 16 of his 20 passes while throwing for 236 yards and three touchdowns. However, it was a balanced attack for the Cyclones. Breece Hall ran for 135 yards and two scores on 15 carries, and Iowa State put up 539 yards of total offense while limiting Kansas State to just 149. Two quarterbacks, Nick Ast and Will Howard, saw action for the Wildcats, but combined for just 76 yards, nine completions and one interception on 19 passing attempts.
Liberty's perfect season is over. The Flames fell to unranked NC State in a game that saw just four touchdowns (and one safety). Liberty quarterback Malik Willis was responsible for two of those scores, but also threw three interceptions. Two of his turnovers came in the fourth quarter when the Flames trailed by one. Wolfpack running back Zonovan Knight led NC State's offense with 96 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
The Chanticleers were pushed to the limit on Saturday. There were six lead changes in Coastal Carolina's 34-23 victory over the Mountaineers. Appalachian State only scored two touchdowns. But three field goals from Chandler Staton kept the Mountaineers within reach. Still, the Chanticleers found just enough offense to pull away in the end. Quarterback Grayson McCall threw for 200 yards and two touchdown passes while rushing for a score as well.