Top takeaways from college football Week 10

By Jesse Reed
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

All but one of the top-five teams won their games.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

One of the worst kickoff attempts you’re ever going to see happened early on Saturday in college football Week 10 — foreshadowing the craziness yet to come.

There were some absolutely massive games on the schedule in Week 10 that could have a lot to say about how the College Football Playoff pans out later this year.

Not surprisingly, a few big upsets took place around the nation, though all but one of the top-five teams won their games. Along the way, fans witnessed some remarkable individual efforts that sparked victory.

These are the biggest takeaways from college football Week 10.

 

Fuggetaboutit: UCF is not getting into the playoff

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It was stunning to see where the selection committee slotted UCF on Tuesday. Despite a weak schedule (much weaker this year than last), the Knights were rated as high as they were all of last season until the final rankings were released.

While they did win on Thursday night, the Knights gave up 40 to Temple and only pulled away right at the end to win by 12 points. How teams win means a great deal to the selection committee, and this was not impressive.

At this point, the only way the Knights move up enough to somehow sneak into the playoff is if almost all the teams above them take some massive tumbles in the weeks to come.

 

Pitt’s stunning win shakes up ACC

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This is just wild. Pittsburgh went into Charlottesville Friday night and stomped No. 25 Virginia on a soaking wet field, 23-13 — a big-time upset, to be sure. The win put the Panthers atop the ACC Coastal division with a conference record of 4-1.

What’s really crazy about all this is that Pitt has an overall record of 5-4 right now. There’s no guarantee the Panthers are even getting into a bowl game at this point.

Yet here we are in the first weekend of November. And they’re in the driver’s seat to take on the mighty Clemson Tigers in the ACC Championship Game later this year. College football is weird.

 

Bobby Petrino deserves to be fired

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Nobody expected Louisville to have a shot at beating Clemson on Saturday. The Cardinals were 39-point underdogs, after all, and for good reason.

However, the 77-16 debacle that transpired Saturday highlighted just how awful the Louisville program really is this year. Furthermore, a blatant lack of discipline has been apparent all season long, and it reared its head in ugly fashion once again late during Saturday’s game.

The team has won just two games, and those wins came at the expense of Indiana State and Western Kentucky. It’s crystal clear now, if it wasn’t last year, that Lamar Jackson was the only thing keeping Louisville afloat in 2017. Now that he’s gone, the program is in the toilet.

The overwhelming takeaway here is that head coach Bobby Petrino needs to go.

 

Ohio State is soft

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A lot of Buckeyes fans were upset that Ohio State was ranked No. 10 by the selection committee heading into Week 10. After what we witnessed on Saturday as they hosted the two-win Nebraska Cornhuskers, it’s clear the committee got this one right.

Nebraska deserves a ton of credit for fighting all game long and losing by just five points. But let’s be real: In no way, shape or form should the Cornhuskers have even been close. If Ohio State came out sharp and played up to its potential from the opening whistle, the talent disparity alone would dictate a blowout in favor of the Buckeyes.

Ohio State managed to convert just 3-of-9 third downs and failed on its only fourth-down attempt. Heisman candidate Dwayne Haskins was seriously off his game, and it took a late surge by J.K. Dobbins for the Buckeyes to pull out the narrow victory.

This was not the way the Buckeyes needed to respond after a bye week to getting blasted by Purdue in Week 8. This is a soft team that continues to underwhelm.

 

Jarrett Stidham comes alive during comeback win

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Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham has received a lot of criticism nationally this year. He’s failed to develop, and an argument could be made he’s regressed in his second year leading Gus Malzahn’s offense.

On Saturday, however, the junior quarterback dug deep and came through in the clutch against an extremely tough Texas A&M defense. Down by 10 points midway through the fourth quarter, Stidham led the Tigers on two consecutive touchdown-scoring drives to compete a rousing comeback win.

During those final drives, Stidham completed 7-of-8 passes for 125 yards. He capped the comeback off with a stunning game-winning touchdown to receiver Seth Williams, who made an absurd catch to haul it in.

 

Georgia bulldozes Kentucky with huge statement win

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The selection committee clearly loved Kentucky, which was No. 9 in the initial rankings thanks to some big-time wins over some high-profile programs this year. The Wildcats never stopped fighting on Saturday at home against Georgia but found themselves completely outgunned.

Early on, Kentucky’s outstanding defense, spearheaded by Josh Allen, forced some key turnovers. But the Bulldogs started to pound the rock relentlessly in the second half after D’Andre Swift broke things open with an 83-yard score. He and Elijah Holyfield combined for 271 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

Despite a late push and a miracle touchdown by Kentucky’s offense, this game was really never close. Georgia doubled up its SEC foe, winning 34-17. The Bulldogs should vault up at least one spot next week, while Kentucky will take a big tumble down the rankings.

 

Mounaineers’ epic win over Texas was so much fun

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If the end of the West Virginia and Texas game didn’t get you excited, then maybe football’s not for you.

These two Big 12 teams were going back and forth all game long in an offensive shootout we won’t soon forget. Sam Ehlinger, Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Devin Duvernay were making huge plays all game long. But so were Will Grier, David Sills V (whom the Longhorns forgot to cover at one point) and Martell Pettaway.

Ehlinger put the Longhorns up by a touchdown with a gorgeous throw to Duvernay. But then it was Grier’s time to shine. He drove the Mountaineers 75 yards in seven plays, capping off his final drive with perhaps the best throw of his career, then sealed the win with a two-point conversion.

It was fantastic theater and was one of the most entertaining games of the season. The big win will boost West Virginia heading into Week 11, while Texas’ third loss is going to hurt in a major way.

 

Purdue knocks off another giant

Jeff Brohm

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The Boilermakers lost three straight to open the 2018 season, and plenty were ready to write off Jeff Brohm and Co. Since then, Purdue has won five out of its last six games, the lone loss coming in Week 9 to Michigan State.

Saturday’s big win over No. 16 Iowa was the third upset win for the Boilermakers in this six-game stretch. David Blough sloughed off a very poor game last weekend, throwing four touchdowns, three of which were hauled in by Terry Wright.

The final drive was a thing of beauty. Down by two points with just over four minutes remaining, Blough engineered the perfect four-minute drill to set up kicker Spencer Evans for a 25-yard game-winner.

Giant slaying is becoming kind of a normal thing for Purdue these days. A highly entertaining team, it’s going to be fascinating to see what kind of bowl berth the program lands in December.

 

Wolverines are playing with their food

Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines have quite the test in college football Week 1

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Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines dismantled Penn State without mercy on Saturday. This game was never close. From the opening whistle, Michigan dominated the line of scrimmage, and the scoreboard.

The past three games have been eye-opening. Michigan has utterly destroyed three ranked Big Ten teams, outscoring Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State 101-27. That’s incredible.

Notre Dame has the head-to-head win over Michigan, but that seems like eons ago. The Wolverines are better, and have beaten better competition. The committee may not see it this way, but to my eye the Wolverines should be ranked higher.

Regardless, this is a top-four team right now. And given what we’ve seen from Ohio State of late, that’s not going to change any time during the regular season.

 

Florida State’s defense is broken

NC State can put points on the board. The Wolfpack have averaged over 30 points per game, and they put up 41 last weekend in defeat against Syracuse.

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But the way they were able to dominate Florida State on Saturday was stunning. Before Clemson took them behind the woodshed, the Seminoles hadn’t given up more than 28 points in a game this year. NC State dropped 47 points on them Saturday, racking up 417 yards and five touchdowns while punting just twice.

It was just what the doctor ordered for the Wolfpack. But it’s easy to understand why Florida State fans are so despondent right now.

 

A healthy AJ Dillon makes all the difference for BC

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Boston College has only lost one game this year when running back AJ Dillon was healthy. He came back in Week 9 after sitting two games out with an ankle injury and helped the Eagles upset Miami.

Then on Saturday, he was at it again as Boston College took on Virginia Tech. Dillon rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown to help the Eagles gain a one-touchdown lead. Of course, his teammate, Travis Levy, had a lot to do with the outcome as well. The sophomore racked up 103 yards and two touchdowns as lighting to Dillon’s thunder.

But make no mistake about it: Boston College is so much more formidable when Dillon is able to pound the rock.

 

Florida falling apart at the seams

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Last weekend the Gators played Georgia really tough in the first half. Then the defense started falling apart in the second half as Florida was outscored 23-10.

On Saturday, at The Swamp in front of their loyal fans, the Gators’ second-half collapse carried over against Missouri. The Tigers could do no wrong (minus penalties), racking up 471 yards, converting 11-of-18 third downs and dropping 38 points on the board.

Florida’s offense was a mess, to boot. Feleipe Franks found himself on the bench in favor of Kyle Trask, and in the end the Gators were on the losing end of a 38-17 blowout loss, having been outscored 61-27 in their last six quarters.

 

Utah’s vaunted defense destroyed in the desert

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The Utah Utes have been incredible on the defensive side of the ball this year. Coming into Week 10, they ranked 14th nationally allowing just 16.8 points per game, and seventh in total defense, allowing just 287 yards per contest.

That vaunted unit was utterly demolished on Saturday by Arizona State. Manny Wilkins and N’Keal Harry destroyed the Utes through the air, and Eno Benjamin had his way on the ground.

All told, the Sun Devils racked up 536 yards and won handily, 38-20. Just a total flop by Utah’s vaunted defense, and the Utes are going to take a hard fall from No. 16 when the next rankings come out.

 

Chip Kelly’s return to Autzen Stadium was not triumphant

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The UCLA Bruins are rebuilding. At least, that’s what their fans hope is happening. It’s hard to tell what the future holds. What we do know is that Kelly’s first year at the helm of the program has been fraught with pitfalls and losses.

Kelly’s Bruins were in Eugene, Oregon Saturday as he faced his old team for the first time since leaving the Ducks for the NFL. The reunion wasn’t sweet, and his return was far from triumphant. UCLA was blasted, 42-21, as Oregon dominated on both sides of the ball.

Now at 2-7 on the season, the Bruins are eliminated from bowl contention. Meanwhile, the Ducks punched their ticket in with the sixth win of their season.

 

Ian Book keeps Notre Dame perfect

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Notre Dame fans had to be doing some deep-breathing exercises at halftime. Northwestern’s defense had done an outstanding job after allowing a touchdown on the game’s opening drive, and then Clayton Thorson tied things up with a one-yard run to cap off an 18-play drive in the second quarter.

It was shaping up to be exactly the type of game the Wildcats have been winning this year.

Then, Ian Book woke up in a big way with a huge second half. He completed 15-of-19 passes for 236 yards with two touchdowns and ran in a 23-yard score, leading four scoring drives on Notre Dame’s final six drives.

The 31-21 win kept the Fighting Irish perfect on the season. If they stay perfect, they’re in the playoff. Meanwhile, despite the loss, Northwestern (5-4 overall) still remarkably remains atop the Big Ten West with a 5-1 conference record.

 

Freak injury might have saved Oklahoma’s season

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Texas Tech had a 31-28 halftime lead Saturday night at home against the high-powered Sooners. Granted, the score might have been much different if not for a crazy penalty that wiped a pick-six off the board. But these two teams were neck-and-neck throughout the first half, regardless.

Then as the teams were preparing to play the second half, Red Raiders quarterback Alan Bowman got pegged in the head with an errant football. He had to head into the locker room and never stepped foot onto the field again. Before exiting, Bowman had completed 21-for-26 passes for 227 yards with two touchdowns — he was red hot.

Bowman’s replacement, Jett Duffey, had a rough time of it. He completed just 9-of-17 passes and Texas Tech’s offense hit a big-time lull in the third quarter. In the end, he still managed to throw a couple of touchdowns and nearly pulled off a stunner. But the Sooners did just enough to stave off the defeat, winning 51-46.

This crazy circumstance likely saved Oklahoma’s season, at least as it pertains to any playoff hopes.

 

LSU hopelessly outmatched against ‘Bama

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Any discussion about Alabama potentially being beatable this year has been silenced in the wake of Saturday night’s game in Baton Rouge.

LSU had no chance at all. None. The Crimson Tide rolled over the Tigers like they were made out of cheese puffs, dominating from the first whistle until the end of the game.

Alabama’s defense was perhaps the best we’ve seen all year. The Tigers managed just 184 total yards of offense, and that includes 63 yards that were tallied in the final minutes of the fourth quarter after the Crimson Tide went up 29-0 to put the game away.

Meanwhile, despite tweaking his knee again, and despite throwing his first interception all year, Tua Tagovailoa added to his Heisman resume with another phenomenal performance. LSU’s defense was easily the toughest he saw all year, but the ‘Bama quarterback still passed for 295 yards and ran for 49 more, including a 44-yard touchdown.

LSU will certainly fall a fair bit in the rankings, while it’s crystal clear Alabama is the top team in the nation — and it’s not really close.