The football gods apparently thought things weren’t interesting enough heading into college football Week 10, so they did something about it Saturday.
Two top-7 teams lost, and as chance would have it they both hail from the Big Ten. Speaking of chances, there’s a good one that conference won’t have a representative when the College Football Playoff kicks off in January.
Bedlam was absolutely nuts. For 59 minutes it was anyone’s guess who’d win that game. On the other side of the spectrum, Alabama and LSU bludgeoned one another for 60 minutes, but in the end the result was predictable.
These are the biggest takeaways from the madness that was college football Week 10.
Iowa crashes Ohio State’s playoff party
We had an idea this could happen. Ohio State used up so much emotional energy last weekend to come from behind and beat Penn State. A letdown wasn’t inevitable but it was absolutely possible. Throw in the added element of Iowa having a penchant for knocking off top teams at home in recent years and let’s just say the Buckeyes losing wasn’t a total shock.
Still, watching Ohio State completely fall apart was one of the more stunning developments of Week 10.
J.T. Barrett entered the game having thrown a single interception all year. He threw four(!) in this game. A week removed from holding Saquon Barkley to just 44 yards on the ground, Ohio State’s defense let Akrum Wadley have his way to the tune of 118 yards, and Iowa finished with 243 total yards on the ground. Hawkeyes quarterback Nathan Stanley was unconscious, throwing five touchdowns.
All this added up to a 55-24 win for the Hawkeyes over Ohio State.
This is the most beautiful thing on Earth pic.twitter.com/JTNQMlaqSq
— Barstool Hawkeyes (@BarstoolUIowa) November 4, 2017
It was a beautiful night for the Hawkeyes and their fans. Not so much for the Buckeyes, who, after their worst loss in the Urban Meyer era, can kiss their playoff aspirations goodbye.
Baker Mayfield proves too potent in fever-pitched Bedlam
For 59 minutes, Bedlam lived up to all the hype and then some. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were as evenly matched as you could possibly imagine, right down to the lack of defense by both clubs. The score was 55-52, with Oklahoma leading, when Mason Rudolph and Co. took over at their own 35-yard line and 2:53 left on the clock. They got the ball because Baker Mayfield threw a bad interception near the goal line, and it looked like maybe the Cowboys were in shape to pull off the big upset at home.
One first down and 10 yards later, Oklahoma’s offense went off the rails. A targeting call that was incorrectly called on the field as having happened after a Rudolph interception was ultimately, magically corrected upon review giving the Cowboys an extra shot they did not deserve.
What happened after that bit of confusion was nothing short of incompetence on a grand scale. Following a one-yard pass to make it second-and-9, a run outside to the short side of the field was called for Justice Hill, who inexplicably ran it out of bounds, stopping the clock. Two plays later, on fourth-and-8, Rudolph attempted to win the game with one heave, overthrowing Tyron Johnson deep down the right sideline and turning the ball over.
Two plays later, Oklahoma padded its lead with a 53-yard touchdown run by Trey Sermon, which proved to be the final score of the game in the Sooners’ 62-52 victory.
Mayfield threw two interceptions but was far too deadly otherwise. He finished the game with a staggering 598 yards and five touchdown passes, outplaying Rudolph and keeping the Sooners right there in the thick of the playoff race. He also set a new Sooners’ single-game record in the process and is suddenly right there atop the Heisman rankings heading into the final weeks of the season.
Most Passing Yards In Game – Oklahoma History
2017 Baker Mayfield 564
2012 Landry Jones 554 pic.twitter.com/FyeBMqdVdU
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 4, 2017
Notre Dame continues to justify high ranking
The Fighting Irish continued their incredible season with a convincing 48-37 win over Wake Forest that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicates.
Brandon Wimbush passed for a career-high 280 yards, totaled 390 yards and three touchdowns, shaking off a hand injury in the process.
He's at it again, folks! Touchdown Brandon Wimbush! pic.twitter.com/spsnDl56iE
— Notre Dame on NBC (@NDonNBC) November 4, 2017
Both Wimbush and Heisman candidate, Josh Adams, missed time in this game.
Adams barely played due a big hit to the head, finishing with just 22 yards on five carries. Thankfully head coach Brian Kelly indicated the injury wasn’t significant after the game. Adams has been the heart and soul of Notre Dame’s offense in recent weeks, and he’ll be needed down the home stretch.
Still, without Adams, the Irish rushed for 380 yards and four touchdowns. They’ve been absolutely steamrolling opposing defenses recently and don’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. Upcoming games against Miami and Stanford suddenly don’t appear to be as daunting as they did a few weeks back.
Georgia’s grind-it-out win will serve Bulldogs well down the stretch
Since beating Notre Dame by one point back in Week 2, Georgia has been on an unbelievable tear. The Bulldogs had won their last six games leading up to Week 10’s battle against South Carolina by an average of 31 points. That level of dominance, along with their win over the Irish, was the reason they earned the No. 1 seed when the CFP committee released its first rankings of the 2017 season this past Tuesday.
South Carolina also came into Saturday’s game on a bit of a hot streak, having won its last three games. The Gamecocks weren’t able to do enough offensively to win, but they did give Georgia the kind of test it needed heading into the home stretch in the 24-10 game.
Per usual, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb were very productive, combining for 183 yards and a touchdown on the ground. But perhaps even better, young quarterback Jake Fromm came up big, completing 16-of-22 passes for 196 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. In a tight game, he didn’t make any mistakes while making big plays when it counted.
Georgia hits the road to play against Auburn next week. Aside from Notre Dame, the Bulldogs haven’t faced a defense like what the Tigers bring to the table. Needless to say, proving they could win a tighter game after so many weeks of blowouts was a big deal for Kirby Smart’s players.
James Franklin continues to confound
First off, kudos to Michigan State for winning its seventh game this year, beating both Michigan and Penn State in the process. That’s a huge deal for Mark Dantonio and his team. We don’t want to make it sound like the Spartans don’t deserve praise here.
With that out of the way, James Franklin cannot possibly have a good explanation for what he’s done the past two weeks, or really, all year long. As we’ve highlighted multiple times, for reasons that defy all logic and sanity, the Nittany Lions’ offense has run through quarterback Trace McSorley. They got away with it early, but that strategy has backfired in a sickening way the past two weeks.
When you have a player like Saquon Barkley on your offense, you don’t just use him as a side piece. Heck, Franklin himself has said recently that he’s never seen Barkley’s equal, either in college or the pro game.
So how in the world did Trace McSorley throw 47 passes in this game while Barkley toted the rock just 14 times? On a rainy day, no less. It’s not like he was getting stacked up every single time he touched the ball. Barkley finished with 63 rushing yards, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Meanwhile, McSorley threw three interceptions.
As if to accentuate the absolute absurdity of all this, consider Penn State’s final drive of the game, which ended with a turnover on downs. McSorley attempted seven passes. Barkley carried the ball twice. There was more than three minutes remaining when the Nittany Lions started the drive, and the game was tied. Yet once again, the entire offense was put in McSorley’s hands.
Michigan State was able to win the game with a field goal because it got the ball back in time. And because Barkley was somehow forgotten with the game on the line.
We’re not sure what the heck Franklin has been trying to accomplish this year. The only thing we know for sure is that his grand plan has utterly failed. Barkley, not McSorley, is the guy the offense needs to revolve around. Because the Nittany Lions refused to embrace that identity this year, they’ll miss out on the chance to compete for a championship.
Clemson outlasts NC State in heavyweight ACC battle
Perhaps the biggest difference between NC State and Clemson Saturday is that the Tigers are young, yet many players have big-game experience. That X-factor shined through in a big way as Clemson made huge plays down the stretch to win by a touchdown, 38-31.
Kelly Bryant threw a pick that turned into a touchdown for the Wolfpack on the opening drive of the game. At this point it looked like maybe the Tigers were in trouble. But the young dual-threat passer pulled himself together and had a whale of a game the rest of the way. Bryant finished with 296 total yards and two touchdowns. His offense closed out the third quarter with an 89-yard touchdown scamper by Tavien Feaster to go up by 10.
Then after Ryan Finley brought the Wolfpack to within three points in the fourth quarter, Clemson’s famed defense stepped its game up, closing the contest out with interceptions on two of NC State’s final three possessions. Though, if you ask Wolfpack fans, the last interception was a bunch of you know what after officials made questionable calls on that final drive.
Clemson should retain its No. 4 ranking next Tuesday and appears to be headed towards yet another ACC Championship Game in December.
Bounce-back game from Luke Falk keeps Wazzu perfect at home
After getting humiliated last weekend — he was benched in the second quarter and never returned — in a huge loss for Washington State, Luke Falk rebounded in a big way Saturday.
The senior quarterback broke the Pac-12 record for career passing yards early in the game at home against Stanford.
— WSU Cougar Football (@wsucougfb) November 4, 2017
Then he added to that record with a 337-yard performance. Stanford did take advantage of a lapse in vision in the third quarter when Falk didn’t see the underneath coverage. Bobby Okereke picked him off and went 52 yards to the house. But the veteran once again pulled himself together and ultimately led the game-winning drive, which ended in his third touchdown of the game.
Now at 8-2 and 5-2 in the conference, the Cougars remain one game behind the Washington Huskies with a shot at taking down their rival in the final weekend of the regular season.
Wisconsin’s statement game
When the CFP committee came out with its first rankings, Wisconsin was very much a team out of favor. Despite its undefeated ranking, it was No. 9, below six one-loss teams. Needless to say, a statement needed to be mad by the Badgers against Indiana.
For a while there, that was a sketchy prospect. Indiana jumped out ahead 10-0 in the first quarter, and it looked like Wisconsin might finally suffer its first loss.
Freshman running back Jonathan Taylor was having none of that, however. Despite his questionable status heading into the game (leg injury), he went off, rushing for 183 yards and a touchdown, many times gaining significant yardage after first contact.
Wisconsin’s defense stiffened up, too. After the initial 10 points allowed, the Badgers allowed just one more touchdown all game on a gorgeous throw by Richard Lagow and equally spectacular catch by Simmie Cobbs Jr.
The fourth quarter belonged solely to Wisconsin, which outscored Indiana 21-0 to win 45-17, on the road, no less.
That’s exactly the kind of statement Wisconsin needed to make. Though, it might still prove to be too little, too late. In fact, the Big Ten appears to be the odd conference out right now in terms of the playoff rankings. The Badgers will need help to get in, even if they finish with an undefeated record, by virtue of their easy schedule.
Miami finally looks the part in big win over Virginia Tech
We had legitimate questions about whether Miami was really any good heading into Saturday’s prime-time ACC matchup against Virginia Tech. The Hokies appeared to be a more formidable squad based simply on recent samples from both teams. But those were apples-to-oranges comparisons. We finally got so see these two teams against each other, and the result was a one-sided affair that showed the Hurricanes are legit.
Aside from Malik Rosier’s three interceptions, Miami was very solid on both sides of the ball. The Hurricanes tallied 429 yards and 21 first downs. On the other side, the Hokies couldn’t run against Miami’s front seven, averaging 2.4 yards per attempt. Without any balance, freshman quarterback Josh Jackson had a rough night.
Miami will certainly see a big move up the ranks after some of the other top-10 teams either lost or struggled in college football Week 10. Though that won’t mean anything, because Notre Dame is up next, and the Irish are on fire.
Alabama stays undefeated but can’t escape the injury bug
The final score Saturday against LSU was 24-10, but you’d think Nick Saban had just watched his team win in blowout fashion given his comments and attitude after the game. The big reason he was so happy about the result is that many of his top players exited the game with injuries, including defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton (who had a season-ending injury last year) and linebacker Mack Wilson.
LSU deserves a ton of credit for the job it did defensively. Arden Key was on a mission, and he got into the backfield of Alabama with regularity.
Arden Key almost took this handoff from Jalen Hurts. pic.twitter.com/AUE7Tc4aiO
— SEConCBS (@SEConCBS) November 5, 2017
Despite the injuries and LSU’s stellar play on defense, Alabama did prevail, improving to 9-0 on the season. It was an ugly win, and there are a lot of things the Crimson Tide need to work on offensively to improve ahead of the postseason.
Jarrett Stidham answers the bell
Auburn has been on the verge of becoming an offensive powerhouse this year. Thanks to a dynamic defense and running game, the Tigers have either blown teams out (in their wins) or stayed extremely competitive (in their two losses). The one element this team has been missing in 2017, and in years past, is a passing game that can step up when everyone knows it has to.
Jarrett Stidham was supposed to be that guy. He came into the season with a ton of hype after taking last year off following his departure from Baylor. But heading into Week 10 he hadn’t lived up to the hype. We highlighted him as the one guy Auburn needed to step up in these final weeks, simply because he’s the only person who can elevate the Tigers from a good team to a great one.
On Saturday, Stidham finally did step up. Auburn was on the road and fell into an early hole against Texas A&M. Then Stidham, facing a bit of pressure, stepped up into the pocket and delivered a strike to Darius Slayton to put the Tigers up by a point. A few plays later, Auburn’s special teams scored right before the half to take a 21-13 lead into the second half (watch here).
Auburn went on to crush the Aggies, 42-27. Stidham completed 20-of-27 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns. He didn’t turn the ball over. It was, by far, the most complete game he’s had since joining the Tigers.
Florida reaches a new low
Things couldn’t get much bleaker for Florida after last weekend’s blowout loss to Georgia, right?
After all, it was the program’s third loss in a row and fourth out of its last five, which resulted (at least in part) in Jim McElwain losing his job. The offense’s inability to score points (No. 113 in the nation) prompted a change at quarterback, too. Freshman Feleipe Franks was benched in favor of Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire, and he was reportedly not-so-quietly unhappy about that.
Apparently, the rabbit hole goes even deeper. The Gators were eaten alive by the Missouri Tigers, losing by the blowout score 45-16. At least one team leader was less than pleased by his team’s effort and focus.
— Scott Carter (@GatorsScott) November 4, 2017
Yeah, it was ugly. Now at 3-5, we’re not in the least bit confident the Gators will land a bowl berth when it’s all said and done.
— Iowa State’s magical run came to an end Saturday on the road against a dangerous West Virginia squad. Both Kyle Kempt and Will Grier threw interceptions, but the Mountaineers proved too potent offensively and out-gained the Cyclones, 524-350. West Virginia jumped out to an early 20-0 lead and hung on to win, handing Iowa State its third loss of the year.
— Baylor finally won, and it won big with a 38-9 blowout over Kansas. We knew this would be the final legitimate shot for the Bears to win a game this year, as it faces a brutal trio of Big 12 opponents to close out the season. But at least Matt Rhule can say his first season at the helm wasn’t a complete embarrassment.
— Florida State found a way to stop the bleeding. It wasn’t pretty, and it took a missed field goal at the end of the game by Syracuse to secure the win, but Jimbo Fisher and Co. can finally take a breath and have a hope that bowl season might not go on without them, after all. Also, have a game, Cam Akers (199 yards and two touchdowns on the ground).
— What the heck happened to Kliff Kingsbury’s Red Raiders? They’ve now lost four straight and five of their last six, going from contenders to potentially missing out on a bowl berth in the relative blink of an eye. If Texas Tech doesn’t shape up next weekend against Baylor, it could be all she wrote.
— Mississippi State escaped Week 10 with a narrow win over UMass, which put up a tremendous fight until melting down at the end. Nick Fitzgerald had a rough afternoon through the air, throwing two picks. But he made up for it with a strong showing on the ground in the 34-23 win for the Bulldogs.
— Michigan had 266 yards and two touchdowns rushing at the half, on just 17 carries. Redshirt freshman quarterback Brandon Peters was well protected against Minnesota, and he didn’t do anything to hurt the Wolverines. But he did only pass for 56 yards on 8-of-13 attempts. Michigan finished with 371 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, winning 33-10 over the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
— TCU easily handled Texas, which was without quarterback Sam Ehlinger. The Longhorns were unable to run the ball whatsoever, and the Horned Frogs were able to pound in three touchdowns on the ground. It wasn’t a beautiful game, by any means, but TCU was able to avoid dropping another game and is in line for the Big 12 Championship Game if it wins out.
— The UCF Knights remain undefeated after a very tight win over SMU. Quarterback McKenzie Milton had his worst game of the season, throwing two interceptions, but the Knights got outstanding production from speed demon Adrian Killins Jr., who rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries. UCF appears to be on cruise control and remains the Group of Five team most likely to worm its way into the playoff conversation.