Once again college football dazzles with exciting games and unpredictability.
Weekly peaks and valleys keep players, coaches, and fans all on their toes.
Here’s a look at some of the notable winners and losers from an action-packed weekend.
The Trojans have rebounded after bad road losses against Washington State and bitter rival Notre Dame. They defeated a rapidly improving Arizona and their dynamic quarterback Khalil Tate in a 49-35 shootout at the Coliseum. The win all but locks up the PAC-12 South for the Trojans, which sets up a future conference championship showdown with last year’s PAC-12 winner and playoff representative Washington. The Huskies will be looking for revenge after the Trojans ruined their perfect season. If chaos ensues in the top 10, USC may even have an outside shot of getting back into the playoff picture with only two losses.
The Spartans are now in control of the ever-competitive Big Ten East after handing Penn State their second straight loss. Due to thunderstorms, the game was delayed for roughly four hours. After play resumed, Michigan State proved to be the sharper team and eked out at 27-24 victory on a last-second field goal. Michigan State has already toppled division foes Michigan and Penn State, but they still have a date with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Winning in Columbus will be a tall order for the Spartans, but stranger things have happened. More on that later…
College football has been waiting for “The U” to be back. After a decade plus of mediocrity, the Hurricanes are close to returning to relevance. They’re not there yet, but they took a huge step by locking up the ACC Coastal division for all intents and purposes with a 28-10 victory against Virginia Tech. The win sets up a colossal showdown with 3rd ranked Notre Dame next week. The teams haven’t played a high-stakes game in almost 30 years, but the bitter rivalry could be reignited with both teams currently ranked in the top 10. Miami propels into next week after an energizing win over a yearly nemesis. Barring a series of unlikely events, Miami will claim its first ACC Coastal title since the inception of the divisional structure in 2005. Even though “The U” isn’t quite back, its hard-hitting defense is, with jewelry:
Miami’s defense forced four turnovers and held Virginia Tech to its lowest point total this season. Highlights: https://t.co/n7iySPKYOv
The Big XII has a perception problem. While the league is known for gaudy offensive stats, it’s also known for porous defense. Oklahoma-Oklahoma State “Bedlam” series did nothing to dispel the lousy-defense label. The Cowboys have now lost five of six to their hated rivals after a 62-52 loss in Stillwater. Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 598 yards on only 24 completions. That type of defense just isn’t going to get the job done. The Cowboys aren’t the only team with defensive issues in the league, but yielding 62 points at home puts them in the spotlight. Until Oklahoma State can figure out how to get key stops, they will continue to drop games they shouldn’t; a weak defensive performance against a lowly Iowa State team kept the Cowboys out of the national championship game back in 2011.
The Wolfpack had a chance to make a statement. They have senior-laden team with a strong defense. They had division opponent Clemson at home in a winner-take-all match for the ACC Atlantic division. They had their shot, but made costly mistakes late in a 38-31 loss to the Tigers. The Wolfpack were looking to avenge last year’s heartbreaking loss to the eventual national champions; NC State had a chance to win the game on a chip-shot field goal, but shanked it and eventually loss in overtime. This year the Wolfpack were driving late, but an illegal shift penalty killed a huge gain that would’ve set them up with a first down inside the 20. The Wolfpack lose a lot of players to graduation, so it could be a while before they get another chance this promising to win the division.
As thrilling as Ohio State’s comeback victory was against Penn State last week, their road loss against Iowa this week was equally harrowing. The Buckeyes clearly seemed to be suffering a big-game “hangover” in a crushing 55-24 defeat, arguably the worst of Urban Meyer’s coaching career. The 55 points was the most his teams have ever surrendered, and the 31 points is the largest conference margin-of-defeat for Meyer. Ohio State will have to recover quickly from the mystifying loss, because Michigan State is coming to town with an eye on winning the Big Ten East. The last time the Spartans went into Columbus with the division title on the line, they won on a last-second field goal. As for the Iowa game, nothing went right for the Buckeyes. Quarterback JT Barrett set his career high in interceptions with four, but none more spectacular than this one:
Josh Jackson just Odell’d Ohio State. 3rd INT of the game https://t.co/6jYJQWXgVz