The college football season is in full swing and the stakes are being raised.
Contenders are beginning to separate themselves from the pretenders.
Here’s a rundown of some of the winners and losers of the weekend.
The Cyclones proved that their mammoth upset over Oklahoma in Norman wasn’t a fluke by again notching a Big XII road win, beating Texas Tech 31-13. The way they won was just as impressive as the win itself; Iowa State severely limited the Red Raiders’ prolific attack. The Cyclones are sitting at 5-2 with two close losses to Texas and in-state rival Iowa. They’ll get more chances to prove their legitimacy as they dive into the meat of their schedule. Their next three games are against ranked conference foes TCU, West Virginia, and Oklahoma State.
The Nittany Lions capitalized off last season’s strong finish to the season by climbing to #2 in the polls this year. They solidified their ranking by avenging last year’s embarrassing 49-10 loss to Michigan with a 42-13 victory. Heisman frontrunner Saquon Barkley made his customary highlight-reel plays en route to a comfortable win before a raucous Penn State crowd at night. The Lions can’t ride too high after the win because next week they travel to Columbus to face the #6 Ohio State Buckeyes. The winner of that game will have the inside track to locking up the Big Ten East.
The Fighting Irish didn’t just defeat rival USC, they thrashed them. The Trojans’ 49-14 loss was their second-worst in the yearly series, only eclipsed by a 51-0 drubbing in 1966. USC star quarterback Sam Darnold has seen his Heisman candidacy evaporate and his draft stock plummet. Scouts still consider him a first-round talent, but questions about his readiness abound. As for Notre Dame, they can make a playoff push by making a statement against the three ranked teams remaining on their schedule: NC State, Miami, and Stanford. It won’t be easy, but Notre Dame has line-of-scrimmage play and running game to make some noise.
The Jayhawks are incredibly bad at football. This isn’t a revelation, but they just set a mark for offensive futility unseen in the past 20 years; Kansas mustered a pathetic 21 yards of offense in a 43-0 loss to TCU. Even worse, Kansas tied an 81-year-old NCAA record by losing their 44th consecutive true road game. The Jayhawks have lost their last four games by a combined score of 209-53, the last two by shutouts of 45-0 and 43-0. Kansas’s unspeakable futility makes the success under Mark Mangino seem like a fever dream. Mangino, despite his abrasive personality, led the Jayhawks to a 12-1 season and a top 10 finish only a decade ago.
After losing several players to the draft (including #2 overall pick Mitch Trubisky), the Tar Heels were prepared for a rebuilding year, but nobody anticipated this. UNC looked to replace Trubisky at quarterback with LSU transfer Brandon Harris, but Harris struggled just as he did at LSU and was benched early in the season. Things went from bad to worse when UNC suffered a spate of season-ending injuries (16 players total). To add insult to injury, UNC was totally overmatched last week in a 59-7 loss to Virginia Tech. Two years ago in Blacksburg, UNC clinched the ACC Coastal and celebrated on the Hokies’ field. This year, sitting at 1-7, UNC will celebrate any win.
What began as a promising season has turned into a disaster for the Seminoles. Florida State entered the season ranked #3, but now they’re in jeopardy of missing a bowl game for the first time in decades. It began with a crushing 24-7 to Alabama where up-and-coming quarterback Deondre François was injured for the year. Since then, the Noles have tumbled to 2-4 with challenging games ahead. The most recent loss came at the hands of Louisville. The Noles had hoped to avenge last year’s 63-20 humiliation, but they squandered their opportunity late. Deep in the 4th quarter and driving for the go-ahead score, freshman quarterback James Blackman made a fatal error that set up Louisville’s game-winning drive.
James Blackman had been playing really well. But this fumble is less than ideal … https://t.co/49EWnioZSw
It got worse after the game when a fan yelled, “New coaches” to head coach Jimbo Fisher. Needless to say, Fisher didn’t take too kindly to those words.
Fan in the stands: “New Coaches, New Coaches!”. Jimbo Fisher in response: “Bring your [email protected]# down here and say that!”. Whoa. FSU loses 31-28