Welcome back college football fans! We had some great games this past weekend (and the usual Alabama blowout…YAWN) but as we head into October and soon the first CFP ranking, some teams that planned to be there are…but others are making some noise you didn’t expect! Let’s dive in to this week’s HOTTER than hot takes!
Texas Wins the Red River Shootout: As I discussed last week, the Red River Rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma is one of the premier rivalry games in college football. This edition of the game did not disappoint. Texas really dominated the game for the most part, but it seemed like any time Oklahoma looked down and out, they were able to pull a comeback out of their back pocket. Texas, despite leading 45-24 at one point in the second half, let the Sooners come all the way back tie the game up at 45 in waning minutes. Texas was then able to answer with a field goal as time expired to not only pull off the big upset but also defeat their hated rival.
Dogs Find Redemption: I have been incredibly critical of the Mississippi State Bulldogs in recent weeks. It just seemed like they were never going to get their offense back to the level they had been at last year or even from the earlier game in this season. Well, for at least this week the snowball has stopped. They were able to physically dominate the Auburn Tigers on both sides of the ball. Nick Fitzgerald and his duo of running backs, Kylin Hill and Aeris Williams, were able to perform to their talent level and show out like all the fans in Starkville have expected all season. The defense was dominant as usual, holding Auburn to three field goals and no touchdowns. The Dogs now have a much needed bye week before heading to Death Valley to play the LSU Tigers.
Florida Defends the Swamp: Speaking of the LSU Tigers, they traveled to The Swamp in Gainesville to take on cross division rival Florida Gators. Coming into this game everyone knew it was going to be a defensive battle, and it was going be up to which quarterback was able to manage the game the best and which running could get it going. On this day Feleipe Franks and Lamical Perine of Florida were able to outbattle Joe Burrow and LSU’s stable of running backs. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t see Florida being this successful this quick under new head man Dan Mullen, but he has this defense playing really well and has gotten Franks to understand how to manage the game and not make as many mistakes as he has in previous seasons.
Bama Falling Apart?: Looking at the title of this take, you must think I’m kidding. Well, for the most part I am, but if you asked Nick Saban on Saturday after giving up 31 points to Arkansas he’d have probably made you think they were. Despite the negativity thrown towards their defensive performance this week, Tua was able to lead the offense to 65 points so the game was never ever in doubt. While I don’t think things are falling apart in Tuscaloosa, I do think that Arkansas found somewhat of a blueprint to score on Bama’s defense. The only problem is that you might have to score 50 points to outduel Tua and the offense, which I don’t see happening.
Aggies Outlast the Cats: Two of the more surprising teams in the SEC this season have been Texas A&M and Kentucky. Texas A&M with their close loss again Clemson and Kentucky with their big wins against Mississippi State and Florida. When these teams met in College Station on Saturday it was going to be interesting to see which team would continue to break out. On this day the Aggies were able to outlast the Wildcats scoring a TD in overtime to hand Kentucky its first loss of the season. It will be interesting to see where these teams go from here, but I think both fanbases should be excited.
The Irish still impressing: Ian Book continues to lead ND’s offense while the defense bent, but didn’t break in a 45-23 win at Virginia Tech. Dexter Williams rushed for 178 yards at three touchdowns as ND is now 6-0 and very much now in the playoff conversation. Book had another efficient game going 25-35 for 271 yards and kept the Hokies defense off balance. The Irish don’t play (at the moment) another ranked team until the finale at USC, but pitfalls still remain. This week ND is home to Pitt who always give the Irish a headache.
Buckeyes survive: After the huge come from behind win in Happy Valley against Penn State, everyone thought Ohio State would cake walk over Indiana at home. And yes the final score of 49-26 would make you think that, but actually it took quite a bit for OSU to pull away. The Buckeyes only led 28-20 at the half and it took every one of Dwayne Haskins’ 455 yards and six TD to finally swat the Hoosiers away. The Buckeyes can think about this one as they prepare for Minnesota at home this week.
These teams are unbeaten?: With all the talk about the teams we expected to see unbeaten (Alabama, Clemson, ND, OSU), who would have thought that North Carolina State and Colorado would also be undefeated. YES COLORADO. The Buffaloes are 5-0 for the first time since the Bill McCartney years with a 28-21 win over Arizona State. Are they the best team in the Pac-12? Well their cumulative opponents’ record going into Saturday was 1-16, but beating a decent Sun Devils team shows that the Buffs may be a fly in the Pac-12 ointment. Now this week they play USC, and Colorado’s record all-time against the Trojans? 0-12. Big boy pants game this week. As for the Wolfpack, their 28-23 win over Boston College has them at 5-0 for the first time since 2002. A magic carpet ride so far, but that could end this Saturday when they head to Death Valley for a date with Clemson. By the way, if you really want to feel old… who was North Carolina State’s quarterback in 2002? Philip Rivers.
Speaking of the Pac-12: The conference still belongs to Washington, who beat UCLA 31-24 Saturday behind Miles Gaskins’ 116 yards and two touchdowns. Jake Browning had a pedestrian 265 yards and a TD, and even though the Bruins fought back late they fall to 0-5 for the first time since 1943. Joshua Kelley has had back to back 100 yard rushing games for UCLA, but they have fallen pretty far.
Academies Update: Air Force has been struggling all season but they are halfway toward regaining the Commander in Chief trophy after beating Navy Saturday 35-7 behind three touchdown runs by DJ Hammond. They break a three game losing streak, and if they beat Army on November 3, they take the trophy back from the Black Knights. Speaking of Army they are now 3-2 after a 42-13 win over Buffalo. Army has Miami (OH) this week, Navy has Temple at home, and Air Force is at San Diego State. Incidentally all three Academy games are on the CBS Sports Network Saturday. (Shameless plug).
The first playoff rankings are next week, and we will start adding those to the column. Here’s the big games this week:
3:30pm: #2 Georgia at #13 LSU
3:30pm: #7 Washington at #17 Oregon
7:30pm: #15 Wisconsin at #12 Michigan