What a weird Saturday it was.
This week's college football lineup was an impressive one. As we sit here just 13 days away from Ohio State's season opener, the playoff picture is already starting to take shape. Oklahoma State may be the last remaining hope for the Big 12, Clemson is dominating the ACC per usual, and poor defense is plaguing the majority of the Southeast.
Speaking of the SEC, two of its premier programs went down yesterday in surprising fashion, and Gus Malzahn probably should have met a similar fate. The weekend's other major storyline was a Red River matchup that turned out to be a four-overtime instant classic.
Oklahoma 53, No. 22 Texas 45 (4OT)
Tom Herman, Chris Ash, Mike Yurcich, Stan Drayton, and Alex Grinch. Five former Ohio State assistants clashed in this year's edition of the Red River Rivalry, and it was a classic showdown in Dallas. It was a bit of an ugly one early on and was knotted up at 17 at the break, but this was a second half to remember for both programs.
Sooner quarterback Spencer Rattler got pulled in the second quarter after a pair of turnovers. There were some rumblings of an injury, but Lincoln Riley confirmed at the half that he simply wanted to get backup Tanner Mordecai involved. Rattler returned after the intermission and was much better in the game's final two quarters. He hit on 23 of 35 passes for 209 yards and four total scores; including the game-winner in overtime No. 4. The ground game finally got things going as T.J. Pledger ran for 131 and two touchdowns.
Down 14 heading into the fourth, Sam Ehlinger did a fine job rallying the Horns and sending it into overtime. Though the offensive line struggled, Ehlinger threw for 287, ran for 112, and scored six touchdowns to go along with two interceptions. His final pick came in the fourth overtime to seal this one for the Sooners. Ehlinger's career will likely come to an end with four losses to Oklahoma and each of those coming against a different Sooner quarterback.
No. 21 Texas A&M 41, No. 4 Florida 38
The Gator defense is definitely a problem, and it's the reason Florida is no longer among the unbeatens. Kellen Mond, Isaiah Spiller, and Caleb Chapman put on a show in College Station to help the Aggies pull off the upset. Mond threw for 338 and a trio of scores. Spiller dashed for 174 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. Chapman hauled in nine passes for 151 yards and two receiving scores. The trio led Texas A&M down the field for the game-winning field goal as time expired.
For Dan Mullen's squad, it was another big day for Kyle Trask as he completed 23 of 32 for 312 yards and four scores. They couldn't do much of anything on the ground, rushing for just 90 and a score on 24 attempts. Kadarius Toney caught seven passes for 92 yards and two scores. Kyle Pitts was more quiet than usual with five for 47 yards, but he did score his seventh touchdown of the season.
A 51-yard strike from Mond to Chapman tied things up at 38 with less than five minutes to play. A Gator fumble then gave the Aggies the ball back and an opportunity for the win. Seth Small connected on a 26-yard chip-shot field goal as time expired to give Jimbo Fisher the win and put a damper on Dan Mullen's playoff hopes.
Missouri 45, No. 17 LSU 41
The LSU defense is really bad as Bo Pelini is having all kinds of problems during his second stint in Baton Rouge. Two years ago, Connor Bazelak was a three-star quarterback at Dayton's Archbishop Alter High School. Bazelak spent his Saturday afternoon shredding a school that still likes to call itself DBU.
This performance will put the Bayou Bengals dead last in America when it comes to passing defense. Bazelak completed 85 percent of his passes (29/34) for 406 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Four different pass-catchers scored on the day, but Tauskie Dove led the way with six receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown. Larry Rountree III was the game's leading rusher with 119 on 18 carries.
Myles Brennan and the LSU offense also had a fine showing. Brennan threw for 430 yards and four touchdowns. Terrace Marshall Jr. showed why he's one of the best in America hauling in a ridiculous 11 passes for 235 yards and three scores. True freshman tight end Arik Gilbert is going to be a problem as well. He caught six passes for 97 yards and a touchdown.
LSU's defense is a disaster right now, and yes All-American cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. has been in the lineup after missing the opener. The Tigers are the first defending champions to start off 1-2 since the Wolverines in 1998.
No. 8 North Carolina 56, No. 19 Virginia Tech 45
I honestly didn't even realize Virginia Tech was ranked and somewhat good this season. I also never would have guessed this one would turn into a shootout in Chapel Hill. The ACC foes combined for over 1,100 yards, 100+ points, and no turnovers on the day. It was mostly the ground attacks that stole the show with the Hokies running for 260 and four scores and the Heels rumbling for 399 and five.
Sam Howell threw for 257 yards and three scores, but it was the Tarheel ground game that did the most damage to the Hokies. Michael Carter ran for 214 yards and two scores on just 17 carries. Javonte Williams added another 169 with two touchdowns of his own. On the aerial side, Dyami Brown was Howell's favorite target hauling in three for 86 and two scores.
Hokie quarterback Hendon Hooker threw for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Khalil Herbert was the team's leading rusher with 138 and a pair of scores. James Mitchell caught four passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. VT never had the lead but put together a fine comeback after getting down 21-0 in the first quarter. It's also worth noting that Justin Fuente was missing 15 players in this contest.
No. 3 Georgia 44, No. 14 Tennessee 21
This one was close for a half and the Volunteers actually held a 21-17 lead at the break. And then the second half happened. Kirby Smart's Bulldogs scored 27 unanswered to come away with a comfortable win in Athens.
Stetson Bennett continues to be fine albeit unspectacular at quarterback. He completed 16 of 27 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns. True freshman Kendall Milton led the ground attack with 56 yards on eight attempts. Zamir White struggled and could only manage 50 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Bennett also found the end zone with his legs.
Jarrett Guarantano had a really good first half and then looked more like Jarrett Guarantano in the second half. The Vols started the third quarter with back-to-back Guarantano turnovers. Early in the fourth, he fumbled yet again with this one resulting in a scoop and score for Georgia's defense. Guarantano threw for 215 yards with a touchdown and the trio of turnovers. The Tennessee ground game totaled negative yardage on the day (-1) thanks in part to five Bulldog sacks.
Monty Rice, that'll work. pic.twitter.com/UfxNYx4ZXv— SEConCBS (@SEConCBS) October 10, 2020
No. 1 Clemson 41, No. 7 Miami 17
Much like Texas, Da U is most certainly not back. The Canes should have been down 21-3 at the half, but a weird Clemson field goal attempt was blocked and returned for a score to make it 21-10. Trevor Lawrence hit on 29 of 41 attempts for 292 and three scores. Travis Etienne had a big day rushing for 149 yards and two scores; including a 72-yard jolt. Lawrence added 34 yards and a score with his legs as well.
It wasn't the best night for D'Eriq King. Miami's signal-caller completed just 12 of 28 attempts for 121 yards and two picks. He did better on the ground with 84 yards and the team's lone offensive touchdown. Despite his 84, the Canes ended the day with just 89 yards rushing thanks to far too many negative plays. Cam'Ron Harris's eight carries for three yards gives you a pretty good idea as to how things went for the ground game.
No. 2 Alabama 63, Ole Miss 48
This looked like a Big 12 contest as the final stat line included 111 points and 1,370 yards; a new SEC record. Ole Miss came into this one with the nation's last-ranked defense and it legitimately might be worse than any I've ever seen before. The game itself was actually much closer than the final score would indicate.
Mac Jones threw for 417 yards and two touchdowns. All Najee Harris did was rush for 206 yards and five scores on 23 carries. DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle both topped the century mark with Smith hauling in one of the touchdown passes. He added another score with his legs. Alabama's offense pretty much did whatever it wanted to do in Oxford.
Matt Corral had another big day connecting on 21 of 28 for 365 and two touchdowns. Snoop Conner ran for 128, Jerrion Ealy went for 120, and they both found the end zone twice. Kenny Yeboah caught seven passes for 181 and two scores. Elijah Moore hauled in 11 for for 143 yards. Moore has now recorded double-digit receptions in each of his three games and is up to 31 on the young season.
No. 6 Notre Dame 42, Florida State 26
The Noles hung around for a bit in South Bend and actually scored more points than I was expecting. Notre Dame was victorious nevertheless thanks to Brian Kelly's superb ground game and Ian Book's game-manager role. Kyren Williams? 185 yards and two scores. True freshman Chris Tyree? 104 and a score. And both backs averaged over nine per carry. Book added three scores of his own on the night.
Jordan Travis is FSU's new starting quarterback and the redshirt sophomore was pretty meh in South Bend. Travis put up 204 through the air and another 96 on the ground with a pair of scores and an interception. He completed just 54 percent of his passes. Tamorrion Terry had a big day hauling in eight for 135 and a touchdown.
Dumb Game of the Week
No. 13 Auburn 30, Arkansas 28
I'm no officiating expert, but the internet tells me that spiking the ball BEHIND you after bobbling the snap is in fact a fumble. The SEC officials apparently felt otherwise and gifted Auburn a win over Arkansas. The Hogs were up by a score of 28-27 with 20 seconds left on the clock, and a turnover would have prevented the Tigers from kicking the game-winning field goal. It sure feels like this should have been upset No. 3 in SEC land.
This is a backwards pass and a fumble. If you want to have a discussion about who recovered it (it was Arkansas) because the play was blown dead, then sure. But to rule this anything but a fumble is bull pic.twitter.com/N15xWCAt3E— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) October 10, 2020
- Week's Best: Connor Bazelak, Terrace Marshall Jr., Najee Harris, pretty much every ACC ground game
- Week's Worst: Non-Georgia SEC defenses, SEC officials, special teams play
- Week's Weirdest: Pitt kicker Alex Kessman nailed a 58-yard field goal to force overtime. He then missed an extra point to give Jeff Hafley and the Eagles a 31-30 victory. Additionally, Willie Taggart is the only undefeated FBS head coach in the state of Florida.
What a weird week for the SEC. And even in a really strange year, it's pretty shocking to see just how bad some of the conference's defenses are playing right now. At this point, it's honestly tough to distinguish between the Big 12 and the SEC. LSU lost its best coordinators and its best players, so maybe that's not a major surprise. But Nick Saban's defense looking like Oklahoma's? That's a strange development.
Next weekend will be the last without Big Ten play. And while its slate isn't quite as deep as what we just saw, it does include one of the top matchups of the season. The Crimson Tide will host Georgia at 8 p.m. and I have no idea what to expect in that one. The other big one will go down in Gainesville with the Gators hosting LSU. But that one's already lost a bit of its luster.