The Hodgepodge: Ohio State Keeps Finding Ways to Win, Kansas Snaps 18-game Losing Streak to Oklahoma and Ends the Sooners' Perfect Season

By Garrick Hodge on October 30, 2023 at 11:54 am
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Eight games in, we’re noticing a trend with this Ohio State team.

It’s never pretty. But the Buckeyes keep finding a way to grind out wins boasted by one of the nation’s top defenses and college football’s best wide receiver. 

Factor in three turnovers and other missed opportunities to put points on the board and Ohio State probably should have won in a more lopsided fashion than its 24-10 victory over Wisconsin on Saturday. But it’s also the first time the Buckeyes have beaten the Badgers by double digits in Madison since 2000, so that’s not nothing. 

The first College Football Playoff rankings are set to be unveiled Tuesday evening. Considering the committee heavily factors in strength of schedule and the quality of wins into account, don’t be surprised if Ohio State slots in as the No. 1 team in the first ranking over Georgia and the Ann Arbor Astros thanks to its wins over Notre Dame and Penn State.

With the Wisconsin win out of the way, the Buckeyes now have a favorable three-game slate that should ensure they enter The Game undefeated, with all due respect to bowl-eligible Rutgers. Nov. 25 certainly is looming large for many reasons, isn’t it? 

Ohio State Spotlight of the Week: TreVeyon Henderson

It was clear just how much Ohio State had missed Henderson in the running game the past three weeks Saturday. Henderson, returning to the field for the first time since he said he suffered a “cheap shot” against Notre Dame, ran for 162 yards on 24 carries with one touchdown and averaged 6.8 yards per carry. 

Henderson’s ability to break big runs is an aspect that’s been missing from the offense in his absence, and the Buckeyes will need him healthy and productive if they want to win the Big Ten this season. Considering the inconsistent play of OSU’s offensive line throughout the year, it’s crucial to have a back that can either make a defender miss or create a positive gain out of nothing, and no running back on this roster is better at that than Henderson. 

Jayhawks end Sooners’ undefeated season

Kansas isn’t letting Oklahoma escape to the SEC unscathed. After losing to the Sooners 18 straight times, the 19th time was the charm, as the Jayhawks outlasted Oklahoma 38-33 on Saturday in Lawerence to pick up their first win in the series since 1997. It was also their first top-10 win in 15 years, and their first home top-10 win in 40 years. It doesn’t hurt the fun factor that Kansas did this with its backup quarterback, Jason Bean, getting the start.

The goalposts were torn down and carried out of the stadium, and Kansas is now bowl-eligible in back-to-back seasons since the 2007 and 2008 campaigns. 

In the big picture, this upcoming week is massive for the Big 12’s CFP hopes. Texas hosts Kansas State at home but will be without starting quarterback Quinn Ewers. At the same time, Oklahoma faces a hot Oklahoma State team on the road that will have no shortage of motivation to ruin its rival’s season in the final yearly edition of the Bedlam Series.  

A loss from either eliminates that school from playoff contention, and a loss from both eliminates the conference entirely. 

Other wins of the week: Oregon over Utah and Georgia over Florida

Oddly enough, Washington and Oregon seem to have gone in different directions since the Huskies bested the Ducks a few weeks ago. While Washington has kept its undefeated season alive, it’s engaged in close calls with Arizona State and Stanford, arguably the Pac-12’s two worst teams. Oregon has beaten Washington State by 14, then on Saturday, crushed a previously 6-1 Utah team 35-6. The Ducks would surely love to get another shot at Washington in the Pac-12 championship in a few weeks, with possible CFP implications on the line if the league doesn’t cannibalize itself first. 

Meanwhile, Georgia had plenty of people around the country curious to see how it would perform offensively without the nation’s best tight end, Brock Bowers. The Bulldogs responded with a 43-20 rout of Florida, with Carson Beck throwing for 315 yards and two touchdowns and wide receiver Ladd McConkey stepping up with six receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown.

Georgia’s schedule finally toughens up a bit in the next three weeks, with the Bulldogs facing Missouri and Ole Miss at home and Tennessee on the road to close out its SEC slate. It passed its first test without Bowers, but it’ll be interesting to see if it can keep its undefeated streak rolling.

Big Ten tiebreaker update

Two-thirds of the way through the season, the scenario is still in play that Ohio State, Penn State and the Ann Arbor Astros all split with each other. 

Should that occur, the conference will likely have to go all the way down to its fifth tiebreaker to sort out who plays in the Big Ten Championship, which is essentially the combined conference record of the trio’s Big Ten West opponents. 

A refresher: “The records of the three (or more) teams will be compared based on the best cumulative conference winning percentage of non-divisional opponents.”

If that’s somehow tied, then we move to tiebreaker No. 6, and from an Ohio State perspective, it essentially comes down to rooting for Wisconsin the rest of the way and rooting against Iowa. 

“The records of the three (or more) teams will be compared against the highest placed non-divisional teams in their division order of finish (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7).”

With Ohio State, the Ann Arbor Astors and Penn State all favorites to win this week, we’ll find out next week how necessary the tiebreaker will be, with the AAA facing the Nittany Lions on the road on Nov. 11. 

For now, here are the updated Big Ten tiebreaker standings.

Ann Arbor Astros - Minnesota, Purdue, Nebraska: 7-8 

Ohio State - Purdue, Wisconsin, Minnesota: 7-8

Penn State - Northwestern, Illinois, Iowa: 6-9

And then there were 8

Two-thirds of the way through the season, eight out of 133 FBS teams are still undefeated. 

Big Ten: Ohio State (8-0), Michigan (8-0)

ACC: Florida State (8-0)

SEC: Georgia (8-0)

Pac-12: Washington (8-0)

Group of Five: Liberty (8-0), James Madison (8-0), Air Force (8-0)

What was fun and what was wacky about Week 9

Week 9 had a lot of things that were fun

  • Gonna give some love to a player having a hell of a season that not many people are talking about nationally: Oklahoma State running back Ollie Gordon. Gordon has run for 1,087 yards on 141 carries with 10 rushing touchdowns while racking up 201 receiving yards and a touchdown as well. 
  • A fun win for Georgia Tech to take down North Carolina and give their fans a field-storming moment. Rushing for 246 yards in just the fourth quarter will certainly help that cause. 
  • Don’t feel bad. I heard it differently, too.
  • Big wins deserve backflips. Go crazy, Arizona.
  • You know you’ve dominated the defense on a particular play when the ball carrier and a teammate high-five before scoring a touchdown. 
  • Ole Miss has a basketball hoop that players get to dunk on after making big plays, though Lane Kiffin wasn’t too interested in that Saturday. 
  • Always love it when a quarterback completes a pass to himself. Gold star to Wisconsin signal caller Braedyn Locke.
  • One of the more entertaining, yet ultimately meaningless, plays to end a game you’ll see.  
  • A sign from the Clemson mascots that I’m sure Ohio State fans will find humorous for no reason whatsoever.
  • Ultimately, this sealed the game for Penn State, so all is well that ends well, but the amount of failed fumble recovery attempts leading to a safety is pretty hilarious.

Week 9 had a lot of wacky things, too

  • We as fans (and sportswriters) are all too prone to in-the-moment exaggeration and declaration. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find a time where it makes less sense to go for it on fourth down than when Oregon State opted to run a fake field goal with three seconds remaining before halftime in a tie game against Arizona at the Wildcats’ 16-yard line. It went about as well as you’d expect. By the way, Arizona beat Oregon State by three points.
  • In I’ve never seen this before territory: USC and Cal both head to their locker rooms for halftime. Thirty or so minutes later, the officials determined there was actually one second remaining in the second quarter and gave USC a free field goal attempt. Fortunately, the Ball Don't Lie Gods were on Cal’s side, and the USC field goal was no good. The third quarter started immediately afterward. Just bizarre.
  • After getting his doors blown off by Notre Dame in a 58-7 loss, Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi probably shouldn’t have publicly slammed his players when there’s still games left on the schedule.
  • We’ve got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called on Colorado State because the fans were throwing snowballs!
  • I love a good field storm as much as the next guy. But maybe we should give it a three-minute cooldown or so before it happens so stuff like this doesn’t occur. 
  • Fresno State picked up an impressive win over UNLV in the Group of Five game of the Week on Saturday, but this Rebels wideout needs a hug. 
  • Stanford had a chance to pull off a monster upset against Washington, but you can’t drop wide-open passes on fourth down if that’s going to happen. 

Nepotism tracker 

Saturday felt a little empty without the spectacle of the Iowa offense on display. As we woke up this fine Monday morning, we rose to the hope of Iowa getting another chance to prove the haters wrong this weekend against Northwestern, despite that game having a laughably low under/over total at 30.5.

Then, we get this bombshell report from 247Sports' David Eickholt that our beloved pal Brian Ferentz is "not expected" to return after the 2023 season. If you need a moment to process this upsetting news, you're not alone. Take your time. 

Sure, Iowa is dead last nationally in total offense with 232.4 yards per game. And only 13 teams of 133 Division I programs have averaged fewer points per game than Iowa (19.5 per contest). But damn it, hard to believe the outcome is set in stone when there's still at least five games left to reach that lofty contract goal of 25 points per game. 

Considering it appears Ferentz will be allowed to finish the 2023 campaign out as Iowa's offensive coordinator, there's only one thing left to do: Outscore the whole bleepin' league. 

The goal: 325 points across 13 games, for an average of 25 points per game so Brian Ferentz can keep working for his dad, even though it's already reported he won't have the chance to after this year.

Last game: An off week. Very sad. 

Points tallied this season: 156

If the season ended today: Iowa would finish averaging 19.5 points per game. As already stated, our pal Brian is cooked, seeing as he needs to average 33.8 points per game for the rest of the season to fulfill his contract. But maybe, just maybe, he’s got the doubters right where he wants them, especially if Iowa can somehow get a bowl matchup against USC.

Up next: Iowa faces Northwestern, who allowed 27 points to Maryland in a 33-27 win over the Terps. The over/under point total for that game from most sportsbooks is 30.5, which is truly glorious. 

Game of the Week

No. 13 LSU (6-2) vs. No. 8 Alabama (7-1), 7:45 p.m. CBS

Season record: 5-4-1

My pick: LSU +3.5

Breakdown: If LSU’s defense hadn’t played so horrifically in either of the two Tigers’ losses this season, we’d probably be talking a lot more about Jayden Daniels as a serious Heisman Trophy contender. 

Perhaps we should, anyway. Daniels is completing 73 percent of his passes for 2,573 yards, and has thrown 25 touchdowns to three interceptions while also running for 521 yards with five rushing touchdowns. Thanks to Daniels’ efforts, LSU leads the nation in scoring offense, with the Tigers scoring 47.4 points per contest. 

Daniels will give the Tigers a chance against an Alabama defense that has been fairly efficient, allowing 16.5 points per game this season. But the aforementioned defense has been a problem for LSU this season. Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe has had an up-and-down 2023 campaign, and although the game is in Tuscaloosa, we’ll roll with the Tigers forcing a turnover or two to give Daniels a chance to pull the upset. 

Hodgepodge team classifiers after Week 9

CFP contenders: Ohio State, Michigan, Florida State, Georgia, Washington

Better win out if you want to be in the CFP: Alabama, Texas, Oregon, Penn State, Oklahoma

New Year’s Six Bowl contenders: Louisville, Air Force, Ole Miss, Liberty, North Carolina, Missouri, LSU, Notre Dame, Utah

They’re bowl eligible, so that’s something: Rutgers, Tennessee, North Carolina, Miami, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Kansas, Oregon State, UCLA Tulane, SMU, Memphis, New Mexico State, Miami (OH), Ohio, Toledo, Fresno State, UNLV, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Troy

Bowl eligible but not scoring points: Iowa

You alright, bud?: Clemson

Seriously, how does Alex Grinch still have a job?: USC

This team is still undefeated but ineligible for any postseason since it’s in its second year of transition to the FBS: James Madison

This team is bowl-eligible but won’t play in a bowl because of the same dumb rule: Jacksonville State

Far better than expected: Arizona

Shoulder shrug: Iowa State, BYU, Duke, West Virginia, Kentucky, Syracuse, Colorado, North Carolina State, Wisconsin, Maryland, Florida, Boston College, Minnesota, Nebraska, Washington State, Mississippi State, Wisconsin, Texas A&M, Auburn, Virginia Tech

There’s already an interim coach, but he’s done pretty well, all things considered: Northwestern 

Not great, Bob: Texas Tech, Virginia, Baylor, Purdue, Illinois, Arizona State, Stanford, Pittsburgh, Arkansas, UCF, Cincinnati, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Cal, Houston

The last remaining winless team in the FBS: Sam Houston State

Only a matter of time before walking papers are served: Indiana

Basically, a tire fire: Michigan State

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