The Hodgepodge: Evisiting the First 40-Yard Play Allowed By Ohio State This Season, Big 12 is Down to One CFP Contender, USC Fires Alex Grinch

By Garrick Hodge on November 6, 2023 at 11:35 am
Alex Grinch
Kirby Lee – USA TODAY Sports

You gotta give Greg Schiano and Rutgers some credit.

That was the best effort the Scarlet Knights have given the Buckeyes in the school’s 10 meetings, and that Rutgers defense ain’t too shabby. 

That’s not going to stop the angst flowing from Buckeyeland when the Scarlet Knights are leading 9-7 at halftime and shut down the Buckeyes outside of one drive in the first half, but all’s well that ends well. Saturday was essentially close to the same script we’ve watched from Ohio State all year. The offense struggles until the second half, the defense carries the team and the Buckeyes eventually win by double digits. 

With a putrid Michigan State team coming to Columbus on Saturday, you’d like to see the Buckeyes put together a complete four-quarter game, but we’ll see. 

Ohio State spotlight of the week: The first 40-yard play allowed by OSU this season

Entering the Rutgers game, Ohio State had not allowed a gain of 40-plus yards on a single play to any opponent this season. That streak came to an end Saturday against the Scarlet Knights when Kyle Monangai rushed for a 45-yard gain on a 4th-and-1 on what could be described as half a fumblerooski and half a direct snap between the quarterback’s legs in a tush-push formation.

Honestly, you can’t be that mad, that play was insanely fun. It would be sort of hilarious if that stands as the only play of 40-plus yards Ohio State allows all season.

Texas stays alive in the CFP race, Oklahoma falters

What a whirlwind Kansas State vs. Texas was on Saturday. 

In the final two minutes of regulation, Kansas State missed a game-tying 27-yard field goal, got the ball back, then eventually converted a game-tying field goal that sent the contest into overtime. Texas couldn’t muster much on its offensive possession and settled for a field goal, and allowed the Wildcats to drive the ball to the four-yard line on defense. After a few incomplete passes, Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman opted to go for the win instead of the tie. The result wasn’t pretty.

Texas moved to 8-1 and stayed alive in the College Football Playoff race, though Oklahoma can’t say the same. The Sooners fell on their face for the second straight week, losing what could be the final game ever in the Bedlam Series to Oklahoma State, 27-24. Cowboys running back Ollie Gordon torched a Sooners defense that had struggled to stop the run, totaling 137 yards and two touchdowns.

The way the schedule sets up down the stretch, we’re looking at a likely Texas vs. Oklahoma State Big 12 championship. Can Mike Gundy rob a second departing Big 12 team of a potential CFP berth?

An ode to the Grinch that stole USC fans’ joy

We focus regularly on oft-maligned offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz in this weekly column, but we now turn our attention to his stunt double on the defensive side of the ball. USC coach Lincoln Riley finally did what was necessary on Sunday and fired defensive coordinator Alex Grinch after the Trojans’ defense was embarrassed yet again, allowing 52 points in a loss to Washington. 

Of 133 FBS teams, USC ranks 124th in scoring defense (34.5 points allowed per game), 122nd in total defense (436 yards per game), 128th in plays of 10-plus yards allowed (150) and 120th in rush defense (186.5 yards per game).

Grinch, a former Ohio State assistant coach, usually got a raise for that kind of performance dating back to his time with Riley in Oklahoma, but the Trojans will now look for someone else to lead their defense going forward.

Big Ten tiebreaker update

Saturday was a good day for Penn State and an awful day for Ohio State and the Ann Arbor Astros as far as a potential Big Ten tiebreaker goes. 

The Nittany Lions’ trio of Big Ten West opponents went 2-1 on the weekend, while both OSU and Michigan’s opponents were 0-3. 

With the Wolverines playing Penn State this week, this may be the last time we run this section in the Hodgepodge considering it’s all moot if the Nittany Lions lose. If James Franklin can deliver a career-defining win, though, we’ll go a little more in-depth about the schedules remaining of the Big Ten West teams factoring into this.

A refresher on what the likely Big Ten tiebreaker would come down to if necessary: “The records of the three (or more) teams will be compared based on the best cumulative conference winning percentage of non-divisional opponents.”

Updated Big Ten tiebreaker standings:

  • Ann Arbor Astros: Minnesota, Purdue, Nebraska: 7-11 
  • OSU: Purdue, Wisconsin, Minnesota: 7-11
  • Penn State: Northwestern, Illinois, Iowa: 8-10

And then there were 7

More than two-thirds of the way through the season, seven out of 133 FBS teams are still undefeated. 

Big Ten: Ohio State (9-0), Michigan (9-0)

ACC: Florida State (9-0)

SEC: Georgia (9-0)

Pac-12: Washington (9-0)

Group of Five: Liberty (9-0), James Madison (9-0)

What was fun and what was wacky about Week 10

Week 10 had a lot of things that were fun

  • Really fun watching LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels and Alabama’s Jalen Milroe go head-to-head on Saturday. Per ESPN Stats and Info, the LSU vs. Alabama game was the first FBS contest in 25 years to feature a game where both quarterbacks threw for 200-plus yards and ran for 140-plus yards.
  • In honor of college basketball season starting Monday, Memphis beat USF 59-50 (!) on Saturday. 
  • Elite level of trolling here by Purdue Pete.
  • Yet, New Mexico State probably has that troll topped. 
  • This wild possum crashing the Texas Tech game and then getting removed reminds me of a few of my buds when it was closing time at the bars in our twenties.
  • Emotional week for Washington’s Zion Tupuola-Fetui, who lost his father earlier in the week and then made a giant play for the Huskies by causing a strip-sack on Caleb Williams. Hard not to root for the guy.
  • I still chuckle and wonder how this turned into a pick-six.
  • Kent State may have blown a double-digit lead late in the fourth quarter, but at least it had a cool catch before that.
  • College football has no shortage of rivalries that have a trophy attached to the game, but find me a better rivalry trophy name than the Milk Can Trophy between Boise State and Fresno State. 
  • On the same day Iowa beats Northwestern 10-7 in a baseball stadium, Washington beats USC 52-42. A reminder all of these teams will be in the same conference starting next year.
  • Speaking of USC, this flea flicker touchdown design was beautiful.
  • Shoutout to the Arkansas social media team for this beautiful graphic.
  • Presenting the best catch of the day that didn’t count.

Week 10 had a lot of wacky things too

  • What if I told you a team had a 20-play, 88-yard drive that took 12 minutes and 29 seconds of game action and yet only resulted in a field goal, and those were the only points said team would score all game? No, that’s not Army, it was Mississippi State against Kentucky. 
  • The September Terps are long gone, replaced by their Oh No October and No-Win November Maryland brethren. In a 51-15 loss to Penn State, Maryland ran for -49 yards (!!!) on 16 carries. But that includes sacks, so let’s be fair. If you take those away, the Terps finished with… -2 yards on the ground. Shoutout to Billy Edwards Jr., who was the team’s leading rusher with four yards on one carry. Four other players combined to rush for zero or less yards.
  • Cheap shot of the week goes to Texas A&M’s Shemar Turner.
  • Not exactly the cleanest two-point conversion attempt, Oregon State. But hey, 99-yard runs for two points are fun.
  • Don’t know how this hit against Jayden Daniels wasn’t called for targeting.
  • Bert was fired up after Illinois’ big win over Minnesota.
  • Texas A&M suffered from an affliction called college kickers in the final seconds of its defeat against Ole Miss.
  • It was that kind of a day for Notre Dame.
  • Can't say I've ever seen a defensive touchdown because the snap hit a wide receiver going in motion before.
  • I'm just impressed at the guts it took to attempt a field goal in this weather.

Nepotism tracker 

Before we start everybody’s favorite section, we have an important statistic to discuss. While Iowa is a long way away from meeting the 25-point-per-game average required to salvage Brain Ferentz’s job, NOT A SINGLE team in the Big Ten West is averaging at least 25 points per contest either after nine games. One might say our pal is being singled out, what a cryin’ shame.

Anyhow, the younger Ferentz may be donezo at Iowa after the season, but the Nepotism Tracker lives on for a few more weeks until our hero retires his headsheet and playsheet for good. And hey, we all focused on the 25 points per game stipulation of his contract, but that also included the Hawkeyes winning seven games, and lo and behold, Iowa is 7-2. Take that, haters.  

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 he’s already been fired. 

Last game: Iowa 10, Northwestern 7 at Wrigley Field. I believe the Cubs scored more runs four times last season at their home venue than Iowa scored points on Saturday.

Points tallied this season: 166

If the season ended today: Iowa would average 18.4 points per game. Only have to average close to 40 points in the next four games to make the Iowa administration regret their mistake, Brian!

Up next: Iowa faces Rutgers, who gave up 35 points to Ohio State in a 35-16 loss. Word of advice if you’re a gambler, take the under in that game. 

Game of the Week

No. 2 Ann Arbor Astros at No. 9 Penn State, Noon on Fox

Season record: 5-5-1

My pick: Penn State +4.5

Breakdown: No disrespect to Georgia against Ole Miss, but when you don’t even know if the head coach of the No. 2 team in the country is going to be on the sidelines for a matchup with the No. 9-ranked team, it’s hard to find any game more intriguing than that! 

That said, the mysterious cloud hovering over this game makes this pick all the more impossible. If Harbaugh is permitted to coach on Saturday, I think the Ann Arbor Astros pull it out. If he’s not, well, things get interesting. 

For whatever reason, Michigan has struggled to run the ball as of late, which could play to Penn State’s strengths. And while Roman Wilson is a talented wide receiver, he’s not Marvin Harrison Jr., and you’d think Kalen King would at least be able to mitigate him somewhat. 

Ultimately, though, this will probably come down to whether Drew Allar and Penn State’s wide receivers are capable of making enough plays to give their team a chance, something neither were able to do against Ohio State. The way Michigan’s defense has played, that’s easier said than done. 

Playing in front of a home crowd that will be a very hostile environment considering the circumstances at least gives Penn State a chance.

Hodgepodge team classifiers after Week 9

If they win out, they’re going to the CFP: Ohio State, Michigan, Florida State, Georgia, Washington

Good chance to get in the CFP if they win out: Alabama, Texas, Oregon 

Still alive for the CFP if they win out but need help: Penn State, Ole Miss, Louisville

New Year’s Six Bowl contenders: Liberty, Tulane, Missouri, Utah, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Oklahoma

They’re bowl-eligible, so that’s something: Boston College, Rutgers, Tennessee, North Carolina, Miami, Kansas State, Kansas, UCLA, SMU, Memphis, New Mexico State, Miami (OH), Ohio, Toledo, Fresno State, UNLV, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Troy, Duke, Arizona, Air Force, North Carolina, LSU, Notre Dame, Wyoming, Kentucky, UTSA, Coastal Carolina, Texas State, West Virginia, North Carolina State

Bowl-eligible but not scoring points: Iowa

Motivated by Tyler from Spartanburg: Clemson

It took you this long to fire Alex Grinch?: USC

About to make a coach very rich by firing him: Texas A&M

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

Shoulder shrug: Iowa State, BYU, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Maryland, Florida, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Auburn

There’s already an interim coach, but he’s done fine 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, Virginia Tech

At long last, the final winless team in the FBS has picked up a win: Sam Houston State

Only a matter of time before walking papers are served but at least you beat Wisconsin: Indiana

There’s a good chance the coach is one-and-done: Mississippi State

What a collapse after promising starts: Washington State, Colorado

A tire fire: Michigan State

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