De’Veon Smith, Michigan and the Big Ten were big winners of Week 10.
It’s appropriate that it’s Week 10 of the college football season, because the biggest winner of the week was the Big Ten.
The conference got out to a great start to the week with five teams in the Top 12 of Tuesday’s initial rankings from the College Football Playoff selection committee: No. 3 Michigan, No. 6 Ohio State, No. 8 Wisconsin, No. 10 Nebraska and No. 12 Penn State. One of those teams was guaranteed to lose with Ohio State hosting Nebraska, but Michigan, Wisconsin and Penn State each won in convincing fashion, all but ensuring the Big Ten has at least four Top 10 teams again this coming Tuesday.
On the flip side of that coin, it was a rough week for the SEC. No. 4 Texas A&M lost to unranked Mississippi State. No. 11 Florida lost to unranked Arkansas. No. 9 Auburn barely escaped with a home win over unranked Vanderbilt. And it took four quarters for anyone to score in the big showdown between Alabama and LSU.
There were plenty of winners and losers outside the Top 12 of the rankings, too, including more losses by former Top 12 teams Notre Dame and Michigan State, and impressive individual performances by a pair of running backs in the state of Texas.
Per usual, we’re publishing with several games still going on, but we’ll continue adding on to this list until the end of No. 5 Washington’s late game against California.
Northern Illinois’ Joel Bouagnon had himself a night.
While the rest of the world reacted to Texas A&M’s debut at No. 4 in the first CFP rankings of the season, the first Tuesday night games of the year delivered a pair of incredible individual performances.
In an otherwise unstimulating game between 2-6 Northern Illinois and 1-7 Bowling Green, NIU’s Joel Bouagnon had an entire season’s worth of rushing in one game. Actually, he entered the night with just one rushing TD in his previous 11 games dating back to last November, but he made up for lost time with five touchdowns against the Falcons.
Despite all the scores, he only had 134 rushing yards and didn’t have a single carry go for more than 15 yards. But when the Huskies needed to cap off a drive with six points, they knew where to turn, coasting to a 45-20 win on the legs of Bouagnon.
Equally impressive was Corey Davis’ night for No. 23 and now 9-0 Western Michigan.
Davis entered the night in a five-way tie for the national lead in receiving touchdowns, but he soared past the competition. The senior wideout torched Ball State’s secondary for 272 yards and three scores. He had touchdown receptions of 57 yards and 62 yards—both of which came on the first (and only) play of that drive for Broncos.
Western Michigan remains the cream of the MAC crop and should now inch its way into the Top 20 of the next batch of CFP rankings.
Colorado’s Isaiah Oliver was one of the only bright spots in Thursday night’s game.
Much has been made about the NFL’s less than lackluster games in prime-time slots in recent weeks, but UCLA and Colorado didn’t offer much of an alternative on Thursday night.
On the second play of the game, a snap sailed over the head of UCLA’s Mike Fafaul for a 22-yard loss. It was not a good omen for the rest of the night.
Before the game began, Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports was understandably excited, tweeting that Colorado is “one of the best stories of the season.” Midway through the third quarter, though, it had gone from ugly to embarrassing.
Shortly after the aforementioned bad snap, FS1 noted that Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau had the nation’s longest active streak of consecutive pass attempts without an interception. That also served as a bad harbinger when he threw an interception on the first drive of the game, the first of three turnovers he would commit by the end of the first half.
This game had everything you look for in a disaster. There were a total of 25 penalties for 224 yards—while UCLA had just 210 yards of total offense. The Bruins and Buffaloes combined to commit five turnovers. Three different kickers missed at least one field-goal attempt as both teams blocked a kick.
Just about the only thing that went right for either squad was Isaiah Oliver’s 68-yard punt return for a touchdown, putting Colorado ahead by what proved to be a final score of 20-10 (after the extra point). The sophomore had 124 total punt-return yards, while no player had more than 88 rushing or receiving yards. But even that score resulted in more relief than jubilation, as it came three plays after Colorado ended a 16-play drive without any points, thanks to one of the aforementioned missed field goals.
In national news, the game didn’t directly hurt Washington’s strength of schedule, as the Huskies don’t play either team during the regular season. However, it was not a good look for anyone wanting to argue that an undefeated Pac-12 team is more deserving of a spot in the CFP than a one-loss SEC team.
Gus Ragland threw for four TDs in Miami’s fourth straight win.
Less than one month ago, Miami of Ohio was up a creek without a paddle. The RedHawks were 0-6, including a home loss to FCS school Eastern Illinois. They were competitive in losses to Western Kentucky and Cincinnati, but last time I checked, college football is neither horseshoes nor hand grenades.
It was only a matter of time before this team picked up its seventh loss, doomed to watch bowl season from home.
Or so we thought.
Miami rallied from a 14-3 second-half deficit against Kent State to keep its slimmer than slim bowl hopes alive, picking up its first victory of the season in mid-October by a score of 18-14. The RedHawks proceeded to win road games against Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan before Friday’s home game against Central Michigan.
Gus Ragland and company ran away with a 37-17 win to improve to 4-6.
The sophomore QB—who missed those first six games of the season while recovering from a torn ACL—threw for a career-high four touchdowns. He also rushed for 60 yards. During this winning streak, he has thrown for 10 touchdowns without an interception, pacing the RedHawks to 30.8 points per game after they averaged just 17 in their losses.
Miami closes the season with games at 2-7 Buffalo and at home against 4-5 Ball State, which should mean six wins based on its play of late. Heck, depending on how Ohio fares in its final two games, the RedHawks could even go from 0-6 to MAC East Division champs.
How unlikely would it be if this team gets to the MAC Championship Game and ends Western Michigan’s undefeated season?
Bob Diaco needs to find some offense if he wants to save his job.
Through nine weeks, there had been seven instances of an FBS team getting shut out. Most notably, Rutgers had consecutive scoreless losses to Ohio State and Michigan. The most recent one came on Oct. 15 when Western Michigan made a 41-0 statement on the road against currently 5-5 Akron.
But Connecticut ended that shutout drought Friday night with a hideous 21-0 loss to Temple.
This wasn’t some game in which a team simply struggles to punch the ball into the end zone or commits a bunch of back-breaking turnovers or penalties. In fact, Connecticut didn’t commit a single turnover in the game. The Huskies were just downright terrible on offense.
They only had one drive with an official snap more than two yards into Temple territory. They only ran one play in the red zone, and it was a blocked 35-yard field goal. Of their 10 possessions, six resulted in three-and-outs. Connecticut had just 160 yards of total offense. It had just two plays go for more than 15 yards, and one of those was a 19-yard scramble on 4th-and-27 with 34 seconds remaining in the game.
Poor offense is hardly a new phenomenon for the Huskies. They have yet to score more than 27 points in a game this season and came into this game against Temple reeling from a 41-3 loss to East Carolina.
Perhaps worst of all, in search of an offensive spark, head coach Bob Diaco burned Donovan Williams’ redshirt with just three weeks remaining in a lost season, only to see him throw for 69 yards in the loss. If this play continues, the head coach will be long gone by 2020, but if the Huskies are struggling at quarterback that season, just remember that this game is the reason they don’t have Williams as a senior leader.
D’Onta Foreman had a strong day for the Longhorns.
Foreman twins Armanti and D’Onta were joint-winners in Week 9’s upset of Baylor, but the latter stole the show in Week 10’s 45-37 victory over Texas Tech.
Foreman ran for 341 yards and three touchdowns. On 33 touches, he nearly out-gained TTU’s Patrick Mahomes II, who threw for 367 yards on 59 passes.
Perhaps even more impressive than the sheer yard total is the play he was able to bounce back from. On 3rd-and-goal from the 24, Texas ran a “get into better field-goal position” draw play that Foreman churned all the way down to the goal line before fumbling the ball and watching Douglas Coleman return it for a Red Raiders touchdown. The wild play helped give Texas Tech a 23-14 lead midway through the second quarter.
The second half, though, belonged to Foreman. Following the intermission, he had 20 carries for 212 yards and a pair of scores—one from 38 yards out and the other from 74. He gained at least one yard on all 20 carries and picked up at least five yards on 12 of them. (Which makes one wonder what Charlie Strong was thinking in letting Tyrone Swoopes carry it on back-to-back 3rd-and-2; 4th-and-1 plays on a drive that could have ended the game.)
Foreman has now rushed for at least 124 yards in all eight games he has played and is averaging just a shade over seven yards per carry. It’s going to be tough to beat Lamar Jackson, Jake Browning, Deshaun Watson or Jabrill Peppers while playing on a 5-4 team, but this monster at least deserves some fifth-place Heisman votes.
Trevor Knight injured his shoulder while stretching for an early touchdown in a loss to Mississippi State.
Well, it didn’t take long for that No. 4 Texas A&M vs. No. 5 Washington controversy to go up in smoke.
Mississippi State—which had given up an average of 36.4 points over its last five games—stifled the Aggies early and jumped out to a 28-7 lead. The only touchdown A&M scored in the first 29 minutes came with a price, as QB Trevor Knight injured his throwing shoulder diving for the pylon at the end of the first quarter. He tried to tough it out, but he was in a sling and street clothes by the start of the second half.
The Aggies returned a punt for a touchdown (with help from an unflagged block in the back) just before the intermission to keep hope alive, but they were never able to get it closer than seven points.
Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald was just too much for Texas A&M to handle. He had 391 total yards, throwing for two scores and rushing for two others in the 35-28 upset—including a 74-yard TD scamper on the Bulldogs’ first play from scrimmage, setting the tone for what was to come.
Texas A&M is still in the running for a New Year’s Six bowl game, but it would take an awful lot of chaos for this team to make the College Football Playoff now.
Lamar Jackson added seven touchdowns to his season total.
At No. 7 in the initial CFP rankings, Louisville was essentially told by the selection committee that it hasn’t yet done enough to earn a spot in the national semifinals. But with games remaining against Boston College, Wake Forest, Houston and Kentucky entering Saturday and little-to-no hope of reaching the ACC title game, Louisville’s only hope of making a good impression on the committee is to stomp a mud hole in its remaining opponents.
Saturday was a good first step on that journey, as the Cardinals bounced back from last week’s nail-biter against Virginia to beat Boston College 52-7.
Per usual, Heisman favorite Lamar Jackson had a hand (or leg) in everything.
Though Jackson didn’t take a single snap in the fourth quarter, he finished with 231 passing yards, 185 rushing yards and all seven of Louisville’s touchdowns. He did have one fumble and one interception, but it felt like he was perfect on the day, doing whatever he wanted against the Eagles.
The sophomore QB now has 26 passing touchdowns and 19 rushing touchdowns. That’s 45 total scores for Jackson, which is more than 60 teams’ offenses scored in the entire 2015 season.
The Cardinals got some help in the rankings with Texas A&M’s loss, and Jackson did just about all he could to improve Louisville’s standing.
Mark Dantonio does not like what he’s seeing this season.
Back on Sept. 17, No. 12 Michigan State traveled to No. 18 Notre Dame, emerging with a 36-28 win in a prime-time battle.
Since then, the Fighting Irish have lost four out of six, and the Spartans have lost seven straight after both teams lost in heartbreaking (albeit familiar) fashion Saturday afternoon.
Notre Dame scored on five of its six possessions against Navy, moving the ball well enough to have five drives of 10 plays or more. However, the Fighting Irish had no answer on defense for the triple option. Navy had two third-down conversions and two fourth-down conversions on its final possession, bleeding the clock dry when Will Worth completed just his fifth pass of the day on 4th-and-6, sealing the 28-27 win.
Meanwhile, Michigan State went back and forth with Illinois before gifting the Illini 29 yards late in the fourth quarter with back-to-back defensive pass interference penalties en route to allowing a game-winning touchdown. The Spartans were able to get down into the red zone on their final drive, but—in a microcosm of their entire season—failed to convert a 4th-and-2 and suffered the loss.
Michigan State is now ineligible for a bowl game, while Notre Dame needs to win its final three games (vs. Army, vs. Virginia Tech, at USC) just to get to six wins.
The continuation of a terribly unusual year for the No. 10 and No. 12 teams in the preseason AP Top 25. Say what you will about preseason rankings, but Top 12 is usually a safe zone. In the past 14 seasons, only five preseason Top 12 teams failed to finish at least .500: No. 3 Tennessee in 2005 (5-6), No. 10 Auburn in 2008 (5-6), No. 5 Texas in 2010 (5-7), No. 10 Arkansas in 2012 (4-8) and No. 10 Florida in 2013 (4-8).
The last time multiple preseason Top 12 teams failed to appear in a bowl game was in 1999 when Arizona and Ohio State both went 6-6—back when there were only 23 bowls and .500 wasn’t good enough.
And with Michigan State still needing to face Ohio State and Penn State later this season, the Spartans could become the first preseason Top 12 team to suffer at least nine losses in at least a quarter of a century.
Wilton Speight was nearly flawless in Michigan’s annihilation of Maryland.
Playing on the road against conference rivals who both opened the season ranked in the AP Top 12, Clemson and Michigan got a scare in Week 9. The Tigers needed a late touchdown to emerge with a win over Florida State, while the Wolverines held on for dear life as Michigan State tried to rally its way back from a huge deficit.
Week 10 was a slightly different story.
Playing at home against Syracuse and Maryland, the Tigers and Wolverines solidified their spots at No. 2 and No. 3 in the CFP rankings, winning by a combined margin of 113-3.
Michigan gave up the field goal in a 59-3 rout, but it wasn’t until early in the fourth quarter, long after the game had been decided. Wolverines QB Wilton Speight averaged more than 15 yards per attempt, finishing the day with only five incompletions. He threw for two TDs and ran for another, accounting for 378 total yards. Senior running back De’Veon Smith had a season-best 114 yards with three rushing touchdowns.
And in the battle between the orange teams, Clemson QB Deshaun Watson didn’t even play in the second half after leading the Tigers to their first 30 points in the 54-0 shutout of the Orange. He had as many touchdowns as he did incompletions with three of each, amassing 208 yards in two quarters. And as if they needed it, the Tigers’ Tanner Muse also had a 64-yard pick-six on a ball that deflected off three other players before it ended up in his hands.
There will be a new No. 4 team on Tuesday, but there’s no question Clemson and Michigan will remain in position to square off in one of the national semifinals.
Florida’s leading rusher on the season, Jordan Scarlett, had just 15 yards against Arkansas.
To put it lightly, the Razorbacks have not had the best run defense this season. In four SEC games against Texas A&M, Alabama, Ole Miss and Auburn, they had allowed 1,323 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground. Conference opponents were averaging 8.3 yards per carry against them.
Florida entered with a mediocre rush attack, averaging just 170 yards per game. But Arkansas has had such a knack for making teams look good that it seemed the Gators would at least go for 200-225 yards with a couple of scores.
Instead, they had just 14 carries for 12 yards and did not score an offensive touchdown.
Making matters worse, Florida also had its worst defensive performance of the season. It completely shut down Georgia and Nick Chubb one week ago, but Rawleigh Williams III led the Arkansas assault with 148 rushing yards and two scores.
The unranked Razorbacks cruised to a 31-10 win over No. 11 Florida, shaking up the already messy SEC East standings.
Kyle Hicks shredded Baylor on the ground.
For the entire month of October, TCU seemed to be auditioning for a cameo on The Walking Dead.
The Horned Frogs opened the season ranked No. 13 in the AP poll, but they had been staggering around the field without much purpose for their past four games, falling behind early in losses to Oklahoma and West Virginia and needing a fourth-quarter comeback just to beat Kansas.
But as we saw with Texas one week ago, Baylor’s “defense” was precisely what TCU needed, as the Horned Frogs routed the No. 17 Bears 62-22 and showed signs of life for the first time in ages.
Junior running back Kyle Hicks was the primary beneficiary. He had never run for more than 117 yards or two touchdowns in a game, but he obliterated those career highs with 192 yards and five scores. Three of those touchdowns came in TCU’s 28-point second quarter, when the Horned Frogs blew the game wide open with a little bit of help from a Ranthony Texada pick-six.
In total, TCU ran for 431 yards and six scores in the victory. The Horned Frogs are now one win away from becoming bowl-eligible.
Luke Falk and Tyler Hilinski abused Arizona’s defensive backs in a blowout.
This one was never going to be pretty.
Led by Luke Falk, Washington State entered the day averaging 360.4 passing yards per game in Pac-12 play. The Cougars had hit their stride in the past two weeks against Arizona State and Oregon State, throwing for 813 yards and eight touchdowns without an interception.
Meanwhile, Arizona came in winless in conference play and was torched through the air by UCLA and USC.
But even given those watermarks, no one expected Wazzu to finish the game with more touchdowns than incompletions.
Falk was 32-of-35 for 311 yards with four scores. And after the Cougars had opened up an insurmountable lead, Mike Leach decided to let freshman Tyler Hilinski get a little work in. He responded by completing 15 of 17 passes for 163 yards and two scores.
All told, the duo was 47-of-52 with six touchdowns and no interceptions in the 69-7 laugher. Fourteen different Cougars had at least one reception on an afternoon when anything and everything was open.
It was a nice change of pace for Washington State after three straight wins by one-possession margins. The Cougars have now won seven in a row and will host California next week before closing out the season with a brutal one-two punch of Colorado and Washington.
Saquon Barkley and Penn State waltzed past Iowa.
Aside from Texas A&M at No. 4 instead of Washington, the biggest surprise in the College Football Playoff rankings was Penn State at No. 12. The Nittany Lions were No. 20 in the AP poll and No. 23 in the coaches poll, but with four wins over teams headed for bowl games—including the marquee win over Ohio State—the selection committee displayed a lot of faith in this team.
Penn State backed it up with a dominant 41-14 win over Iowa.
Sophomore running back Saquon Barkley went over 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season, rushing for 167 yards and a score while also hauling in a 44-yard touchdown reception. Quarterback Trace McSorley had 280 total yards and three scores.
Forget about the individuals, though, because this was just a team-wide beatdown of a five-win Hawkeyes squad. Iowa has had its issues this season, losing to North Dakota State and Northwestern and barely beating Rutgers. However, this team had not been soundly beaten yet this season, even putting up a good fight last week against Wisconsin.
But for the second straight week, Penn State scored at will.
In the CFP rankings, the Nittany Lions will jump Florida and Nebraska, possibly even Auburn and Texas A&M. Either way, we’re looking at a Top 10 team with games remaining against 5-4 Indiana, 2-7 Rutgers and 2-7 Michigan State. Could this team crash the playoff party?
Leonard Fournette had just 35 yards on 17 carries…and was LSU’s best source of offense.
No one ever expects a scoring bonanza when Alabama and LSU get together, but this iteration of the rivalry was particularly painful to watch.
At least during the infamous 9-6 game in 2011, there were big momentum-changing plays on both sides of the ball as elite defenses stifled elite offenses with raw athleticism. This one seemed more like both defensive coordinators knew what was coming on every play.
While No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Michigan and No. 6 Ohio State each put up more than 50 points in impressive displays of offense, three-yard gains felt like moral victories for both No. 1 Alabama and No. 13 LSU. The Crimson Tide finally got going a bit in the fourth quarter, breaking a scoreless tie en route to a 10-0 win, but anyone who managed to watch the entirety of the first three quarters deserves some sort of participation medal.
LSU finished the game with just six first downs and 125 yards of total offense. The Tigers were gift-wrapped a golden opportunity just three plays into the game when a Jalen Hurts interception gave them the ball at the Alabama 33. However, they were able to gain just one yard before having their field-goal attempt blocked.
It was the only time in the entire game LSU would get the ball inside the Alabama 35.
At least the Tigers were able to keep Alabama from scoring a defensive touchdown?
Hawaii’s Dru Brown threw for two touchdowns in a 55-0 loss to San Diego State. Obviously, he threw both of those touchdowns to the defense.
We’ve intentionally overlooked San Diego State’s impressive performances over the past five weeks, because, well, they all came against terrible teams. In fact, of SDSU’s eight wins, the only one to come against a team that currently has a .500 or better record was the season-opening win against FCS school New Hampshire, which is 6-3 overall.
But after Saturday night’s 55-0 win over Hawaii, it’s time to throw the Aztecs defense a bone.
With the exception of their 63-3 loss at Michigan, the Rainbow Warriors had scored at least 21 points in every game this season, averaging just under 30 points per game through the first nine weeks. Yet, the Aztecs made them look like a JV squad, holding them to 215 total yards and forcing four turnovers—turning two of those turnovers into immediate points in the form of pick-sixes.
Unless you count kick returns, Hawaii didn’t have a single play go for more than 15 yards.
Again, the competition has been dreadful, but that’s been business as usual for San Diego State.
The Aztecs held their previous four opponents (UNLV, Fresno State, San Jose State and Utah State) to an average of 6.5 points and 200 total yards per game. Since their loss to South Alabama on Oct. 1, the Aztecs have only allowed two plays of more than 25 yards—a 43-yard reception by Utah State and a 49-yard reception by Fresno State, neither of which were touchdowns.
They do have a couple of challenging games looming against Wyoming and Colorado State—and would likely face Wyoming for a second time in the Mountain West Championship Game—but if they keep defending like this, they’re well on their way to a 12-1 record.
Ohio State smothered Nebraska from start to finish.
If Nebraska had put up a decent fight at Ohio State, it would have been in great shape for a New Year’s Six bowl game. A close road loss to what is about to be a Top 5 team likely would have only bumped the Cornhuskers from No. 10 down to around No. 15 with winnable games remaining against Minnesota, Maryland and Iowa.
Even if they weren’t going to play in the Big Ten title game—Wisconsin is the West Division’s clear front-runner at this point—a 10-2 record with a CFP ranking in the No. 10-12 range might have been enough to sneak into the Cotton Bowl.
But we can go ahead and stop with that speculation because Nebraska was blown out 62-3 by the Buckeyes.
Starting QB Tommy Armstrong was knocked out of the game after a scary fall midway through the second quarter, but let’s not pretend he was going to bring them back. The Cornhuskers were already down by three touchdowns, and by throwing a pick-six on the first drive of the game, Armstrong had scored more points for Ohio State than he did for Nebraska.
After a loss like that, the committee will take a much closer look at what Nebraska has done to this point, and it won’t like what it sees. Five of the Cornhuskers’ seven wins came against teams that are currently sub-.500. A Week 2 home win over Wyoming is their only victory over a team with at least six wins. And most of their wins were by slim margins.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if this loss caused Nebraska to drop completely out of this coming Tuesday’s Top 25.