No matter who is up and who is down the Red River Rivalry is always a game to circle each and every year on the calendar. The Sooners head south and the Longhorns head north and meet in their annual clash at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The game always coincides with the Texas State Fair and it’s a spectacle for the entire Dallas/Fort Worth metro area. The winner of course gets to wear the famed “Giant Golden Cowboy Hat”. Which is in fact just that, a very large cowboy hat which happens to be gold. Quite the rivalry trophy if I do say so myself.
This year Oklahoma will be wearing the hat after earning a hard fought and very entertaining 45-40 victory over Texas. Scoring was fast and furious in the second half and if you’re a fan of offense then this was the game for you. The 85 combined points makes this the highest scoring Red River Rivalry game in history barely eclipsing the 84 point game in 2012 when Oklahoma beat down Texas 63-21.
The Sooners were clicking on all cylinders on offense. QB Baker Mayfield passed for 390 yards, 3 TD and 2 INT . He connected with WR Dede Westbrook on 10 completions for an insane 232 yards and three touchdowns all of which were longer than 40 yards. Westbrook’s yards breaks a school record previously held by Ryan Broyles (217) set against Kansas in 2011. This mark is just a tad bit more impressive (sarcasm). Samaje Perine balanced the attack on the ground with 214 yards and 2 TD equaling his yardage output from the previous three games combined. Texas was no slouch on offense themselves. QB Shane Buechele threw for 245 yards, 3 TD and RB D’Onta Foreman added 159 rushing yards and 2 TD but the Texas defense continues to allow a sh*t load of points.
Nick Saban won’t be thrilled with his team’s overall performance but a win on the road in the SEC is just that, a win. Alabama defeated Arkansas 49-30 behind a four touchdown day from QB Jalen Hurts. The Tide controlled the tempo pounding the ball on the ground and have a decisive advantage in the rush attack. Alabama gained 264 yards rushing compared to Arkansas’ 73. Damien Harris had 13 carries for 122 yards and WR ArDarius Stewart complimented the attack with 120 yards receiving on five receptions. Alabama’s defense was stifiling creating five turnovers, headlined by a 100 yard INT return for a touchdown by Minkah Fitzpatrick.
By Ohio State’s standards a 38-17 victory over Indiana can be classified as “struggling”. While the Buckeyes didn’t look their best they passed another test on their Big Ten schedule. Indiana isn’t a powerhouse but they did knock of Michigan State last week for whatever that’s worth. J.T. Barrett had a career high in rushing attempts with 26 yielding 137 yards and a touchdown. He struggled with his accuracy only completing 9-of-21 for 93 yards. Ohio State remains undefeated and they hold their own destiny for a spot in the college football playoffs. Their next opponent will be their biggest toughest to date as they head due north to face the Wisconsin Badgers.
For the first time all year (against an FBS opponent) we’ve seen a truly dominant Clemson performance. Their win over Louisville was fantastic but beating Boston College 56-10 was the first time we’ve seen the total package. This is the Clemson I expected to see, not the one who sneaks by Auburn and Troy. DeShaun Watson had himself a hell of a day passing for 250 yards, 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Running back Wayne Gallman chipped in with 109 rushing yards and a TD as well. The Tigers ACC winning streak has now stretched to 12 games and their road conference streak is now at 8.
In all my years of watching college football I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ass kicking as big, as loud and as hard as Michigan gave Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights of Rutgers, the school who represents the state I live in, is an embarrassment to the great state of New Jersey. Michigan is a great football team, they have a great coach and hell they might win the National Championship, but how do you lose 78-0? How do you fall behind by 11 touchdowns? Think about that. How do you get outgained 600 yards to 39 yards? Rutgers had 5 yards passing and 34 yards rushing, words can’t describe how bad that is. The final statistic I’ll add before moving on: Michigan rushed the ball 56 times for 481 yards (8.5 yards per carry) and 9 touchdowns.
The Washington Huskies are on top and boy do their fans carry a large chip on their shoulder. I’m seeing Washington fans on social media getting really cocky right now and that’s fine they should be enjoying their success. But to think if you go undefeated you’ll be in the National Championship conversation? Let’s pump the breaks a bit. Their win over Stanford was incredibly impressive and beating up on Oregon 70-21 only exercises a decades worth of demons for the Huskies. Oregon had previously beaten Washington twelve straight times so of course this win feels wonderful. The 70 points allowed by Oregon are also the second most in school history. But let’s get one thing straight the Ducks stink.
The star of the day was QB Jake Browning who now holds the school record for most passing touchdowns in a game with six. Browning tore up the Oregon defense to the tune of 22-for-28 and 304 yards, 6 touchdowns and 0 turnovers. I forgot to mention he also rushed for 2 touchdowns as well. Accounting for 8 TD is pretty decent right? Myles Gaskin wasn’t too shabby either rushing for 197 yards and a touchdown. It’s a great day for Washington football who sit at #5 in the rankings and a relatively light Pac-12 schedule ahead of them.
With Louisville falling to Clemson last week their only hope to get back into the Final Four picture was to run the table and defeat a hopefully undefeated Houston team in the process. Unfortunately for the Cardinals that dream came tumbling down as the Houston Cougars lost to Navy 46-40 in a shocking upset. The Midshipmen picked up their first victory over a Top 10 team since 1984. I was one year old so no I don’t recall that memorable day. Predictably Navy rushed the ball and did so effectively. They gained 306 yards on 63 attempts giving them a near 10 minute advantage in time of possession. Navy also didn’t turn the ball over which Houston did on three occasions.
Tennessee nearly did it again coming back from a double digit deficit in the second half and earning a victory. They actually did complete the comeback but lost in double OT to Texas A&M 45-38 in College Station. Watching Volunteer football in the 4th quarter is becoming must see television each and every Saturday. The breaks, the plays, the drama in these games is fascinating. Early in the 4th quarter Tennessee cut the lead down to one touchdown but a few minutes later A&M QB Trevor Knight broke off a 62 yard touchdown run pushing the lead back to 14 with three plus minutes to go.
The Vols would score two unanswered touchdowns in that time frame and thanks to a play of the year candidate from defensive back Malik Foreman when he came from behind and knocked the ball lose before freshmen running back Trayveon Williams crossed the goal line on a 71 yard run. That touchdown would’ve been the clincher but instead it resulted in a touch-back and Tennessee got the ball. Fast forwarding to overtime, Knight punched it in from one yard out and Joshua Dobbs was intercepted to end the game. Both teams combined for 1,276 yards of total offense (684 for UT, 592 for A&M) but also 10 total turnovers (3 for UT, 7 for A&M).
This once-upon-a-time storied rivalry added another chapter to their legacy which some are calling “The Block at the Rock”. Let me explain. The Miami Hurricanes now play at the newly renovated Hard Rock Stadium (Dolphins play there too), so the venue is “The Rock”. Also Dwyane Johnson aka the Rock played at Miami but I guess that’s neither here nor there. The block comes in to play as Florida State blocked an extra point attempt giving them a one point victory, 20-19.
Miami had jumped out to a 13-0 lead and went into halftime up 13-3. In the third quarter Dalvin Cook took a pass from Deondre Francois 59 yards to the house. The lead is now cut to three. On their next possession Francois and Kermit Whitfield connected on a 20 yard touchdown pass. The Noles are now up four. A Ricky Aguayo field goal early in the fourth pushed the lead to a touchdown and all looked right in Seminole land. After a terrible offensive possession resulting in a punt and good return by Miami, the ‘Canes had a short field to work with. On a 4th and 5 situation from inside the red zone QB Brad Kaaya found WR Stacy Coley in the end zone for the game tying touchdown. Well of course the extra point is a lock right? D’oh! The kick was blocked by DeMarcus Walker and Florida State held on.
The Pac-12 is a really weird place right now and Stanford losing back to back games is something we haven’t seen in a while. The Cardinal look just awful and they along with Notre Dame and Michigan State have all fallen so far below expectations I question the near future of these programs. Getting whipped by Washington was one thing but to lose the following week against Washington State convincingly 42-16 is another. Their offense is broken, Christian McCaffrey (40 total yards) is a non-factor and their defense is getting torched in the aerial attack. Stanford’s demise and the softness of the Pac-12 might cost Washington in the long run.
After a brutal start to the season with losses to Eastern Washington (again) and Boise State, the Cougars have bounced back for three straight wins. QB Luke Falk, one of the nation’s top passers in yardage (9th in FBS), added to his totals with 357 yards and 4 TD against Stanford. The Washington State defense deserves a ton of credit shutting down McCaffrey, holding Stanford to 296 yards of offense and only allowing one offensive touchdown which came in garbage time on the last play of the game.
In the department of “I didn’t see that coming” we have Virginia Tech laying it on North Carolina 34-3. The venue was a rainy and sloppy night in Chapel Hill thanks to the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew and that played right into Tech’s favor. Their defense is aggressive, their offense is effective and the Hokies are headed in the right direction now holding a 4-1 record and 2-0 in the ACC.
Offensively they didn’t do anything spectacular but nothing terrible either, aside from seven fumbles of which they recovered five. Virginia Tech moved the ball and capitalized on field position via their defense forcing 4 turnovers. North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, the 12th leading passer in the nation in yards, had been averaging 342 per game entering this game but was held to only 58 yards and threw his first two picks of the year.
I miss Boise State causing disruption and chaos in the rankings and during Bowl Season. It’s good to see the Broncos are back (hopefully) and they’re now 5-0 following their 49-21 win over New Mexico. This game was a route as Boise State scored touchdowns on seven straight possessions at one point. Their QB Brett Rypien, son of former Redskins QB Mark Rypien, threw for 391 yards and 5 touchdowns. Wide Receivers Cedrick Wilson (9 rec, 167 yards, 3 TD) and Thomas Sperbeck (9 rec, 198 yards, 2 TD) were the prime beneficiaries. Of the Broncos passing yards 90% came in the first half, this game could’ve gotten out of hand but sportsmanship prevailed unlike Michigan who kept beating Rutgers well after they were dead.
Ever since Pete Carroll left USC, I have never been able to figure out Trojan football. When they show up and when they don’t is anyone’s guess. They lay an egg in games I think they should do well in and when I think there’s no chance for victory they pull an upset. This week I had no expectations for USC even after they whipped up on Arizona State last week. The “good” Trojans showed up and earned the upset over Colorado 21-17. The gamblers probably knew how this game was going to end before it started as the Buffaloes are 0-11 in school history versus USC.
Don’t let the numbers fool you USC did not look great in this game at all. Sure they hung 548 yards of total offense on Colorado but they also committed 4 turnovers and nearly blew a 14-0 lead. I’m encouraged from the signs we’re seeing from Sam Darnold who completed 25-of-37 passes for 358 yards and 3 touchdowns. I’m not ready to crown him the new heir to the throne but he’s the best we have right now. In my mind the only way to salvage this season as a bonafide success is to shock the world and beat Washington while also winning their rivalry games against UCLA and Notre Dame.
Is there anyone left for Brian Kelly to throw under the bus? Apparently not because Brian Kelly finally accepted the blame for Notre Dame’s short comings. This week after an ugly, rain soaked affair against North Carolina State there was literally no one else he could blame except Mother Nature and Hurricane Matthew but unfortunately that excuse won’t hold up because both teams were playing in the same conditions. North Carolina State took the win following a touchdown return off a blocked punt in the 4th quarter. Prior to that the only scoring was a pair of field goals. Neither team eclipsed 200 yards of offense, I feel sympathy for anyone who was forced to watch this game. Notre Dame falls to 2-4 for the first time since 2007, thank you Charlie Weis.
Michigan State is reaching uncharted territories given their success the past few seasons. The Spartans have now dropped three straight games after losing to BYU 31-14 at home. The last time Sparty lost three in a row was 2009. BYU was lead by 11th year senior and 43 year old Taysom Hill…just kidding those years are a slight exaggeration. I’ve been sitting on that joke for a while and needed to use it. Actually the Cougars were led by RB Jamaal Williams who carried the load (figuratively and literally) with 30 carries, 163 yards and 2 touchdowns.
It’s a mess for the Spartans right now who pulled their starting quarterback Tyler O’Connor and his replacement Damion Terry was equally as ineffective. With three losses already on the docket you can probably chalk up at least two more with Ohio State and Michigan still remaining on the schedule.
Elite Player of the Week
Dede Westbrook (WR) – Oklahoma: 1o receptions, 232 yards, 3 TD. Win over Texas
Legendary Performance of the Week
Jake Browning (QB) – Washington: 22-28, 304 yards, 6 TD; 2 Rush TD. Win over Oregon