1. Urban Meyer is back on the job, and Ohio State is undefeated. The Buckeyes were hit in the mouth for the first time this year, but they had more than enough to survive a feisty No. 15 TCU in a road-game-that-wasn’t-really-a-road-game.

In a heavyweight bout that had more jabs and hooks than the Canelo-GGG bout, No. 4 Ohio State jumped out to a 10-0 lead thanks to a holding flag that overturned a TCU touchdown and later became a missed field goal and a sack/fumble inside the Frogs’ end zone that replay showed was actually a TCU recovery for a safety.

Nevertheless, Gary Patterson’s team absorbed that blow and hit back, ripping off a 21-3 run with three rushing touchdowns, including a 93-yard Darius Anderson burst that broke school records for TCU’s longest gain from scrimmage and the longest gain Ohio State has allowed from scrimmage.

The Buckeyes struck back with a 63-yard touchdown pass and a 28-yard pick six on a shovel pass, but TCU briefly regained the lead when the Frogs pulled off the dead man kickoff return with KaVontae Turpin tossing the ball to Jalen Raegor across the field until the score was wiped off the field due to an illegal forward pass flag.

Instead of scoring a touchdown to take a 27-26 lead, TCU took over at its own 4. The Frogs moved to their own 25 before punting, which Ohio State blocked. Dwayne Haskins’s pass to K.J. Hill put Ohio State up 33-21 late in the third quarter.

TCU moved 75 yards in five plays to pull within 33-28, but Ohio State answered with a 75-yard scoring drive of their own to polish off a 40-28 win.

The bad: TCU rolled up 500 yards of total offense, including 200 on the ground.

The good: J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber combined for 180 yards of their own, and Haskins was a sensational 24-of-38 for 344 yards with two touchdowns and no picks.

The best: Ohio State is 3-0, and Meyer’s suspension is over.

The Buckeyes get Tulane at home next week with a trip to No. 11 Penn State looming in two weeks.

1a. Try as they might, TCU couldn’t break the curse. With TCU’s loss, the Big 12 is now 0-14 all-time in non-conference games at AT&T Stadium.

2. LSU did it to Auburn again. A year ago, Auburn built a 20-0 lead only to watch LSU roar back for a 27-23 win. On Saturday, Auburn allowed LSU to score the first 10 points before seizing control with 21 straight to build an 11-point lead midway through the third quarter.

And then Auburn stopped scoring. A three-and-out. An interception in LSU territory. A missed field goal. A punt. Another three-and-out with a chance to put the game away. In all, the blue-and-orange Tigers gained 87 yards on their 20 snaps after taking a 21-10 lead.

LSU, meanwhile, threw 19 incomplete passes and mustered 2.88 yards per carry on 42 rushes. But the Bayou Bengals had juuuuust enough offense when it mattered, highlighted by a 71-yard touchdown pass to pull within 21-19, allowing a 14-play, 52-yard, 5-and-a-half minute drive to set up Cole Tracy’s 42-yard field goal as time expired.

Neither one were Rembrandts, but LSU is 3-0 with two wins over Top 10 teams away from Baton Rouge. Three straight winnable games — Louisiana Tech, Ole Miss, at Florida — lead into a three-game stretch of No. 3 Georgia, No. 16 Mississippi State and No. 1 Alabama, all in Baton Rouge.

Buckle up.

3. THAT was a loooooong time coming. Kansas, officially, is no longer the punching bag of the Power 5. That honor was formally, emphatically passed to Rutgers in Lawrence Saturday as the Jayhawks took the Knights behind the woodshed, scoring 17 first quarter points, forcing four first half turnovers and rolling to a 55-14 romp. The Jayhawks rolled up 400 rushing yards on 8.33 yards a pop with four touchdowns. They, in short, treated Rutgers like so many other Power 5 teams have treated KU over the past decade. The win was…

  • Kansas’s first win over a Power 5 opponent since beating Texas on Nov. 19, 2016.
  • Kansas’s first 40-point win over a Power 5 opponent since a 58-10 whipping of Baylor on Oct. 13, 2007.
  • Kansas’s first back-to-back win over FBS foes since winning four straight such games to open the 2009 season. That’s a span of 99 games.
  • Kansas’s first 400-yard rushing effort in more than a decade.

So, can this continue? KU has forced 13 takeaways through three games and is a plus-12 in turnover margin. Both marks are the best in the country, a year after finishing third from the bottom in that same metric. As long as David Beaty’s crew keeps running the ball and turning people over, they’ll have a shot.

4. The 1990’s have never been further away than they are right now, literally and metaphorically. They weren’t part of the VH1 series, but Nebraska and Florida State loved them some ’90s. The Big Red went 108-16-1 with three national championships, eight Big 8/Big 12 championships and five AP Top 5 finishes. Florida State: 109-13-1 with two national titles, eight ACC championships (after joining the league in 1992) and 10 straight AP Top 5 finishes. Even present day Alabama hasn’t done that. (Yet.)

Both the Cornhuskers and the Seminoles experienced their “night is darkest just before the dawn” moments on Saturday. At least that’s the hope.

Florida State went to Syracuse and got thumped, losing 30-7 to a program that had beaten them once, ever, in 1966. The ‘Noles have scored one touchdown in two ACC games, and didn’t register Saturday’s lone score until their 13th possession of the game and 28th of the season, excluding the Samford game. Mighty Florida State is now 4-8 in its last dozen games against Power 5 opponents.

If there’s any comfort for those in garnet and gold, it’s that things aren’t much better in Lincoln. Last week’s feel good, close call opening loss to Colorado was wiped away with a 24-19 loss to Troy. Playing without Adrian Martinez, Nebraska fell in a 17-0 hole, thanks in large part to a Trojans punt return touchdown, and nearly climbed out of it. The Huskers had the ball at their own 28 with 2:28 to play, needing 72 yards for a game-winning touchdown, but walk-on backup quarterback Andrew Bunch was intercepted on the drive’s second play.

The loss was Nebraska’s sixth straight, the program’s longest losing skid since 1957. The Huskers are now 1-8 in their last nine games, 3-10 in their last 13, and 0-2 to start the year for the first time since 1957.

Clearly, the problems at both programs didn’t start with the respective arrivals of Willie Taggart and Scott Frost. I’m still betting on both long term.

But Saturday showed neither new arrival is likely to fix those programs this year, either.

4a. Those aren’t the only stories to emerge from those games. With the win over Florida State, Syracuse is now 3-0 for just the second time since 1991. A word of caution, though: the other time was 2015; the Orange finished 4-8 and hired Dino Babers that December.

While Nebraska lives through its six game losing skid against the Power 5 and Florida State has dropped two straight, Troy is now on a two-game Power 5 winning streak. After beating LSU in Baton Rouge last year, Troy went to Lincoln and did the same.

5. Hope lives another day in Austin. A school record 103,507 showed up to watch Texas play USC in Austin, and with 33 seconds left in the first quarter, about 101,000 of them were thinking the same thing: “Here we go again.”

USC converted 6-of-7 third downs to cruise to a 14-3 lead, and a young season felt like it was on the brink. But Texas scored on its next possession, and a pair of field goals gave UT a 16-14 lead at the break. Texas broke the game open in the third quarter, scoring on a 74-yard touchdown drive to open the half, returned a block field goal for a second touchdown and turned a short field into another touchdown, a 21-0 quarter and a 34-0 run to bury No. 22 USC en route to a 37-14 win.

Look, every big Texas win is Notre Dame in 2016 Redux until proven otherwise, but the standard for how this team can play has now been put on the board. Tom Herman said as much afterward.

TCU comes to Austin next week. (Texas is 1-5 against the Frogs since they joined the Big 12.) UT goes to Kansas State the week after. (Texas is 1-7 lifetime in Manahttan.) And then there’s OU on Oct. 6. (OU is 6-2 in Dallas this decade.)

So if the momentum from this win is going to last, the standard will indeed need to become the standard, starting immediately.

6. The Big Ten has had better Saturdays. Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State won. Michigan State was off. Other than that? It may have been the worst Saturday in Big Ten history.

We’ve covered Nebraska’s loss to Troy and the Rutgers blowout loss to Kansas. Illinois lost to South Florida in Chicago, though not many were there to see it.

No. 6 Wisconsin dropped its first home non-conference game since 2003, falling 24-21 to BYU. Maryland lost 35-14 to an 0-2 Temple team. Purdue fell to 0-3 after falling 40-37 to Missouri on a late field goal. And then there was the Akron-Northwestern game.

The Wildcats rolled up 491 yards of total offense and 30 first downs. They were gifted fifteen Akron penalties for 140 yards. They led 21-3 at halftime. But the Zips pulled within 21-19 in the third quarter, then notched three defensive touchdowns in an 11-minute span to take a 39-28 lead and hold on for a 39-34 win.

It was Akron’s first win over a Big Ten team since 1894. The Big Ten didn’t officially become a conference until 1896.

7. Play till the whistle blows, kids. North Texas beat Arkansas 44-17 on Saturday, scoring the program’s first win over the Hogs in 10 tries and its first win in an SEC stadium since 1975. Given that the score was 44-17, the Mean Green was probably winning the game regardless, but this will serve as the game’s enduring image — and for good reason.

For the record, this wasn’t Keegan Brewer going rogue. North Texas had repped this play since training camp.

“You talk about a big operation,” UNT special teams coach Marty Biagi told SB Nation. “You’ve gotta have all hands on deck, because you’ve gotta have the sideline coaches, the strength staff doing a great job keeping everybody off the field, ‘cause normally what happens is the offense is ready to take the field, run on, and get everyone fired up.”

8. The Super 16. The Nuggets is honored to once again vote in the FWAA-Super 16 poll. Here’s this week’s ballot.

  1. Alabama
  2. Georgia
  3. Ohio State
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Clemson
  6. Penn State
  7. LSU
  8. Stanford
  9. Notre Dame
  10. Mississippi State
  11. Auburn
  12. Washington
  13. TCU
  14. West Virginia
  15. Oklahoma State
  16. UCF

9. Odds and Ends

a. Playing at 6 a.m. local time, Hawaii went to Army and put up a fight. The Fighting Nick Roloviches took an early 7-0 lead, trailed 28-14 in the fourth quarter before clawing back and throwing into the end zone to force overtime in the game’s final minute. Cole McDonald’s final three passes from the Army 11 were incomplete, and the Black Knights held on to win, 28-21.

b. After looking improved against Florida Atlantic and UCLA, Iowa State poked massive holes in Oklahoma’s secondary on Saturday. The Sooners won the game 37-27, but Cyclones quarterback Zeb Noland hit 25-of-36 passes for 360 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. (And, honestly, Noland and his receivers left some throws on the field, too.) Army won’t gash OU through the air next week, but someone in the Big 12 will if that’s not fixed.

c. Then again, even if OU’s pass defense doesn’t improve, it’ll be tough to outscore this.

d. Miami deserves some props today. Many (most? almost all?) Power 5 programs would never agree to go on the road against a Group of 5 opponent, much less a program that actually had a puncher’s chance of winning the game. The Hurricanes are willing to accept those punches and deliver some of their own. Miami went to Appalachian State and won 45-10 in 2016 (those Mountaineers went 10-3 and won the Sun Belt), scheduled a trip to Arkansas State that was wiped out by Hurricane Irma last year, and went to the Glass Bowl and blasted MAC favorite Toledo on Saturday, 49-24.

e. Speaking of App State, after Week 1’s close scare, Penn State has taken care of business. The Nittany Lions whipped Pitt 51-6 last week and handled Kent State 63-10 on Saturday. Don’t tell James Franklin this, but Ohio State comes to Happy Valley in two weeks.

f. Texas Tech traditionally wears all white for its annual Celebrate Cotton game. Houston declined. “We have made multiple requests of the University of Houston and they have denied it every time,” Texas Tech Kirby Hocutt AD said on his weekly radio show. “We even asked coach Kingsbury to call (Major) Applewhite and that call took place and they still, at the end of the day, decided not to accommodate our request.”

So Texas Tech wore red, and then they dropped 63 on the Coogs in a 63-49 win.

g. In the first and only Jim McElwain Bowl, Florida beat Colorado State, 48-10.

h. Nevada raced to a 30-7 lead and held on to beat Oregon State, 37-35.

i. In a game that was moved from Charlottesville to Nashville to avoid Hurricane Florence, Virginia beat Ohio at “home,” 45-31.

j. While the rest of the state took the day off, Duke went to Waco and beat Baylor, 40-27.

k. It barely even merits mention at this point, but Alabama continues destroying people. Ole Miss took a 7-0 lead one play into the game when Jordan Ta’amu hit D.K. Metcalf for a 75-yard touchdown pass. From that moment forward, Alabama out-scored Ole Miss 62-0 while limiting Ta’amu, an All-SEC caliber quarterback, to 6-of-21 passing for 58 yards with one fumble and two interceptions. Sheesh.

l. Arguably the best performance of the entire week belongs to No. 24 Oklahoma State. Mike Gundy’s mystery Cowboys obliterated any presumption that this was a rebuilding year in blowing out No. 17 Boise State, 44-21. The Pokes blocked two punts, sacked Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien seven times and sprung running back Justice Hill for 123 yard and a touchdown on 15 carries.

Oklahoma State is 3-0 and doesn’t face another ranked team until Nov. 10.

m. Since losing to Auburn, Washington has allowed a total of 10 points in wins over North Dakota and Utah. The Huskies went to Salt Lake in a night game and won, 21-7. That includes three consecutive drives in which Utah took over inside Washington territory and turned the ball over on downs all three times. The Utes snapped the ball 68 times and gained 261 yards. That’s 3.84 yards a play.

n. The Mountain West has three or four teams that may be good enough to win the Pac-12 South. Two of them moved to 1-0 in the division on Saturday, as Fresno State trounced UCLA 38-14 and San Diego State took out No. 14 Arizona State, 28-14. Raise your hand if you had Jeff Tedford at 12-5 a year and a quarter into his tenure in Fresno.

o. Notre Dame and LSU have met in a bowl game three times in the past 11 years, and hopefully we’re headed for a fourth because these teams win in an identical style: lean on your defense and get just enough offense. The Irish are 3-0 after beating Vanderbilt with one touchdown and gaining 380 yards of total offense.

10. And finally…. If you’re reading this in the Hurricane Florence danger zone, please stay safe out there.

SHARE
National columnist - Zach joined the staff in 2012...and has been attempting to improve Doug and Scott's writing ability ever since (to little avail). Outside of football season, you can find him watching the San Antonio Spurs reading Game of Thrones fan theories.