1. We need to talk about what happened in the Duke-Miami game. Trailing 24-12 with less than six minutes remaining, the Devils pulled within 24-19 with 2:40 left, then took a 27-24 lead with just six ticks left on the clock. Then this happened.
There’s a lot to take in there, so you are forgiven if you missed the lateral that shouldn’t have happened:
Or the block in the back that should have negated the touchdown:
Or, for good measure, the Miami player than ran on the field from the sidelines before Corn Elder crossed the goal line:
Again, don’t feel bad if you missed those in live action. The ACC refs did, too, and they missed them again upon review. After a nine-minute review process, the play stood and Miami had a 30-27 win. Here’s how Miami radio described that play: And here’s how the poor official scorer stamped the play into college football history
Finally, there’s David Cutcliffe on the other end of this. Let’s see if the ACC has the gall to fine him for any of these comments.
2. After watching Jerry Kill’s emotional press conference Wednesday, I couldn’t help but think of the man on Saturday. He had to be the most heartsick person on the planet watching – somewhere – as his Gophers took the field without him against Michigan. Minnesota seemingly had a 33-29 win in hand when Drew Leidner threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Drew Wolitarsky. But Wolitarsky’s knee was down before crossing the plane, and officials pulled the ball back to the 1 after an official review. And I couldn’t help but think of Kill again as Minnesota ran only two plays in the final 19 seconds despite the review functioning as a de facto timeout and the fact Minnesota had an actual timeout in its hip pocket. The clock ran after officials put the ball into play, but Leidner was seemingly unaware as the Gophers ran multiple shifts before finally snapping a play that ended in an incomplete pass with only two seconds left. Interim head coach Tracy Claeys used his final timeout to eschew a field goal and go for the win, and Leidner’s sneak was stuffed at the goal line. Final score: Michigan 29, Minnesota 26.
3. Clemson looks every bit like a team that can win a national championship. The 58-0 destruction of Miami will look better in the yearbooks, but Saturday’s 56-41 triumph at N.C. State was the type of test every eventual national champion must pass. On the road, a week after a massive win and a week before a showdown game against Florida State, the Tigers trailed 6-0, 13-7 and 20-19, and answered the call every time. In fact, Clemson answered every N.C. State score with one of its own, refusing to allow the Wolfpack to go on a run. Deshaun Watson was simply spectacular, hitting 23-of-30 throws for 383 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions to go with 14 carries for 54 yards and another touchdown.
4. Notre Dame and Temple stage a slugfest that would make Rocky Balboa proud. Notre Dame trailed undefeated Temple 10-7 and 20-17, but freshman quarterback DeShone Kizer immediately led the Irish on long touchdown drives. Kizer first put Notre Dame back on top with a 79-yard touchdown dash, then hit Will Fuller for a game-winning 17-yard touchdown pass with 2:09 remaining. The 24-20 win kept Notre Dame in the title chase despite going on the road for four of its final five games. The Irish still must win at Pittsburgh (next week), at Boston College (in Fenway Park) and at Stanford to reach the College Football Playoff.
Also, Brian Kelly went at one of his staffers.
Temple, meanwhile, didn’t win the game but made the American proud. The Owls’ post-season fate will be decided by what happens in the AAC championship game, and that was true with a win or loss Saturday night. And though Saturday night didn’t turn out as they’d hoped, the Owls will be just fine so long as they fit offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield’s identity.
5. You can pick Hugh Freeze apart if you so want (Lord knows many do), but here is a fact: – he’s beaten Alabama and Auburn twice in the same season for the second time in Ole Miss history. I don’t know how many teams have won both of those games on the road, but I imagine the list is short. The Rebels enter November controlling their own destiny in search of their first ever SEC West championship and first SEC title since 1963. The November schedule is arduous: Arkansas and LSU at home (with a bye between the Hogs and Tigers) and then the Egg Bowl in Starkville. None of the three are gimmes, but all are winnable. So while hype builds for LSU’s trip to Alabama this week, remember that college football’s most competitive divisional race still runs through Oxford.
6. Florida is going to win the SEC East. The Gators flattened Georgia for the second year in a row, turning the Dogs over five times and churning their run defense to the tune of 258 rushing yards en route to a 27-3 win. A win over Vanderbilt next week sends the Gators to Atlanta for the first time since 2009 – in Jim McElwain’s first season and without starting quarterback Will Grier. Jimmy Mac can go ahead and carve out shelf space for the SEC Coach of the Year trophy coming to him this wnter.
7. Texas Tech still can’t stop anybody. A popular upset pick heading into the week, Texas Tech grabbed a 17-0 lead midway through the first quarter and a 31-14 lead early in the second. It didn’t last even through the third quarter. The Red Raiders trailed 42-38 after three and ultimately lost 70-53. According to ESPN, Texas Tech is the first FBS team to score 50-plus points a loss twice in the same season since 2012 Baylor. The Red Raiders have allowed every non-Iowa State/Kansas Big 12 team they’ve faced to score at least 55 points, and they’re now -for-17 against Texas, TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State since 2012. At 5-4, Tech must win at West Virginia or Texas or beat K-State at home to reach a bowl game.
8. Texas still can’t score. To those that thought Texas turned a corner with the Oklahoma win, and those that wrote off last week’s uneven Kansas State performance due to the Biblical rainfall, Iowa State was more than happy to remove any illusions for you. The Cyclones flattened Texas 24-0 in Ames, limiting the Longhorns to 127 non-garbage time yards and 2-of-13 on third down. Consider:
- Texas is now 0-11 under Charlie Strong when not scoring first.
- Texas has been shutout three times since 1980, and two of those have come within the past 14 games.
- Texas hadn’t been shutout by an unranked opponent since 1961.
- The last non-Kansas shoutout Iowa State pitched came against a very Kansas-like Baylor team all the way back in 2001.
- Texas has been outscored 112-10 on the road this year.
- In addition to the two shutouts, Texas has a half-dozen additional losses under Strong where it scored 10 points or less.
With a trip to Baylor to close the year, Texas must now sweep Kansas, West Virginia (in Morgantown) and Texas Tech to hit six wins. Vegas would bet against that prospect happening, but the ‘Horns did reel off a three-game winning streak by a combined 95-36 after last year’s shutout at Kansas State, so precedent is in their favor. (If you could go back in time and read the previous passage to your 2009 self, the wattage emitted from his laughter could power a small city for an entire year.)
9. Meanwhile, guess who’s surging in the Big 12? After I declared them dead following the Texas loss, Oklahoma has flat refused to cooperate. The Sooners complimented a 55-0 defeat of Kansas State and a 63-27 thumping of Texas Tech with a 62-7 disposing of Kansas. Next up is Iowa State. Not the most impressive run of competition, but that’s not the point. Oklahoma is biding its time until a closing run that sees them visit a Seth Russell-less Baylor, host TCU and then visit an Oklahoma State team on whom the jury is still in deep deliberations. Bob Stoops likes his chances.
10. Nebraska AD Shawn Eichorst has had better football seasons. Eleven months ago, Eichorst fired Bo Pelini after a regular season-ending win over Iowa saying, “In the final analysis, I had to evaluate where Iowa was.” Now Iowa is 8-0 and Nebraska is 3-6, the most losses ever for a Huskers team before November. The BYU, Miami, Illinois, Wisconsin and Northwestern losses were close. Saturday’s Purdue loss was not. The Boilers led 21-9 at the half and held second half advantages of 42-16, 49-31 and 55-38. It was the first time Purdue scored 55 points or more on a Big Ten opponent not named Indiana since Nov. 7, 1998. A guy named Drew Brees was throwing passes for the Boilers back then.
The Huskers now have to beat Michigan State and Iowa (plus Rutgers) to avoid just their third empty winter since 1969.
11. As we enter November, here are the teams still alive in the national championship hunt:
ACC: Clemson, Florida State
Big Ten: Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State
Big 12: Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU
Independents: Notre Dame
Pac-12: Stanford, Utah
SEC: Alabama, Florida, LSU
That’s 15 teams. When we last did this exercise, 17 remained. View the remaining five weeks like a reality show: as the stakes start rising, expect the string-pullers behind the scenes to start eliminating the weaker characters very quickly.
12. Odds and Ends.
a. A week after stunning Florida State, Georgia Tech lost to Virginia, 27-21. Georgia Tech now must sweep Virginia Tech, Miami and Georgia to avoid following an Orange Bowl win with a losing season.
b. Speaking of Florida State, the ‘Noles got 348 passing yards from their backup quarterback and 162 rushing yards from their backup running back in a 45-21 blowout of Syracuse.
c. At one point Saturday, Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel was 15-for-15 for 317 yards and five touchdowns against Central Florida. The Bearcats shredded UCF, 52-7.
d. Coaches spend 300 days a year preparing for every possible scenario, and, invariably, something they couldn’t possibly prepare for ends up deciding a game. Freshman defensive back Terrill Hanks snapped New Mexico State’s 17-game losing streak by securing an interception to beat Idaho with his feet.
e. Colorado ran 114 plays against a completely decimated UCLA team and still lost, 35-31. Ishmael Adams’s 96-yard pick six proved to be the difference for UCLA. Mike MacIntyre is clearly making progress, but he’s 2-21 in Pac-12 play.
f. Memphis trailed Tulane 13-0 into the second quarter, and then the Fighting Justin Fuentes woke up. The Tigers won 41-13.
g. The wins haven’t come against a murder’s row of a schedule and the losses have been ugly, but Penn State is 7-2 after a 39-0 blanking of Illinois.
h. Nearly a year to the day after true freshman Kyle Allen supplanted struggling sophomore Kenny Hill as Texas A&M’s starting quarterback, true freshman Kyler Murray supplanted struggling sophomore Kyle Allen and led the Aggies in passing (223 yards) and rushing (156) while leading the Aggies to a 35-28 win over South Carolina.
i. Tennessee smashed Kentucky 52-21, setting the Vols up for an 8-4 finish. Kentucky has beaten Tennessee just once since 1985.
j. After falling apart in ways scientists are only now beginning to understand, Southern Miss is now bowl eligible for the first time since winning Conference USA in 2011.
k. North Texas will not go winless. The Mean Green topped UTSA 30-23 for their first win since last November.
m. For the second time in three years, USC fired its coach and then hit its stride. A week after knocking out then-No. 3 Utah, the Trojans went to Berkeley and beat Cal 27-21. If Utah suffers another loss, go ahead and pencil USC into the Pac-12 title game.
n. Houston’s offense put 27 points on Vanderbilt’s defense en route to a 34-0 win, matching the most the ‘Dores have allowed to any SEC opponent this season. Memphis at Houston in two weeks.
o. Don’t sleep on Navy, though. The Midshipmen beat USF to move to 6-1 on the year and 4-0 in the AAC. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds needs one more touchdown to break the FBS all-time record.
p. LSU-Alabama, TCU-Oklahoma State and Florida State-Clemson next week. It’s nothing but insanity from here on out. You’ve earned this.