1. They are who we thought they were. Whether it was an act of good faith or another test from Professor Urban's Psychology 101, the Cardale Jones experiment is now over and Ohio State can resume being the team we all assumed it would be all offseason. J.T. Barrett completed 14-of-18 throws for 223 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions while rushing 13 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns (with one fumble) in a 49-7 destruction of Rutgers, but his performance is best compared against the likes of Chris Paul, Steph Curry or Steve Nash. With Barrett running point, the seems to find guys with wide open shots.
Ezekiel Elliott rushed 19 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Braxton Miller touched the ball for gains of 45, 20 and 16 yards. Curtis Samuel caught a 30-yard touchdown pass. Consider that ESPN's Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit were so bored they created their own parlor game wondering when Jalin Marshall would get his token touchdown - in the middle of the third quarter of a road conference game. (He got his, by the way, at the 4:17 mark of the third.)
Yes, it was Rutgers. But Ohio State demonstrated Saturday night, in its 21st straight overall win, 28th straight regular season Big Ten win and 16th straight road win, that it has more weapons than anyone else. It just needed Barrett to unlock them.
2. And then there were 12.According to Gil Brant, USC was the first unranked team in college football history to claim favorite status over an opponent ranked in the top three. They showed why Saturday night, clicking on all cylinders in a fashion similar to what Ohio State did on 3,000 miles away with a 42-24 win over No. 3 Utah.
Unfortunately for them, the national title chase has already passed them by, though Clay Helton's Trojans would control their own Pac-12 South destiny with another Utah loss. And the Utah team that took the field at L.A. Coliseum looked like it had another loss or two ahead.
Meanwhile, in Atlanta:
UNBELIEVABLE!!! Georgia Tech defeats Florida State at the buzzer on a blocked field goal TD return ???????? pic.twitter.com/emTZqrg12i
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) October 25, 2015
What a time to be alive, indeed.
3. The Shellacking on South Beach. When FBS talent litters your backyard like empty beer cans the night after a frat party, it doesn't seem possible that Miami could lose to another college team 58-0. But, here we are.
Miami gained three more yards of total offense in 61 snaps than Deshaun Watson had passing yards in only 19 attempts. After an interception killed a 56-yard march on its first possession, Miami didn't have a single drive go longer than 17 yards. The Hurricanes were out-gained by 421 yards and lost the first downs battle 33-6.
Athletics director Blake James said afterwards he wouldn't make a change at head coach, presumably because the Hurricanes are technically still alive in the ACC Coastal race. That will likely change after Miami visits Duke next week. "They outplayed us," Golden said afterward. "They outcoached us. I just told the team it's completely my responsibility for not getting them ready to play. They just beat us soundly in every facet of the game, period."
4. They'll never admit it, but the SEC office is rooting against Ole Miss. The only way the SEC could ever miss the College Football Playoff is to destroy itself from within. And the only way for that to happen is for Ole Miss to win the conference. The Rebels have already lost twice, and one of them was to Memphis, but still control their own fate in the SEC West after taking down Texas A&M 23-3 on Saturday. The SEC's very own Manchurian Candidates could, theoretically, take down LSU next month in Oxford, then exact revenge on Florida in the SEC title game.
Of course, that isn't likely to happen, because the SEC is a league where the best teams always find a way to win, and the best teams are LSU and Alabama. The Tigers beat a much-better-than-you-think Western Kentucky team 48-20, and Alabama survived yet another haymaker from a talented and well-rested opponent, outlasting Tennessee, 19-14.
Both teams are off next week before the Tigers visit Tuscaloosa on Nov. 7. Buckle your chinstraps now.
5. Two different games went to four overtimes on Saturday. Arkansas won the Loser Finishes Last in the SEC West Bowl, 54-46 over Auburn. The Hogs scored on the first play of quadruple overtime, then forced a one-yard run and three straight incomplete passes to earn their first October SEC win beating Kentucky 49-7 on Oct. 13, 2012.
Next, Duke outlasted Virginia Tech 45-43 in quadruple overtime, but only after Frank Beamer tried to win the game in regulation with a 67-yard field goal. That's three yards beyond the NFL record.
6. These teams are better than we expected, and it's time we acknowledge them for it:
a. The trio of North Carolina, Duke and Pittsburgh is 18-3 overall and 10-0 in ACC play. Pittsburgh is 6-1 for the first time since 2009, North Carolina is 6-1 for the first time since 1997, and Duke is 6-1 for the first time since, well, last season.
One of those three will meet the Florida State/Clemson winner in the ACC title game.
b. Washington State won at Arizona 45-44 to improve to 5-2 for the first time since 2003, which is also the last time Wazzu won three straight Pac-12 games and back-to-back Pac-12 road games. The Coogs will host Stanford next week for sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 North.
c. Quietly, Todd Monken has pulled Southern Miss off the mat. The Golden Eagles blew out Charlotte 44-10, pushing them to 5-3 on the year. Those five wins are one more than Southern Miss collected during the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons combined.
7. Only because the Constitution requires every college football column include each of these meaningless projections:
The College Football Playoff field, if the season ended today: 1) Clemson, 2) Ohio State, 3) LSU, 4) Stanford
The Heisman race, if the season ended today: 1) Leonard Fournette, LSU, 2) Corey Coleman, Baylor, 3) Trevone Boykin, TCU
8. Odds and Ends.
a. Baylor scored 45 points against Iowa State - and saw its scoring average drop nearly three points, from 63.8 to 61.1. We're more than halfway through the season. This is absurd.
b. It appears Texas is finally starting to figure things out. The 'Horns ground game over the past two weeks: 111 carries for 587 yards (5.29 yards per carry) and four touchdowns. Their 293.5 yards per game average would rank eighth nationally if extrapolated over the entire season.
c. Speaking of figuring things out, here's Oklahoma since the loss to Texas: 163 plays, 1,185 yards, 118 points.
d. Midway through the fourth quarter Friday night, Temple found itself down 14-10 at East Carolina. The Owls had just missed a field goal. They were undefeated, and Notre Dame comes to town this coming Saturday. Needless to say, victory was imperative. Here's how Matt Rhule's team closed the game:
- Three-and-out forced
- 71-yard touchdown drive
- Three-and-out forced
- Blocked punt
- 15-yard touchdown drive
Final score: Temple 24, East Carolina 14. That, friends, is how you execute under pressure.
e. For the third week in a row, Indiana entered the fourth quarter with a chance to win, and for the third week in a row Indiana lost. This time IU entered the final frame trailing Michigan State 28-26 and wound up a 52-26 loser. Hooisers are now 4-4 after a 4-0 start.
f. Here are the all-purpose yards put up by Stanford's Christian McCaffrey over the past four weeks: 303 vs. Oregon State, 260 vs. Arizona, 369 vs. UCLA and 300 Saturday vs. Washington. The son of Ed McCaffrey led the Cardinal with 109 rushing yards, 112 receiving yards and 79 kick return yards in a 31-13 win.
g. Mount Union earned its 100th straight regular season victory with a 69-0 triumph over Wilmington.
h. Finally, our friends in Stillwater are hurting today after four people were killed and more than 40 more were injured when a drunk driver crashed into the Cowboys' Homecoming parade on Saturday morning. Sadly, the Oklahoma State community has far too much experiencedealing with sudden loss. Hold a good thought for the folks in Stillwater today.