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#Nuggets: Three Top 10 teams fall, and No. 1 Bama nearly made it four

Also, all hail the Sun Best Conference.

What a day in the Sun Best Conference. I thought ESPNU's Anish Shroff had a great line at the end of Appalachian State's 17-14 win at No. 6 Texas A&M. Referencing App's infamous 2007 upset of then-No. 5 Michigan, Shroff said that was a David and Goliath upset. This was, too, Shroff said, "but David has been lifting."

The Sun Belt, at one time the 11th of 11 FBS conferences, won in Notre Dame Stadium, Kyle Field, and Nebraska's Memorial Stadium on Saturday -- which happened to the be the first time those three teams lost at home, ever, in the AP poll era (since 1936). 

The day began with Marshall winning at Notre Dame. 

In a back-and-forth game, Marshall took control when it drove 94 yards in 11 plays to take a 19-15 lead with 5:16 to play, then put it away when Steven Gilmore returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown. The Thundering Herd ended the next drive with an interception before surrendering a garbage time touchdown for a 26-21 win. Marshall (who, to be fair, has yet to play a Sun Belt game, having joined this summer) now owns a 1-0 all-time lead over the most storied program in college football. 

Next, App State went to College Station and flat-out pushed the Aggies around. 

Consider that App had 14 more running plays than A&M had, total. The Mountaineers ran 52 times for 181 yards -- crucially a 1-yard Camerun Peoples 3rd-and-1 conversion with 2:12 to play, then a 48-yard dash to put the game away -- while A&M only snapped it 38 times. 

Part of that was because Devon Achane returned a kickoff for a touchdown, sandwiched around 11- and 18-play App drives, but Appalachian State went into an SEC stadium against a Top-10 team and controlled the game. The same team that scored 61 on North Carolina just held A&M to 14.

Finally, Georgia Southern did what everyone does to Nebraska. 

They scored when it mattered and won a close game. Clay Helton's team gained 638 yards, 75 of them in 2:29 to take a 45-42 lead, which held when Timmy Bleekrode missed a 52-yard field goal at the buzzer. The Eagles held leads of 7-0, 14-7, 28-21, 35-28, 38-35 and, finally, 45-42, to earn their first win in a Big Ten stadium. 

We need to talk about Jimbo's offense. Let's set aside everything that happened at Florida State and just examine the 50 games to date at Texas A&M.

Jimbo inherited Kellen Mond from Kevin Sumlin, and their relationship culminated with an Orange Bowl win and a No. 4 ranking. By those metrics, it was A&M's most successful season in decades. The Vikings drafted Mond in the third round... and then couldn't get rid of him fast enough. He didn't see a second year in Minny; he's currently the Browns' fifth-string quarterback.

Haynes King won the opportunity to succeed Mond in 2021, but was then lost for the year two games into the second game of the season. Zach Calzada played the rest of the year. He engineered the upset of No. 1 Alabama but was largely forgettable elsewhere. After three years in College Station, Calzada's time had run its course. He transferred to Auburn in the offseason... and isn't on Auburn's 2-deep. 

That brings us back to King. In an admittedly puny sample size, King is 42-of-68 for 664 yards with five touchdowns and five interceptions in three games as A&M's starter. Yes, that's three games... but this is King's third year in the system. He threw 20 times for 97 yards on Saturday.

That trend line is not reassuring if you're an Aggie fan. It's the opposite of reassuring. A&M could turn to LSU transfer Max Johnson or 5-star freshman Conner Weigman, but the offensive approach needs to be reexamined from top to bottom. 

In the meantime, A&M has No. 15 Miami, No. 16 Arkansas and a trip to Starkville before their Oct. 8 date with the devil in Tuscaloosa. 

Maybe next year a Texas quarterback will make it to the second quarter against Alabama. The frustrating thing about Quinn Ewers leaving No. 1 Alabama's 20-19 win over Texas in the first quarter is that it generates unfalsifiable opinions on both sides. Texas fans can argue Ewers' start (he was 9-of-12 for 134 yards) and UT's defensive performance in the second and third quarters (no points, 23 total yards) would've created enough distance for the Longhorns to weather the inevitable Crimson storm. 

Alabama fans can argue the defense would've eventually adjusted, as the offense did in registering 188 yards and 10 fourth-quarter points. And they can say that even if Ewers had finished the game, Bama would've found a way to win the game because that's what Bama does.

The Football Gods are not supposed to reward a roughing the passer penalty by knocking the opposing quarterback out of the game. 

Somehow, this was not ruled a safety (even after the atrocious targeting call was correctly revoked.)

That's not to say Alabama was entirely lucky to escape Austin. Bryce Young won the Heisman for a reason. Instead of burning their final timeout with around 32 seconds to play and the ball at the 43, Young scampered for 20 yards to put Will Reichard in position for the 33-yard game-winning field goal.

You've got to be lucky and good to go 178-19 over a 15-plus season period, as Alabama is since 2008. The Tide were more lucky than good on Saturday. 

Where does this leave Texas? For starters, Steve Sarkisian said Ewers sprained his clavicle on the late hit by Dallas Turner; who knew it was possible to sprain your clavicle? An MRI Sunday will reveal the extent of the injury. 

In the meantime, the 14-game Sarkisian era has now seen Texas hold second half leads over (2021 AP final rank) No. 5 Baylor, No. 7 Oklahoma State, No. 10 Oklahoma and No. 1 Alabama... and lose each of those games. Playing up against top-10 teams has not been the issue in the past 12-plus seasons; taking care of business against everyone else has been. Texas must now prepare for jihad games with UTSA and Texas Tech, then a trap game against West Virginia before the Red River Shootout. The Texas we saw Saturday could arrive in Dallas 4-1; the Texas we saw last season could roll in 2-3. 

The season-ticket holders at Pittsburgh sure have gotten their money's worth. After last Thursday's thrilling Backyard Brawl win, No. 17 Pitt and No. 24 Tennessee treated fans to a double OT thriller in the Johnny Majors Classic.

Tennessee seemingly had the game in hand when Pitt, trailing 27-20, punted with 7:28 to play. Except Trevon Flowers fumbled the punt, recovered by Pitt's Byron Floyd. Playing with a less-than-100-percent backup in Nick Patti, Pitt needed 10 plays and 5:05 to traverse the 39 yards necessary to tie the game, but tie the game they did. 

Tennessee scored to open overtime, and Pitt converted a 4th-and-5 to set up a 1st-and-goal, but Tim Banks' defense pushed the Panthers back to the 20, where they forced the game-sealing incompletion fourth down to score a 34-27 win. 

Early Sunday morning, a third Top 10 team went down. Three straight missed field goals took us to double overtime, where Lopini Katoa's 3-yard burst gave BYU a 26-20 lead. Baylor's ensuing possession somehow covered 11 plays, which traveled only 14 yards. The Bears' passing game fell apart as the game wore on -- in a game that went to two extra frames, Blake Shapen's last completion over 12 yards came with 12:12 to play -- and so it felt like any BYU points in overtime would be the only points they'd need. 

No. 21 BYU avenged last year's loss in Waco, moved to 23-4 since 2020, and secured its first win over an AP Top 10 team since knocking off No. 1 Miami in 1990. 

A banner day for Mark Stoops at Kentucky. There's no better way to explain how Stoops has consistently -- and permanently? -- elevated Kentucky than by detailing their history at Florida. The 2018 win in Gainesville was the program's first victory over the Gators since 1986. Then they won again last season. And then they won again on Saturday, marking back-to-back Gator skins for the first time since 1976-77. 

Facing the Week 1 National Champions -- Florida went from unranked to No. 12 on the strength of their 29-26 defeat of No. 7 Utah -- No. 20 Kentucky fell behind 16-7 after a deep snap sailed over punter Colin Goodfellow's head, but the Wildcats did not wilt. 

In fact, from that point on, Kentucky intercepted Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, turned it into a touchdown, then won the second half 13-0 for a 26-16 win. Richardson finished 14-of-35 for 143 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions and was not a factor in the running game.

Since 2018, Kentucky is 3-2 against Florida and 35-17 overall. The Wildcats began this season ranked in the AP poll for the first time since 1978, and on Sunday could find themselves in the AP Top 10 for the first time since 2007.


FRIES

Seen and Heard 

Seen 

Arizona quarterback Jayden de Laura ran 200 yards just to do this.

We've all seen fans enter the field of play. But I've never seen one this close to the action.

Heard

Will Anderson has played at Death Valley, Kyle Field, Jordan-Hare, Neyland and the Swamp.

"The big thing was belief." -- App State head coach Shawn Clark on the A&M victory.

And there it is. Jim Harbaugh has officially split the baby in Ann Arbor.

The Super 16. Here's this week's NFF-FWAA Super 16 ballot.

1. Georgia
2. Alabama
3. Ohio State
4. Michigan
5. Clemson
6. USC
7. Arkansas
8. Michigan State
9. Miami
10. Kentucky
11. Oklahoma State
12. BYU
13. Tennessee
14. Florida
15. Utah
16. NC State

Odds and Ends

a. Texas Tech and No. 25 Houston staged an incredible game in Lubbock. Tech led 17-3, then trailed 20-17 with 37 seconds left and needed a 47-yard field goal to force overtime. In OT, Tech faced a 4th-and-20 and converted with a 21-yard catch-and-run by Jerand Bradley. After forcing a field goal in the second OT, Donovan Smith won it with a 9-yard QB keeper.

b. In their 41-28 win over Stanford, No. 10 USC did not face a third down until the 46-second mark of the third quarter. The Trojans converted. USC did not punt until there was 7:54 left in the game.

c. Iowa's offense is performance art at this point. The Hawkeyes gained 150 yards in their 10-7 loss to Iowa State. They ran 25 times for 58 yards, and Spencer Petras was 12-of-26 for 92 yards with an interception. The Hawkeyes did score their first (and thus far only) touchdown of the season -- on a 16-yard drive, following a punt block-- but fumbled at the goal line when threatening to take a 14-3 lead. Iowa State marched 99 yards to take the lead, and Iowa missed a 48-yard field goal to spare viewers of a painful overtime.

App State gained more yards in the fourth quarter last week against North Carolina than Iowa has in eight quarters

How much longer can Kirk Ferentz allow this to continue? 

d. The 10-7 victory was Iowa State's first over Iowa since 2014.

e. FCS over FBS, Part I: Eastern Kentucky 59, Bowling Green 57... in seven overtimes.

f. FCS over FBS, Part II: Incarnate Word 55, Nevada 41.

g. FCS over FBS, Part III: Holy Cross 37, Buffalo 31.

h. FCS over FBS, Part IV: Weber State 35, Utah State 7 (?!!???!).

i. It was a great day for Incarnate Word and former UIW head coach Eric Morris/former UIW quarterback Cameron Ward. Now at Washington State, the pair helped the Cougars to a 17-14 upset of No. 19 Wisconsin.

j. Um, how did Illinois hold Virginia to three points? Illini 24, Cavs 3.

k. Kansas is 2-0 for the first time since 2011 and won its Big 12 opener for the first time since 2009 after out-gunning West Virginia, 55-42 in overtime. 

l. UTSA rallied from a 28-14 deficit to beat Army, 41-38 in overtime, in West Point. Both UTSA games have gone to overtime so far this season.

m. Mike Elko is 2-0 at Duke after going on the road to defeat Northwestern, 31-23.

n. Arkansas is nasty. The Hogs beat South Carolina 44-30, but the rushing total was 295-40. Sam Pittman's team gets Missouri State before meeting Texas A&M in Dallas.

o. No. 7 Oklahoma beat Kent State 33-3, but late in the first half the Sooners had run eight times for 14 yards. Woof. 


DESSERT

While you were sleeping, Jonathan Smith went for the win as Oregon State walked off Fresno State.

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