1. LSU roars back. After last week's loss at Florida, The Nuggets (along with most of the football-watching public) left No. 13 LSU for dead. No. 2 Georgia was coming to town Saturday, and then Alabama a few weeks after that. There was simply no way LSU's offense could keep up with those explosive attacks.
Well, there was one way LSU could keep up with Georgia: Don't let the Bulldogs score.
Georgia running backs D'Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield got theirs (128 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries) but LSU's defense harassed Jake Fromm into the worst game I've seen him play. He was 16-of-34 for 209 yards with a touchdown -- when Georgia was already down 20 -- two interceptions and three sacks, two of them on third down.
Meanwhile, Joe Burrow's stats weren't exactly Heisman worthy (15-of-30 for 200 yards) but he avoided mistakes and made plays when they had to be made, including a 59-yard run when Georgia had pulled within 29-16 late in the fourth quarter. One play later, Nick Brossette scored from four yards out, putting the nail in a 36-16 win.
With that win, LSU (6-1, 3-1 SEC) is back in the thick of the championship hunt -- SEC or otherwise. Mississippi State comes to Death Valley next week and then, after a bye week, Alabama does the same on Nov. 3.
1b. Georgia has real questions to answer. After losing Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to graduation, Jim Chaney reimagined Georgia's offense to emphasize speed and explosiveness. It worked through the first half of the season -- Georgia entered Saturday averaging 7.48 yards per play (up from 6.70 a year ago) and 42.8 points per game (35.4). But the best team Georgia played before Saturday was... South Carolina?
LSU showed zero fear of Fromm or Georgia's receivers, and that strategy won them the game. The Bulldogs are off this week, but next they face Florida in Jacksonville and Kentucky in Lexington. Losing either game would cede control of the SEC East and render this season a failure.
As Mike Tyson famously said: Everyone has a plan until they're hit in the face. Seven games in, Georgia has finally taken its first punch.
2. Oregon wins the Game of the Year in the Pac-12.... and perhaps eliminates the conference in the process. The Oregon-Washington game doesn't have a cool name or a fun trophy; it's just a bitter, intense game where beating the other side is the only trophy you need. Oregon ripped off 12 straight wins from 2004-15, but Washington struck back by pummeling the Ducks to the tune of 70-21 and 38-3 over the past two years.
Saturday's game was the first time both sides came in evenly matched in seemingly forever, and boy did it deliver. It was tied at four different points, guideposts of each side alternating surges in front: Oregon 3-0, Washington 10-3, a 10-10 tie, Washington 17-10, Oregon 24-17, until Washington tied it at 24 with 2:32 in the third quarter.
That led to a wild fourth quarter in which No. 17 Oregon missed a 42-yard field goal, No. 7 Washington failed to convert a 4th-and-1 at the Oregon 26, Oregon attained a 1st-and-10 at the Washington 25 and wound up punting, and Washington missed a 37-yard field goal on the final play of regulation.
Washington accepted the ball to open overtime and gained 19 yards on their first play, but could not punch it in. Peyton Henry's 22-yard kick was good this time.
Needing a touchdown for the biggest win of the 7-game Mario Cristobal era, Oregon handed to C.J. Verdell -- the unfortunate soul who fumbled away the Stanford game -- on four of its six plays, including a 6-yarder straight up the gut untouched for the win.
Oregon's win is a major step forward for the Ducks and a backwards fall down a flight of stairs for the Pac-12's College Football Playoff hopes. The CFP selection committee has made it clear year after year that impressive non-conference wins are worth their weight in gold, and the Pac-12 came up empty in that regard this September.
3. COACH FIGHT! Know how once or twice a year a video will float around social media of grown men awkwardly fighting each other at a children's sporting event while the onlookers weep for humanity? We came dangerously close to having one of those break out in an SEC game.
It started when Florida's James Houston IV this brutal targeting penalty on Vanderbilt's Dare Odeyingbo.
The play actually led to two Florida players being ejected from the game and compelled Mason to check on Odeyingbo in the middle of the field. At that point, someone on the UF sideline said something to Mason, Mason said something back, Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham took exception to it, Mason responded in kind, Mullen got involved and all hell broke loose.
We don't know what Mullen was saying, but Stevie Wonder could piece together what came off Mason's lips.
Asked at halftime what he said to Mason, Mullen told ESPN it was for SEC coordinator of football officials Steve Shaw and commissioner Greg Sankey to sort out. Okay, then.
After the game -- No. 14 Florida trailed 21-3 in the first half but rallied to win 37-27 -- Mason and Mullen hugged it out.
"Our player was down, their player from the sideline said something to me and I said something back, Dan gets mad. That's how it started," Mason said after the game. "At the end of the day, we're trying to play the game the right way and make sure everybody walks out of there."
4. Have Jon Heacock and Iowa State solved the Air Raid? Jack Trice Stadium is quickly becoming the Black Hole of the Big 12 -- the place where undefeated teams enter but never leave alive. After knocking off No. 2 Oklahoma State in 2011 and No. 4 TCU last season, Iowa State did it again on Saturday, and this one was the most impressive yet.
The Cyclones utterly dismantled No. 6 West Virginia, beating WVU in a fashion betrayed by the 30-14 final score. Look at this box score.
Heacock's defense limited Will Grier to 11-of-15 passing for 100 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Though Grier attempted only 15 passes, the Mountaineers actually called 22; Iowa State logged seven sacks and forced a holding penalty in the end zone to score the Cyclones' 29th and 30th points.
West Virginia had a lot to do with that, of course, but this is becoming a pattern when Air Raid teams play Iowa State.
West Virginia still controls its destiny to win the Big 12 championship, but the Mountaineers' position is better than their performance. Last week, WVU coughed up four turnovers in a win over Kansas and a week before that they saw a 35-10 halftime lead in Lubbock dwindle into a 35-27 lead before escaping 42-34.
5. The nation's longest winning streak came thisclose to ending. Before they went on to win a self-proclaimed national championship in 2017, UCF nearly lost the AAC Championship. At home. You remember that game: a 62-55 double overtime UCF win over Memphis that saw both teams combine for 64 first downs and 1,479 yards of offense and news of Scott Frost taking the Nebraska job breaking during the game.
UCF went on to bigger and better things, while Memphis stewed on the result. While UCF beat Auburn in the glistening, climate-controlled Peach Bowl, Memphis had to stay at home and play Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl.
Mike Norvell and company clearly prepared for the rematch as soon as the title game ended, and it showed: the Tigers jumped out to a 30-14 lead with two minutes left in the second half.
Faced with real adversity for the first time this season, UCF played as it has since the beginning of last season -- perfect.
In a driving Memphis rain, No. 10 UCF came all the way back, ripping off the game's final 17 points to eek out a 31-30 win.
Memphis's first six first half drives covered 354 yards in 50 plays and all ended in points. In the second half, UCF limited Memphis to five punts and two fumbles over their first seven touches -- covering 106 yards over 29 snaps -- before their final drive. Taking over at their own 15 with 58 seconds left and no timeouts, Memphis moved to the UCF 35, but a false start pushed them back to the 40 and Brady White's final pass was complete to Tony Pollard in bounds and short of the sticks, allowing the clock to run out before the Tigers could spike the ball.
Over UCF's now 19-game winning streak, five wins have come in one score games: SMU, USF, Auburn... and two against Memphis.
6. Michigan State does that Michigan State thing again. A year ago, Penn State went to Columbus, played a hell of a game but came up short in the end, 39-38. A week later, a down-but-not-out Nittany Lions squad went to East Lansing and gagged up a lead, losing to Michigan State 27-24.
Fast forward a year and the pattern repeated itself. Penn State suffered a hard fought 27-26 loss to Ohio State on Sept. 29 and now, after a bye, Penn State fans watched in horror as a 17-14 lead turned into a 21-17 loss. Brian Lewerke completed the comeback with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Felton Davis III with 19 seconds to go.
This stunner comes a week after Michigan State coughed up its own second half lead at home to Northwestern. "We just kept playing," Mark Dantonio said afterward.
With No. 8 Penn State all but eliminated from the B1G East hunt, Sparty now returns to East Lansing for a huge game with No. 12 Michigan.
The Wolverines played perhaps their most complete game of the Jim Harbaugh era, thumping No. 15 Wisconsin 38-13 at the Big House. Two of Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook's first five completions were to Michigan defenders, including a pick-six that put the Wolverines up 31-7 in the fourth quarter.
Michigan rushed for 320 yards and three touchdowns, including 90 and a score from quarterback Shea Patterson.
Michigan visits Michigan State at noon on Saturday; Michigan State is 8-2 in this game over the past decade. 7. The Chaos Candidate lives. The last time Notre Dame started 7-0 was in 2012. That team won six 1-score games and scored 20 or fewer points five times. One of those wins was a 29-26 triple overtime defeat of Pittsburgh at Notre Dame Stadium in which the Irish rallied from a 20-6 fourth quarter deficit. Saturday's win wasn't quite that dramatic, but No. 5 Notre Dame did find itself trailing 3-3 Pitt 14-6 late in the third quarter. Ian Book pulled Notre Dame within two with a 16-yard strike to Chase Claypool, and Miles Boykin gave them the lead on a 35-yard burst at the 5:43 mark of the final frame. Pitt never seriously threatened after falling behind 19-14, and Notre Dame held on for the win. Brian Kelly's team will take next week off before a finishing kick of five games against unranked teams. That 2012 season, of course, ended in a blowout loss to Alabama in the BCS National Championship in Miami. If the 2018 season ended today, Alabama would be the CFP No. 1 seed, and the closest semifinal to Tuscaloosa is the Orange Bowl. 8. The Super 16. The Nuggets is once again honored to vote in this year's FWAA-Super 16 poll. Here's this week's ballot.
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
- Texas A&M
- NC State
- San Diego State
9. Odds and Ends
a. Murphy's Law states that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Creighton's Law says that any football game that can be close, will be close. Eastern Michigan has played in six consecutive one-score games and 16 of their last 29 overall. On Saturday, EMU led Toledo 28-3 at the half but had to fend off a 2-point conversion with 20 seconds left to hold on for a 28-26 win.
b. Winning is hard when you're losing, Exhibit A: Nebraska led Northwestern 31-21 with 5:41 to play. From that point forward, the Huskers allowed Northwestern to march 62 yards for a field goal, punted, watched Northwestern, march 99 yards to score the game-tying touchdown pass with five seconds left, threw an interception on 4th-and-1 in overtime and then allowed Northwestern to boot the game-winning field goal, sending the Wildcats to a 34-31 win and Nebraska to the first 0-6 start in school history.
c. Winning is hard when you're losing, Exhibit B: Leading 33-24 with under 10 minutes to play, Arkansas had a 1st-and-10 at the Ole Miss 42. From that point on, Arkansas punted, allowed Ole Miss to move 84 yards for a touchdown, punted, allowed Ole Miss to drive 97 yards for a go-ahead touchdown and then threw an interception. Ole Miss's 37-33 win dropped the Hogs to 1-6.
d. Then again, the corner can be turned. UCLA earned its first win under Chip Kelly, 37-7 over Cal.
e. Tennessee earned not its first win under Jeremy Pruitt, but its first win of consequence. The Vols went to Auburn and won for the first time since 1998, knocking off the No. 21 Tigers 30-24.
f. South Florida isn't the best undefeated team in the country, but it's certainly the most entertaining of the unbeatens. The Bulls rallied from a 24-10 fourth quarter hole to beat Tulsa 25-24, aided by a brutal roughing the passer penalty with the ball in their own territory and 20 seconds to play, setting up a 22-yard Colby Weiss field goal for the win with two seconds to play.
g. Rutgers doesn't have anyone ready to play quarterback at the Big Ten level, and yet someone has to play quarterback.
h. Mid-week football returned this week as Appalachian State earned a crucial Tuesday night win over Arkansas State, 35-9.
i. Speaking of the Sun Belt, Liberty scored its biggest win as an FBS member against the other Fun Belt favorite, taking down 5-1 Troy, 22-16 in Lynchburg.
j. Four of the six MAC games were decided by one score. In addition to EMU's 28-26 upset of Toledo, Western Michigan held off Bowling Green 42-35, Ball State topped Central Michigan 24-23, and Northern Illinois handled Ohio 24-21.
k. Tua Tagovailoa left No. 1 Alabama's 39-10 win over Missouri with a right knee injury and did not return, though he was mobile on the Tide sideline. The Heisman favorite hit 12-of-22 passing for 265 yards with three touchdowns. Before Tua left, though, Alabama unwrapped a new weapon. Alabama should not be allowed to have new weapons.
l. Sam Ehlinger lasted just 10 plays before leaving No. 9 Texas's game with Baylor with a right shoulder injury. Junior Shane Buechele entered; the 'Horns built a 23-10 halftime lead and held on for dear life as Baylor threw into the end zone on the game's final two plays. Texas held on 23-17 and sits alone in first place in the Big 12.
m. Virginia Tech stormed past North Carolina 22-19, avoiding a scenario that would have created a 6-team logjam atop the ACC Coastal, a group that would have included a 2-3 UNC team.
n. UAB pitched its first shutout over an FBS team since Nov. 29, 2008 in blanking Rice, 42-0.
o. After being left for dead in September, USC is now the co-favorite in the Pac-12 South after knocking off No. 19 Colorado, 31-20. I had the Buffs as No. 11 among the 11 undefeated teams most likely to stay that way and we saw why as the Trojans led 28-7 after three.
p. The other Pac-12 South co-favorite? Resurgent Utah. The Utes have scored 40-plus in two straight games and host USC on Saturday.
q. Boise State beat Nevada 31-27 on the strength of a 99-yard pick six in the second quarter.
10. And finally... After 15 consecutive years of Washington State fans following College GameDay wherever the show happened to go, GameDay is coming to them for the first time.