Indiana wins the game of the year. So far. A wild game was about to end with a whimper.
After leading 17-7 in the first half, Indiana fell behind Penn State 21-20 on a 60-yard dagger from Sean Clifford to Jahan Dotson with 2:30 remaining. The Hoosiers would need a drive, and instead went four-and-out deep in their own territory. When Penn State took over with 1:42 to play, Indiana had just one timeout. The Lions could sit on the ball and win the game; the Hoosiers needed help.
Help is what they got when Devyn Ford scored the most damaging touchdown in Penn State history.
The only way IU could win the game was to let Penn State score, and Ford didn't realize that until it was too late. You can see the whole train of thought play out in real time in this clip below. Watch as he looks down at his feet, which happen to be standing on the wrong side of the goal line.
Penn State still could have ended the game by going for two to extend their lead to 29-20, but instead played it safe and kicked the extra point. The football gods would not reward that choice.
Indiana dashed 75 yards in seven plays, all of them Michael Penix, Jr., passes or runs. He scored a 1-yard run with 22 seconds remaining, then pushed the game to overtime on another keeper.
Indiana then squib kicked then ensuing kickoff, which allowed Penn State to move in position to kick a 57-yard game-winning field goal, which would have been good from 56.
Penn State scored to open overtime, but Indiana answered on a 9-yard strike from Penix to Whop Philyor, and Tom Allen put the ball in Penix's hands to win the game. He won it for the Hoosiers in a photo finish. This is easily the photo of the year through 2020 so far, capping the game of the year thus far.
The win snapped Indiana's 41-game losing streak to AP Top 10 opponents, a streak the Hoosiers had been oh so close to breaking a number of times in recent years -- 34-27 to No. 1 Ohio State in 2015; 35-27 to No. 10 Iowa that same year; 27-22 to No. 10 Nebraska in 2016; and 34-27 to No. 9 Penn State last year. Indiana hadn't beaten a Top 10 team since Oct. 10, 1987, and hadn't beaten a Top 10 team at home since Nov. 25, 1967.
IU was due, due like an 10.5-month pregnant woman. Talent and luck are required to end a decades-long streak, two things that seem to go come and go in pairs. The more talented you are, the luckier you seem to get. Indiana proved it had the talent to hang with Penn State, and the gods rewarded them with some luck in the form of a costly Penn State mistake.
Rutgers is BACK. Okay, maybe that's a little strong, but what a better way to begin the Schiano Era 2.0 than a 38-27 win at Michigan State? The Scarlet Knights snapped the longest losing streak in Big Ten history -- 21 games -- and the 11-point margin represents Rutgers's largest Big Ten victory since a 352-24 win over Illinois on Oct. 14, 2017. They are 1-0 in Big Ten play for the first time... ever.
On top of the all-important win, Rutgers also flushed some of this waste water out of their system.
Schiano's team was actually out-gained 379-276 and committed three turnovers of their own, but those seven takeaways put them in the driver's seat throughout. Evidence: only four times in 15 total possessions did Michigan State hold the ball with a chance to tie the game. Those drives went fumble, fumble, interception, four-and-out.
Michigan is... fun?!??! Now this was the Michigan we thought we were getting when Jim Harbaugh brought Josh Gattis aboard last season.
In his first game as QB1, junior Joe Milton looked like a natural in Gattis's offense. He hit 15-of-22 passes for 225 yards and a score, rushed eight times for 52 yards and another score, and looked better in the Wolverines' 49-24 win over Minnesota than Shea Patterson did at any point last season. He looked completely comfortable, perfectly toggling the line of piloting the Michigan offense while not trying to do too much.
An effective running game helped -- Hassan Haskins and Zach Charbonnet combined to rush 10 times for 152 yards and three scores, with runs of 70 and 66 yards -- and a whopping nine different receivers caught passes in the win. They also got a little help from their defense.
Michigan was balanced, multi-dimensional and, equally important, fun. Here's hoping this team sticks around for the rest of the fall.
Oklahoma State can play some defense, y'all. The Oklahoma State 2020 Hype Train© was built on pretty much one thing -- a healthy quarterback Spencer Sanders playing a full season with running back Chuba Hubbard and receiver Tylan Wallace, who both turned down NFL money to make a run at the Playoff.
All three were good on Saturday. Quite good, in fact. Sanders went 20-of-29 for 235 yards and rushed 15 times for 71 yards with two touchdowns (and two picks), Hubbard carried 25 times for 139 yards and a score, and Wallace led the Cowboys with five grabs for 76 yards.
But those three aren't why Oklahoma State is 4-0 today. The Pokes are winning behind Jim Knowles' defense.
This team has allowed 7, 13, 7 and now 21 points after knocking off Iowa State 24-21. (Seven of Iowa State's points came after the game had largely been decided.) Cyclone running back Breece Hall, the Big 12's leading rusher, still got his -- 185 yards and a score on 20 carries. But quarterback play wins and loses games in the Big 12, and Oklahoma State limited Iowa State's Brock Purdy to just 162 yards on 34 attempts. A pass rush that entered Saturday tied for the Big 12 lead in sacks per game got to Purdy three times, and Iowa State was limited to just three conversions on 13 tries.
With Iowa State knocked from the list of Big 12 unbeatens, Mike Gundy's team will now look forward to a home date with Texas and a Nov. 7 road trip to the other Big 12 co-leader, Kansas State. Win that and they'll be alone in first place in the conference.
Cincinnati's statement win over SMU. Overshadowed by the Big Ten's return, the biggest game, rankings wise, of the weekend was in Dallas as No. 16 SMU hosted No. 9 Cincinnati. And Cincinnati dominated.
Luke Fickell's team jumped out to a 14-0 lead, saw their lead shrink to 14-10 at the half, then won the second half 28-3 to thoroughly outclass what was nominally their top competition in the American, 42-13.
Desmond Ridder outplayed Shane Buechele, throwing for 126 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 179 and three. As a team, Cincinnati out-rushed SMU 313-75 and held Buechele to 216 yards on 44 throws, a 4.9 yards per attempt average that's nearly half as good as his 9.7 season average.
The American is extraordinarily deep this year. Half the conference has zero or one loss in conference play, plus 2-2 UCF. Four of those await in Cincinnati's final six games.
But the Cincinnati team that dressed out on Saturday night -- a team that is 26-5 dating back to the start of 2018 -- is not only the best in the American, it's the best team in all of Group of 5, and it's probably not close.
FRIESSeen and HeardSeen
This kid is a true freshman, playing his first collegiate game. Ohio State's wide receivers room is an embarrassment of riches gaudy enough to make an Arab prince brush.
And this toe tap may be even more impressive.
You've seen this by now, but what are the odds of pulling this off? Ten million to one?
"It's my job as the head coach to make sure everybody clearly understands those situations and obviously right there that didn't happen."
-- James Franklin on Devyn Ford's unwanted touchdown
"One play to win it. We’ve been close, and I’m sick and tired of being close.... In my gut, it seemed like the right thing to do."
-- Tom Allen on going for two and the win to beat Penn State.
"I feel bad about that. I had a younger quarterback in the game, and I didn't feel like we had the personnel to take the knee, and I probably should have done that. So I just want to publicly apologize to them, to Scott (Frost.)"
-- Ryan Day on scoring a touchdown in the final minute of Ohio State's 52-17 win over Nebraska.
The Super 16. This week's installment of FWAA-NFF Super 16 poll.
3. Ohio State
5. Notre Dame
6. Oklahoma State
7. Texas A&M
13. North Carolina
15. Kansas State
16. Coastal Carolina
Odds and Ends
a. Let's talk punting. Dave Aranda punted this ball, from the Texas 30. Assuming a field goal is off the table, the best outcome is a boot that pins Texas at its own 1 and the worst, reasonably speaking, is an incomplete pass or a sack that gives UT decent field position. Facing a 4th-and-12, Baylor's offense was highly unlikely to pick it up. All of that is true. But the most likely outcome, by an overwhelming margin, is that the punt results in a touchback. Punters just aren't trained to kick the ball 29 yards and only 29 yards.
Given all that, you don't want to just try a draw and see if the five-to-seven yards Texas is certain to give you might turn into 12? If you throw it deep, two of the three outcomes are good, since an interception is as good as a punt. Instead, Baylor punted and the ball sailed to the back of the end zone. Baylor lost the game, 27-16.
b. This, meanwhile, is a thing of beauty. The box score only -- only -- credits Austin McNamara with an 87-yard punt, and since it was a touchback the net was "just" 67 yards. But these are not accurate representations of how far Mr. McNamara kicked this thing.
The camera angle makes it hard to say for certain, but let's just say toe meets leather at the 3-yard line. The punt lands at the opposite 23, meaning it traveled 74 yards in the air, and rolls across the goal line and out of the back of the end zone. We actually never see it stop rolling. That ball is in New Mexico right now for all we know. Let's just say it rolled another seven yards beyond the back of the end zone -- 97 yards, plus 10, plus another seven means this man just kicked a football 114 yards.
c. Ohio State's debut went well. Ryan Day apologized for scoring one too many touchdowns and Justin Fields threw one completion in 21 tries.
d. Fields wasn't the only Big Ten quarterback to go 20-of-21 in Week 1. Wisconsin's Graham Mertz hit 20-of-21 throws for 248 yards and five touchdowns in a 45-7 blowout of Illinois.
e. Someone break up the Northwestern Wildcats. In the debut of Mike Bajakian's new offense with graduate transfer Peyton Ramsey at the helm, Northwestern pounded Maryland 43-3. The Wildcats gained 537 yards (212 passing, 325 rushing), went 8-of-16 on third down and gained 31 first downs in the win, Pat Fitzgerald's 100th as head coach.
As a point of reference, Northwestern scored 41 points in their first six Big Ten games last season -- total.
f. Playing without head coach Jeff Brohm and star wideout Rondale Moore, Purdue won anyway. Boilermakers 24, Iowa 20.
g. Can the Big Ten be this fun every week?
h. This week's installment of Special Teams Disaster That's Horrifying If It Happens To You and Hilarious If It Doesn't.
i. Auburn got another favorable whistle from the SEC refs in its win over Ole Miss. Our own Johh Brice has the story.
j. Coastal Carolina pulled out perhaps the most elaborate post-game celebration in college football history after beating Georgia Southern.
k. Appalachian State scored a huge win over Arkansas State on Thursday, 45-17. The Sun Belt hierarchy at this point has to be Coastal and App alone in Tier 1 until anyone proves otherwise.
l. What's the most impressive fact here: that Mizzou kept the ball for 21 plays on a single drive, that those plays only gained 66 yards, or that the Tigers didn't score on the drive? Eli Drinkwitz's team opened the second half at their own 25, ended it at the Kentucky 9, and killed 9:35 in between. Mizzou won the game, 20-10. UK gained 145 yards in the loss.
m. Liberty is 6-0 for the first time as an FBS member, beating Southern Miss and their interim interim head coach, 56-35.
n. UTSA has surpassed its 2019 win total through seven games of the Jeff Traylor era, coming from 13 down in the fourth quarter to stun Louisiana Tech, 27-26.
o. Spencer Rattler threw 13 completions for 332 in a 33-14 win over TCU. Also, it's fair to say Lincoln Riley was a bit miffed Gary Patterson called timeout in the final minute while down 30-14.
p. You instantly know it's just not your day the second you see this happen, don't you?
North Carolina won the game, 48-21.
r. Kansas State drilled Kansas 55-13 for its 12th straight Sunflower Showdown win and took two punts for touchdowns in the process. That program is never not excellent on special teams.
s. Florida State followed up that upset of North Carolina with a 48-16 clunker at Louisville. The Noles have been outscored 69-16 after taking a 31-7 lead over UNC. Not nice.
It's 2020, why aren't more coaches taking their shirts off after wins?