1. Kirk Ferentz knocks out Urban Meyer. In his five and a half seasons at Ohio State, Urban Meyer had lost a total of three Big Ten games. He lost by 10 to Michigan State in the 2013 Big Ten title game, by three to Michigan State in 2015 and by three to Penn State last season.
And then there was Saturday: Iowa 55, Ohio State 24. It was Urban's worst conference loss ever as a head coach, a career that spans four jobs, 16 seasons and 129 games.
The game was tied 17-17 deep into the second quarter before the Hawkeyes ripped off 31 unanswered points. Iowa's defense single handedly ripped the Heisman out of J.T. Barrett's hands by intercepting him four times and its offense ended any air of invincibility the Ohio State defense carried by putting together a perfectly balanced effort: 244 passing yards (with five touchdowns against no picks) and 243 rushing yards on 6.4 per carry.
The win also cemented Kinnick Stadium's status as the Big Ten's House of Horrors; Saturday's win was the fourth time in the last decade Iowa has taken down a team ranked No. 6 or higher.
2. Michigan State takes down Penn State. In retrospect, we all should have seen this coming. Penn State was going on the road for the second consecutive week, seven days after losing a game that will hurt every Penn State player and coach until they're bouncing grandchildren on their lap. Of course they were going to go through the motions. (By the way, I picked Penn State to win the game.)
Penn State actually jumped out to a 14-7 lead before inclement weather delayed the game nearly three and a half hours. With the advantage of waiting out the delay in its home quarters, Michigan State came back to play more energetic than the Nittany Lions, grabbing a 21-14 lead before Penn State fought back to grab a 24-21 lead.
Matt Coughlin knocked in a 32-yard field goal to tie the game with 10:56 to play, then booted in 34-yarder as time expired to give Michigan State the win.
Just like 2015, Michigan State goes to Columbus next week with a chance to steal the Big Ten East. But that's all that should be on the line.
3. And in turn, the Big Ten has taken itself down. Or at least it should. We're only in Year 4 of the new Playoff system, and at this point precedents are made so they can be broken. And here's one precedent that should be broken in 2017: the committee's love affair with the Big Ten. In 2014, the committee moved the Big Ten champion (Ohio State) ahead of the Big 12 champion (Baylor) on Selection Sunday. The committee did the same in 2015, moving Michigan State to the No. 3 line ahead of Oklahoma. Last season, the committee made Ohio State the only non-league champion to make the 4-team field thus far. Clearly, the committee loves the Big Ten.
But in those three years, we've learned enough that Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan -- all two loss teams with Big Ten title hopes still alive -- should be out. Two-loss teams don't get in.
Wisconsin is still undefeated, yes. But the committee ranked the Badgers at No. 10 last week for a reason. And here's that reason:
Matter of fact, let's list out every non-conference win by Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan: Air Force, Akron, Army, Bowling Green, BYU, Cincinnati, Florida, Florida Atlantic, Georgia State, Pittsburgh UNLV, Utah State and Western Michigan.
The most most impressive win from that group is.... Florida Atlantic?
Thus far in the Playoff system, three of the four spots have been reserved for the ACC, the SEC and the Big Ten. One of those spots is now up for grabs. So who's taking it?
4. Bedlam lived up to its name. Look at it this way: Oklahoma State snapped the ball 88 times for 661 yards of total offense, good enough for 32 first downs, 7.51 yards per play and 52 points. And it wasn't close to being the best offense on the field.
That honor belongs to Oklahoma, a Lincoln Riley-Baker Mayfield combination that may go down as the most explosive and efficient play caller-quarterback combination in college football history. If that sounds like hyperbole, consider that OU gained 785 yards and achieved 30 first downs on 76 plays -- good for 10.33 yards per play. Mayfield needed only 36 throws to break the school record with 598 passing yards, and nearly two of every five plays Riley called went for a first down or a touchdown.
No. 5 OU's 62-52 win over No. 11 Oklahoma State, coupled with No. 15 Iowa State's loss at West Virginia, puts the Sooners back in control of their destiny to play for a third straight Big 12 title.
4a. The Big 12 championship game should be Saturday in Norman. TCU beat Texas 24-7 in Fort Worth, setting up a massive game between the No. 8 Frogs and the No. 5 Sooners in Norman. In any other season, the winner would have reserved a spot in the Playoff without the need of an extra game. Except the Big 12 added a championship game, which means the winner will emerge from a massive game in Norman and, instead of kicking its feet up on the first Saturday of December, prepare for a rematch with their opponent next Saturday, or Oklahoma State, or West Virginia, or Iowa State. Considering this league's history of spoiling its own national championship hopes -- it's happened five times in 21 seasons -- expect Murphy's Law to reign at Jerry World on the first Saturday in December. 5. Deshaun Watson graduated, but Clemson's championship mettle remains on campus. NC State gave Clemson everything it wanted last season -- falling 24-17 in overtime after missing a game-winning field goal -- and Saturday's game figured to be a street fight with Dave Doeren's club coming in at 4-0 in ACC play. And it very much was. The Wolfpack held leads of 7-0, 14-7 and 21-14 in the first half, and carried a 21-17 lead into the break while getting the ball to open the second half. Put simply, both teams knew the third quarter would be the biggest of their respective seasons. Third quarter score: Clemson 14, NC State 0. Clemson led 31-21 entering the fourth quarter, but NC State battled back to pull within 31-28, then forced a three-and-out to take over at its own 28 with 10:12 remaining. The sequence from there:
- A sack of Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley to force a 2nd-and-19
- An interception of Finley, giving Clemson the ball at the NC State 27
- Facing a 4th-and-5 at the 22, Dabo Swinney elected to go for it. Kelly Bryant hit Hunter Renfrow, who you'll recall caught the title-winning pass last season, for a 16-yard gain.
- Three plays later, Bryant danced in for a 1-yard run to give Clemson a 38-28 lead with 6:31 to play.
NC State answered, pushing through a field goal to pull within 38-31 and then advanced the ball deep inside Clemson territory in the final minute. But an illegal motion penalty erased a gain that would've given the Wolfpack a first-and-goal, and Finley's last-gasp pass from the 33 was intercepted.
6. Miami is very much in the conversation. It was fair to doubt Mark Richt's Canes entering Saturday night. The Playoff committee had undefeated Miami ranked at No. 10, one spot behind play-somebody-already Wisconsin. That's because Miami also hadn't played a ranked team yet and won its last four games against, frankly, average at best teams by a combined 18 points.
That talk is over after the Hurricanes welcomed No. 13 Virginia Tech to South Beach and beat them by, well, by 18 points. Manny Diaz's defense brought the turnover chain out four times after intercepting Josh Jackson twice and recovering two fumbles.
All Miami needs now to clinch its first trip to the ACC Championship in 13 tries is a win over Virginia or Pittsburgh or a Virginia loss. But the 'Canes have more on their mind than just a division championship. This team is on a collision course with Clemson for the ACC title with a very timely diversion outside of conference play next week.
7. The SEC... oh the SEC. I wrote in this week's status report that this will be an active winter in the SEC, and that was before the events of Saturday. First, No. 14 Auburn went to College Station and beat Texas A&M 42-27. It was the Aggies' second double-digit home loss in as many weeks and concluded A&M's SEC home schedule by extending their Kyle Field losing streak to seven straight losses against SEC West opponents. All this at a program that takes as much pride in its home-field advantage as any program in college football. Elsewhere in the league, Arkansas had to string together a 76-yard drive late in the fourth quarter to come from behind to beat Coastal Carolina, 39-38. The Hogs trailed 38-25 at one point, against a program in the midst of its maiden voyage in the Sun Belt. A program that lost to Arkansas State 51-17 earlier this season. Wonder if Blake Anderson will work that into his joke series. 7a. The SEC could easily become the first league to get two teams in the Playoff. The conference is as down as it's ever been in spots three through 14, but its top two teams are also the top two teams -- No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Alabama, both 24-10 winners on Saturday -- in the Playoff poll. But we have a lot of football ahead of us and plenty of time to talk about it. 8. The Super 16. The Nuggets is once again honored to vote in the FWAA-NFF Super 16 poll. Here's this week's ballot.
- Notre Dame
- Central Florida
- Oklahoma State
- Washington State
- Michigan State
- Ohio State
- Penn State
9. Odds and Ends
a. New Mexico State hasn't reached a bowl game since 1960. New Mexico State beat Texas State 45-35 to improve to 4-5 on the year, meaning wins over two of Louisiana-Lafayette, Idaho and South Alabama (the last two at home) would be enough to end the drought.
b. In his first year as head coach, Shawn Elliott has Georgia State at 5-3 overall and 4-1 in the Sun Belt after a 21-17 win at Georgia Southern.
c. Army won its first round of the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy round-robin, beating the 2016 champions 21-0 in Colorado Springs.
e. Central Michigan claimed a rivalry trophy of its own on Wednesday and John Bonamego slept with the trophy.
f. Matt Rhule earned his first win at Baylor, taking down Kansas, 38-9.
g. North Texas all but clinched its first Conference USA West championship with a 24-23 win at Louisiana Tech. The Mean Green rallied from deficits of 17-10 and 23-17 to move to 6-3 (5-1 C-USA) in Seth Littrell's second year, two years removed from going 1-11. UNT closes with Rice and UTEP -- combined record in C-USA play when not playing each other: 0-8 -- needing only one win to wrap up the division.
h. In their first seasons on the job, Lane Kiffin and Butch Davis are on a collision course in the C-USA East. FIU improved to 4-1 in C-USA with a 14-7 win over UTSA. FAU jumped to 5-0 with a 30-25 win over Marshall on Friday. Kiffin not only won, he trolled sports bettors and his former boss.
i. The same sport that gave us Oklahoma 62, Oklahoma State 52 on the same day produced Old Dominion 6, Charlotte 0.
j. Bill Clark should win every national coach of the year award. His resurrected Blazers are going bowling after beating Rice, 52-21.
k. Central Florida was finally challenged this season. The Knights went on the road to Dallas and pulled out a 31-24 win over SMU.
l. In a game that was crucial to both sides' bowl hopes, Kansas State pulled out a 42-35 overtime win at Texas Tech. The Wildcats survived a missed field goal that would have buried them at 38-27 late in the fourth quarter, then drove the field to notch a game-tying touchdown and 2-point conversion, scored to open overtime and sealed the win by forcing a turnover on downs at the 4-yard line.
m. Purdue 29, Illinois 10. This says it all.
n. Northwestern won at Nebraska, 31-24 in overtime. Nebraska home losses this year: Four. Nebraska home losses, 1988-2001: Three.
o. Teams that clinched bowl games this week: Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Fresno State, Houston, Iowa, North Texas, Northwestern, UAB, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.
10. And finally... Wyoming and Colorado State played a snow game and it was magical.
Pistol Pete was happy because Wyoming won the Border War, 16-13.