1. No. 2 Ohio State goes down with a thud. Leading 7-3 late in the first half, Jeff Brohm knew Ohio State would not simply grant Purdue permission to win the game and send the Buckeyes' season to the brink. A season-defining win was there for the taking, but it was incumbent upon Purdue to go out and take it.
Take it they did.
It started with the final drive of the first half. Rather than accept a 10-3 lead at the break, Brohm gambled for more.
To open the second half, the Boilers turned away a 1st-and-goal situation, forcing an Ohio State field goal. Purdue answered that score with a 73-yard touchdown drive, then turned the Buckeyes away again at the goal line, forcing a Dwayne Haskins incompletion on 4th-and-goal from the 2.
The Boilers carried a 21-6 lead into the fourth quarter when, instead of turtling and attempting to win the game 21-20, Brohm put his foot on the gas. Purdue rolled up 197 yards and three touchdowns in the final frame, answering each touchdown with a score of their own.
Fab freshman Rondale Moore put the game away with 3:37 to go, pin-balling his way for a 43-yard touchdown to give Purdue a 42-20 lead. Moore was the one guy Ohio State knew they needed to corral, and he still went off for 194 yards and two scores on 14 touches.
Then linebacker Markus Bailey added the capper, taking a Haskins interception 41 yards for a touchdown to hand Purdue a 49-20 win.
"We started 0-3. We were conservative and we got our butts beat," Brohm said afterward. We knew we've got to play aggressive, we've got to play to win and whatever happens, the chips fall where they may. The guys played to win."
1b. Ohio State isn't dead, but they're halfway there. Ohio State flirted with disaster against TCU and Penn State before rescuing themselves at the right time. There was no rescuing on Saturday. They ran the ball for just 76 yards on 25 tries, forcing Haskins to launch 73 passes. Meanwhile in East Lansing...
2. Go Blue makes a Michigan Statement. At the 6:40 mark of the third quarter, it looked like Michigan would find a way to lose a game Michigan always seems to lose and Michigan State seems to win. The score was 7-7, rain was falling and Michigan had just fumbled the ball away on a 2nd-and-2 at the Spartans' 22. It was the second time the Wolverines had fumbled and the fifth time they penetrated Michigan State territory and came away empty handed -- two tell tale signs it was to be one of those days.
But Michigan's defense stiffened. The Spartans' next four possessions lasted 13 plays -- one more than the minimum -- and lost five yards. During that span, Shea Patterson found Donovan Peoples-Jones for a 79-yard touchdown and engineered a 13-play, 84-yard scoring march. Nine of those 13 snaps were runs, including Ben Mason's 5-yard plunge that effectively put the game away with 10:21 remaining in the fourth quarter.
No. 6 Michigan's 21-7 defeat of No. 24 Michigan State is more than just one win.
It snaps a 17-game road losing streak against ranked teams, dating back to 2006.
It's win No. 2 on the Wolverines' 4-game revenge tour. They got Wisconsin last week, Penn State next (after a bye) and You Know Who on Nov. 24.
But more importantly, it announces the maize and blue as a team that can compete for the Big Ten title and the College Football Playoff. Against the nation's top rush defense (62.3 yards per game on 2.34 a carry), Michigan rushed for 183 yards on 3.45 a pop. When he wasn't taking unnecessary sacks, Shea Patterson was effective through the air, hitting 14-of-25 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns.
And for the second week in a row, the defense was sensational. The Spartans threw the ball 28 times for 79 yards and ran it 23 for 15. That's 51 plays for 94 yards.
Trace McSorley and Haskins will be far more challenging than Alex Hornibrook and Brian Lewerke, but Don Brown will take his chances with the group he's got.
2a. Yeah, these teams hate each other. This went down before the game started.
Michigan came away from the Spartan Walk accusing Michigan State players of "clotheslining" defensive lineman Lawrence Marshall and ripping the headphones off of defensive back Lavert Hill.
Afterward, both head coaches weighed in. Harshly.
3. Oct. 20, 2018, was Washington State's day in college football. The day started with the most anticipated College GameDay episode in years, as the show made a visit to Pullman that was 15 years in the making.
Of course, GameDay is but a pregame show and the real matter at hand was No. 12 Oregon and their possible No. 1 pick at quarterback.
The No. 25 Cougars smothered Justin Hebert and company, while Gardner Minshew fired three second quarter touchdown passes to put the home team up 27-0 at the break. It was a near perfect half of football from Mike Leach's team.
Oregon rallied in the second half, pulling within 27-20 with 6:38 to go in the fourth quarter, but Washington State answered. The Cougars moved 75 yards in eight plays, converting a 4th-and-6 at the Oregon 34 and scoring two plays later. Washington State forced a turnover on downs on the Ducks' last-gasp drive, securing a season-changing 34-20 win.
Washington State has now beaten Oregon four straight times, matching the program's longest win streak first achieved from 1950-53. More importantly, it hands the Cougars control of their Pac-12 destiny. At 6-1 overall and 3-1 in conference, Washington State visits Stanford next week and hosts Washington in the Apple Cup. Win both of those, and a Mike Leach team will play for its first conference title.
4. So far, so good for Oklahoma's defense. The best part about Oklahoma's defense is that it gets to play opposite its offense. Playing its first game since the Mike Stoops firing, the No. 9 Sooners raced to a 28-7 lead over TCU in Fort Worth as its offense scored four touchdowns in its first four drives -- while racking up 8.97 yards a pop over its first 31 plays.
Ruffin McNeill's defense looked revamped as the Sooners forced punts on TCU's first three drives (TCU's first score came on a KaVontae Turpin kickoff return) and chased starting quarterback Shawn Robinson from the game, limiting him to 3-of-8 passing for 21 yards.
TCU inserted Penn transfer Michael Collins midway through the second quarter and immediately climbed back in the game. He hit four of his first five passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns -- the one incompletion was a dropped interception -- and all of a sudden a 28-7 blowout was a 28-24 game at halftime.
But McNeill's unit regrouped at halftime, limiting the Frogs to just a field goal in the second half. (Collins tore the padding off his throwing thumb in the third quarter, which helped; his final eight passes were incomplete.)
McNeill's first game as OU's defensive coordinator was an unqualified success, but the unit's weakness is the same now as it was under Stoops: this is a team that can be had in the secondary.
But the strength is still the strength, too. Kyler Murray threw for 213 yards and four touchdowns on 24 attempts, and the running game produced 323 yards and three scores on 6.87 yards a carry. When 40 is your offense's baseline you don't have to be perfect, you just have to be good enough. Through one game, Oklahoma's defense was more than good enough.
5. Alabama has a weakness, but who make them pay for it? No. 1 Alabama beat Tennessee 58-21, but here's what Nick Saban will focus on this week:
Backup quarterback Keller Chryst entered the game in the second quarter and promptly lit the Tide secondary up. The graduate transfer from Stanford went 9-of-15 for 164 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. The Vols posted consecutive scoring drives covering 156 yards in 11 plays, keyed by completions of 30, 26, 10, 23, 40 and 20 yards.
This doesn't mean Alabama's pass defense is bad necessarily. The Tide entered Saturday ranked 10th in pass efficiency defense. But it is a vulnerability that other teams will try to exploit.
And here's the rub: it may not matter. It certainly didn't on Saturday. But the time Tennessee scored its first points, Alabama already had 28. They led 14-0 less than five minutes into the game and 42-14 at the half.
Alabama has scored more points in the first quarter than 25 teams have all season. They've reached the end zone on their first possession eight times in eight games and hit the 40-point mark in five first halves. They've scored 58 touchdowns in eight games and average 54.1 points a game -- both the best in the country.
If Alabama and Oklahoma meet, first one to 50 wins.
5a. This is trolling, right? Butch Jones never beat Alabama as Tennessee's head coach, and now he's 1-0 against his former team as an Alabama analyst. Naturally, some Tide players gave him a Gatorade bath.
6. LSU wins in LSU fashion, setting up a showdown vs. No. 1 Alabama. To beat Alabama in 2018, the theory goes, you're going to have to outscore them. LSU will attempt to do the opposite.
No. 5 LSU beat No. 22 Mississippi State 19-3 at a rainy Tiger Stadium, scoring one touchdown gift wrapped by Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and four Cole Tracy field goals. Joe Burrow threw for 129 yards, and four Tigers runners combined for 110.
Fitzgerald rushed 23 times for 131 tough, important yards, but LSU completely shut him down in the passing game, to the tune of 8-of-24 for 59 yards and four interceptions.
To state the obvious: Alabama will require more than the 239 yards and 19 points LSU mustered to handle Mississippi State.
With the Tide next up, a major development popped up late on Saturday when star Tigers linebacker Devin White was ejected for a targeting hit on Fitzgerald, meaning he'll miss the first half against Alabama. Even the governor of Louisiana struggles to grasp the application of targeting calls.
7. It was Separation Saturday in a number of conferences. We still have one week left in October, but plenty of conference took shape on Saturday.
- MAC: Buffalo earned a massive win for Lance Leipold's program, going to Toledo and beating the Rockets, 31-17. The Bulls trailed 17-7 at the half and pitched a shutout from there, moving to 7-1 overall and 4-0 in MAC play. It was Buffalo's first win at the Glass Bowl in six tries and continued the program's best start since booking an 8-1 season in 1959. A win over Miami (Ohio) on Oct. 30 all but clinches the Bulls' first MAC East championship since 2008.
The loss all but ends Toledo's hopes of repeating as MAC champions. The Rockets, now 1-2 in MAC play, are looking up at 4-0 Northern Illinois and 4-0 Western Michigan.
- Conference USA: In a battle of offense vs. defense, North Texas rolled up 221 passing yards and 21 points in the first half, but UAB shut the door in the second. The Blazers' defense shut out the Mean Green after halftime, notching a safety and forcing a key Mason Fine fumble at their own 4, while the bigger, stronger UAB offense leaned on the North Texas defense to pull off a 29-21 come-from-behind win.
The win moves UAB to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in C-USA with wins in the bank over West Division challengers Louisiana Tech and North Texas. One season after bringing UAB football back from the dead, Bill Clark has Conference USA's best team.
- Pac-12: USC went to Salt Lake City with the hope of wrestling away full control of the Pac-12 South, but the opposite happened in a 41-28 Utes thumping. Utah out-gained USC 541-205 and limited the Trojans to 3-of-14 on third down, all while hitting the 40-point mark for the third straight week.
Utah now holds head-to-head, but USC has the easier schedule moving forward. The Utes have Oregon and a trip to Boulder ahead of them, while USC's remaining opponents are a combined 3-12 in Pac-12 play.
- ACC: No. 3 Clemson put the Separation in Separation Saturday, quickly making their supposed ACC Atlantic challenger No. 16 NC State look like a pretender. The Tigers led 14-0 after one, 24-0 at the half and cruised to a 41-7 win, looking like a true national championship contender for the first time this season. A Nov. 10 trip to Boston College is now really the only obstacle standing between Clemson and a fourth straight ACC Championship appearance.
8. The Super 16. The Nuggets is once again honored to vote in this year's FWAA-NFF Super 16 poll. Here's this week's ballot.
- Notre Dame
- Ohio State
- Texas A&M
- Washington State
9. Odds and Ends
a. We begin tonight in Division II, where Lincoln University in Missouri won its first conference road game since 1975. That's not a misprint.
b. Miami (Ohio) became the first team this season to lose a game despite now allowing a complete pass. Army missed its two attempted passes but ran the ball 74 times for 347 yards and four touchdowns, building a 21-7 fourth quarter lead that Miami erased with a 5-yard touchdown run with 17 seconds left in regulation. Trailing 31-30 in double overtime, RedHawks head coach Chuck Martin went for two and the win. It didn't go quite how he drew it up.
c. After a 17-14 win over TCU last Thursday and a 48-16 blowout of Kansas on Saturday, Texas Tech has held Big 12 opponents under 20 points in back-to-back weeks for the first time since holding Oklahoma and Baylor to 13 in November of 2009.
d. The Big Red Nightmare is over. Nebraska has won a game, blowing out Minnesota 53-28. Thus ends a 10-game losing streak for one of college football's proudest programs.
e. The nation's most under-discussed team? Houston. After hiring Baylor castoffs Kendal Briles and Randy Clements, Houston is 6-1 and has scored 41 or more in all seven games, including a 49-36 win over Navy on Saturday.
f. Perhaps the nation's most surprising unbeaten is no more after Temple stunned No. 20 Cincinnati, rallying from down 17-10 to win 24-17 in overtime.
g. Syracuse narrowly staved off another post-Clemson slide. The Orange did not win a game after stunning Clemson last season and nearly fell to 0-2 after this month's Clemson loss, holding off North Carolina 40-37 in double overtime.
h. Virginia is a problem in the ACC. The Cavs are 5-2 after winning 28-14 at previously 5-1 Duke.
i. Gus Malzahn will remain employed for another seven days after Auburn won at Ole Miss, 31-16.
j. Someone get Randy Edsall's agent a raise. How did UConn agree to this?
k. Memphis was a trendy upset pick to beat Missouri, but the Tigers ripped off 65 points -- 62 in three quarters -- to win by 32. Drew Lock was 23-of-29 for 350 yards and four touchdowns.
l. Best game you didn't see today: Old Dominion over Western Kentucky. ODU trailed 27-19 entering the fourth, tied it with 5:40 to go, fell behind 34-27 with 1:37 left, then tied it at 34-34 with nine seconds left. Then all hell broke loose. WKU got a 15-yard run to get the ball to its own 45 with two seconds left. WKU's hail mary was incomplete, but a roughing the passer moved the ball to the ODU 40. WKU's 57-yard field goal was short, but ODU was flagged for 12 men on the field. On the game's second untimed down, WKU's 52-yard field goal was also short; ODU returned the kick 83 yards to the WKU 18.
That would've sent the game to overtime, but WKU was flagged for a face mask. Since the game cannot end on a defensive penalty, this mandated a third untimed down, a 26-yard ODU field goal. This one was good.
Can you remember a game ending on back-to-back field goals by opposing teams, both of which occurred on untimed downs?
m. No. 23 Wisconsin-Illinois was played in a blizzard, but it was only temporary. By the second half you couldn't even tell it had snowed.
n. After Appalachian State's win over Louisiana-Lafayette, the Sun Belt standings are a teeny bit lopsided. The top three teams in the Sun Belt East -- Georgia Southern, App State and Troy -- are 9-0 in conference and 16-4 overall. The top four teams in the Sun Belt West (thanks to a tie for third) -- ULM, Arkansas State, ULL and South Alabama -- are 5-8 in conference and 13-16 overall.
10. And finally... Let's end the week with a laugh, shall we?