1. Ohio State completes the greatest comeback in sports history. Or something like that. Urban Meyer likes to speak in hyperbole, so let's put it this way: Never before has a team overcome a sloppier performance to rally from 11 points down in the final six minutes to beat the No. 2 team in the country.
Ohio State allowed Saquon Barkley to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown, then fumbled on its first possession. The Buckeyes spotted Penn State a 14-0 lead and found themselves trailing 28-10 midway through the second quarter. They fought back to pull within 28-20 in the third, but a J.T. Barrett fumble gave the ball to Penn State near midfield in the fourth quarter with a 35-20 lead.
However, Ohio State forced a three-and-out, then got a 38-yard Barrett touchdown pass. Penn State pushed to a first-and-goal at the Ohio State 7, but the Buckeyes forced a field goal. Ohio State went 76 yards in five plays -- capped by another Barrett touchdown pass -- to pull within 38-33 with 4:20 to play, then forced another three-and-out. A third Barrett touchdown pass of the fourth quarter put Ohio State on top at 39-38 with 1:48 remaining, and the vaunted Ohio State defensive line -- which Greg Schiano has said with a straight face is better than any NFL front he's ever coached -- went through the Penn State offensive line like it wasn't even there to force a four-and-out to seal the win.
Disaster: averted. Season: saved.
Surely Meyer measured the win with a 17-year head coaching career and 31 years in coaching in mind, right? No, he, a coach with three national titles, suggested it may be the best win he's ever had.
1a. A word about J.T. Barrett. Barrett has been at Ohio State for seemingly 13 years, so he bears the brunt of the Buckeye blame whenever things go wrong, but he was the reason Ohio State won on Saturday. (Well, he and the defensive line.) Ohio State has done a ton of winning during Barrett's career, and his play is a major reason why.
Barrett's stats on Saturday: 33-of-39 passing for 328 yards with four touchdowns -- including three in the fourth quarter -- and no interceptions while rushing a team-high 17 times for 95 yards -- including the game-clinching first down.
Barrett's (and the defensive line's) performance vaulted himself into the Heisman lead and Barkley out of it. And, of course, Urban had a measured response to Barrett's performance.
2. Iowa State has graduated from a neat story to a very real threat to win the Big 12. Ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2005, No. 25 Iowa State earned its second win over a top-5 team this month with a 14-7 defeat of No. 4 TCU -- and it was a doozy.
Every player and coach in this game will remember this one to their dying day as one of Those Games. Consider that Iowa State won the game despite converting 3-of-13 third downs, despite allowing a kickoff return for a touchdown, and despite getting out-rushed by 119 yards and 3.5 per carry.
They did it by forcing two Kenny Hill turnovers inside the Iowa State 10-yard line -- and getting loads of help from the Horned Frogs. TCU committed 11 penalties and had a game-tying pick-six wiped off the board due to a completely unrelated neutral zone infraction.
Like I said, it was one of Those Games.
3. The Florida-Georgia game off the field was totally uninteresting, and the action off the field was anything but that. Georgia bolted to a 21-0 lead midway through the first quarter and cruised to a 42-7 victory. As the CBS broadcast crew looked for fodder to fill the second half, an interesting item percolated its way through the news cycle: Jim McElwain's job status.
The day began with a report that Florida was working with McElwain's agent Jimmy Sexton to negotiate McElwain's near $13 million buyout, which Florida AD Scott Stricklin shot down with a vague statement. But as the game progressed, ESPN reported Florida was working to move McElwain out of his job with cause, and for a reason that had nothing to do with the score on the field. The money passage:
After failing to find any evidence to substantiate claims made by McElwain this week that family and players received death threats, Florida administrators have worked to see if McElwain’s allegations were enough to relieve the university from paying McElwain’s full buyout of $12.9 million if he were to be fired.
Stricklin has not knocked this report down as of press time, and McElwain did not stomp or stump for his job after the game.
Florida is 3-4 this season, and the offense is no closer to being fixed than it was during the Will Muschamp tenure.
4. Elsewhere in SEC country...
- Kentucky beat Tennessee, 29-26. It was Tennessee's second lost to Kentucky since 1985.
- Texas A&M was rocked at home by Mississippi State, 35-14.
- Arkansas rallied from down 31-7 to beat Ole Miss 38-37... to improve to 3-5.
Stay tuned, indeed. 5. We have #MACtion and #Pac12AfterDark. What about #ACCFreakyFridays? Okay, the hashtag could use some work, but there's something at work here. Two weeks ago then-No. 2 Clemson went to Syracuse and lost, and on Friday Florida State went to Chestnut Hill and got absolutely waxed by Boston College. Steve Addazio's Dudes beat Florida State 35-3 and didn't even score in the fourth quarter. And I do mean beat. BC is on the right here: Of course, the surprising thing here is that there's nothing at all surprising about this. Boston College is averaging 40.3 points over the course of its ongoing 3-game winning streak, and Florida State is now 2-5. The 'Noles entered uncharted territory last week, and Friday night's result showed Jimbo Fisher is no closer to finding a map. 6. Notre Dame is a week closer to disrupting the Playoff. If you wanted to write off last week's 49-14 win over USC as the Trojans being less than advertised this season, fine. You had an argument there. But there's no arguing what Notre Dame did on Saturday. The No. 9 Irish hosted No. 14 NC State and its 6th-ranked rushing defense, and treated the Wolfpack like they did everyone else save Georgia -- they ran right over them. Notre Dame scored the final 28 points in a 35-14 win, and the Chip Long Express rumbled for another 318 yards on 54 carries. NC State came into Saturday surrendering only 91.3 yards per game and 3.04 per carry, and Notre Dame more or less hit its numbers. Josh Adams rumbled for 202 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries, joining him in the conversation with Barkley and Stanford's Bryce Love for the best in college football. 7. The first Playoff rankings come out Tuesday, and the field is taking shape. If form holds over the final month, your four Playoff teams are Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame. An 11-1 Notre Dame would get in the Playoff over a 12-1 Georgia that lost only to Alabama and beat Notre Dame, and they would do it because of the Grand Canyon-sized gap between the two's schedules. Notre Dame would have five victories over teams that began the day ranked in the AP Top 25 (No. 8 Miami, No. 14 NC State, No. 16 Michigan State, No. 20 Stanford and No. 21 USC) and Georgia would have two (Notre Dame and No. 19 Auburn). Notre Dame would have victories over eight bowl teams to Georgia's seven. That said, this is college football and form never holds. November is here, and it's going to be a wild month. 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
- Penn State
- Virginia Tech
- Oklahoma State
- Central Florida
- Iowa State
9. Odds and Ends
a. Oklahoma State went to West Virginia and built a 20-point lead, watched it shrink to six after allowed a blocked punt and an interception to be returned for touchdowns within 50 seconds of each other, then built the lead back to 19 points en route to a 50-39 win. A game between Mike Gundy and Dana Holgorsen had to be full throttle, right?
b. Chad Morris is taking SMU bowling in Year 3. The Mustangs erased a 21-7 deficit to beat Tulsa 38-34 on Friday night, moving the Ponies to 6-2 on the year.
c. UAB is a win away from going bowling after beating Southern Miss 30-12 in Hattiesburg.
d. Nebraska was an underdog at Purdue, but the Huskers got a touchdown pass with 14 seconds left to escape with a 25-24 win.
e. Lane Kiffin may be the new King of Conference USA. Florida Atlantic went to 2-time defending conference champion Western Kentucky and emerged with a 42-28 win. The Owls out-rushed the Hilltoppers 368-99.
f. Not to be outdone, Butch Davis is 5-2 in his first season at FIU after winning 41-30 at Marshall.
g. Houston snapped the nation's longest active winning streak with a 28-24 with at No. 17 South Florida. The Coogs got a 20-yard touchdown run with 11 seconds remaining to end USF's 12-game streak.
h. With South Florida out of the way, Mark Richt and Miami now own the nation's longest active streak at 12 games with a 24-19 win at North Carolina.
i. This looks fun.
j. Khalil Tate watch: The Arizona quarterback completed 10-of-17 passes for 275 yards with two touchdowns and an interception and rushed 13 times for 146 yards and a score in a 58-37 win over No. 15 Washington State.
10. And finally... One of the most only-in-college football sequences ever occurred just before halftime in the USC-Arizona State game. The Trojans led 31-3 with one second left when Arizona State launched a Hail Mary that was caught but ruled on the field to be short of the goal line. Both teams departed for the locker room.
But a replay review found the completion to be a touchdown, which required a PAT, which was impossible because neither team was on its sideline and the Arizona State band was on the field.
Arizona State watched the PAT from the tunnel, while the field judge had to retrieve USC from its locker room.
USC eventually emerged, the PAT was good and, at long last, halftime could begin.