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#Nuggets: Ohio State explodes, Oregon ducks out, and UTSA keeps running

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Ohio State confronts history with a bad attitude and a deadly weapon. Earlier this week we pointed out the similarities in Michigan State's visit to the Horseshoe with previous visits in 1998 and 2015. The No. 4 Buckeyes blew those similarities to smithereens halfway into the first quarter.

The Buckeyes opened the game with a 12-play, 86-yard touchdown drive -- nine of them CJ Stroud complete passes. Their second drive ended with a 77-yard strike from Stroud to Garrett Wilson. And when No. 7 Michigan State's second possession ended with a 46-yard missed Matt Coghlin field goal, the writing was on the wall -- in Sharpie. 

Trivia question: What was the score when Stroud threw his second incomplete pass? 35-0 Buckeyes. It was 42-0 when he threw his third, and he didn't throw a fourth. While Kenneth Walker III exited the Heisman race with a 6-carry, 25-yard day, Stroud and his ensemble of future NFL receivers put up a masterpiece: 32-of-35 for 432 yards and six touchdowns. 

As an offense, Ohio State went seven for seven in the first half. Seven possessions, seven touchdowns. 

"You can see our capability when we're playing clean football," Ryan Day said afterward. "We certainly have a high ceiling."

Michigan State, meanwhile.... My good friend Doug Samuels made a comment while watching his Spartans endure the business end of a 56-7 beating. "I think I'd rather lose to Kansas than get thumped like my Spartans are today," he said.

As someone eight days removed from watching his team lose to Kansas I'd beg to differ, but he brings up an interesting point. Michigan State's loss is at the clear opposite end of the losing spectrum. I've always contended the most painful loss is the one where you surrender a big comeback and/or when you're on the wrong end of a coin-flip game. Losing by two when time runs out on you at the 1-yard line. The type of game where if any one of 10 variables go differently, the outcome flips.

In that vein, you'd rather get thumped. Leave no doubt that your team was the second best on the field that day. But... 56-7? When you're ranked No. 7 in the country and in the thick of the national title hunt? That's the type of loss that seems to invalidate all the good that came before it. Michigan State walked into a measuring stick game and came up five feet short.

The biggest win in UTSA history. It's not every weekend we can point to a game as clearly the biggest in school history, but that was the case for UTSA. 10-0 for the first time in school history, the 22nd-ranked Roadrunners hosted defending Conference USA champion UAB in the de facto C-USA West Championship. Win, and they'd play for their first conference title. Lose, and it would take a UAB loss to UTEP for the Birds to back their way in.

This one lived up to the hype. Before a crowd of 35,000 in the Alamodome, UAB held leads of 7-0, 14-7, 21-14, and 31-27. Not only that, UAB led 31-27 when UTSA threw for eight yards on 4th-and-10, giving UAB the ball back with 1:52 to play. 

Faced with a 4th-and-1 at its own 42, Bill Clark's team could've won the game with a first down. UTSA was out of timeouts, and the yard to gain wasn't even a yard. Instead, Clark took a delay of game, punted, and UTSA drove down the field and won the game. And how they won the game is a doozy. You know you're in the middle of a season of destiny when the ball touches the turf and an opposing player's hand but still winds up where it needs to go.

"Just like we drew it up," Jeff Traylor said. 

Cincinnati picked a good day to have a good day. After a few lackluster (by their standard) weeks, Cincinnati looked like Cincinnati again. The Bearcats' defense did to SMU what Ohio State's offense did to Michigan State. By the time SMU got on the board, midway through the fourth quarter with the scoreboard reading 41-7 against them, the Bearcats had already forced seven three-and-outs and two fumbles. SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai, the AAC's leading passer, threw for 66 yards on 26 attempts. For the game. He came in averaging 326.

"We got in too many 3rd and longs. When they have their ears pinned back and they're coming after you, they're hard to block," Sonny Dykes said.

Elsewhere, Michigan State and Oregon removed themselves from contention. Either Michigan or Ohio State will eliminate themselves a week from now. Even Wake Forest lost. The Bedlam rivals are still lurking, but vaulting to the top four would require beating the other two weeks in a row. Notre Dame still lurks, but the Irish have a red-and-black ceiling over their heads.

The nightmare scenario of Alabama upsetting Georgia in the SEC Championship doesn't seem like a nightmare anymore. Might these Bearcats not only make the Playoff, but do so with room to spare? 

O(h no). It was two years ago this week that No. 6 Oregon went to Tempe to play an unranked Arizona State before a national primetime audience on ABC. They fell behind 24-7 in the fourth quarter and, despite a late rally, lost 31-28.

Saturday, No. 3 Oregon visited barely-ranked Utah on a national primetime audience on ABC and once again ducked (get it?) out of the Playoff conversation. This one wasn't as dramatic, losing 38-7 in a game that was 28-0 at halftime.

It was the worst loss by an AP Top 5 team in the 21st century. 

Oregon's passing game predictably struggled -- Anthony Brown was under 50 percent passing for 6.6 per attempt -- and the Pac-12's No. 2 rushing offense posted a season-low 63 yards on 2.7 a carry. 

For the sixth time in eight seasons, and the fifth time in five seasons, the Pac-12 will miss the College Football Playoff. 


The Super 16. This week's FWAA-NFF Super 16 ballot.

1. Georgia
2. Ohio State
3. Cincinnati
4. Alabama
5. Michigan
6. Notre Dame
7. Oklahoma State
8. Baylor
9. Oklahoma
10. Ole Miss
11. Michigan State
12. Iowa
13. San Diego State
14. BYU
15. Utah
16. Oregon

Odds and Ends

a. Dorian Thompson-Robinson's first two passes were intercepted by USC. From that point forward, he went 16-of-20 for 349 yards and four touchdowns in leading UCLA to a program-record 62 points against their crosstown rival and just their second win at the LA Coliseum since 1998. 

b. Bryce Young set an Alabama record with 559 passing yards (with five touchdowns), and needed only 40 passes to do so. 

c. No. 18 Pitt is the ACC Coastal champion for the second time with a 48-38 win over Virginia. The program claims nine national titles but just two conference crowns, 2004 and 2010 in the Big East. 

d. The ACC Atlantic is still up for grabs with Clemson's 48-27 drubbing of No. 10 Wake Forest. Wake wins the division with a victory at BC next week. If Wake loses, No. 20 NC State can claim its first division title with a triumph over North Carolina. If Wake and NC State lose, Clemson wins its seventh straight Atlantic crown.

e. After winning two games a year ago, South Carolina is going bowling in Year 1 under Shane Beamer.

f. That said, we had another instance of replay overreach in the Gamecocks' 21-17 win over Auburn. The replay official intervened to rule that Auburn punt returner Jaylin Simpson nicked the ball with his knee, awarding the ball to South Carolina with 2:11 to play. Replay is supposed to exist to fix obvious mistakes by the officials on the field, not do their job for them.

f. Six of Oklahoma's 10 wins are by seven points or fewer, including 28-21 over Iowa State on Saturday. (This doesn't include Kansas, where the Big 12 Director of Sportsmanship scored with 42 seconds left to create a 12-point margin.)

g. Seven of Nebraska's eight losses have come by one possession, including Saturday's 35-28 setback at Wisconsin. The eight? 26-17 to Ohio State. It was quite appropriate that Oklahoma beat Nebraska 23-16 back in September.

h. Cal pounded Stanford, 41-11. Pounded them so resoundingly that Cal students rushed the field... at Stanford Stadium. It was the Bears' largest margin of victory in the series since 2008.

i. Notre Dame has won 10 games for five straight seasons, the most in program history. Win No. 10 of this season came 55-0 over Georgia Tech, the Irish's largest shutout victory since 1996.

j. Gritty win by No. 11 Baylor, snapping K-State's 4-game winning streak with a 20-10 win in Manhattan. The good: they did most of the damage with QB1 Gerry Bohanon on the sideline. The bad: QB1 Gerry Bohanon was on the sideline with a pulled hammy.

Either way, the Bears are in the Big 12 Championship with a No. 9 Oklahoma State win over No. 13 Oklahoma.

k. Is it any coincidence No. 6 Michigan scored 59 on a day when Ohio State scores 56? Probably. Either way, the Maize and Blue's 59-18 drubbing of Maryland was the most they've scored against a Big Ten opponent since scoring... 59 on Maryland in 2016.

l. Eli Drinkwitz had quite a walk-off on Saturday. The game and the post-game.

m. Florida State will visit Florida next week for a win-or-stay home game. Both teams are 5-6.

n. App State clinched the Sun Belt East for the third time in four years with a 56-7 lancing of Troy. 

o. Texas Tech was shutout for the first time since 1997 -- first time at home since 1987 -- and limited to 109 yards of total offense in a 23-0 loss to No. 9 Oklahoma State.

p. Oklahoma State clinched its first appearance in the Big 12 Championship -- ever -- with the win in Lubbock. The Cowboys have an outright Big 12 title, but it came in a year (2011) in which the conference did not have a standalone title game. 

q. Red-hot Kansas's winning streak will stop at one. The Jayhawks lost to TCU, 31-28.

r. Nice win by Wyoming to upset Utah State, 44-17.

s. With UTSA clinching the West, the C-USA East title will be decided when Western Kentucky visits Marshall on Saturday. 


Never before has this section been named so literally.