Skip to main content

#Nuggets: Six ranked teams go down, Army nearly stuns OU and Stanford stuns Oregon

1. Just when you think you might have this game, this season, figured out... you don't. Boston College became the flavor of the month thanks to a white-hot offense, soaring to a 3-0 start and a No. 23 ranking in the AP poll. The Eagles came into Saturday averaging 7.6 yards per play (10th nationally) and 52.7 points per game (sixth), while quarterback Anthony Brown led the nation in passing efficiency (13 yards per attempt with nine touchdowns and no picks) and running back A.J. Dillon ranked sixth in rushing at 144 yards per game.

Purdue, meanwhile, lost its first three games thanks to a defense that couldn't stop a cold. The Boilers entered Saturday 103rd in yards per play allowed (6.12) and 93rd in scoring (30.3 points per game).

So when the two teams met in West Lafayette, it seemed a foregone conclusion Boston College would roll up 50 points and 500 yards on its way to an easy 4-0 start.

Needless to say, that didn't happen.

Screen Shot 2018-09-22 at 2.58.38 PM

Purdue limited Brown -- again, the nation's most efficient passer entering Saturday -- to 13-of-27 passing for 96 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions. That's a 60.61 efficiency rating, a quarter of the 240.18 number he threw up in BC's first three games. Dillon rushed 19 times for just 59 yards, 40 percent of his season average. BC's 229 total yards were its fewest in 16 games, and roughly a third of the 608 Purdue surrendered to Missouri a week ago.

This was not the biggest result of this weekend, but it was the perfect example for understanding Week 4 in college football. This is a sport involving 18-to-22 year-old amateurs. It is not a 12-game season, but a collection of a dozen 1-game seasons. What happened last Saturday has no bearing on what happens today, and what happens today has no bearing on what will happen next Saturday.

Now let's go to Blacksburg.

2. Old Dominion gives Bud Foster the worst night he's ever had. Foster came to Virginia Tech in 1987, and ascended to the Hokies' defensive coordinator spot in 1995. Earlier this month, Pete Thamel argued Foster should become the first coach elected to the College Football Hall of Fame for his work solely as an assistant.

Foster has many, many good nights in the past 24 seasons, and his share of bad ones. He's never had a worse one than he did on Saturday, though.

Before we get into the events at Foreman Field, let's take a quick look at the opponent's season to date.

Screen Shot 2018-09-22 at 8.33.50 PM

Sophomore Steven Williams quarterbacked ODU to each of those losses, and he started Saturday's game against No. 12 Virginia Tech. But junior Blake LaRussa entered on the Monarchs' second series and promptly lit the Hokies up, completing 30-of-49 passes for 495 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions, plus another on the ground. Jeremy Cox added 130 yards and two scores on 20 carries.

Even still, Virginia Tech led 28-21 entering the fourth quarter, but Old Dominion tied it with 12:55 to go and took the lead at the 9:57 mark. Virginia Tech pulled even at 35-35 with 7:15 remaining, but then ODU took the lead again with 5:11 to play.

Then they added the capper, and what a capper it was.

Bobby Wilder and company registered their first win over a Power 5 opponent since re-starting the program in 2009, and in doing so laid 632 yards of total offense, the most ever allowed by a Bud Foster defense.

3. We talked about the Big Ten last week, now it's time to talk about the ACC. Clemson is undefeated at 4-0, and the Tigers may need to stay that way if they want to reach the Playoff. The only other unbeaten teams remaining are Syracuse, Duke and NC State. Everyone else...

  • Miami: Waxed by LSU in the opener.
  • Florida State: Off to its worst start in years
  • Georgia Tech: Lost three straight, including to South Florida
  • North Carolina: Blown out by East Carolina
  • Wake Forest: Allowed 97 points in consecutive losses
  • Virginia: Off to a 3-1 start, but lost to Indiana in non-conference
  • Virginia Tech: Lost as a 29-point favorite at Old Dominion
  • Louisville: Offense seems broken without Lamar Jackson (see Odds and Ends)
  • Pittsburgh: Lost to Penn State by 45 and to North Carolina
  • Boston College: Off to a great start until the Purdue thud

4. Another 29-point favorite nearly goes down. Army couldn't have scripted its trip to No. 5 Oklahoma any better. Sure, the Black Knights weren't going to stop Kyler Murray and company. But they could limit the damage by keeping the Sooners' offense off the field, and keep them off the field they did. Army put together four drives of 16 plays or more, and three that consumed 9:31 or more. After three quarters, the score was 21-21 and the drive chart looked like this:

The Black Knights stuffed OU running back Trey Sermon on consecutive runs from the 1-yard line, taking over at their own goal line with 12:23 to play.

In other words, they had Oklahoma right where they wanted them. The Knights ate 10 minutes of clock, setting up a 1st-and-10 at the OU 30 with 3:30 remaining. But a pair of negative plays forced Army into an uncomfortable position, and quarterback Kelvin Hopkins, Jr., was intercepted on a 3rd-and-14 pass. This gave Oklahoma chance to win the game in regulation, but Austin Seibert's 33-yard field goal at the buzzer was wide left.

Oklahoma scored in two plays to open overtime, and Mike Stoops's defense got the stop it needed, intercepting Hopkins to seal a hard-fought win.

Oklahoma ran 40 plays, Army ran 87.

Oklahoma held the ball for 15:19, Army had it for 44:41.

But perhaps no stat sums up the game like this: Kyler Murray totaled just 22 total touches -- 11-of-15 passing for 165 yards with three touchdowns and an interception plus seven carries for 71 yards and a score. Kenneth Murray? The linebacker, of no relation to his quarterback, racked up a program record 28 tackles.

5. Two of OU's competitors in the Big 12 go down. Oklahoma State and TCU were two of the most impressive teams in college football a week ago. The Cowboys looked like a complete team, registering seven sacks and blocking two punts in a 44-21 rout of Boise State. TCU lost to Ohio State, but the Horned Frogs gained the nation's respect after lighting up the Buckeyes for 511 yards -- the most they've allowed since 2014.

But what did we establish in Point 1?

Texas Tech ran off 27 consecutive points to slay No. 15 Oklahoma State, 41-17 in Stillwater. Freshman quarterback Alan Bowman threw for 397 yards and two touchdown, while the Red Raiders rushed for 224 yards and limited OSU to 128 yards. A David Gibbs defense that opened the year allowing 47 points to Ole Miss shut out Oklahoma State in the second half.

The win snapped a 16-game losing streak to ranked opponents, a 9-game losing streak to Oklahoma State and marked Texas Tech's first successful trip to Stillwater since 2001.

In Austin, No. 17 TCU forged a 16-10 third quarter lead but surrendered 21 unanswered points thanks to a flurry of turnovers. A Shawn Robinson fumble in TCU territory set up this go-ahead touchdown grab.

Robinson was intercepted on the next snap from scrimmage, as Caden Sterns stepped in front of a pass and raced the ball to the TCU 2, setting up a Sam Ehlinger rush. Finally, a missed Jonathan Song field goal -- which would've cut the lead to 24-19 with 9:16 remaining -- led to a game-clinching 76-yard, 6-minute touchdown drive, as Texas snapped a 4-game series losing streak with a 31-16 win.

The question, obviously, is if Texas is now back. The answer, as always, is that Texas isn't back until it wins the Big 12 championship. But the Longhorns have won back-to-back games over ranked opponents for the first time in a decade, by 23 and 15 points, and did so by registering 34-0 and 21-0 runs to end those respective games.

That's the sign of a team turning the corner from a physical and mental standpoint.

6. How did Stanford win that game? No, really, how did Stanford win that game?!?! The game of the day didn't look like it deep in the third quarter, as No. 20 Oregon carried a 24-7 lead over No. 7 Stanford and was threatening to add more. Stanford isn't a program built to overcome 17-point deficits, especially not with 17 minutes and change remaining. Or at least it didn't used to be.

Oregon was knocking on the door with a 3rd-and-goal at the Stanford 4, but then this happened.

As Chris Fowler mentioned above, Oregon had a touchdown taken off the board, but still saw a 1st-and-goal from the 1 -- and a certain, back-breaking 31-7 lead -- turn into a 24-14 lead in the blink of an eye. The Ducks went three-and-out on their next possession, and Stanford knifed their way down the field, moving 65 yards in three snaps to pull within 24-21 entering the fourth quarter. Even still, Oregon seemingly regained control when Cyrus Habibi-Likio barged in for a 1-yard touchdown to put the Ducks up 31-21 with 4:39 to play. But Stanford's new-found quick strike offense again needed only three snaps to answer, as K.J. Costello went 3-of-3 for 79 yards to pull Stanford within 31-28 with 3:10 remaining. And even still Oregon was in control. With two Stanford timeouts exhausted, Justin Herbert put the game away with a 7-yard run on 3rd-and-3 with 2:17 to play. Oregon couldn't end the game with three straight kneel downs, but they could come close enough. Mario Cristobal tempted fate by handing to running back C.J. Verdell on first down, who ran for seven yards. Cristobal tempted fate again on second down, and the Football Gods smited him.

Jet Toner printed out a 32-yard field goal as time expired to push the game to overtime. Costello's third touchdown pass put the Trees up 38-31 and Hebert, who completed 23 of his first 25 attempts, fired four straight incompletions, including an interception in the end zone to seal a stunning collapse.

"We're trying to get one more first down," Cristobal said after the game. "It's 2nd-and-2, a play that we feel good about. We had two tights over to that side, two hands on the ball. It's a first down, the game's over. You could kneel it; you're going to have to punt the ball if you don't get a first down. We feel confident in our guys. Be aggressive."

7. You ever kicked a player off the field in the middle of a game? That's the situation Jeremy Pruitt is dealing with at Tennessee, when linebacker Quarte Sapp declined to enter the game and Pruitt asked him to leave.

Tennessee celebrated the 20th anniversary of its 1998 national championship on Saturday, and the Vols turned the ball over six times in a 47-21 loss to Florida. Next up: at No. 2 Georgia, at No. 9 Auburn and vs. No. 1 Alabama. 8. The Super 16. The Nuggets is honored to once again vote in the FWAA-NFF Super 16 poll. Here's this week's ballot.

  1. Alabama
  2. Georgia
  3. Ohio State
  4. Clemson
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Penn State
  7. Notre Dame
  8. Stanford
  9. West Virginia
  10. Central Florida
  11. LSU
  12. Auburn
  13. Washington
  14. Michigan
  15. Kentucky
  16. Texas

9. Odds and Ends a. Riding a 6-game losing streak dating back to last season, Scott Frost warned Nebraska fans this week things would get worse before they got better. He was right. But I'm not sure he wanted to be this right. No. 19 Michigan crushed the Huskers, 56-10; the maize and blue out-gained Big Red 491-132, including a 296 to minus-24 margin in the first half. Even Wendy's got in on the action.

b. Don't look now, but Buffalo is on a 7-game winning streak. The Bulls are 4-0 after waxing Rutgers, 42-13.

c. Cincinnati is 4-0 after rallying from a 24-7 halftime deficit to upend Ohio, 34-30.

d. It's safe to say Bobby Petrino's offense is in serious trouble. After turning to backup quarterback Malik Cunningham to bail him out against Indiana State and Western Kentucky (you read that correctly), but pulled him after he gained 35 yards on nine pass attempts with one interception. Trailing 13-3, Petrino turned to Jawon Pass, who threw for 113 yards in 19 attempts, with one pick. Louisville lost to Virginia, 27-3.

e. Elsewhere in the Bluegrass State, Kentucky is 2-0 in SEC play for the first time since 1977 after knocking off No. 14 Mississippi State, 28-7. Mark Stoops's Wildcats out-rushed the Bulldogs 229-56 and look like the last road block standing between Georgia and a second straight trip to Atlanta. "We're knocking the dang doors down one at a time," Stoops said.

f. Sonny Dykes earned his first win at SMU, and what a win it was. The Mustangs scored a touchdown with 12:25 remaining to seemingly go up 24-14, but the PAT was blocked and returned for two points the other way, and then a 52-yard Navy touchdown run turned a should-be 24-14 lead into a 23-23 overtime game. Navy scored to open the extra session, then SMU scored the equalizer. Dykes bypassed double overtime to win the dang game right here and now. This is how he did it.

g. While you were sleeping Friday night, USC saved its season from abject disaster. The Trojans scored 15 fourth quarter points and blocked a field goal inside the final two minutes to hold off Washington State, 39-36.

h. Despite a 3-0 start, Brian Kelly made a quarterback change and it made you wonder why he didn't do it sooner. Ian Book replaced Brandon Wimbush and hit 25-of-34 passes for 325 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 43 yards and three more scores in a 56-27 win at Wake Forest. That's 10 more points than the Irish scored against Ball State and Vanderbilt combined.

i. New Mexico State earned its first win of the year, knocking off fellow winless team UTEP, 27-20.

j. After starting an ugly 0-2, Arizona is now back to .500 after a 35-14 win at Oregon State.

k. Craziest box score of the day: Massachusetts had a 28-0 lead on Charlotte just over six minutes into the game, while running just five plays. UMass opened the game with a 93-yard kickoff return score, scored on a 20-yard touchdown pass after a botch punt snap, forced a fumble in Charlotte territory and scored their third touchdown one play after that, and pushed to lead to 28-0 on a 3-play, 40-yard touchdown drive. The Minutemen won the game, 49-31.

l. Kansas's 2-game winning streak is over. Baylor brought the Jayhawks back down to earth with a 26-7 decision in Waco.

m. Urban Meyer returned to the sideline and oversaw a 49-6 win over Tulane. But that wasn't the most interesting news item out of Columbus on Saturday.

n. Alabama beat a ranked team by 22 points and it was barely noteworthy because Bama gonna Bama. Tua was 22-of-30 for 387 yards with five total touchdowns.

10. And finally... Despite some tough competition, the team of the week has to be Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers were displaced from Conway last Tuesday, Sept. 11, due to Hurricane Florence. First they went to North Carolina to play a hastily re-scheduled game at Campbell, and won 58-21. Then the whole program loaded up -- players, staffers, their families and their pets -- and went to St. Augustine, Fla., where they lived for the past week and a half before decamping Friday for Lafayette, La. Then they went out and beat Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday, 30-28. Joe Moglia's 3-1 team will now return home (though campus is still closed) before going back on the road Friday for a third straight road game, this time at Troy.