#Nuggets: With two months complete, now the season truly begins

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Ohio State overwhelms Wisconsin. It's not often in 2019 that you can look at the stat lines of the respective starting running backs and instantly learn everything you need to know about a football game.

Jonathan Taylor: 20 carries for 52 yards. JK Dobbins: 20 carries for 163 yards and two touchdowns. Ohio State 38, Wisconsin 7.

The Badgers actually held Ohio State scoreless in the first quarter, but you got the feeling it was only a matter of time until the dam broke, and it finally shattered in the final minute of the first half as Ohio State scored what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. In fact, after punting on their first three possessions, Ohio State's remaining possessions went like this:

-- field goal
-- touchdown
-- punt
-- touchdown
-- touchdown
-- touchdown
-- touchdown
-- end of game

Oh, and Chase Young had four sacks as the Buckeyes' defense forced two fumbles and limited the Badgers to 191 yards and nine first downs.

With two months of this season now down, Ohio State is the best team in the country.

And now the Game of the Century II is officially on. Alabama 45, Arkansas 7. And exhale.

Oh, wait, sorry. Wrong game.

LSU let out the exhale of all exhales when its 23-20 win over Auburn game went final. It means LSU can now put every ounce of its focus now on Alabama. It means LSU did not lose the first regular season AP No. 1 vs. No. 2 game since the last Alabama-LSU Game of the Century before it even began.

Saturday's Tiger Bowl win proved: a) LSU's offense can be mortal at times, and b) LSU can win anyway. Ed Orgeron's crew came up empty inside Auburn territory on three separate occasions, with two turnovers on downs and one interception, but consecutive touchdown drives of 45 and 67 yards turned a 13-10 deficit into a 23-13 lead, and the defense nursed LSU's third top-10 win home by forcing punts on six straight Auburn possessions until the blue-and-orange Tigers finally pulled within three with 2:32 remaining.

A recovery of the ensuing onside kick let out a sigh of collective relief they probably felt all the way in Tuscaloosa. LSU hasn't beaten Alabama since Game of the Century I back in 2011, and in two weeks they'll bring their best team since that 2011 crew. Game on.

Oklahoma loses to Kansas State, but saves its season in the process. It wouldn't quitebe accurate to say Oklahoma must be perfect starting with their next game, Nov. 9 versus Iowa State, following Saturday's 48-41 loss at Kansas State. The point of perfection-or-else actually arrived during the K-State game -- the 12:54 mark of the fourth quarter, to be exact. Through five seasons of the College Football Playoff, one precedent has been firmly established: you shouldn't lose (duh) but if you do, you really, really can't be blown out. In 2016, the committee kept out Penn State, who won the Big Ten and beat Ohio State, and put the Buckeyes in the field due to the Nittany Lions' 49-10 loss to Michigan. In 2017, Ohio State's 55-24 loss to Iowa kept them out in favor of a 1-loss Alabama that didn't even win its own division. Last year, a 12-1, Big Ten champion Ohio State missed the Playoff because its one loss came 49-20 to Purdue. So, with 12:54 to play on Saturday, Oklahoma found itself trailing 48-23 to a Kansas State team that had sliced and diced its vastly improved defense. James Gilbert's 2-yard touchdown run culminated a 41-6 run that saw the Wildcats rush for 213 yards and six touchdowns while bottling up OU's non-Jalen Hurts running game. (OU's backs rushed all of six times, for 11 yards.) OU roared back into the game, ripping off 18 points in barely 10 minutes, largely on the back, arm and legs of Hurts, who threw for 395 yards, rushed for 95 and totaled four touchdowns. The Sooners even momentarily recovered an onside kick that would have given the ball down seven with under two minutes to play before a 5-minute review handed the ball, and, thus, the game back to K-State.

Review found Trejan Bridges touched the ball half a yard early, but, in a truly shocking turn of events, it seems Big 12 officials may have misapplied a rule.

Oklahoma's loss Saturday severely wounded its national championship hopes, but their fourth quarter rally ensured it did not kill them. There not be a more bitter way to watch your national title hopes die than the way Notre Dame did on Saturday night. In ABC's Saturday Night Football game, Notre Dame took a rare visit to the Big House and stood there in a pouring, cold, relentless rain as Michigan ran and ran and ran all over them. The Wolverines out-rushed the Irish 303-47, running the ball almost exclusively in a downpour of a first half, as the maize and blue built a 17-0 halftime lead. The rain let up after halftime, but Michigan didn't. The Wolverines built a 45-7 lead before coasting to a 45-14 win.

While it came too late for the maize and blue's title hopes, it seems Michigan found something at Beaver Stadium last weekend. A team that had been run off the field by Wisconsin and Penn State to that point outscored Penn State and Notre Dame 66-21 over the last 92:55.

Texas lost to TCU, and it has me thinking of Game of Thrones.Thrones was perhaps the most obsessively watched show in television history, and in the fourth episode of the final season viewers spotted a Starbucks cup that somehow the actors, crew and editors had missed. It wasn't a big deal on its own, but the context around that cup turned the cup into a really big deal. That Starbucks cup gave the GOT fandom permission to air all the pent up grievances they'd accumulated over the show's final three seasons, and now the most insulting thing you can possibly say to a Thrones fan is to compliment it.

Texas' 37-27 loss TCU had me thinking about that Starbucks cup.

The loss itself was bad. The 'Horns led 20-13 in the third quarter, but Sam Ehlinger threw three second half interceptions while true freshman Max Duggan led a 24-7 rally over the game's final 20-ish minutes to blow past the Longhorns.

But the loss now brings to surface a stone-cold reality that this season, one that began with so much promise, increasingly looks like an empty season in a decade packed full of them. Before, Texas could point to 7-point losses to LSU and Oklahoma and wins over everyone else to convince itself their goals were still in front of them, especially on a day when OU lost to Kansas State.

Now, the reality: LSU and OU were 14-point games until late, cosmetic touchdowns. The wins over Oklahoma State and West Virginia were much closer than they had any business being. The 50-48 Kansas win... speaks for itself.

But the bigger picture is that 2018's wins over Oklahoma and Georgia showed, in the minds of Sam Ehlinger and everyone else in burnt orange, that Texas had shed itself of peers like USC, like Miami, like Tennessee, like Nebraska and all the other self-proclaimed blue bloods currently wandering through the Land of Lost Souls. Texas had joined LSU, Auburn, Penn State and others on the cusp of the sport's true elite. The first eight games of 2019 have shown us Texas has more in common with USC than LSU.

At the 35-game mark of the Tom Herman era, he's got a real challenge on its hands. Headed into an off week, he's got to solve a defense that can't get a stop when it needs one, fix an offense that only scores when it has to, repair a psyche of a team that entered this season convinced it was beyond struggling with the likes of Kansas and TCU and, most importantly, hold together 2020 and '21 recruiting classes that both rank among the top-5 nationally. Texas can win each of its four remaining games, but it can also lose each and every one of them, too. The program is in much better shape than it was on Nov. 27, 2016 but, headed into the most crucial off week of his career, Herman must find the right buttons to push or the next four games can wipe that progress away like it was never even there in the first place.

FRIES

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.

  1. Ohio State
  2. LSU
  3. Alabama
  4. Clemson
  5. Penn State
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Florida
  8. Georgia
  9. Oregon
  10. Utah
  11. Auburn
  12. Baylor
  13. Wisconsin
  14. Michigan
  15. Cincinnati
  16. Notre Dame

Odds and Ends

a. Just as soon as it looks like Pitt is the best team in the ACC Coastal, they lost to Miami, 16-12, in a game where the Canes gained 12 first downs, went 2-of-13 on third down, and ran for 54 yards on 2.0 a pop. Go figure.

Screen Shot 2019-10-26 at 9.19.26 PM

b. On the other side of the ledger, Clemson is becoming Clemson again. Since the close call against North Carolina, Dabo's crew has beaten Florida State, Louisville and Boston College by a combined 149-31. Up next: Wofford. Buckle up.

c. Speaking of Louisville, this may be the most improved team in the country. Scott Satterfield's Cardinals, the worst team in the ACC and one of the worst in the Power 5 a year ago, are 5-3 after beating preseason ACC Coastal favorite Virginia, 28-21.

d. If Louisville isn't the nation's most improved team, it's Kansas, or at least the Brent Dearmon edition of Kansas. KU is 1-1 with Dearmon calling plays, nearly beating Texas and then beating Kansas, but only after having the game-winning kick blocked, then getting another shot when a Tech player picked the loose pigskin up and lateraled it to no one in particular.

https://twitter.com/rossdellenger/status/1188281215276802048?s=12

The final scorebook ruled that a 1-play, 0-yard, 2-second drive that resulted in a game-winning field goal. Les Miles cannot lose a game on a field goal. It's simply not possible. Oklahoma State also knocked off Iowa State, meaning underdogs went 4-0 in the Big 12 on Saturday.

e. Minnesota is 8-0 for the first time since 1981 and the proud owner of a full 2-game lead in the Big Ten West after thumping Maryland, 52-10. The Gophers have Penn State, Iowa and Wisconsin in November, but they get two weeks to prep for the Nittany Lions.

f. Speaking of Big Ten surprises, Indiana is 6-2 and bowl bound after a 38-31 win at Nebraska. The Hoosiers have scored at least 31 points against every team not named Ohio State and seem like locks for eight wins with Northwestern and Purdue still ahead. IU hasn't won eight games in a season since 1993.

g. It was announced on Saturday evening that next week's ABC Saturday Night Football game will be SMU at Memphis, so Memphis turning around and losing to 2-5 Tulsa would've been an all-time buzzkill. Memphis nearly lost to 2-5 Tulsa.

h. Charlotte climbed out of a 35-21 fourth quarter hole to beat North Texas, 39-38. The 49ers scored two touchdowns in the final 3:44 to complete the comeback, and a season that began with Conference USA title aspirations now sees UNT at 3-5. i. We covered this game earlier, but, how on earth are you supposed to stop this play? Pray? Ask nicely?

m. After starting 1-5, UCLA has now won two straight after beating Stanford and Arizona State.

n. Heckuva win for USC on Friday night, rallying from 31-21 down to beat Colorado at Colorado.

o. Speaking of left-for-dead coaching staffs, Florida State took care of Syracuse, 35-17. The 'Noles are now 4-4, and a win over Miami at Doak Campbell Stadium would go a long, long way toward securing Willie Taggart a third year in Tallahassee.

p. Rutgers, a Big Ten team, pulled an upset over Liberty, 44-34.

q. In a game of 1-6 teams, UConn proved its FBS's New England's Public School Team with a 56-35 win over UMass.

r. Navy led Tulane 24-0 at the 9:40 mark of the second quarter, and kicked a 48-yard field goal as time expired to secure a 41-38 win.

s. Tennessee played Alabama much closer than the 35-13 final score last week, and on Saturday the Vols whipped South Carolina, 41-21. It seems a corner is being turned in Knoxville. t. Speaking of Tennessee, Georgia State is now bowl eligible after a 52-33 win over Troy. u. I haven't fact checked this tweet but it feels right.

v. Utah has become the team everyone thought they'd be, blanking Cal 35-0.

w. Oregon needed a 26-yard field goal as time expired to avoid being upset by Washington State at home.

DESSERT

Facing a fourth-and-inches at its own 29, with 2:42 to play in a 16-16 game, before a record 19,371 crowd of people who hate them, North Dakota State went for it -- and ripped off a 71-yard touchdown run.

In the biggest game of the FCS regular season, No. 1 North Dakota State beat No. 3 South Dakota State, 23-16.

The Bison are now 10-6 in the Dakota Marker game... and 120-8 since 2011. Sheesh.