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#Nuggets: While Clemson rallies, Michigan face-plants... again


Is this the worst loss of Jim Harbaugh's time at Michigan? Nothing will ever top 62-39 in terms of consequence, but, man, this was as unexpected as it was inexcusable. The offense looked so explosive last week! Michigan State lost to Rutgers! It's Michigan's first loss as a 3-touchdown favorite since App State! Mel Tucker is the first Michigan State coach to win his Michigan debut since Nick Saban! I can't stop using exclamation points!

Michigan put the game in Joe Milton's hands, and the new quarterback could not carry them. Milton threw or rushed on 63 of the Wolverines' 86 plays -- and produced 359 yards yards and no touchdowns in the process. If you want to boil Michigan's issues in the Harbaugh era to a singular issue, its that: the lack of a game-breaking quarterback. And here they are, in Year Six, still searching.

Meanwhile, Michigan State's Rocky Lombardi averaged 10.1 yards per attempt on his 32 throws with three touchdowns and no picks. Freshman Ricky White hauled in eight of them for 196 yards and a score. The Spartans did not punt in the second half.

And so now we live in a world in which Michigan State has lost to Rutgers and beaten Michigan, and Michigan is 1-6 at home versus Ohio State and Michigan State and undefeated against everyone else. What do you even say at this point?

Sparty had plenty to say. As they should.

Clemson survives Boston College. None of us would have been shocked if we were told ahead of time Clemson would play a tight game against Boston College with DJ Uiagaleilei playing in Trevor Lawrence's stead. But who would've guessed it'd be Clemson's freshman quarterback bailing out the Tigers' heralded defense and not the other way around? BC went 74 and 75 yards on its first two possessions -- Phil Jurkovec started 5-of-5 for 122 yards -- to jump to a 14-7 lead. A botched exchange between Uiagaleilei and Travis Etienne turned into a 91-yard fumble return touchdown for BC touchdown, and then Jurkovec led BC's fourth drive 75 yards to put the visitors up 28-10. Clemson's ACC record 31-game winning streak was in serious, serious jeopardy. By my count, the 18-point hole was the team's largest since a 28-6 loss to Georgia Tech way back in 2014. The last time Clemson was in serious trouble, though, was back in 2018. You probably remember the game. In the first year of the new 4-game redshirt rule, Dabo Swinney named true freshman Trevor Lawrence Clemson's starter and Kelly Bryant immediately left the team -- only to see Lawrence get hurt, forcing Clemson to turn to third-stringer Chase Brice. The Tigers trailed 23-13 in the fourth quarter and turned to Etienne, who carried 27 times for 203 yards and three scores, including the game winner. This time around, Etienne rushed for a modest 84 yards and a score but caught seven balls for 140 and another score. Uiagaleleli hit 30-of-41 throws for 342 yards and two scores while running for a 30-yard score. Clemson out-scored BC 21-0 down the stretch and out-gained the Eagles 261-53 in the process, stretching its winning streak to 32 straight conference games. Texas upends Oklahoma State. No coach needed a victory more than Tom Herman, and he got one. Herman's Longhorns were out-gained 530-287. They surrendered a career-high 400 passing yards on 10.3 an attempt to Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders, while Sam Ehlinger threw for 5.0. They ran for 3.0 yards per carry. They went 2-of-15 on third down. All of two Texas drives traveled longer than 30 yards, but a 4-0 takeaway edge -- a 24-0 edge in points off turnovers -- plus a kickoff return score tend to wipe away yardage deficits of 243 yards, and so Texas has its first top-10 road win since 2010. In rallying from a 31-20 third quarter deficit, Texas overcame a double-digit second half hole against a top-10 team for the first time since 2008. And, boy, did they need it. The Longhorns aren't in control of their own Big 12 destiny, but they aren't 3-3, either. Right now, they'll take it.

Cincinnati needs to be in the Playoff discussion. When not playing Cincinnati this season, Memphis has averaged 38 points a game this season. SMU is scoring 44 a game against everyone other than Cincinnati. In back-to-back weeks, Cincinnati has demolished two of its nominal contenders for the AAC crown. Luke Fickell's Bearcats hammered previously undefeated SMU, 42-13, in Dallas last week. On Saturday, the 'Cats took the defending AAC champs to the woodshed: Cincinnati 49, Memphis 10. Desmond Ridder threw for 271 yards on 10.4 an attempt, and the Bearcats out-rushed the Tigers 242-3. This comes a week after out-rushing SMU 313-75. No team has come within 14 points of these Bearcats, and no one has scored more than 20. This isn't the time or place to litigate the difficulty of Cincinnati's schedule or lack thereof, but few teams could beat SMU and Memphis in back-to-back weeks, and very, very few could do so by a combined 91-23. Let's break down the play of the season thus far. I know I said Michael Penix's stretch to beat Penn State was the play of the season just one week ago, but Rutgers's lateral-rooski wins in a different category. This is my favorite college football play since Louisiana Tech's 87-yard fumble, and I say that without a drop of irony.

Let's give this masterpiece the attention it deserves.

:06 -- Right off the bat we've got a 5-yard completion and the first lateral recipient gets absolutely blasted. It's amazing the play doesn't end right there.

:08 -- Now the ball is back in the hands of QB Noah Vedral, who's at the line of scrimmage. He gets hammered as well.

:10 -- The ball is on the turf and it's we're counting on an offensive lineman to pick it up. Surely Indiana's about to grab it.

:12 -- Offensive lineman Raiqwon O'Neal recovers the ball, shucks off three Hoosiers and then heaves the ball over his head. The original line of scrimmage is no longer visible on screen. This play has gone completely off the rails. Heave that thing to the moon, young man.


:14 -- That ball hung in the air a full two seconds.

:15 -- A play that began at Rutgers' 35 is now back at the 18, and this is where the play starts to become successful.

:18 -- Shameen Jones gets the ball back to the line of scrimmage and manages to get off a lateral two milliseconds before hitting the turf.

Screen Shot 2020-10-31 at 8.51.20 PM

:20 -- No. 77 gets the ball and immediately hot potatoes it away. Multiple players on both sides are just standing around at this point.

:22 -- We're back behind the line of scrimmage now. Even the announcer doesn't know how this play hasn't died yet.

:29 -- Remember, this was a 4th-and-32. We're nearly half a minute in and Rutgers just now picked up a first down.

:34 -- Touchdown Rutgers. Just like they drew it up.

Postscript: Jones was flagged for an illegal forward pass and the whole thing was wiped off the books. Indiana wins, 37-21.

Here's the Rutgers radio call for good measure.

FRIESSeen and HeardSeen

Heard "At least we got the lead and it's not 3rd and 17." --

“This was not pretty. Not pretty. But when you take the ball away four times and you don’t turn it over at all, you give yourself a chance to win.” - @CoachTomHerman

— Justin Wells (@justinwells2424) November 1, 2020

" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Tom Herman, on Chris Ash's blitz call on the final play of Texas's win over Oklahoma State. Former defensive coordinator Todd Orlando blitzed the house on a 3rd-and-17 against LSU last season, where LSU scored the clinching touchdown.

"It's time for us to go out there and embarrass somebody."
-- Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler ahead of OU's blowout win over Texas Tech.

Seen and Heard

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

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Clemson
  4. Notre Dame
  5. Georgia
  6. Cincinnati
  7. Texas A&M
  8. Florida
  9. Miami
  10. Wisconsin
  11. BYU
  12. Oregon
  13. Oklahoma State
  14. Oklahoma
  15. SMU
  16. Coastal Carolina

Odds and Ends a. Through two games the only phase that needs work is Ohio State's kneel down team. After not having the right personnel on the field led to an accidental touchdown in their 52-17 win over Nebraska last week, Ohio State's kneel down team gave away three points on Saturday. Leading 21-3 with two seconds left in the first half, Ryan Day had Justin Fields take a knee on a fourth down. After dismissing both teams to the locker room, the officials called everyone back -- Day was actually talking to ABC when it happened -- and put one second on the clock. Penn State used that extra second to nail a 50-yard field goal. Ohio State won the game, 38-25. b. Mike Leach was shut out for the first time in 19 years as a head coach in a 41-0 loss to Alabama. When you consider they lost 24-2 to Kentucky on Oct. 10, Mississippi State's offense has been blanked in two of its last three outings. State's entire offense (200 yards) was out-gained by Bama receiver DeVonta Smith (203). c. That Mississippi State-LSU game was for sixth place in the SEC West. Auburn pummeled LSU 48-11 at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday. According to USA Today's Erick Smith, it's the worst loss a defending national champion has suffered since... Auburn lost 45-10 to LSU in 2011.

d. Louisiana Tech rallied from a 31-17 fourth quarter deficit to stun UAB, 37-34 in double overtime. A loss would have all but ended La Tech's C-USA West title hopes.

e. The Maryland-Minnesota game on Friday night was absolutely insane. Maryland blew a 21-7 lead. Minnesota blew a 38-21 lead. Mike Locksley flat out declined to try a Hail Mary at the buzzer, instead playing for overtime. The decision worked only when Minnesota missed an extra point, handing the game to the Terps.

f. He was absolutely correct in arguing for his player, but the manner in which he argued meant Dan Mullen incited a brawl in Florida's win over Missouri.

f. Northwestern moved to 2-0 after overcoming a 17-0 deficit to beat Iowa at Iowa, 21-20. Neither team scored over the game's final 20 minutes.

g. Final score: Georgia 14, Kentucky 3. Kentucky's total yardage after racking up 559 on 7.55 a play in an Oct. 3 loss to Ole Miss: 157 total yards (2.96 a play) vs. Mississippi State; 294 (4.82) at Tennessee; 145 (4.03) at Missouri; 229 (3.58) vs. Georgia.

h. Two weeks after setting an Ole Miss record with six interceptions, Rebels quarterback Matt Corral set an Ole Miss record with 19 straight completions and an Ole Miss regulation record with six touchdown passes in a 54-21 trouncing of Vanderbilt. His final line: 31-of-34 for 412 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions.

i. San Jose State is 2-0 in Mountain West play for the first time ever after a 38-21 win over New Mexico. j. Sam Howell went 23-of-28 for 443 (!!!) yards and four touchdowns, but it wasn't enough as Virginia upset North Carolina 44-41. k. There is no more infuriating phrase in sports than "(Conference) issued a statement saying the replay official was incorrect." This time, it was the replay official lording over the East Carolina-Tulsa game who intervened to incorrectly overturn a correct call on the field that would have given ECU the ball with 1:52 remaining in a game the Pirates lost, 34-30. Tulsa scored the winning touchdown with 29 seconds left. l. This week's installment of Coastal Carolina Is Really Good: Coastal 51, Georgia State 0. m. Raise your hand if you saw this coming. West Virginia smacked No. 16 Kansas State, 37-10. It's WVU's largest Big 12 margin in the Neal Brown era. n. Oklahoma 62, Texas Tech 28.

This won't shock you, but OU has dropped 60 on Tech five times since 2000.

o. This won't shock you either, but the Big 12 is the only FBS conference without an undefeated team. Go ahead and remove this league from any Playoff consideration you may have had.

p. After serving as Southern Miss's interim interim head coach in last week's loss to Liberty, Tim Billings was just USM's interim head coach this week with Scotty Walden now at Austin Peay. The Golden Eagles fell to Rice, 30-6.

r. UNLV wore alternate helmets that declared themselves the University of Nevada against that team from Reno. Nevada then went out and won 37-19.


The Pac-12 and the MAC are officially back next week. The whole gang will be back together, and let us never separate them again.