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#Nuggets: Wisconsin soars, Michigan flops and the Pac-12 goes peak Pac-12


Wisconsin flattens Michigan. I could write a lot of words about No. 13 Wisconsin's 35-14 demolition of No. 11 Michigan, a thousand of them, even, but this picture will just about do it.

Or how about the rushing yardage: Wisconsin 359, Michigan 40. While Michigan searches in the dark without a flashlight for its identity, Wisconsin knows exactly who it is and has for a generation now. Jonathan Taylor ran for a Heisman-like 203 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, Jack Coan completed 13-of-16 passes for 128 yards, and the defense finally allowed its first points of the season in the third quarter of its third game. This is the type of win that grants Wisconsin fans permission to dream and dream big. The Badgers get Northwestern, Kent State, Michigan State and Illinois in their next four games -- will those teams even score 21 points combined? -- before an Oct. 26 trip to Ohio State that looks on paper like the program's biggest regular season game in decades, and also just a prelude before the eventual rematch in Indianapolis for the Big Ten title. Michigan gets exposed. Again. What can you say about this big game Michigan performance that wasn't said after the maize and blue's last big game? And the one before that? The fact is, high diving onto concrete has become as much a part of Michigan's identity as the winged helmets.

Plenty of people will mock the offensive overhaul Jim Harbaugh commissioned this offseason, but thus far that looks like smart strategy. Michigan's receivers are good, and Shea Patterson's at his best when he makes one read and gets the ball out. It's not Josh Gattis's fault the Michigan defense couldn't fit the run, and it's not his fault the Wolverines' offensive line couldn't push Wisconsin off the ball or protect Patterson.

When writing about the Gattis hire this summer I openly wondered what would happen in Ann Arbor if this doesn't work, and now that it it's clear Michigan is once again an average football team, we've reached that point: open calls from national media for yet another smash of the reset button.

Ohio State comes to the Big House in 10 weeks.

Georgia wins, but Notre Dame proves it belongs. All the hype leading into Saturday night's showdown between Georgia and Notre Dame was funny because everyone acknowledged it was a big game, but no one expected a good game. It was No. 3 vs. No. 7, it was Notre Dame's first trip between the hedges, it was the gold domes cracking against the block G. But Georgia was a 14-point favorite and we all agreed the Bulldogs would win comfortably.

Notre Dame throwing for the end zone as time expired is the opposite of comfortable.

The Irish couldn't run the ball at all -- their long run from a running back went for eight yards -- but they manufactured offense around that, leading the game 10-7 at the half and taking the field with 1:51 remaining and a 23-17 deficit. Notre Dame was out-classed by Clemson last season (who wasn't?), but they weren't out-classed by Georgia.

Of course, the point of playing these games is to win them, and Notre Dame has now lost 11 straight to AP Top 5 opponents. There's a certain condescension in complementing close losses like the one Brian Kelly's team just endured.

We came into Saturday knowing Georgia will play in super-humongous games in the future. Notre Dame's performance proved they could play in such games later this fall, too.

The UCF playoff died on Saturday. A week ago, UCF was the toast of the sport after detonating Stanford, while Pat Narduzzi was the goat for kicking a field goal from the 1-yard line in a 17-10 loss to Penn State.

The football gods have a funny way of ruling this sport, as Pitt found itself back at the 1, this time with no choice but to go for it as Pitt trailed 34-28 facing a 4th-and-2 from the UCF 3 with 59 ticks remaining.

Of course, it wouldn't be Pitt if the Panthers didn't first blow the game before they could save it. Pitt led 21-0 early in the second quarter, then found itself trailing 31-21 midway through the third. The Panthers had to score a touchdown, force a turnover on downs, overcome a missed field goal, turn away a red zone penetration and put together a 79-yard drive just to pull the game out of the ditch.

In the process, Pitt snapped UCF's 27-game regular season winning streak and ended the Knights' run as college football's Bernie Sanders -- the burn-the-corrupt-system-down candidate.

The end of the Cal-Ole Miss game was absolutely bonkers. Before we go any further, understand it was a miracle we got to this point in the first place. Ole Miss went for a 4th-and-10 from its own 26 with 6:22 remaining, trailing 28-13. The Rebels picked it up, scored, forced a punt, then moved in position to score again.

And it certainly looked like they scored.

Ole Miss felt like they were cheated, and it's hard to argue with them.

UCLA and Washington State staged THE peak Pac-12 After Dark game. If you turned your television off when Washington State took a 49-17 lead with 6:52 left in the third quarter, you can be forgiven. UCLA entered Saturday No. 130 of 130 in yards per play and scored all of 42 points in their first three games. -- Then UCLA went 75 yards for a touchdown, making it 49-24. -- Then UCLA forced a fumble and scored one play later. 49-31. -- Then UCLA forced a punt and went 94 yards in one play. 49-38. -- Then UCLA forced another fumble and turned it into a touchdown. 49-46. All of that, by the way, happened in 4 minutes and 20 seconds of game action, and the last score happened with 14:28 left in the game. Washington State added to the cushion with a 30-yard Anthony Gordon touchdown pass -- his eighth of the game -- to put Wazzu up 56-46 with 10:08 to go. But by now UCLA's offense was an unstoppable freight train, and the Bruins went 70 yards in less than two minutes to pull within 56-53 -- and then took the lead on a 69-yard punt return, its second special teams touchdown of the game and its third score of 69 yards or further.

Gordon immediately answered with touchdown pass No. 9, a 65-yard dump off to running back Max Borghi that turned into a 63-60 lead.

Facing a 4th-and-5 from the Wazzu 17, Chip Kelly decided to go for it and came up a yard short. However, Washington State fumbled again, and UCLA took over at the 26 with 2:27 to play. The Bruins scored this time, taking a 67-63 lead with 1:07 to go, leading to the obvious joke that Chip left too much time.

Instead, the Bruins strip-sacked Gordon, forcing Washington State's sixth turnover of the game and completing a 32-point comeback over the game's final 22 minutes... to secure UCLA's first win of the season.

-- Wazzu QB Anthony Gordon went 41-of-61 for 570 yards with nine touchdowns (and three touchdowns) and lost.
-- UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson went 25-of-38 for 507 yards with five touchdowns and an interception while rushing 11 times for 57 yards and two scores.
-- Both teams ran for exactly 150 yards
-- Three players compiled at least 100 receiving yards, and 12 had at least 50.
-- UCLA scored more points in the second half (50) than it scored over its first three games (42).
-- It's the highest-scoring game in Pac-12 history
-- Most crazily, this was the third largest comeback in FBS history but it wasn't even UCLA's biggest comeback over the past three seasons. The Bruins came back from 44-10 down to beat Texas A&M to open the 2017 campaign.


The Super 16. The Nuggets is once again honored to vote in this year's FWAA-NFF Super 16. Here's this week's ballot.

  1. Clemson
  2. Ohio State
  3. Georgia
  4. Alabama
  5. LSU
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Auburn
  9. Notre Dame
  10. Texas
  11. Penn State
  12. Florida
  13. Oregon
  14. Iowa
  15. Boise State
  16. California

Odds and Ends

a. Ohio State beat Miami (Ohio) 76-5. When's the last time you saw a football game end 76-5?

b. SMU went to Fort Worth and beat TCU for just the second time since 1995, and did so wearing their city's name on their chest.

SMU is 4-0 for the first time since 1984. c. San Jose State went to Fayetteville and beat Arkansas, 31-24. The Spartans led 24-7 at halftime and intercepted Hogs quarterback Nick Starkel five times. Brent Brennan's team was a 3-touchdown underdog and snapped a 25-game losing streak to Power 5 competition.

d. It's only Sept. 22, but South Carolina's bowl eligibility is already on life support. After a 34-14 loss to Missouri, Will Muschamp's team is now 1-3 and up against it: unless the Gamecocks manage upset Florida, Georgia and/or Clemson, they'll have to sweep Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Appalachian State and Texas A&M to reach the postseason. e. Speaking of Appalachian State, the Mountaineers are officially in the conversation for best Group of 5 team after UCF's loss and following a 34-31 win at North Carolina on Saturday. It was App State's first win over a Power 5 opponent since beating Michigan in 2007, and it was also clinched on a blocked field goal.

f. Any win is a good win for a program learning how to do it, but, sheesh, Florida State doesn't make it easy on itself. The Seminoles led Louisville 21-0 in the first quarter, trailed 24-21 in the fourth quarter and then battled back for a 35-24 win.

g. LSU won 66-38. In a football game. This is our new normal.

h. It wasn't exactly pretty but no one has two better wins away from home than No. 8 Auburn's 27-21 comeback over Oregon and now its 28-20 win at Texas A&M. The Tigers threw for 106 yards and got 130 of its 193 total rushing yards on two drives, but its defensive line controlled the game. The home team is now 1-7 in this series since Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012.

i. USC is already down to its third-string quarterback, but that third-string quarterback threw for 351 yards and the Trojans earned an important 30-23 win over No. 10 Utah on Friday night.

j. A week after USC was stymied in Provo, Washington went to BYU and put up 457 yards in a 45-19 win at BYU.

k. Kent State, woah. The Flashes beat Bowling Green 62-20.

l. Without their best player in wideout Laviska Shenault, Colorado went to Tempe and won, 34-31. Mel Tucker continues to impress.

m. Kansas narrowly missed a chance to win back-to-back games over Power 5 opponents for the first time since 2009, as the Jayhawks' hook-and-ladder last-gasp play ended 12 yards shy of the goal line in a 29-24 loss to West Virginia.

n. Well, when you put it that way...

Nebraska beat Illinois 42-38, and now Ohio State and College GameDay come to town next week. o. Texas beat Oklahoma State 36-30, snapping Mike Gundy's 5-game winning streak in Austin, a UT opponent record. The Longhorns overcame two muffed punts to secure (pun intended) the win. p. Florida manhandled Tennessee, 34-3. The Gators are now 14-1 against Tennessee since 2005. q. A game of inches indeed.


You ever seen a game-winning blocked punt? You have now.