1. They run that state. Kevin Sumlin's staff launched its We Run This State mantra since arriving from Houston in 2012 and, upon their arrival, they did. The combination of Sumlin and his fast-moving, hip-hop bouncing staff, the SEC and a transcendent quarterback created a perfect storm -- we'll call in Hurricane Johnny -- that literally no one saw coming. The Aggies had two things no one else in Texas could sell: their conference, and the sparkling, sprawling new facilities under construction.
Hurricane Johnny fizzled out and then spiraled away in 2013, and all of a sudden Baylor -- BAYLOR! -- had conquered the state. Baylor and TCU shared Texas in 2014, and then a hot, new coach at Sumlin's old school took the state in 2015. But the Aggies got it back today. The biggest football holiday in a state where the sport is its own religion wasn't focused upon Dallas, but on College Station. GameDay was there. The nation's largest TV audience (probably, we don't know for sure yet) was there. Two top-10 teams were there. And, at last, the Aggies cashed in.
After running up a 1-5 record with a minus-11 turnover margin in six home games against ranked SEC teams, Texas A&M turned Tennessee over seven times on Saturday afternoon -- and they needed every last one of them. Fumble recoveries led to three of A&M's four touchdowns in running up a 28-7 third quarter lead, and two more fumble recoveries prevented what would have been sure scoring chances for the Volunteers. The Aggies seemingly had the game put away at 35-21, again at 35-28 when freshman running back Trayveon Williams was streaking down the sideline en route to a sure touchdown (only to fumble the ball out of the end zone), and again when Daniel LaCamera lined up for a game-winning 38-yard field goal (that sailed approximately 38 yards left of the goal posts).
In an overtime period that seemed impossible just two minutes prior, the Aggies scored in the top of the second overtime, then intercepted Joshua Dobbs on Tennessee's first play to secure a 45-38 win.
Texas A&M is now 6-0 for the first time since 1994, the highest-ranked non-crimson team in the SEC and, once again, the highest-ranked team in Texas. And, yeah, A&M still plays in the best conference in the state. They have the best facilities in the state. Now, they have the staff and the roster to make the most of those advantages.
1a. They're going to kick themselves the whole way back to Knoxville, but Tennessee should be extremely proud of their effort in College Station. The turnovers and the continued hole-digging are obviously problems, but the Vols' ability to bounce up off the mat reflects well on their coaching staff. Tennessee arrived shorthanded and lost seemingly half their two-deep to injury at one point or another but refused to give in.
The play to chase down Williams and fend off certain defeat was one of the best effort plays of the season.
2. A change in play-caller does not lead to a change in result for Texas. The effort and enthusiasm were midnight-and-high noon different from last week to this. And, at the start, so were the results. A defense that couldn't turn over a dessert forced three first-half takeaways against Oklahoma... thanks in part to some favorable officiating.
But after Texas missed an opportunity to go up 17-7 in the second quarter, Oklahoma ripped off scores on six consecutive possessions -- five of them touchdowns -- in ripping off 672 yards of total offense en route to a 45-40 win. Baker Mayfield threw for 390 yards, Samaje Perine rushed for 214, and Dede Westrbook set a school record with 232 receiving yards and three scores.
"Six hundred and seventy-three yards," linebacker Malik Jefferson told Sports on Earth. "That's not fixed."
3. Houston's dream Playoff bid meets its end. A year ago, Tom Herman and Houston were undefeated except for that trip they took to the East Coast, where it took losing the turnover battle 3-0 to lose a one possession game at Connecticut.
Fast forward to this year and Houston is again undefeated except for a trip to the East Coast, where it took a 3-0 turnover deficit to lose a 46-40 decision to Navy on Saturday. Each of the Coogs' three turnovers proved costly: an interception, a fumble and a pick-six on three straight disastrous possessions that saw a 20-17 Houston lead turn into a 34-20 deficit from which they would not recover.
And now the tables have turned quickly on Houston's dream season. An outside national championship shot and a certain Cotton Bowl berth have, in the course of one afternoon, ceded to the #HTownTakeover needing Navy to lose twice just so the Cougars can win their own division.
3a. Don't let any of the above paragraphs take away from the job Ken Niumatalolo has done here. Navy is well on its way to its ninth season of 8-plus wins in 10 tries under Coach Niu with a 15-3 mark (10-1 inside the AAC) over the past two seasons, and that's after losing franchise quarterback Keenan Reynolds to graduation last winter.
4. Don't forget, each of the three above points are interconnected. That was certainly top of mind when Kirk Herbstreit went on this rant during GameDay Saturday morning.
5. It's nice to have Florida State-Miami matter again. A sweaty, bruising, barking and beer-throwing night on South Beach provided a great night of viewing as Florida State extended its streak to seven straight over the 'Canes thanks to a blocked PAT that secured a 20-19 win.
Florida State showed some impressive maturity after falling behind 13-0 to rip off 20 straight points. Miami, meanwhile, never recovered after Brad Kaaya tossed an end zone interception trying to push his lead to 20-3 in the third quarter.
It's the third straight time FSU has overcome a halftime deficit to beat Miami. Jimbo's 'Noles, clearly, know how to win games. Mark Richt's 'Canes are still learning, but it looks like they're on that path.
6. The visiting teams in two North Carolina monsoons had wildly different afternoons. Notre Dame and NC State were the first to play in the Hurricane Matthew downpour, and the rain and grass combined for some Yakety Sax moments that would've been funny if they didn't leave you worried about the safety and sanity of everyone involved.
Neither team could get anything done offensively -- they combined for 311 yards from scrimmage on 2.4 yards per play while converting three of 29 third downs. Behold the only touchdown in a 10-3 NC State victory:
Brian Kelly's takeaway?
In Chapel Hill, North Carolina's numbers could not have been different than a week ago: 58 yards on 33 pass attempts, 2.5 yards per carry, 2-of-14 on third down, eight total first downs, three points. Virginia Tech, however, mustered something on offense with four actual touchdowns en route to a 34-3 win. The Hokies' six scoring drives covered a total of 129 yards but, still, they scored six times and stand at 4-1 overall while jumping to the front of the line to appear as the spoiler in the ACC championship.
6a. Can I say something without being chased away as a heretic? The ACC has been college football's deepest conference this season.
7. Jim Harbaugh is thinking about Ohio State, even when he's not playing Ohio State. A week ago the Buckeyes beat Rutgers 59-0 in Columbus. Naturally, Jim Harbaugh had to do Urban Meyer one better.
He did him 20 points better.
Harbaugh was downright cruel to former Meyer assistant -- and one time Harbaugh interviewee, back in the Stanford days -- Chris Ash as Michigan walloped Rutgers 78-0. Brace yourself for one of the most brutal box scores you will ever see.
Rutgers was in negative yardage in the third quarter. The Knights punted 16 times. Let's... let's just move on.
8. The Super 16. The Nuggets is honored to vote in this year's FWAA-NFF Super 16 poll. Here's this week's ballot.
- Ohio State
- Texas A&M
- Ole Miss
- Virginia Tech
- Boise State
9. Odds and Ends
a. The reports of Gus Malzahn's demise were greatly exaggerated. With Sean White playing the majority of the snaps at quarterback and Kevin Steele's defense playing to its paper, the Tigers manhandled Mississippi State 38-14 -- they led 35-0 at halftime -- while rushing for a Malzahn-like 228 yards.
b. This week's most impressive performance goes to Frank Wilson and UTSA. The Roadrunners welcomed undefeated Southern Miss and slapped 339 rushing yards on 9.7 a pop on their way to a 55-32 win.
c. How about Nick Rolovich? The first-year Hawaii coach went to San Jose State and grabbed the program's second mainland win in five and a half seasons (incidentally, the other came in Hawaii's last trip to San Jose State) and second straight overall victory with a 34-17 defeat of the Spartans. Hawaii is now 3-3 for the first time since 2011.
d. Ho hum, a 49-30 road win over a ranked conference opponent.
e. I didn't think Chris Petersen would run it up on Oregon. I was wrong. The Huskies unloaded a dozen years of frustration on the Ducks, snapping their 12-game losing streak with a 70-21 rout. U-Dub racked up 682 yards, 30 first downs and came three yards shy of posting a 300-yard passer and a 200-yard rusher.
f. Dave Clawson always gets it turned around. He did so at Fordham (0-11 to 10-3), Richmond (3-8 to 11-3), Bowling Green (2-10 to 10-3) and he's on his way at Wake Forest. Back-to-back 3-9 seasons have given way to a 5-1 start after stuffing Syracuse in a 28-9 win.
g. James Franklin earned a sneaky big win today. Losing to Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State while rebuilding Penn State football from the ashes is one thing, but losing to Maryland would be something else. Franklin didn't lose to Maryland. In fact, the Lions moved to 4-2 by smashing the previously undefeated Terps 38-14 in State College.
h. Also still undefeated? The Fighting Flecks of Western Michigan after a 45-30 defeat of Northern Illinois.
i. We don't hit the halfway mark on the regular season until next week, but Arizona State and North Texas have only two home games left apiece.
j. Here's a sentence you didn't think you'd read a month ago: Unranked USC earned a key win over No. 21 Colorado. Sam Darnold threw for 358 yards in a 21-17 triumph and now the Trojans have won two in a row.
k. TCU always, always, always plays competitive games against three programs: Baylor, Oklahoma and.... Kansas? The Frogs trailed the Jayhawks 23-14 entering the fourth quarter and needed a late field goal -- plus three straight missed field goals by KU -- to escape with a 24-23 win.
m. Matt Campbell is putting the beginnings of pieces together at Iowa State. A week after building a 42-28 lead over Baylor before falling 45-42, his Cyclones claimed a 31-14 advantage at should-be-undefeated Oklahoma State before succumbing 38-31.
n. Good luck trying to make sense of anything in the Pac-12 outside of Washington. Washington State currently shares first place in the North with U-Dub after Stanford-ing Stanford in a 42-16 romp, and in the South five teams are within a game of first place.
10. And, finally... I don't care who you are, that's funny right there.