15. Oregon 38, UCLA 35
UCLA put up a fantastic effort despite all the problems and without Dorian Thompson-Robinson at quarterback. It nothing else, finally, the UCLA lines are starting to come together.
The Bruins ran for 267 yards and three scores – Demetric Felton ran for 167 yards and two TDs – and the D line was terrific, holding Oregon to just 88 yards. The Ducks did what they needed to do, Tyler Shough threw for 334 yards and three scores, and in this year of transition, the team got the win. Oregon is 3-0 and it hasn’t played all that well yet.
14. Illinois 41, Nebraska 23
Illinois just did to Nebraska what Nebraska under head coach Scott Frost is supposed to do to everyone else.
The Illini ran at will on the hapless Husker defense – Mike Epstein and Chase Brown each went for over 100 yards – and Brandon Peters threw for an efficient 205 yards. Nebraska?
Luke McCaffrey ran for 122 yards and two touchdowns, and he threw three interceptions. The Husker lines aren’t good enough, the defense isn’t good enough, and being a -5 in turnover margin definitely isn’t good enough.
13. Michigan 48, Rutgers 42 2 OT
The story was about to be how Michigan persevered through the adversity, got a big day out of QB Cade McNamara, and finally showed some explosion with a huge second half. And then it didn’t go for two in the final minutes when up seven, left the door open for Rutgers, and the season almost got kicked in.
Michigan survived on a missed Rutgers OT field goal and despite the inability to come up with a late stop in regulation, but a win right now is fine no matter what. The team is still playing hard, and even though it was a win over a team it beat by 52 last year, this could’ve been a disastrous collapse and it wasn’t.
12. Alabama 63, Kentucky 3
That’s about as close to a high-end live scrimmage as you’ll see. Considering Kentucky was depleted and had zero offensive firepower, it put up a decent effort for a 60-point loss – at least for the first 40ish minutes, it was a tougher game for Bama than the score.
It wasn’t the sharpest effort by the Tide, but again, it looked like the team was working out more kinks and sharpening up. When one play didn’t click, the next one did, and the defense cleaned up any messes with its best game yet.
11. Iowa 41, Penn State 21
The storyline is Penn State going 0-5 for the first time in the program’s history, but Iowa’s ability to rise up after the 0-2 start is a bigger deal. The Penn State run defense was decent, but Iowa QB Spencer Petras was solid outside of a few fumbling problems, and the defense – led by a massive day from LB Nick Niemann – lived in the Nittany Lion backfield. With Nebraska and Illinois up next, the Hawkeyes should be 5-2 before finishing with Wisconsin.
Penn State? At Michigan, at Rutgers, Michigan State. The team isn’t 0-8 bad, but there’s no running game, star TE Pat Freiermuth is now done for the year, and the team desperately needs a positive break somewhere.