10. Iowa State 45, Kent State 0
Who wants to play in the Big 12 Championship? Iowa State is close with Texas and West Virginia to go.
The Cyclones never let Kansas State get started as Brock Purdy had – arguably – his best game of the year, throwing for 236 yards and three scores. Breece Hall ran for 135 yards and two scores, the defense forced three takeaways, and in what was supposed to be a bit of a battle, Iowa State outgained Kansas State 539 yards to 149 in the near-perfect performance.
9. USC 33, Utah17
Now that’s sort of more like it for the Trojans. Utah looked like a team in its first game, and USC played like a team that got that out of the way over the first two games. Kedon Slovis threw for a workmanlike 264 yards and two scores, the running game wasn’t terrific, and the defense forced five takeaways.
Now USC doesn’t have to leave LA for the final three games against Colorado, Washington State and UCLA, but it has to keep improving. The offense isn’t there yet, but this was supposed to be the one giant test on the slate, and the team passed.
8. Auburn 30, Tennessee 17
Don’t blow off anything about Auburn’s win, and don’t dismiss it because Tennessee is struggling. On the plus side for the Vols, RB Eric Gray was outstanding – he ran for 173 yards and a score – but the Tigers got the Bo Nix they needed to get this win.
Nix threw for 220 yards and a touchdown, and while he threw an interception, he kept the chains moving as the team took over in the second quarter. In this weird SEC year, you take 5-2, you don’t apologize for anything, and you keep on going.
7. Florida 38, Vanderbilt 17
Florida was never going to lose this game. Oh sure, Vanderbilt was up early, and Ken Seals threw for over 300 yards, but Heisman-elect Kyle Trask threw for 383 yards and three scores – don’t call this an off-game for him; he didn’t turn it over and didn’t give Vandy any easy chances – and the running game was fine. This is still a flawed team defensively, but the O turned it on when it had to.
6. Coastal Carolina 34, Appalachian State 23
The Coastal Carolina defense beat up and battered ASU QB Zac Thomas and forced three picks, Grayson McCall threw for 200 yards and two scores and ran for a team-high 69 yards and a touchdown, and the program is 8-0 with a win over the king of the conference.
It was hardly a perfect game, but the Chanticleers didn’t make the big mistakes the Mountaineers did, and the D held up against the loaded running game while allowing just two second half field goals.