Welcome to the quick recap of big things from Week 9 in the 20 Most Important College Football Thoughts Ever … at least for this week.
Photo Credit: Josh Morgan-USA TODAY Sports
20. Maryland might not be totally miserable at college football
It’s always fantastic when a program’s long-suffering fan base has hope. Maryland showed absolutely nothing in the embarrassing 43-3 loss at Northwestern, and then came Taulia Tagovailoa and his 394-yard, three-touchdown heroics in the 45-44 win/Gopher collapse. That was fantastic … now do it against Penn State next week, and again against Ohio State the week after.
19. And now we’re on Hank Bachmeier watch
The Boise State star quarterback didn’t play in the 49-30 win over Air Force for an undisclosed reason, but backup Jack Sears was brilliant with a 17-of-20, 280-yard, three-touchdown passing day with a rushing score. That’s fine, the team pulled away in the second quarter, but BYU is coming into town next week in what amounts to its one giant game of the season – if it’s not later against San Diego State. This is Boise State’s biggest case for a New Year’s Six spot, but mum’s the word on Bachmeier’s condition and why he missed the Air Force fun.
18. Best Game You Didn’t Watch Or Know Existed Award goes to …
Louisiana Tech beating UAB 37-34 in overtime. The Bulldogs rallied back from 14 down in the fourth quarter to tie it on a 24-yard Adrian Hardy touchdown catch with ten seconds to play to force overtime. The two teams traded field goals, UAB gave up its third turnover of the day, Louisiana Tech nailed the field goal, ball-game, season-saver, possible Conference USA West-winner.
17. A Big 12 game broke out and one side forgot to show up
I’m old enough to remember when Texas Tech had a passing game. Oklahoma is starting to heat up, Spencer Rattler is settling in and playing like the superstar bomber everyone knows he’ll be, and the Sooner O racked up 48 first half points on the road in the 62-28 win.
Normally, Texas Tech would throw for 1,674 yards and at least make it interesting, but this team’s offense just doesn’t do enough to make up for the defense. Henri Colombi and Alan Bowman combined to throw for 266 yards and two touchdowns.
16. And he ran for a touchdown, too ... he's going to be just fine
How do you know you’re good? You win 41-10, and your star quarterback had a bad day throwing for 224 yards and three touchdowns in the blowout. BYU was up 35-3 on WKU at halftime, Zach Wilson’s school record of 184 straight throws this season without a pick ended, and it was just another blowout win.
Everything was more than fine for the trip to Boise State next week. Now the hope is that the showdown doesn’t get lost with the Notre Dame-Clemson game, Florida-Georgia, the start of the Pac-12, Alabama-LSU, and whatever state the world is in next Saturday.
15. Best Performance You Didn’t Watch Or Know Existed Award goes to …
Nick Starkel, San Jose State. While Arkansas and Texas A&M were playing the Nick Starkel Transferred From Here Bowl, the new Spartan quarterback ripped up the New Mexico defense for 467 yards and five scores in the 38-21 win. This is San Jose State’s first 2-0 start since … wait for it … wait for it … wait for it …
14. Florida has a very, very good quarterback
America, you do realize that Kyle Trask is deep in the Heisman hunt, right? He threw for 345 yards and four touchdowns and led the team in rushing – which is actually sort of a negative – in the 41-17 win over Missouri. If he blows up next week against Georgia with the world watching, he’s going to be right there in the mix for the big prize.
The halftime brawl between the two teamsand Dan Mullen’s postgame Darth Vader costume will get the headlines, but Trask, and a decent performance – finally! – from the Gator defense was exactly what was needed going into what effectively should be the SEC East championship game.
13. Unlike Cincinnati, it has a win over a Power Five team on the resumé
The Coastal Carolina 51-0 win will get blown off because it was just some Sun Belt game over Georgia Southern or Georgia State, or Georgia whatever, right? Ohhhhhh, no. That’s a dangerous Georgia State Panther team that came into the game averaging 467 yards and a Sun Belt-leading 42 points per game.
It was held to a mere 106 yards of total offense, Chanticleer QB Grayson McCall went from probably not playing after getting hurt last week to being magnificent, and while it wasn’t like beating the Georgia Bulldogs, that was about as dominant a performance against a decent team as there will be all year.
12. Indiana was up 37-21, by the way ...
Please forgive this obscure movie reference. At the end of Tin Cup, Roy McAvoy gives away the US Open with a meltdown on the final hole, but no one cares because of how he closes with an all-time amazing shot. It was supposed to show that all that matters is what people remember, or something.
Indiana beat Rutgers, but all that anyone will remember was one of the all-time most amazing plays that didn’t count – except for the investment community.
It came back, but you have to see it to believe it.
Ever see anything close to it? pic.twitter.com/akSunRKzO5
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) October 31, 2020
11. JT Daniels and D'Wan Mathis really must not be ready
What’s done is done, but how awesome would this Georgia team be with Justin Fields at quarterback? Stetson Bennett is a wonderful story, and he could turn into Aaron Rodgers over the next week and go off against Florida, but 9-of-13 for 131 yards and two picks in the 14-3 win over Kentucky isn’t going to get it done to win the SEC and national championships.
Georgia has a College Football Playoff defense, but it’s going to need something more out of Bennett and a passing game that didn’t come through this week after struggling against Alabama.
10. Don't look now, but the Irish passing game is starting to work
That was how you want to play going into a showdown against Clemson. Notre Dame is simply rock-solid good. The 31-13 win over Georgia Tech wasn’t flashy, but it was a terrific all-around performance with the only blip an early flukish 93-yard scoop-and-score for a touchdown as the Irish were about to score. Everything else was nearly flawless.
9. And to think, Luke Fickell could've spent this weekend at MSU beating Michigan
November 21 at UCF. That’s it. That’s the game. That’s the moment when we know just what this Cincinnati team is really made of. Yeah, everyone will fall in love with the Bearcats and start talking CFP, but shhhhhhhhhh.
You’re not supposed to say anything because you’re Group of Five shaming, but SMU, Memphis and Houston – the last three UC wins – really aren’t that good. However, you come up with six sacks, hold a team to three net rushing yards, and win 49-10, you’re doing something okay no matter what.
8. Yes, beating Arkansas now is a good win
Try not to get into a twist over the 42-31 final score – Texas A&M had no real problems with Arkansas. The offensive line was good, Kellen Mond played like the 15-year veteran quarterback it seems like he is, and the offense kept on rolling early.
I’m not cool enough to actually make the official call, but I’ve been saying on various appearances to watch out for this team in the playoff chase. It’s better than South Carolina, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Louisiana State – the next five opponents. If it’s 8-1 going into the regular season finale at Auburn, and the only loss was at Alabama, A&M might be playing for the fourth CFP spot.
7. But these Tar Heels are a whole lot of fun
Under Mack Brown, North Carolina has become to the ACC what the current version Texas is to the Big 12 – all O, not D, should win every game but keeps both sides in it, could beat anyone, could lose to anyone, plays to the competition level for good and bad.
Just when it seems like UNC football is about to be a thing, its offense stalls until it’s too late, and now that’s twice in three games the team lost a game it really, really shouldn’t have – Florida State being the other defeat.
Give Virginia and its great coaching staff credit for the 44-41 win – the Cavs seemed like they always had the ball, especially when it was time to put the game away.
6. Oh, you want the real version of Texas ...
It’s just so maddening that Texas plays the same game seemingly every week. Of course that’s not true, but too many times this team falls into a bad pattern of struggling on defense, coming up with something clutch on offense, and maybe it works out and maybe it doesn’t.
With that said, give ether D some credit for the five takeaways in the 41-34 win over Oklahoma State – and overlook for the 530 yards of total offense allowed – as the O only put up 287 yards.
The overtime win was a season-saver, but would you be the slightest bit shocked if Texas lost to West Virginia 41-34 next week? On the other side, Oklahoma State is going to be kicking itself the rest of the season for gacking this away. The defense was fantastic, but the fumbles … the fumbles …
5. For Nick Saban's birthday, Mississippi State didn't bring any offense
As a good friend texted me in the second half, “Who’s Mike Leach going to blame for this?” The guy had two weeks to prepare his Mississippi State team with some funky wrinkle for Alabama, and the offense generated a grand total of 200 yards and as many points as you scored on the Tide on Saturday night.
Meanwhile, DeVonta Smith caught 11 passes for 203 yards and four scores, Alabama had a light practice in the 41-0 win, and there wasn’t any drama whatsoever. The offense came up with the performance that a Mike Leach team is supposed to bring to a game like this.
4. But a White Out would've made all the difference
It was sort of like last year’s Ohio State-Penn State game in that the final score wasn’t indicative of just how much the Buckeyes owned it. Justin Fields hit 28-of-34 passes for 318 yards and four scores, and the Buckeyes were never in any real danger in the 38-25 win.
Penn State is still great – even at 0-2 – and Sean Clifford is going to win this team some games, but the lack of running back depth was a killer. The running backs worked just fine for Ohio State.
3. Go U Northwestern
Can Northwestern really … nah. But …
Minnesota is 0-2. Nebraska is probably just okay and has to come to Evanston. Illinois is Illinois, Purdue is totally beatable, and Wisconsin is a roaring hot mess. After getting by Iowa 21-20 – and with no Ohio State or Penn State on the schedule – explain why and how Northwestern isn’t the favorite in the West to make it a second trip to the Big Ten Championship in three years?
The win in Iowa City was perfect Northwestern. Play okay, play okay, play okay, make some mistakes, dominate the time of possession, and wait for the other team’s screw-up to be major. Iowa is now 0-2 – this will hurt. It was up 17-0 and failed to score in the second half.
2. But, start winning again, get to Ohio State at 6-1 ...
Oh Jim. As a card-carrying Harbaugh apologist, the Michigan 27-24 home loss to Michigan State is one that’s going to be impossible to overcome in my lonely fight to convince the world that the guy really is a phenomenal head coach.
Losing to Ohio State is totally okay – that program is at another level from everyone but Clemson and Alabama – but this?
Ohhhhhh, no. Not after the Spartans got dropkicked by Rutgers the week before. With that said, Michigan really was on the wrong side of the pass interference calls, and … sorry. Give Mel Tucker and MSU all the credit for pulling off the fantastic win coming off the embarrassing opener.
1. It's really not hard ... Oooey-UNGA-la-lay
Yeah, it stinks that Trevor Lawrence can’t play against Notre Dame, but it’s going to be okay. Clemson has a whole lot of other superstar talents to work around. The guy under center – the likely No. 1 overall draft pick in 2023 – isn’t bad, either.
What more could you have possibly wanted out of DJ Uiagalelei in the 34-28 comeback win over Boston College? I have to remember that not every college football fan is all geeked out in the recruiting and prospect world – I just assume that everyone lives in my bubble and knows who this guy is.
He’s it. He’s next. He’s the the one after Deshaun and Trevor, and he’s got all the tools to be a franchise NFL quarterback as soon as he’s ready to leave. He was great in the first half against BC, the defense wasn’t, and all he did was hit 30-of-41 passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns and run for 25 yards and a score to go into the Notre Dame game with a gut-check regular-season win that the team seems to come up with once a year.
D.J. Uiagalelei keeps it himself to make it a one score game! pic.twitter.com/g0FayQc3p7
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) October 31, 2020