By Joel Silverberg / @JoelSilverberg
It’s another reason to love college football.
Kansas State provided the most impressive knockout punch of the season with a 48-41 upset of Oklahoma on Saturday. The Sooners made it interesting late with a frantic onside kick recovery that was overturned due to an Oklahoma player touching the ball half a yard too soon, but now the Sooners are on eggshells with their College Football Playoff hopes.
Alabama cruised to a win over Arkansas without Tua Tagovailoa and Penn State remained unbeaten by coasting against Michigan State. LSU took over the top spot by beating its third top ten opponent of the season while Ohio State and Clemson enjoyed easy conference wins.
Outside of the usual suspects Minnesota topped Maryland to set up a big showdown against the Nittany Lions on Nov. 9. SMU won last Thursday to set up a primetime matchup against Memphis on Saturday. Appalachian State trounced South Alabama with an interesting stretch upcoming against Georgia Southern, South Carolina and Georgia State over the next three weeks. Baylor had the week off and now sits atop the Big 12 thanks to Oklahoma’s loss. The Bears face West Virginia on Halloween.
We get to enjoy a great doubleheader with the Golden Gophers facing Penn State at noon and LSU meeting Alabama at 3:30, but we have to wait another week for that. At least we’ll continue to sort out the best of the best over the last month of the season.
Here’s the weekend’s good, bad and ugly.
The Good: LSU. The Tigers went into Saturday’s game against Auburn averaging 50 points per game. It scored less than half of that and still beat a top ten team. Plus, LSU emerged as the new No. 1 team in the AP Top 25. Credit to Ed Orgeron’s men for holding off an upset minded rival at home after getting off to a slow start offensively. LSU gets a week off before facing an Alabama team that may not have its starting quarterback.
Honorable Mention: Ohio State. Yes, Wisconsin lost to Illinois the week before, but that was still a very solid Badgers team that Ohio State pummeled on Saturday. Justin Fields continues to drive the offense, but Chase Young put on a show with four sacks. It’s hard to see the Buckeyes losing before meeting Penn State on Nov. 23.
The Bad: Texas. Losing to LSU and Oklahoma by seven points each was tough, but probably expected. Nearly losing to Kansas seemed like a hangover from the Oklahoma game and a was thought to be a wake up call for the Longhorns. That wasn’t the case and the defense continued to struggle in a ten-point loss to TCU. The bid to get back to the Big 12 title game just got harder for a team that came into the season with big time aspirations. Kansas State and Baylor are still on the schedule, too.
Honorable Mention: Notre Dame. Michigan was bound to get a top ten win at some point this year. All Jim Harbaugh jokes aside, the Wolverines are still talented enough to compete in those type of games. Especially at home. But the Irish were beat down in a game they needed and were outgunned 437-180 in a 31-point loss. Notre Dame will likely be favored in each of its final five games, but missing on its two biggest games of the year, the latest in one-sided fashion, will make a 10-2 season feel like a disappointment.
The Ugly: Oklahoma. It’s a seven-point loss on paper, but the Sooners trailed Kansas State by 25 with less than 13 minutes to play. The Wildcats beat up on Oklahoma for most of the game and held on for dear life to get out with a win. It would take a lot for the Sooners to get back to the playoff. November’s schedule includes games against Iowa State, Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State, plus the Big 12 Championship. There’s no room for error in Norman.
Honorable Mention: Arizona State. The Pac-12 continues to impress in the worst possible way. UCLA averaged 14 points in each of its first three games this season. The Bruins scored 14 points in each of the first three quarters against the Sun Devils on Saturday. Don’t let the final score fool you. Arizona State trailed 42-10 entering the fourth quarter before a 22-point garbage time spree led to the final score. How a team can hold Washington state to 34 points in 60 minutes, but give up 42 to UCLA in 45 minutes is beyond me.