College Football Research


by Big Al

That was one holy heck of a weekend. Let's see what happened!

Ohio State 17 - Notre Dame 14

As an Ohio State fan, I can't remember the last time I jumped around the living room after a win. Scoring a winning touchdown with 1 second left on the clock does that to a fan... any fan. That was a truly amazing game. The way both teams were going for it on 4th down was something to see: these guys were playing high-risk, high-reward football, and they were playing to win.

When Notre Dame shoved the ball down Ohio State's throat for two straight touchdowns and the lead, I figured it was over. Power football multiplies over time; once you get that advantage, it does not go away. But Ohio State somehow figured it out on defense. Then, it was some 85 seconds of the kind of sloppy, crazy, unbelieveable plays that only happen when both teams are desperate. And it all ended with a game-winning touchdown. Wow.

Two things, however. First, I'm not a fan of coaches calling out broadcasters about things they said. Coaches need to keep their composure more than that. They set the example for their players. Don't pretend you aren't paying attention to the noise if you're going to do that sort of thing. I understand the reasons why Coach Day mentioned what Lou Holtz said, but I'd prefer he had kept it under his hat in the moment.

Second thing, I don't think anyone on Notre Dame's sideline realized that there were only 10 players on the field for the last play. Marcus Freeman gave what he believed was a plausible explanation for the missing player, but there was an incompletion before the final play and the play clock had run down a ways after that play. Someone blundered, probably either an assistant coach or (more likely) a player who didn't realize he was part of the personnel package that was out there. I think Coach Freeman was doing his best to cover for someone else's mistake.

Florida State 31 - Clemson 24

I would like to point out that Florida State won a game thanks to SOMEONE ELSE'S MISSED FIELD GOAL. Anyone who is familiar with Wide Rights I-IV, and Wide Left will know why this is a big deal. Admittedly, there was still 1:47 left in the game before that kick, and that would ahve changed Florida State's playcalling, but it was still a missed field goal that helped them to victory.

After that, it was just Florida State being Florida State again. A win in overtime against a big-time conference rival is a good springboard for the Seminoles to cement themselves in the national conversation. There's still a lot of football left to be played, but FSU is not going to go away quietly.

The missed field goal is what is going to be remembered. But it was the fumble return for a touchdown that hurt them more. Clemson's defense had mostly kept FSU under control, and they can't be blamed for giving up a turnover for a touchdown.

Penn State 31 - Iowa 6

Consider me fully impressed with Penn State. That is no easy task to score 31 on Iowa's defense. The Nittany Lions are officially a team to be reckoned with.

Utah 14 - UCLA 7

Defensive struggles are often more of a white-knuckle affair than offensive shootouts. If both teams are scoring at will, it's really no different than watching a basketball game: you expect it to be a back and forth affair and it's really just a matter of getting one good play on defense to turn the game in your favor. And even if the other team gets a stop, you know it only take one break in your direction to get that evened out.

A defensive struggle is different. You know that one mistake by your defense could totally destroy your chances at victory. Yards are a premium, points almost unimaginable, and you're sometimes just as much at risk of giving up points when you're on offense as you are when you're on defense.

So it was a gritty win by Utah and a tough loss for UCLA. But it was a tough game for all the fans to sweat out, too.

Oregon 42 - Colorado 6

Yes, I know I picked Colorado. Even I knew it was a crazy pick but, as the saying goes, "September is for pretenders and November is for contenders." This year, Colorado is the former.

Oregon knew they were better and they couldn't wait to show it. This is particularly the case against a team with an entirely new roster, because Oregon demands teamwork from their opponents. It takes at least a year to build teamwork. Oregon can expose every gap, every miscommunication, and every mistake in scheme. Oregon did that early and did that often. And they didn't like the fact that they were playing second fiddle to some team with flashy wins over questionable teams.

Oregon probably wanted to score 80 on the Buffaloes, and I'm guessing that they are disappointed that they didn't. This was a chance to really show off their firepower on a national stage. Didn't quite get to that level, but I'm supposing Oregon took their foot off the gas late.

Long term, I like Deion Sanders and I think he will do very well. But this team is not championship material this year. Too many new players. How on earth you get 86 new players when there is an 85-scholarship limit, I'll never know. Unless we're somehow counting walkons, which would be a first.

Alabama 24 - Ole Miss 10

Alabama might not be the offensive juggernaut they have proven to be in the last decade or so, but they still play tough defense, and can still get their points. They may not be unstoppable, but they are still a team to be respected and reckoned with.

Washington State 38 - Oregon State 35

The problem with being a fan is that you do zone in on your team. So, when your team is locked in a life-or-death struggle with another top-10 team on the road, you tend to ignore that other game going on in your picture-in-picture. Because I wasn't switching, I don't care how many adds they showed me for Ozempic.

All of which means that I missed one of the best games of the day. Washington State controlled most of it, but Oregon State made a late charge that came close to pulling off a huge win. But not quite.

With that said, I'm really hoping that Washington State wins the Pac-12 this year. The way they and Oregon State got left in the lurch... that's just crap. They and the Pac-12 deserve better than what happened.

Also, Coach Dickert took umbrage with a comment on GameDay calling this the "No One's Watching Bowl". Was that a slight to these two teams? Yes, but only accidentally. It was more an acknowledgement that there was a game between two top-ten teams with the two biggest fan bases in all of college football (if not all of sports) going on at the exact same time. So no, nobody was watching this game outside of Oregon State and Washington State fans. And even they were keeping a close eye on what was happening in South Bend. Bad timing for both of these teams, because this was a game that I really wanted to watch.

Kansas 38 - BYU 27

This was a big win for Kansas that finally got them into the rankings again. And this is their second 4-0 start in back-to-back years in the last 108 years, which is something to also make much note of! However, what I was very interested by was the hit made by Cobee Bryant to force a fumble. Bryant laid a vicious lick into Parker Kingston... with his shoulder. With all the rules and regulations about leading with the head on tackles, defenders were going to need to start using their shoulder pads if they were going to be able to lay the lumber to someone again. Bryant did that. I'm glad to see that defenders are figuring that out.


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