Battle of the Top 2 Teams
Last week’s AP poll ranked Georgia at number 1, while Tennesse was ranked at number 2. On Tuesday night, the committee gave their top 4 rankings. Tennessee was top and Georgia was third. So, that begin said, the unbeaten number 1 ranked Tennessee Volunteers came to Athens Georgia to face the unbeaten number 3 ranked Georgia Bulldogs, in what could be a preview of this year’s College Football Championship game. To make it even more interesting, an unbeaten streak would also end in this game
It did not start well for the Bulldogs. Their opening drive started decently, but ended quickly, as Running Back Daijun Edwards fumbled the ball, which was scooped up by the Tennessee defense. The Volunteers started their first drive in Bulldogs’ territory. Tennessee Quarterback Hendon Hooker was able to move the ball up the field. But it seemed like the rest of his offense was too eager, recording two false start penalties against them, wiping out any real progress. While this drive did end in points, a 47-yard field goal for the Volunteers could have been something better. But, it was the lead.
The lead did not last long. On their next drive, Georgia made up for their mistakes on their opening drive. A short drive, dominated by Bulldogs’ Quarterback Stetson Bennett’s 52-yard pass to Arian Smith, ended in Bennett rushing for a 13-yard touchdown to put Georgia into the lead. After 3 drives from both sides that did not go anywhere, highlighted by a Georgia punt that went out of play at the Tennessee 1-yard line, Georgia struck again. A 37-yard pass from Bennett to Ladd McConkey found the endzone, to increase the Bulldogs’ lead. Tennessee’s vows would continue for them. After another 3-and-out drive for the Volunteers, the Bulldogs scored a third touchdown. This time a 5-yard pass from Bennett to Rosemy-Jacksaint. Tennessee would score a 36-yard field goal on their next drive, but this drive was again marred by false start penalties on the Tennessee offense. A Hendon Hooker interception just before half time lead to a 19-yard Bulldogs field goal to give Georgia a 24-6 lead at halftime.
The Bulldogs would open the scoring in the second half. A 15-play, 67-yard drive which took up most of the third quarter ended in a 38-yard field goal for the Bulldogs. It seemed like the Tennessee defense had finally woken up. On the next two drives, both teams fumbled the ball at around the same place as each other. After the fumble fest, the Volunteers had another decent drive. It was again marred by false start penalties and ended in the Volunteers turning the ball over on downs. Tennessee would finally find the endzone deep into the fourth quarter when a Jaylen Wright ran 5 yards into the endzone. But, it was all for pride, as their onside kick was recovered by the Bulldogs, and Tennessee’s final drive did not go anywhere. Georgia beat Tennessee 27-13, to stay unbeaten and regain their number-one ranking. For Tennessee, maybe the committee was a bit too eager to give them a number-one ranking. We also cannot ignore the large number of false start penalties recorded against the Volunteers’ offense, essentially moving them from an easy touchdown to field goal territory.Embed from Getty Images
While this cannot be the SEC Championship game as both Tennessee and Georgia play in the same division, I still think that, due to Tennessee’s easy schedule, this may be a College Football Playoff game. Next week, the now 8-1 Tenneeesse Volunteers welcome Missouri to Knoxville, while the unbeaten Georgia Bulldogs travel to Mississippi State.
The Irish best The Tigers
The College Football Rankings committee put the Clemson Tigers at number 4. This was somewhat controversial. While they are unbeaten, they struggled to beat Syracuse, a much lower-ranked team. One more close game or a loss would mean that they should be out of contention for the playoffs. How did the Tigers get on in their match against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish?
The game started with a Notre Dame 3 and out and a returning punt. On Clemson’s opening drive, they had a punt as well. But this punt was deflected by the Notre Dame defense, who returned it for a touchdown. After that initial mistake, could the Tigers shake it off and recover on their next drive? They could not. On a fourth down at the Fighting Irish 38-yard line, Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagelelei threw an incomplete pass, turning the ball over to Notre Dame.Embed from Getty Images
What followed was 4 consecutive drives that went nowhere. Neither offense could move the ball up the field. In the middle of the second quarter, Notre Dame did have a chance to increase their lead, but a 42-yard field goal was missed. The Fighting Irish did increase their lead just before halftime. A 5 yard run into the endzone by Notre Dame quarterback Drew Pyne topped off a drive that was, mostly rushing attempts. Notre Dame went into halftime 14-0 up on Clemson.
The second half started with 4 drives that ended in punts. However, a punt did not end the fifth drive of the half. Just before the end of the third quarter, the Tigers were intercepted at their 14-yard line. This gave the Fighting Irish a brilliant field position to take advantage of. And take advantage they did, as Audric Estime ran the ball in for a 2-yard, touchdown to give Notre Dame a 21-point lead over the number 4 ranked team in the country.
Things would go from back to worse, for Clemson. On the next drive, they were intercepted again by the Notre Dame defense. This time, the interception happened Deep into Fighting Irish territory. This did not phase them, and the defence ran the ball in for a 96-yard pick-six touchdown, and to certainly end Clemson’s perfect record. Will Shipley did record a 1-yard, touchdown and DJ Uiagailelei scored a 4-yard touchdown pass, but it was not enough. A Notre Dame score in-between these two plays meant that the Fighting Irish beat the Tigers 35-14. With this, Clemson loses their unbeaten record and possible chance of a place in the College Football playoffs. Notre Dame improved to a 6-3 record and will face Navy next week, while Clemson faces Louisville.
All over for Alabama?
The number 6 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide are not normally in this position when the College Football playoffs are first being talked about. The normally dominant Alabama are still playing well, but a loss to Tennessee and beating the Texas Longhorns by the skin of their teeth means that they are on the outside looking in. This week, they went to death valley to face the number 10-ranked LSU Tigers.
To keep their ranking, Bama had to be competent and make no mistakes. So what did they do on their first possession? They gave the ball away. Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young’s pass was intercepted in the endzone, denying Alabama from taking the lead. The Festival of Punting then made its way to Baton Rogue, Louisiana, as the next 6 drives ended in kicks where barely any offense was shown.Embed from Getty Images
This was soon ended, but not by Alabama. The Tigers began their drive at the Alabama 49-yard line, giving them good field position. The drive ended with Tigers Quarterback Jaylen Daniels throwing a 30-yard pass to John Emery Jr, which found the endzone and gave LSU the lead. Alabama would kick two field goals (one from 36 yards, the other from 29 yards) before halftime, but the Tigers would have a one-point lead at halftime over Alabama.
The second quarter opened with Alabama taking the lead through a 38-yard field goal. This lead would be short-lived. On the next drive of the game, LSU running back Josh Williams would score a 2-yard touchdown, regaining the lead for the Tigers. After two drives that ended in punts, the lead changed again. Alabama scored a 2-yard rushing touchdown. However, their two-point attempt failed, giving the Crimson Tide a one-point lead. This lead lasted 5 minutes, as LSU scored from a 32-yard field goal to give them a 2-point lead.
Embed from Getty Images
Bryce Young would score a 41-yard touchdown on the very next drive, which had another failed two-point conversion attempt. Still, Alabama had a 4-point lead. A lead that lasted 3 minutes, as Jaylen Daniels found Mason Taylor for a 7-yard touchdown to give the Tigers a 3-point lead. Could an upset happen? On the final drive of the game, the LSU defense stopped Alabama in field goal territory. Then, Crimson Tide kicker Will Reichard successfully kicked a 46-yard field goal to tie the score at 24-24, sending the game into overtime.
Alabama had the opening possession and scored a touchdown with it. LSU had to match this. They did, as Jaylen Daniels ran for a 25-yard touchdown. The Tigers then went for 2 points, to win the game. Alabama failed twice at this, and those mistakes would cost them, as the Tigers were successful in their attempt, securing a 32-31 victory. With this, LSU and Alabama go to 7-2 on the season. This defeat for Alabama all but rules them out of the College Football playoffs this year, while it could put LSU into contention. Next week, The Tigers go to Arkansas, while Alabama goes to Ole Miss.
The Ignored Unbeaten Side
If I had to pick a team that was overlooked by the College Football Rankings committee, it would be TCU. The number 7 ranked Horned Frogs are unbeaten this season so far. Could their streak continue against a struggling Texas Tech?
TCU started the game strong. On Texas Techs’ opening drive, they shut Techs’ offense down forcing them to punt the ball. This punt was then returned to the endzone to give TCU a 7-0 lead. Their offense however did not have the same level of success, as they were turned over on downs at Texas Techs 18 yard line. With this, a 24-yard run from SaRodorick Thompson and a 47-yard touchdown throw from Quarterback Behern Morton tied things up for Texas Tech.
Surprisingly, Texas Tech would take the lead at the end of the first quarter after they scored a 29-yard field goal. This lead would not last, as TCU would reply with a 40-yard field goal of, their own. Another 30-yard field goal from TCU before halftime gave them a 13-10 lead going into the half.
The second half began with zero offense being on display from either team, with 3 drives ending in punts. It would be Texas Tech to break this streak, a streak they broke with a touchdown. A 33-yard pass from Tyler Slough went for a touchdown, giving Texas Tech a 7-point lead, going into the final quarter. This lead did not last long, as Kendre Miller scored a 2-yard, rushing touchdown to give the lead back to TCU. A few drives later, TCU quarterback Max Duggan threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Derrius Davis, increasing their lead. A Texas Tech turnover on downs lead to another Duggan touchdown, this time a 16-yard pass. Tech did score another touchdown with 2 minutes to spare, but it was not enough, as TCU recorded a 34-24 win to remain unbeaten. Texas Tech fall to a 4-5 record and will face Kansas next week, while TCU travels to Austin to face the Texas Longhorns.
The Longhorns Long Needed win
The number 13 Kansas State Wildcats are in good form, having comfortably beaten the Oklahoma State Cowboys last week. Their next opponent was the 24-ranked Texas Longhorns, who just came off a bye week and needed a win.
It started very well for the Longhorns. On the game’s opening drive, they scored. A 36-yard run into the endzone by Bijan Robinson gave Texas the lead. Kansas State quickly replied. A 28-yard, pass from Wildcats quarterback Adrian Martinez found Deuce Vaughn and the endzone, to level the scores. This did not last long, as the Longhorns scored again, this time a 9-yard run from Roschon Johnson. Kansas State could not match this pace from the Longhorns, and on their next drive scored an a22-yard field goal.Embed from Getty Images
The Longhorns scored another touchdown on their next drive, through a 13-yard pass from Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers which found Xavier Worthy to give Texas a 21-10,lead. It was not all good for the Longhorns. A fumble on their next drive was recovered by Kansas State, who themselves turned the ball over on downs, which lead to a 28 yard Texas field goal.
On their next drive, Kansas State was intercepted, leading to another Quinn Ewers touchdown, giving Texas a 31-10 lead at the half.Embed from Getty Images
Kansas State took advantage of a Texas fumble early in the third quarter. They converted good field position into a 1-yard Martinez rushing touchdown. Kansas State would score again a few drives later. A 25 pass from Martinez to Kade Warner made it a one-possession game. The Longhorns would increase their lead next, through a 29-yard field goal. Kansas State would reply with a 28-yard field goal of their own. A Longhorns punt on their next drive meant the Wildcats had the ball and were set for what could be a game-winning drive. Except, Martinez fumbled the ball which was recovered by the Longhorns who held on for the win. The win puts Texas at 6-3 for the season, the same record as Kansas State. Next week, the Wildcats go to Waco to face Baylor, while the Longhorns welcome unbeaten TCU to Austin.
How did the other ranked teams do?
#2 Ohio State @ Northwestern
The number two-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes went into their game with Northwestern unbeaten. For a while, it looked like this record will end, but in a game dominated by the running game, the Buckeyes won 21-7 to keep their unbeaten record.
#5 Michigan @ Rutgers
The number 5 ranked Michigan Wolverines are still unbeaten, and their quarterback battle has now seemed sorted, with the Wolverines all in on JJ McCarthy. Rutgers was the opponent, and at half time it looked like an upset could happen. But the Wolverines dominated the Scarlet Knights in the second half, scoring 5 unanswered touchdowns to win 52-17 and keep their unbeaten record.
#8 Oregon @ Colorado
Quarterback Bo Nix had another good day on the field, as his number 8 ranked Oregon Ducks beat Colorado 49-10. Nix scored two rushing touchdowns, and 2 passing touchdowns and threw for 274 yards in this win. Could the Ducks be in contention for the playoffs come December?
California @ #9 USC
Number 9 ranked USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams threw for 360 yards and scored 4 touchdowns in the Trojans’ 41-35 win over State rivals California.
#12 UCLA @ Arizona State
The number 12 ranked UCLA Bruins faced the poorly performing Arizona State Sun Devils. Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson Robinson found the endzone 4 times as UCLA, beat Arizona 50-36. With this, win, they join the many teams that have lost one, game. They’ll still be ranked lower than Alabama though.
Arizona @ #14 Utah
The number 14 ranked Utah Utes were dominant in their 45-20 win over Arizona. The Utes scored 6 touchdowns in a game they never looked like losing.
#15 Penn State @ Indiana
After last week’s mixed performance against Ohio State, the number 15 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions faced Indiana. Penn State Quarterback Sam Clifford played better, but the spotlight was on running back Kaytron Allen who scored 3 touchdowns in a 45-14 win for Penn State
Michigan State @ #16 Illinois
It looked like number 16-ranked Illinois would easily beat the struggling Michigan State Spartans. They struggled themselves, as Michigan State pulled off an upset 23-15 win.
#17 UNC @ Virginia
Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye threw for nearly 300 yards and scored two touchdowns, in a game where a late comeback from Virginia was not enough, as the number 17 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels won 31-28Embed from Getty Images
#18 Oklahoma State @ Kansas
Last week, the number 18 ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys did not a single point. The good news is that the team from Stillwater scored. The bad news is that the Kansas Jayhawks scored double, in a,37-16 win.
#19 Tulane @ Tulsa
Number 19-ranked Tulane came into their game with Tulsa 7-1. They left Oklahoma with an 8-1 record in a game they dominated from start to finish as they beat Tulsa 27-13
#20 Syracuse @ Pittsburgh
The number 20 ranked Syracuse Orange are in a slump. After nearly beating Clemson a couple of weeks ago and, losing their unbeaten record in the process, they have just kept on losing. They lost again this week, against Pittsburgh 19-9. Say goodbye to the top 25 Syracuse.
#21 Wake Forest @ #22 North Carolina State
Quarterback Sam Hartman threw for 397 yards and scored two touchdowns. He also threw for 3 interceptions, as number 21-ranked Wake Forest lost 21-30 to the number 22-ranked North Carolina State.
#23 Oregon State @ Washington
A fourth-quarter touchdown by Wayne Taulapapa tied the game between number 23 Oregon State and Washington. A game-winning field goal for the Huskies gave them a 24-21 win, moving them to 7-2 for the season.
#25 UCF @ Memphis
The number 25 ranked UCF faced Memphis in a game a team of this quality should win. They did, with UCF quarterback Mikey Keene throwing for 3 touchdowns in a 35-28 win.