More Upsets, Shootouts in Texas and Razorbacks on the Rise - Week 4 Highlights
While unbeaten Alabama and Georgia seem to be streets ahead, the battle to challenge them is wide open. Clemson and UNC have slipped out of contention at 2-2, Arkansas and Ole Miss at 4-0 are rising quickly and Texas football continues to entertain with high-scoring shootouts. The upsets continue - it seems anyone is fair game this year.
Here's my highlights of the week...
No.9 Clemson 21-27 North Carolina State (2OT)
No two-loss team has ever made the College Football Playoff. Clemson are going to need a spectacular run to the end of the season to reverse this trend after a shock loss to North Carolina State. The Tigers' offense, so potent last year, is misfiring. Freshman running back Will Shipley has propped them up at times but left this game injured and D.J. Uiagalelei continued to struggle under center. Clemson's quarterback completed 12 of 22 passes for just 111 yards while his counterpart, State's Devin Leary, threw for four touchdowns, the last to Devin Carter for the winning score in the second period of overtime.
The Wolfpack posted their first win in ten games over an AP Top 10 ranked opponent, with Clemson slipping to 2-2.
No.7 Texas A&M 10-20 No.16 Arkansas
AT&T Stadium, home to NFL's Dallas Cowboys and their owner, former Arkansas standout Jerry Jones, witnessed the latest instalment of the Razorbacks' resurgence.
Arkansas's coach, Sam Pittman, has moulded a team in his own image, tough and bullying higher-ranked teams in the trenches. In K.J. Jefferson, he has a 250lb quarterback who can run and throw. Texas A&M struggled to get their ground game going until Isaiah Spiller scored on a 67-yard touchdown run. The 17-0 Razorback lead was too much and Arkansas moves to 4-0, looking like a dark horse in the SEC.
Their next three games, away at Georgia and Ole Miss over the next two weekends, followed by a home game against Auburn, will show us how far they've come.
Bowling Green 14-10 Minnesota
A shock win for Bowling Green against a disappointing Minnesota team who could muster just 192 yards' total offense and gave up three turnovers. Falcons QB Matt McDonald ran for touchdowns. Golden Gophers QB Tanner Morgan had a horrible day, sacked four times and throwing just 59 passing yards. He threw an interception with seventeen seconds left to confirm the win for the Falcons.
No.21 North Carolina 22-45 Georgia Tech
Will the real North Carolina please stand up? The team that put up 59 points for two consecutive weeks, or the version of the Tar Heels that lost their opener to Virginia Tech and stuttered against an inspired Georgia Tech team? Sam Howell's impressive touchdown run (above) wasn't enough against a dominant Yellow Jackets' defense who sacked him eight times. while their quarterback Jeff Sims ran for 123 yards. North Carolina, now a frustrating 2-2, must regroup against rivals Duke this weekend,
Shootouts in Texas...
Texas Tech 35-70 Texas
Never a dull moment with Steve Sarkisian's new team. After slipping up against Arkansas, Texas are averaging 64 points a game with emphatie wins over Rice and now Texas Tech. Longhorns' quarterback Casey Thompson made the job his own, passing for 303 yards and five touchdowns and running for another. Bijan Robinson ran for 137 yards and a touchdown. Texas racked up 42 points in the first half, and the Red Raiders couldn't keep up. Expect points galore when the Longhorns take on Texas Christian this weekend.
Southern Methodist University 42-34 Texas Christian University
"The Battle for the Iron Skillet", another of college football's unique trophies and rivalries saw these two Lone Star State teams come into this showdown unbeaten. Both teams amassed over 1,000 yards' total offense. SMU quarterback and former Oklahoma transfer Tanner Mordecai threw for four touchdowns and three interceptions in a wild game against TCU to retain the Iron Skillet, moving the Mustangs to 4-0. The Horned Frogs slip to 2-1 and face Texas this weekend.
Southern Mississippi 14-63 No.1 Alabama
The defending champions Alabama, having squeaked past Florida last weekend, overwhelmed Southern Mississippi. Ohio State transfer Jameson Williams caught an 81-yard touchdown pass and scored on a return. The Crimson Tide host Ole Miss in what is likely to be the game of Week 5 - Matt Corral and co. will test of their defense.
No.2 Georgia 62-0 Vanderbilt
The Bulldogs were up 35-0 on Vanderbilt by the end of the first quarter and look like the most likely team to wrestle away Alabama's crown. Their combination of an increasingly aggressive offense led by QB J.T.Daniels, and stifling defense look tough to stop. Georgia held the Commodores to just 77 yards.
Arizona 19-41 No.3 Oregon
Behind the top two, there are no obvious challengers. Oregon stuttered to 4-0 with an uncomfortable win against a battling Arizona team. The scoreline flattered the Ducks, who relied on five interceptions of Wildcats QB Jordan McCloud to get them past Arizona.
West Virginia 13-16 No.4 Oklahoma
"We want Caleb", chanted Oklahoma fans, calling for their backup five-star QB recruit Caleb Williams after Spencer Rattler and the Sooners' offense stumbled through a close win over West Virginia. Credit to Rattler, who heard the boos and calmly led Oklahoma on a two-minute drive with the teams tied at 13-13 in the fourth quarter that resulted in the game-winning field goal. He finished 26 of 36 for 256 yards and a touchdown, moving Oklahoma to 4-0.
Akron 7-59 No.10 Ohio State
Akron were 7-0 up in the first minute, but couldn't hold on for the remaining fifty-nine, conceding the same amount of points consecutively to an Ohio State team still finding its feet. True freshman Kyle McCord made his debut at quarterback, completing 13 of 18 passes for 319 yards and two touchdowns. In Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, the young freshman has two NFL-ready receivers to lean on. The Buekeyes recorded their first really dominant win of the season which kicks on from here.
No.12 Notre Dame 41-13 No.18 Wisconsin
Chicago's Soldier Field hosted this Top 20 showdown. Fighting Irish QB Jack Coan suited up against his old team, who sacked him five times, ultimately forcing him to leave the game injured. In came Drew Pine from the pine and he led Notre Dame to 21 points in the fourth quarter, overcoming Wisconsin and giving coach Brian Kelly a record 106th win as their head coach.
Emory Jones passed for 209 yards and ran for 144 as an increasingly impressive looking No.11 Florida team rolled over Tennessee, 38-14 at The Swamp. No.5 Iowa looked sluggish and struggled to get going against Colorado State, running for just 54 yards in a 24-14 win that does see them remain unbeaten (NB - they looked far more impressive in an early Week 5 game against Maryland - that to come next week).
A better week for Michigan football in Week 4. No.19 Michigan held on for a 20-13 win over Rutgers, having led 20-3 in the third quarter. Rivals No.23 Michigan State edged out Nebraska 23-20, holding the nation's leading rusher, Kenneth Walker III to 61 yards. No.6 Penn State looks the strongest team in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions eased to a 38-17 win over Villanova. Their showdown with Iowa in two weeks will be decisive in the battle for Big Ten supremacy.
In the SEC, LSU beat Mississippi State 28-25 with four touchdown passes from QB Max Johnson while No.23 Auburn benched QB Bo Nix in a 34-24 win over Georgia State, who had been 24-19 up. LSU transfer TJ Finley rallied the Tigers, who moved to 3-1. The wonderfully named Smoke Monday's interception return for a touchdown gave Auburn a crucial win.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson led No.24 UCLA to a bounce-back 35-24 win over West Coast rival Stanford and put themselves back in PAC-12 contention. Both teams have tough conference games this weekend. The Bruins look to build on their win as they host Arizona State, while the Stanford hosts No.3 Oregon.
Look out for...
No.12 Ole Miss @ No.1 Alabama - Lane Kiffin returns to Tuscaloosa with Heisman-leading QB Matt Corral to challenge Alabama. This was a 63-48 game last year so look out for fireworks.
No.8 Arkansas @ No.2 Georgia - all about the SEC this week - can Sam Pittman's upstart Razorbacks claim another scalp against the Bulldogs in Athens?
No.7 Cincinnati @ No.9 Notre Dame - a big Top 10 contest that could push the winner into playoff contention. A win in South Bend would be a huge statement for the Bearcats.
Here's this week's AP Top 25...
Rank Team Record
1 (1) Alabama 4-0
2 (2) Georgia 4-0
3 (4) Oregon 4-0
4 (6) Penn State 4-0
5 (5) Iowa 4-0
6 (4) Oklahoma 4-0
7 (8) Cincinnati 3-0
8 (16) Arkansas 4-0
9 (12) Notre Dame 4-0
10 (11) Florida 3-1
11 (10) Ohio State 3-1
12 (13) Ole Miss 3-0
13 (15) Brigham Young 4-0
14 (19) Michigan 4-0
15 (7) Texas A&M 3-1
16 (17) Coastal Carolina 4-0
17 (20) Michigan State 4-0
18 (22) Fresno State 4-1
19 (-) Oklahoma State 4-0
20 (24) UCLA 3-1
21 (-) Baylor 4-0
22 (23) Auburn 3-1
23 (-) North Carolina State 3-1
24 (-) Wake Forest 4-0
25 (9) Clemson 2-2