Notre Dame beats Clemson, Alabama moves to No.1. Oh, and the PAC-12 is back – Highlights of the Week
In a week where all of the Power 5 conferences were finally all back, all eyes were on the ACC. The much anticipated showdown of its best two teams in South Bend, Indiana, didn’t disappoint. The Fighting Irish upset top-ranked Clemson , snapping the Tigers’ 39-game regular season winning streak. The PAC-12 started their shortened season and three surprise teams remain unbeaten. Here’s my highlights of the week…
No.1 Clemson 40-47 No.4 Notre Dame (2OT)
Kyren Williams set the tone with a 65 yard touchdown run on Notre Dame’s first play from scrimmage and wrapped the game up with a three-yard score in the second period of overtime. The Fighting Irish stamped their intention as serious contenders for the national championship and their players rose to the challenge. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah stripped the ball from Travis Etienne and ran it back for a touchdown. Ian Book kept his cool in the big moments, converting 9 of 15 third downs, throwing for 310 yards and rushing for a further 68. His back-to-back passes to Avery Davis brought Notre Dame back to 33-33 and put the game into overtime.
Clemson remained impressive in the absence of their star quarterback but his eventual successor showed why Tigers fans should remain excited after Trevor Lawrence’s departure to the NFL. DJ Uiagalelei threw for 439 yards and two touchdowns, including a 53-yard scoring throw to Cornell Powell, who had a career-high 161 yards receiving.
The story, though, was about the Fighting Irish, who rise to No.2 in the AP poll while the Tigers lick their wounds in a bye week.
No.8 Florida 44-28 No.5 Georgia
The road to the SEC East title now runs through Gainesville as the Gators put on an impressive performance to upset Georgia. Even the loss of Kyle Pitts midway through the game didn’t stop Florida. Pitts’ replacement, Kemore Gamble, caught a touchdown pass on one of his first plays and 6’4” receiver Trevon Grimes looked impressive. The Bulldogs lost three key defensive players before the game and a second loss means their whose hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff are effectively over.
The difference between the two sides was evident at quarterback. Kyle Trask looks the real deal. His 474 yards passing and fifth consecutive game with four touchdown passes lifted both Florida up the rankings and Trask into the Heisman Trophy conversation. Stetson Bennett, in contrast was overwhelmed and mercifully pulled by coach Kirby Smart. He was replaced by D’Wan Mathis, who did little better. The Georgia quarterbacks combined for a woeful 31% completion rate.
Rutgers 27-49 No.3 Ohio State
Trask will have to keep up his form if he is to beat Justin Fields to the Heisman. The Ohio State quarterback continued his scintillating form, completing 24 of 28 passes for 314 yards and five touchdowns. Fields led the Buckeyes to 517 yards of total offense against a Rutgers side who were fun to watch with a number of trick plays. Fields is projecting as a top three Draft pick. Interviewed after the game he said: “I don’t think we’ve reached our full potential.” If he isn’t close to his potential now, look out.
Houston 10-38 No.6 Cincinnati
The Bearcats could be the first team from a non-Power 5 conference to reach the College Football Playoff. They rushed for 342 yards, including 103 for QB Desmond Ridder who ran for three touchdowns and passed for another.
No.7 Texas A&M 48-3 South Carolina
The Aggies held South Carolina to 150 total yards and moved to 5-1, their win over Florida now looking all the more impressive. Kellen Mond threw for four touchdowns and rushed for another as Texas A&M remain in contention, moving up to No.5.
The PAC-12 is back…
Stanford 14-35 No.12 Oregon
The Ducks had big shoes to fill after QB Justin Herbert departed for the NFL. Herbert had led Oregon to a 12-2 season and a Rose Bowl win Up stepped Tyler Hough who threw for a touchdown and ran for another as Oregon beat a Stanford team missing a couple of starters, including QB Davis Mills. Jack West stepped in and freshman Tanner McKee also had a run out.
Arizona State 27-28 No.20 USC
Southern California got off to a shaky start against the Sun Devils as Graham Harrell’s Air Raid offense faltered initially. Sophomore quarterback Kedon Slovis is a big prospect and he rallied the Trojans to overcome a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter. His partnership with receiver and fellow sophomore Drake London will be critical to USC’s success.
UCLA 42-48 Colorado
Four touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown from UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson was not enough to beat Colorado. Buffaloes tailback Jarek Broussard rushed for three scores and 208 total yards to give coach Karl Dorrell his first win.
Good news stories…
No.25 Liberty continued their amazing season, moving to 7-0 with a 38-35 win over Virginia Tech. QB Malik Willis, a transfer from Auburn, leads all quarterbacks in the nation with a rushing average of 99 yards per game. Joining them with unbeaten records are No.16 Marshall and No.15 Coastal Carolina. The Thundering Herd racked up 267 rushing yards with a 51-10 demolition of UMass, while Coastal Carolina beat South Alabama 23-6.
In the Big Ten, No.23 Michigan’s stuttering start to the season continued, losing 38-21 to an increasingly confident No.13 Indiana team flourishing with Michael Penix, Jr. at quarterback. The Wolverines were held to just 13 yards rushing. Tua’s little brother Taulia Taigovailoa led Maryland to just their third win ever over Penn State, 35-19. Northwestern, with Christian McCaffrey’s little brother Luke under center, moved to 3-0 for the first time in twenty years with a 21-13 win over Nebraska.
The Big 12 looks wide open. No.19 Oklahoma win their fourth straight win with a 62-9 blowout of Kansas and No.22 Texas also climbed the rankings with a 17-13 victory over West Virginia. Iowa State slipped up against Baylor, losing 31-30.
Look out for:
Any games at all! Alabama-LSU and Ohio State-Maryland are two of the numerous games postponed or cancelled this weekend due to COVID-19. No.2 Notre Dame travels to Boston College, No.9 Miami travels to Virginia Tech, and No.13 Wisconsin faces off against struggling Michigan. Dan Mullen’s revitalised Florida team host an Arkansas team that are surprising many this year.
Here’s this week’s AP Top 25:
Rank Team Record
1 (2) Alabama 6-0
2 (4) Notre Dame 7-0
3 (3) Ohio State 3-0
4 (1) Clemson 7-1
5 (7) Texas A&M 5-1
6 (8) Florida 4-1
7 (6) Cincinnati 6-0
8 (9) BYU 8-0
9 (11) Miami 6-1
10 (13) Indiana 3-0
11 (12) Oregon 1-0
12 (5) Georgia 4-2
13 (10) Wisconsin 1-0
14 (14) Oklahoma State 5-1
15 (15) Coastal Carolina 7-0
16 (16) Marshall 6-0
17 (17) Iowa State 5-2
18 (19) Oklahoma 5-2
19 (18) SMU 7-1
20 (20) USC 1-0
21 (22) Texas 5-2
22 (25) Liberty 7-0
23 (-) Northwestern 3-0
24 (24) Auburn 4-2
25 (-) Louisiana 6-1