"Nowhere To Run, Nowhere To Hide, That Was Our Theme" - Week 10 Highlights
An extraordinary weekend in college football saw some stunning results. There were high profile losses for No.1 Tennessee, No.4 Clemson and No.6 Alabama. The game of the week, arguably featured Southern Methodist University hosting Houston. Here's my recap on this and other highlights of Week 10 in college football...
Houston 63-77 SMU
A real Texan shootout in Dallas saw SMU and Houston combine for 139 points, the highest-scoring regulation game (no overtime) in college football history. To put the ridiculousness of this score into context, the last basketball game between these two teams (a 75-61 win for Houston) produced less points. Their respective quarterbacks, Tanner Mordecai and Clayton Tune combined for 16 touchdown passes, the most in FBS history. Mordecai, a former Oklahoma transfer, threw for 379 yards and 9 touchdowns, running another in. Houston's Tune completed 36 of 53 passes for 527 yards and 7 touchdowns.
No.6 Alabama 31-32 No.10 LSU (OT)
This SEC showdown between Alabama and LSU arguably held the single-play highlight of the week and while highest-scoring history was unfolding in Dallas, the most dramatic game was to come in Baton Rouge,
LSU went for it all, down 31-30, on a two-point conversion from Jayden Daniels to Mason Taylor with the very last play of the game, sending LSU fans into hysteria and probably knocking Alabama out of the College Football Playoff.
Daniels completed 22 of 32 passes for 182 yards and two touchdown passes. He added 95 yards on the ground. The LSU defense kept Bryce Young in the pocket and wouldn't let him scramble. Young's first half stats showed just 2 of 11 passes completed for 28 yards and an interception. Alabama have two regular season losses for the first time since 2019. Brian Kelly's immediate impact at LSU is impressive and he has built a team capable of challenging in the SEC, and his gutsy last-minute play call gave the Tigers a historic win.
"If you give me one play, and if it's successful we beat Alabama, I'd have taken that a hundred times out of a hundred." - LSU coach Brian Kelly
No.1 Tennessee 13-27 No.3 Georgia
Georgia stamped their authority over an upstart Tennessee team in Athens, taking control of the SEC and returning to the top of the college football ranks, snatching back the No.1 spot. Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett, as he tends to in big games, rose to the occasion once more, throwing two touchdowns and running for another, displaying the athleticism his opposite number, Hendon Hooker, has been lauded for all season.
Hooker, by contrast, was sacked six times by a dominant Georgia defense who held Tennessee under 300 yards on offense and allowed no touchdown passes, sending them out of the top four playoff places.
"Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, that was our theme" - Georgia coach Kirby Smart
No.4 Clemson 14-35 Notre Dame
Notre Dame were too powerful for a Clemson team that looks destined to miss the Playoff after this demoralising loss in South Bend. The Fighting Irish have rebounded impressively from early season losses to Stanford and Marshall.
Once again, Tigers quarterback DJ Uiagalelei struggled, gaining just 71 yards in an insipid first half. Backup freshman Cade Klubnik came into the game with Clemson down 14-0 but his only pass was intercepted by the outstanding Irish defensive back Benjamin Morrison and Dabo Swinney reverted to Uiagalelei.
Notre Dame's outstanding special teams play supplemented their physical rushing offense and swarming defense. Prince Kollie's scoop-and-score from Notre Dame's sixth blocked punt of the season was the icing on the cake.
No.24 Texas 34-27 No.13 Kansas State
Bijan Robinson ran for 209 yards and a touchdown as Texas upset a dangerous Kansas State team on the road in Manhattan. The inconsistent Longhorns regained their form, taking a 31-10 lead. The Wildcats pegged the lead back to 34-27, but unlike recent games, Texas held their lead, closing out the game with a recovered fumble from Kansas State quarterback Adrian Martinez. Both teams move to 6-3.
Business as Usual...
No.2 Ohio State 21-7 Northwestern
In atrocious conditions in Evanston, Illinois, Ohio State outlasted Northwestern. High winds and driving rain nullified the Buckeyes' passing game as much as the Wildcats' defense. Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud managed just 76 passing yards, running for a further 71. The Buckeyes extend their unbeaten start to 9-0, while Northwestern lost their eighth in a row.
No.5 Michigan 52-17 Rutgers
Michigan, whose offense has stuttered of late, kicked into gear against Rutgers after a 17-14 deficit at half-time. The Wolverines' physical run game set the platform once again as Blake Corum rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy ran for another and passed for two touchdowns.
Michigan's defense locked down Rutgers in the third quarter. Michael Barrett intercepted two passes, one for a touchdown. Results elsewhere mean Michigan climbs to No.3 in the new poll. Their mouthwatering showdown in two weeks with Ohio State will likely determine who is still in the Playoff rankings at the end of the season.
Texas Tech 24-34 No.7 TCU
Down 20-17 to Texas Tech, TCU are learning to play like contenders and turned the game around with a 21-point fourth quarter, moving to 9-0 and critically, to No.4 in the latest CFP rankings. The Horned Frogs felt the loss of star receiver Quentin Johnston, out with an ankle injury, but Max Duggan managed to steer them to a comeback win in Fort Worth,
No.8 Oregon 49-10 Colorado
The renaissance of quarterback Bo Nix continues at pace.The Auburn transfer is a different player in Oregon green. The Ducks displayed more tricks from their extensive repertoire against Colorado. Nix passed for two touchdowns, one to freshman offensive lineman Josh Conerly, ran for two more and caught one as Oregon ran riot against the Buffaloes.
Linebacker Noah Sewell lined up at fullback for a one-yard touchdown run. Oregon, now 8-1, have scored 40 points or more in eight consecutive games, and will be in the conversation for the Playoff if they can maintain this form. They travel to Washington this weekend while Colorado visits USC.
California 35-41 No.9 USC
There is no question that USC's star-studded offense, even without injured star receivers Jordan Addison and Mario Williams, can deliver points. The increasing question is whether the Trojans' defense can hold on to the lead as they barely managed to against California.
USC's Caleb Williams completed 26 of 41 passes for 360 yards and four touchdowns, while opposite number Jack Plummer completed 35 of 49 passes for 406 yards and three touchdowns, the last capping an 85-yard drive and two-point conversion that brought the Golden Bears within a score of a famous upset. USC recovered the onside kick and the Trojans held out. Tougher tests lie ahead.
Pac-12 rivals UCLA lie in wait for USC. The Bruins beat Arizona State 50-36. No.14 Utah are hitting form again, too. The Utes beat Arizona 45-20 but remain haunted by their opening day loss to Florida, which severely dented their Playoff chances.
In the ACC, the battle is hotting up with Clemson's loss. No.22 North Carolina State outlasted No.21 Wake Forest 30-21 in Raleigh, with true freshman M.J. Morris debuting at quarterback, throwing three passes in a huge win for the Wolfpack.
No.17 North Carolina are in the hunt. 166 yards from receiver Josh Downs leading them to a 31-28 win over Virginia. Tar Heels' quarterback Drake Maye has 30 touchdown passes this season. Falling back are No.20 Syracuse who lost 19-9 to Pitt. The Orange have lost two straight after a promising 6-0 start. Florida State thrashed a sorry Miami side 45-3, while Florida beat a Texas A&M team missing 19 players due to a flu outbreak, 41-24. The Aggies have lost five in a row in a desperately disappointing season that had started with enormous optimism.
In the Big Ten, No.15 Penn State gained 483 yards of offense in a 45-14 win over Indiana, while No.16 Illinois lost 23-15 to a Michigan State team without eight players, suspended after their indiscipline against Michigan the week before.
In the SEC, Cadillac Williams stepped in as interim coach of an Auburn team that put up a robust showing in a 39-33 loss to Ole Miss in Oxford. Ole Miss face Alabama in what ought to be a close and entertaining game this weekend. Arkansas lost 21-19 in Fayetteville, to a Liberty team who have won six in a row. Coach Hugh Freeze has been linked with the top job in Auburn. Watch this space.
In the Big 12, No.18 Oklahoma State suffered a 37-16 loss to Kansas. Jayhawks back Devin Neal ran for 224 yards on 32 carries. Both teams move to 6-3. In Norman, Baylor beat an Oklahoma team who must wish the season was over, 38=35.
One of the this week's more interesting matchup will see No.22 UCF, fresh from a 35-28 win over Memphis, take on No.17 Tulane, who moved to 7-1 with a 27-13 win over Tulsa.
Seismic changes in the College Football Playoff rankings this week, the first time in the history of the CFP rankings, that neither Alabama or Clemson rank in the top six teams.
Joining them as big fallers were last week's No.1 Tennessee who slip down to No.5. Georgia takes top spot once more, while Alabama and Clemson slip to No.9 and No.10 respectively. Also falling are Kansas State and Illinois who move to No.19 and No.21.
Michigan (No.3) and TCU (No.4) climb into the top four while Oregon and LSU are threatening, at No.6 and No.7 respectively. Texas climbs to No.18 while there is still no place for Liberty, despite their 8-1 record. Florida State, Kentucky and Washington climb back into the Top 25.
UK & Ireland Top 25
I am fortunate to be part of a UK and Ireland media group who cast their vote on a Top 25 from this side of the pond, put together by Owain Jones. Here are our rankings from Week 10: