This weekend sure lived up to all the hype, with fantastic drama in the big game between Alabama and LSU. Earlier in the morning Minnesota pulled off perhaps the biggest win in program history, knocking off Penn State. Baylor needed triple overtime to beat TCU and remained unbeaten. There were also plenty of games decided in the final seconds. Below is a recap of all the action from the power five. I want to take this time to thank all those who served! Happy Veterans Day.
Clemson used the snub by the CFP committee as motivation and throttled North Carolina State 55-10. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence and tailback Travis Etienne did most of the damage for the Tigers accounting for six of the seven touchdowns. The Tigers enjoyed a 549 to 290 total yard advantage. The Tigers defense forced four turnovers in the contest. The win, coupled with the losses by Alabama and Penn State, will vault the Tigers into the top four. Virginia Tech continued their meteoric rise in the standings, with an impressive 36-17 win over 22nd ranked wake Forest. The Hokies honored defensive coordinator Bud Foster before the game. Foster is set to retire at season’s end. The Hokies’ performance was the perfect way to honor Foster, who has been Virginia Tech’s sole defensive coordinator for the past 23 seasons. “I’m real, real happy we won the game,” Foster said. “That’s the most important thing. I’m proud of the kids. They came back after a gut-wrenching, tough loss from a week ago in a loss to Notre Dame. Quarterback Hendon Hooker sparked the offense with several key passes that kept drives alive in the second half. Hooker has been a revelation since being inserted into the starting lineup by head coach Justin Fuente. The Hokies are now one win away from bowl eligibility and could actually still play for a ACC Championship. Interim head coach Odell Haggins decided to make a change at starting quarterback, replacing Alex Hornibrook with former starter James Blackmon. The move paid off, as Blackmon threw for 346 yards and two touchdowns leading Florida State past Boston College 38-31. Haggins was proud of the way his team battled in the contest. “They didn’t flinch,” Haggins said. “When everything happened this past weekend, they wanted to show, ‘We are Florida State. We are unconquered. We’ve got your back, Coach.’ That’s what they showed me.” The Seminoles need just one more win to go bowling.
The boat continued to row at Minnesota on Saturday. Head coach P.J. Fleck did a masterful job guiding his undefeated Gophers to a resounding 31-26 victory over Penn State. Quarterback Tanner Morgan had a banner day completing 18 of 20 passes for 339 yards and three touchdowns. Morgan picked apart a very good Lions secondary all day long. The Gopher defense also shined, intercepting Sean Clifford three times, two by Antoine Winfield. “I’m just so proud to be a Gopher, and I speak for our whole team when I say that,” said Fleck, who declared the game ball he handed afterward to the school president for the entire state. Tailback Jonathan Taylor carried the ball 31 times for 250 yards in the Badgers 24-22 win over Iowa. The Hawkeyes trailed 21-6 entering the fourth quarter, but came roaring back. Nate Stanley hit Tyrone Tracy with a 75 yard pass with just over three minutes left in the contest to make the score 24-22. The Hawkeyes elected to go for a two-point conversion to tie the game, but the conversion failed, giving the Badgers the victory. I’ve been hard on Illinois and head coach Lovie Smith for a couple years now. So it’s time to give Smith and the Illini a little sugar. The Illini got bowl eligible for the first time since 2014. In the process, Illinois set a school record with the largest comeback in school history. The Illini trailed 31-10 entering the fourth quarter. Quarterback Brandon Peters found Daniel Barker in the corner of the end zone with just five seconds left for the game winning score. Peters, the Michigan transfer, had three touchdown passes on the day.
Baylor remained unbeaten, but it took three overtimes to overcome TCU 29-23. Bear quarterback Charlie Brewer hit Denzel Mims with a four-yard scoring strike in the third overtime for the final margin of victory. TCU had one final drive to attempt to win the game, but were stopped on downs. Both teams struggled throughout the contest to find any type of offense consistency. The Bears ultimately leaned on their very physical defensive front to win the game. The Bears host Oklahoma this Saturday in Waco. Brock Purdy won the head-to-head battle with Jalen Hurts, but his Cyclones lost the game on a failed two-point conversion 42-41. The Clones entered the fourth quarter down 42-21. Purdy got busy, throwing three touchdown passes, the final to Charlie Kolar with just 24 seconds left, making 42-41. Clones head coach Matt Campbell elected to go for the win, with a two-point conversion attempt. Sooner defensive back Parnell Motley then picked off Purdy’s two-point attempt, sealing the win for the Sooners. “When I see Brock Purdy making unbelievable play after unbelievable play, I’d rather put the game in his hands because I trust him,” Campbell said. “Yeah, the question if I would do it over again. Yes, in a heartbeat.” I loved the decision by Campbell to go for the victory on the road. Cameron “The Kicker”, Dicker is a wanted man in the state of Kansas. Dicker kicked his second game winning field goal against the Wildcats as time expired, sending the home crowd to victory 27-24. Just three weeks ago Dicker had done the same thing to the Jayhawks. Both teams had traded punches all game long before, Dickers heroics.
A VETERAN INSPIRES HIS TEAMMATES
There were no high profile games this past weekend in the PAC-12. Both Utah and Oregon enjoyed bye weeks. Still, there was plenty of jockeying in the standings. Friday night PAC-12 action saw Washington travel to Corvalis, Oregon to face a very surprising Beavers team. Salvon Ahmed rushed for a career high 174 yards and two touchdowns, leading Washington past Oregon State 19-7. The Huskies actually dominated this game, but just couldn’t find the end zone. The Huskies had 420 total yards of offense to just 119 for the hapless Beavers. The win assured the Huskies of going bowling in 2019. USC quarterback Kedon Slovis returned to Phoenix and delivered a 432 yard, four touchdown performance in front of his close friends and family. The Tojans held on for a 31-26 victory over Arizona State. Slovis was a standout quarterback in high school in Phoenix, under the tutelage of former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner. The Sun Devils were forced to play the game without their star freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels, who was ruled out, just before kickoff. Freshman kicker Evan Price booted a 37 yard field goal as time expired giving Colorado a 16-13 win over Stanford. The win keeps the slim bowl hopes of the Buffaloes alive. K.J. Costello returned from injury for the Cardinal, but he was ineffective all game long. Both these teams are in dire straits in their quests to reach a bowl game.
I am not even sure where to start in my evaluation of the beat down LSU put on Alabama. I know the score was close LSU 46-41, but I have to say, I thought the Tigers were by far the better team. I feel so good for LSU head coach Ed Orgeron. His passion for the game and his players, coaches and the entire state of Louisiana is so genuine. I think Joe Burrow, won the Heisman with his near flawless performance. Tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a beast, who would not be denied. Watching Nick Saban on the sidelines, with a bewildered look on his face was priceless. I thought quarterback Tua Tagovailoa played a fantastic game, but I thought he did look limited in the running game. He is no doubt tough as nails, and will be a force to be reckoned with as we close out the season the next few weeks. It was a very sad day in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I had predicted (Upset Express) winner, that Western Kentucky would beat Arkansas on Saturday. Hilltopper quarterback Ty Storey returned to Arkansas and slapped his former team. Storey directed five touchdown drives of 42, 75, 59, 73 and 68 yards that paced Western Kentucky to a 35-7 halftime lead. Razorback head coach was contrite after the game. “I think when you look at the outcome today, it is very disappointing for all of us,” Morris said. “We’re trying to find the right fix right there. It was disappointing with the effort and has been over the last couple weeks.” It was the second home loss of the season to a group of five school. Morris was fired early this morning. Would Gus Malzahn consider the job? Arkansas wasn’t the only SEC school to lose to a group of five school on home turf. Appalachian State did the honors at South Carolina on Saturday night. The Mountaineers used a 1 yard run by quarterback Zac Thomas to take a 20-9 lead in the third quarter and then held on to defeat the Gamecocks 20-15. The Mountaineers now own victories over both North and South Carolina.
GROUP OF FIVE SPOTLIGHT
Since it’s veterans day I thought I would focus on Navy. The Midshipmen sit at 7-1 on the season and are in a heated battle for a AAC Championship game. Navy is basically in a three-way tie for first place in the AAC West Division with both SMU and Memphis. The only loss on the season came back in September at Memphis 35-23. The Midshipmen are ranked first in the country in rushing yards per game with 358 per contest. The Middies will face a stiff challenge when they travel to Notre Dame on Saturday.