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Best of College Football: Week 4

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Playoff Panic Meter

Notre Dame: The term “quality loss” is usually one that’s thrown around with more than a hint of irony, but the Irish may have one in their 23-17 loss against Georgia. Their defense played well for most of the game and Ian Book didn’t get sacked all night, but the run game struggled, gaining only 46 yards on 14 carries.

The offensive line had it’s problems too, getting called for five false start penalties. The good news for Notre Dame’s playoff chances is that they still have to play three teams that are currently ranked in the AP top-25, including a road trip to Michigan. The bad news is that this one loss, albeit a one-possession loss on the road to a top-five team, might be enough to keep them out.

The lack of a conference championship game also robs the Irish of a potential quality win. ESPN’s playoff predictor still gives them an 18% chance to make the CFP semifinal, the eighth-highest odds.

Panic Meter: 5/10

Michigan: A 3.5-point underdog on the road against Wisconsin, the Wolverines gave up 10 times that total before scoring their first points of the game in a 35-14 loss. The offense once again struggled, committing four turnovers, only accounting for 40 rushing yards, and going 0-for-10 on third downs.

Their schedule doesn’t get easier either, as Michigan still has to face currently-ranked Iowa, Penn State, Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State; although four of those games do take place at home. With the rival Buckeyes looking as good as they do after four weeks, Michigan will have no margin for error until facing them on November 30th. They are by no means eliminated from the conference race, or even the CFP, but unless the offense can get rolling, it’s not looking good.

Panic Meter: 8/10

Pac-12: Top-ranked team of the conference Utah lost, Washington State choked away a 49-17 lead in an ‘instant classic’ game against UCLA that featured 1,377 yards and 78 points after halftime, and Arizona State couldn’t hold off Colorado.

Cal is now the only undefeated team left in the conference, although they haven’t looked too bad in starting off 4-0, including a win over preseason favorite Washington. The good news, for now, is that nine of the 12 teams currently have one loss or less, with five teams ranked in the latest AP poll.

They’ll need one team to rise above the rest to make the CFP for the first time since 2017, and for only the third time in the sixth season of the playoffs. Oregon and Utah are still the favorites, but the Pac 12 has plenty of depth, for better or worse.

Panic Meter: 4/10

Streak Busters

Remember when Appalachian State beat Michigan in 2007 by blocking a field goal on the final play? Well, they did it again against North Carolina, pulling out a 34-31 victory for their first win over a Power Five opponent since that classic against the Wolverines. It marks a span of 11 games and the first since their transition to FBS football. The Mountaineers did lose a 27-10 third quarter lead, but the blocked 56-yard field goal sealed the win for Appalachian State, and they weren’t the only ones to end a Power Five losing streak.

San Jose State was a 19.5-point underdog going into their game at Arkansas, and only had three wins over Power Five opponents since the turn of the century. However, the Spartans scored on three straight possessions in the second quarter and forced Razorbacks QB Nick Starkel to throw five interceptions in their 31-24 win. It’s the first win for San Jose State over SEC competition, and their first win over a P5 team since they beat Stanford in 2006; a 24-game span.

Other Streaks Broken

  • SMU beat TCU 41-38 to take home the Iron Skillet for the first time since 2011. The Mustangs have also started 4-0 for the first time since 1984, and could potentially be ranked in the AP Poll for the first time since 1986.
  • “The Pitt Special” gave the Panthers a touchdown with 59 seconds left to put them ahead 35-34 and effectively end UCF’s 27-game regular season winning streak. Just one week after the Panthers and coach Pat Narduzzi came under fire for playing too conservatively against Penn State, the gutsy call on 4th and Goal was enough for Pitt to steal a win after giving up a 21-0 lead. The Knights hadn’t lost a game since November 26th, 2016; a 48-31 defeat to USF.
  • Colorado defeated Arizona State 34-31; their first road win over a ranked opponent since 2002. It marks a string of 36 games.
  • Also in the Pac 12, UCLA’s victory over Washington State was the first win over a ranked opponent for the Bruins in nine tries dating back to 2016.

Top Games of Week 5

Arizona State at (15) Cal

(18) Virginia at (10) Notre Dame

Texas Tech at (6) Oklahoma

Washington State at (19) Utah

(21) USC at (17) Washington

UConn at (22) UCF

Houston at North Texas

(5) Ohio State at Nebraska

Three Stars of Week 4

AP Photo

1) Anthony Gordon, QB, Washington State

41/61, 571 Yds, 9 TD, 2 INT, Fumble

After Gordon threw an interception on the first drive of the game, he threw for five touchdowns in the first half, and his two touchdown passes in the third quarter tied the school record while putting the Cougars up 49-17.

He added two more scores in the fourth quarter to break the school record of seven, set by Gardner Minshew II. However, three fumbles from his receivers let UCLA back in the game, and a fumble from Gordon himself was recovered by the Bruins to seal a 32-point comeback in a 67-63 Washington State loss. Forget the collapse for a moment though, Gordon had a special performance.

He is the first QB since Case Keenum in 2011 to throw nine touchdowns in a single game, and was just two short of the NCAA record of 11. Gordon and the Cougars travel to face Utah next week, who have only allowed four passing scores on the season so far.

Express News Images

2) Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State

21/27, 435 Yds, 3 TD, INT, Fumble; 9 Att, 75 Yds, 3 TD

Iowa State needed a boost after sluggish games against Northern Iowa and rivals Iowa. Purdy broke Seneca Wallace’s record for total yards in a game, all while Wallace was in the building after being inducted into the Iowa State Hall of Fame. He was six yards shy of breaking the school record for passing yards in a game. Purdy and the Cyclones open Big 12 play against Baylor next week.

The Game Haus Images

3) Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

25/34, 398 Yds, 6 TD

Another quarterback that had a record-setting day, as Burrow set LSU records for passing yards by halftime, passing touchdowns in a game, and also became the first LSU QB to throw for 350+ yards in three consecutive games in the Tigers 66-38 win over Vanderbilt.

Burrow has been a revelation this season in the Tigers new high-octane offense, already exceeding his touchdown numbers from last season (17 to 16), and led LSU to their highest regulation point total against an SEC opponent this week. He also leads the nation in completion percentage (80.4%) and is second in touchdowns, yards, and QBR.

Honorable Mentions

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State: 14/21, 233 Yds, 4 TD; 9 Att, 36 Yds, 2 TD

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama: 17/21, 293 Yds, 5 TD

Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA: 25/38, 507 Yds, 5 TD INT; 11 Att, 57 Yds, 2 TD

Jamie Newman, QB, Wake Forest: 27/35, 351 Yds, 5 TD, INT

LeVante Bellamy, RB, Western Michigan: 15 Att, 165 Yds, 2 TD

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: 23 Att, 203 Yds, 2 TD

Bryant Koback, RB, Toledo: 19 Att, 228 Yds, 3 TD

Marvin Kinsey Jr, RB, Colorado State: 23 Att, 246 Yds, 2 TD

Deangelo Antoine, WR, Florida Atlantic: 11 Rec, 173 Yds, 4 TD

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU: 10 Rec, 229 Yds, 4 TD

Michael Pittman Jr, WR, USC: 10 Rec, 232 Yds, TD

Tony Brown, WR, Colorado: 9 Rec, 150 Yds, 3 TD

Evan Weaver, LB, Cal: 22 Total Tackles, 0.5 Sack

Bailey Hale, K, Louisiana Tech: 5/5 FG, Long 45, 4/4 XP, 19 Total Points

Image Credit: Bruins Nation

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