We Should’ve Seen This Coming
Alright, maybe not to the extent that it actually happened. Ohio State had struggled early against TCU, Penn State, Indiana, and Minnesota; while Purdue was on a three-game win streak including wins over a good Boston College team, and a team that’s better than their record in Nebraska. The Buckeyes were favored by 12.5 going into the game, ESPN gave them an 85 percent chance to win at the start of the game as well and although many thought Purdue would likely cover the spread, several predictions had Ohio State winning a close one.
But that’s not what happened at all. Purdue’s defense held the Buckeyes to 76 yards on the ground on their 25 attempts, forcing Dwayne Haskins to throw the ball 73 times. Even though Haskins had another 400-yard passing game, he couldn’t lead the Buckeyes to a touchdown until the fourth quarter. That’s been how the Boilermakers defense has played all season. They’re ranked 92nd in yards allowed, but they go up to 39th in points allowed per game at 22.7. This Purdue team is solid. They are eight points, including two last-second field goals, away from being 7-0. Even at 4-3, they are tied for second place in the Big Ten West, although they still have to face Michigan State, Iowa, and Wisconsin. But continuing at the level they played at this Saturday may just see them facing the Buckeyes once again in Indianapolis.
Ranking the Remaining Undefeated Teams
The Crimson Tide continue to roll over opponents, winning by at least 20 points in every game they’ve played. Even though there’s still concern over the knee of QB Tua Tagovailoa, he helped ease it some with four touchdown passes against Tennessee. Alabama will hope to have him at full strength for their game against LSU, and they will have an extra week to get him there. Even if he isn’t 100 percent, no one has been able to hold the Tide under 39 points this season. LSU and their seventh-ranked scoring defense will be the next team up to try and slow this offense that has averaged 54 points per game.
The Tigers faced their best opposition of the season this week against North Carolina State, and they routed the Wolfpack 41-7. Trevor Lawrence played his most complete game since taking over for Kelly Bryant, while Travis Etienne rushed for three more scores. At their best, Clemson looks like the second-best team in the country. The Tigers are top 15 in both scoring offense and scoring defense. It seems like they should be headed towards a January matchup against Alabama for the fourth straight season. As of this writing, Clemson has an 89 percent chance to make the playoff.
3. Notre Dame
The Irish struggled through their first three games of the season before replacing QB Brandon Wimbush with Ian Book. They then outscored their next three opponents (Stanford, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest) 139-67 before struggling to a 19-14 win against Pitt. Notre Dame has the best Strength of Record in the nation, and are favored in the remainder of their games. Although Navy and Northwestern have played them tough in recent seasons. An undefeated Irish team would be almost impossible to leave out of the playoff.
Now on a 20 game winning streak, the longest in the nation, UCF has continued to put up strong offensive numbers under new head coach Josh Heupel. They’re sixth in scoring offense at 44 points per game, and a top ten team in rushing yards as well. Even with McKenzie Milton out, the Knights put up 37 on East Carolina as freshman Darriel Mack Jr led the way. Cincinnati’s loss hurts the Knights as well, now UCF and USF are the only undefeated teams in the American. If they want to have any chance at making the playoff, they’ll need a lot of help.
The Bulls are 7-0, and the way they’re playing they might end up falling backward into a conference championship. USF has been tied or trailed during the fourth quarter in four of their games and were down by at least 10 points in the final quarter of three of those games. Squeaking out back-to-back victories against one-win opposition will cause some concern, but they’re still undefeated for now. Their defense will need to step up next week when they travel to face Houston.
Update on Abercrombie
As mentioned in our Week 5 article, Tennessee State linebacker Christion Abercrombie was stretchered off the field during their game against Vanderbilt and had to have emergency surgery, after which he was listed in critical condition. He is now stable and has made great progress including being able to wave his hand, tell time, and mumble words. Abercrombie has been in brain rehab in Atlanta for almost a week now, hopefully his amazing progress will continue towards a full recovery.
Best Games of Week 9
(18) Iowa at (17) Penn State
(9) Florida at (7) Georgia
(12) Kentucky at Missouri
(3) Notre Dame at Navy
(21) USF at Houston
(14) Washington State at (24) Stanford
There Stars of Week 8
1. Adrian Martinez, QB, Nebraska
25/29, 276 Yds, 3 TD; 15 Att, 125 Yds, TD
What a performance to give Scott Frost his first win at Nebraska. Making plays with his arm and his legs, Martinez torched Minnesota’s defense all game. His two passing touchdowns in the second half helped seal the game after Minnesota brought their deficit to only six points. Martinez and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray are the only quarterbacks to be averaging 225 yards passing and 50 yards rushing per game this season.
2. Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
12 Rec, 170 Yds, 2 TD
Moore has been making big plays all season for Purdue, and his performance against Ohio State included some of the biggest yet. He had 12 receptions, almost half of the team total (25), to go with his season-high 170 yards. Measuring at 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, Moore is a little on the smaller side, but he is explosive with the ball in his hands, evidenced by his 891 yards from scrimmage and eight total touchdowns. He can also squat 600 pounds and run a 4.3 40-yard dash. He should almost be a lock for the Freshman All-American Team already.
3. D’Eriq King, QB, Houston
25/38, 413 Yds, 4 TD; 7 Att, 56 Yds, TD
Although his name may not be the most recognized, King has been putting together an incredible season at Houston. He has at least one passing and one rushing touchdown in every game and has led the Cougars to the second highest scoring offense (48 points per game) behind only Alabama. Against Navy in Week 8, King accounted for 469 of Houston’s 570 offensive yards along with five of their seven touchdowns. Houston faces USF next week, and King should be able to exploit the Bulls 88th ranked defense.
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri: 23/29, 350 Yds, 4 TD
Tyler Huntley, QB, Utah: 22/29, 341 Yds, 3 TD
Alan Bowman, QB, Texas Tech: 36/46, 408 Yds, 3 TD, INT
David Blough, QB, Purdue: 25/43, 378 Yds, 3 TD
Kennedy Brooks, RB, Oklahoma: 18 Att, 168 Yds, TD
Patrick Laird, RB, Cal: 22 Att, 193 Yds, 3 TD; 3 Rec, 48 Yds, TD
Darrynton Evans, RB, Appalachian State: 26 Att, 183 Yds, 2 TD (1 Rec)
Johnny Ford, RB, USF: 7 Att, 164 Yds, 3 TD
Jaelon Darden, WR, North Texas: 10 Rec, 143 Yds, TD
Jamal Custis, WR, Syracuse: 7 Rec, 162 Yds, TD
Stanley Morgan Jr, WR, Nebraska: 10 Rec, 163 Yds, 2 TD
Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri: 6 Rec, 159 Yds, 3 TD
Image Credit: Thomas J. Russo/USA TODAY Sports