Ohio State is still the team to beat in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes are 20-0 in conference under third-year coach Ryan Day and outscored their opponents 940-237 in that streak. Ohio State escaped a Week 2 loss to Oregon and burned its opponents with what could be college football’s most explosive offense.
But Saturday offered a taste of what could be the most exciting Big Ten race in years. Who wants a piece of the Buckeyes? Three undefeated teams remain in the conference.
BENDER: Alabama loss upsets college football playoff photo
Iowa? The Hawkeyes rallied at home in a top-five clash against Penn State for a 23-20 victory. Iowa added four more interceptions to its best 16 on FBS. Iowa is the odds favorite to get through Big Ten West with one loss or less, and they beat Ohio State 55-24 in their last meeting on Nov. 4. , 2017.
Michigan State? The Spartans have the FBS’s first rusher in Kenneth Walker III, and second-year coach Mel Tucker quietly built an explosive offense with the help of quarterback Payton Thorne and receivers Jailon Nailor and Jayden Reed. The Spartans are the last Big Ten team to win at Ohio Stadium; a shock 17-14 on November 21, 2015.
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Michigan? The Wolverines escaped Nebraska with a 32-29 victory at Memorial Stadium in a test drive that Jim Harbaugh could have lost in the past. The running game is great with Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum, and the defense has improved with new coordinator Mike Macdonald.
These three teams are undefeated, but Ohio State is still the team to beat. Everyone in the Big Ten knows this. The Buckeyes, however, have that one non-conference loss. The Penn State-Iowa game was the first taste of several huge Big Ten spotlight games.
Key Big Ten games remain
|October 30: Iowa in Wisconsin; Penn State in the State of Ohio; Michigan to the State of Michigan.|
|November 13: Michigan at Penn State|
|November 20: Michigan State vs. Ohio State|
|November 27: State of Michigan to Penn State, State of Ohio to Michigan|
October 30 could have two top-10 showdowns. Penn State and Ohio State will meet in what could be a one-loss team battle while Michigan and Michigan State are set to be an unbeaten battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy in East Lansing. Iowa is also going to Wisconsin.
This will set up November. Michigan goes to Penn State (November 13) and Michigan State faces Ohio State (November 20). This all sets up The Game, which Michigan canceled last season due to COVID-19 concerns.
It’s all back, and the Big Ten is the most compelling race among the Power 5s, even though the Buckeyes are the team to beat.
Here are some winners and losers from the best Saturday of the college football season to date.
Texas A&M faced their first three-game losing streak under Jimbo Fisher and comparisons to former coach Kevin Sumlin were full of strength ahead of a prime-time game against top Alabama.
The Aggies responded with a program creation moment. Fisher became the first former assistant to beat Nick Saban head-to-head, and Texas A&M pulled off the biggest upset of the season in a 41-38 shootout at Kyle Field.
Zach Calzada recovered from a leg injury in the fourth quarter to lead the winning run, and the Aggies held up 522 total yards of Alabama’s offense for the win.
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Texas A&M is still behind the Crimson Tide and SEC West could be a long shot, but that kind of victory is huge for recruiting, especially with Oklahoma and Texas joining the SEC soon. Fisher is the right coach for the Aggies, and he’s proven to be the most crucial place in his tenure at this point.
THE PERCEPTION OF THE OKLAHOMA Playoffs
Not all one-scoring wins are equal. Oklahoma has started 5-0 this season, but close calls with Tulane, Nebraska, West Virginia and Kansas State have caused opponents to question the stop-and-start offense ahead of the Red. River Showdown.
Texas were leading 28-7 after a quarter before a different scenario emerged.
Lincoln Riley put Spencer Rattler on the bench in favor of real freshman Caleb Williams, who in turn passed 212 yards, rushed for 88 more and totaled three touchdowns in a 55-48 thriller. It’s another one-score victory, but it’s more than that.
MORE: Why Spencer Rattler Got Shot On Texas
Oklahoma now has the indoor track on a seventh straight Big Ten championship, and Williams helped unlock the big play offense. In the second half, Oklahoma had four goals scored on a 30-yard big play. or more. Kennedy Brooks and Mavin Mims Jr. made these plays around Williams, and it’s the Oklahoma offense we’ve been waiting for this season.
MORE: Caleb Williams rocked the Red River Shootout
The Sooners have gone from being a losing team that must manage the Big 12 table to entrenched in the top four with an offense that could find that extra-special gear with Williams. Oklahoma does not have a scheduled team heading into the regular season finals against the No.12 Oklahoma State on November 27.
THE UNEXPECTED SEASON OF WAKE
Wake Forest’s unlikely unbeaten start continues. The Demon Deacons needed extra time to fend off Syracuse, but Sam Hartman hit AT Perry for a 22-yard touchdown in Wake Forest’s second play for a 30-27 victory.
Hartman continues to be an achievement under the radar. He now has 47 touchdown passes and 18 interceptions.
Wake Forest have won back-to-back three-point games over the past two weeks and are the only undefeated team in an ACC impossible to predict. Dave Clawson has enjoyed consistent success over eight seasons and the Demon Deacons earned their sixth consecutive bowl appearance.
Can this team be more than that? Wake Forest has a week off before a game against Army, then it’s the Tobacco Road tour against Duke, North Carolina and NC State. Could this team take a 10-0 record in Death Valley to face Clemson on November 20 in the ultimate role reversal? It’s a story to watch.
BYU’S DREAM SEASON
The Cougars appeared to be another potential CFP candidate after scoring three wins over the Pac-12 Schools in September. The Cougars also had a schedule that had five more Power 5 opponents than Cincinnati.
A BCS breaker got in the way. Boise State took advantage of four BYU turnovers in a 26-17 upset that knocked the Cougars out of the playoffs and New Years Six fight. Jaren Hall amassed 302 yards in loss after missing the last two games with injury.
Better days are ahead for BYU with the Big 12 membership, but this game was another reminder that the program is not immune to upheaval from other powers in the Group of 5. Even a team below. 0.500 from Boise State may play a spoiler.
For the preseason polls are meaningless types, we have bulletin board material.
Three teams in the top 15 of the SN preseason Top 25 are 3-3 mid-season.
LSU (preseason No. 11) allowed 330 rushing yards in a 42-21 loss to Kentucky, which will put pressure on coach Ed Orgeron as the second half of the season approaches. It’s hard to think about bowl eligibility knowing that the next four opponents on the schedule are ranked.
MORE: Could Urban Meyer be at LSU or USC next season?
USC (preseason No. 12) lost 42-26 to Utah. The Trojans were a popular preseason pick to win the Pac-12, and now they’re playing the rope after sacking Clay Helton.
North Carolina (preseason No. 14) gave Florida State 21 unanswered points in the second quarter in a 35-25 loss. The Seminoles dominated on the third down (7 of 10) and did not return the ball in their second straight win over the Tar Heels. Sam Howell also struggled, having only managed 17 of 32 passes for 203 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
UCONN RECORD 0-7
The Huskies are the only 0-7 team in the FBS after a 27-13 loss to UMass in a previously winless game in which fans then stormed the pitch. Is this the low point?
It was a battle between two of the three worst teams in the FBS since the start of the CFP era. UMass (18-64) now has a better record than UConn (17-63), which is ahead of Kansas (13-73).
UConn retired from the 2020 season, Randy Edsall stepped down on September 6, and interim coach Lou Spanos tested positive for COVID-19 and missed Saturday’s game.
It doesn’t make sense to pile on from there.