By Phil Rodriguez
Ohio State, Michigan, and Clemson Seek to Impress with Blowout Wins
Aggies Aggravated by Bulldogs Bullish Performance, Lose 35-28
Huskies, Cards Make Case for Fourth Place
Baylor Bears Bow to TCU 62-22
I think everyone had a feeling that Nebraska was a little bit overrated at number 10, but few expected the Buckeyes to handle the Cornhuskers so easily. Ohio State looked utterly unstoppable in their videogame-esque 62-3 win, and Husker quarterback Tommy Armstrong, Jr. going out in the first half with a concussion certainly didn’t help Nebraska’s situation, even with a pretty mediocre stat line before leaving with the injury (4-15, 74 yards and an interception). The Buckeyes were nearly perfect, racking up 590 yards on offense with no interceptions, losing only one fumble in the second quarter after already grabbing a 24-3 lead. This Ohio State team looked far more dominant than the one that came up short in Happy Valley, but November 26th will tell us for sure who is the best team in the Big 10 East (and possibly the whole conference).
The Huskies looked every bit as incensed at their fifth-ranked position in the initial CFB playoff rankings as everyone assumed they would be, smashing the Cal Golden Bears 66-27. Quarterback Jake Browning, the Heisman candidate that it still seems no one is talking about, went 19 for 28 with 378 yards and six touchdowns. Although allowing 27 points to a team with a losing record won’t help the Huskies cause in impressing the CFP committee, the Golden Bears (even after the loss to Washington) are fifth in both passing yards per game and passing touchdowns. Holding Davis Webb and company to 27 points is no easy feat; even the halfway decent passing defense at USC could only keep Webb to 333 yards and a 64% completion rate. The Huskies held him to only 262 yards, picking him off three times and putting him under a 50% completion rate for the first time the entire season.
Texas A&M (and the CFB Playoff Committee)
After controversially being named at fourth in the College Football Playoff Committee’s initial rankings as a one-loss team over undefeated Washington, the Aggies laid a massive egg in Starkville, Mississippi on Saturday. Facing off against a Mississippi State squad with a mediocre record (3-5) and a three-game losing streak against FBS teams, Texas A&M looked every bit of overrated. The Aggies allowed a ridiculous 365 rushing yards to the Bulldogs, handing 100-yard rushing games to quarterback Nick Fitzgerald as well as running back Aeris Williams. It was more than just the loss that will concern A&M fans though, as former Sooner Trevor Knight went down with an injury to his throwing shoulder and didn’t return. Backup quarterback Jake Hubenak got the Aggies close, throwing two touchdowns to wide receiver Christian Kirk and putting them within a touchdown of the Bulldogs. It wasn’t meant to be, however, as Nick Fitzgerald crashed into the end zone for a four-yard touchdown on a read option late in the fourth quarter, dragging four Aggies along behind him to make it 35-21 for the Bulldogs.
Lamar Jackson QB Louisville
Last month, many blog posts, articles, tweets and sound bites told us “Beware the September Heisman,” showing highlights of Jackson running all over defenses while comparing him to players past who, despite a strong early showing, came nowhere near the Heisman come the end of the season. After slightly disappointing performances at Clemson and versus Duke in the first two weeks of October, it seemed Jackson’s naysayers were right. But since defeating North Carolina State 54-13 in Week 8, the Louisville Cardinals and Lamar Jackson look as potent as ever. During a fantastic blowout win at Boston College, Jackson surpassed the 1,000-yard mark on the season and, barring an injury or a catastrophic meltdown, he will almost certainly reach 3,000 passing yards as well. The Heisman is absolutely his to win at this point.
Dimitri Flowers RB Oklahoma
Having lost Samaje Perine to injury for several weeks and Joe Mixon to a one-week suspension, the Sooners were down to Abdul Adams and Flowers as the only running backs on the roster. Although officially listed at fullback on Oklahoma’s roster, Flowers was forced into the lead back role at Iowa State after fourth-string halfback Adams went out with an injury in the first quarter. Flowers’ stats for the game weren’t mind-blowing by any means (22 carries for 115 yards, with three catches for 34 yards and a receiving TD, his fourth of the season), but considering he had technically never carried the ball for the Sooners before this game, he was pretty solid. Flowers showed mental toughness and immense physical skill, and garnered the praise of Coach Stoops in the locker room after the game. Mixon and Perine will both be back in action for the Sooners this Saturday against Baylor, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Big Game Bob mix it up a bit with some handoffs to Flowers.
Leonard Fournette RB LSU
Although it may seem a cheap shot to call Fournette’s performance against the top defense in the nation “underachieving,” his performance against Alabama was just that. For the second straight year, Fournette failed to crack even 50 yards against the Crimson Tide, gaining only 35 yards on 17 carries for an average of 2.1 per carry and no touchdowns. Fournette is 0-3 against Alabama in his career, totaling only 145 in those three games with a dismal average of 2.5 yards per carry and only one touchdown. Of course, some of the blame can be placed on the offensive line and play-calling, but it seems simply that Saban has Fournette’s number. No other team has been able to hold Fournette like ‘Bama has; he’s averaged 131.3 yards and 1.4 touchdowns per game his entire career against all other teams.