This crazy season had some Halloween drama reserved for the Week 9 games. Dan Mullen treated us to a press conference as alter ego, Darth Vader. Boston College spooked Clemson in the ACC. Fans of LSU, Mississippi State and Texas Tech will be having nightmares about this weekend’s results.
Before Saturday’s Week 9 games arrived, we had a handful of games for our enjoyment. On Thursday, there were wins for Georgia Southern and Fresno State. On Friday, Wyoming saw off Hawai’i in the Mountain West, and Tulsa defeated Eastern Carolina. The surprise of the night came in the form of Maryland’s overtime victory over Minnesota.
South Alabama 17-24 Georgia Southern
Colorado State 18-38 Fresno State
Hawai’i 7-31 Wyoming
ECU 30-34 Tulsa
Minnesota 44-45 Maryland (OT)
We have to give some love here to Taulia Tagovailoa. After standing in his brother’s shadow in Tuscaloosa, he would have been happy to start afresh in Maryland. What happens the week he makes his first start? Tua is named Miami’s starter. With Baby Tagovailoa throwing three interceptions on his debut as a Terrapin, many had written him off.
Fast forward to Week 9. Taulia had 453 total yards and 5 touchdowns (3 passing, 2 rushing) in the Terps’ thrilling overtime victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Maryland had just 3 points on the opening weekend, but responded with 675 yards of total offence as they beat out a Minnesota team that is 0-2 to open the season. The highlight of Tagovailoa’s night came when he evaded the pass rush by spinning out to his left for a 39 yard rushing touchdown.
Beyond the QB
Tagovailoa wasn’t quite the star of the show for the Maryland offence, with running back Jae Funk managing 221 yards and a touchdown from 21 carries. In fact, running backs on both sides caught the eye against two defences that could not shut down the run. For the Golden Gophers, Junior Mohamed Ibrahim had 207 yards on an incredible 41 touches. Tanner Morgan completed just 10 of an attempted 15 passes. Rashod Bateman was understandably Morgan’s favourite target, with 62 yards from 5 catches.
With the game tied at 38 at the end of regulation, both teams traded touchdowns to open overtime. A pass interference penalty allowed Tagovailoa to carry the ball two yards for a score, and the PAT made it 45-38 to the Terrapins. The Golden Gophers thought they had levelled the game up when Seth Green ran the ball home. However, Brock Walker missed the point after to hand the win to Maryland.
Georgia (5) 14-3 Kentucky
LSU 11-48 Auburn
Ole Miss 54-21 Vanderbilt
Mississippi State 0-41 Alabama (2)
Arkansas 31-42 Texas A&M (8)
Missouri 17-41 Florida (10)
Ok, it’s Week 9 now. We can finally say it. LSU is not a good football team. The wheels have well and truly fallen off in Baton Rouge. We expected The Tigers to fall from last year’s grace, but wow.
We expected a dip in performance after the program lost a plethora of talent to the NFL in the off-season, but nobody expected things to be this bad. This year, the offence has kept them competitive, even in losses. This game against Auburn, the first between the two as unranked teams this century, was never close.
It has been said on the podcast that you can never know what to expect from Bo Nix from one game to the next. This was one of those weeks where the sophomore turned it on. After a scoreless first quarter, Nix found Eli Stove for a touchdown. The defence got in on the act, capitalising on a fumble to go 14-0 ahead. Auburn never took their foot off the gas. The third quarter opened with a 91 yard Bo Nix pass to Anthony Schwartz to take the score to 48-3. Schwartz, a high school sprinter, had only his second score of the season after burning the LSU secondary. He had a 100 yard game against Arkansas, but has otherwise failed to stand out. Yesterday was different. He ended the day with 123 yards from 4 catches.
Freshman running back Tank Bigsby had another impressive game, with another two touchdowns. That takes his total to 5 for the year. With over 500 yards already, he is a name to look out for in coming draft classes.
History makers again
This was LSU’s worst loss in the history of the rivalry between the two teams. Fitting for a team that looks unrecognisable to the one that conquered the world in 2019.
TJ Finley had an admirable debut last week in the place of Miles Brennan. This week, he was pulled from the field after throwing two picks to an Auburn defence that mauled the young freshman. His replacement, Max Johnson (another freshman), had a sturdier game under centre. He finished with 172 yards and a touchdown, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with a rampant Auburn side.
LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini is firmly on the hot seat. This defence still has stars amongst its ranks. Pelini will be the first person to face questions about his future. It remains to be seen whether he will keep his job for much longer.
This LSU program hit dizzy heights in 2019. This season’s struggles are hard to take, even for a team that lost so much talent to the Draft in the off-season.
For Auburn, they can start to dream once more that their young QB can realise his potential. He had 300 yards and 3 touchdowns in the air, with 81 and another score with his feet. Worryingly for Nix, it is Week 9 in his sophomore year, and we still don’t quite know who he is as a QB.
Michigan State 27-24 Michigan (13)
Purdue 31-24 Illinois
Indiana (17) 37-21 Rutgers
Northwestern 21-20 Iowa
Ohio State (3) 38-25 Penn State (18)
Wisconsin (9) P-P Nebraska
Michigan State fans may feel agreed that the Spartans’ victory over their rivals in Week 9 has been overlooked. However, the game between the Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions was the only one between two ranked teams this weekend.
It proved to be a game where Penn State kept the score respectable, but Ohio’s quality told in the first half. They raced out to a 21-6 lead at the half, and it seemed as though a blowout was on the cards. However, the Lions improved after the break to put 19 points on the board. Sean Clifford completed 18/30 passes for 281 yards, 3 touchdowns and interception.
It was another impressive day for Ohio State’s key names. Justin Fields completed 82% of his passes for 318 yards and 4 touchdowns. Master Teague III led the team in rushing, with 110 yards from 23 carries and a score. Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson both enjoyed 100+ receiving games.
Happy Halloween, Tommy
We can’t ignore the work of the Ohio State defence, who had 5 sacks and an interception. Three of those Buckeye sacks came from Junior defensive lineman Tommy Togiai. He didn’t have a single sack in his college career before then. Late on, safety Marcus Hooker latched onto a Sean Clifford pass that was intended for Tight End Pat Freiermuth. There were mere seconds left in the game, but it bookended a dominant performance on both sides of the ball.
Wake Forest 38-14 Syracuse
Boston College 28-34 Clemson (1)
Notre Dame (4) 31-13 Georgia Tech
Virginia Tech 42-35 Louisville
Charlotte 19-53 Duke
UNC (15) 41-44 Virginia
Clemson survived a Week 9 scare without talisman Trevor Lawrence, but today was all about record breaking running back Travis Etienne. Lawrence, who had minor COVID symptoms followed by a positive test result, sat this one out. DJ Uiagalelei stepped in admirably, and put up some good numbers after a slow start. As you would expect for a true freshman, he took time to settle into his rhythm. Once he got going in the second half, normality was restored and Clemson took back control of proceedings.
Etienne had a game to remember. It was certain to come this year at some point, but in the second half he became the ACC’s all-time leading rusher. Etienne had 84 yards and a score from 20 carries. He also led the team in receptions, with 140 yards and another score from 7 receptions. It has been an incredible college football career for Etienne, who has 4,560 yards in his four years in Death Valley.
There is an elephant in the room when it comes to the best running back in the college game: fumbles. He fumbled once more in this game on 3rd and goal at the one yard line. It was returned by 99 yards by Brandon Sebastian to give the Eagles a 14 point lead.
Credit to Boston College, also. Like Syracuse the week before, they went toe-to-toe with The Tigers in the first half, and almost pulled off an historic victory. When CJ Lewis caught a Phil Jurkovec catch with little over a minute left in the first half, the Eagles led 28-10. It seemed as if Clemson was going to lose its first game in Death Valley since 2016 (when they lost 43-42 to Pitt). While we’re at it, a word for John Tessitore, son of announcer Joe. He forced the Clemson defence offside on a fake field goal attempt in the build-up to Lewis’ catch late in the first half.
In the end, the quality of the Tigers showed in the second half. Uiagalelei finished the day with 74% of his passes completed, 342 passing yards and 2 touchdown throws. He also had 6 rushes for 25 yards, the most impressive an RPO keeper run to the end zone for a touchdown in the 3rd quarter.
Iowa State (23) 52-22 Kansas
Kansas State (16) 10-37 WVU
TCU 33-23 Baylor
Texas 31-24 Oklahoma State (6) OT
Oklahoma (24) 62-28 Texas Tech
Ok, so Texas is not back. But they are still a good football team. They entered this game as outsiders, and many commentators had the Cowboys as their favourites to win their Week 9 matchup.
The game was tight from the outset. Oklahoma State struck first, with a Tyland Wallace TD catch. On a day where Spencer Sanders threw for 400 yards, he relied on his standout wide receiver early. Running back Chuba Hubbard also had a TD catch, this time a 5 yard connection with Sanders. Three touchdowns in the first half gave Mike Gundy’s men a slender advantage.
The Longhorns weren’t keen to let this game get away from them. After punting on their first two possessions, Texas soon found its feet. A Spencer Sanders fumble gifted the Longhorns possession on the opposition 15 yard line, and Keyontay Ingram had his first and only score of the day. A Sanders interception also led to a field goal.
In a half where the Longhorns punted five times, Oklahoma State treated their opponents to ways back into the game. At the half, the Cowboys led, but Texas was within a score: 24-20.
The second half seemed to be dictated by two sides that were mirror images of each other. They traded punts, then touchdowns, and another four punts. Tylan Wallace had his second touchdown of the day, this time a 9 yard catch. He finished the day on 187 yards from 11 catches. D’Shawn Jamison provided an immediate reply, with a blistering 100 yard kick-off return touchdown: Oklahoma State 31-26 Texas.
A gift from the Sooner State
Texas didn’t have their first lead of the game until the fourth quarter, and again it was presented to them. An LD Brown fumble was recovered by Joseph Ossai. On the next Longhorn possession, a monstrous 8 minute drive, Ehlinger eventually found Jake Smith for a score. A successful two point conversion put Texas into a field goal lead: 34-31. There was just enough time for Alex Hales to kick a 34 yard field goal with 0:10 left on the clock. With the scores tied at the end of regulation, the game headed for overtime.
Once more, the Longhorns took an Oklahoma team past regulation. This time lacked the drama of the Sooners defeat, and they came out on top. Of course, it came thanks to more Cowboys errors, this time on defence. A pass interference penalty put Sam Ehlinger on the Oklahoma State 8. A sack put him back to the 15, but on 2nd and Goal, he found Joshua Moore. After the extra point, Texas led 41-34. That was how the game would end, with Sanders sacked by Ossai on 4th and 8.
Both teams have four wins on the season. Oklahoma State suffers its first loss of 2020. You can’t help but think that this game was thrown away by basic errors on both sides of the ball.
Best of the Rest
Memphis 10-49 Cincinnati (7)
Coastal Carolina (20) 51-0 Georgia State
Boise State (25) 49-30 Air Force
Western Kentucky 10-41 BYU (11)
It’s time we gave the Chanticleers some love. They have basked in the light of being a ranked team for two weeks now, and boy did they enjoy it. Week 9 was no different. They celebrated last week’s victory over Georgia Southern by putting together a WWE-style showdown, where a Stone Cold Steve Austin look-alike destroyed the Georgia Southern Eagle.
This week, the destruction was on the field. Once more they bested a Georgia opponent. The Georgia State Panthers were put to the sword in a blowout win for the Chanticleers, who are quickly becoming everyone’s favourite team.
Coastal are now 6-0 to start the year, and have put up 50 points for the second time this season. Freshman QB Grayson McCall threw for 254 yards and 4 touchdowns as the offence ran riot. They also had 250 yards on the ground from no fewer than 10 ball carriers. Senior running back CJ Marable had the most productive afternoon of them, with 71 yards from ten carries. Junior receiver Jaivon Heiligh had his third and fourth touchdowns of the season in this game, too. He ended the day with 81 yards from 5 catches.
@5yardcollege – where Saturdays are for rushing, too