Thank God for college football. At least that’s what I was telling myself in the wee hours of the morning after the Sunday night NFL game between Seattle and Arizona ended in a 6-6 overtime tie.
This weekend NCAA slate gave us a major upset, some remarkable individual performances and an offensive fireworks show in the Oklahoma vs Texas Tech game unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
Penn State got its biggest win, not only in the James Franklin era, but since the days when its iconic former coach Joe “Don’t Look-Don’t Tell” Paterno was roaming the sidelines. As a three-touchdown underdog, at home, the Nittany Lions pulled off the first seismic shift in the assumed makeup of the College Football Playoff rankings.
By defeating No. 2 and previously undefeated Ohio State, Penn State, who was down 12-0 early and didn’t take its first lead until there was less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, has now catapulted itself back into a program of national significance. After having to suffer for the program’s past sins, it’s great to see this current crop of players now ranked in the Top 25, and Franklin getting his first signature win in Happy Valley.
But as great as the victory was for Penn State, it shouldn’t be disheartening for Buckeyes fans. If Ohio State wins the rest of their games, including the titanic showdown with Michigan at the end of the season, they should still be looking pretty for a spot in the playoffs.
No. 1 Alabama handled its business, despite looking somewhat vulnerable when Texas A&M took an early third quarter lead, 14-13. They turned up the heat from there on out and pulled away in dominant fashion, winning 33-14.
But in winning its biggest game of the year thus far, the Crimson Tide suffered a huge loss when safety Eddie Jackson, an All-American candidate who led the SEC in interceptions last year, went down with a fractured leg that will cause him to miss the remainder of the season.
And just when you thought that this year’s Iron Bowl would be a yawner, Auburn has injected some buoyant and cheerful optimism into the thought that we might be in store for another classic when they meet up with Alabama on November 26th. The Tigers utterly annihilated No. 17 Arkansas, 56-3, on Saturday.
Their first play on offense resulted in a 78-yard touchdown run by Eli Stove. And they commenced to bludgeoning the Razorbacks for the remainder of the game. The Tigers accumulated 542 yards rushing, which is insane when you factor in that they took their foot of the gas pedal midway through the third quarter. On the other side of the coin, they limited Arkansas to a mere 25 yards rushing.
And speaking of ridiculous offense, did you happen to catch Oklahoma’s 66-59 win over Texas Tech?
We’ve seen basketball scores pop up with regularity in Big 12 football, but this one was something else entirely. Both teams, combined, accounted for 1,708 yards, an all-time D-I record. Tech QB Pat Mahomes passed and ran for a combined 819 yards. Yes, you read that correctly.
Not to be outdone, Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, who returned to Lubbock to play for the first time since he transferred from Texas Tech three years ago, threw seven touchdown passes.
Mayfield threw for 545 yards, Joe Mixon ran for 263 and Dede Westbrook caught nine passes for 202 yards, making the Sooners the first team in college football history to have a 500-yard passer, a 200-yard rusher and a 200-yard receiver in the same game.
And speaking of amazing individual performances, how about the Heisman front-runner, Louisville’s incredible QB Lamar Jackson?
In the first two quarters, Jackson lit up NC State’s defense for 304 yards passing and 55 rushing, with four touchdowns sprinkled in. Ummmm, to quote Mfufu, he did all of that in a single, “HALF, Eddie!!!”
In only seven games, Jackson is already the owner of Louisville’s single season touchdown record, with 34. IN SEVEN GAMES!!!
But as incredible as he was, the best day by an individual performer belonged to LSU running back Leonard Fournette.
He broke the school’s single game rushing record, gaining 284 yards and scoring three touchdowns on only 16 carries. Had he not been saddled with injuries for most of the year, Fournette would be right in the mix with Lamar Jackson as the undisputed favorites for this year’s Heisman.
“I’ve never been a part of a player like Leonard to be honest with you,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said following the game. “But yeah, he’s dynamic. I believe he’s the best player in the country.”
Three of his carries went for 78, 76 and 59 yards.
After sitting out the last two games with an ankle injury, Fournette came back with the biggest statement of the weekend.
Considering the dynamic exploits of Mayfield, Mahomes, Mixon, Westbrook and Jackson, along with the huge wins by Auburn and Penn State, that’s a quite an exclamation.