AP Top 25 Takeaways: Big Ten cracks up; Bedlam goes bananas
The Big Ten cracked up, broken by Kirk Ferentz and Mark Dantonio. Clemson kept doing what Clemson does. And Bedlam was exactly what was expected in the Big 12.
A Saturday of college football highlighted by seven games matching ranked teams was every bit as chaotic and fun as it was billed, even if (hash)Pac12AfterDark ate up your extra hour of sleep the day the clocks fell back.
Thoughts, takedowns and takeaways from Week 10 of the college football season, when Wisconsin became the Big Ten’s best hope to make the College Football Playoff.
1. Strange things happen in Iowa City to top-five teams. The Hawkeyes are now 4-1 against AP top-five opponents at home since 2008 – but none was as surprising their 55-24 victory against No. 3 Ohio State.
2. Ferentz’s Hawkeyes came into this weekend with a thoroughly mediocre offense, ranking eighth in the Big Ten in yards per play at 5.28. They shredded the Buckeyes, averaging 6.95 yards per play and scoring more points than any team ever has against a team coached by Urban Meyer.
3. Sports talk radio in Columbus, Ohio, is not going to be a safe place for Buckeyes defensive coordinator Greg Schiano. This was not one for the resume tape of the former head coach hoping to land another top job.
4. After winning three games last season, Michigan State is now in position to win a Big Ten division for the third time since 2013. Dantonio’s Spartans knocked off No. 7 Penn State 27-24 with a last-second field goal , setting up a big game in Columbus next week between the Spartans and Buckeyes.
5. The end result of Saturday is this: All the Big Ten East power teams have at least two losses and that’s probably not going to get it done in the playoff race.
6. No. 4 Wisconsin – undefeated though not terribly impressive – is now the Big Ten’s best hope to make the playoff. And the selection committee made it very clear last week that it is not really digging the Badgers, ranking them ninth.
7. To make matters worse for the Big Ten: Its champion doesn’t even get an automatic trip to the Rose Bowl this season because Pasadena, California, is the site of a playoff semifinal.
8. Heisman Trophy reset time. Moving down: running backs. Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, Stanford’s Bryce Love and Notre Dame’s Josh Adams were all quiet on Saturday. To be fair to Adams, he got banged up early in a runaway win against Wake Forest and the Irish decided to play it safe.
9. Also moving down: Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett. The week after he played the game of his life against Penn State, he threw four picks against Iowa.
10. Moving up: Well, well, well, Baker Mayfield. Looks like moxiest quarterback in college football is the Heisman front-runner now.
11. Mayfield messed around, threw a couple of picks and went for 598 yards passing and six total touchdowns in a Bedlam victory against No. 11 Oklahoma State that was the highest-scoring game ever in the series.
12. The first Khalil Tate show that played to a truly national audience did not disappoint, but the best player on the field for Arizona-Southern California was Trojans tailback Ronald Jones.
13. Survive-and-advance time of the season and right now nobody does that better than Clemson. The sixth-ranked Tigers have now won nine straight games against ranked teams after escaping at No. 20 North Carolina State. Why does it always have to end so painfully for N.C. State?
14. It was a good Saturday to go unnoticed, which is exactly what No. 2 Georgia (No. 1 in the CFP rankings) did in a workmanlike victory against South Carolina . And, oh yeah, the Bulldogs clinched the SEC East because Kentucky lost to Mississippi. It is very possible Georgia will be the only SEC East team to finish over .500 in conference.
15. Florida could not have looked more disinterested while losing at Missouri. For the first time since 1971, the Gators have allowed at least 40 points in consecutive SEC games.
16. No. 1 Alabama did that thing where it sucks the life out of a game, this time against LSU because Nick Saban knows the only way his team can lose is if it beats itself.
17. Notre Dame did its part and No. 9 Miami stayed unbeaten with its best performance yet , setting up something college football has not seen in decades: A Miami-Notre Dame game with national championship implications for both teams.
18. If we’re talking about Arkansas today it cannot be good for the Razorbacks and coach Bret Bielema. Arkansas needed a fourth-quarter rally to beat Coastal Carolina – a team transitioning to FBS with one victory this season.
19. Two reasons why No. 14 Auburn’s 42-27 victory against Texas A&M was significant : First, if the Southeastern Conference wants to get a couple of teams in the playoff it needs the Tigers to be a quality opponent for both Georgia and Alabama. Second, that is loss No. 4 for Texas A&M, which makes it five straight seasons that coach Kevin Sumlin’s team will finish with at least that many. Now more than ever it feels as if Sumlin’s tenure in College Station is coming to an end.
20. Northwestern became the first team to win in overtime in three straight weeks – which is the most Northwestern thing. No team does a better job of maxing out its ability than coach Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats.
21. It is possible that both Florida State and Nebraska – combined 7-10 – will not become bowl-eligible. The last time both the Seminoles and Cornhuskers failed to play in a bowl was 1961.
22. Related: No. 15 UCF, coached by former Nebraska quarterback Scott Frost, stayed unbeaten though SMU gave the Knights their toughest test yet. Mustangs coach Chad Morris, like Frost, can expect plenty of interest as jobs open. Texas A&M would be an obvious fit for the Texan.
23. Peak Army: The Black Knights beat Air Force without attempting a pass. It was the third time this season Army won without completing a pass. The Cadets also snapped Air Force’s streak of not being shut out at 306 games and set up a winner takes the Commander-in-chief’s trophy against Navy in December.
24. After two seasons without football, UAB is not just back, but the Blazers are bowl-eligible after trouncing Rice . Earlier this week, UAB gave coach Bill Clark a well-earned five-year contract extension. Maybe he should be national coach of the year.
25. Seven games matching ranked teams tied an AP poll record this week. Could happen again next week, though No. 21 Stanford losing makes it less likely. Still, it’s another tasty lineup:
– Washington at Stanford, Friday night
– Notre Dame at Miami
– TCU at Oklahoma
– Georgia at Auburn
– Alabama at Mississippi State
– Michigan State at Ohio State
– Oklahoma State at Iowa State
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP
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