• No. 10 LSU 17, No. 17 Florida 6: Florida’s vanilla offensive game plan never appeared to stand a chance against LSU. College football games just aren’t won 10-6 or 6-3 these days, as much as it would probably please Gators coach Will Muschamp. In 2013, a team has to pose at least some sort of passing threat, otherwise defenses can sit back or load the box.
LSU held Florida to 238 total yards on Saturday. After an opening drive in which the Gators maintained possession for seven-plus minutes and settled for a field goal, the Tigers anticipated inside runs and play-action passes. Muschamp’s defense is so tough that it can often make up for problems on the other side of the ball. But that’s a recipe for disaster at times, especially against complete and physical opponents like LSU.
If Florida goes down early, like it did against the Tigers, the Gators need some sort of an offensive spark to get even. That didn’t materialize in Baton Rouge. As was the case in Week 2 against Miami, Florida fell short despite shutting down its foe for the majority of the game.
Offensive coordinator Brent Pease and Muschamp have taken a lot of criticism for their play-calling, and don’t expect that to quiet down any time soon. There’s no innovation on the Gators’ offense, something that allowed LSU to stay comfortable throughout. Losing starting quarterback Jeff Driskel and replacing him with Tyler Murphy certainly requires adjustment, but Murphy has shown he can be accurate on quick passes and short routes, at the very least.
On the other sideline, Tigers running back Jeremy Hill rushed for 122 yards. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger (9-of-17, 152 yards, one lost fumble) was stifled by Florida’s impressive secondary, although most quarterbacks look shaky against the Gators. Still, he did enough. After kicker Colby Delahoussaye connected on a 31-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter, the result was all but locked up.
LSU pretty much controls its own destiny in the SEC West, but Florida’s loss means the East has about as much clarity as an Escher painting. Missouri leads the division after Saturday’s upset win over Georgia, but the Tigers lost quarterback James Franklin, who is expected to miss the next several weeks with a separated shoulder. The Bulldogs are already reeling from a rash of injuries, and South Carolina — which arguably played its best game of the year against Arkansas — has looked shaky and beatable at times.
• No. 2 Oregon 45, No. 16 Washington 24: While most fans came into this game expecting a back-and-forth shootout, defenses were the story in the first quarter. Both teams made big stops early, but the tide turned after Oregon recovered a fumble a few minutes into the second quarter. Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota connected with receiver Bralon Addison (eight catches, 157 yards, two touchdowns) for a score with 8:41 remaining in the first half, and Oregon was off and running.
It’s hard to keep attacks like Washington’s and Oregon’s down for long, and the points started rolling in. Huskies running back Bishop Sankey, one of the best (and perhaps most underrated) players in the country, had an impressive 60-yard touchdown early in the third quarter and finished with 167 yards and two scores.
The nation has been waiting for Oregon to play a marquee opponent to gauge just how good the Ducks really are. Mariota (24-of-31, 366 passing yards, three touchdowns; 88 rushing yards, one touchdown) silenced any doubts in resounding fashion. Washington played Stanford and Oregon extremely tough the past two weeks, but the pecking order seems to be set in the Pac-12, with the Huskies still a step away from contending for conference supremacy.
• No. 15 Baylor 35, Kansas State 25: Baylor didn’t storm out of the gates like it has in previous weeks. After carrying a 21-10 lead into the half, it was tested against Bill Snyder’s team. Kansas State’s coaching wizard (presumably) used incantations to help bring the Wildcats back, even going ahead 25-21 after outscoring the Bears 15-0 in the third quarter.
Baylor hadn’t been asked to come from behind at any point in 2013. It was time to prove it could respond in the face of adversity.
Still, even with running back Lache Seastrunk off his game, Baylor found a way to win. Quarterback Bryce Petty threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns, and wide receivers Tevin Reese and Antwan Goodley combined for eight catches, 303 yards and three scores.
With the rest of the Big 12 wide open, Baylor looks like the team to beat. It won’t win many 70-7 games in conference play, but Art Briles’ team going to score its share of points against anyone. [RECAP | BOX]
• Wisconsin 35, No. 19 Northwestern 6: After an early touchdown reception, the Badgers lost leading receiver Jared Abbrederis to a head injury. It didn’t seem to make a difference. Wisconsin rushed for 284 yards en route to a commanding win over Northwestern. Melvin Gordon and James White both topped the 100-yard mark, and quarterback Joel Stave overcame two interceptions to throw for 245 yards and three scores.
The Wildcats had a lot of trouble against a physical Ohio State ground game last week, and the Badgers followed that script to move to 4-2 and 2-1 in the Big Ten. Northwestern’s offense couldn’t get it going, finishing with just 241 total yards. [RECAP | BOX]
• No. 3 Clemson 24, Boston College 14: Eagles coach Steve Addazio has his work cut out for him recruiting elite talent to Boston College, but his players are not afraid of big-time opponents. After playing an inspired game against Florida State on Sept. 28, the Eagles almost pulled an upset over Clemson in Death Valley.
Boston College held a 7-3 lead at the half, thanks in part to turnovers by the Tigers. The Eagles’ defense continued to step up, and it actually looked like Clemson might go down early in the fourth quarter.
Eventually, the Tigers’ superior players won out. Quarterback Tajh Boyd, who threw for 334 yards and a touchdown, was able to take control. Maybe Clemson was looking ahead to Florida State next week, but it found a way to escape with a win.
• No. 25 Northern Illinois 27, Akron 20: Ranked in the AP Poll for the first time this season, Northern Illinois kept its unbeaten campaign alive against Akron. Quarterback Jordan Lynch wasn’t at his best, completing just 46 percent of his passes for 223 yards and a score, and running back Cameron Stingily had 84 yards and a touchdown a week after rushing for 266 yards against Kent State. Northern Illinois might have a difficult time busting the BCS for a second consecutive year (especially if Fresno State continues to pile up wins), but two victories over Big Ten foes and a strong start to MAC play have first-year NIU coach Rod Carey aiming for big things. [RECAP | BOX]