Saturday Snaps: Breaking down the best of Week 10 in college football
No. 14 Arizona State 19, No. 17 Utah 16 (OT)
With Arizona’s loss to UCLA, the winner of Utah-Arizona State was guaranteed to be the lone one-loss team at the top of the Pac-12 South. It took overtime to determine it, as ASU's Zane Gonzalez hit the game winner to give the Sun Devils a 19-16 win after the typically reliable Andy Phillips missed his attempt.
Utah’s defense has been fearsome up front all season long, and the Utes made things hard on Taylor Kelly early and often, especially on a drive with Utah leading 16-13 midway through the fourth quarter. Utah appeared to have an interception, but the review overturned the initial call. Arizona State ran a reverse on second down, which was quickly sniffed out. On third down the Utes brought pressure and Hunter Dimick brought Kelly down.
Kelly got the Sun Devils downfield, and with 5:47 left, Gonzalez nailed a 30-yard field goal to tie it up at 16. That was the score when they went to the first overtime, where Andy Phillips had a shot to put the Utes up three. He looked to have missed it, but Utah had taken timeout. On the second attempt, Phillips did miss.
Arizona State ran it three times, and Gonzalez drilled a 37-yarder for the win. There are still a lot of factors in play, but the Sun Devils won ugly and will play No. 8 Notre Dame next in Tempe with a chance to force their way into the playoff conversation. -- Martin Rickman
No. 22 UCLA 17, No. 12 Arizona 7
UCLA’s back-to-back October losses to Utah and Oregon were probably enough to knock the Bruins out of the playoff race, but it’s far from over when it comes to the Pac-12 South. The Bruins picked up a much-needed 17-7 win over Arizona to move to 4-2 in the division and tighten things up in an already competitive side of the conference.
The Bruins overcame 98 penalty yards in the first half (118 total) through better defensive play, holding the Wildcats to 255 total yards on the night. Brett Hundley took what the Arizona defense gave him, dinking and dunking his way downfield, finishing 19-of-26 for 189 yards and one touchdown. He also added 131 yards rushing, his second consecutive 100-yard effort on the ground. But his fumble with under five minutes to play kept the door open for a comeback by the Wildcats.
It’s still probably fair to call UCLA’s season a disappointment overall, but if the Bruins can put a streak together down the stretch – they have games at Washington, vs. USC and vs. Stanford remaining – they’ll have a shot at winning the division and playing for a Pac-12 title. Doing that would salvage quite a few of their goals. But they will need a lot of help from a strikingly resilient Utah if the Bruins hope to play for a conference title. -- MR
No. 3 Auburn 35, No. 3 Ole Miss 31
For decades here, the Ole Miss fans dutifully donned their cocktail dresses, fleece jackets and red Solo cups and gathered in The Grove for a party that’s undeniably the best in all of college football. And for decades, the caliber of the play rarely matched the quality of the party.
If they handed out tailgating national titles, Ole Miss would make Bear Bryant blush. But instead, the pretty girls in high heels, frat guys in checkered Brooks Brothers and generations of loyal fans celebrated the celebration more than the game.
That all changed after Ole Miss upset then-No. 1 Alabama here on Oct. 4. The Rebels leaped into the hunt for the College Football Playoff, and the paradigm completely transformed.
But in one climactic, dramatic and crushing play that altered both the season and national title race, No. 4 Ole Miss fell to No. 3 Auburn, 35-31, and gave their fans a familiar feeling -- a desire to drink away their sorrows.
Ole Miss appeared to take the lead with 1:30 remaining when transcendent receiver Laquon Treadwell took a conventional screen pass near the 20-yard lined and snaked his way to the goal line. The crowd went bonkers. The officials signaled for a touchdown.
But one replay changed everything. Auburn’s Kris Frost tracked down Treadwell from behind, helping force a fumble inches from the end zone that teammate Cassanova McKinzy recovered for Auburn for a touchback. The play not only essentially sealed the game for Auburn, but Treadwell appeared to significantly injure his left leg after getting dragged down from behind. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said Treadwell suffered at least a fracture. "He definitely has a fracture,” Freeze said. “It was obvious, even to me. I don't know anything other than that." It’s hard to imagine a more crushing play for Ole Miss, as they lost one of their best players, the game and their national title hopes all in one moment.
Treadwell was carted off the field, and it’s hard to imagine him returning this season. The crowd watched in hushed silence, and the tension over the injury turned to misery when officials overturned the touchdown, giving Auburn the ball at the 20-yard line.
Ole Miss began the game No. 4 in the College Football Playoff standings and will end it in fourth place in the SEC West. Such is life in college football’s version of the Group of Death.
Auburn overcame itself, as the Tigers had five personal foul penalties among the 13 penalties for 145 yards. -- Pete Thamel
No. 5 Oregon 45, Stanford 16
After two consecutive years of losing to Stanford and watching the Cardinal go on to win the Pac-12, the Ducks will head into the home stretch in control in the Pac-12 North.
Unlike last year, when Stanford’s defense swarmed a hobbled Marcus Mariota, the healthy Oregon quarterback sliced through the Cardinal. And while the Ducks’ defense allowed an unhealthy 5.94 yards per play in the first half, Oregon held Stanford to field goals on its first two possessions and made a fourth-down stand in the second quarter to keep the Cardinal in control.
Oregon now leads the North by two games over its closest opponent, and the Ducks remain undefeated in the division. With division games against only Colorado and Oregon State remaining, Oregon is in great shape to represent the North in the Pac-12 title game. But if the Ducks hope to make the playoff, they’ll also need to win next week at Utah. -- Andy Staples
No. 1 Mississippi State 17, Arkansas 10
Mississippi State’s offense wasn’t having much luck against Arkansas, but its defense came up when it counted. The top-ranked Bulldogs stuffed the Razorbacks on a huge fourth down late in the fourth quarter to hold on for a 17-10 win in Starkville.
Mississippi State, which came in ranked second in the SEC with 42.3 points per game, struggled against Arkansas’ defense in the first half. It turned the ball over three times, including twice on interceptions from quarterback Dak Prescott. The Hogs enjoyed a significant advantage in time of possession and held a 10-7 lead at half. Mississippi State hadn’t been held to seven points through two quarters since the Egg Bowl against Mississippi in 2013.
But the Bulldogs woke up in the second half, especially on third down. They finished 8-of-14 on third-down conversions and rang up 459 yards (7.4 per play) of offense. The defense stepped up too. After Mississippi State took its first lead, 17-10, on a long Prescott pass to Fred Ross, Arkansas took over looking for the tie. The Bulldogs answered by stuffing the Hogs on a fourth-and-3 at the goal line with around five minutes to play.
Arkansas compiled one final drive to try to steal the game. Quarterback Brandon Allen drove 66 yards before tossing a game-sealing pick to Mississippi State’s Will Redmond in the end zone with 15 seconds left.
Prescott returned to Heisman form after his shoddy first half. He finished 18-of-27 for 331 yards, becoming the first Mississippi State passer to throw for more than 300 yards since 2007. It was all enough to keep the program unbeaten as it sits atop the College Football Playoff rankings. But the Bulldogs can’t rest from here, either: In two weeks they travel to take on Alabama in Tuscaloosa. -- Zac Ellis
No. 10 Notre Dame 49, Navy 39
If Notre Dame fans were unhappy with their No. 10 ranking in the first edition of the College Football Playoff rankings, then they couldn’t have been much happier with their team’s performance against Navy on Saturday night. The Fighting Irish survived with a 49-39 slugfest with the Midshipmen at Fed-Ex Field in Landover, Md., in which they surrendered 24 unanswered points and had to salvage a game that initially appeared to be a rout.
Everett Golson set a Notre Dame record by throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for three more but still drew the ire of head coach Brian Kelly on more than one occasion. Kelly, who was widely criticized for his hot-headed behavior in his first season in South Bend, looked more like his old self Saturday night than he had over the last three seasons. He was justified in his frustration.
Two weeks after a superb performance against Florida State, Notre Dame started Saturday’s game with four consecutive touchdown drives before hitting a lull that allowed Navy, anchored primarily by quarterback Keenan Reynolds and running back Noah Copeland, to come back and eventually take the lead in the third quarter. Golson sliced through the porous Navy defense on virtually every possession, finishing with 348 yards of total offense to go with his six scores, but the Irish couldn’t separate themselves after it appeared they would win by several touchdowns.
With no great wins thus far, Notre Dame will have to shore up some consistency issues before heading to Tempe for a clash with Pac-12 contender Arizona State. Wins over the Sun Devils, Louisville and USC should improve the Irish’s standing with the playoff committee. -- Gabriel Baumgaertner
No. 9 Kansas State 48, Oklahoma State 14
If you got to this game late, Oklahoma State did, in fact, at one point have a lead. The Cowboys struck first with a smooth opening drive and a Tyreke Hill two-yard touchdown, but Kansas State recovered quickly. Morgan Burns returned the ensuing kickoff from Hill’s score 86 yards for a touchdown, and Dante Barnett intercepted Daxx Garman to halt another promising Cowboys drive.
The Wildcats turned the pick into another score to go up 14-7. After another short Oklahoma State drive, Jake Waters led Kansas State 69 yards down the field, ending in a 17-yard Curry Sexton catch from Waters to make it 21-7.
You’re starting to see the pattern.
The Wildcats scored 45 unanswered points en route to a 48-14 victory. Waters finished with 223 yards on 19-of-28 passing with two scores, one to his usual favorite target, Tyler Lockett (six catches for 94 yards). Sexton produced his biggest game of the season, hauling in nine passes for 159 yard.
Every time Oklahoma State gave Kansas State an opportunity, the Wildcats seemingly took advantage. That’s what contenders are supposed to do. And that’s what has made Kansas State so dangerous since its loss to Auburn, in which the Wildcats made uncharacteristic mistakes.
Bill Snyder has built a Hall of Fame coaching career on getting his players to play intelligently and above their talent level. This year is no exception. Kansas State is poised to make a run at another Big 12 title, but the Wildcats are going to have to get through TCU next week first. -- MR
No. 7 TCU 31, No. 20 West Virginia 30
West Virginia and TCU faced off on a chilly, overcast, 45-degree day, and what was widely expected to be an offensive shootout produced a back-and-forth, sloppy slugfest. That didn’t make the result any less sweet for the Horned Frogs. No. 7 TCU beat No. 20 West Virginia 31-30 to stay alive in the Big 12 title chase and College Football Playoff race.
West Virginia came out firing, scoring a touchdown on its opening drive and adding field goals on each of its subsequent two. It let TCU climb back into the game on one of the prettiest screen passes you’ll see all year, but, at least early, the Mountaineers seemed well in command. Then came the barrage of turnovers: three fumbles and two picks, all five giving the Frogs possession inside West Virginia territory.
TCU was unable to convert the first three into points, but the latter two resulted in touchdowns. The momentum swung when Horned Frogs linebacker Paul Dawsonreeled in an errant Clint Trickett pass toward the end of the third quarter. TCU running back B.J. Catalon raced 23 yards to paydirt less than two minutes later.
The Frogs coughed up a crucial turnover of their own, as West Virginia cornerback Terrell Chestnut stripped wide receiver Josh Doctson and returned it 35 yards to the end zone. But TCU won the turnover battle five to two and, ultimately, the game. -- Ben Glicksman
Florida 38, No. 11 Georgia 20
Entering the weekend, Will Muschamp had never won in the Georgia-Florida rivalry in his career. He went 0-4 as a player for the Bulldogs and 0-3 as a coach in his first three years at Florida. That streak changed Saturday when the much-maligned coach led Florida to a 38-20 upset of No. 11 Georgia in Jacksonville.
At the end of the first quarter, Georgia looked like its running attack might dominate the Gators. Bulldogs tailback Nick Chubb reached 100 rushing yards late in the first period, and early on, Florida did not seem to have an answer.
It was a different story the rest of the game. Georgia hadn’t given up more than 179 rushing yards to an opponent this season, but Florida reeled off 424 yards on the ground -- its most in a game since 1989 -- and 7.2 yards per carry. That included big days from Matt Jones (192 yards) and Kelvin Taylor (197).
Florida didn’t get anything from quarterback Treon Harris, who completed only 3-of-6 passes. In fact, this was the first win for Florida in which its offense completed fewer than 10 passes since 1977. But the Gators simply didn’t need that phase of the game. Even after Georgia threatened late, Taylor cemented a Florida victory with a 65-yard touchdown run with 2:11 to play. -- ZE
Missouri 20, Kentucky 10
After Missouri’s loss to Indiana and especially after it got shut out at home by Georgia, suggesting that the Tigers would repeat as SEC East champions would have sounded insane. But suddenly on Nov. 1, it’s not only possible, but the Tigers are alone atop the division with three games to play and an extremely favorable closing schedule.
Missouri beat Kentucky 20-10 thanks to a solid defensive effort and a much more relaxed performance by Maty Mauk (18-of-33 for 164 yards and two touchdowns), who managed to avoid getting himself into any trouble. With Georgia’s surprising loss to Florida in Jacksonville, the Tigers lead the SEC East at 4-1 in conference play with games remaining at Texas A&M and Tennessee and home against Arkansas. Those three foes share two total conference wins collectively.
The Tigers haven’t been nearly as explosive on offense as they were in last season’s 12-win campaign (including their 41-31 Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma State), but they’re scraping together wins largely on the backs of a formidable defensive line and the two-headed rushing attack of Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy. That, and a little bit of scheduling luck, might be enough to get Missouri to Atlanta, or at least give the Tigers a fighting chance. -- MR
Georgia Tech 35, Virginia 10
If you asked Paul Johnson to imagine his perfect game for Georgia Tech to play, the Yellow Jackets’ 35-10 win over Virginia on Saturday might come pretty darn close. Georgia Tech dominated time of possession 38:55-20:52, racked up 268 rushing yards, only had one turnover and basically controlled the game from beginning to end.
All that added up to the Yellow Jackets’ seventh win of the season and moved them to 4-2 in the Coastal division. Synjyn Davis had 147 yards and a score on the ground, and DeAndre Smelter racked up 107 yards receiving. The Georgia Tech defense nicely contained Virginia running back Kevin Parks, who had just 13 yards on five carries.
The Cavaliers dropped to 4-5 and lost their third straight game. After starting the season 4-2, there’s a very real shot Virginia could fall short of bowl eligibility. The Cavaliers need two wins in their last three games: at No. 2 Florida State, vs. a suddenly surging Miami team and at Virginia Tech. -- MR
No. 24 Duke 51, Pitt 48 (2OT)
While it wasn’t quite the 58-55 maelstrom of last year, Duke and Pittsburgh still played one heck of an entertaining game at Heinz Field on Saturday as the Blue Devils prevailed 51-48 in double overtime.
In a crucial ACC Coastal division battle, Pitt got a big third-and-long conversion from Chad Voytik, who tossed the ball helplessly into the air with Duke pressure coming, only for Dontez Ford to haul it in for his first career reception. Just a few plays later Chris Blewitt had the 26-yard attempt to give Pitt the win in regulation, but he shanked it wide left to force overtime. Duke got a five-yard touchdown from Thomas Sirk in the second overtime after Pitt only mustered a field goal to win 51-48 and move to 3-1 in conference play.
Offense was on full display as a number of players had big individual efforts. Pitt running back James Conner picked up tough yards all day, finishing the game with 263 yards and three touchdowns. He scored on a one-yard plunge during a crucial drive that tied the game at 38 with 5:18 to play and a 14-yard run to send it to a second overtime. Duke wide receiver Jamison Crowder had 165 yards and two scores, taking advantage of being matched up against a true freshman in Avonte Maddox. Panthers wide receiver Tyler Boyd did his best to match Crowder catch for catch, finishing with 140 yards on seven receptions.
Duke’s defense came into the game allowing an average of just 15.1 points per game, but this contest was a track meet from the get-go. Pitt had 14 points just 15:09 after kickoff. After giving up 58 points in a loss to the Panther last year, the Blue Devils went on to win eight straight and capture the ACC Coastal title. After the win over Pitt on Saturday, Duke is primed for another run at a division championship. -- MR
Temple 20, No. 23 East Carolina 10
Strike up the parties in Huntington, W. Va., and Fort Collins, Colo. No. 23 East Carolina fell stunningly to Temple 20-10, and the Pirates’ hopes to secure the Group of Five’s berth in a New Year’s Six bowl likely collapsed with them. That’s fantastic news for Marshall and Colorado State, who both missed out on the College Football Playoff selection committee’s top 25 but will now have renewed hopes. The highest ranked conference champion from a Group of Five league earns an automatic bid to one of the New Year’s Six bowls under the new playoff format.
East Carolina can only look internally after its defeat Saturday, as the Pirates’ sloppy play destroyed any chance at victory. After entering Saturday with just three fumbles lost all season, East Carolina fumbled the ball away five times in the soggy conditions against Temple. The Owls ensured the Pirates paid for their carelessness with the ball, as Tavon Young returned the first fumble 63 yards for a touchdown, while Temple capitalized on a short field after the second turnover for a one-yard touchdown run by Kenneth Harper.
Those two scores proved to be all the Owls needed, though a 12-play, 76-yard drive midway through the third quarter, capped by Harper’s second touchdown run of the day, added some insurance. East Carolina dominated the offensive progression, outgaining Temple 432-135 and holding the Owls to 10 first downs, but the barrage of turnovers kept the Pirates out of the end zone until 2:15 left in the fourth quarter. Shane Carden was uncharacteristically inefficient, completing 24-of-41 passes for 217 yards with no touchdowns.
Although the Owls may have lacked a dominant showing in their upset, they took advantage of what East Carolina offered to secure a critical victory in their quest for their first bowl game since 2011 and just their fifth in program history. Saturday's win was Temple's third ever over a ranked opponent. After last year’s 2-10 record, second-yard coach Matt Rhule seems to clearly have the Owls on the right track. -- Colin Becht
No. 18 Oklahoma 59, Iowa State 14
Iowa State didn’t have an answer for quarterback Trevor Knight on Saturday, and it showed on the scoreboard. Knight piled up six total touchdowns to help the No. 18 Sooners dominate the Cyclones in Ames, 59-14.
Knight completed 22-of-35 passes for 230 yards, three touchdowns and two picks, and he chipped in an extra 146 yards and three scores on the ground. Behind the quarterback, the Sooners notched their first game with more than 600 yards of offense (751) this season, while Knight became the first FBS quarterback with three passing and three rushing touchdowns in a game this year.
The Cyclones, which entered the game allowing 455.7 yards and 35.3 points per game -- both ninth in the Big 12 -- couldn’t keep the Sooners at bay. Despite two first-half interceptions from Knight, including one at the goal line in the first quarter, Oklahoma went into the half holding a 35-7 lead. It averaged 8.9 yards per play in the first two quarters. Iowa State, meanwhile, produced a mere 3.5 per play.
Knight tacked on his final two touchdowns in the third quarter and then retired to the sidelines with the Sooners ahead 51-14.
With two losses -- to TCU and Kansas State -- Oklahoma’s shot at a playoff berth is all but over. But the Sooners put on a nice offensive performance just one week before taking on Baylor next week in Norman. Coach Bob Stoops’ team will have to be more diligent with the ball to succeed in that one, however. They turned it over three times on Saturday compared to only one miscue for Iowa State. That’ll work against the Cyclones but may not against the Bears’ turbo-charged offense next week. -- ZE