Clemson flexed its muscle, USC pulled a rabbit out of its hat, and Mississippi State looked nothing like the divisional bottom-feeder we thought it would be.
The Tigers were supposed to be facing their most stern test of the season with they visited Louisville, but the offense moved the ball at will and the defense turned in another sterling performance while dispatching the Cardinals 47-21. Defending Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson got his yards - 317 passing and 64 rushing - but most of them came when it was too late to matter for Louisville.
USC and Texas gave us the game of the day with a double-overtime thriller that showcased 2 freshmen. Ultimately, it was the Trojans' walk-on freshman kicker who slightly outshone Texas' freshman QB. After Sam Ehlinger appeared to have won the game with his 17-yard TD pass to Armanti Foreman with 45 ticks left in regulation, Sam Darnold moved USC down the field with no timeouts left to set up Chase McGrath's overtime-forcing 31-yard field goal. After Ehlinger was stripped of the ball near the goal line at the start of the second-OT, McGrath nailed the 43-yard walk-off to keep Clay Helton's team in the playoff discussion. Ehlinger also threw two picks so his overall performance wasn't scintillating, but he grew up down the stretch and turned in a gutsy relief performance that almost led to a huge upset for the 17-point underdog Longhorns. Wide receiver Collin Johnson had 7 catches for 191 yards for Tom Herman's club while USC's Darnold passed for 397 and 3 scores, but also added 2 more interceptions to give him 6 total INT's for the season against 7 touchdowns.
In spite of the fact that most of the top teams enjoyed leisurely strolls through their Saturday, the rankings still got a bit of a shakeup. The newest Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com have Penn State returning to the top spot after falling behind Oklahoma in last week's rankings. The two schools trade places this week with Wisconsin and Clemson taking 3rd and 4th respectively.
Oklahoma took a 56-14 stroll over Tulane, while Penn State could've slept through a 56-0 crushing of Georgia State and Wisconsin clobbered BYU 40-6 in Provo.
Alabama fell from 3rd to 5th with an uninspiring 41-23 win over Colorado State. The game was never in doubt, but it was evident the Tide are working out some kinks.
One thing is obvious from this weekend's results - no other team in the SEC is in Alabama's universe. Auburn had the "Snooze Fest of the Day" 24-10 win over FCS member Mercer. Mississippi State had the conference's "Shocker of the Day" with its 37-7 destruction of LSU. Florida had the SEC's "Most Exciting Finish" with a walk-off 63-yard touchdown dart from Feleipe Franks to Tyrie Cleveland as the Gators topped Tennessee 26-20 in Gainesville. Missouri had the SEC's "Most Demoralizing Loss" as the Tigers were lambasted 38-3 by visiting Purdue. Vanderbilt takes home the league's "How About That" trophy with a 14-7 victory in Nashville over then 18th-ranked Kansas State.
Mississippi State jumped 15 spots in the rankings - from 36 to 21 - with the win, while Vandy rose from 24th to 18th.
The rest of the new top 10 puts Oklahoma State in 6th, with Washington 7th, USC 8th, Ohio State 9th and Virginia Tech 10th.
Virginia Tech cracks the top 10 after a 64-17 blowout of East Carolina to give the Hokies their highest ranking in the short Justin Fuente era. Funny thing is, the Hokies looked more like the 110th-ranked team for all of the first quarter when they fell behind 17-7 and gave up 204 yards. But never fear as Bud Foster fixed the defense and it held the Pirates to just 77 yards of offense over the final 3 quarters with only 2 possessions that lasted more than 3 plays. The offense also caught fire and scored 34 points in the 3rd quarter as freshman QB Josh Jackson threw 4 TD passes, two of which went to Cam Phillips. Phillips had 3 TD's total on a school record-breaking 14-catch, 189-yard day, and Jackson tied the school record with 5 total TD passes in a game.
Upsets of the day saw Memphis edge UCLA 48-45 and Vanderbilt defeat Kansas State 14-7, both of which were predicted by the computer. Another pair of upsets saw San Diego State beat Stanford 20-17 and Northern Illinois down Nebraska 21-17. The Memphis, Vandy and SDSU wins were all on their home turf while NIU's upset took place in Lincoln.
Saturday turned in more than its fair share of dramatic endings. In addition to the wild finishes for Texas-USC and Tennessee-Florida, a walkoff 21-yard FG lifted Louisiana Tech over visiting Western Kentucky 23-22; a walkoff 33-yard FG gave Toledo a 54-51 win over invading Tulsa; and a pick-6 by Cincinnati with 1:07 left capped off a 2-TD rally in 1 minute and 45 seconds to give the hapless Bearcats a 21-17 win at a stunned Miami of Ohio.
98 games were scheduled to be played by FBS teams against FCS schools, but the cancellation of Northern Colorado at Florida (due to Hurricane Irma) reduced that number to 97. Then the addition of Charleston Southern at Indiana (to replace the FIU at Indiana game that was canceled due to Hurricane Irma) took us back to 98.
14 of those games took place last weekend with FCS squads picking up 2 victories. North Carolina A&T downed Charlotte 35-31, and Idaho State upset Nevada 30-28.
FBS schools are now 78-8 vs. the FCS this season (.907) and 1,208-116 (.912) since 2003.
These are the FCS victories in 2017:
September 16: North Carolina A&T 35, Charlotte 31
September 16: Idaho State 30, Nevada 28
September 9: South Dakota 35. Bowling Green 27
September 9: New Hampshire 22, Georgia Southern 12
September 2: Liberty 48, Baylor 45
September 2: Howard 43, UNLV 40
September 2: James Madison 34, East Carolina 14
August 31: Tennessee State 17, Georgia State 10.
The 98-game total for this season is down substantially from the 110 schools that played 113 games vs. FCS schools last year.
Alabama - Won 39 straight regular season nonconference games (FBS longest). Won 11 straight road games. Won 17 straight conference games (FBS record). Won 41-23 vs. Colorado State on Saturday.
Oklahoma - Won 13 straight overall (FBS longest). Won 12 straight road games (FBS longest). Won 56-14 vs. Tulane on Saturday.
Houston - Won 16 straight home games (FBS longest). Won 38-3 vs. Rice on Saturday.
Fresno State - Lost 15 straight FBS games (FBS longest). Lost 48-16 at Washington on Saturday.
Rutgers - Ended an 11-game overall losing streak (FBS longest). Lost 14 straight conference games (FBS longest). Won 65-0 vs. FCS member Morgan State on Saturday.
East Carolina - Lost 7 straight overall (now tied with Massachusetts for FBS longest). Lost 64-17 vs. Virginia Tech on Saturday.
Massachusetts - Lost 7 straight overall (now tied with East Carolina for FBS longest). Lost 29-21 at Temple on Friday.
Kansas - Lost 42 straight road games (FBS longest). Lost 42-30 at Ohio on Saturday.