The battle of undefeated SEC titans went LSU's way on Saturday in a 46-41 win at Alabama. The Bayou Bengals struck first, crafted a 33-13 halftime lead, and never trailed. Alabama pulled to within 33-27 early in the fourth after 14 unanswered points, but LSU answered every 'Bama threat down the stretch. The Tide's 31-game home winning streak has come to an end, along with their 8-game streak in the series.
Tiger QB Joe Burrow was 31-of-39 for 393 yards and 3 touchdowns, and was the teams' second-leading rusher with 64 yards on 14 carries. Tua Tagovailoa, his Alabama counterpart, was 21-of-40 for 418, 4 TD's and 1 interception.
Meanwhile, the battle of Big Ten unbeatens went Minnesota's way as the Golden Gophers held off Penn State 31-26. Just 5 days before kick-off, the College Football Playoff committee sent a message of lofty praise to Penn State by ranking the Nittany Lions at No. 4, while diminishing the success of the Minnesota by ranking P.J. Fleck & Company at No. 17.
Minnesota QB Tanner Morgan was nearly perfect with an 18-of-20 performance for 339 yards and 3 touchdowns, and the defense picked off Sean Clifford 3 times.
Baylor managed to stay undefeated with a second close shave in as many weeks. After eking out a 17-14 win over West Virginia, the Bears needed a late rally and 3 overtimes to turn back TCU's upset bid with a 29-23 victory in Fort Worth,
Meanwhile, Ohio State - ranked first by the playoff committee, shelled the Maryland Terrapins 73-14 in Columbus.
An angry Clemson team, ranked 5th by the committee, went to Raleigh and annihilated North Carolina State 55-10.
Georgia, the committee's 6th-ranked team, blanked Missouri 27-0 between the hedges in Athens.
Vegas favorites only went 30-18 this week.
Akron, New Mexico State and Rice are still searching for their first victory.
Akron and Rice were idle this week. New Mexico State was a 32.02-point computer underdog at Ole Miss and fell 41-3.
The chase for the lone automatic entry to the Near Year's Six bowl party is quite competitive. The race drew tighter after Appalachian State and SMU each lost for the first time last week, leaving several 1-loss teams in the hunt.
6 teams from Group of Five 5 conferences entered this weekend ranked in the AP and Coaches' polls. Cincinnati drew the highest ranking, followed by Memphis, Boise State, SMU, San Diego State and Navy.
Appalachian State is still in the hunt as it plays at South Carolina tonight. UCF was still in the hunt until Friday' night's 34-31 loss at Tulsa.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati waltzed past UConn 48-3, while SMU had to out-offense East Carolina 59-51.
Other Saturday night action saw Boise State need overtime to defeat Wyoming 20-17. The Broncos were a 12.51-point home choice over the Cowboys.
San Diego State had a 13.50-point computer home edge over Nevada, but lost 17-13.
Memphis and Navy are idle this week.
Interim head coach Odell Haggins is back in charge after Willie Taggart was fired last Sunday when a 27-10 home loss to Miami dropped Florida State to 4-5. Haggins is now serving his second stint in that capaicty after previously leading the 'Noles in 2017 when Jimbo Fisher resigned to accept the job at Texas A&M. Haggins was 2-0 that year with wins in the season finale versus Louisiana-Monroe, and against Southern Miss in the Independence Bowl. He's now 1-0 this year after a 38-31 in at Boston College.
Taggart's tenure at Florida State was simply awful, but Fisher hadn't done his successor any favors by leaving behind a program that was undisciplined and in complete disarray. Taggart had more issues to fix than just wins and losses, and whoever replaces him will have to continue the cleanup. For now, there is no better fit than Haggins who has been with the program for 26 years and is the second-longest tenured assistant in the FBS behind Virginia Tech's Bud Foster.
Florida State finished 4-4 in ACC play and is now 5-5 overall with a home game remaining against FCS member Alabama State, followed by the traditional season-ending rivalry game at Florida.
Prior to kick-off with a 7-1 Wake Forest team, Virginia Tech energized its crowd by honoring defensive coordinator Bud Foster in his next-to-last home game before retiring at the end of the year. The school didn't want to wait until its final home game of the season as that's the weekend all schools honor their outgoing seniors.
Apparently, the tribute awoke his current defense as the Hokies stymied Wake's high-flying offense and pulled away late for a 36-17 win. Virginia Tech, which started 0-2 in ACC play, is now 3-2 in the conference and controls its own destiny in the ACC Coastal race.
Here are the other games I suggested you to keep an eye on:
Washington (-11.82) at Oregon State - The Huskies had lost 2 of their last 4 games and the Beavers had won 3 of their last 4, but Washington pulled out the 19-7 win on Friday night. Oregon State dropped to 4-5 with the loss and still needs 2 more wins to end a 5-year bowl absence.
USC at Arizona State (-2.23) - USC led 28-7 in the first quarter, then held on for a 31-26 win. These teams were tied with Arizona and Utah for the PAC-12 South lead not long ago. But Arizona (idle this week) has faded to 2-4 in the conference, Arizona State has now dropped to 2-4, and Utah (idle this week) has taken sole possession of the lead at 5-1 ahead of USC's 5-2 mark. The Trojans became bowl-eligible with the win.
Notre Dame (-6.64) at Duke - Duke beat Virginia Tech in Blacksburg by 35 in September. Notre Dame beat Virginia Tech by 1 in the last minute in South Bend on Saturday. It's an interesting comparison, but it meant absolutely nothing as Duke was demolished 38-7.
Iowa at Wisconsin (-6.88) - Minnesota beat Penn State so this game was to help determine 2nd-place in the Big Ten West. Iowa mounted a furious 4th quarter rally after trailing 21-6, but fell 24-22 when the Hawkeyes 2-point conversion attempt following a touchdown with 3:12 left in the game.
Iowa State trailed Oklahoma 42-21 entering the 4th quarter, but only lost 42-41 after the Cyclones failed to convert a two-point conversion try following their third touchdown of the period on Brock Purdy's 13-yard pass to Charlie Kolar.
Illinois outscored Michigan State 27-3 in the 4th quarter to rally from a 31-10 deficit and stun the Spartans 37-34 in East Lansing.
Appalachian State improved to 2-0 vs. Power 5 conference schools, and 8-1 overall, with a 20-15 upset of South Carolina in Columbia on Saturday night. Meanwhile, the Georgia Southern team that upset the Mountaineers in Boone a week ago went to Troy and lost 49-28.
Did Chad Morris coach his last game for Arkansas on Saturday? The Razorbacks fell 46-19 at home to Western Kentucky for their second loss this season at home to a Group of 5 school. Arkansas has lost its last 4 games by av average of 34-1/2 points.
It's Walt Bell's first season as head coach, but it's been a certifiable disaster. The Minutemen have pretty much been out of every game they've played this season in that about of time - a minute. UMass has been outscored 531-207 through 10 games.
Randy Edsall's return as head coach of the Huskies has been a nightmare. He built the program up in his first stint from 1999-2010 and even shared two Big East titles in his last 4 seasons there. Then he went to Maryland where he went 22-34, including a 10-24 record in conference games. His second stint with Connecticut has produced a record of 6-28, thus far. It's even worse vs. FBS teams with a record of 3-28.
Derek Mason's 6 seasons in Nashville have been mostly forgettable, save for 3 straight wins over bad Tennessee teams from 2016-2018, an upset victory at Georgia in 2016, and a 21-14 win this year over what was then a 22nd-ranked Missouri team. The Commodores fell to 2-7 with a 56-0 loss at Florida on Saturday, sinking his overall record to 26-45 and his SEC mark to 10-36.
Hiring a head coach who had a career 3-31 record was a head-scratcher to begin with. Hiring a head coach with a 3-31 record and lots of baggage to fix a program with public relations problems was a major head-scratcher. While he has managed to double his career wins total in one season with the Terps, he's still just 3-7 overall and 1-6 in the conference with the only win Big Ten win coming at Rutgers. Since then, Maryland has lost 5 in-a-row by an average of 32.8 points after a 73-14 debacle at Ohio State.
The scheduled game between Air Force and New Mexico on Saturday was postponed earlier in the week after the death of New Mexico player Nahje Flowers.
The postponement of the Air Force-New Mexico raised the number of idle teams this week to 34. The list included Auburn, Michigan, Oregon and Utah.
114 games this year pit FBS teams against FCS schools. That's two more than a season ago when FBS teams won 105 of 112 games.
No FBS-FCS games were played this week.
FBS teams are 101-3 (.971) for the season. Since we began tracking this in 2003, the FBS schools are 1,425-127 (.918).
FCS victories over FBS teams in 2019:
August 29: Central Arkansas 35, Western Kentucky 28
September 7: Southern Illinois 45, Massachusetts 20
September 14: The Citadel 27, Georgia Tech 24 (OT)
FCS victories over FBS teams in 2018
August 29: UC Davis 44, San Jose State 31
September 1: Villanova 19, Temple 17
September 1: Northern Arizona 30, UTEP 10
September 1: Nicholls State 26, Kansas 23 (OT)
September 2: North Carolina A&T 28, East Carolina 23
September 8: Maine 31, Western Kentucky 28
September 22: Illinois State 35, Colorado State 19
CLEMSON - Won 25 straight over-all (FBS longest). Won 27 straight regular season games (FBS longest) games. Won 20 straight conference games (FBS longest). Won 21 straight home games (FBS longest). Won 11 straight true road games (FBS longest).
Last: Won 55-10 at NC State on November 9.
Next: Hosts Wake Forest on November 16.
ALABAMA - Had won 31 straight home games (FBS longest). Now the current FBS longest in this category belongs to Clemson with 21.
Last: Lost 46-41 at home to LSU on November 9.
Next: Visits Mississippi State on November 16.
RUTGERS - Lost 18 straight conference games (FBS longest).
Last: 38-10 loss at Illinois on November 2.
Next: Hosts Ohio State on November 16.
AKRON - Lost 14 straight overall (FBS longest). Lost 6 straight home games (FBS longest).
Last: Lost 35-6 at Bowling Green on November 2.
Next: Hosts Eastern Michigan on November 12.
NEW MEXICO STATE - Lost 15 straight vs FBS teams (FBS longest).
Last: Lost 41-3 at Ole Miss on November 9.
Next: Hosts FCS member Incarnate Word on November 16.
RICE - Lost 15 straight road games (FBS longest).
Last: Lost 20-7 at home to Marshall on November 2.
Next: Visits MTSU on November 16.