5 Takeaways from College Football Week 9

It was a week full of upsets, as four undefeated teams ran into their first loss of the year, all helping to clarify the first College Football Playoff poll that will be released on Tuesday night. With only four Power 5 teams remaining undefeated, there shouldn’t be much debate as to who the playoff teams will be. Week 9 also saw Georgia Tech’s Justin Thomas rack up 459 yards and four touchdowns against Duke, and the crazy possibility that Kentucky now controls its destiny to the SEC Championship.

  1. Peppers Too Spicy For Michigan State Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers did a whole lot to help his Heisman hopes and further cement his Wolverines’ status as the team-to-beat in the Big Ten with a 32-23 win over rival Michigan State. Peppers ran for a touchdown, returned a Michigan State two-point conversion fumble the other way, recorded seven tackles (two on fourth-down), and even had a sack. Peppers has played thirteen positions during his career at Michigan and has four touchdowns this year. The game was not as close as the score suggests. Michigan, who beat the Spartans for just the second time since 2008, were up 30-10 in the fourth quarter and scored on every possession they had in the first half. Michigan receiver Amara Darboh had eight catches for 165 yards. The undefeated Wolverines anxiously await their season finale against Ohio State, a virtual play-in for the playoffs, while the Spartans sit at 2-6 and unlikely to make a bowl.
  2. Big 12 Bubble Bursts The Big 12 entered the week clinging on to its remaining two undefeated teams, Baylor and West Virginia, as their only shot at sneaking into the playoff. Both teams, however, were upset on the road, ending any realistic hope of a Big 12 playoff representative. Tenth-ranked West Virginia started the day by losing 37-20 to Oklahoma State behind three turnovers. Leading into the game, West Virginia had played a soft schedule, making it difficult to gauge whether or not they were a legitimate contender. Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph led his Cowboys to the win with 273 yards passing and three touchdowns. Then, the eighth-ranked Baylor Bears suffered their first defeat of the year to the 4-4 Texas Longhorns by a score of 35-34. Texas connected on a 39-yard field goal with 46 seconds left to get the go-ahead lead. It was a great day to be a Foreman brother for Texas as D’Onta Foreman rushed for two scores and 25o yards while his brother Armanti reeled in four catches for 142 yards and a score. The Longhorn win may be just enough to keep Charlie Strong his job as he has been rumored to be on the hot seat.
  3. Huskies Hold On The undefeated and fourth-ranked Washington Huskies narrowly escaped an upset as they held on to beat the seventeenth-ranked Utah Utes 31-24. Washington, the Pac-12’s remaining hope at a playoff bid, returned a punt 58 yards for a touchdown with 3:25 remaining in the game to give them the final lead. Perhaps the play of the game came from Washington quarterback and Heisman candidate Jake Browning when he dropped a pooch punt down at the Utah one late in the fourth quarter. The kick led to a three-and-out for the Utes, who then allowed Washington to return the ensuing punt for the game-winning score. Browning had 186 yards passing with two touchdowns and an interception and was helped by running back Myles Gaskin who had 151 yards on the ground. The Pac-12 championship game could prove to be a rematch between the two teams if Colorado loses once and Utah wins out.
  4. Wisconsin Husks Corn The eleventh-ranked Wisconsin badgers topped the undefeated seventh-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers 23-17 in overtime. After coming back from a ten-point deficit in the fourth quarter, Nebraska tied the game at 17 on a 35-yard field goal with 3:43 remaining. The Badgers would go on to score on their first possession of overtime thanks to an eleven-yard run from running back Dare Ogunbowale. Wisconsin kicker Andrew Endicott would miss the extra point, however, providing Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong and his Cornhuskers a prime opportunity to win the game. Armstrong, who became just the eleventh player in Big Ten history to accumulate 10,000 total career yards in this game, threw an incompletion on fourth-and-eight from the twenty-three, ending the game. Wisconsin, who changed quarterbacks several times in the game, beat their third top-ten ranked opponent this season.
  5. Clemson Almost Cooked; Louisville Limps ACC powers Clemson and Louisville were plays away from being two more victims of upsets in Week 9. Number three Clemson hung on to beat the twelfth-ranked Florida State Seminoles 37-34 behind a dazzling Deshaun Watson performance. The win, Clemson’s fifth this season by a touchdown or less, was the first time the Tigers had beaten the Seminoles in ten years at Doak Campbell Stadium. Watson’s 430 yards of offense and two touchdowns were barely enough to stop a sensational performance from Florida State running back Dalvin Cook. Cook, who leads the Power 5 in rushing, rushed for four touchdowns behind 169 yards rushing in a loss that eliminates his Seminoles from ACC championship contention. Perhaps the ugliest win of the day for a top team goes to fifth-ranked Louisville in their 32-25 victory over the Virginia Cavaliers. Despite trailing for almost the entire game, Louisville found themselves in the thick of things late in the fourth quarter thanks to Heisman-favorite Lamar Jackson. After falling behind 25-24 when Virginia converted a two-point conversion with 1:57 remaining, Jackson led his Cardinals right down the field, including a fourth-down conversion, and capped off a winning drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Smith. Jackson threw for 361 yards and rushed for 90 more while scoring four touchdowns, further strengthening his grip on the Heisman. Louisville, however, will remain on the outside looking in at the playoff despite Jackson’s heroics.

Week 10 really only brings two blockbuster matchups, albeit the game between top-ranked Alabama and fifteenth ranked LSU will be one of the most important showdowns of the year. The other highlight matchup has ninth-ranked Nebraska visiting Columbus to take on the sixth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. Ohio State is looking to rebound following a loss to Penn State and a poor performance this week against Northwestern. Washington will also look to stay undefeated in a likely shootout with Cal.

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