Week 10 provided some extra motivation for college football teams as it marked the first time they played with College Football Playoff rankings this season.
Although no one was looking at any game more than the No. 1 Alabama versus No. 3 LSU showdown in Death Valley, there was a lot of good football played this week. Here are the key outcomes that might have an impact on the new CFP rankings and the coveted four-team CFP field.
No. 2 Clemson vs. Louisville
No. Clemson won this game 77-16 … so there’s really not much to say here.
— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) November 3, 2018
Almost everyone was confident Clemson was going to take the win in Week 10, but they didn’t know just how big of a win that would be. The Tigers’ 77 points were the second-most they’ve ever scored in an ACC game and the fourth-most in all of program history. They rushed for a total of 492 yards and improved to 9-0 on the season with the win. Dabo Swinney’s squad has scored 136 points in the last two games, but has only allowed 120 points all season. It’s safe to say that the latest dominant performance helped drive home the fact the Tigers deserve a spot in the College Football Playoff.
No. 10 Ohio State vs. Nebraska
The Buckeyes had a lot to prove after playing their first game since the huge upset at Purdue two weeks ago. Urban Meyer said his team was working through a lot of little issues, but they still weren’t the marquee team Ohio State fans are used to watching on Saturdays.
They ended up with a 36-31 win at home, but the outcome was pretty uncertain for a while. Nebraska was the first on the board, marking the first time Ohio State allowed a touchdown on an opening drive this season. They either trailed the Huskers or were barely ahead for a good chunk of the game, which won’t look good for the new CFP rankings. The Buckeyes came into this week as one of the top teams with one loss this season. Although the margin of win doesn’t necessarily matter, the way they played will certainly be a factor the committee considers.
With the Purdue loss and tight win over a Nebraska team that has two wins on this season, the No. 10 Buckeyes might be shunned from the CFP for the second year in a row if they don’t turn it around soon.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) November 3, 2018
No. 5 Michigan vs. No. 14 Penn State
Last season, Penn State topped Michigan 42-13 — but it was a completely different game this time around. No. 5 Michigan looked real good against their top-15 opponent Penn State at home, holding the Nittany Lions to just 77 yards and no points in the first half.
Michigan went into the half with two touchdowns of their own. The first was a walk-in score by QB Shea Patterson with just a few minutes into the first quarter. But, the show-stopper of the half was Donovan Peoples-Jones’s touchdown reception in the back corner of the end zone.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 3, 2018
After a relatively slow start of the half, Michigan’s Zach Gentry made a 7-yard TD reception with less than a minute left in the third quarter. The score put Michigan up 21-0. In that same minute, Michigan’s Brandon Watson caught an interception and ran it back for the pick-six. The extra point gave them a 28-0 advantage.
62 yards … To. The. (Big) House.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 3, 2018
With 14 more points, leading to a 42-7 game, Michigan handed Penn State their third loss of the season. However, Penn State did manage to avoid its first shutout since 2001 (which came from Michigan) with a last-minute touchdown drive. Still, the Nittany Lions can kiss their CFP dreams goodbye, while Michigan should feel confident about staying in the top 5 with the potential of moving into the top 4 by the CFP.
No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 9 Kentucky
The Bulldogs left some room for hope in the beginning of the game for a Kentucky team that is used to battling for a comeback. But, Georgia worked steadily to put the Wildcats in their place. Going into the game, Kentucky allowed only 13 points per game — Georgia had more than that in the first half alone to go into the locker room with a 14-3 lead. Georgia scored two more times in the third quarter, highlighted by D’Andre Swift’s personal best 83-yard rushing touchdown. Kentucky’s Benny Snell got his team’s first touchdown at the end of the third, but still had an 18-point deficit late in Lexington.
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) November 3, 2018
Justin Fields filled in for Jake Fromm at times to finish out the game and Georgia scored 6 more points. Meanwhile, Kentucky lost players to injury and penalties and scored just seven more points of their own, falling 34-17 to the Dawgs. This game determined the SEC East Division, meaning Georgia will play in the SEC Championship Game for the second consecutive season. A win over Alabama there would be huge for getting a higher ranking and making the top four.
No. 4 Notre Dame vs. Northwestern
The night didn’t start as well as Irish fans hoped for their team that beat Navy 44-22 last week. Notre Dame went into the half with a 7-7 tie versus unranked Northwestern team after a Dexter Williams touchdown. Although it was a low-scoring half for Notre Dame (and one in which Northwestern dominated time of possession), Irish quarterback Ian Book celebrated surpassing 2,000 career passing yards.
But, things started looking better for the Irish in the second half. Miles Boykin had some big catches on one drive, giving Notre Dame a 14-7 lead with the extra point.
Name a more iconic duo than the Irish and converting fourth downs.
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) November 4, 2018
The Irish would score again with under three minutes left in the third quarter, improving the lead to 21-7. Senior kicker Justin Yoon improved the lead to 17 points with a 43-yard field goal opening the fourth quarter. Northwestern looked to be out of the game by this point, but it instead came roaring back with a few scores. Two fourth-quarter touchdowns brought the Wildcats within just three points of the Irish with a full 7 minutes left in the game. But, it wasn’t enough to pull off the upset, as Notre Dame clinched the 31-21 win.
Notre Dame remains undefeated and is the only team with a win over the No. 5 Michigan that easily put away No. 14 Penn State today. This should give them a small sense of security if it loses a game of its own before the CFP field is announced. However, the fact that they only play 12 games this season gives them one less data point than other one-loss teams. So, the Irish are going to want to win out to stay in CFP contention. Their toughest game left comes in a Week 12 game against No. 19 Syracuse on the road.
No. 7 Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech
Oklahoma let Texas Tech take the lead early on, not scoring any points of their own until about four minutes left in the first quarter. By then, Texas Tech already had 14 on the board. Texas Tech then hit a field goal off the uprights less than a minute into the second quarter. That was enough to light a fire under the Sooners, who reacted with a touchdown, coming within three points of unranked Texas Tech. But minutes later, the lead was expanded to 10 points with a Da’Leon Ward touchdown for Texas Tech.
🚨Touchdown Red Raiders! 🚨
Bowman finds Ward on the throwback screen, he houses it from 45 yards out, and we’re up 24-14!
— Texas Tech Football (@TexasTechFB) November 4, 2018
As the emotional rollercoaster continued, the Sooners picked up another score of the own soon after, cutting Texas Tech’s lead back down to three, at 24-21. They finally took their first lead of the game closing in on the end of the second quarter. But, keeping with the pattern of the game, Texas Tech scored again, going up to 31-28 in the high-scoring half.
That was far from the end of the scoring. A Sooners touchdown early in the third gave them back the lead at 35-31. One Texas Tech field goal and an Oklahoma touchdown in the fourth quarter were just enough. Though Texas Tech scored a touchdown to make it 42-40, the Sooners returned the ensuing conversion for two points and then scored again to go up 51-40. Texas Tech wouldn’t let that be the end, responding with yet another touchdown to make it 51-46. Failed two-point conversion and onside kick attempts locked in the final score. The Sooners shouldn’t have to worry too much about dropping in the rankings, but with their tight win, they also shouldn’t yet expect to make their third appearance in the CFP.
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 3 LSU
In the game of the year, LSU hoped to break its losing streak to Alabama and proceed to the SEC Championship Game. The Tigers started off on the right foot, stopping Alabama from scoring on the opening drive for the first time this season. Henry Ruggs III wouldn’t score for the Tide until 10 minutes into the matchup, giving the Tigers some hope to continue their defensive strategy through the half without Devin White, who sat out the first half from a targeting call in Week 9. A botched extra point attempt meant Alabama only went up 6-0.
Although LSU still hadn’t put up any points of its own, it took seven minutes off the clock and held Alabama to a field goal in the second. The Tigers knew they’d have to slow down Alabama’s usual routine of completely running away with the game in the first half, and still had hope with just a 9-point deficit. And the defense did its part with Todd Harris Jr. intercepting an attempted deep pass that would have been detrimental for the Tigers going into the half. It also marked Tua Tagovailoa’s first interception of the season. But, Tua didn’t stay down for long. Tagovailoa threw the perfect pass to Irv Smith, Jr., starting to close off LSU’s chance of making a comeback. They went into the half with a 16-0 deficit.
Seriously, this is just a PERFECT pass. pic.twitter.com/gK6PBKaHmL
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 4, 2018
White returned for the second half as LSU got the ball for the opening drive, giving Tigers fans some hope to battle it out for the SEC upset. LSU sacked Tagovailoa forcing Alabama into third-and-long, but Tagovialoa ran in for a career long 44-yard touchdown that same drive, bringing Alabama’s lead up to 22-0, even with a missed extra point. This left LSU with just one quarter to attempt the comeback.
Going into the game, Tagovailoa hadn’t played a single down in the fourth quarter. However, that wasn’t the game plan tonight with Jalen Hurts out after surgery to alleviate a minor ankle injury. Tagovailoa played through the game, leading the Tide to a 29-0 shutout. Alabama’s win clinched the SEC West title. The Tide will meet Georgia in the SEC Championship in Atlanta and should go into the CFP as the No. 1 seed if it remains undefeated.