Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is 6-foot-3, a seemingly insignificant truth from Indiana’s roster and the universe’s cruelest twist for Penn State.
Oh positive, that may appear to be a conspiratorial view of the occasions that led to the eighth-ranked Nittany Lions dropping their season-opener 36-35 in time beyond regulation. This was simply faculty soccer in any case. Does the universe actually care who wins a Huge Ten sport?
The reply is sure. Sure it does.
If Penix is a centimeter shorter, Penn State is celebrating. As a substitute, Penix’s stretch for the pylon to transform a 2-point conversion by absolutely the slimmest of margins created essentially the most dramatic replay evaluation for the reason that Zapruder movie.
And sure, if Penn State would not fumble on the objective line, miss three area objectives or rating too rapidly on its remaining drive, it will’ve gained, however these are all peripheral moments. This was destiny. A loss this painful needs to be as a consequence of bigger, unseen forces of nature. The soccer gods had been feeling frisky. And, on Saturday, they reminded the nation of simply how a lot we had been lacking Huge Ten soccer these previous two months.
Actually, what’s extra 2020 than the Huge Ten, a league that has produced fringe medical theories (Jim Harbaugh doesn’t want players eating chicken because it’s a “nervous bird”), confounding miseries (hi, sad Michigan fan) and utter emotions of helplessness (Maryland, we’re trying in your route) on an annual foundation? This yr was made for the Huge Ten and, in its return, it supplied us an ideal 2020-type ending when nothing felt sure and something appeared potential.
It was a historic win for Indiana, which hadn’t crushed a top-10 workforce since earlier than man landed on the moon. It was an ending Penn State followers will nonetheless discuss over low-cost beers 50 years from now, shaking their heads and cursing a replay official whose title they’ve by no means recognized.
It was a heck of a second in a sport that, within the grand scheme of the season, in all probability would not actually matter all that a lot.
In any case, Alabama decimated Tennessee in Knoxville with Nick Saban working his document to 23-0 towards former assistants because the dad who retains dunking on his youngsters in a driveway basketball sport. The Tide can win all of it, to make certain, however Saturday’s occasions supplied a purple flag, as star receiver Jaylen Waddle was misplaced for the season with an ankle injury. It was doubtless the top of a collegiate profession for one of many sport’s most electrical gamers, one that might have ripple results months from now when Alabama is definitely examined by a worthy adversary.
An inexplicable season almost took an astounding flip as Clemson struggled to place away woeful Syracuse, regardless of being favored by almost seven touchdowns. Trevor Lawrence threw a choose six, the Orange transformed a handful of huge performs, and the Tigers had been up solely six halfway by the third quarter. How did it occur? A shaky efficiency by a reconstructed offensive line and lackluster day from a receiver corps nonetheless looking for a weapon on the skin. Clemson can win all of it; however, regardless of a lopsided remaining rating, Saturday served discover that there are cracks within the impenetrable facade. (Just don’t ask coach Dabo Swinney about it.)
Ohio State made its case for becoming a member of faculty soccer’s elite tier by dominating Nebraska, due to a near-perfect efficiency from quarterback Justin Fields. The Huskers, in the meantime, could be dusting off that software they began in August for readmittance into the Huge 12. However a detailed have a look at the Buckeyes does supply at the least one potential concern. Trey Sermon and Grasp Teague mixed for 23 carries and simply 89 yards on the bottom, and the Buckeyes clearly missed J.Okay. Dobbins of their 2020 debut.
After which, there’s the query of who will push for the fourth playoff spot, if our favorites all maintain serve.
Is it Oklahoma State? It could be a becoming tribute to this weird yr if coach Mike Gundy made the playoff on the again of his protection, however the Pokes shut down Brock Purdy and Iowa State for a crucial win that saved them undefeated.
Is it Notre Dame? Ian Book lastly related on some large performs within the passing sport because the Irish embarrassed Pitt. Or was that extra about an completely inept Panthers workforce that added to a very skinny resume for Notre Dame?
Possibly Michigan has lastly discovered its QB, and Harbaugh’s crew will roll into Columbus, Ohio, on Dec. 12 and pull off a historic … um, no. Even for 2020, that is a bit wild.
However perhaps all of this dialogue every week into the Huge Ten season, earlier than the Pac-12 kicks off Nov. 7, is completely untimely. That is 2020, a yr when the bottom appears to repeatedly shift beneath our toes and no assumption must be carved into stone.
Maybe that is why Indiana’s stunner means a lot on this late October Saturday. It is a reminder that the actually nice moments can occur any time, the margin between pleasure and distress is razor skinny, and it is best to benefit from the moments now we have quite than fear an excessive amount of about what comes subsequent.
Justin Fields tosses a pair of touchdowns and provides one other on the bottom as Ohio State cruises by Nebraska.
Welcome again, Justin Fields. You’ve got been missed. Slip in your Heisman 5 smoking jacket and permit us to point out you to the members’ lounge. There is a complimentary plate of heat chilly cuts on the desk subsequent to the memorial picture of Geno Smith’s 2012 season.
1. Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence
It may have been a sport to pad the stats, however Lawrence generously let 46-point underdog Syracuse hold round with a pick-six. Maybe we should not be speaking Heisman and may as a substitute be pushing the Clemson QB for the Nobel Peace Prize.
2. Alabama QB Mac Jones
Saturday delivered a devastating blow to Jones’ Heisman marketing campaign. He did not throw for a single TD. Simply terrible. Oh, he did full 25 of 31 passes and averaged 12.5 per throw. However, let’s be sincere — that also counts as a foul day for a man who has been almost good up to now.
3. Ohio State QB Justin Fields
How do you power your manner right into a Heisman dialog a full month after everybody else received began? With 20-of-21 passing for 330 yards and three touchdowns.
4. BYU QB Zach Wilson
Whether or not BYU has an actual shot on the playoff is an enormous query, however Wilson’s possibilities of turning into a Heisman finalist look extra respectable by the week. He completed with 302 yards and 4 touchdowns in one other dominant win Saturday, and he is now averaging 12 yards per move with 16 TDs and one choose this yr.
5. UCF QB Dillon Gabriel
His numbers are absurd. Via 5 video games, Gabriel has 2,178 passing yards and 20 touchdowns. The final quarterback to have extra passing yards at this stage of a season was Patrick Mahomes in 2016. No, UCF is not going to push for a playoff berth, however do not let that hold you from appreciating what Gabriel is doing each week.
The champs bounce again
LSU appears like an actual soccer workforce once more, and all it took was an injured QB, a revamped protection and … attending to play South Carolina.
After beginning 1-2, the Tigers had been dominant in a 52-24 win, enjoying with out beginning QB Myles Brennan. They began freshman T.J. Finley, who was terrific — finishing 17 of 21 passes for 265 yards and accounting for 3 touchdowns. LSU did not punt.
Practically as spectacular was the protection, which had been terrible in its first three video games below new coordinator Bo Pelini. Head coach Ed Orgeron supplied his frustrations and promised modifications following a loss towards Missouri, saying the scheme wanted to be simplified. We’ll assume Pelini learn some Marie Kondo books and eradicated any schemes that did not kindle pleasure. The outcome was the very best efficiency of the season.
Does this imply there shall be a QB controversy shifting ahead? Will we see Finley once more subsequent week towards Auburn in a warmup for Alabama? Will Pelini go away the workforce for his personal Netflix house design particular?
The reply to all of these questions is, will probably be price watching.
Cincinnati stands tall
It is not going a Group of 5 workforce will make a run on the playoff, however Saturday’s showdown between Cincinnati and SMU was at the least a battle for school soccer’s Miss Congeniality.
The Bearcats’ offense had struggled to search out large performs, but it surely jumped out to a 14-0 lead on a quintessential Cincinnati 12-play drive. SMU may by no means scratch its manner again, due to some mind-boggling selections in and across the purple zone that included a missed area objective, a confounding little bit of clock administration on the finish of the half, a curious option to kick a area objective on fourth-and-2 and two turnovers on downs.
Bearcats QB Desmond Ridder threw for simply 126 yards, however he made up for the shortage of an aerial assault with 179 yards and three touchdowns on the bottom — all of which was sufficient to warrant throwing up on the sector within the third quarter. (It may need been the third plate of Skyline Chili earlier than the sport — cinnamon would not belong in chili.)
Ridder was high-quality, and the Bearcats gained 42-13 and moved to 4-0 for the second time in 4 seasons below Luke Fickell. Extra importantly, ninth-ranked Cincinnati is within the driver’s seat for a New 12 months’s Six berth, with one other enormous sport subsequent week towards Memphis.
They hold successful
The chances of a non-Energy 5 faculty making the playoff have by no means been notably good, however there are just a few groups doing a pleasant job making their instances.
Coastal Carolina was with out QB Grayson McCall on Saturday, however its protection was dominant in a 28-14 win towards Georgia Southern. The Chanticleers at the moment are 5-0 and made a robust case to stay inside the Prime 25 after cracking the ballot for the primary time in program historical past final week (at No. 25).
Utilizing the transitive property of wins, Coastal continues to be in line for a Huge 12 title.
With Texas Tech’s win over West Virginia, Coastal Carolina has now has transitive wins over 90% of the Huge 12. Pokes stay elusive. pic.twitter.com/yUAa7Bzb7C
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) October 25, 2020
In the meantime, Marshall additionally moved to 5-0, although in much less spectacular style. The Thundering Herd struggled to tug away from Florida Atlantic, however Grant Wells’ two TDs proved the distinction in a 20-9 win.
After which there’s Liberty, which is now 6-0 behind QB Malik Willis, who was electrical on Saturday in a 56-35 win versus Southern Miss. Willis threw for six touchdowns and ran for a seventh, accumulating almost 450 yards within the course of. Hugh Freeze’s workforce is among the many most explosive within the nation, and his QB — a switch from Auburn — makes the Flames almost unattainable to defend.
And we get to welcome Boise State again into the dialog. Whereas the Huge Ten celebrated its return, the Mountain West kicked off, too, and the Broncos appeared dominant in a 42-13 win towards Utah State. It’s good to have blue turf again in our lives.
Nonetheless, ESPN’s FPI offers all of them lower than a 0.1% likelihood of constructing the playoff, so do not get your hopes up. Then once more, attempt telling that to Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers are prone to end you with a Stone Chilly stunner.
— Silas Kelly (@sila_SK_elly) October 25, 2020
Anderson’s triple leads Wake Forest
After Wake Forest’s gorgeous upset of Virginia Tech, teammates celebrated within the locker room by throwing defensive again Nick Anderson into the air and chanting, “Scholly! Scholly!” Head coach Dave Clawson mentioned he’ll gladly oblige the request this spring.
The walk-on true freshman received his share of enjoying time for the banged-up Demon Deacons on Saturday and picked off three passes.
Wake Forest true freshman walk-on security Nick Andersen will get three interceptions to assist the Demon Deacons upset Virginia Tech 23-16.
Anderson had a handful of FCS presents final yr, however he wished to play big-time soccer, so he rolled the cube as a most popular walk-on at Wake Forest this season.
It was a good selection.
In response to ESPN Stats & Data analysis, Anderson is simply the fourth participant in Wake Forest historical past to have three interceptions in the identical sport and the primary ACC DB to do it since Louisville’s Gerod Holliman in 2014.
The massive win marked one other turning level for this system. At No. 19, Virginia Tech was the highest-ranked opponent the Deacons have crushed since topping No. 16 Boston School in 2006 en path to an ACC title.
Out of its Rut
Do not look now, however Rutgers is undefeated in Huge Ten play.
OK, it is one sport, however let’s get pleasure from it whereas we will. We have spent loads of time cracking jokes at Rutgers’ expense over time (we’ll now flip our full consideration to Kansas), however Saturday’s 38-27 win towards Michigan State warrants some actual enthusiasm.
Rutgers scored a couple of landing in a sport simply as soon as in its earlier 12 Huge Ten video games (towards Ohio State, consider it or not). On Saturday, the Scarlett Knights discovered the top zone 5 occasions. 5! That is only one fewer convention landing than Rutgers managed in all of 2019.
Has head coach Greg Schiano efficiently turned again the clock to 2006? We do not wish to get forward of ourselves, however contemplating these 21 factors Rutgers scored towards Ohio State final yr, the pattern line positive appears to be pointing to a Huge Ten title.
Oh so shut
Life is not truthful, particularly for QBs who ship an ideal move solely to see a receiver flub the catch and have the ball find yourself within the fingers of the protection. And, with that, we provide the distress of NC State freshman Ben Finley, who delivered what ought to’ve been the primary landing move of his profession, if not for a quite unlucky bounce off the fingers of his receiver.
NC State’s Ben Finley throws the ball into the top zone, however it’s bobbled and picked off by a diving Don Chapman.
We’ll dub this a six-pick, reversing the INT-turned-TD designation to account for this brutal little bit of luck.
In the meantime, North Carolina cruised to a simple win, rebounding from final week’s stunning loss towards Florida State. The Tar Heels additionally had a pair of working backs prime 100 yards for the second time in three weeks, as Javonte Williams and Michael Carter mixed for 266 yards and 4 touchdowns.
A second one for the document books
Fields made his return Saturday in high-quality style, finishing his first 11 passes and ending 20-of-21 passing within the sport. It appeared an terrible lot like his fellow Huge Ten QB Graham Mertz, who additionally accomplished 20 of 21 passes for Wisconsin in a win towards Illinois on Friday evening.
In response to ESPN Stats & Data analysis, the 2 at the moment are tied for the second-best completion share for any qualifying QB within the Huge Ten’s historical past, trailing solely Minnesota’s Tanner Morgan (21-of-22 towards Purdue final yr).
However who holds the Huge Ten’s greatest single-game completion share? That is a trivia reply that may win you a drink. Tate Martell, the Ohio State QB turned Miami receiver turned switch aficionado, who was 10-for-10 towards Rutgers in 2018. Martell has had simply 11 completions since.
Below-the-radar sport of the week
This man is both celebrating a ridiculous faculty soccer win or protesting the “No Shirt, No Service” coverage at a South Philly 7-Eleven.
— LumberjackFans (@LumberjackFans) October 24, 2020
Truly, it’s Stephen F. Austin head coach Colby Carthel, whose Lumbrerjacks wrapped an time beyond regulation stunner Saturday. SFA trailed Abilene Christian 29-22 with 1:38 to play however went 67 yards on three performs to tie the rating and ship the sport to time beyond regulation. After Abilene settled for a area objective, Trae Self hit Chad Aune for a 16-yard successful TD. And off got here the shirt.
It was Carthel’s first sport again since testing positive for the coronavirus, forcing him to ask his father (and volunteer coach), Don, to face in final Saturday.
Below-the-radar play of the week
Did you see the sport that ended by absolutely the slimmest of margins, sending the favourite to a loss in completely painful style?
No, we’re not speaking about Penn State-Indiana. What occurred to Rice could be even worse.
The Owls had a shot to win late after scoring a landing with 34 seconds to play and connecting on a two-point attempt to go up three. As a substitute, Center Tennessee went 35 yards in 34 seconds and kicked a tying area objective to power time beyond regulation.
The Owls had one other likelihood to win however missed a 45-yard kick within the first OT … by absolutely the slimmest of margins (Indiana’s Michael Penix apart).
Rice traces up for a game-winning area objective towards Center Tennessee in time beyond regulation, however the ball hits each uprights and the crossbar twice earlier than bouncing out.
One other missed kick and an MTSU TD in double OT despatched Rice to a 40-34 loss in its season opener. Chalk it as much as MTSU’s expertise. The sport was additionally historic for that includes two groups from the identical convention, one (MTSU) that had performed six video games and the opposite that had performed none (Rice).
Greatest bets and dangerous beats
Ole Miss backers might be forgiven for throwing remotes at their televisions as officers did not go to replay on what seemed to be a crucial Auburn mistake on a late punt. With the Rebels up some extent, the ball appeared to tip off the finger of Tigers return man Shaun Shivers and roll into the top zone, the place it was clearly recovered by Ole Miss. As a substitute, the play was dominated a touchback, Auburn marched down the sector, and Seth Williams scored the game-winner with 1:11 to play. Auburn gained 35-28, and the replay sales space owes Ole Miss bettors a couple of dollars.
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day apologized for working up the rating towards Nebraska, however he also needs to apologize to bettors of the over. The full closed 69.5, and quite than take a knee, he had Jack Miller run for a 2-yard landing to carry the rating to 51-17. Day mentioned he had a younger unit on the sector and wished to get them expertise. It is a cheap rationalization, however could not he have gotten them a bit of extra expertise by going for 2 and overlaying the over? As a substitute, Ohio State kicked the PAT, placing the ultimate complete at 69 — one level shy of going over. On the upside, the Buckeyes lined as a 28-point favourite due to that TD; Ohio State is now a powerful 14-4 towards the unfold in season openers since 2000, the very best by any workforce in FBS.
We’re undecided what Tom Herman had his employees learn on Baylor message boards final week, but it surely positive wasn’t the purpose unfold. Texas, an 11-point favourite, was up 27-9 with 9:51 to play when QB Sam Ehlinger, for inexplicable causes, threw a move that was picked off. It led to a Baylor TD that closed the hole to — you guessed it — 11. Texas would certainly discover a approach to rating once more, proper? Yeah, the Longhorns had the ball on the Baylor 4 with 1:15 to go, however Herman merely ran out the clock for a push, which we consider deserves a horns down. Or, at the least a horns sideways. Or perhaps each horns pointing in reverse instructions.