Another week of college football saw another set of teams’ playoff hopes go down the drain. Likewise, many teams’ playoff aspirations also grew whereas one Power Five conference’s depth shattered.
Here are the top winners and losers from College Football’s Week 10.
*Since this is a weekly segment, the previous week’s winners and losers can be found here.
Oklahoma Sooners: In a game that saw only four punts combined, Oklahoma outlasted rival Oklahoma State in an old fashion shootout, 62-52, to keep themselves in play for a Big 12 title and a Playoff spot. The performance of Sooners’ quarterback Baker Mayfield, who torched the Cowboys for 598 yards and six total touchdowns, deserves endless recognition. As the Heisman race heats up, Mayfield should be the front-runner on everybody’s list.
To Oklahoma’s credit, their win in Stillwater gives them their second biggest of the season – this week, and on the road in Columbus in September. The Sooners still have many more chances to pad its resume including next week’s game against 8th ranked TCU in Norman.
Clemson Tigers: Another white-knuckle fist-fight for Clemson. What’s new? Early on, N.C. State QB Ryan Finley gave the Tigers defense fits, completing 65 percent of his passes for 157 yards and two TDs in the first half. But the Tigers ultimately buckled down, picking him off twice and holding the Wolfpack to 10 points in the second half to hang on, 38-31, on the road.
Clemson’s passing attack was anything but pretty as Kelly Bryant connected on 20 of his 38 passes for just 191 yards and 1 score. However, the Wolfpack failed to bottle up Bryant, or any Clemson running back for that matter, en route to a 239 yard and 6.3 yards per carry average against the 31st rushing defense in the nation. Clemson now owns three wins against current Top 25 teams and seven against teams with a .500 or better record, that mark is the best in college football.
Miami Hurricanes: After weeks of close calls against mediocre competition, Miami finally got their signature win against Virginia Tech, 28-10. Hurricanes’ quarterback Malik Rosier wasn’t perfect by all means – completing only 10 passes for 193 yards and three picks. However, he made plays when he had to, such as completing four passes of 20+ yards and running for 84 of Miami’s total 219 yards on the ground.
If anything else, the ‘Canes’ defense proved once again that it’s one of the best in the ACC. Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson was swarmed with relentless Miami pass rushers, sacking him four times and causing him to throw two interceptions. In total, Miami held the Hokies to only 299 total yards of offense.
Beyond securing the ACC Coastal Division — no small task, since Miami hadn’t won any hardware since joining the conference — the win will impress the Playoff selection committee and likely bump the Hurricanes up a few spots in the next rankings. Most of all, however, the victory paints Miami as a true contender for the Playoff rather than a team rising up the rankings almost solely by virtue of its unbeaten record.
Auburn Tigers: Auburn took a slim, 14-13 lead midway through 2nd quarter against Texas A&M in College Station and never looked back, pounding the Aggies, 42-27. Although the nation’s 14th best total defense surrendered 27 points, nearly 350 total yards, and didn’t register a sack, it was the Tigers’ offense that took the game over.
Jarrett Stidham was cool under lukewarm Aggie pressure, completing 74.1 percent of his passes for 268 yards, 3 TDs, and no picks. What was also more impressive was that Auburn rushed for a total of 228 yards.
Auburn’s November playoff push starts now. After their win this week, the Tigers are surging in advance of the home stretch in SEC play — a fact that will have a profound impact on the College Football Playoff race. With games ahead against Georgia and Alabama, this team has a chance to up-end the perceived Playoff makeup and open the title chase to the entire Power Five landscape. Auburn can be the anarchists of college football’s final push. And it’s not so crazy to imagine a path for the Tigers to reach the Playoff, though it might take a bit of help for a two-loss conference champion to reach the top four.
Big Ten: Is it possible that the Big Ten played itself out of the College Football Playoff picture this Saturday? With a surprise loss from Ohio State – giving up 55 points on the road to Iowa, and Penn State, who lost on a last-second field goal – gives both of these teams two losses and unrealistic shots of sneaking into Playoff contention.
Wisconsin is now the conference’s last hope to make the Playoffs. The Badgers remain unbeaten following their pummelling of Indiana, 45-17. Running back Jonathan Taylor abused the Hoosiers’ defensive-front by carrying it 29 times for 183 yards and one score. As they do every week, Wisconsin’s defense stood tall, holding Indiana to 266 total yards and just three 3rd down conversions.
Due to several teams ahead of them losing, Wisconsin will most likely shoot up the rankings. However, the biggest question involving the Badgers is their strength of schedule. With only two wins against teams with a .500 record or better and none against ranked opponents, Wisconson’s resume is need of a boost soon.
Iowa State Cyclones: After being college football’s darling through two months of the season, rising to 15th in Playoff Rankings, reality set in for Iowa State on Saturday. Iowa State’s defense fought hard, holding the 7th highest scoring offense in the FBS in West Virginia to just 20 points. However, the Cyclones offense managed to only produce 16 points.
All is not lost for Iowa State though. At 6-3, the Cyclones have a chance to reach seven wins for the first time since 2009, and eight wins since 2000. With their next three opponents being Oklahoma State and road games at Baylor and Kansas State, that goal is very much manageable.
Florida Gators: Like Kansas City Royals manager Buddy Bell said after losing 19 straight games in 2006, “it could always be worse.” That phrase is now reaching enranged Florida fans all across the country, because right now, things are in fact, getting worse for the Gators.
On Saturday, Florida suffered a humiliating 42-16 loss to Missouri, a team that before last week were winners of three games to two FCS opponents and one-win UConn. If anything, this game was worse than the score indicated — joining last Saturday’s 42-7 loss to rival Georgia to represent the program’s rock-bottom finish. The 64-point margin of defeat in back-to-back games marks the Gators’ worst two-game stretch since losing to Auburn and Georgia by a combined 75 points in 1971.
Mike Riley: The Riley era is almost officially over at Nebraska after the Cornhuskers’ overtime loss to Northwestern. At 4-5, the Cornhuskers will need to win two of three against Minnesota, Penn State, and Iowa to secure a bowl trip. It’s almost more likely that Nebraska loses all three.