The Big Ten game of the year lived up to its billing, Notre Dame pounded another Top 25 team and Iowa State continued to break the Big 12.
Three days before the first College Football Playoff rankings will be announced Ohio State made the biggest statement of all. The Buckeyes could force the committee into some tough choices down the road.
Thoughts, takedowns and takeaways from week nine of the college football season.
1. Maybe it was not so much that Ohio State had to fix its offense after the Oklahoma game as the Buckeyes and J.T. Barrett needed some time to get comfortable with what new coordinator Kevin Wilson and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day wanted to do.
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2. Sure, the Buckeyes caught a break in the schedule, with five opponents that they could overwhelm while settling in. It was fair to wonder if the gains were real. Against No. 2 Penn State, one of the teams Ohio State struggled to move the ball against last year, Barrett never looked better.
3. It certainly looks as if it just took the Buckeyes’ new staff some extra time to clean up the mess former coordinator Tim Beck and Ed Warinner left behind.
4. It will be fascinating to see how the committee, which has been inclined to give the Buckeyes the benefit of the doubt in the first three years of the playoff, treats Ohio State. The Buckeyes still only have one quality victory.
5. And that loss to Oklahoma doesn’t just go away.
6. Saquon Barkley’s Heisman hopes were not dashed, but 44 yards on 21 carries and 67 yards from scrimmage overall puts a significant dent in the Penn State star’s candidacy. That 97-yard kickoff return to open the game counts, too.
7. The one flaw in Penn State’s offense was exposed by Ohio State: The offensive line is not great. Offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead’s schemes often protect the line, and Barkley and Trace McSorley can make up for missed blocks. But against Nick Bosa, Sam Hubbard and the Buckeyes’ bunch of stud pass rushers, the Nittany Lions couldn’t hold up — especially after tackle Ryan Bates went out with an injury.
8. Every week No. 9 Notre Dame is even more impressive. Josh Adams and the Irish put up 318 yards rushing against a No. 14 North Carolina State defensive line that has four future NFL players, including All-American Bradley Chubb, and was allowing 91 yards rushing per game coming in.
9. How about the left side of Notre Dame’s offensive line — tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Quenton Nelson — for Heisman?
10. Now that Iowa State’s Matt Campbell has locked up Big 12 coach of the year after the Cyclones handed TCU its first loss of the season in Ames, we can start talking about Campbell as national coach of the year.
11. With wins over Oklahoma and TCU, Iowa State is a legitimate Big 12 title contender and the first team since Florida in 2005 to beat two top-five teams before Nov. 1.
12. Drink some coffee. Take a nap. Set your DVR and watch it on Sunday. Whatever you need to do, you must watch Arizona’s Khalil Tate, who has run for 946 yards in the last four games.
13. Arizona and Iowa State, combined six wins last season, are currently tied for first in their respective conference standings.
14. If the Pac-12’s playoff hopes are now Washington or bust, the 12th-ranked Huskies provide some hope with a nice bounce-back against UCLA.
15. Which program is having a worse week? Florida State, which gets blasted at Boston College on Friday night, or Florida, which had to quell a rumor about buyout talks between the coach and his agent before getting embarrassed by Georgia .
16. The pick is the Gators. The Seminoles have problems, but coach Jim McElwain’s tenure seems to be unraveling. McElwain came into this season with a 19-8 record at Florida and two SEC East titles. Life comes at you fast.
18. Prediction for the first playoff rankings: Undefeated and No. 5 Wisconsin will be ranked behind at least four teams (Notre Dame, Clemson, Oklahoma and Ohio State) with one loss.
19. Undefeated Miami could be in a similar position. While the Badgers are just methodically leveling mostly sketchy competition, the eighth-ranked Hurricanes have turned every week into an adventure. Even against a North Carolina team that looks as if it has just about packed it in, Miami went down to the final minutes.
20. Despite the North Carolina State loss to Notre Dame, the Wolfpack have an even bigger game next week when No. 7 Clemson comes to Raleigh. The winner gets first in the ACC Atlantic.
21. It’s almost like ACC semifinal weekend: Miami hosts No. 13 Virginia Tech with first in the Coastal on the line for what will no doubt be another one-score game because that’s all the Hurricanes seems to play.
22. Michigan made a quarterback switch to Brandon Peters, who promptly led the Wolverines to touchdowns on his first three drives against Rutgers. So, coach Jim Harbaugh, what took so long?
23. Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson became the fourth player in NCAA history to reach 3,000 yards rushing and 8,000 yards passing in his career in Louisville’s loss to Wake Forest. The last game of Jackson’s brilliant career is likely to be in a second-tier bowl game and that’s seems disappointing.
24. Barkley was shut down. Stanford’s Bryce Love didn’t play. So the Heisman front-runner is? It’s tempting to vault Barrett toward the top, and Adams is making up ground fast. Don’t forget Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, with Bedlam looming. And Tate.
25. The initial top four of the selection committee? Here’s a guess: 1, Alabama; 2, Georgia; 3, Notre Dame; 4, Clemson. Oklahoma and Ohio State after that.
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