College football season is starting to heat up with every game proving to be difficult for all of the teams (except Michigan). This week featured multiple top 25 matchups and the Red River Rivalry as my games of the week.
Games of the Week
Texas vs Oklahoma
This huge Big 12 rivalry game features two of the most storied programs in the country, and they did not disappoint. No. 19 Oklahoma played Texas at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The Sooners (3-2) pulled away late to escape Texas, 45-40. OU won this game because it’s the better team, not because it deserved to win. The Sooners had four turnovers to Texas’ two. Two of OU’s turnovers came from errant throws by Baker Mayfield. The young Shane Buechele also threw an interception for the Longhorns, but the youth of Texas (2-3) showed its true colors.
Charlie Strong demoted defensive coordinator Vance Bedford and Strong took the reins Saturday. This move didn’t help Texas much, except the Longhorns finally got their first interception of the season. Texas won the turnover battle but it couldn’t stop OU running back Samaje Perine and receiver Dede Westbrook. With all the struggles Texas has had this year on the defensive end, it seems almost out of the conversation in the Big 12 race. As for Strong, his days could be numbered due to that good ole’ Texas pressure.
The next test for the Longhorns comes Saturday when they host a gritty Iowa State team in Austin. OU hosts a tough Kansas State team, which has one of the best defenses in the country.
Florida State vs Miami
The No. 14 Seminoles traveled down to No. 16 Miami to take on the Hurricanes, well, in the midst of a Hurricane. The remnants of Hurricane Matthew left a wet field, which ultimately led to the Hurricanes’ (4-1) 20-19 loss to FSU. FSU running back Dalvin Cook had a field day on a run-happy surface, rushing for 150 yards. Miami’s offense also struggled against the underachieving FSU (4-2) defense posting only 276 yards of total offense.
The real game started when Miami scored a late touchdown to put the game within one point. However, the most routine play in football, a point after attempt, was dropped Tony Romo-style to give FSU the one-point win. The magnitude of this game is more than just a loss. This is one of the nastiest rivalries in college football, possibly sports. A fight was started before the game at the coin toss and it ended on a dropped snap. The Hurricanes dropped their first game under coach Mark Richt and the Seminoles are still hanging around the teens in the top 25.
Miami hosts North Carolina on Saturday, who just got blown out by Virginia Tech. FSU hosts Wake Forest.
Tennessee vs Texas A&M
The luck of the No. 9 Volunteers ran out when they traveled to College Station to take on the No. 6 Aggies. Texas A&M won 45-38 in double overtime. Texas A&M (6-0) has been putting together a solid season behind transfer quarterback Trevor Knight, and Tennessee (5-1) has been squeezing every ounce of luck they have left. The resilient Volunteers didn’t quit when they went down 28-7 in the third quarter. They thrive when they are down and out.
Tennessee scored two touchdowns in three minutes to put it at 28-21. Texas A&M then scored again but Tennessee didn’t back down. On a brilliant play, Malik Foreman chased down Aggies running back Trayveon Williams to punch the ball out. Williams’ run would’ve sealed the game for the Aggies, putting them up two touchdowns with under two minutes left, but Foreman hit the ball out of the end zone, which resulted in a touchback. The play gave Tennessee the ball for an opportunity for overtime. The game went to double overtime with the Aggies coming out on top thanks to a touchdown by Knight. Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs threw a pick to end the game. Tennessee had seven turnovers, which can ultimately be seen as the reason it lost this game.
The Vols host No. 1 Alabama on Saturday and the Aggies have a bye week.
Players of the Week
Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma: 10 catches, 232 yards, three touchdowns
Westbrook put himself in OU’s record books with a breakout performance. He broke the single-game receiving record for the Sooners and there was no bigger game to do it in. The speedy receiver hauled in 10 catches and capitalized them into 232 yards. He also had a 71-yard touchdown reception in the win against the Longhorns.
Jake Browning, QB, Washington: 22/28, 304 yards, eight total touchdowns
Yes, the Huskies are featured again this week, and so is Jake Browning. Browning is putting up Heisman-like numbers this year. The Huskies hung 70 on Oregon on Saturday, and Browning had eight touchdowns. The most impressive statistic is that six of his 22 completions went for touchdowns, along with his 78.5 percent completion rate. The Huskies may be rolling but Browning is rolling more as he goes up to 23 touchdowns on the season and only two interceptions.
Minkah Fitzpatick, DB, Alabama: Three interceptions, one touchdown, two passes defended
This 6-1 defensive back decided to take matters into his own hands Saturday. He had three interceptions, all coming in the second half, along with a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown that put the Tide up 49-24. The Tide struggled on defense against Arkansas but Fitzpatrick was feared by the Razorbacks’ offense all game. Believe it or not, Fitzpatrick got his first pick in this game and has three on the season. With those types of instincts, this sophomore could have a bright future with the Alabama powerhouse.