Top teams struggled this week against some, well, not top teams. No. 8 Nebraska battled Indiana in a 27-22 win. No. 11 Houston nearly lost again, but stopped Tulsa late to win 38-31. No. 13 Florida State’s offense struggled against a surprising Wake Forest team to win 17-6. No. 1 Alabama blew out No. 18 Tennessee in Knoxville, but none of those games topped my list of the best games from the weekend. Ranked SEC West matchups, a top 10 clash and an ACC scare were on the slate from this weekend.
Games of the Week
Ole Miss vs Arkansas
No. 23 Ole Miss traveled to No. 17 Arkansas to take on the Razorbacks. Ole Miss fell late to Arkansas, 34-30, after an exchange of touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Arkansas (5-2 overall, 1-2 SEC) grinded out a win in one of the most even statistically games this season in the SEC. Ole Miss (3-3, 0-3) racked up 403 yards of offense, but Arkansas edged it out with 429 yards. Turnovers were even at one apiece, but the most exhausting statistic was the time of possession.
The Razorbacks amounted just over 40 minutes of time with the ball. Ole Miss was around half that with 19:22. Although the game was decided by a mere four points, the Rebels’ defense was pounded. The usual run-heavy Razorbacks had an almost perfect split of rushing to passing yards. Ole Miss’ defense just couldn’t get off the field.
The matchup got interesting when Ole Miss brought the game closer with a field goal to make the score 27-23. The Rebels then took a 30-27 lead for the first time in the game thanks to an Austin Allen interception.
The end of the game turned out to be the breaking point for the Rebels. They were gassed after being on the field for so long. Arkansas cranked out a near five-minute drive to go up 34-30. Ole Miss did get the ball back, but quarterback Chad Kelly fumbled, sealing the Rebels’ fate and giving the Razorbacks the win.
Ole Miss travels to take on No. 25 LSU on Saturday. Arkansas has to face off against the No. 21 Auburn Tigers in another ranked SEC West matchup.
Ohio State vs Wisconsin
The No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes had a tough test ahead of them in Camp Randall against the No. 10 Wisconsin Badgers (4-2). The Buckeyes (6-0, 3-0) beat out the Badgers in a hard fought 30-23 overtime win. OSU quarterback J.T. Barrett was the star of the matchup with over 300 yards of total offense and three touchdowns.
Just like Ole Miss and Arkansas, this game was pretty even in most categories; even the time of possession. Wisconsin (4-2, 1-2) jumped out to a 16-6 lead at the half, but the Buckeyes didn’t fold. The Buckeyes had two fourth-and-one conversions on a pivotal drive. The drive brought OSU back to 16-13. The next Wisconsin drive resulted in an interception; the only turnover for the Badgers that the Buckeyes capitalized on. A 20-16 lead was the first of the game for OSU.
Both teams then made field goals to tie the game at 23-23. Wisconsin had the ball late to make a run for points, but OSU picked the ball off. Or did it? The interception was overturned, but you can be the judge. Fortunately for OSU, the play didn’t end poorly for the Buckeyes. The game went to overtime.
Barrett, on third-and-two, threw a back-shoulder fade to Noah Brown to go up 30-23. The pressure was all on the defense. The stout defensive line held Wisconsin running back Corey Clement for a no gain on three occasions in the overtime period. The fourth down play was a sack to end the Badgers’ hopes.
OSU takes on Penn State in Happy Valley on Saturday. Wisconsin battles Iowa in Iowa City.
North Carolina State vs Clemson
Believe it or not, this game was close. Too close for comfort for the No. 4 Clemson Tigers hosting the NC State Wolfpack. Turnovers haunted Clemson (7-0, 4-0) again. The Tigers had four turnovers, three fumbles and one interception. This is nothing new for Clemson. Overcoming turnovers is becoming second nature. The Tigers also had five turnovers in a win against Louisville.
The matchup was seemingly uneventful. Wolfpack sophomore quarterback Ryan Finley threw his first two interceptions of the season. The Clemson defense has had to bail the offense out a lot this year, but the luck nearly ran out. The Wolfpack (4-2, 1-1) missed three field goals. College kickers have been known to struggle occasionally, but not like this.
The first two misses mattered but none more than the final play of regulation. Sophomore Kyle Bambard attempted a 33-yard field goal to win in Death Valley but missed. The kick went right and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney fell to the ground as his team had some final breaths to win this game.
Clemson scored on a 10-yard touchdown pass in overtime. NC State quarterback Ryan Finley had an opportunity to put his team back on the board but failed. His second pick of the season came from an underthrown pass in the end zone. Marcus Edmond made the interception. He’s a savior for the Tigers after also being the one to force out James Quick to win the Louisville game.
The Tigers are struggling, but have a much needed bye week before facing off against No. 13 Florida State in Tallahassee. NC State can again put that stout defense to the test against the No. 7 Louisville Cardinals on Saturday.
Players of the Week
Carlos Henderson, wide receiver, Louisiana Tech: 12 catches, 326 yards, five touchdowns
If you don’t know who Carlos Henderson is, you do now. Henderson popped off against UMASS. The junior from New Orleans had a night that was highlighted by an 83-yard touchdown. Henderson’s performance gave him the season-high for receiving yards, breaking Oklahoma State’s James Washington’s total from Week 3 of 296. Henderson tied the Bulldogs’ singlegame record for touchdowns, but fell short of Troy Edwards’ 405 yards in 1998 for the school and NCAA record.
Donnel Pumphrey, running back, San Diego State: 38 carries, 220 yards, two touchdowns
I have yet to talk about this stud of a running back. Of all places, San Diego State features the NCAA leader in rushing with 1,111 yards and 11 touchdowns. This is Pumphrey’s third game with over 200 rushing yards this season. The senior running back is only 5-9, which turns a lot of NFL scouts off, but after watching him this season, Pumphrey’s on many team’s radars. Pumphrey faces off against San Jose State in a Friday night game on ESPN 2. San Jose State has one of the worst defenses in the country so Friday night may be another contest to see Pumphrey go off.
Jarvion Franklin, running back, Western Michigan: 33 carries, 281 yards, one touchdown
Western Michigan is the surprise team of the year, going 7-0 so far. The No. 20 Broncos are trucking behind Franklin after his week-leading 281 rushing yards. The Broncos crushed Akron 41-0 on way to their next win. This may not be the most appealing team, but as long as Franklin keeps it up, Western Michigan will stay on the map. Franklin broke the single-game record for Western Michigan and the Broncos are also ranked for the first time in school history.