Photo courtesy of Texas A&M athletics
Can you believe we are already six weeks into the college football season? We’re also now less than two weeks away from the Big Ten finally returning to the gridiron.
In the meantime, we had a busy weekend of football on Saturday. With that, it’s time for our weekly countdown of our five top performing teams.
In a battle of teams desperate to win in the Red River Rivalry, the Oklahoma Sooners edged out the 22nd-ranked Texas Longhorns at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday. The Sooners prevailed 53-45 in four overtimes.
This one was an absolute classic, as head coach Lincoln Riley’s Sooners outlasted Tom Herman and Texas in a must-win game for both schools. Oklahoma was coming off back-to-back losses to Kansas State and Iowa State.
It marked the first time the Sooners had lost consecutive games since 1999 — Bob Stoops’ first year in Norman. The Longhorns were coming off an upset loss to TCU in Austin.
The Sooners came out of the gates quickly, taking a 10-0 lead in the contest’s first eight minutes. The Longhorns countered with a touchdown and field goal of their own, knotting things up 10-10.
After trading scores back and forth, Oklahoma and running back TJ Pledger took over. Pledger found the end zone twice in the third quarter to give the Sooners the 31-17 advantage.
Now it was Texas’ turn to show some firepower. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger finally woke up in the fourth quarter. Down two touchdowns with four minutes to go, Ehlinger found the end zone twice to tie it up with 14 seconds remaining. Joshua Moore was on the receiving end of the pass that tied things up.
We had overtime. After exchanging scores for the first two overtimes, a turnover and missed field goal sent it to a fourth. Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler then found Drake Stoops, son of the former Oklahoma head coach, in the end zone to put the Sooners up 53-45 after a successful 2-point conversion.
Facing 2nd-and-goal on the next possession, Ehlinger then forced one into the end zone where it was picked off by Tre Brown to seal the Sooner win. Another chapter of the Red River Rivalry was successfully written, and it was quite a good read.
The only reason the Clemson Tigers aren’t higher on the list, is because, well, they’re the Clemson Tigers. This was expected, but certainly shouldn’t go unnoticed. The top-ranked Tigers made a fool of the No. 7 Miami Hurricanes, blowing them away, 42-17.
This was a big test for both schools, but the Tigers, as usual, opened eyes all around the country about their potential this year.
Clemson came out of the gates running, as Trevor Lawrence found Braden Galloway in the end zone to put the Tigers up 7-0 on their opening drive. They never looked back from there. Even a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown at the end of the half for the Hurricanes never could get Manny Diaz’s team going.
Brent Venables’ defense swarmed Miami quarterback D’Eriq King all night long. King was sacked a total of five times. The defense also held the ‘Canes to nine first downs and to 4-for-15 on third down conversion attempts.
It’s safe to say that the Clemson Tigers are right in the mix yet again this year. Dabo Swinney’s team will be right in the thick of things for yet another national title run come January.
The Missouri Tigers took advantage of some unexpected home-field advantage. The Tigers’ game against LSU was moved to Columbia after the threat of Hurricane Delta in Louisiana forced the SEC to relocate the contest.
All Mizzou did was upset 17th-ranked LSU, handing the Tigers their second straight loss and removing them from the polls for the first time since 2017.
This game was a fun one. After going back and forth the first half, LSU eventually found itself up 41-38 heading into the final quarter.
Following an impressive 4-play, 77-yard drive, Mizzou capped it off with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Connor Bazelak, putting the Tigers up for good at 45-41. Mizzou sealed the win by stopping LSU on four tries from the 1-yard-line in the final seconds.
Head coach Eliah Drinkwitz’s first win in Columbia was a big one. Knocking off the defending national champions is something to build on in the SEC East. Meanwhile, Ed Orgeron and the LSU Tigers continue to search for answers, needing to do so fast.
2. North Carolina
The North Carolina Tar Heels made a statement on Saturday in Chapel Hill. After a shaky three quarters against Syracuse in the opener and a near defeat at Boston College, many were wondering what the identity of the Tar Heels really was. A lot of those questions were answered Saturday, as the eighth-ranked Tar Heels dominated No. 19 Virginia Tech offensively, cruising to a 56-45 win.
Although a 2-score game, this game never really felt that close. The Hokie defense had no answers for the UNC offense, particularly the run game with Michael Carter and Javonte Williams. Carter rushed for a career-high 214 yards, while Williams managed to put up 169 on the ground. North Carolina rushed for 399 yards, and put up 656 overall.
Star quarterback Sam Howell had a fantastic game — his first real coming-out game of the 2020 season. He went 18-for-23 passing with 257 yards and three touchdowns. Receivers Dazz Newsome and Dyami Brown also had big games for the Tar Heels. Brown caught three passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Newsome, the Virginia native, had seven receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown.
Mack Brown’s team is a legitimate contender in the ACC, and with that offensive firepower, it can compete with anyone in the country. This is a big win for a North Carolina team with ACC title aspirations. Tune some things up defensively, and the Tar Heels could have a big year moving forward.
1. Texas A&M
The Texas A&M Aggies pulled off a huge upset Saturday in College Station. Jimbo Fisher’s squad took down the No. 4 Florida Gators 41-38. Ironically, this game mirrored both the Missouri-LSU, and Oklahoma-Texas games. It was a back-and-forth classic fans will talk about for years.
The “12th Man” packed Kyle Field the best they could at 25% capacity, willing the Aggies to their second SEC win of the season.
The Gators came ready to play. Star quarterback Kyle Trask finished with 312 yards passing and four touchdowns. The Gators led 28-17 midway through the third quarter, but that’s when the Aggie offense caught up with Trask and the Florida offense.
The contest then became the Isaiah Spiller show. Spiller scored on back-to-back A&M drives to put the Aggies up 31-28 with 12 minutes remaining.
After a Florida field goal, and a turnover on the ensuing Aggie drive, Trask made Texas A&M pay. His short touchdown pass to Damion Pierce put Florida up 38-31 with six minutes remaining. Texas A&M then responded in a big way as Kellen Mond hit Caleb Chapman for a 51-yard touchdown to tie it up.
It looked like the Gators were going to drive down the field before Malik Davis put the ball on the ground. The Aggies recovered at midfield with three minutes remaining.
Spiller did the rest as he got down to the Florida 8-yard-line before Seth Small chipped in a 26-yard field goal to give the Aggies a 41-38 win over the Florida Gators.
This was a massive win for Fisher and company. The Aggies hope to continue to make some noise in the crowded SEC West.
East Carolina (44-24) vs. USF
Duke (38-24) vs. Syracuse
Georgia Tech (46-27) vs. Louisville