Photo courtesy of wlpearce.com/Florida State athletics
We had an interesting week of college football this past weekend. There were some twists, some turns, and some “what the heck just happened?” moments. There’s five teams that really stood out above them all.
Who are they? We’ll let you know here, as we wrap up a great weekend of college football with the five top performing teams.
At this point, it’s not hard to hop on the Arkansas bandwagon. What Sam Pittman is doing in his first year with the Razorbacks is absolutely remarkable.
In fact, they should just go ahead and crown him SEC Coach of the Year now. Arkansas continued its surprisingly positive momentum last Saturday, downing the Lane Kiffin-led Ole Miss Rebels, 33-21.
After a goal line stand for former Missouri head coach Barry Odom’s defense on the Rebels’ opening drive, Feleipe Franks and the Hog offense went right down the field. Rakeem Boyd capped it off, punching it in from a yard out.
The first three quarters were all Razorbacks in this one. Odom’s defense swarmed Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral, sacking him multiple times and forcing three interceptions in the first three frames. That included two picks from former walk-on Hudson Clark. The defense also had another goal line stand to begin the second half, keeping the score where it was at 20-0.
Kiffin wasn’t going to let his team go down without a fight though. The Rebels cut the deficit to both 20-14 and 26-21 in the fourth quarter, before Grant Morgan put the game on ice with an interception return for a touchdown to seal the deal.
Odom’s defense was tremendous in this one. The SEC West needs to be on notice for the Arkansas Razorbacks; the Hogs are here to stay for a very long time.
“Big Blue Nation” got a big win Saturday afternoon — a historic win actually, downing the then 18th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers, 34-7 at Neyland Stadium. Kentucky hadn’t beat the Vols at home since 1984. The win snaps a 17-game road losing streak to Tennessee.
This game may have exposed Jeremy Pruitt’s team as one a bit earlier in its rebuilding stage than many may have thought. The Volunteers turned the ball over four times in the first half alone and suffered their largest margin of defeat in the series since 1935.
For as bad as the first half was though, Tennessee only found itself down 17-7 at halftime. The Wildcats turned it on in the second half, pulling away to secure a 34-7 victory.
Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson was 12-for-15 passing with 101 yards and a touchdown. The Wildcats’ running game was on point, led by sophomore Christopher Rodriguez Jr. The Wildcats rushed for 187 yards in the victory.
Head coach Mark Stoops had to enjoy the ride home to Lexington. He had a pack of bourbon and victory cigars ready for use as a celebration.
73-7. It was the largest point differential between two ACC schools in league history. That’s it. That’s the recap.
The Tigers downed Georgia Tech in Atlanta by nine touchdowns and a field goal.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence went 24-for-32 for 404 yards, five touchdowns and an interception. Wide receiver Amari Rodgers caught six passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns.
Running back Travis Etienne didn’t even have his best day, going for 44 yards and a touchdown. The starters only played three quarters as well, making this even more impressive. This game was tied 7-7, but after the Tigers reeled off 66 straight points, fans around the country now fear Clemson even more. The Tigers are in a different league right now at the top of college football.
2. Coastal Carolina
Let’s move across the state of South Carolina. The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers crack our top five, coming in at No. 2.
Coastal got a huge win last Wednesday night in Lafayette, downing the then 21st-ranked Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns 30-27, for a big Sun Belt victory. The game was moved to last Wednesday night as a result of the effects of Hurricane Delta, and the result was the Chanticleers getting a big program win in the national spotlight.
Quarterback Grayson McCall has been tremendous for Coastal this season, and last Wednesday was no exception. The redshirt freshman was 17-for-24 passing with 202 yards and two touchdowns.
The score had been knotted up at both 13-13 and 20-20 before cornerback Jordan Morris picked off Louisiana quarterback Levi Lewis and returned it to the Ragin’ Cajun 26-yard-line. McCall then took it himself in from three yards out, giving Coastal the lead with 14:12 to go.
Lewis then responded with a scramble of his own, getting Louisiana down into the red zone before Elijah Mitchell tied it up.
The pressure was now on Chanticleer kicker Massimo Biscardi, who drilled a 40-yard field goal with four seconds left to give Coastal Carolina its first victory over an AP top 25 team in school history.
1. Florida State
In what day and age do we live in where Florida State “shocking” North Carolina in football is a thing? Well, that’s exactly what happened at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee on Saturday night. The Florida State Seminoles shocked the then fifth-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels, 31-28 in an absolute classic.
This game started off fantastic for the Seminoles. After a blocked punt and a Jordan Travis touchdown run, Florida State found itself quickly up 7-0. After a Ryan Fitzgerald field goal, and another Travis touchdown run, the nation was put on notice. Florida State was leading the No. 5 team in the country, 17-0.
The Tar Heels needed a spark, but a horrible mistake by North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell gifted the ‘Noles a pick-6 to make it 24-0. After a Javonte Williams touchdown, the Seminoles responded taking all momentum into the half when Travis found Camren McDonald in the end zone to put Florida State up 31-7 at the break.
North Carolina wasn’t going down without a fight though. After another Williams and Beau Corrales touchdown, the Tar Heels found themselves within 31-21 after three quarters of play.
In the fourth quarter, the ‘Noles could taste it, but Howell and Dyami Brown had other plans. They connected for a 25-yard score to close the gap to 31-28.
We had a nail biter. Howell and company were driving down the field to win the game, before a drop by Dazz Newsome and a wide open drop by Javonte Williams on 4th-and-9 sealed the deal for a huge Florida State win.
This was a big win for first-year head coach Mike Norvell, as the Seminoles picked up their first top-5 win in six years. Meanwhile, Mack Brown still has never beaten his Alma mater. His all-time record against Florida State drops to 0-10.
Memphis (50-49) vs. UCF
South Carolina (30-22) vs. Auburn
Virginia Tech (40-14) vs. Boston College
Alabama (41-24) vs. Georgia