Another week, another notebook.
Badgers Badger Bucks, Come Up Short
Playing Wisconsin in Camp Randall Stadium at night is no easy task. However, Ohio State rose to the occasion and left Madison with its best win of the season, notching a 30-23 overtime victory over the 8th ranked Badgers.
The Buckeyes’ resiliency should have settled the nerves of some fans, but the stubborn play calling may have added to Buckeye Nation’s apprehensiveness. All season long, Ohio State’s play callers have stuck to quarterback read-options and off-tackle rushes, as well as pitch-options to the outside.
There were moments in the game where that style of offense wasn’t working, but the coaching staff refused change, similar to last season’s OSU-Michigan State match up that yielded Ezekiel Elliott’s post-game criticism of the play calling. It may have worked last night, but the Buckeyes may have to show the ability to improvise against teams like Michigan or anyone they may face in postseason play.
- J.T. Barrett continued his Heisman campaign by completing 17 of 29 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown while adding 92 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 21 carries. He should be sitting in the front row when the winner’s name is read, not for his statistics alone, but also the leadership he’s shown this season.
- Wisconsin’s Corey Clement was the most impressive player on the field last night. The senior RB averaged 6.6 yards per carry after racking up 164 yards on 25 touches.
Opinion: Early in the game, Clement fumbled the ball after a 68-yard run. Ohio State initially recovered, but a review of the play showed that the ball inadvertently touched Clement while he was out of bounds, which, by rule, made Wisconsin the recovering team. As a result, the Badgers retained possession.
The proper call was made based on the rules of the game, but this is a bad rule. Chris Worley, the defender that forced the fumble, made a great play to dislodge the ball and the Bucks’ Damon Webb worked hard to make the recovery, but the Badgers got the ball back despite no effort to make a recovery. This doesn’t seem right, does it?
The weekend got started Friday night with a near-upset in Louisville. So near, in fact, that Duke didn’t ruin its chance to win the game until a roughing the kicker penalty gave Louisville a first down with 2:00 left in the game. The extra yardage and free first down ultimately resulted in a touchdown for the Cardinals to put them ahead 24-14.
How did 3-3 Duke hang with one of the best teams in the country?
Duke’s offense was on the field for nearly 15 more minutes than Louisville and extended drives by converting 50 percent of third downs. The goal was clearly to keep the ball out of Lamar Jackson’s hands, which helped the Blue Devils contain a team that averaged 58 points per game heading into Friday’s matchup.
- Louisville better not take North Carolina State lightly next week. The Wolfpack did their own rendition of “near spoiler” this week.
- Jackson did struggle passing the ball (13 of 26, 181 yds, TD), but he turned in a Heisman-like performance on the ground, rushing for 144 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
Watson’s Wild Win
NC State almost shocked the world, but the pressure was too much for Wolfpack kicker Kyle Bambard and the Tigers escaped with a 24-17 overtime victory. Bambard had actually made the same field goal moments before he missed it, but it didn’t count as Clemson coach Dabo Swinney called a timeout before the snap.
After Clemson’s Deshaun Watson’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Artavis Scott put the Tigers up seven in the first OT, Marcus Edmond intercepted a Ryan Finley pass on NC State’s first play to cap the victory.
Unlike the Louisville-Duke game, this contest was very sloppy. Clemson, which has had trouble holding onto the football this season, fumbled the ball five times and lost three of them. NC State was unable to capitalize on any of them, otherwise, they may have had a chance at a convincing victory.
- Watson, who has been on the Heisman Trophy watch list for most of the season, completed 39 of 52 passes for 378 yards and two touchdowns. The performance wasn’t better than Jackson’s for Louisville, but enough to keep him on the short list for the award.
- Clemson’s toughest remaining test comes in two weeks when they travel to Florida State. The Seminoles have had a tough time in big games this season, and I don’t think Clemson will have a problem. It helps that the Tigers are off next Saturday, giving them an extra week to prepare. A quick glance at the Tigers schedule makes them a clear favorite to play in the ACC Championship game.
Vols Can’t Compete
Tennessee has been less-than-impressive all season long, and it finally showed on a big stage as the Vols were demolished by top-ranked Alabama, 49-10, at home.
Offensively, the Vols were atrocious. Quarterback Josh Dobbs completed 16 of 27 passes for just 92 yards (3.4 yards per completion if you’re wondering), no touchdowns and one interception. Jalen Hurd, who was returning from injury, carried the ball 13 times for 28 yards. As a team, Tennessee finished with an average of one yard per carry.
Alabama’s offense focused on the run game as the Tide finished with three 90+ yard rushers and five rushing touchdowns.
The 39 point loss is Tennessee’s largest margin of defeat since they lost by 45 points to Oregon in 2013.
To put the loss in perspective, Alabama beat Western Kentucky and Kentucky by 28 points each, and those match-ups were in Tuscaloosa. Beating the Vols on the road by 39 points is a huge statement for the Crimson Tide, as if they needed one.
- This loss puts Florida on top of the SEC East. Side note: A quick look at the SEC East standings finds Kentucky in second place. I don’t mention the Wildcats often in these notebooks because I try to keep these articles interesting, but I will enjoy my favorite team being close to the top while I can.
- Tennessee will be a huge favorite in the rest of the games they play this season, while Florida must travel to Arkansas and LSU. The East, while the standings don’t show much separation now, is likely a two-team race, but the Volunteers are the favorite thanks to that fairly easy back-end of the schedule.
-The ACC slate was fun this week. Other than the games already mentioned, Wake Forest gave Florida State a scare, North Carolina upset 16th ranked Miami, and Syracuse beat number 17 Virginia Tech by two scores.
-Watch Wayne Gallman go airborne.
-Look what Brandon Reilly found.
-Christian McCaffrey is the cog that makes Stanford go (which you probably already knew). Without him, they are even worse than they are with him.
-Behold the boldest fake punt ever (it didn’t work).
Photo by: By Kentucky National Guard [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons