Here’s a look back at a memorable slate of games, including one that went on and on and on and on …
Lions and Tigers, Oh My
The seventh-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions and Clemson Tigers came into the season with hopes of being in the College Football Playoff.
Clemson hadn’t lost three games in a season since 2014 and hadn’t lost three games before the end of October in 11 years.
However, the 27-17 loss to Pittsburgh drops the Tigers’ record to 4-3. They could easily be 1-6 with wins by six points over Georgia Tech and Boston College and a three-point win at Syracuse.
Clemson’s loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday wasn’t nearly as stunning as Penn State’s nine-overtime, yes nine, 20-18 loss to a two-win Illinois squad that was shut out by Wisconsin the last time out.
Penn State, listed as a 23-point favorite by college football spreads, managed one touchdown against an Illinois defense that has allowed more than 480 yards in four different games.
The teams exchanged field goals in the first two overtimes. From that point on, teams only attempted two-point conversions. The Nittany Lions failed on six of seven while Illinois converted its last two for the 20-18 victory. Penn State does have remaining games against Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State remaining but this is a loss that could be as catastrophic as it is head-scratching.
Explosive plays 1, possession time 0
Wake Forest chose to leave the clock-draining drives to others. The Demon Deacons had the ball for just 17:17 but dropped 70 on Army.
Seventy points in 17 minutes. Wake Forest had a defensive touchdown and six scoring drives last less than 90 seconds in a 70-56 win over the Black Knights. Wake Forest had six offensive plays longer than 40 yards to improve to 7-0. Army finished with 595 yards of offense but the defense allowed 638 yards and a staggering 12.3 yards per play.
The numbers game
A piece of advice to future opponents of the Miami Hurricanes, it would be wise not to be in a 31-30 game.
That was the final score on Jan. 1, 1984, when Miami kick-started a dynasty with an upset of undefeated and some suggested unbeatable Nebraska.
The Orange Bowl win began a stretch as Miami won the first of four national championships in a nine-year span.
The next time the Hurricanes were in a game with that final score, Miami edged host Michigan on Sept. 7, 1988, in front of 105,834. At the time it was the largest crowd Miami had played in front of.
The struggling Hurricanes picked up their most impressive win of 2021, beating No. 18 North Carolina State by, you guessed it, a 31-30 score. Miami was a 3½-point underdog by the college football odds.
Freshman quarterback Tyler Van Dyke established career highs with 325 passing yards and four touchdown passes.
Group of Five shakeup
The Group of Five conference’s spot in the New Year’s Six bowl games was looking to be No. 2 Cincinnati’s to lose.
With Coastal Carolina knocked from the undefeated ranks with a 30-27 loss to Appalachian State on Friday, fans from undefeated San Diego State, Southern Methodist, and Texas-San Antonio were likely paying attention to what was happening in Annapolis, Md, as Navy only trailed Cincinnati by three at halftime.
The Bearcats did open up a 17-point lead before a pair of Navy touchdowns, including one with 50 seconds left, making it 27-20. Cincinnati held on for the win. San Diego State also had a tough test against fellow service academy Air Force before emerging with the 20-14 win.
Cincinnati will continue to be a favorite the rest of the way in the scores and odds.
Heavyweights finish strong
There was almost more chaos during an upset-filled weekend causing concern or elation for those who bet online. No. 3 Oklahoma trailed a one-win Kansas team 10-0 at halftime before the Sooners had five consecutive touchdown-scoring drives to escape with the 35-23 victory.
No. 4 Alabama led visiting Tennessee by seven points heading into the fourth quarter before scoring touchdowns on four straight drives in the fourth quarter to pull away and win 52-24.
Defense Doesn’t Rest
Offensive stars didn’t have all the fun.
Hawaii’s Khoury Bethley and Darius Muasau returned interceptions for 79 and 75 yards. The defensive scores keyed a 48-34 win over New Mexico State. Wisconsin linebacker Leo Chenal and Buffalo defensive end Kyler Laing each had 3 1/2 sacks in wins over Purdue and Akron, respectively.
Ragin’ Cajuns running wild
OK, this game was on Thursday instead of Saturday but it is hard to overlook two different Louisiana running backs ripping off long touchdown runs in a 28-27 win over Arkansas State.
Montrell Johnson’s 99-yard run was the first touchdown for the Ragin’ Cajuns. Chris Smith’s 74-yard TD run and Nate Snyder’s extra point late in the third quarter proved to be the winning score. Smith ran for 238 yards and Johnson 150 as Louisiana had 424 rushing yards. It was actually 426 before two team rushes for minus-two yards at the end of the game.
Five of the six MAC games were won by the visiting team. Buffalo rolled past Akron 45-10, Eastern Michigan topped Bowling Green 55-24, Miami (Ohio) edged Ball State 24-17, Northern Illinois won a 39-38 thriller at Central Michigan and Kent State won 34-27 at Ohio. Toledo bucked the trend with a 34-15 home win over Western Michigan.
The most intriguing aspect of the wild week in the MAC is that Northern Illinois is the only team in the conference with a winning road record this season.
Mixed results for Maliks
Liberty quarterback Malik Willis, who is drawing increasing buzz as a potential top pick in the 2022 NFL draft, left the North Texas game due to injury. Jonathan Bennett was the quarterback for four consecutive series before Willis returned and led the Flames on a pair of scoring drives to pull out the 35-26 win. Willis threw for 217 yards but was held in check rushing.
Appalachian State receiver Malik Williams had two catches in his first two games against No. 14 Coastal Carolina but pulled down 10 receptions for 206 yards in Wednesday’s upset. He has 19 catches for 360 yards in the last three meetings with Coastal Carolina.
Wolverines take care of business
Coming into the weekend, Big Ten fans were expecting a pair of upcoming matchups between top-10 ranked teams. Penn State’s loss to Illinois dashed that hope but Michigan set up a much-anticipated showdown with No. 9 Michigan State by rolling past Northwestern 33-7. Hassan Haskins had a pair of touchdown runs as the Wolverines outscored the Wildcats 24-0 in the second half.
The last time Michigan was undefeated heading into the Michigan State game was 2017. The last time both teams were unbeaten heading into the contest was 2010, when Michigan State returned from the Big House with the 34-17 win.