The fourth weekend of college football is in the books, and it’s time to look back at the highlights and try to make sense of the studs and duds from the games. Here are the top takeaways, reactions, players and plays from the weekend.
Tight Games For Top Teams
The No. 4 Nittany Lions, No. 8 Wolverines, No. 5 Trojans and No. 3 Sooners all had some close scrapes with unranked teams, but played clutch down the stretch to stay perfect.
The Sooners edged out Baylor in a classic Big 12 shootout, 49-41. The Bears kept the game tight the whole way and led 31-28 in the third quarter. They gave the Sooners everything they had, thanks to huge performances from quarterback Zach Smith — who finished with 463 passing yards along with four touchdowns — and wide receiver Denzel Mims, who racked up 192 receiving yards and three touchdowns. But the Sooners came roaring back, looking to their running game for a chance to bail them out. The running back duo of Abdul Adams and Trey Sermon combined for 312 yards and three touchdowns, with Sermon finding the end zone twice in the fourth quarter. The Sooners survived their Texas trip with a powerful rushing attack that finished with 342 yards.
The Trojans were also in need of a big fourth-quarter push to seal a victory, going into the half tied 13-all with California. Cal did a good job early, holding down the Trojans running attack to 133 yards and forcing two first-half turnovers. But USC quarterback Sam Darnold — who had 223 passing yards and two touchdowns — came back and led the Trojans on a 17-point fourth-quarter rally to win the game, 30-20. The Trojans defense also stepped up, with four turnovers forced in the second half, finishing with six overall.
When Purdue knocked Wolverines quarterback Wilton Speight out of the game and took a 10-7 lead going into halftime, the team was on their heels. The Purdue defense had four sacks, eight tackles for loss and a forced fumble in a great showing from their front seven. The Boilermakers stalled the Wolverines offense early and scored three points off a turnover. But the Wolverines came back with a 21-0 second-half run and had backup quarterback John O’Korn throw for 270 yards, while the defense only let up 189 total yards and finished with five sacks in a 28-10 win.
In a smashmouth Big Ten game, the Nittany Lions were on the ropes with Iowa Hawkeyes, going punch for punch on the road. The Nittany Lions offense outgained the Hawkeyes (579-273), but the Iowa defense was clutch, with two turnovers and 11 tackles for loss to stall drives, forcing three field goal attempts and four punts. The difference-maker was Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley, who had 358 all-purpose yards and a score. The game went down to the wire, requiring a last-second touchdown to win.
More on that later.
Players To Watch
Virginia Tech Hokies quarterback Josh Jackson
The second-year man for the Hokies has looked fantastic in his first four starts, beating a good West Virginia team in the opener and since putting up 1,127 passing yards in four weeks with four touchdowns. He also has added 144 rushing yards and a score on the ground. The Hokies offense was under the radar in the summer, but may be one of the better units in college football, led by the young stud Jackson.
Stanford Cardinal running back Bryce Love
This is the Heisman trophy winner — you heard it here first. He leads college football in rushing with 787 yards and five touchdowns after obliterating UCLA to the tune of 263 yards and a score. He is a home run waiting to happen, grinding away at a defense until he explodes for a big gain. He’s already gone for runs of 75, 69, 62 and 53 yards this season. He is also in an offense that will always run first, giving their workhorse every opportunity to keep building his numbers.
Game Of The Week
No. 16 TCU upset No. 11 Oklahoma State on the road, 44-31. The Cowboys came in only giving up 17.3 points per game while scoring 54. But the Horned Frogs came in and ran the ball incredibly well, with running back Darius Anderson going for 160 yards and three scores. The Horned Frogs defense was also exceptional, racking up three interceptions and a forced fumble to give the Horned Frogs 14 points off turnovers. While the Horned Frogs played really well, the turnovers decided a game where the Cowboys found themselves forced into passing constantly to attempt a comeback.
Play Of The Weekend
The Nittany Lions were down 19-15 to the Hawkeyes with 1:42 left. That is when quarterback Trace McSorley led the team on an 80-yard, 12-play drive. It ended with a seven-yard touchdown to wide receiver Juwan Johnson in the final seven seconds to win the game.