Tennessee falls, but Michigan and TCU somehow survives

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Wide receiver Gunnar Henderson celebrates with quarterback Max Duggan #15 of the TCU Horned Frogs after scoring a touchdown against the Baylor Bears in the third quarter.

Wide receiver Gunnar Henderson celebrates with quarterback Max Duggan #15 of the TCU Horned Frogs after scoring a touchdown against the Baylor Bears in the third quarter.
Image: Getty Images

It took 12 weeks for fuck around week to arrive in college football, and it announced itself with a bang. From the get go, Michigan and TCU showed up expecting to be handed a W simply because the spread dictated it so. Maryland had the ball against Ohio State with enough time to steal a W, and Georgia was held to 16 points.

All of the teams currently in the College Football Playoff, plus USC, survived the tests presented to them despite valiant efforts from Kentucky, Maryland, Illinois, Baylor, and UCLA. One wasn’t so lucky.

Tennessee caught looking ahead

The fifth-ranked team wasn’t so lucky as Tennessee’s defensive vulnerabilities finally caught up with them. It took awhile, but Spencer Rattler’s bona fides cropped up to the surface against the Vols with six TD passes. South Carolina reached the endzone the first five times they touched the ball, and any chance UT had at a spot in the playoff evaporated once QB and Heisman candidate Hendon Hooker got hurt in the second half.

The 63-38 final score in Columbia was more or less accurate. Gamecock receivers ran free all night, and the Vols’ trouble getting off the field on third downs this season was again an issue. Shane Beamer’s team converted eight of 11 third downs, including a big third and 20 in the final quarter, and also went two for two on fourth down.

Michigan fans still can’t exhale

For the Wolverines, the Fighting Illini led for all but nine seconds of the fourth quarter. Jim Harbaugh opted to take the points in the final period, kicking a field goal to make it 16-17. They needed a three and out on the following possession, and got it to set up a game-winning field goal drive and avoid U-M’s first L of the season.

The larger concern is the status of Blake Corum for the Ohio State game. The running back left the game with an injury and will be evaluated further. An ailment needing additional diagnosis is like your spouse saying they need more time to think about something they’re going to say no to, and I’m officially nervous for Big Blue’s foray into Columbus.

Meditations in an Emergency: A a collection of Horned Frog poems

TCU’s weekly stress test included: Not leading until late third quarter, a missed extra point, a TD with two minutes left to try to tie the game, a dropped two-point conversion to tie the game, a no-safety-net three-and-out hold, a last-minute field goal drive, and a 17-second fire drill to get the kick team out for a 40-yard kick as time expired because they ran a fucking run play on third and seven that failed to produce a clock stoppage.

Sonny Dykes is either a genius or a masochist. I’m not sure which. This team needs wins over Iowa State and most likely Kansas State to reach the College Football Playoff. However, I think by saying that the Wildcats will lose to Kansas next week, and Texas will edge past Baylor to sneak into the Big 12 title game and fuck up TCU’s dream.

I’ve rooted for Adrian Martinez too many times to not know how this ends.

Caleb Williams’ art is quarterbacking, and he just painted his Heisman piece

The Trojans weren’t the only playoff contender to trail in the second half, but they were the only one that needed to overcome a double-digit deficit. The Bruins got a 14-0 head start, amassed 513 yards of total offense, and scored 45 points, but gave up 48 points and 639 yards, including 503 to Williams. Lincoln Riley’s statue of David passed for 470 yards, added 33 on the ground, and accounted for three total scores.

His counterpart Dorian Thompson-Robinson had 390 yards of total offense and six touchdowns, but also four total turnovers, including a pick with a minute and half remaining. The Trojans were able to kneel out the finals seconds instead watching potential game-tying or -winning DTR drive through half-closed eyes.

Oregon awaits the Trojans in the Pac-12 title game while Notre Dame has next against USC on Saturday. Winners of their past five games, the Fighting Irish are 8-3, and appear to have fully recovered from an 0-2 start.

I’m not going to expand on the Buckeyes or Bulldogs because both programs played with their food. The Terps had the ball with 42 ticks left, down by six, and went backward on the drive before ceding a defensive TD to OSU. Georgia led all night, and Wildcat QB Will Levis looked pedestrian as usual.

Saturday was a reminder that college football programs — outside of the top two or three — are subject to as much chicanery as the next group of 18- to 22-year-olds.

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