There’s a difference, however, between not being playoff-bound and not being able to stop anyone. And that’s the Rubicon the No. 18 Sooners have crossed since entering Big 12 play.
Last week’s 41-34 loss to Kansas State could be chalked up as an off day, a weird outcome against a program that routinely plays Oklahoma well. But Saturday’s 55-24 bludgeoning at TCU is another matter entirely.
The Horned Frogs (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) scored 27 points in the first quarter and 41 before halftime. They rolled up 668 total yards on the helpless Sooners, and averaged a cool 8.9 yards a snap.
TCU had four scoring plays of at least 62 yards, and it did it against a team that it was 1-10 against since entering the Big 12. There was no history of unusual success in this series for Oklahoma’s opponent.
The Sooners (3-2, 0-2) didn’t fare any better on offense, as quarterback Dillon Gabriel left after absorbing a late hit in the first half. Gabriel wasn’t great even before the injury — 7 of 16 for 126 yards — but with the way TCU moved the ball, it probably wouldn’t have mattered if any of Oklahoma’s recent Heisman-contending QBs was taking the snaps.
Any talk of a playoff berth has evaporated in Norman, and any chance to win the Big 12 is probably gone with another loss — including in next week’s Red River Whatchamacallit against Texas. Yet considering how things have gone the last two weeks, simply regrouping on defense is a far bigger priority for Oklahoma than wins or losses.
JMU moved to the top level of college football. It hasn’t stopped winning.
Not only did Bret Bielema lead Illinois back to his old stomping grounds at Camp Randall Stadium, but his Illini basically out-Wisconsined Wisconsin in a 34-10 rout.
Illinois controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, especially on defense. Wisconsin mustered just 2 rushing yards, and it’s not as if the numbers when sacks were removed (19 carries for 31 yards) were something for the Badgers to be proud of.
Meanwhile, the Illini (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten) doggedly stuck with the run, doing enough with the help of a few turnovers to create separation from the Badgers in Bielema’s first game in Madison since leaving for Arkansas after the 2012 season.
Mississippi’s fourth-quarter defense (winner)
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The No. 14 Rebels outlasted No. 7 Kentucky, 22-19, to improve to 5-0, and their victory ultimately came down to three plays in a scoreless fourth quarter.
On the first snap of the period, Otis Reese broke up a fourth-down pass from Kentucky quarterback Will Levis from the Ole Miss 32 to give possession to the Rebels.
On a third-and-2 with 2:55 to go at the Rebels 19, Levis lost a fumble to stymie what looked like it would produce — at minimum — the tying points for Kentucky.
And with 51 seconds left, Levis fumbled again, this time on a sack at the Ole Miss 25 to lock up the victory for the Rebels.
Mississippi plays three of the next four on the road — at Vanderbilt, LSU and Texas A&M, with an Oct. 15 home game against Auburn tossed in. It isn’t the easiest path to 9-0, but it’s plausible the Rebels take an unblemished record into a Nov. 12 date with Alabama.
No Mo Ibrahim meant more problems for the No. 21 Golden Gophers, who are probably the best team in the Big Ten’s West Division but find themselves in a giant scrum thanks to a 20-10 loss to Purdue in Minneapolis.
Minnesota (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten) rolled through September without incident, but it never got its running game on track against the Boilermakers without Ibrahim. The Gophers accrued 47 yards on 26 carries, and struggled to get traction on offense all day. A bye week could help Ibrahim get healthy, and Minnesota could surely use him as it pushes for a division title.
The Bruins were a bit of an unproven entity entering Friday. Their first four games were all victories, largely uneventful defeats of Bowling Green, Alabama State and Colorado and an escape at home against South Alabama.
So Chip Kelly’s bunch earned some credit — and its eighth consecutive victory dating back to last season — with a 40-32 defeat of No. 15 Washington. Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns and tacked on a rushing score for UCLA (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12), which is off to its best start since 2013.
There’s plenty more to learn about the Bruins, who play host to Utah next weekend and then visit Oregon on Oct. 22 after an open date. For now, they’re doing their part to make the Los Angeles area a center of power in the Pac-12 (at least until they and Southern Cal bolt to the Big Ten after next season).
Where, exactly, did Friday’s 35-13 defeat of San Diego State come from? Considering where the Broncos were a week ago, the question isn’t unreasonable.
Boise State was coming off a 27-10 loss at UTEP that cost its offensive coordinator his job. Quarterback Hank Bachmeier entered the transfer portal a few days later. And it’s not as if the Broncos were great in the first half against the Aztecs, trailing 13-0 at the break while managing 43 yards on 13 carries.
Things were a bit different in the final 30 minutes, as Boise State (3-2, 2-0 Mountain West) rolled up 273 yards and five touchdowns on 31 carries. It led to the Broncos’ best rushing output since 2018, and in tandem with a defense that gave up just 114 yards might have revived the hopes of turning around a season that seemed ticketed for a lackluster finish throughout a forgettable September.