25 Things We Learned from Week 9

Sean Frye@Sean_E_FryeFeatured ColumnistOctober 28, 2013

25 Things We Learned from Week 9

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    Week 9 in college football was another wild one. There were upsets and plenty of close games throughout. 

    Stanford had to hold off a late rally from Oregon State to survive an upset bid, while Missouri and Texas Tech weren't as lucky. 

    Checkout the 25 things we learned from Week 9 in college football.

Duke Wins Games by Any Means

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    The Duke Blue Devils upset the Virginia Tech Hokies 13-10 on Saturday and became bowl eligible for the second year in a row, a first in program history. 

    The 6-2 Blue Devils are bowl eligible even before teams like Arizona State, Wisconsin and UCLA. 

    What's so great about this Duke team is that it does whatever it takes to win. Duke's defense, which had just 10 takeaways going into the weekend, picked off Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas four times.

    The Blue Devils have had to use two quarterbacks, Brandon Connette and Anthony Boone, throughout the season and don't have a solidified rushing attack. 

    Yet, with guys like wide receiver Jamison Crowder—who's had four 100-yard receiving games this year—the Blue Devils seem to find new playmakers every week and are en route to possibly the best year in school history. 

Alabama Is Starting to Bury Teams Early

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    In the first half of their last three games, the Alabama Crimson Tide have outscored SEC opponents 87-0. 

    It was no different against Tennessee on Saturday as the Tide coasted into halftime up 35-0.

    Alabama is really starting to find its stride as it heads into the homestretch of the season. The Crimson Tide get a bye week before facing LSU on Nov. 9 in what will surely be their toughest game of the year. 

    AJ McCarron, who has four straight games with at least one touchdown passes, will need to be at his best against LSU. 

    The Tigers haven't fared well on the road this year, with both their losses coming at Georgia and Ole Miss. If Alabama can put the Tigers in a hole early, it should be able to coast to a victory. 

Ohio State Is Playing Its Best Football

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    The Ohio State Buckeyes played their best game of the year on Saturday, walloping Penn State 63-14. The 49-point loss was the Nittany Lions worst in 114 years. 

    The win kept Ohio State undefeated at 8-0 and gave it plenty of momentum heading into a two-game road trip against Purdue and Illinois. 

    Despite being undefeated, the Buckeyes have been inconsistent in 2013. They won two straight games against ranked opponents with victories over Wisconsin and Northwestern but then struggled against Iowa. 

    Wins against Cal and Buffalo also didn't look pretty. 

    Braxton Miller, who was a Heisman Trophy candidate to start the year, has yet to register a 300-yard passing game and has missed two games with injuries. 

    But Saturday's domination of Penn State—the same team that upset Michigan—shows that the Buckeyes, like Alabama, are starting to gel and play their best ball of the season. 

Sean Mannion Can't Produce Against Good Defenses

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    Quarterback Sean Mannion went into Oregon State's game against Stanford ranked No. 1 in total offense

    But against Stanford, Mannion struggled with just 271 passing yards and one touchdown on 57 passing attempts. The Beavers also put up just 12 points. 

    The Cardinal was the first ranked team Oregon State had faced all year and it showed. The increase in talent level crippled the Beavers offense and exposed plenty of flaws. 

    The schedule doesn't get any easier for the Beavers as they finish off the year with games against USC, Arizona State, Washington and Oregon. 

Baylor Doesn't Play Around

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    The Baylor Bears buried the Kansas Jayhawks 59-14, proving that the team doesn't play around against teams that it should easily beat. 

    The Bears are one of the few remaining unbeaten teams left in the country, and it's their prolific offense that carries them. Baylor took a 38-0 lead into halftime, and Bryce Petty continued his dominance with 430 yards and three touchdowns through the air. 

    Baylor has shoved itself into the national title discussion with 11 straight wins dating back to last season's upset of then-No. 1 Kansas State. And with Baylor burying teams early and often, they appear to be en route to a Big 12 title and an undefeated season. 

Florida State Doesn't Know What a Hangover Effect Is

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    After its blowout win over Clemson, it's easy to think that the Florida State Seminoles could've experienced a hangover against North Carolina State. 

    But Jameis Winston and Co. were having none of it, as they hung 35 points on the board in the first quarter, leading the Seminoles to a 42-0 halftime advantage.

    Winston had another terrific, albeit shortened game against NC State, tossing for 292 yards and three touchdowns before taking the bench for the majority of the second half. 

    Despite winning 49-17 over NC State, the Seminoles still slipped one spot in the BCS rankings from No. 2 to No. 3. Nevertheless, Saturday proved that this is a different Florida State team in 2013, one that doesn't take weeks off against lesser opponents. 

Miami Is Very Vulnerable

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    Make that two straight games the Miami Hurricanes have nearly been upset by an unranked ACC opponent. 

    Two weeks ago, the Hurricanes came back to avoid an upset against North Carolina, then on Saturday Duke Johnson saved Miami with a late touchdown run to give the Hurricanes a 24-21 win. 

    Now it's Florida State week for Miami, and with how the Seminoles have played recently, the Hurricanes could be in some serious trouble. 

    Miami has given up over 300 passing yards in each of its last two games, and that certainly doesn't bode well as the Hurricane defense prepares to face Heisman Trophy candidate Jameis Winston. 

Connor Shaw Is the Man for the Job

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    Connor Shaw proved to South Carolina fans on Saturday night that he should be the full-time quarterback for the Gamecocks. 

    With Dylan Thompson struggling against previously undefeated Missouri, Shaw came in during the second half and led a furious 17-point fourth-quarter comeback against the Tigers. The Gamecocks ended up upsetting Missouri in double overtime, 27-24.

    Shaw finished the game with 201 yards and three touchdowns, all while dealing with a sprained left knee, per ESPN

    As the Gamecocks look to make a late run at a berth in the SEC title game, Shaw showed head ball coach Steve Spurrier that he should be the one to lead South Carolina for the remainder of the season. 

Missouri Still Controls Its Own Destiny

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    Although Missouri's magical perfect season ended on Saturday, the fact of the matter is, the loss didn't matter as much as some might think.

    The Tigers still have just one loss in SEC play and lead the SEC East. Every other team in that division has at least two losses. So if the Tigers win out, they'll go to the SEC title game. 

    Missouri faces just one ranked team (Texas A&M at home) the rest of the year. So if the Tigers can beat Johnny Manziel and Co. in their season finale, the rest should take care of itself. 

UCLA Is on a Slide

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    After starting the seaosn 5-0 and looking like a darkhorse national title contender, the UCLA Bruins have lost two straight games—albeit to ranked teams—and are slowly falling out of the spotlight. 

    Quarterback Brett Hundley, a Heisman candidate at one point this season, hasn't been the same player that he was earlier in the season. In Saturday's 42-14 loss to the Oregon Ducks, he threw for just 64 yards and added two interceptions. 

    The Bruins finally return home after a brutal road trip, when they face the struggling Colorado Buffaloes on Nov. 2. A blowout win in that game could give UCLA some confidence as they head into the season's home stretch. 

Tyler Gaffney Is the Real Deal for Stanford

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    Face it, Tyler Gaffney is the best player on Stanford's offense. 

    Saturday's 145-yard, three-touchdown showing against Oregon State was Gaffney's third-straight 100-yard game and his fifth of the year. 

    Gaffney's 886 rushing yards currently ranks 13th in the country and third in the Pac-12. But the fact that he scored every touchdown for Stanford against the Beavers is even more impressive. 

    How Stanford uses Gaffney will be huge as the Cardinal head into their next game, which is against the Oregon Ducks on Nov. 7. The running back could set the pace offensively and keep the Ducks offense off the field. But if he struggles to run the ball, then Oregon could run away with the game. 

Clemson Isn't as Good as We Thought

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    The Clemson Tigers struggled to put away the Maryland Terrapins, leading just 16-13 midway through the third quarter before pulling away to win 40-27. 

    Keep in mind, Florida State smothered Maryland 63-0 earlier this season. 

    The Tigers have struggled in their last three games. They barely beat Boston College, 24-14, got creamed by Florida State and beat NC State by a score of only 26-14. 

    Clemson isn't looking like the team they once were this year, and their recent struggles could prove costly down the stretch. 

Paul Rhoads Isn't Right for Iowa State Anymore

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    Paul Rhoads has never won more than three Big 12 games in a year, and it's extremely unlikely that the Iowa State Cyclones will reach that mark this year, much less bowl eligibility. 

    The Cyclones are just 1-6 overall with five games left on their schedule. They'd have to win out to reach the postseason this year. And with road games against Kansas State, Oklahoma and WVU on their slate, that doesn't look likely. 

    Rhoads has shown flashes of greatness in Ames, but that's been it. Just flashes. The Cyclones haven't experienced any sort of consistent success under Rhoads despite the coach having plenty of time to build up the program the way he wants. 

    Perhaps its time for Iowa State to move on from Rhoads. 

Oklahoma State Needs to Figure out Its QB Situation

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    In his first start since Week 1, Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf looked awful against Iowa State, completing just 10-of-26 passes for 78 yards. 

    J.W. Walsh, the starter for most of the season, was yanked from the game last week after throwing two interceptions in the first half against TCU. 

    Both quarterbacks have been wildly inconsistent this year and have made Oklahoma State look worse than its 6-1 record. 

    If the Cowboys don't solve this problem soon, an implosion could be coming.

Desmond Roland Is a Great Running Back

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    Although Oklahoma State has huge quarterback issues, Cowboys running back Desmond Roland is proving to be a great threat.

    Roland racked up 219 yards rushing and four touchdowns against the Iowa State Cylcones, giving him his first triple-digit yardage output of the season. 

    The Cowboys ranked just 66th in rushing offense, according to ESPN, and J.W. Walsh, the quarterback, was the team's leading rusher going into Iowa State. 

    But Roland could finally be the replacement to Joseph Randle that Oklahoma State has been waiting for. 

Nearly Anybody Can Win the Big 12

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    With Oklahoma's upset win over previously undefeated Texas Tech, only two teams remain unbeaten in Big 12 play, Baylor and Texas. 

    However, with games left against the two conference leaders, Texas Tech still controls its own destiny in terms of winning a Big 12 title. 

    Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech each have just one loss, meaning half the conference has one loss or fewer in league competition. 

    The Big 12 is by far the most competitive conference in the nation, and with so many teams competing for the league title, the final half of the season should be a wild one in the Midwest. 

Jeremy Johnson Could Be a Suitable Replacement for Nick Marshall

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    In Auburn's 45-10 win over Florida Atlantic, quarterback Nick Marshall left the game with an injured shoulder

    However, backup QB Jeremy Johnson racked up 192 yards and two touchdowns on 10-of-16 passing.

    According to ESPN, head coach Gus Malzahn didn't say whether or not Marshall would be available against Arkansas next week. Whatever Marshall's availability, Johnson is prepared to play, saying, "If my number is called next week, then I'll be ready."

    If Johnson does have to start against the Razorbacks, he proved on Saturday he could be a fine replacement signal-caller for Marshall. 

Virginia Tech Can't Move on from Logan Thomas Fast Enough

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    Virginia Tech Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas tossed four picks in his team's upset loss to the Duke Blue Devils, showing that his sophomore season was just a fluke and that he's not a good fit for the Hokies. 

    Thomas has just nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season and a QB rating of just 113.0. He also hasn't thrown for 300 yards in a game this year and has just two multi-touchdown games. 

    The Hokies are still looking good at 6-2, but Thomas could ruin the entire season if his terrible play continues. 

Fresno State Can Fend off Fiesty Opponents

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    The dream season for the Fresno State Bulldogs nearly came to an end against San Diego State on Saturday night. 

    But a blocked field goal at the end of regulation allowed the Bulldogs to beat the Aztecs 35-28 in overtime and stay undefeated. 

    Quarterback Derek Carr was again impressive, throwing for 298 yards and two touchdowns. 

    The Bulldogs have pushed themselves to the fringes of a BCS bowl berth. But they'll almost have to go undefeated in order to make one of the country's highest-profile bowl games. 

    The Bulldogs can expect every Mountain West team to give them its best shot. And Saturday proved that even with a target on its back, Fresno State is tough enough to survive. 

Jordan Lynch Is a Jack of All Trades

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    Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, threw, ran and caught a touchdown against Eastern Michigan, proving that he can do anything he's asked to help the Huskies win.

    The Huskies throttled the Eagles 59-20 and moved to 8-0, the program's best start since 1969.

    Lynch's effect on Northern Illinois is becoming more and more apparent by the week. Per ESPN, the athletic department debuted a new indoor facility before the game.

    Before the game Northern Illinois officially opened a new $9.5 million indoor facility. The multi-purpose Chessick Practice Center features a full-size 120-yard practice field and amenities for other sports.

    The Huskies next face UMass, one of the nation's worst FBS teams, on Nov. 2. 

Alabama Is Serious About Its Student Section Staying for the Whole Game

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    Last Thursday, Alabama head coach Nick Saban said on his radio show that he wasn't fond of fans leaving games in Tuscaloosa early, according to ESPN

    My sense of it is, I always say the fans are a part of the team...Everybody else should have the same sort of commitment. You don't have to do the work all week, you don't have to practice, you don't have to come in at 7 in the morning and leave at 11 at night, you don't have to do any of that stuff.

    Now, according to that same ESPN report, Alabama cancelled block seating in the student section as a response to students leaving early. Certain parts of the student section were usually reserved for Greek houses and other groups on campus. 

    But against Tennessee, Crimson Tide students could sit anywhere in the student section. 

    It appears that the school is set on making sure fans stay put during games. 

Oregon Really Is the Second-Best Team in the Country

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    The Oregon Ducks 42-14 blowout win over UCLA proved that they deserved to move up to No. 2 in the BCS rankings. 

    Perhaps the best part of Oregon's win against the Bruins, though, was the adversity that the Ducks successfully overcame. The game was tied 14-14 at halftime, but the Ducks defense shutout the Bruins in the final 30 minutes and Oregon proved that it call pull away both early and late in games. 

    Running back Byron Marshall also demonstrated that he can be a consistent threat for Oregon, as he registered his fifth-straight 100-yard game. 

    Oregon is now in prep mode for what will be its toughest test of the year as it faces the Stanford Cardinal on Nov. 7. 

Johnny Manziel Can Play Through Injury

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    After all the drama surrounding Johnny Manziel's injured shoulder and whether or not he would be the same player, the defending Heisman Trophy winner once again shut up his critics in Texas A&M's 56-24 win over Vanderbilt. 

    Manziel tossed four touchdowns and had 316 total yards before being removed in the second half because of the big lead.

    Manziel is constantly under the microscope, so the hype around his injury was probably greater than what it warranted. 

    Nevertheless, he showed on Saturday why he is one of the best players in America. 

Octavias McKoy Is a Baller

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    Western Connecticut running back Octavias McKoy broke the NCAA record for rushing yards in a game on Saturday with 455 yards. 

    The Division III star broke the mark of 441 set back in 1996 by Dante Brown of Marietta. 

    McKoy also had five touchdowns on the day. 

Bo Pelini's Time at Nebraska Is Possibly Nearing Its End

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    Bo Pelini's tenure with the Nebraska Cornhuskers may be coming to an end soon, following his team's 34-23 upset loss to Minnesota on Saturday. 

    Quarterback Taylor Martinez looked horrendous, accounting for just 155 total yards and one touchdown pass. 

    The loss marked the fifth year that a ranked Nebraska squad fell to an unranked team. Pelini was already on the hot seat after vulgar comments about fans were made public earlier this season. 

    Pelini isn't bringing Nebraska the type of success it's used to. So you have to think that he could be getting the axe soon.