Entertainment on the gridiron comes in many different forms, and Week 10 of the 2017 college football season delivered darn near every one of them.
We saw heavyweight haymakers from elite offenses in the latest edition of the Bedlam series. We had SEC powers Alabama and Georgia flexing their defensive muscles in identical 24-10 victories over six-win opponents. Miami made a statement with its victory over Virginia Tech, while Ohio State made a different statement in its loss to Iowa. And there were several key wins in each of the comeback, last-second and nail-biter varieties.
It wasn't nearly the most wildly unpredictable day in the history of the sport, but for a week without a single loss by any of the Top Five teams in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, Week 10 delivered a hearty dose of fun and drama.
Barn-Burner in Bedlam
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
Baker Mayfield was slingin' it! 24/36 598 yards (Oklahoma single-game record) 5 TD https://t.co/P1AcF2uVh42017-11-5 00:30:14
Some people prefer their college football games to finish in under three hours with fewer than 40 total points scored. Those folks were probably exhilarated by Old Dominion's 6-0 win over Charlotte.
For the other fans who love it when elite offenses take turns putting on a show, Oklahoma's 62-52 win over Oklahoma State was everything we thought it would be.
And then some.
The Sooners and Cowboys entered Week 10 as two of the three most prolific offenses in the nation, averaging 586.1 and 569.3 yards per game, respectively. I'll save you the trouble of doing the mental math: That's 1,155.4 combined yards. But they left that average in the dust en route to a mind-boggling 1,446 total yards and 114 points.
The first couple of drives weren't pretty, but once the proverbial snowball started rolling downhill, neither defense had any hope of stopping the avalanche of points. There were 10 touchdowns scored in 12 possessions spanning 20 minutes in the first half, leading to a 38-38 tie at the intermission. By the time the final whistle sounded, the box score was a smorgasbord of ridiculous stat lines.
Justice Hill ran for 228 yards and two touchdowns. Marquise "Hollywood" Brown made nine receptions for 265 yards and two touchdowns. Mason Rudolph threw for 448 yards and five touchdowns. Baker Mayfield averaged nearly 25 yards per completion, throwing for 598 yards and five touchdowns.
Sure, the game lasted for more than four hours, but it was 270 of the most entertaining minutes of the entire season. And it resulted in Oklahoma's second marquee road win, adding to a Week 2 victory over Ohio State.
Unfortunately for the Sooners, that win lost some value...
There are upsets. There are blowouts. And then there are the rarely seen blowout upsets. Iowa delivered the latter to Ohio State, winning by 31 points in a game OddsShark pegged it to lose by a near-three-touchdown margin.
Wild things tend to happen in Kinnick Stadium. Earlier this year, Penn State needed a last-second touchdown to escape with a two-point win over Iowa. Last year, the Hawkeyes drove a stake into the heart of Michigan's College Football Playoff dreams, beating the Wolverines 14-13. And that result came less than two months after Iowa lost at home by two points to FCS school North Dakota State.
There wasn't anywhere near as much drama in Iowa City this time around, but what the Hawkeyes just did to the Buckeyes deserves its own wing in the unexpected hall of fame.
Iowa had been held to fewer than 20 points in four of its previous five games, but that formerly hapless bunch scored at least one touchdown in every quarter of a 55-24 shellacking of Ohio State.
Amani Hooker got the party started with a pick-six on the first snap of the game, but it felt like it would only be a matter of time before the Buckeyes took the lead and blew the contest wide open, considering they scored 17 points on their next three possessions.
However, that lead never came, because Ohio State had no answer for....Nathan Stanley?
Iowa's sophomore QB had thrown for a combined total of five touchdowns and three interceptions over the last four games, but he picked apart the Buckeyes secondary for five passing scores. Meanwhile, J.T. Barrett—who had 22 touchdown passes without a single interception in his last six games—was picked off four times. Hooker took the first one to the house, and then Joshua Jackson intercepted the next three.
It was one of two terrible Week 10 outcomes in the Big Ten East's quest for the CFP...
Spartans Nip Nittany Lions
You just never know what you're going to get from college kickers, which makes the last-second field-goal attempt the most nerve-wracking moment in this sport, no matter the distance. Combine that with the potential for a huge upset and you get what the Spartans did to the Nittany Lions.
Penn State vs. Michigan State was supposed to be the marquee event of the early slate of games. However, Mother Nature had other ideas. Midway through the second quarter, a lightning storm ripped through East Lansing, causing a delay that lasted more than three hours.
When the game finally did resume, it effectively became part of a 3:30 p.m. window of kickoffs that then included six of the top-seven teams in the CFP Top 25, four ranked-against-ranked games and a total of 12 ranked teams in action.
And as it turned out, this became the most dramatic game of that midafternoon slate, and Michigan State won 27-24 on a last-second field goal.
The Spartans tied the game on their second possession after the delay and took the lead midway through the third quarter after a 91-yard touchdown drive. The Nittany Lions had no answer for Brian Lewerke. Michigan State's sophomore QB threw for 400 yards (for the second consecutive week).
Despite Lewerke's heroics, Penn State had every opportunity to win in the fourth quarter. However, a back-breaking interception—Trace McSorley's third of the day—a failed fourth-down conversion and a roughing-the-passer penalty on what would have been a third-down stop proved to be its undoing.
Every team in the Big Ten East now has at least two losses. More outlandish things have happened, but that appears to have eliminated the division from the College Football Playoff picture, considering all five undefeated teams survived, including...
Hurricanes Hammer Hokies
You know it's been a good night in Miami when the turnover chain makes an appearance. 🙌 https://t.co/zZPxuaIPHV2017-11-5 01:44:58
Great teams usually make statements with their offense, but Miami staked its claim as one of the four best teams in the country with a captivating defensive win over No. 13 Virginia Tech.
The anti-Miami bandwagon picked up a ton of passengers over the past month. Maybe the masses weren't actively rooting against the Hurricanes, but they (myself included) couldn't help but be skeptical about a team that had eked out its last four wins over Florida State, Georgia Tech, Syracuse and North Carolina by a combined margin of 18 points.
The College Football Playoff selection committee added fueled to that fire by putting the 7-0 Hurricanes at No. 10 in the initial rankings—behind six teams with one loss. Vegas followed suit by making Miami a home underdog against Virginia Tech. (Throughout the week, the line gradually swung from VT -3 to Miami -2.5, but the Canes opened as the underdogs.)
Whether Miami used all that chatter as bulletin-board material is unknown, but we do know the Hurricanes looked like a team with something to prove.
Virginia Tech entered the week ranked in the top 10 nationally in total yards allowed per game (284.5) and had not allowed more than 344 yards in a game since Week 1. Malik Rosier threw three interceptions to that elite defense, but he also threw two touchdowns and rushed for a third while pacing Miami to 429 total yards.
The real story, though, was Miami's defense.
The gold-chain gang held Virginia Tech to 299 yards and forced four turnovers in the 28-10 statement win. VT QB Josh Jackson had been one of the most unflappable freshman quarterbacks in recent memory, but he looked plain lost at times in this one. Can you blame him, though? He was under pressure all night, taking four sacks and setting a career high in rushing attempts (15) because he was forced to run for his life on numerous occasions.
Heading into the week, it seemed like a foregone conclusion Miami would be an underdog in next week's marquee home game against Notre Dame. Given what the Hurricanes showed against the Hokies, though, they might be the favorites for that "Loser Most Likely Isn't Reaching the Playoff" showdown.
Heisman Race Heating Up
The final big takeaway from Week 10 is that the Heisman race is more up for grabs than at any other point in the season.
Penn State's Saquon Barkley entered the week as the favorite, but he was held below 100 total yards from scrimmage (96) in a second consecutive losing effort. Barkley is now averaging less than 100 rushing yards per game (96.0) on the ground. Yes, he does much more than just rush the ball and is still averaging better than 195 all-purpose yards per game. However, it might be tough to vote for a running back who isn't even rushing for 100 yards on average.
Bryce Love was even less impressive in his return from an ankle injury. He did have a 52-yard rushing touchdown. Aside from that, though, it was 15 carries for 17 yards. Love had rushed for at least 147 yards in every other game this season, but his 69-yard performance in a 24-21 loss to Washington State wasn't particularly nice.
Barrett had gained a lot of steam in the Heisman race over the past few weeks. However, as previously mentioned, he threw four interceptions in a loss to Iowa. Sure, two of them came in the fourth quarter as Ohio State fruitlessly tried to overcome a 31-point deficit. But the pick-six to start the game and the errant throw that put Iowa in a position to take a 14-point lead into halftime were big reasons the Buckeyes were in such a big hole.
Notre Dame's Josh Adams was a fringe-but-rising candidate for the Heisman, but an early injury limited him to five carries for 22 yards against Wake Forest.
All roads lead back to Bedlam, where Baker Mayfield's 598-yard, five-TD explosion couldn't have come at a better time. Oklahoma's QB went from an afterthought to the front-runner for college football's most prestigious individual honor.
Still, this isn't an "Early November 2016 Lamar Jackson" situation. Mayfield may be the new favorite, but this race is far from finished.