Winners and Losers from Week 10 of College Football

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystNovember 6, 2021

Winners and Losers from Week 10 of College Football

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    Michigan State's Kenneth Walker III
    Michigan State's Kenneth Walker IIIMichael Conroy/Associated Press

    In five of the previous seven years, a team ranked in the Top 4 of the initial College Football Playoff Top 25 immediately suffered a loss after receiving that honor.

    That CFP curse struck again this year with No. 3 Michigan State biting the dust against a Purdue team that has made quite the habit of shocking the world over the years.

    But the Spartans were far from the only ranked team to take an L in Week 10. No. 9 Wake Forest, No. 12 Baylor, No. 17 Mississippi State and No. 20 Minnesota were each knocked off by unranked foes within the first two waves of games Saturday afternoon.

    Then, in the evening slate, No. 18 Kentucky and No. 23 Fresno State both suffered losses while No. 2 Alabama, No. 22 Iowa and No. 4 Oregon escaped by the skin of their teeth.

    Georgia did its usual thing, though, and Arizona and UNLV both did a very unusual thing by finally winning a game.

    Read on for the rest of Week 10's winners and losers.

Winner: Georgia's Defense, Per Usual

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    Georgia's Jordan Davis
    Georgia's Jordan DavisPhelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Through eight games, Georgia's defense had allowed just five* touchdowns, three of which came in the fourth quarter after the game was effectively over. And while Missouri entered Week 10 averaging 34.8 points per contest, even a single touchdown was bound to be a challenge with quarterback Connor Bazelak out with an injury.

    Forget about the end zone, though. Missouri could barely get the ball into the red zone in what was ultimately a 43-6 blowout.

    The Tigers did work it down inside the 20 on their second possession of the game, but they were immediately tackled for a loss and settled for a field goal to take a 3-0 lead—notably just the second time in this entire season that Georgia trailed at any point in a game.

    For the next 50 minutes, though, the best Missouri could do was get into range for a long, sad field-goal attempt.

    They finally put together a nice drive late in the fourth quarter with Tyler Macon hitting Tauskie Dove for gains of 31 and 28 yardstwo of just four plays all game in which the Tigers gained more than a dozen yards. The 28-yard pickup got them down to the UGA 3 with two timeouts and about 30 seconds remaining.

    But Georgia was hellbent on not letting them score.

    The Dawgs didn't put Jordan Davis and the rest of the starters back on the field or anything, but they stuffed Missouri on four straight tries, executing the goal-line stand they were unable to pull off at the end of the games against Kentucky and Florida.

    Georgia also blocked a punt for a safety in this game. It really should have been recovered for a touchdown, though, which would have been its fifth touchdown on defense/special teams. Maybe the Bulldogs will get there next week against Tennessee.

    *Six if you want to count the one UAB scored against the offense on a pick six.

Loser: Yet Another Top 5 Team at the Hands of Purdue

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    Purdue's Aidan O'Connell
    Purdue's Aidan O'ConnellMichael Conroy/Associated Press

    As the old saying goes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

    At Purdue, though, it's more like if you can't join 'em in the Top 5 of the rankings, knock 'em out of there.

    The Boilermakers entered this weekend with an FBS-best 16 wins over AP Top 5 teams while unranked. That's all-time, of course, not just this season. But they did already score a massive 24-7 road win over then-No. 2 Iowa just three weeks ago.

    This week, Purdue got a home game against No. 3 Michigan State for a mismatch they were more than prepared to exploit.

    The Boilermakers were averaging better than 300 passing yards per game while the Spartans were allowing more than 300 passing yards per game.

    They went to that well again.

    And again.

    And again.

    Aiden O'Connell threw it 54 times for 536 yards and three touchdowns as Purdue pulled off the 17th massive upset in program history by a final score of 40-29.

    For the Spartans, the CFP dream isn't necessarily over. They'll probably slip down to somewhere in the No. 9 range, albeit with big games remaining against Penn State and Ohio State, plus a potential Big Ten championship. But we can at least rule out the possibility of Michigan State finishing 11-1 with a razor-thin loss at Ohio State and sneaking in as the No. 4 seed without even playing in a conference championship, a la 2017 Alabama. 

    Who do the giant-killing Boilermakers face next week, you might be wondering?

    No. 5 Ohio State, whose CFP dreams Purdue destroyed in 2018.

    Boiler up and buckle up.

Winner: Arizona Wildcats Finally Snap the Losing Streak

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    Arizona's Will Plummer and Jedd Fisch
    Arizona's Will Plummer and Jedd FischMarcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Arizona lost the final seven games of the 2019 season, lost all five games it played this past fall and started out 0-8 this year. That's 20 consecutive losses, but the Wildcats were at least flirting with ending that skid in recent weeks, losing by just five to Washington and by seven to USC.

    And with 3-5 California bringing a bare-bones roster to Tucson as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak, Arizona really could not have asked for a better opportunity to finally snap the losing streak.

    Predictably, the football was quite ugly.

    Arizona was already down to third-string quarterback Will Plummer because of previous injuries, and Cal had no choice but to start back-up quarterback Ryan Glover behind an offensive line with three atypical starters. After nearly 40 minutes of "action," it was 0-0 with 13 punts and two interceptions and Cal had not taken a single snap in Arizona territory.

    They finally exchanged field goals in the third quarter before it turned back into a punt party. But a 25-yard Stanley Berryhill III punt return put Arizona close to midfield for what ended up being a game-winning touchdown drive.

    Cal had one last chance to tie it up but instead lost a bit of ground before finishing the game with 122 yards of total offense.

    Arizona kneeled a few times before the fans rushed the field.

    There aren't many cases where we condone the post-game mosh pit after a win over an unranked opponent, but when you snap a 20-game losing streak, go wild.

Loser: The ACC's Last Best Hope for a Spot in the College Football Playoff

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    Wake Forest's Sam Hartman
    Wake Forest's Sam HartmanGerry Broome/Associated Press

    Thirteen of the 14 ACC teams entered Week 10 with two losses already in the books. Even though NC State (No. 19) and Pittsburgh (No. 25) both appeared in the initial College Football Playoff Top 25 rankings, there's no realistic scenario in which either one finishes the year ranked in the Top Four.

    With four weeks remaining before conference championship weekend, it was "Wake Forest or Bust" for the ACC.

    And given the sad state of Wake Forest's defense—allowed more than 500 yards in four consecutive games from Weeks 4-8—it sure felt like just a matter of time before that balloon popped.

    Just two weeks removed from beating Army 70-56, the Demon Deacons once again engaged in one of the highest-scoring games of the season, this time against North Carolina—in what was officially a nonconference game, by the way.

    Midway through the third quarter, it looked like the Deacs were going to improve to 9-0 and that Sam Hartman was going to finally get some long-overdue love in the Heisman conversation. After he connected with A.T. Perry on a 66-yard touchdown, Wake Forest was up 45-27 behind four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns by its quarterback.

    The Tar Heels didn't go away, though. They put together back-to-back 75-yard touchdown drives of their own before getting a game-changing interception from what Hartman appeared to believe was a free play for an offsides penalty that never came. Two plays later, they had tied the game at 48-48 and eventually carried that momentum to a 58-55 victory.

    Hartman did finish the day with seven total touchdowns and should still be a Heisman candidate if Wake Forest can bounce back and win at least two of its final three regular-season games. But it is now all but guaranteed that the ACC will be left out of the College Football Playoff for the first time.

Winner: Louisiana Rallies from Sluggish Start, Clinches Spot in Sun Belt 'Ship

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    Louisiana head coach Billy Napier
    Louisiana head coach Billy NapierMatthew Hinton/Associated Press

    For about 53 hours, Louisiana was finally a ranked team again.

    The Ragin' Cajuns opened the year at No. 23 in the AP Top 25 before immediately suffering a loss to Texas. But they had won seven in a row since then and got back into that poll at No. 24 this past Sunday afternoon.

    Unfortunately, that ranking became obsolete on Tuesday night when the College Football Playoff Top 25 came out with Louisiana nowhere to be found.

    But if you thought Louisiana was going to come out Thursday night and play with some serious fire after that slight from the selection committee, that certainly didn't happen.

    Playing at home against a 4-4 Georgia State team that entered the night allowing more than 30 points per game, the Ragin' Cajuns trailed 3-0 at halftime. They had a pair of turnovers on downs in the red zone, but they also struggled to get off the field on defense, allowing the Panthers to open the game with three consecutive drives of 10 or more plays.

    Late in the third quarter, they were still scoreless, trailing 10-0 and facing another 4th down decision in the red zone. But the third time was the charm with Levi Lewis finding Peter LeBlanc for a 13-yard touchdown. With the seal finally broken, the Cajuns reeled off three consecutive touchdown drives, battling back for a 21-17 victory.

    Now 6-0 in Sun Belt play, Louisiana has already clinched its spot in the conference championship, presumably against either Appalachian State or Coastal Carolina. Billy Napier is now 4-for-4 in getting Louisiana into the Sun Belt title game, but he is still seeking his first "real" championship. The Ragin' Cajuns lost to App State in both 2018 and 2019, and they were ruled co-champs with Coastal last year when that game was canceled because of COVID-19 protocol.

    This team has the defense and the run game to get it done, though, and it deserves a spot in the next batch of CFP rankings.

Loser: MACtion Defenses

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    Northern Illinois WR Trayvon Rudolph
    Northern Illinois WR Trayvon RudolphIcon Sportswire/Getty Images

    When the mid-week MACtion portion of the season got underway two years ago, the offensive execution was...not great. There were three games, no team scored more than 35 points and only one quarterback had more than 200 yards through the air.

    But this time around, there were offensive explosions left and right.

    Nine of the 10 Mid-American teams who played on Tuesday or Wednesday gained at least 400 yards of total offense. The exception to that rule was Central Michigan, which finished at 389 and still scored 42 points and picked up a critical-for-bowl-eligibility road victory thanks to a pair of long punt-return touchdowns.

    Six of the 10 quarterbacks threw for at least 300 yards and multiple touchdowns. Northern Illinois' Rocky Lombardi led the way with 532 yards and three scores, albeit in a 52-47 losing effort. Similar story for Miami-Ohio's Brett Gabbert, who went for 492 yards and five touchdowns in a 35-33 loss. Toledo's Dequan Finn also had 461 yards and three touchdowns in a 52-49 loss.

    Miami-Ohio's Jack Sorenson finished with 283 receiving yards and two touchdowns, which was the 2021 record for single-game receiving yards for all of 24 hours before Northern Illinois' Trayvon Rudolph went for 309 yards and three scores.

    There were also four MAC running backs (Bryant Koback, Lew Nichols III, Marquez Cooper and Jay Ducker) who had at least 100 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns.

    All told, the per-team average was 520.6 total yards and 39.6 points, even though the highest season averages entering Week 10 belonged to Kent State (450.6 YPG) and Eastern Michigan (32.8 PPG).

Winner: Early Friday Bedtime Thanks to Utah Decimating Stanford

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    Utah RB Tavion Thomas
    Utah RB Tavion ThomasD. Ross Cameron/Associated Press

    There were eight non-Saturday games this week, spread out from Tuesday through Friday, seven of which kicked off at either 7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. on the East Coast. Just a nice nightly spattering of college football that didn't require an extra cup of coffee to enjoy.

    Utah-Stanford was the exception to that rule with a Friday night start time of 10:30 p.m. ET—otherwise known as peak Pac 12 After Dark potential. I was more than ready to burn the midnight oil for that one.

    But Utah made that entirely unnecessary by turning the game into a laugher in a hurry, mostly on the legs of Tavion Thomas.

    On Utah's first five possessions, Thomas had 13 carries for 123 yards and four touchdowns. It was one heck of a full day's work in less than 25 minutes.

    And while Thomas was running wild, Utah's defense made a mockery of Stanford's offense. Granted, starting quarterback Tanner McKee was ruled out shortly before kickoff because of an injury, but by the time Thomas scored his fourth touchdown, Stanford had run 14 plays for nine yards with just one first down.

    It didn't get much better from there for the Cardinal, who entered halftime trailing 38-0 with 28 yards of total offense.

    They did finally put together a scoring drive after the intermission, but they also had a pick six in the fourth quarter en route to an embarrassing 52-7 loss—their worst margin of defeat since a 57-7 loss to Notre Dame in 2003.

    At least that's what the box score tells me the final score was. I happily went to bed at halftime.

Loser: Minnesota Golden Gophers

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    Minnesota RB Ky Thomas
    Minnesota RB Ky ThomasDavid Berding/Getty Images

    Minnesota debuting at No. 20 might have been the biggest surprise from Tuesday's CFP rankings. Not only were the Golden Gophers unranked in the AP poll, but they weren't even among the top five "others receiving votes."

    Nevertheless, the Golden Gophers had a golden opportunity to prove themselves worthy of that ranking, playing at home against a 3-6 Illinois team that just lost at home to Rutgers in Week 9.

    Instead, Minnesota fared as well at home against the Illini as Penn State did two weeks ago, strangely unable to get anything going on the the ground in a 14-6 loss.

    Minnesota did lose yet another running back for the season earlier this week with Bryce Williams joining Mohamed Ibrahim and Trey Potts on the list of shelved rushers. But up until this game, it never seemed to matter. Ky Thomas and Mar'Keise Irving each rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the past two games in wins over Maryland and Northwestern. The Gophers had a combined 634 yards on the ground in those two games.

    But against Illinois, they were able to manage just 89 yards on 35 carries and were held scoreless until only five minutes remained in the fourth quarter.

    The defense dug in its heels after allowing touchdowns on each of Illinois' first two possessions, but it was already too little too late by that point.

    The Gophers do still control their own destiny in the Big Ten West. They already beat Purdue and they still have games remaining against Iowa and Wisconsin. But that race is even more wide open now after this major upset.

Winner: Ohio State, Thanks to Jaxon Smith-Njigba

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    Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba
    Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-NjigbaJay LaPrete/Associated Press

    Nebraska has been a professional nuisance this season.

    The Cornhuskers almost won at Oklahoma, almost won at Michigan State, almost won at home against Michigan, almost won at Minnesota and they gave Ohio State all it could handle in Week 10, stifling star running back TreVeyon Henderson and forcing C.J. Stroud into quite a few pass attempts on which he looked every bit the part of a redshirt freshman.

    But with Garrett Wilson out with an unspecified injury, it was Jaxon Smith-Njigba's time to shine.

    The Buckeyes wasted no time in making sure to establish JSN. He made receptions on three of their first five offensive snaps. He finished the first quarter with five receptions for 48 yards, and he was just getting warmed up.

    He had a big 17-yard grab to help set up Ohio State's first touchdown of the day. On the first (and only) play of the subsequent possession, he sat down in the zone defense for what should have been a short gain before making two juke moves and hitting the after burners for a 75-yard score.

    Smith-Njigba finished the afternoon with 15 receptions for 240 yards.

    Per Fox's broadcast, it was an Ohio State single-game record for receptions and was the second-most yards by a Buckeyes receiver in one game, trailing only Terry Glenn's 253-yard performance in 1995.

    And the Buckeyes needed every bit of it to remain in the playoff hunt, because not much else was working.

    Nebraska probably would have won this game if not for its atrocious special teams. Not only did the 'Huskers miss a pair of field goals, but a shanked 13-yard punt was what set the Buckeyes up in plus territory for their first touchdown drive. As is, Ohio State still has a very strong playoff pulse with games still to come against Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan.

Loser: Malik Willis' NFL Draft Stock

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    Liberty's Malik Willis
    Liberty's Malik WillisRogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    According to the consensus among mock drafts surveyed by NFL Mock Draft Database, Liberty' Malik Willis entered this week as the projected No. 3 pick in the 2022 draft. He was No. 17 on their consensus big board, but evidently a lot of people like his potential fit as the replacement for Deshaun Watson in Houston.

    After how poorly things went against Ole Miss, though, that might change considerably.

    The mock drafters will, of course, consider the fact that the offensive line for the Flames was no match for the Rebels defense. They haven't been great as a whole this season, but they were ranked second in the SEC with 25 sacks. Ole Miss will now move into first place in the conference in that category after sacking Willis nine times.

    Willis spent most of the afternoon running for his life, and he did at least have a good number of positive runs to make up for all those sacks. He finished with 27 rushing attempts for 71 yards and a touchdown. But he only threw for 173 yards with three interceptions and no passing touchdowns in the 27-14 loss.

    One game typically isn't enough to make or break a guy's NFL draft stock, but this was just the second game that Willis has played against a ranked opponent since transferring from Auburn to Liberty. In the other, he had a great rushing day in last year's Cure Bowl against Coastal Carolina (21 carries, 137 yards, four scores), but he merely had 210 yards and two interceptions through the air. Willis also had three-interception games against MTSU and Louisiana-Monroe earlier this season, and against NC State last fall.

    Is an NFL team really going to risk a first-round picklet alone the No. 3 overall pickon a guy who runs a ton and only seems to pass well against the lowliest opponents? There are bound to be more front offices asking themselves that question after conferring with the scouts they sent to Oxford. (Doesn't help Willis' case that fellow first-round candidate Matt Corral was a crisp 20-of-27 for 324 yards with no turnovers.)

Winner: Cincinnati in Ugly Fashion for a Third Straight Week

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    Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder
    Cincinnati QB Desmond RidderJeff Dean/Associated Press

    We keep imploring Cincinnati to win with style points to impress the CFP selection committee, and the Bearcats just keep eking out wins against sub-par competition.

    It started with the 27-20 win over Navy that got way too close for comfort late in the fourth quarter. It continued with a 31-12 win over Tulane that was a two-point game until late in the third quarter. And then this weekwith College GameDay in town, no lessCincinnati didn't look anything like a Top 10 team in a 28-20 win over Tulsa.

    Things started out fine enough. The Bearcats scored a touchdown on their first possession, forced three consecutive three-and-outs and then had a 94-yard touchdown drive. The first quarter was a vivid reminder of how much talent this team has.

    But then they just kind of rested on their laurels throughout the second quarter, not only disappearing on offense, but also allowing Tulsa to put together three scoring drives of its own.

    The second half was somewhat of a carbon copy of the first. Cincinnati needed just seven total plays to score touchdowns on its first two drives to push ahead 28-12, and then, poof, the Good Bearcats vanished again. Tulsa outgained them 256-43 the rest of the way and had six plays inside the Cincinnati 6 with a chance to tie the game in the final two minutes.

    The Golden Hurricane ultimately came up empty, fumbling into the end zone on fourth down for Cincinnati to recover and win by eight.

    It's a more acceptable result than Michigan State's loss to Purdue or Wake Forest's loss to North Carolina, so it'd be surprising if the Bearcats lose any ground in the next CFP rankings. But they aren't doing themselves any favors, and neither does the remaining schedule, which got even worse this week with Week 12 opponent SMU losing to Memphis to eliminate any hope of entering that game as a ranked team.

Loser: Baylor and Mississippi State on the Road in Painful Fashion

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    Mississippi State's Will Rogers
    Mississippi State's Will RogersMichael Woods/Associated Press

    No. 12 Baylor couldn't have asked for a much better start to its road game against a TCU team playing under a new head coach for the first time in more than two decades. The Bears got an immediate defensive stop, scored a touchdown three plays later and then forced a Horned Frogs fumble on the subsequent drive. It looked like things might get ugly.

    Instead, this was a close one throughout with former Oklahoma quarterback Chandler Morris having a stellar performance for TCU. In his first career start, he threw for 461 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and also rushed for 70 yards and another score.

    Gerry Bohanon and the Bears kept pace, though, and when TCU missed a late short field goal that could have turned a two-point lead into a five-point advantage, Baylor almost capitalized on the opening. Bohanon and Trestan Ebner quickly got Baylor into TCU territory, right on the brink of field-goal range when freshman linebacker Shadrach Banks sealed the deal with his first career interception. TCU pulled off the 30-28 upset.

    While that was going on, No. 17 Mississippi State and Arkansas were battling through a wild back-and-forth second half.

    The Razorbacks took a 13-6 lead into halftime, but every subsequent possession resulted either in a score or a missed field goal.

    Will Rogers threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns against a normally solid Arkansas secondary. The Hogs couldn't figure out how to slow down the air raid offense, though, and that almost doomed them in the end.

    Arkansas scored the go-ahead touchdown with 21 seconds remaining, only for Rogers to zip passes to Christian Ford, Makai Polk and Austin Williams for a combined 53 yards to get into field-goal range in the blink of an eye. But Nolan McCord missed the would-be game-tying 40-yard attempt as time expired, giving Arkansas the 31-28 victory.

    Mississippi State was probably already overrated at No. 17 with three losses and just about needed to win out just to get into the mix for a New Year's Six bowl. That loss doesn't change much with the national landscape. But Baylor was still a fringe College Football Playoff candidate when the day began. That dream is now dashed to bits, though we'll see what a frustrated Bears team can do next week at home against No. 8 Oklahoma.

Winner: Hendon Hooker and Tennessee in Just 14 Minutes on the Field

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    Tennessee's Hendon Hooker
    Tennessee's Hendon HookerMichael Clubb/Associated Press

    If you were just occasionally glancing at the Tennessee-Kentucky game, it probably felt like Kentucky had the ball every time you looked.

    Your eyes didn't deceive you.

    The Wildcats scored 42 points, gained 612 yards of total offense, amassed 35 first downs and possessed the ball for 46 minutes and eight seconds. Far more often than not, that's a winning formula.

    The problem for the Wildcats was that Tennessee kept putting points on the board in a flash.

    Hendon Hooker connected with JaVonta Payton for a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the game. Then, after Kentucky methodically worked the ball down the field for a 14-play, nearly nine-minute touchdown drive, Hooker hit Velus Jones Jr. for a 72-yard score.

    The Volunteers had two other three-play, less-than-a-minute touchdown drives in the second half, as well as an Alontae Taylor 56-yard pick six.

    Excluding the kneels at the end of regulation, Tennessee ran just 44 plays to Kentucky's 99, but it averaged 10.7 yards per play on those 44 snaps for a 45-42 victory.

    Hooker has been efficient all season, but he was especially so in this one, completing 15-of-20 passes for 316 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 41 yards in improving the Vols to 5-4.

Loser: Alabama's Run Game in Nail Biter Against LSU

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    Alabama's Brian Robinson Jr.
    Alabama's Brian Robinson Jr.Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    It's pretty rare for Alabama to rush for fewer than 90 yards in a game. Per Sports Reference, it has happened just 21 other times in the past 21 years.

    Drop the plateau to 50 yards and you're talking just nine times since 2000, none of them more recent than October 2010.

    But 26 carries for six yards?

    Against an LSU defense that had allowed 203.5 rushing yards on average in its six games against Power Five opponents?

    Are you kidding me?

    That was, by far, their worst rushing performance since at least 2000, which is as far back as Sports Reference's queries go. 

    And, just to be clear, it's not because Bryce Young was relentlessly picking apart the LSU secondary in a blowout victory. He did throw it well for 302 yards and two touchdowns, but Alabama was repeatedly trying to establish the run to no avail.

    And LSU had multiple opportunities to win late in the fourth quarter because of it.

    Prior to a Young 15-yard scramble late in the fourth quarterwhich was immediately followed by a 12-yard sack and a fumble on the next snapAlabama's longest rush of the game was a seven-yard gain by back-up Roydell Williams. Brian Robinson Jr. had 13 carries for 18 yards and just never found any openings.

    Much to the chagrin of those of us begging for Cincinnati to get a fair shake in the playoff conversation, this close call is not going to make any difference in Alabama's CFP quest. The Crimson Tide will still be No. 2 on Tuesday night, and they will still play in a national semifinal if they win out. But, man, that was uncharacteristically ugly.

Winner: UNLV Rebels for First Time Since 2019

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    Andres Leighton/Associated Press

    We've already praised Arizona for putting an end to its 20-game winning streak, so let's also toss a tip of the cap in UNLV's direction for getting its first victory since November 2019.

    The Rebels were just plain bad last fall, going 0-6 with all six losses by a margin of at least 13 points.

    This year has been more painstakingly close on a regular basis. It started with a double-overtime loss to Eastern Washington back in Week 1, and they later had four consecutive games decided by a single possession, blowing fourth-quarter leads against each of Fresno State, Utah State and San Jose State.

    But they finally got there for a 31-17 win over New Mexico, this despite allowing the Lobos to march 91 yards for a touchdown on the game's opening possession.

    Fumbles were UNLV's best friend in this one. New Mexico quarterback Isaiah Chavez coughed the ball up on back-to-back possessions in the first half, setting up UNLV for touchdown drives of four yards and 26 yards. And on UNM's first drive of the second half, backup quarterback CJ Montes was sacked on back-to-back plays, fumbling on the latter and putting the Rebels in great position for a field goal.

    They didn't do a ton on offense, but they took advantage of the opportunities they were given to snap a 14-game losing streak.

    Coupled with Arizona's win, every team now has at least a one in the win column. Seven of those teams—Arkansas State, Connecticut, FIU, Kansas, New Mexico State, Southern Miss and Tulane—got their only wins against FCS opponents, but it still counts. No winless teams in 2021.

Loser: Dan Mullen's Disastrous Run Continues

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    Florida's Dan Mullen
    Florida's Dan MullenIcon Sportswire/Getty Images

    At what point does Dan Mullen hit rock bottom?

    It wasn't the 49-42 loss to an LSU team that had just fired its head coach.

    It wasn't the 34-7 loss to Georgia in which the Gators were shut out until late in the fourth quarter.

    It wasn't the bizarre presser Monday when he said they'll worry about recruiting after the season and subsequently canceled media availability for the rest of the week.

    Maybe it was this horrendous 40-17 loss to South Carolina?

    All due respect to the Gamecocks, but that is not a good team right now. Yes, they improved to 5-4, but they needed a last-second field goal to beat East Carolina and a last-minute touchdown to beat Vanderbilt. They had not scored 24 points in a game since blowing out FCS school Eastern Illinois to open the season.

    And yet, South Carolina scored on all five of its offensive possessions in the first half, plus a defensive possession on which Emory Jones committed a reprehensible fumble for a big-man touchdown.

    Mullen's buyout is "only" $12 million, which isn't bad compared to a lot of the ones out there.

    If they don't pull that trigger this week, maybe a home loss to Samford in Week 11 will do the trick.

And a Few More Winners to Wrap Things Up

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    UTSA's Frank Harris
    UTSA's Frank HarrisMatthew Hinton/Associated Press

    Let's close out the night by emptying out the notebook of guys jotted down as potential winners, but who didn't quite make it into a full section of their own.

    Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh QB: Stays in the hunt for the Heisman Trophy with 416 passing yards, 57 rushing yards and four touchdowns in a 54-29 win over Duke.

    DeWayne McBride, UAB RB: After UAB trailed Louisiana Tech 21-7, McBride took over, finishing a 52-38 victory with 210 rushing yards and four touchdowns on just 14 carries.

    Travis Dye, Oregon RB: Out-rushed McBride by one yard, going for 211 on the ground in a 26-16 win over Washington.

    Jahan Dotson, Penn State WR: As has been the case often this season, Dotson was Penn State's entire offense, racking up 11 catches for 242 yards and three touchdowns.

    Brian Battie, South Florida RB/KR: Had two kick-return touchdowns and a rushing score to make things interesting in what was ultimately a 54-42 loss to Houston.

    Steven Jones Jr., Appalachian State DB: Picked off Layne Hatcher not once, not twice, but thrice, and took two of them back for touchdowns. (Also had a pick six last weekend against Louisiana-Monroe.)

    Seth Henigan, Memphis QB: Missed last week's 24-7 loss to UCF with an injury, but stormed back for 392 passing yards in a 28-25 upset of SMU.

    Ty Chandler, North Carolina RB: Sam Howell gets all of the attention, but there's no way North Carolina beats Wake Forest without Chandler's 243 all-purpose yards and four scores.

    Tyler Van Dyke, Jaylan Knighton and Charleston Rambo, Miami-Florida: Had 389 passing yards, 162 rushing yards and 210 receiving yards, respectively, in pacing Miami to its third consecutive win by four points or fewer.

    Frank Harris, UTSA: Threw for 286 yards, rushed for 76 more and accounted for four touchdowns in leading the undefeated Roadrunners to a 44-23 road win over UTEP. If the CFP selection committee doesn't rank UTSA this week—or refers to them at USTA again—we riot.

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