B/R's College Football Weekly Awards: Week 10
One week, you're on top of the college football world. Seven days later, you're the reason someone else is.
Such is the cruel reality for Michigan State, which pulled off a comeback win over rival Michigan in Week 9. But on Saturday, the Spartans headed to Purdue with College Football Playoff dreams and left West Lafayette with their first loss of the season.
MSU wasn't alone, though. Wake Forest also joined the ranks of the defeated, falling to North Carolina in a high-scoring game.
Those results headline a busy Week 10 in which upsets returned, two power-conference coaches felt their job security drop, and two programs finally picked up a win.
If you're new here, hello! Every Monday this season, B/R will distribute a handful of awards. Some will review the previous weekend's slate, and others will preview what's coming up. A few topics might be humorous or downright strange.
Team of the Week: Purdue Boilermakers, Again!
Welcome back, Purdue.
Three weeks ago, the Boilermakers earned this award following a 24-7 victory over then-No. 2 Iowa. They returned to the podium with a 40-29 triumph that dropped MSU to 8-1.
Aidan O'Connell threw for 536 yards and three touchdowns in the impressive win. Purdue never trailed, leading by as many as 16 points in the fourth quarter. Mitchell Fineran's 22-yard field goal with 41 seconds remaining iced the upset.
Most impressively, it marked the program's 17th victory as an unranked team against an AP Top 5 opponent. The next-highest teams, USC and Illinois, each have 11.
And the Boilers might not be finished yet. Next weekend, they travel to No. 6 Ohio State.
If Purdue manages to upend the Buckeyes for a third Top 5 victory but don't appear in the Big Ten Championship Game—Wisconsin currently owns that tiebreaker—it will provide one of the most bizarre juxtapositions in college football history.
#TeamChaos Wins of the Week
Purdue's victory headlined the weekend, but North Carolina ending Wake Forest's perfect year checks in at a close second.
For the second straight year, the Tar Heels overcame a three-score margin in the second half to derail the Demon Deacons. After trailing 45-24 in last season's 59-53 triumph, UNC roared back from a 45-27 deficit to secure a 58-55 win.
As a result, barring an unparalleled level of chaos, the ACC is officially out of the College Football Playoff race.
Elsewhere around the country, TCU—in its first contest after "parting ways" with longtime coach Gary Patterson—upset No. 12 Baylor. No. 20 Minnesota fell to Illinois, and No. 23 Fresno State took a 26-point smackdown from Boise State.
Additionally, two slight underdogs in No. 17 Mississippi State and No. 18 Kentucky lost to Arkansas and Tennessee, respectively.
The rankings are primed for a major shakeup this week.
Panic Alarm of the Week: Dan Mullen, Florida
Despite a frustrating, three-loss October, Dan Mullen had a reasonably strong chance of keeping his job in 2022.
Maybe not so much anymore.
Florida entered Williams-Brice Stadium as a 20-point favorite and exited with a jarring 40-17 loss. Losing to Kentucky, LSU and Georgia stung, but South Carolina—which had only defeated Vanderbilt in SEC play—obliterating the Gators is simply disastrous.
The loss followed a strange week in which Mullen brushed off questions about recruiting. That didn't sit well within a fan base already dealing with the disappointment of a pair of top-100 prospects recently backing off their verbal commitments to Florida.
Given his long-standing connection with athletic director Scott Stricklin, his boss at Mississippi State and Florida, Mullen may return in 2022. However, there is certainly no guarantee.
Academically Prowess Loss of the Week: Washington Huskies
Jimmy Lake is not having a good day.
Earlier in the week, the second-year Washington coach said he didn't consider Oregon—which is both a division foe and the Pac-12's reigning two-time winner—a recruiting rival. That admission alone is a ridiculous statement. Washington has championship aspirations, and Oregon is the primary obstacle.
"In our world, we battle more academically prowess teams," Lake said while pointing to USC, Stanford and Notre Dame, according to Mike Vorel of the Seattle Times.
Yeah. That's absurd.
And it looked even worse Saturday when Washington stunk up the joint. The offense mustered 166 yards, including a nightmarish 3.3 per snap, in a 26-16 loss to Oregon. Were it not for an interception and a safety, the Huskies probably would've only scored seven points as they fell to the Ducks for the third straight time.
Lake finished the game on a decision full of academic prowess.
Trailing 24-16 with 1:59 to play, Washington chose to punt on fourth down. Sure, the offense was backed up near the goal line, but even if UW's defense forced a punt, it would be right back there anyway. Fittingly, the snap sailed past the punter for a safety.
Maybe it's time to start battling Oregon for better players, so this doesn't happen again?
#CollegeKickers Roller Coaster of the Week
Specialists usually only start trending when they mess up. Most often, it's the result of missing an extra point or a critical field goal.
The good moments, though, tend to get overlooked. And it'd be painless to ignore a moment that happened in a loss. Oregon State fell to Colorado 37-34 on Saturday, and Everett Hayes pulled a 38-yard attempt wide left in double overtime. The miss punctuated a mediocre performance from Oregon State and preceded the program dismissing fourth-year defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar.
But the Beavers also wouldn't have reached the extra session without Hayes.
He connected on an absolute bomb, a 60-yarder from the left hashmark, as time expired in regulation. It was the nation's longest field goal of the season by four yards.
Kicking is hard, man. And sometimes, pretty thankless, too.
Week 10 Rundown
Field Storm of the Week: Arizona Wildcats
Go crazy, Tucson. For the first time in 763 days, your Arizona Wildcats are—you've waited a long time anyway, what's a little more—winners! Sure, it wasn't a full-strength Cal roster because of COVID-19 protocols. Yes, it was merely a 10-3 victory that required a late fourth-quarter score despite the defense ceding only 122 yards. But it was a win, baby! That 20-game losing streak is only a memory now.
Golf Clap of the Week: Missouri Tigers
Arizona is finally in the traditional win column. Missouri, on the other hand, broke through in a different category. The Tigers headed into Week 10 as the nation's only winless team (0-8) against the spread. But as a 40-point underdog against No. 1 Georgia, they only lost by 37! Good teams win, great teams cover.
Rapid Champion of the Week: Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns
Last week, top-ranked Georgia sealed the SEC East crown. And on Thursday, the Ragin' Cajuns locked up their fourth straight West division title. Louisiana clipped Georgia State, moving to 8-1 overall and 6-0 in league action, securing a trip to the Sun Belt Championship Game. Head coach Billy Napier will again be in high demand this offseason, even though he signed an extension this summer.
Best Week 11 Storylines
Fresh off Week 10's takedown of Wake Forest, North Carolina heads to Pitt for a Thursday showdown. If the Panthers win, they'll stay in charge of the Coastal Division. But if the Tar Heels win, guess who shares the Coastal lead with Pitt and Virginia: Miami. Because why not?
Saturday's action has a handful of key national games.
During the noon ET window, Oklahoma takes on Baylor, and Michigan travels to Penn State. Both the Sooners and Wolverines need a victory to stay in the College Football Playoff chase.
Purdue hopes to continue its upset-happy season on the road when it meets Ohio State at 3:30 p.m. ET.
In the evening, Ole Miss hosts Texas A&M in a matchup that may determine which program ultimately lands a New Year's Six bowl appearance. Wake Forest could also clinch its first trip to ACC Championship Game since 2006 with a win over North Carolina State.