Saturday was all about the race for 62.
Aaron Judge? Nice guess, but wrong sport.
TCU made a run at 62 points but dialed things back in the second half, settling for an eye-opening 55-27 win against No. 16 Oklahoma that ends the Sooners’ major-bowl hopes and raises serious concerns about how the rest of this season will go for OU and new coach Brent Venables.
Ranked as high as No. 6 in the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll just two weeks ago, the Sooners have dropped two straight to open conference play for the second time in three seasons and will need to roll off eight wins in a row to land in a New Year’s Six bowl.
Preseason favorites to win the Big 12 despite some major changes in coaching and personnel, OU is now at the bottom of the conference standings, doomed by an ineffective offense and a shockingly inept defense.
Given Venables’ background as one of the top coordinators of the century, this sort of collapse is enough to raise eyebrows across the Bowl Subdivision: TCU racked up 668 yards, with an incredible 361 coming on the ground, and had four touchdowns of 60 or more yards in scoring the most points OU had allowed in a Big 12 game since a 59-56 win against West Virginia in 2018.
Going back to last week’s loss to Kansas State, the Sooners have given up 1,177 yards and 96 points in two games.
The offense didn’t fare much better against TCU. Even before losing starting quarterback Dillon Gabriel to injury — he left the field under his own power after taking a violent blow to the head while sliding — the Sooners were unable to keep pace with the Horned Frogs, who remain unbeaten under new coach Sonny Dykes.
It could get even worse for Oklahoma.
The Sooners are 0-2 in Big 12 play before even taking on the toughest parts of this year’s schedule. That includes rival Texas, upstart Kansas and Iowa State in October. In November, OU hosts No. 14 Baylor and No. 7 Oklahoma State.
Instead of being sent to one of the top bowls, if not the College Football Playoff, the Sooners could find themselves in a middle-of-the-road bowl game — or even teetering on the edge of bowl eligibility, should Venables and the new staff not find a way to get OU back on track.
The Sooners lead this week’s list of college football’s biggest winners and losers:
With a 28-0 lead cut to 28-23 and with No. 19 Arkansas seemingly rising to the occasion after a generation of ugly losses in this series, the Crimson Tide responded with two quick touchdowns to secure a 49-26 win in this huge SEC West matchup. One major topic of postgame conversation: What’s the story on Bryce Young? The reigning Heisman Trophy winner left the game in the second quarter with sprained shoulder and was replaced by backup Jalen Milroe, who finished with 91 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The Young-less offense turned to Georgia Tech transfer Jahmyr Gibbs, who ran for a career-best 206 yards.
That’s two wins against Top 25 competition in as many weeks for No. 5 Clemson. After topping Wake Forest in a shootout, the Tigers played a more grind-it-out, physical style for a 30-20 win against No. 10 North Carolina State to basically put a lock on the ACC Atlantic. Torn to shreds by the Demon Deacons, Clemson’s pass defense fared much better against Devin Leary, holding the junior to 245 yards on just 5.2 yards per attempt. The Tigers have earned a spot in the top five and a place among the top contenders for the playoff with these two victories.
The story of the season keeps getting better. Every weekend is predicted to be the Jayhawks’ last as an unbeaten; every weekend, Kansas finds a way to beat teams and make a case for the Top 25. While a perfect September was built on a potent offense, Saturday’s 14-11 win against Iowa State was pulled off by the program’s best defensive performance in almost a decade. The Jayhawks allowed just 313 yards on 4.2 yards per play — both totals the best against a Big 12 opponent since 2014 — and are a lock for next week’s Coaches Poll.
The Cowboys are the favorite in the Big 12 and the league’s best hope of reaching the playoff after winning 36-25 at Baylor. The rematch of last year’s conference championship game saw one major difference: OSU quarterback Spencer Sanders had over 250 yards of total offense and two touchdowns after throwing four interceptions in his last meeting with the Bears. The loss drops Baylor to 3-2 and, like Oklahoma, into a tough spot when it comes to climbing back to the top of the conference.
The No. 11 Rebels are now 5-0 for the first time since 2014 and poised for a major move up the Coaches Poll after beating No. 8 Kentucky 22-19. The win showed how Lane Kiffin and this offense have moved forward without former quarterback Matt Corral by focusing even more on the running game and leaning on a vastly improved defense. The Rebels are now running the ball 63.6% of the time — and at 5.6 yards a carry, running it even more efficiently — while the defense is giving up just 4.6 yards per play, one of the top rates in the Power Five.
Another week and another solid Big 12 win for Kansas State driven by the combination of quarterback Adrian Martinez and running back Deuce Vaughn. After scoring five touchdowns in last Saturday’s win at Oklahoma, Martinez finished with 287 yards of total offense and four scores as the Wildcats held on to beat Texas Tech 37-28. Vaughn needs to be a major player in the Heisman Trophy debate after running for 170 yards to give him 638 yards through five games.
No. 21 Wake Forest rebounded from last week’s loss to Clemson with a 31-21 win at No. 22 Florida State that boosts the Demon Deacons’ chances of reaching a New Year’s Six game. While nearly crippled by the loss to the Tigers, those odds would’ve dropped down to zero had Wake not chewed up almost seven minutes of clock in the fourth quarter with an 18-play drive that ended in a field goal, giving the Demon Deacons a two-possession lead. Quarterback Sam Hartman threw for two scores and has 12 touchdowns without an interception in three games against Power Five competition.
The Aggies are by leaps and bounds the most disappointing team in college football. Plagued by the most frustrating Power Five offense this side of Iowa, A&M will limp into next weekend’s matchup with Alabama — only weeks ago the most anticipated game of the regular season — at 3-2 after losing 42-24 to Mississippi State. The list of issues is long and detailed, with none more pressing than the state of an offense that does almost nothing right. How much longer can Jimbo Fisher maintain control of this side of the ball before the situation becomes untenable?
Self-inflicted wounds and a failure to capitalize on scoring opportunities cost Missouri the chance at a shocking upset of No. 1 Georgia. Ahead by as many as 10 points in the second half, the Tigers were unable to hold off Stetson Bennett in the Bulldogs in a 26-22 loss. What could’ve been? Missouri ended up kicking five field goals, including one from 22 yards and another from 41 yards. A third field goal from 49 yards out came after the Tigers recovered a fumble at Georgia’s 36-yard line.
A real cynic would offer that Auburn’s 21-17 loss to LSU is a good thing, since it brings the program and coach Bryan Harsin one step closer to officially cutting ties. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. There’s still plenty to despise about the loss, starting with four Auburn turnovers. Those giveaways helped reverse a 17-0 lead and allowed Brian Kelly and LSU to win an SEC game despite completing just 10 of 26 throws for 85 yards.
The Badgers can’t run the ball, can’t throw the ball and can’t stop turning the ball over. Everything else is going great, though. This sentence just keeps getting worse: Wisconsin managed just two rushing yards on 24 carries and committed three turnovers in a 34-10 loss to Illinois and former coach Bret Bielema. The program’s worst rushing performance since 2015 underlines how Wisconsin has missed its window for being a playoff contender and now sits somewhere in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten.
With Wisconsin and Iowa losing again, No. 23 Minnesota had an opportunity against Purdue to essentially put a stranglehold on the Big Ten West — the Gophers could’ve moved multiple games in front of those two preseason favorites and earned the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Boilermakers. Instead, Purdue made a huge interception in the end zone late in the first half and dominated in the fourth quarter to pull off a 20-10 win that will throw the division into chaos and cast Minnesota out of the Top 25. Six of the seven teams in the Big Ten West are 1-1.
Missed opportunities against Ole Miss may lead to Kentucky missing out on a New Year’s Six bowl. What helped fuel the Rebels’ win? The Wildcats committed two turnovers in the red zone, including one fumble late in the fourth quarter by quarterback Will Levis. On special teams, Kentucky missed an extra point and a 39-yard field goal. The offense was also responsible for a safety after being pinned near the goal line by a 58-yard Ole Miss punt.