Statement Saturday. Showdown Saturday. You could even say it was SEC Saturday. However you call it, College Football Week 10 was one of the biggest of the season so far.
Championship game qualifying wins? Check! 1000 yard rushing seasons already? In. The. Bag! BIG MAN TOUCHDOWNS?! We’ve got them!
A Tale of Cats and Dogs
Georgia are going back to the SEC Championship Game. The Bulldogs secured the SEC East with a 34-17 win over Kentucky in Lexington.
The Wildcats came in to the game with one of the best rush defences in the country. They were run ragged by D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield.
They also came in confident but soon faced an uphill battle. Electing to receive, The Wildcats were unable to to move the ball effectively and were forced to punt.
Mecole Hardman’s impressive return gave Georgia the ball in great field position. Four plays and a Jake Fromm touchdown pass to Isaac Nauta later, The Bulldogs had a lead they’d never relinquish.
Late in the first quarter the teams traded fumbles. First Kentucky then Georgia coughed up the ball, The Wildcats highly rated defensive end Josh Allen getting his first recovery of the night.
This seemed to ignite Kentucky and the offence put together a fine, 15 play drive, chewing up nearly eight minutes of clock. When it mattered though, penalties cost them and they had to resort to a field goal.
Maybe the occasion got to Kentucky as penalties would bite them as much as the Bulldogs defence. Ejections in the second half for Darius West (targeting) and Bunchy Stallings (unsportsmanlike behaviour) added insult to indiscipline.
A delightful 22 yard touchdown run from D’Andre Swift put Georgia 14-3 up with just over two minutes left in the half. Following another Kentucky punt, Jake Fromm set about an NFL worthy two minute drill.
Short pass. Catch. Out of bounds.
All the way down to the Kentucky 27 with 15 seconds left to play. The drive would end with Fromm coughing up the ball, giving the Kentucky faithful inside Kroger Field hope for the second half.
It wasn’t to be.
Bulldogs make Swift work of second half
A bulldozing touchdown run from Holyfield opened it up to 21-3.
D’Andre Swift took advantage of fantastic blocking by center Trey Hill and wide receiver Jeremiah Holloman to burst through the hole for an 84 yard touchdown.
Swift ended the night with 156 yards and two touchdowns off 16 carries. Holyfield added 115 yards as Georgia put 331 yards rushing on the Wildcats.
Kentucky’s own rushing machine added a touchdown of his own. Benny Snell’s 9 yard run taking him over 1000 yards for the season. That would be mere consolation for the Wildcats. As would AJ Rose’s 31 yard touchdown that he bobbled away from a defender before running through another on his way to the end zone.
At 34-17 the game was all but over.
The Georgia defence, impressive all night long, made sure of it with a forced fumble with under two to go.
Fromm took a knee, and the East belongs to the Bulldogs again.
The Tide Rolls in to the Bayou, out with the W
Meeting Georgia in Atlanta for the SEC Championship game will be Nick Saban’s Alabama. Travelling in to Death Valley for their toughest test of the season there had been murmurings of an upset.
The Crimson Tide, and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, passed the test with flying colours on their way to a 29-0 routing.
Without defensive sensation Devin White for the first half, LSU knew they’d be up against it.
Deferring to Alabama was a bold move to start the game was a bold move but the defence held firm. The Tide has scored on every opening drive of the season but were held to a punt. They also forced Tagovailoa’s first interception of the season, Todd Harris Jr picking off Tua late in the second quarter.
The Tigers couldn’t make the most of the turnover and were forced to punt. Even when Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle fumbled the return, it was the Tide who came up with the ball.
Two plays later and Tagovailoa had Irv Smith Jr in the end zone for a 16-0 lead. You just can’t give Alabama a chance!
In the third, Tua added a rushing touchdown to his two passing touchdowns. The 44 yard run gave Alabama a 22-0 lead. When Damien Harris added a one yard touchdown in the fourth to make it 29-0, the LSU dreams of an SEC West title were long over. Likely their College Playoff dreams are too.
It was an all powerful performance by Alabama on both sides of the ball. 576 yards of total offence. The defence joined in with five sacks and an interception. The much lauded ground game of LSU managed just twelve yards!
Alabama have three games before their December date with Georgia. No-one is betting against them arriving 12-0 and comfortably ranked number 1.
The Toilet Bowl
Whilst dreams were being made in the SEC, the two worst teams in the nation went head to head in Houston. It’s not often a 1-8 team will be the favourite but that was the case as Rice welcomed the 0-8 University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) to Rice Stadium.
Having gone 0-12 in 2017, the UTEP Miners had not won a game for 708 days. In the last meeting Rice won out 31-14 and hold the head to head record at 14-7. More odds against UTEP.
A twelve yard touchdown from running back Quardraiz Wadley put the visitors ahead early.
Former four star recruit Kai Locksley, the UTEP quarterback put his legs to good use to make it 13-0.
By the half the Miners were cruising. 27-3 on the back of two rushing touchdowns a piece from Wadley and Locksley.
UTEP kicked on in the third, Treyvon Hughes added a 19 yard touchdown run to make it 34-3.
Then panic set in.
An Emmanuel Esukpa two yard touchdown run made it 34-10.
Two consecutive fourth quarter touchdowns to Austin Trammell from Rice quarterback Wiley Green made it 34-26.
Squeaky bum time at the Toilet Bowl.
The defence dug deep for the Miners, two AJ Hotchkins sacks and a Justin Rodgers interception allowed them to run out the clock.
It was their first win since November 2016. Wild!
Purdue Power On
Off the back of a sensational win over Ohio State, Purdue are at it again. The Boilermakers held the lead over Iowa for most of the game but went behind with 36-35 with just ten minutes left.
A late, late 25 yard field goal from Spencer Evans gave Purdue a shock win over the 19 ranked Hawkeyes and back in to Big Ten West contention.
Ohio State(ment) win over Nebraska
The Buckeyes bounced back from their Purdue performance with a tough win against a resurgent Nebraska.
The Huskers held a 21-16 lead at the half but a career day for JK Dobbins gave Ohio State the win. The sophomore running back had three touchdowns and 163 yards off 23 carries.
QB Dwayne Haskins added two touchdowns of his own on the way to a 36-31 win.
Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez had a day of his own with two rushing and one throwing touchdown but it wasn’t enough to give Nebraska their third win on the bounce.
Clemson Crush Cardinals
Travis Etienne joined Benny Snell in the 1000 yard rushing club as Clemson steam rolled Louisville 77-16. Etienne had two touchdowns and 153 yards as the Tigers put 492 rushing yards on the Cardinals.
Trevor Lawrence threw two second quarter touchdowns. It was Dexter Lawrence who had everyone talking however when the 350 pound defensive tackle powered through for a two yard rushing touchdown. It was the second weekend in a row that the “fridge package” had been wheeled out.
Who doesn’t love a big man touchdown?
Longhorns hooked by Gutsy Grier
In the closest game of the day, Will Grier’s Mountaineers climbed past the Texas Longhorns with virtually the last play of the game.
In a back and forth game the lead changed EIGHT times as West Virginia won a thriller 42-41.
It’s difficult to pick a man of the game. Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns. West Virginia’s Martell Pettaway had 121 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries. Lil’Jordan Humphrey accounted for 143 Texas yards and a touchdown.
With the game on the line and just 16 seconds left, Will Grier threw a 33 yard pass to Gary Jennings Jr to make the score 40-41 and set up a game tying PAT.
Coach Dana Holgorsen strapped on his big boy pants and dialled up a two point attempt to go for the win. Grier found Sills in the end zone for the game winning score. But…
Texas had called a time out before the snap!
Not out off, Holgorsen put it in the hands of his superstar quarterback again.
The ball was snapped.
Grier took the snap.
In to the end zone!
42-41! Mountaineers win!
With that, week 10 is in the books. Join me here at ninetynineyards.co.uk next week to see what shocks, spills and thrills week 11 of College Football has in store.
photo credit: Sports Illustrated