Week 10 wrap

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You watching committee? No. 5 Washington rolls over California to stay unbeaten

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The biggest surprise of the work week in college football came Tuesday when the College Football Playoff selection committee snubbed Washington and ranked the Huskies No. 5, behind then-one loss Texas A&M.

Poor Cal had to pay the price for that on Saturday night, as the team took out some frustrations on the road against the Bears in a 66-27 game that was far more lopsided than even that 39 point margin indicated.

For example, quarterback Jake Browning threw for 378 yards and six touchdowns… in roughly three quarters. Wideout John Ross torched every defensive back he lined up against to the tune of six catches for 208 yards and three scores. The offense averaged over 10 yards a play before the starters were pulled late in the second half and ran off 31 unanswered.

For good measure, Dante Pettis even threw for another score on a trick play to go along with his eight catches for 104 yards and three touchdowns.

Even the defense stepped up and had a ‘look at me’ game. They picked off Cal’s Davis Webb three times and held the Bears’ normally prolific offense well under their season averages. Aside from two drives early in the game, they were pretty much either turned the ball over or were forced to punt rather quickly.

So yes, Washington seems pretty good. Whether it’s enough to crack the top four this week in the committee’s eyes will be anybody’s guess but it is pretty safe to say they continue to control their destiny. Chris Petersen’s squad moved to 9-0 on the season and remain the favorites to win the Pac-12 and advance to the playoff no matter if they wind up No. 4, No. 5, or even No. 6 on Tuesday.

And as for the Bears, all was not lost on Saturday night in Berkeley. You see it was the 10th anniversary of tailback Marshawn Lynch’s famous hijacking of a injury cart to drive around on the field after a win. Cal didn’t get the victory against the Huskies this time around but they did hand out a fabulous bobblehead commemorating the occasion and posted this great video of Lynch driving a cart around pre-game:

Not a bad consolation prize when you consider one of the best teams in the country was a tad upset coming in and looking to take out their anger on somebody.

Offense rediscovered as No. 6 Ohio State makes statement in big win over No. 10 Nebraska

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The best sight all night for Nebraska was when Tommy Armstrong came strolling back into Ohio Stadium, hospital scrubs and all.

The team’s star quarterback was knocked out briefly after his head hit the turf hard midway through the second quarter. Armstrong was taken to a local Columbus emergency room but returned to the sidelines to plenty of cheers after being checked out and cleared to rejoin his teammates on the sideline.

That was about the lone bright-spot for the Cornhuskers otherwise, as they were streamrolled by Ohio State 62-3 in an impressive statement from the home team many questioned after a shaky month of October.

J.T. Barrett was once again the catalyst for the offense, throwing for 290 yards and four touchdowns while adding another 39 yards with his legs in just three quarters worth of work. After repeated cries from Buckeyes fans to get Curtis Samuel involved more, he responded with 13 touches for 178 yards and found the end zone twice times.

Tailback Mike Weber also chipped in with several tough runs between the tackles and helped Ohio State starters score on every drive they had. Coordinator Greg Schiano’s defense had equally an impressive outing, returning two interceptions to the house and bottling up (and outscoring) Nebraska’s offense all night.

Ryker Fyfe took over for Armstrong at quarterback but was equally ineffective against the swarming Buckeyes and did well not to get sacked.

The win was undoubtedly an impressive statement by Ohio State to the rest of the Big Ten and to the College Football Playoff Selection Committee in particular. The Buckeyes were already sitting pretty in the top six and are all but certain to be the top one-loss team on Tuesday following Texas A&M’s loss to Mississippi State.

More importantly, they put several questions to rest after that kind of performance after several mediocre performances in the past three weeks and a late loss to Penn State.

As for Nebraska, the Cornhuskers will head home to regroup after back-to-back losses on the road to top 10 teams. They remain tied atop the Big Ten West standings but need some help to reach the conference title game as Wisconsin owns the tie-breaker based on their head-to-head win last Saturday.

No. 1 Alabama secures 21st straight win, sixth straight over LSU in defensive slugfest

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The good folks at CBS spent much of the first half attempting to convince its audience tonight’s LSU-Alabama game was a mirror to the 2011 “Game of the Century” that saw the top-ranked Tigers beat the second-ranked Tide 9-6 in overtime.

In the end, CBS was half right. Tonight’s edition of the Deep South Super Bowl did harken back to the 2011 season, but not that November game in Tuscaloosa. No, this was a successor to that season’s rematch, when an overmatched LSU team bended, bended and eventually broke in the BCS National Championship.

After dueling through the first scoreless first, second and third quarters of the entire FBS season, No. 1 Alabama eventually broke No. 13 LSU, pulling away for a 10-0 victory. The shutout was 19th for Alabama since Nick Saban‘s arrival.

The win is Alabama’s 20th straight overall and sixth straight in a series that had seen LSU win nine of 12 meetings dating back to Saban’s arrival at LSU in 2000.

Reminiscent of past losses to the Tide, LSU couldn’t muster a credible and consistent offense against Alabama’s athletic, fearsome defense. Leonard Fournette never broke free against FBS’s leading rush defense, carrying 17 times for 35 yards, while Danny Etling looked like the overmatched Purdue transfer he is, completing only 11-of-24 passes for 92 yards and an interception.

The Tigers forced two Jalen Hurts turnovers inside Alabama territory but produced nothing out of them. The first came the freshman’s second pass of the game, when Jamal Adams baited Hurts into an interception at the Alabama 35-yard line. The Tigers went nowhere in the ensuing three plays — with Fournette serving as nothing more than a decoy — leading to a 49-yard Colby Delahoussaye field goal try that was tipped and fell well short of the goalposts. Later, with the game still scoreless midway through the third quarter, Frank Herron forced a Hurts fumble which Arden Key recovered at the Alabama 46, but LSU lost nine yards on their next three snaps before punting.

In hindsight, the best LSU (5-3, 3-2 SEC) scoring chance may have come at its own 6-yard line. Facing a 4th-and-goal at the one in a scoreless game, Saban inexplicably passed on a chip shot field goal and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin called for a Hurts keeper around the left end. The Tigers snuffed the play out, and linebacker Duke Riley recovered a Hurts fumble with no Tide offensive players in front of him, but a whistle ruled the play dead.

While LSU’s offense never broke through against Alabama’s defense, the Tigers’ defensive plan of hemming in Hurts at all costs eventually faltered, too. The Tide’s first scoring drive came on a 90-yard march over the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarters, with the game’s only touchdown coming on a 21-yard Hurts scramble on 3rd-and-9.

Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC) added an insurance score on its next possession, moving 50 yards in 15 plays, the key play coming on a 23-yard Hurts scramble on a 3rd-and-15 from the 40. That play turned what would have been a punt or a 57-yard Griffith field goal into a 25-yard chip shot at the 2:41 mark of the fourth quarter.

Hurts finished the night hitting 10-of-19 throws for 107 yards and an interception and 20 carries for a game-high 114 yards and a touchdown.

LSU’s last gasp drive saw a 2-yard Etling completion and enveloped by three incompletions, a whimper of a drive to end a quiet offensive night. Case in point: the Tigers registered more punts (eight) than first downs (six).

No. 22 Florida State survives upset-minded NC State

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NC State threatened another upset of an ACC power but again came just short, as No. 22 Florida State escaped Raleigh with a 24-20 win on Saturday night.

Florida State trailed for almost the entire game and faced a 20-10 deficit after NC State’s Jaylen Samuels raced in from 23 yards out — capping a 9-play, 99-yard drive — but the Seminoles mustered enough offense when they had to have it. The ‘Noles answered that marathon drive with a long march of their own, moving 70 yards in seven plays, the last 10 of which came on the legs of Dalvin Cook on the final play of the third quarter.

After three consecutive punts, Deondre Francois hit three long passes — a 27-yard strike to Kermit Whitfield, a 37-yard connection to Nyqwan Murray and a 19-yard gain to Travis Rudolph — as all the yards necessary for an 83-yard touchdown drive to take a 24-20 lead with 3:09 to play in the game.

The Wolfpack tried to mount a response, but, after securing a 1st-and-10 at the FSU 24 with 1:19 remaining, quarterback Ryan Finley completed a pass for a 2-yard loss and fired incomplete three other times to turn the ball over on downs.

Finley was the majority of the offense for NC State; he completed 25-of-41 passes for 304 yards with a touchdown and an interception on the night while being credited for 12 rushes for 20 yards. Three other Pack runners combined for only 145 yards on 29 rushes.

Francois hit 22-of-39 throws for 330 yards and a touchdown while Cook mustered only 65 yards on 18 carries.

For NC State, the loss drops the club to 4-5 and 0-3 against the heavies of the ACC Atlantic, games Dave Doeren needed to win as his name pops up in hot seat talk with the season coming to a close.

Florida State, meanwhile, moves to 6-3 overall and 3-3 in the ACC. The Seminoles close with Boston College, a road trip to Syracuse and a home date with Florida on Thanksgiving Saturday.

Lamar Jackson has to explain post-TD gesture wasn’t a throat slash

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I was wondering when this was going to become a topic of conversation, but held out some hope it ultimately wouldn’t.  Unfortunately, that proved to be a false hope.

For at least the last couple of weeks, perhaps even longer, Lamar Jackson has made a distinct gesture some of his myriad touchdowns.  At first blush to some, it may appear to be a throat slash gesture; to others that aren’t looking for things to bitch and whine about, it looks like the Louisville quarterback is telling someone — teammates?  the opposition? — to shush.

Following the last of his seven touchdowns in the woodshedding of Boston College, Jackson again made the gesture.

I’d like to think that most sane people would see Jackson making the gesture across his mouth in an innocuous way and not across his throat in a slashing manner. I was very wrong, of course, as the Heisman frontrunner was, because it finally went viral this weekend, forced to issue a statement through the school after the game explaining the gesture.

After my 53-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, I made a motion that is being interpreted incorrectly. I moved my hand over my mouth in a gesture that my teammates and I refer to as, ‘Zip it.’

Thus ends the latest, but not last, faux controversy of the 2016 college football season.