Week 7 wrap

Associated Press

No. 5 Washington becomes fourth Top 10 team to go down in Week 7

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One of the bigger storylines heading into Week 7 was the fact that there were no ranked vs. ranked matchups, the subliminal implication being that this would be an uneventful weekend.  As is ofttimes the case, the sport of college football scoffed in the general direction of conventional wisdom.

Friday night begat No. 2 Clemson falling to Syracuse and No. 8 Washington State embarrassing itself against Cal; Saturday afternoon begat No. 10 Auburn coughing up a second-half lead in a loss to LSU.

Early Sunday morning brought additional Top 10 carnage.

Ranked fifth nationally and winners of nine straight in the regular season, Washington entered the weekend comfortable favorites over 2-3 Arizona State.  In a game that didn’t feel as close as the final score indicated, however, UW fell from the ranks of the unbeaten as Arizona State laid a stunning 13-7 loss on the Huskies.

UW’s loss means that four of the teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 10 coming into Week 7 went down in defeat ahead of Week 8 in the biggest top-shelf shakeup of the 2017 season thus far.  The teams that avoided being caught up in the upset maelstrom?  No. 1 Alabama, No. 3 Penn State, No. 4 Georgia, No. 6 TCU, No. 7 Wisconsin and No. 9 Ohio State.

The Nittany Lions were on a bye this weekend, while the other five Top 10 teams left unscathed won by an average of 25.4 points; take away UW’s eight-point win over Purdue, and that average jumps to nearly 30.  Add it all up and it was, on all fronts, a seismic shift when it comes to the Power Five balance of power.

Then there’s this: when you add in No. 19 San Diego State getting beat by Boise State — a significant development in the Group of Five —  five undefeated teams suffered their first losses of the 2017 season this weekend.

And, again, this great sport scoffs in the general direction of what you think may or may not happen any particular weekend.

Arizona QB (QB!!!) Khalil Tate has rushed for 557 yards last two games

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I’m thinking even video game freaks would dismiss this as implausible, even as it’s as real — and impressive — as it gets.

In Week 6, Khalil Tate rushed for 327 yards in a win over Colorado, setting the FBS single-game record for a quarterback.  A week later, the sophomore added to this impressive October run as he ran for 230 yards in a 47-30 win over UCLA, becoming the first FBS quarterback in two decades to put together back-to-back 200-yard games.

The 557 rushing yards combined in the two games are more than all but 19 players had in the first six weeks entering this weekend. Hell, it’s more than 10 teams had coming into Saturday as well.

Perhaps the most impressive part of this historic run?  Tate has accomplished this ground-game carnage on just 29 carries.  For those scoring at home without a calculator or a pad and paper or the mental acumen to do it in your head, that averages out to 19.2 yards per carry.

In other words, Tate has just been flat ridiculous.

Somewhat lost in the statistical flurry is what the player has meant to his team’s bottom line.

Tate didn’t start the season as UA’s starter under center, and the Wildcats began the year a middling 2-2.  The past two weeks, however, the Tate-led ‘Cats have gone 2-0 and are now behind only USC in the Pac-12 South.

No. 13 USC survives Sam Darnold turnovers to come back and beat Utah

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On Saturday night, the many faces of Sam Darnold in 2017 were on display.

There was the dazzling of course, throwing for 358 yards and three scores. There was the head-scratching, such as a trio of fumbles. All things considered, the bottom line might be the most important aspect of the star quarterback’s outing against Utah as No. 13 USC used a thrilling second half comeback to win 28-27 on Saturday night.

All three of those fumbles from Darnold, one that was returned for a touchdown, occurred in the first half where not much could go right for the cardinal and gold. Luckily a trip to the locker room proved to be just the remedy for the team’s struggles as three of their four second-half drives resulted in 88+ yard scoring drives. Playing a big role in that turnaround was the USC offensive line and running back Ronald Jones IIwho finished the game with 111 yards and the go-ahead points on a front flip touchdown into the end zone.

Making a return to Los Angeles not far from where he grew up, Utah QB Troy Williams started once again in place of the injured Tyler Huntley. The senior wound up throwing for 262 yards and a touchdown but tossed an interception and was stopped just short of the goal line on a two-point conversion with 42 seconds left that would have won the Utes the game. Running back Zach Moss, who bruised his way to 141 yards, but it was just not enough in the end.

Everybody in Salt Lake City will now be forced to bemoan the second half slump that led to a blown loss and the decision by Kyle Whittingham for go for two instead of the tie with under a minute left. Those second guesses won’t be easy to take as the team now has lost two straight in the conference but this still seems like the second best squad in the division.

The best? Well that is the school they narrowly lost to. The incredible momentum swings that resulted in a Trojans’ victory gives them a significant leg up in the Pac-12 South race and also keeps them in the hunt for the College Football Playoff. In addition to securing the tie-breaker over the Utes, a pair of bounce-back wins since that tough loss up in Pullman could be big for USC as they head to South Bend next for a huge game against rival Notre Dame next week.

On a weekend where a ton of top 15 teams looked shaky, surviving and coming out with a win is certainly a step in the right direction for Darnold and company given how things played out earlier.

WATCH: Dabo Swinney gets warm welcome as Alabama honors ’92 title team

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If you thought there would be any animosity whatsoever toward Dabo Swinney in Tuscaloosa, think again.

As a football player, Swinney was a wide receiver on the 1992 Alabama Crimson Tide team that won the 1992 national championship.  As a head coach, his Clemson Tigers beat his alma mater earlier this year for the program’s second national championship.

Saturday, the Tide brought back numerous members of that ’92 title team to celebrate the 25th anniversary, including Swinney.

Coming off a tough loss to Syracuse Friday night, Swinney was all class in the aftermath of his Tigers’ first loss of the season.  Coming off their first loss in a championship game in the Nick Saban era, Tide fans showed their own class as one of their own came home.

No. 9 Ohio State looks like a contender in crushing Nebraska for second straight year

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In theory it should be the kind of spectacle only college football can produce. Ohio State and Nebraska, two programs that have been proud about their brand of football for more than a century, playing on the same field under the Big Ten banner in a primetime broadcast. What could be better?

The games, it turns out. The games could be a lot better.

The first edition was great. Ohio State went to Lincoln for the first time ever in Nebraska’s first Big Ten season, and the Huskers won, 34-27. They’ve played three times since, and none of them were close. The Buckeyes cruised 63-38 in 2012, demolished the Huskers 62-3 last season and did the same again on Saturday night, as No. 9 Ohio State had its way with overmatched Nebraska, 56-14 in Lincoln.

Ohio State scored touchdowns on its first eight drives and did not punt the entire night. J.T. Barrett posted one of the best statistical nights of his lengthy career, hitting a video game-like 27-of-33 passes for 325 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions while rushing 10 times for 48 yards and two more scores. J.K. Dobbins added 12 carries for a game-high 106 yards and a long touchdown run of his own, and Mike Weber poured in 82 yards on 18 carries.

Overall, Ohio State threw for 354 yards on 39 attempts and rushed 47 times for 279 yards, adding up to 633 yards on 7.36 yards per play with 41 first downs and 10 third-down conversions on 13 attempts.

Meanwhile, the Buckeyes’ defense held Nebraska scoreless in the first half for the second time this season — that feat had been accomplished once in the previous 20 years — and limited Nebraska to 44 yards on 16 carries. Nebraska threw the ball nearly every play because it knew it had no chance of running on Ohio State, but it had no chance of throwing on Ohio State, either. Tanner Lee completed 23-of-38 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns, but the lion’s share of those yards came after the Huskers were already down 42 points.

Ohio State (6-1, 4-0 Big Ten) looked every much like a Big Ten and College Football Playoff contender. Nebraska (3-4, 2-2 Big Ten) looked like a team that will be making a coaching change after the season ends.

And whoever Nebraska’s next coach is needs to just turn on the first half film of tonight’s game to see how far Nebraska is from the top of the sport.