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No. 14 Michigan overcomes 17-point deficit for Big Ten win at Northwestern

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Sometimes you just take a win any way you can get it. That was one of those games for No. 14 Michigan (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten) Saturday at Northwestern (1-3, 2-0 Big Ten). After going down 17-0 in the first half, Michigan scored 20 unanswered points to get out of Evanston with a 20-17 win.

Karan Higdon‘s five-yard touchdown run with 4:06 to play allowed Michigan fans to briefly exhale after a long and gutsy game saw so many self-inflicted hurdles in the form of penalties and early miscues from a slow-starting offense. Higdon rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns in the game, continuing to prove to be a valuable asset in the Michigan offense this season.

Also proving to be a valuable member of the offense was quarterback Shea Patterson, who also tossed in some clutch plays both with his arm and his legs. Among the key plays provided by Patterson was a run on 3rd and 6 to get out of pressure and convert a big first down. That run was followed by a 22-yard pass to Zach Gentry to put the Wolverines in great position to run in for a touchdown moments later, with Higdon doing the honors.

In the third quarter, Rashan Gary left the game for a brief period of time. When he returned to the game at the start of the fourth quarter, he was wearing a brace on his right arm. The pressure he created, along with Chase Winovich, wore on Northwestern’s offensive efforts as the game wore on. Michigan clamped down on the Northwestern offense as Clayton Thorson went from making early safe and efficient passes to being put in a position to be asked to do a little more.

It wasn’t pretty, but Michigan will surely take it and move one. Jim Harbaugh will have plenty to look over form the game film in this one as the schedule continues and big games remain on the horizon. But getting to October without taking a second loss in September is much better than going into the new month having dropped two before even playing games against Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State, and Ohio State. This was the first time Michigan overcame a 17-point deficit to win under Harbaugh.

Michigan returns home to play Maryland. Northwestern will play at Michigan State next week.

No. 12 West Virginia holds off second-half rally by No. 25 Texas Tech

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It was a tale of two halves between No. 12 West Virginia (4-0, 2-0 Big 12) and No. 25 Texas Tech (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) in Lubbock, but at the end of the game, it was West Virginia heading home with a victory after going flat in the second half on offense. Will Grier passed for 370 yards and three touchdowns as West Virginia beat Texas Tech 42-34 Saturday afternoon.

West Virginia led Texas Tech 35-10 at halftime, but the Red Raiders turned things up a few notches in the second half. West Virginia punted three times and missed a field goal on their first four possessions of the second half. Jett Duffey helped lead a comeback effort for Texas Tech in place of the injured Alan Bowman, but a play action pass was picked off late in the fourth quarter and returned by Keith Washington for a much-needed and seemingly elusive dagger for the Mountaineers.

The win not only keeps West Virginia undefeated this season but continues to keep them in a good spot atop the Big 12 standings moving forward. And despite a slow second half, Grier will have a solid box score to add to his Heisman Trophy campaign. He certainly was in a groove with receiver Marcus Simms. Simms caught nine passes for 138 yards and a touchdown.

Texas Tech lost quarterback Bowman to an injury in the first half. His status moving forward is unknown at this time. The Red Raiders are now very thin at quarterback as they look to move on from this home loss.

Next up for West Virginia is a home Big 12 game against Kansas. The Mountaineers appear to be in a favorable position to get to November in the Big 12 driver’s seat, if not just on the College Football Playoff bubble. But if a challenging November schedule is going to mean anything for West Virginia, it still must put away Kansas, Iowa State, and Baylor.

Texas Tech will look to rebound in two weeks with a Thursday night road game against TCU in two weeks. Texas Tech is off next week.

No. 3 Clemson loses Lawrence but avoids upset with fourth-quarter rally vs. Syracuse

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Some games just don’t go according to the script. No. 3 Clemson (5-0, 2-0 ACC) had to dig deep and rally in the fourth quarter at home after being down by 10 to avoid being upset at home by Syracuse (4-1, 1-1 ACC), and they did it despite losing starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence in the first half. Clemson scored a go-ahead touchdown in the final minute of the game with Travis Etienne scoring his third touchdown of the game for a wild 27-23 victory.

Lawrence, in the same week he was named the team’s starting quarterback, was knocked out of the game for good in the second quarter when he took a blow to the head while running with the football. After an examination in the medical tent on the sidelines, Lawrence had his helmet taken away and he left the field to the locker room for more examination shortly before halftime. As the second half opened, it was reported he was done for the day. Chase Brice, another freshman, took over on offense, but the Tigers went to rely on the defense and the running game for the bulk of the second half.

Syracuse took a 10-point lead shortly after a muffed punt return by Clemson’s Amari Rodgers gave the Orange a 1st-and-Goal with a fourth down push up the middle with quarterback Eric Dungey handling the football early in the fourth quarter. Clemson running back Travis Etienne led the charge for a quick response though, cutting the lead back down to just three points on a quick six-play drive that took under fewer than two minutes to execute.

As the Syracuse defense was growing tired, Etienne became the difference-maker on his way to over 200 rushing yards. Etienne finished with 203 yards to go with his three touchdowns. Clemson needed it, as Syracuse played well defensively for much of the game until wearing down against a deeper team loaded with more talent.

Brice took a while to get comfortable, but came through with flying colors on Clemson’s late touchdown drive, completing a key pass on fourth down and picking up more yards on the ground on the very next play to get Clemson on the doorstep of a touchdown.

Next up for Clemson is a road trip to Wake Forest. The Tigers will wait to see what the status of Lawrence is, but Clemson will look to extend their winning streak against Wake Forest to 10 next Saturday regardless of who the quarterback is. Clemson has won 25 straight meetings against Wake Forest when the Tigers are ranked. The last loss to Wake Forest by a ranked Clemson team was in 1945, when No. 18 Clemson lost 13-6.

Syracuse will also be on the road next week. The Orange travel to Pittsburgh next weekend for another ACC matchup, this one a cross-division showdown between old Big East foes. Syracuse won last year’s meeting, 27-24, but the last time the game was played in Pittsburgh turned into an epic shootout. Syracuse lost their 2016 meeting at Pitt by a score of 76-61.

No. 15 Oklahoma State survives Lubbock gut check

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Fighting to keep its Big 12 and national championship hopes alive, No. 15 Oklahoma State rolled up 32 first downs and 602 yards of total offense but still hung on to outlast Texas Tech, 41-34 in Lubbock.

It appeared early like Oklahoma State was going to run the Red Raiders off their own field. The Cowboys forced a Texas Tech three-and-out to open the game, then moved 68 yards in seven plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 14-yard strike from Mason Rudolph to James Washington. The Cowboys forced another punt on Texas Tech’s next touch, and then advanced the ball to the Texas Tech red zone before Damarcus Fields grabbed a Rudolph overthrow and returned it 95 yards for a touchdown to level the game at 7-7.

Oklahoma State (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) again moved to the red zone on its third possession, but Texas Tech forced a field goal try that Matt Ammendola doinked off the right upright from 22 yards out. Given new life, Texas Tech raced 80 yards in eight snaps, taking a 14-7 lead on a 3-yard toss from Nic Shimonek to Dylan Cantrell. The Red Raiders briefly seized complete control of the game when Marcell Ateman was ruled short of the line to gain on a 3rd-and-10 completion at the Texas Tech 10-yard line, but a replay review handed him a first down, and Rudolph tied the game again one play later on a toss to running back Justice Hill.

Texas Tech (3-1, 0-1 Big 12) punted for a third time on its next possession, and Oklahoma State grabbed its second lead of the game when Rudolph closed an 88-yard drive by finding Jalen McCleskey wide open for a 4-yard touchdown toss.

The Red Raiders held serve with a field goal, although Justin Stockton appeared to cross the plane on a run with five seconds left before halftime but was ruled out of bounds.

Shimonek’s pass was batted away with two seconds left, and Michael Barden booted a 22-yard field goal as time expired.

Oklahoma State accepted the ball to open the second half and picked up where it left off, moving 75 yards in eight plays and grabbing a 28-17 lead on an 8-yard Rudolph run. The Cowboys then forced another three-and-out and had a chance to blow the game open, but failed to cash in a first-and-goal from the 9-yard line and settled for a 22-yard Ammendola chip shot.

The teams traded field goals until Texas Tech pulled back within seven on a 1-yard Stockton run, pushing the score to 34-27 on the first play of the fourth quarter. Oklahoma State was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct flag after the score, allowing Texas Tech to kickoff from midfield — and the Red Raiders took advantage by recovering an onside kick. However, Texas Tech immediately gave back that extra possession when Shimonek under-threw a screen pass that Cowboys defensive lineman Jordan Brailford easily intercepted. But the Tech defense forced a three-and-out and the first OSU punt of the night, then tied the game at 34-34 with 9:56 to play on a 1-yard Desmond Nisby plunge.

Oklahoma State rebounded from its one bad possession by putting together another good one, moving 73 yards to the Texas Tech 2-yard line, but Rudolph’s third-and-goal keeper was stuffed, and Ammendola again doinked a chip shot field goal off the same right upright.

The Red Raiders had a chance to take their first lead since 14-7 but advanced only to their own 37 before punting the ball back to Oklahoma State with 3:21 remaining. Aided by a 26-yard completion to Ateman on 3rd-and-5, Rudolph put Oklahoma State back in front with his second rushing touchdown, an untouched 16-yard scamper with 1:12 to play.

Texas Tech moved to midfield on its last-gasp drive, but Shimonek fired four straight incomplete passes to end the game.

Rudolph closed the night hitting 27-of-38 throws for 376 yards with three scores and one interception while adding 50 yards and two scores on the ground. It was Rudolph’s 17th 300-yard passing game, breaking a record previously held by Brandon Weeden. Hill ran 30 times for 164 yards, and Washington caught nine passes for 127 yards and a score.

Shimonek completed 29-of-46 passes for 330 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while the Red Raiders eeked out only 54 yards on 26 carries.

It was Oklahoma State’s ninth straight win over the Red Raiders, and evened the all-time series at 21-21-3.

No. 11 Ohio State’s domination a reminder not to count Buckeyes out in Big Ten or CFB Playoff

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Sure, it was only a game against Rutgers (1-4, 0-2 Big Ten), but the No. 11 Ohio State Buckeyes (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten) looked much more like the Big Ten title favorite they were at the start of the season than at any point this season. J.T. Barrett passed for three touchdowns, Mike Weber rushed for three touchdowns, and the Ohio State defense never gave Rutgers much time to breathe in a 56-0 road win in New Jersey.

Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano returned to the Rutgers campus for the first time since being fired from the job as head coach of the Scarlet Knights, and he came in with a dominating defensive effort and game plan. Ohio State held Rutgers to 13 first downs and just 209 yards of offense in the shutout. It is the second straight shutout Ohio State has pitched against Rutgers in as many seasons (Ohio State won 58-0 last year).

The shutout for Ohio State was preserved in the final minute when a late field goal attempt simply to get any points on the scoreboard went bouncing off the upright.

Since losing at home to Big 12 frontrunner Oklahoma in Week 2, Ohio State has outscored their last three opponents by a score of 141-28. The bigger challenges still are coming later this season for Ohio State, but this stretch was needed after taking a loss at home and being knocked down a few pegs in the pecking order in the Big Ten and College Football Playoff picture. With plenty of time to rebound, Ohio State needed to get the offense on track during this stretch before having to deal with games against Penn State (Oct. 28), a road trip to Iowa (Nov. 4), and the regular season finale in Ann Arbor against Michigan (Nov. 25). Ohio State still looks every bit the Big Ten contender they were supposed to be, and right now they are taking care of business the way they needed after the early loss to the Sooners.

Ohio State will be back home next week for a game against a surprising Maryland team. The Terrapins have been hurt by injuries but managed to win on the road against Minnesota on Saturday. This should be a much more difficult road test for Maryland. Ohio State won last year’s game, 62-3.

Rutgers will get a week off to regroup and give it another shot to pick up a win in Big Ten play. Rutgers returns to the field on Oct. 14 with a road trip to Illinois.