Think about a world the place Ed Orgeron completely outcoached Nick Saban.

Think about, if you’ll, a spot the place P.J. Fleck would not simply have Minnesota rowing the boat, however partying aboard a ship heisted from some Rick Ross video.

Think about waking as much as discover {that a} group — the defending nationwide champions, truly — has a transparent shot to the playoff with out having performed a single opponent more likely to be ranked within the prime 25.

Shut your eyes and envision a state of affairs wherein a group that, simply two years in the past, completed 1-11 — and is now among the many closing 5 unbeatens. Or a state of affairs the place Lovie Smith goes bowling, the place an SEC group will get housed at house by San Jose State and Western Kentucky in the identical season, the place Texas is celebrating one other last-second win over a group from Kansas, and the place Appalachian State owns each North and South Carolina.

Welcome to Bizarro School Soccer.

Saturday was speculated to separate the lads from the boys on the sphere, and it definitely did that. The outcomes, nevertheless, have shaken the very material of the faculty soccer universe, a disruption within the space-Tide continuum, the place up is down and Alabama’s playoff hopes are on life assist.

2 Associated

Actually, LSU’s 46-41 victory in Tuscaloosa shouldn’t come as an enormous shock. These Tigers are good, with an offense capable of tormenting even the most astute defensive coordinator, and a Heisman favorite at quarterback. And, as we no doubt hear on repeat between now and the official announcement of the College Football Playoff, Tua Tagovailoa was hobbled, his ankle taped to keep him upright in a game in which he still mustered every bit of magic to throw for more than 400 yards.

But for all the logic behind LSU’s march through Alabama, it still feels like some strange dream. Could the Crimson Tide, participants in every playoff to date, really be done?

The final score shows a valiant effort by Alabama, but it also belies the real impact of LSU’s performance. The Tigers totaled 559 yards of offense, the most against an Alabama team since 2014 and the most ever in a win over a Saban-coached Tide team. To be sure, Joe Burrow was transcendent — whizzing bullets on quick throws for which Alabama had no answer, scrambling for crucial yardage to wriggle from nearly every breakdown. There’s a case to be made that, at the moment, the best coach in the SEC is the guy nobody wanted just three years ago, while the merry-go-round on Saban’s staff might have finally caught up with him.

What’s stunning is not a lot that it occurred than that it has occurred so typically of late. Alabama has allowed 450 yards or extra 15 instances beneath Saban. Six of these video games have come since final December. Burrow, too, was simply the newest QB to torch the Tide. The quarterbacks of the previous 5 ranked opponents to face Alabama have mixed for 63% completions, almost 2,000 yards, 15 whole touchdowns and no interceptions. All 5 have topped 300 whole yards of offense. To see Clyde Edwards-Helaire rack up 180 yards and 4 touchdowns is mind-boggling in opposition to an Alabama protection. Besides, given the youth up the center of this explicit protection, it is truly not all that stunning.

Maybe extra stunning was the scene in Minnesota, the place the Golden Gophers — a group that narrowly escaped South Dakota State to open the season — completely uncovered Penn State’s disastrous secondary, pulling off the upset of the Nittany Lions 31-26. Tanner Morgan threw extra touchdowns (three) than incompletions (two), Antoine Winfield Jr. picked off two passes, and Fleck crowdsurfed the locker room. Minnesota is main the nation in partying. Certainly, a dominant Minnesota just isn’t distinctive. The Gophers have seven nationwide championships of their historical past. It is simply that the latest one got here when Prince was in diapers.



Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck crowdsurfs within the locker room after his group’s win over Penn State.

The losses by Penn State and Alabama clarified the playoff image sufficient that, whereas Virginia Tech’s upset of Wake Forest erased Clemson’s finest shot at beating a ranked group, the Tigers — dominant in a 55-10 win over NC State — most likely haven’t got to fret about successful a magnificence contest with the committee. It is too dangerous. Dabo Swinney would’ve dominated the expertise competitors.

Baylor, ranked 12th, is perhaps the group with essentially the most complaints for the committee, however the Bears did not precisely assist their case by going to a few overtimes with TCU earlier than rising with the victory. Baylor stays undefeated, with Oklahoma on deck subsequent weekend. Wherever this season ends, it is a great distance from the place Matt Rhule started, inheriting a program in utter turmoil two years in the past.

Talking of complaints, Chad Morris would possibly want witness safety in Arkansas after getting demolished by Western Kentucky. He’s maybe not alone on the SEC sizzling seat, both. Will Muschamp would possibly personal one of many season’s most gorgeous upsets with a win at Georgia, however Saturday’s house defeat to Appalachian State means he’ll want to drag off one other stunner in opposition to Clemson within the finale if the Gamecocks are to make a bowl.

After which there’s Illinois. If there’s something approaching rock-solid proof that this, certainly, is a few kind of unusual alternate actuality, it is the Illini. A month in the past, Smith’s group was 2-4, left for useless in mid-October — or, because it’s often described in Illinois, a typical season. Then a stunner in opposition to Wisconsin, with a last-second discipline aim to win it, adopted by victories over Purdue and Rutgers, and one other stunning comeback, in opposition to Michigan State on Saturday. Illinois scored 27 fourth-quarter factors to erase a 31-10 deficit, taking a 37-34 lead with 5 seconds left and turning into bowl-eligible for the primary time since 2014. There’s somewhat Ron Zook-era magic within the air in Champaign, and we won’t get sufficient of it.

Certain, someplace on another timeline, all stays regular on the planet. Alabama’s D is sweet, Illinois is dangerous, and Ohio State is busy apologizing for some inexplicable Huge Ten loss. In that universe, all of it is sensible, faculty soccer as we have come to comprehend it.

On this timeline, although? It is a courageous new world, the place Coach O is magic, Minnesota has playoff hopes and nearly something appears attainable within the subsequent three weeks.

Effectively, that was simple



Justin Fields throws three landing passes and runs in one other rating as No. 1 Ohio State beats Maryland 73-14.

Ohio State was a 43-point favourite in opposition to Maryland on Saturday, which could’ve appeared like so much if you have not seen Maryland play soccer recently. For the Buckeyes, it took somewhat greater than a half of soccer to cowl that unfold. They led 42-Zero at intermission, gained 73-14, and for the ninth time in 9 video games celebrated a win by not less than 24 factors.

How uncommon is that feat? In keeping with ESPN Stats & Info analysis, it is simply the seventh time within the AP ballot period a group gained every of its first 9 by 24 or extra — and the primary since Ohio State did it in 1973.

Just one group has ever gained every of its first 10 by that margin. That was the 1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers, a group that gained the nationwide championship.

Assume Ohio State has a shot to match Nebraska? The Buckeyes have Rutgers on deck.

One other 200 for Taylor

Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor racked up the ninth 200-yard sport of his profession within the Badgers’ win over Iowa. Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire

Jonathan Taylor had simply 52 yards in opposition to Ohio State per week in the past, and his 2.6 yards per rush marked the worst common of his profession. So what did he do to get again on monitor? How’s 31 carries for 250 yards sound?

Taylor scorched the Iowa protection in a 24-22 victory, racking up the ninth 200-yard sport of his profession. Northern Illinois’ Garrett Wolfe is the one different FBS participant up to now 20 years to try this, per ESPN Stats & Data knowledge. And with not less than 4 video games left on the docket for Taylor, he is bought a shot to match the NCAA report of 10, at the moment held by three of the most effective to ever carry a soccer — Ricky Williams, Ron Dayne and Marcus Allen.

Dwelling cooking for the Hokies

Virginia Tech pulled the upset over No. 19 Wake Forest on Saturday behind a stellar effort from the protection in a sport honoring legendary coordinator Bud Foster, who is ready to retire at season’s finish.

The celebration surrounding Foster was hardly the one motive for a festive crowd in Blacksburg, although. Whereas the victory marked Virginia Tech’s 13th win over a ranked opponent up to now decade, in accordance with ESPN Stats & Data analysis, it was the primary time the Hokies had overwhelmed a top-25 group at house since 2009, once they upended No. 9 Miami.

You hate to see it

East Carolina pushed No. 25 SMU to the brink, however finally fell 59-51 Saturday. That comes only one week after almost toppling No. 17 Cincinnati in what ended up a 46-43 loss. The Pirates are simply the second group up to now decade to attain not less than 94 factors in consecutive video games and lose each, following a equally disagreeable stretch by West Virginia final season.

Heisman 5

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Pictures

Is that this actually vital any longer? Certain, we doubtless mentioned the identical at this level a yr in the past, when Tua Tagovailoa seemed like a certain factor for the Heisman Trophy, just for Kyler Murray to make a late cost and swipe the award. So maybe we’re getting forward of ourselves. However Joe Burrow’s 31-of-39 for 393 yards at Alabama — that is a Heisman line. Good luck to the remainder of the contenders looking for a efficiency to prime that.

1. Joe Burrow, LSU

He is good. You heard it right here first.

2. Justin Fields, Ohio State

4 extra touchdowns in a 73-14 win over Maryland. Up subsequent is Rutgers. The one drawback goes to be preserving Fields within the sport lengthy sufficient to pad the stats.

3. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma

Hurts had his eighth sport of the season with not less than 4 whole touchdowns. Up to now decade, solely three gamers have had 9 — and two of them (Marcus Mariota in 2014, Murray final season) gained the Heisman.

4. Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State

He leads the nation in dashing, dashing touchdowns and has a method cooler title than “Joe” or “Justin,” in order that’s a stable case for an invitation to the ceremony.

5. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

The ultimate line seems awfully good: 418 yards and 4 TDs. However Tagovailoa additionally had two turnovers, accomplished only a tick higher than 50% of his throws, and was upstaged by Burrow.

Finest bets and dangerous beats

  • Additional time is an actual drawback for bettors of the beneath. Triple OT is way worse. Good bettors had been all around the beneath (48.5) in Baylor’s showdown with TCU, and so they would possibly’ve been counting their money when the Horned Frogs led 9-6 with lower than a minute remaining. However John Mayers’ 51-yard discipline aim with 36 seconds to play tied it at 9 and despatched the sport to time beyond regulation. And the 2 groups traded touchdowns by the primary two intervals earlier than Baylor gained it within the third OT. Factors in regulation: 18. Factors in time beyond regulation: 34. Profanities uttered by people with the beneath: numerous.

  • Minnesota was a uncommon 8-Zero house underdog Saturday, getting 6.5 factors from No. Four Penn State. That made the Golden Gophers simply the 18th group up to now 4 many years to be 8-Zero or higher and nonetheless get factors at house, per ESPN Stats & Info analysis. And bettors who studied the historical past most likely knew to load up on Fleck’s crew. General now, the ‘canine are a formidable 14-3-1 in opposition to the unfold with 13 outright wins. Fleck, in the meantime, has gained six consecutive video games as an underdog — simply the ninth coach up to now 40 years to try this.

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  • Texas backers would possibly’ve breathed a sigh of aid when the Longhorns discovered the top zone with 39 seconds to play — a PAT away from a push as a landing favourite. Then they noticed the laundry on the sphere. The Longhorns had been flagged for an unlawful formation, negating the TD. Sam Ehlinger’s subsequent play went nowhere, and Texas settled for a discipline aim — adequate for a straight-up win however 4 factors shy of the purpose unfold.

  • When Texas Tech jumped out to a 28-Three lead early within the second quarter in opposition to West Virginia, it certain appeared the Purple Raiders would possibly hit the over (56.5) with out a lot assist from the Mountaineers. At halftime, Texas Tech led 35-10, inching ever nearer to the whole. The second half, nevertheless, was an over bettor’s nightmare. Texas Tech had a first-and-10 on the West Virginia 14, however turned it over on downs. West Virginia had a first-and-10 on the Purple Raiders’ 17 and threw a decide. The Mountaineers’ penultimate drive bought to the Texas Tech 2, however a fourth-down attempt from the Four failed. Once more, no factors. In all, the second half totaled 10 factors, and the beneath lined by 1.

Give it to the large man

It has been robust for Clemson to steal the highlight with a schedule that options a number of highschool groups, so the Tigers pulled out the one play assured to finish up on each spotlight present this weekend: The Huge Man Landing.

On a goal-line run, Trevor Lawrence handed to 330-pound guard John Simpson, who did his impression of Clemson working over its ACC schedule, rumbling into the top zone for the rating.

Whereas Clemson alum William “The Fridge” Perry set the usual for Huge Man TDs, he by no means scored one with the Tigers. Nonetheless, Simpson would not match the varsity’s all-time report, which unofficially belongs to Dexter Lawrence, who did it simply final season at 342 kilos.



Clemson offensive lineman John Simpson takes the handoff up the center for a one-yard landing.

Underneath-the-radar play of the week

There’s not been a lot excellent news for Florida State this season, however in its first sport after firing Willie Taggart, D.J. Matthews willed FSU to a win over Boston School with an insane run-after-catch. Matthews hauled within the go from James Blackman close to midfield, cut up two defenders, juked two extra as he headed towards the sideline, then dove the ultimate 5 yards for the pylon. The 60-yard reception was the distinction in a 38-31 victory that, with Alabama State on deck, all however assured the Seminoles would get again to a bowl sport in 2019.



D.J. Matthews makes the catch and takes all of it the best way down the sidelines as he dives over the pylon to present Florida State a late 31-24 lead.

Underneath-the-radar sport of the week

Minnesota toppling Penn State and LSU upending Alabama made for a terrific Saturday of undefeated groups going face to face, however they did not have a monopoly on the motion. Within the Ivy League, Dartmouth handed Princeton its first lack of the season, too — 27-10 — to maneuver to 8-Zero and snap a 17-game successful streak for the Tigers. The Huge Inexperienced’s dominant protection held the excessive flying Tigers to simply 246 yards and their worst scoring day since 2015’s season finale, which additionally got here in opposition to Dartmouth. It is a unhappy day for Princeton, which actually has nothing with out soccer.