Yikes. I wouldn’t want to be a Michigan fan right now. After letting Penn State and Nebraska keep it close, Ohio State made a statement last weekend with a big win over a good Purdue team. “Statement” doesn’t even begin to describe what just happened in Columbus. Sure, after those two quick opening touchdowns, I thought to myself, “they look really good and will probably put this game away pretty easily.”
But I didn’t think it would happen that easily.
Ohio State looked completely unstoppable on that field against a Top 10 team that beat Michigan less than a month ago. It was like Michigan State just never woke up — and Ryan Day and the Buckeyes picked on the Spartans’ weak secondary again and again and again. It was a banner day for Heisman hopeful CJ Stroud, who went 32-for-35 (29 for 31 in the first half), which is basically unheard of, especially against the No. 7 team in the country. He very nearly hit 400 passing yards over the first two quarters of the game while throwing for six touchdowns before backup Kyle McCord got put in the game. It was a miracle MSU got on the board at all.
This is not the same team that lost to Oregon in Week 1. The Buckeyes were extremely effective on both sides of the ball, limiting star running back Kenneth Walker III to only 25 yards for the game and holding Sparty to 66 yards rushing. They put up 49 in the first half — I mean, what does Mel Tucker even say to the team in that locker room at that point? (And speaking of Mel, that extension offer came at the right time for him, huh?)
For everyone (including myself) who has been conceptualizing any sort of playoff lineup in which Ohio State is a two-loss team, let’s just throw that idea right out the window. Short of a disastrous injury, this Buckeye team is hitting its stride right at the point that you want to in the season. They might not have home field advantage at the Big House next weekend, and the CFP committee may believe that Michigan is a “more complete team” than MSU, but damn. What a performance. Ohio State demolished Sparty 56-7.
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A bit further east, Clemson is… (whispers) back? No, not Trevor Lawrence-Travis Etienne-national champions back, but the Tigers put up a performance worthy of our preseason expectations against No. 10 Wake Forest today, officially ending the Demon Deacons’ playoff hopes. Clemson rushed for a very impressive 333 yards, led by Kobe Pace and freshman Will Shipley, who was out for several weeks due to a leg injury but whose return to the field has exceeded the high expectations that fans had for his freshman season. Despite a huge, ungainly knee brace and an apparent finger injury, DJ Uiagalelei threw for 208 yards to help the Tigers to their best offensive performance of the year. Their defensive line was all over Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman, sacking him seven times.
It isn’t really important at this point in the season, but this type of performance from Clemson’s younger players is a good sign for Dabo Swinney’s 2022 squad and a bad sign for the rest of the ACC in 2022. It was a lot of fun to have some new names in the ACC running this season for the first time in a while. That evened-out field means that the ACC won’t be represented in the playoff this year. Clemson finished the game with a 48-27 victory, keeping Wake to their lowest score all season.
And at the Palace on the Prairie, Oklahoma was able to pull it off against a tough Iowa State team with an 11th-hour interception at its own 1-yard line that sealed the deal. The Sooners’ defense looked great today — a good sign for their matchup with Oklahoma State next weekend.
The Texas Longhorns clocked their sixth loss in a row for the first time since 1956 today, and I simply have to believe at this point that the assistant coach stripper girlfriend’s monkey’s attack on a child placed a curse on the team. They should put some grad assistants on an around-the-clock mission to find out how to reverse that curse. At this point, it feels like that might be their best use of resources as they fall to 4-7 in their final year in the Big 12. Truly so excited to see this team in the SEC next year — hope the money was worth what’s going to happen to their reputation.