'Horns rebound, Irish survive; more midday Snap Judgments
After struggling last weekend against Kansas, Texas bounced back at Texas Tech
Notre Dame survived a triple-overtime scare against an upset-minded Pitt squad
TCU's double-overtime gamble paid off; Nebraska rallied to defeat Michigan State
Texas 31, No. 20 Texas Tech 22: Between a blowout loss against Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry, Mack Brown's criticism of The Longhorn Network and David Ash's abysmal passing performance against Kansas, Texas entered Saturday's game amid a swirl of controversy. After an impressive road victory at Texas Tech, however, maybe Brown can sit back and exhale.
Running back Johnathan Gray, whose father, James, was a former Texas Tech star, helped establish some rhythm for the Longhorns, and David Ash responded with arguably his best performance of the season. Ash threw for 264 yards and three touchdowns, while receiver Mike Davis caught four balls for a career-high 165 yards and two touchdowns, including one NFL-quality leaping grab.
Gray tallied 60 yards of offense on the opening drive and rushed for 106 yards in the game, but the sensational freshman's biggest asset may have been his versatility, which opened up the Texas offense. Offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin appeared to emphasize Texas' speed players more than he did in last week's escape over Kansas, and the Longhorns' offense looked dominant in a difficult road environment.
Perhaps more impressive, though, was the defense. Blasted as "soft" after the Oklahoma embarrassment and without one of its heaviest hitter in Jackson Jeffcoat, the Longhorns stuffed Seth Doege on a potential game-tying two-point conversion and shut out the Red Raiders in the fourth quarter.
Cornerback Carrington Byndom provided a spark by mixing it up with Texas Tech receiver Eric Ward on several plays, knocking down Doege's two-point try and blocking a fourth-quarter field goal that would have brought Texas Tech to within one possession.
No. 4 Notre Dame 29, Pittsburgh 26 (3OT): Facing a schedule that included Oklahoma, Michigan, Michigan State and Stanford, Notre Dame hadn't trailed by more than 10 points this season. Then it played a team that lost to FCS Youngstown State.
No team dominated the Irish the way Pitt did over the first three quarters of Saturday's showdown. The Panthers didn't merely play better during the first 45 minutes; they played significantly better -- and in South Bend no less. SI.com's Tim Layden was at the scene and has a more detailed account of the thriller, but here a few observations:
- Notre Dame turned the ball over three times, including Cierre Wood's goal-line fumble in overtime. Pitt did not turn the ball over once.
- Pitt's defense effectively limited Theo Riddick and forced Everett Golson and Tommy Rees to beat it through the air. Golson found some magic in the fourth quarter, but the Irish were vulnerable until that point.
- Frequently maligned quarterback Tino Sunseri played efficiently, and Ray Graham steamrolled the Irish's vaunted front seven. Graham is the fifth-leading rusher in school history, ahead of renowned Panther running backs LeSean McCoy and Dion Lewis. The problem was that Sunseri was unable to make any big plays.
- It will be difficult for Notre Dame to finish the season unbeaten without a dependable kicker. Kyle Brindza missed a fourth-quarter PAT that could've been costly.
- If Paul Chryst sticks around at Pitt for longer than one season, the Panthers may reestablish themselves as dangerous college football contenders.
- Mike Mayock said "this is fun" or some variation of it at least 13 times during the broadcast, but I eventually stopped counting. Mayock is always informative, and he reminded us of the lighter side of the game, too. After the game, Mike mused, "I love this football game." Thanks, Mike. [RECAP l BOX]
TCU 39, No. 23 West Virginia 38 (2OT): After seeing West Virginia's defense bite on two critical passing plays earlier in the game, TCU was willing to gamble in double overtime. The Horned Frogs had already burnt the Mountaineers after being backed up deep in their own territory (quarterback Trevone Boykin completed a 94-yard touchdown pass to Josh Boyce with 1:28 remaining) and successfully executed a reverse pass in the second overtime (Brandon Carter hit Corey Fuller from 25 yards out in the second overtime). They trailed 38-37 facing the choice to go for a one- or two-point conversion.
Gary Patterson went for two, and he went to his playmaker.
TCU wideout Boyce, who finished with six catches for 180 yards and two scores, tucked his hands underneath Boykin's low throw on the two-point try and secured an unlikely road victory for the Horned Frogs.
Boykin finished 12-of-29 for 254 yards and two touchdowns, and the porous West Virginia defense (ranked 120th in pass defense entering Saturday's game) collapsed after holding TCU in check for much of the game. Geno Smith's performance was underwhelming, but electric wideout Tavon Austin reversed the field on this touchdown and housed a punt a return late in the fourth quarter, a score that appeared to put the Mountaineers ahead for good.
If this game reinforced anything, though, it's never to bet against the futility of the West Virginia defense. And with this loss, the collapse is complete for a team that was once considered a national title contender. [RECAP l BOX]
No. 21 Nebraska 28, Michigan State 24: Lost in the shuffle of an exciting afternoon slate was a thrilling road victory for Bo Pelini and Nebraska. Taylor Martinez, who threw for 160 yards and rushed for another 205, drilled Jamal Turner in the end zone with six seconds remaining to cap a nine-play, 80-yard drive to down the Spartans. Martinez was directly involved in all four of Nebraska's touchdowns (two passing, two rushing), with his rushing scores going for 71 and 35 yards, respectively.
Michigan State's frustrations continue, as it blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead and wasted a 188-yard, two-touchdown effort from Le'Veon Bell. The Huskers, meanwhile, moved to 4-1 in Big Ten play to stay atop the Legends Division standings. [RECAP l BOX]
No. 7 Georgia 37, Ole Miss 10: Florida and Georgia both looked significantly off their games in the Bulldogs' upset of the Gators last week in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. This week, both teams looked hung over. Georgia fell behind 10-0 early, but it eventually woke up in time to knock off Hugh Freeze's resurgent Rebels.
No. 15 Stanford 48, Colorado 0: Will anything ever go right for Colorado? The Buffs dropped to 1-8 after being dominated by Stanford backup Kevin Hogan, who completed 18-of-23 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Colorado has lost four of its games by at least 40 points. [RECAP l BOX]
No. 6 Ohio State 52, Illinois 22: Make it 10-0 for the Buckeyes in Urban Meyer's first year in Columbus. Carlos Hyde bulldozed his way to 137 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while Braxton Miller helped his Heisman candidacy with 299 yards of total offense and three more scores. [RECAP l BOX]