What a Week 7. In the words of Tennessee coach Josh Heupel, “This is college football at its absolute best.”
Unless you’re on the losing side of things, how could anyone disagree?
From all the monumental upsets that dramatically shifted the College Football Playoff picture to the best plays that we will watch over and over, we catch you up on the best moments from the week.
Best troll (pregame)
Lane Kiffin is no stranger to being one of college football’s best trolls. After all, who could forget his “Get your popcorn ready” comment before last season’s Ole Miss-Alabama game? Of course, it backfired last October, when the Crimson Tide jumped to a 28-0 halftime lead en route to a 42-21 win.
He didn’t do any public trolling last season before he returned to Tennessee for the first time as a head coach since he infamously left for USC. After Ole Miss’ 31-26 win, a crowd of over 102,000 raucous fans pelted bottles and golf balls onto the field, to which Kiffin said, “It wasn’t about me, but I just want to say, ‘Take that, you 100,000 fans.'”
As focused as Kiffin was for his Rebels’ matchup against Auburn, even he couldn’t ignore the fact that two of his bigger rivals were facing each other in a battle of undefeated top-10 teams. Naturally, he took a side.
“Let’s both beat the state of Alabama today,” he said on ESPN’s College GameDay on Saturday morning. “Go Vols.”
His Ole Miss squad took care of business in the early afternoon, jumping to a 21-0 lead and putting up 448 yards on the ground en route to a 48-34 win.
He was watching when Alabama-Tennessee came down to the wire, tied at 49 with two seconds left, with Tennessee kicker Chase McGrath lining up for a 40-yard field goal.
So … how did that game end?
Best celebration (and postgame troll)
McGrath’s made kick led to a massive field storm at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. In Vols coach Josh Heupel’s words, “This is college football at its absolute best.”
The field storm:
Playing “Dixieland Delight” after beating your rival for the first time since 2006.
Nothing short of epic.
See more of Week 7’s best trolls.
Sure, the Tulane Green Wave improved to 6-1 and are now ranked in the AP Top 25, but unfortunately the Dartmouth Big Green lost, so this honor couldn’t go to the color green (or the Crimson Tide, for that matter).
Between Tennessee and Syracuse, it was a big weekend for the color orange. (Texas won on Saturday, too.)
Syracuse, which two years ago went 1-10, is bowl-eligible for the first time since 2018 and is off to its first 6-0 start since 1987 after beating No. 15 NC State 24-9.
One thing that bodes well for the color orange: It is guaranteed a victory when Syracuse plays Clemson next week.
Tennessee wideout Jalin Hyatt scored as many touchdowns on Saturday (five) as he had all season prior. But no touchdown was more spectacular than Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson ripping off an 81-yard touchdown run against LSU.
Richardson scrambled out of the pocket, picked up a block from Trevor Etienne inside the 25-yard line and gained steam as he crossed midfield. From there, he slipped out of Micah Baskerville’s hands and dodged tackle attempts by safeties Jay Ward and Joe Foucha, maintaining his balance down the left sideline and Superman-leaping across the goal line.
Richardson’s run, which brought Florida within 42-28, was the longest play — passing or running — of his career. He scored an 80-yard touchdown run against South Florida last fall and has thrown two 75-yard touchdown passes in the past.
Best small-school moments
The biggest rivalry games of the regular season at both the FCS and Division II levels unfolded in similar fashions on Saturday afternoon. In both Fargo, North Dakota, and Big Rapids, Michigan, defending national champions enjoyed double-digit leads at home over their most hated rivals. And in both cases, the visitors struck back.
In the battle for the Dakota Marker, South Dakota State held North Dakota State scoreless over the Bison’s final six possessions and scored the game’s final 16 points, nine of which came from the foot of Hunter Dustman. His 18-yarder with 3 minutes, 49 seconds left gave the Jackrabbits their first lead of the game, and NDSU’s last-ditch drive stalled out near midfield. It was SDSU’s third straight victory in this bitter series.
At the Division II level, in the Anchor-Bone Classic, it was Ferris State taking the early lead. The 2021 national champ was up by 11 with eight minutes left, but the visiting Grand Valley State Lakers scored, forced a three-and-out and scored again to take a 22-21 lead.
The teams traded fumbles — always good for ramping up anxiety levels even higher than they already were — but like NDSU, Ferris State stalled out near midfield on its final opportunity. GVSU won its first game in the series since 2016, taking both bragging rights and, likely, the No. 1 ranking in the country in the process.
— Bill Connelly
More Week 7 takeaways
Michigan runs all over Penn State
Penn State-Michigan marked one of the rare marquee games in which the running backs came in with more shine than the quarterbacks. Michigan’s Blake Corum had emerged as a Heisman Trophy contender, while Donovan Edwards provided a jolt after returning from injury. Penn State’s freshman tandem of Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen had sparked a struggling run game, combining for 788 yards and eight touchdowns.
By late Saturday afternoon, Corum and Edwards had left everyone in the dust. They combined for 339 rushing yards and four scores against Penn State, becoming the first teammates to eclipse 150 rush yards in the same game since Alabama’s Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon against Georgia in 2012. Touchdown runs of 67 yards (Edwards) and 61 yards (Corum) on consecutive third-quarter possessions put Michigan in the driver’s seat.
“We got the fourth-down stop, I’m walking off the field, taking my helmet up, ask for water and I look up at the scoreboard and see Blake breaking one loose,” defensive lineman Mike Morris said. “I’m happy for them, but I’m looking at 2 (Corum) and 7 (Edwards) and I’m like, ‘Bruh, y’all got to let us get a break a little bit.’ I’m like, ‘I love y’all, good job but …’
“Our backs are crazy.”
Thanks to Morris and his linemates, Penn State’s talented young backs never got going in a 41-17 loss, combining for only 35 yards on 12 carries with a long run of 9 yards.
“Obviously, we weren’t able to run the ball or convert on short-yardage situations and stay on the field,” coach James Franklin said. “They controlled the line of scrimmage and they controlled the game.”
— Adam Rittenberg
How does the Pac-12 being stronger impact its CFP chances?
When Utah punched in its 2-point conversation late Saturday night to beat USC 43-42, it was an incredible moment at Rice-Eccles Stadium. For the Utes, it preserved a clear path to the Pac-12 championship game and their chance to defend their title. Laughable officiating aside, it was a high-stakes college football game played at a very high level.
The result, however, with USC losing for the first time, was a big hit toward the conference’s College Football Playoff chances. It’s not a death blow, but the collective margin for error is thin.
Undefeated UCLA is obviously the best hope, and it has a chance to make a statement Saturday at Oregon. What shouldn’t be lost in all of this is that the Pac-12 might be the second-best conference in college football this season.
Only two conferences have four teams in the top 15 of the AP Poll: the SEC and the Pac-12 (No. 9 UCLA, No. 10 Oregon, No. 12 USC, No. 15 Utah). If it comes to comparing one-loss conference champions come selection time, that should matter. It also illustrates the problem with the four-team structure. With a 12-team field, there will be several more meaningful games over the second half of the season. More fan bases will be engaged with the sport in more areas of the country.
— Kyle Bonagura
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