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Fourth & Long: The Biggest Winners and Losers of an Epic Weekend in College Football

Coming into this week, there was a lot of hype surrounding this weekend’s slate of games. However, most people didn’t think it would live up to expectations, but it surpassed expectations, and gave us a Game of the Year Candidate. (8) BYU started the weekend off with an absolute beat down of Boise State on Friday night. (6) Florida used a huge second half to take down (12) Georgia. Finally in the nightcap, (2) Notre Dame found a way to upset (4) Clemson, in what will possibly be the game of the year. Before we dive into winners and losers of the weekend, let’s take a look at the new AP Top 25.

  • 1. Alabama 2. Notre Dame 3. Ohio State 4. Clemson 5. Texas A&M 6. Florida 7.Cincinnati 8. BYU 9. Miami (FL) 10. Indiana 11. Oregon 12. Georgia 13. Wisconsin 14. Oklahoma State 15. Coastal Carolina 16. Marshall 17. Iowa State 18. Oklahoma 19. SMU 20. USC 21. Texas 22. Liberty 23. Northwestern 24. Auburn 25. Louisiana
  • The Georgia Bulldogs fell to 12th, after being beaten by Florida. They were the team hit hardest in the latest AP Poll.
  • Indiana was the biggest riser in the latest AP Poll, moving up four spots to number ten.
  • Northwestern and Louisiana entered the AP Poll from being previously unranked.
  • The biggest lesson learned with the latest rankings, is that voters still view Clemson as a playoff favorite, even after the loss the (2) Notre Dame.
  • With these latest rankings, the voters acknowledged that the end of the season in college football will be a crazy one.

Biggest Winners & Losers From Week 10


Notre Dame: Notre Dame did what nobody thought was possible: they beat a Trevor Lawrence-less Clemson team. Clemson’s 39 game regular season win streak was snapped by Notre Dame this weekend. Clemson’s 29-game ACC winning streak was snapped as well. Notre Dame defended their home turf this weekend by beating Clemson 47-40 in a double-overtime thriller. Ian Book was much more than a game manager this weekend as he went 22-39 through the air for 310 yards and a touchdown. The best player on the field Saturday night was not a quarterback, but it was Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams. He rushed the ball 23-times for 140 yards and three touchdowns, including a 65-yard touchdown run in the second play of the game. Brian Kelly finally lead Notre Dame to a big game win. Taking a 47-40 lead into the second overtime, it was time for the Irish defense to put their stamp on this victory. Well, the Notre Dame defense surely put a huge stamp on the upset win. Clemson got the ball second in the second overtime down by seven. On the first two plays of overtime, Adetokunbo Ogundeji sacked D.J. Uiagalelei twice to force the Tigers into a 3rd and 24. On third down, Uiagalelei threw an incomplete pass that was meant for Davis Allen. Finally on fourth down, the defense forced Uiagalelei out of the pocket, he threw a completed pass to Braden Galloway who fumbled trying to lateral. Just like that, Notre Dame completed the upset.

This is a program defining win for the Fighting Irish. Yes, they did not have to play a Clemson team at full strength, with Lawrence out. However, they showed the nation that Clemson is not invincible in the regular season. If Notre Dame and Clemson win out the rest of their games, they will meet in Charlotte for the ACC Championship. All in all, this was a great win for Brian Kelly and Notre Dame.

Notre Dame Fans (Looking at you Ryan Stern): In recent years Notre Dame has folded in big games. In their one and only college football playoff appearance, Notre Dame was dominated on all facets of the game by Clemson. That year the Tigers went on to cruise by Alabama for a national title. However, Notre Dame fans still thought their team was a contender. Many pundits and experts did not want to see Notre Dame in a big game, because of their track record (Let’s not forget the 2013 BCS National Championship). Finally, Notre Dame fans have a reason to cheer for their Irish this year. Brian Kelly has been building this team from the beginning of his tenure in South Bend. After going 11-2 last year, many thought Notre Dame could make the jump to being a contender. Make that jump, they did. Good for you Notre Dame fans, cheer on.

The Pac-12: The two best teams in the Pac-12 pulled out wins on Saturday. USC was able to score two touchdowns in the final 1:32 of their game versus Arizona State. USC won the game narrowly 28-27. Oregon on the other hand, had to play an always tough Stanford team on Saturday. However, the Ducks look like they could be for real as they crushed Stanford 35-14. USC quarterback Kedon Slovis threw the ball 55 times on Saturday, completing 40 for 381 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. For Oregon, new quarterback Tyler Shough is definitely no Justin Herbert, but he’s a capable starter. Shough was 17-26 for 227 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Even though Clemson’s loss to Notre Dame leaves the playoff picture more muddy than ever, USC and Oregon proved they should at least be a part of the conversation.

Justin Fields: Even though Ohio State did not look impressive versus B1G bottom-feeder Rutgers, Justin Fields definitely did impress fans and voters alike. For a third straight game, Fields was close to perfect, throwing 24-28 for 314 yards and five touchdowns. With Trevor Lawrence sidelined this weekend, and Mac Jones on a bye, Justin Fields just might be the leader in the clubhouse for the Heisman Trophy. On the year Fields is 72-83 for 908 yards and 11 touchdowns, with no interceptions. While other parts of the Ohio State team need some improvement, Justin Fields definitely does not. One of the craziest stats in college football thus far is that Fields has the same amount of incompletions as he does touchdowns.

Texas A&M: Texas A&M is like a person at the train station, just waving as people come and go. The Aggies were roughed up by Alabama early on in the season, they are very much still in play for playoff contention. Right now it looks likely that Alabama will take on Florida in the SEC Championship. If Florida loses to Alabama, the only one-loss team left in the SEC would be Texas A&M. This morning we went over some scenarios for the College Football Playoff. A scenario that includes the Aggies in the Playoffs is absolutely possible. If Alabama wins out, Notre Dame completes the sweep of Clemson, Oklahoma State loses to Oklahoma, and no Pac-12 team goes unbeaten, the Aggies will be in the discussion for the final playoff spot with teams like Cincinnati, BYU, and a one-loss Oregon/USC team. If Cincinnati keeps dominating, it would be hard for the committee to keep them out at this point. However, the Aggies could snag that last spot, or worst case scenario, they are the first two out with Oregon/USC.

Indiana: Where did these Hoosiers come from? Going into the season the Hoosiers were trending up, but their schedule was pretty tough. Many thought Indiana would end up with 3-4 wins. Indiana upsetting Penn State on opening weekend, and their upset over Michigan this weekend was not supposed to be in the cards in the B1G. The Hoosiers got lucky in their win over Penn State (Get it together Refs!), but they dominated Michigan from the first whistle to the last. Signal caller Michael Penix Jr. is making a name for himself this year. Versus Michigan he was 30-50 for 342 yards and three touchdowns. They also have a work horse at running back in Stevie Scott III. On Saturday he carried the ball 24 times for 97 yards, allowing the Hoosiers to control time of possession. Indiana also forced two interceptions from Michigan quarterback Joe Milton. We will get to Michigan in the losers column, but right now Indiana is for real. Indiana’s next two games will likely define their season. Next week they travel to East Lansing, Michigan to take on an up and down Spartans team. If Indiana gets past Michigan State, their game at Ohio State on November 21 will likely be the team’s biggest game in over 20 years.

Hugh Freeze, Head Coach Liberty: In 1989, Liberty moved all their athletics to NCAA Division 1. On Saturday, the Flames from Liberty beat their in-state rival Virginia Tech by a score of 38-35. This is likely the program’s biggest win in its history. Hugh Freeze, formerly of Mississippi, is the head coach of Liberty. He was hired in 2018, after multiple recruiting violations at Ole Miss. In his first year in 2018 he guided the Flames to a 7-5 record, and qualified for a bowl game for the first time in the school’s history. In 2019 he signed a five-year extension with the school. After so much outcry and hatred aimed at Freeze for his time at Ole Miss, it has to feel good for coach Freeze.

Luke Fickell, Head Coach Cincinnati: Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell is going to collect a huge paycheck this summer, whether it be from Cincinnati or another top tier program. Fickell has the Bearcats at number six in the nation, and dreaming of a College Football Playoff spot. On Saturday at home, the Bearcats took care of Houston 38-10. Quarterback Desmond Ridder didn’t have his best game, going 17-27 for 162 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. However Ridder and running back Gerid Doaks combined for 287 yards rushing with one touchdown for Doaks, and three running touchdowns for Ridder. Fickell has amassed an incredible 32-13 record at Cincinnati, considering the Bearcats were 4-8 in his first season. Before the start of this year, Fickell signed a contract extension that will keep him in Cincinnati through 2026. However, don’t be surprised if Fickell garners interest from top level programs. With head coaching jobs possibly opening up in Michigan, Texas A&M, Texas, and USC. He’s earned the attention that he will get from those big schools. Let’s just hope he doesn’t follow Tom Herman’s lead, and head into a volatile Texas situation.


BYU and Cincinnati: With Notre Dame beating Clemson on Saturday night, it might be harder than ever for a Group of Five team to sneak into the playoffs. In the new AP Poll, Clemson is clearly viewed as a top-4 team still. Notre Dame will likely play a rematch in the ACC Championship in Charlotte. If Notre Dame wins, Cincinnati and BYU should be right at the top of the conversation. However, if Clemson wins the rematch, Cincinnati and BYU can kiss their playoff dreams goodbye. Based on the new polls and what many experts are saying, if Clemson were to win the rematch, there is a high likelihood that both would make the playoff. Not only will Cincinnati and BYU be cheering for Notre Dame, but they will also be cheering for a USC/Oregon loss. For college football fans, that pretty much sucks. Cincinnati is the best Group of Five team we’ve seen since the playoff started in 2014.

Michigan: Before Michigan took on Indiana this weekend, many thought Indian were not for real, and would fold versus a tough Michigan team. However, that was not the case at all. Indiana absolutely dominated Michigan in Bloomington, Indiana on Saturday. The Hoosiers jumped into the top ten in the latest AP Poll, so we now know they are for real. However, this is more of a reflection on how bad the Michigan football situation is. The Wolverines started the season with what many thought was an impressive win in Minnesota. We now know that Minnesota is nowhere near as good as they were last year, so that really isn’t an impressive win. Then in the last two weeks the Wolverines have lost to Michigan State, and Indiana. Joe Milton clearly isn’t the answer, even though he had 344 yards passing and three touchdowns on Saturday. Milton was also sacked multiple times, and threw two interceptions. The Michigan “four-headed monster” of running backs (Charbonnet, Evans, Corum, and Haskins) is more like a “fluffy cute four headed puppy.” Finally, even when Michigan is faltering offensively, Don Brown and his defense are able to keep the Wolverines afloat. However, on Saturday they gave up 460 yards to Indiana, including 342 through the air. No one saw this coming from Michigan, but it all falls on the head coach..

Jim Harbaugh: Jim Harbaugh has been a disaster at Michigan, his alma mater. In six years at Michigan he has compiled a record of 48-20, which is pretty impressive, but not good enough for Michigan. However, don’t worry it gets worse for Harbaugh. He is now 1-6 at home versus Michigan State and Ohio State. Overall he is 3-3 vs Michigan State, and 0-5 versus Michigan’s hated rival Ohio State. There was a time early on in his tenure at Michigan, that Harbaugh could leave the Wolverines and have any NFL job waiting for him. However, that is not the case any more. Many NFL teams would be wary of signing a new coach who was 1-6 versus rivals at home. Not to mention that in his six years in Ann Arbor, he has not built a contender. If he wasn’t on the hot seat after last weekend’s loss to Michigan State, he surely is now after the loss to the Hoosiers. The only thing Harbaugh has going for him, is the fact that Michigan probably won’t be able to hire anyone with as big of a name as Harbaugh. Oh, and after the game Harbaugh stated that Michigan needed to “push forward, and keep going.” Get out of here with those lies Harbaugh.

Trevor Lawrence: It really is too bad that Trevor Lawrence had to sit out because of COVID. The game versus Notre Dame may have gone the other way if Lawrence plays. Not only did he watch hopelessly as his team lost, but he also seems to have fallen behind in the Heisman race. Even after missing last weekend, Lawrence was passed up at most sports books for the Heisman Trophy. Ohio State’s Justin Fields, and Alabama’s Mac Jones, were the co-favorites last week. It is expected to stay the same this week, unless Justin Fields surpasses Jones, who was off on a bye this weekend. If Trevor Lawrence ends his career with no Heisman Trophies, it will be one of the biggest shockers in recent years. However, the same thing happened last year as Tua Tagovailoa didn’t win the Heisman in his last year at Alabama. Lawrence can obviously still make up some ground in the race, but for right now, it’s tough to be a Trevor Lawrence fan.

Notre Dame Security: With all the extra precautions taken this year because of the virus, the last thing any player or coach want is a group of 250 or so fans rush the field after a game. That was in fact the case in South Bend on Saturday night. When he was talking to his team during walk through practice he issued this statement: “I just want you to know,” Kelly told the players, “When we win this thing, the fans are going to storm the field.” Kelly added that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes a recent rise in cases on Notre Dame’s campus, the players needed to exit the field as soon as possible after the game (ESPN). Congratulations to Notre Dame and Notre Dame fans on the big win, but this is a nightmare scenario, especially in college football today. Who knows how many of those fans that stormed the field, were unknowingly positive for the virus. With the college football landscape being the way it is this year, that simply cannot happen, especially in such a big game. However, Notre Dame players seemed to love Kelly’s statement. “Coach Kelly, you might as well call him a prophet,” linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah said. “Prophet Kelly.” (ESPN)

The Ohio State Defense: While the Buckeyes still beat lowly Rutgers handily, there were a lot of questions to be answered by the defense. Rutgers put up 370 total yards, including 141 on the ground. The Buckeyes also let Rutgers convert 3-4 on fourth down. Rutgers did lose two fumbles on the day, and without those this game might have been even closer. Rutgers punt returner Bo Melton also returned a punt 58-yards for a touchdown. The Buckeyes only sacked the quarterback one time, but did have five tackles for loss. With a road matchup against Maryland next weekend, then taking on (10) Indiana the week after, the Buckeyes need to improve their defense greatly to stay on the same level as Alabama and Notre Dame (Clemson as well). They also didn’t cover their -38.5 spread.

Wisconsin and Purdue: The Boilermakers were supposed to travel to Madison this weekend to take on Wisconsin. However, for the second week in a row, Wisconsin was forced to cancel the game because of a continued virus breakout throughout the program. Purdue was probably Wisconsin’s biggest hurdle in getting back to the B1G Championship. It’s been a tough season for Wisconsin, and nobody really knows when they will play next. Hopefully they are able to field a team so they can take on Michigan in Ann Arbor next weekend. Really, this is just sad news all around. As always, we wish the best to the players, coaches, staff members, and families and friends of those affected by the virus.

Icing the Kicker: Boy did this ever backfire for Virginia Tech and head coach Justin Fuente. With eight seconds to play in the game, Liberty lined up for a 59-yard field goal. As the ball left the kickers foot, it was blocked and returned for a touchdown. Jermaine Waller, the touchdown scorer, thought he had just won the game for Virginia Tech. Not so fast my friend! Before the ball was snapped, the Hokies did their best to “ice the kicker’ and called time-out at the last second. Waller had to walk back down to the defense, after missing out on the game-winning play. Rather than line up for another 59-yard attempt, the Flames ran the ball and got out of bounds with five seconds left in the game. This was a crucial play, as Liberty got out of bounds at the Hokies 33-yard line, making the final kick easier on Alex Barbir. He put it through the uprights as time expired, to give Liberty the victory, and a 7-0 start to the year, which is the best in the program’s history.

Ending of (25) Liberty vs Virginia Tech Game

This week’s college football slate was clearly the best of the year, and it lived up to expectations. The Irish stunned the world, Florida celebrated at the Biggest Outdoor Cocktail Party in the World, and Indiana cemented itself as a contender this year. Be sure to check back tomorrow when we put up our full college football recap. Also be sure to tune in to The Fourth & Long Podcast tomorrow at 6:30 Eastern time. After the exciting weekend, the Fourth & Long podcast will be surely something to watch!

Follow Me on Twitter: @BrownlojCLE

Follow Fourth & Long on Twitter: @4thandlongpod

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