I didn’t quite spend all of Saturday watching an unhealthy amount of college football, I spent it in the stuffy, surreal excuse for a football field that is the Carrier Dome watching UConn get mashed up by Syracuse.
I did, however, sink my teeth deep into the advanced box scores and the highlights afterward to give you, dear reader, an update on the world of college football. Here are the three most notable results from this weekend:
Army 21, Oklahoma 28
If you were actually able to watch this game last weekend, congrats! You were lucky enough to either have paid $54.99 for the privilege to watch Oklahoma as a 30-plus point favorite over The Troops, or you logged on to a shady Twitch stream with alternate commentary provided by a man with a very heavy Oklahoma accent.
That’s because this game was broadcast exclusively on pay-per-view: each team in the Big 12 gets to sell one non-conference game a season to the highest bidder (this is the result of Texas getting their own television network).
Oklahoma’s distributor for this game just happens to use the same format used only by MMA and boxing – professional wrestling doesn’t even use it anymore!
It’s a real shame, because this was certainly one of the more entertaining games this year so far. Army slowed the game down to a veritable crawl with their weird, wonderful pseudo-flexbone option, controlling the ball with 44 minutes of total possession and scoring on drives of 8:54, 9:31 (!) and 10:47 (!!) in length.
They almost scored again on a 10:06 minute long drive at the end of the game, but got bit on the behind when they strayed from their roots and attempted their eighth pass of the game, which was intercepted to send the game to overtime, where Oklahoma would eventually win.
Stanford 38, Oregon 31
This game was an absolute masterstroke performance for Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, who completed 25 of 28 passes in regulation for 331 yards, the Ducks offensive line pushed Stanford around in a manner that Stanford is used to doing to other teams.
This will only be remembered, however, for one of the most backbreaking sequences for any team so far this year. In the third quarter, the Ducks had a touchdown taken off the board by instant replay that would have put them up 30-7, and Stanford took a fumble recovery to the house not three plays later to make the actual score 24-14.
Then in the overtime period, Stanford quarterback KJ Costello had a touchdown pass tipped, only to land directly in the arms of his waiting receiver. When Oregon got the ball, Herbert had almost an identical pass also tipped, but this one was an interception. Nobody ever said football was fair.
Mississippi State 7, Kentucky 21
Kentucky ending up a legitimately good team this year might be the upset of the century, but they really just did everything right in their win over No. 14 Mississippi State.
The Wildcats beat Mississippi State the old-fashioned way, with solid defense and a good run game: running back Benny Snell had 165 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries, and the Kentucky defense led by linebacker Kash Daniel allowed just two yards per carry to a usually-potent Bulldog rushing attack.
Now, the games worth watching next Saturday:
Army vs. Buffalo, noon on CBS Sports Network
Wait, where are you going? I swear to god, this is easily the most watchable game of the early afternoon slot, and I can prove it to you.
First off, option football is one of the things that makes college football the greatest sports on earth. When you watch it for long enough, it becomes less like watching football and more like observing boiling water, or a lava lamp, or staring deep into a bonfire.
On the other side of the ball, I have a secret to tell you. You know what quarterback will have the most hype coming into the 2019 draft? It’ll be 6’7”, 245 lb. Buffalo quarterback Tyree Jackson.
He’s not just measurables, he has the stats to back it up: his 61.9 percent completion percentage has improved every year he’s been a starter, and he’s already thrown 15 touchdowns this year, the most in a single season of his career.
Buffalo also has one of the top receivers in the nation, Anthony Johnson, who has been an integral part of their top 30 passing offense in the nation this year.
Ohio State vs. Penn State on ABC or Stanford vs. Notre Dame on NBC, both at 7:30 p.m.
So here’s the deal: both of these games are blockbuster matchups between top ten teams steeped in tradition. But there’s a catch: there’s no way both of them will be good football games.
The best candidate for an entertaining game here is probably Ohio State vs. Penn State. Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State came out of nowhere to become the best quarterback in the Big Ten.
Haskins is averaging 10.4 yards – over a first down – per pass thrown, while Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley, who was regarded as one of the better pro prospects in the conference, has struggled so far this year, only completing 54 percent of his passes and ranking 87th in yards per pass attempt.
Penn State’s skill players have picked up the slack, especially running back Miles Andrews. Despite having massive shoes (and thighs) to fill after the departure of Saquon Barkley, Andrews has averaged seven yards per carry through four games this year.
On the other hand, Stanford vs. Notre Dame might not be as high-scoring of a game, but if you are the type of weirdo who enjoys great defense, you will end up enjoying this matchup. Even if you’re not, you get maybe the most feast-or-famine running back in college football history in Stanford running back Bryce Love, and an equally entertaining/volatile player in Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book.