Luke’s Triple Option: Blood week strikes

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Photo by USA Today Sports

This was the first real chaos week of the 2018 college football season. Four top ten teams lost on Saturday, along with four of the next 15, both muddling up the playoff picture while also making some divisional races more clear. Allow me to explain what happened:

Georgia 16, LSU 36

It wasn’t that the Tigers went into their game against the No. 2 team in the nation and just eked out a fluky win. They welcomed Georgia into the aptly-named Death Valley and layed a hellacious beatdown on the defending SEC champions.

LSU treated Georgia like a second-class SEC team, outgaining the Dawgs 275 to 113 yards rushing, forcing two fumbles and two interceptions, and then their fans rushed the field afterwards, adding insult to injury and incurring a pretty hefty $100,000 fine for doing so.

That was all fine, but the most fun part of the game happened with 5:10 left in the fourth quarter. Decently-mobile LSU quarterback Joe Burrow had been handing the ball off on the read option all game, lulling the Georgia defense into a gentle slumber, until he took off with the ball and there was nary a front seven player in sight.

He stuck his foot in the ground and sent a defensive back flying past with his ego irreparably damaged, then turned on the jets, lumbering 59 yards down to the four-yard line while screaming his head off the entire way (at least according to the photo at the start of this piece).

Washington 27, Oregon 30

Only nerds care about if this game made the Pac-12 miss out on the playoffs. Conferences don’t miss out on the playoffs, teams in the conferences do. If that was your main takeaway from this amazing game of football, I can’t help you.

In a game that somehow flew under the radar last weekend, the Ducks finally got over the hump, beating Washington and assuming control of their own destiny in the Pac-12 North.

They did it in wild fashion: Washington scored on an end-around in the quarter, then at the end of the first half, Oregon QB Justin Herbert fired a strike to Dillon Mitchell—a diving catch with barely one foot in the corner of the end zone—to tie the game up.

Washington QB Jake Browning was firing bombs all over the field, but there was nothing he could do when his kick barely missed a game-winning field goal. This sent the game into overtime, where Oregon running back CJ Verdell walked it off in the second possession of the period.

Wisconsin 13, Michigan 38

Michigan has played like a top five team in the nation after losing a tough one to Notre Dame to start the season, and it certainly looked the part here in a dismantling of Big Ten West-leading Wisconsin.

Their rushing attack was downright terrifying in this one. The Wolverine death machine had 320 yards on the ground on 6.7 yards per carry. Karen Higdon led the pack with 105 yards rushing, quarterback Shea Patterson had 90 yards on the ground and backup Dylan McCaffrey (yes, brother of Christian McCaffrey) made his contribution with a 44-yard touchdown run capping the blowout in the fourth quarter.

With all that being said, here are three games to watch out for this upcoming Saturday. We’re getting into the real heavy-hitting weekends, folks.

Michigan at Michigan State, noon on FOX

The Wolverines have yet another shot to exorcise their demons against the Spartans, who not only play their best, most cruel brand of football against top-ranked teams, but against Michigan specifically.

If Michigan continues to play like they have been, they’ll be favored in every remaining game leading up to the game against Ohio State, and they’ll more than likely have to win out for a shot at the college football playoff.

NC State at Clemson, 3:30 p.m. on ESPN

Did you know that NC State was undefeated? Well you do now.

Even though this game is at home and Clemson is favored by two touchdowns, this will still be a good temperature reading of the Tigers’ chances going forward, as the last time the national audience saw them was when they struggled with Syracuse three weeks ago.

On the other side, NC State lost a boatload of talent to the NFL and is somehow on pace to finish better than last year’s squad. A large amount of that is due to quarterback Ryan Finley’s improvement, averaging 8.7 yards per pass throw. That’s up from 85th in the league last year to 23rd, made even more impressive by the Wolfpack’s complete lack of anything resembling a run game.

12 Oregon at 25 Washington State, 8 p.m. on FOX

For 15 years, a crimson flag bearing the logo of Washington State has flown over the crowd of every single episode of College Gameday on ESPN. Every year, every week it was there, and yet the roving television program itself has never made its way to Pullman for a Saturday.

Until this week.

The Palouse will be absolutely mental on Saturday night, when Oregon (5-1) faces the Cougars (5-1) in the culmination of every Washington State-related college football meme since 2003, with the winner in the driver’s seat to the conference championship game.


Luke Swanson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus.  He can be reached via email at luke.swanson@uconn.edu.

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