College football Week 10 was special, due in large part to a prime time slot that might just go down in history. Washington faced USC at about the same time that Alabama duked it out against LSU. Those two games featured elite quarterback duels thanks to USC’s Caleb Williams and Washington’s Michael Penix, along with LSU’s Jayden Daniels and Alabama’s Jalen Milroe. The Crimson Tide signal-caller in particular appears to be elevating his game at the right time with the team’s sights now set on a return to the SEC Championship Game … and perhaps the College Football Playoff.
Oh, and the games absolutely ruled. Washington and USC scored a combined 94 points, with the Huskies pulling away in the end for a 52-42 win. LSU and Alabama traded body blows until Daniels left the game early in the fourth quarter with an apparent concussion, allowing the Crimson Tide to take firm control of the SEC West with their 42-28 triumph.
That followed an afternoon window in which Oklahoma’s College Football Playoff hopes were obliterated in a 27-24 loss to No. 22 Oklahoma State. It was a fitting end to Bedlam if that was indeed the last installment in one of college football’s most heralded rivalries.
With so many special moments on one of the more memorable Saturdays in recent history, there’s plenty to overreact to from college football’s 10th week of action.
Billy Napier won’t take Florida bowling in Year 2
Billy Napier’s Florida tenure feels like a ship slowly taking on water. There may be glimmers of hope — like a win against Tennessee or on the recruiting trail — where it seems like he’ll be able to bail enough water to keep things afloat. But then another leak springs up, like Saturday’s loss to Arkansas. This just so happens to be the biggest leak so far, and it might prove to be one that’s almost impossible to repair this season. A home loss to the Razorbacks, which entered Saturday winless in the SEC and with a 2-6 record overall, is almost unforgivable.
Now, the Gators have to get at least one win in their remaining three games to reach bowl eligibility — but that stretch includes a pair of road contests against LSU and Missouri and a home tilt against playoff hopeful Florida State. With that on tap, a bowl game seems out of reach. Florida won’t fire Napier this year — and it shouldn’t. The Gators are killing it on the recruiting trail in spite of everything and there’s the potential for a turnaround in 2024. Napier isn’t sitting on a comfortable seat, though.
Ollie Gordon is college football’s MVP
Oklahoma State running back Ollie Gordon isn’t a well-kept secret anymore. The most outstanding player in college football during the month of October came up big again in a 27-24 win against Oklahoma, carrying the ball 33 times for 137 yards and two touchdowns. He was the only Oklahoma State rusher to gain positive yardage in the second half — this despite the fact that he suffered an ankle injury at the end of the first half that clearly bothered him for the rest of the game. Thanks to Gordon, the Cowboys now have a fantastic shot at making the Big 12 Championship Game.
Gordon has reached 100 yards rushing in every one of Oklahoma State’s Big 12 games. In fact, he hasn’t rushed for fewer than 100 yards since a 33-7 loss to South Alabama on Sept. 16 — a result that is more and more bewildering as the weeks go by. The Cowboys are 5-1 since centering their offense around Gordon. Their Big 12 hopes and sudden resurgence literally run through him. No other individual player is making a similar impact.
Jeff Lebby can’t hide anymore
USC defensive coordinator Alex Grinch and (soon-to-be former) Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz have absorbed most of the flak as “college football’s worst assistant coaches” this season, and for good reason. While Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby’s on-field shortcomings haven’t been as egregious or frequent, he certainly deserves the same level of ire. He’s the reason that Oklahoma’s College Football Playoff hopes completely crumbled in the span of two weeks in losses to Kansas and Oklahoma State.
It can all really be summed up in Bedlam’s last play: Facing a fourth-and-5 from Oklahoma’s 46-yard line, Lebby drew up a 3-yard out route to wide receiver Drake Stoops. It was a one-read throw for quarterback Dillon Gabriel, and Stoops was stopped short of the first-down marker.
Stoops is the team’s leading receiver, a veteran player and a safety blanket for moments like these. He should know to run past the sticks, but it’s also incumbent upon Lebby to put him in a position to do so. The play backfired. The result? Heading to the SEC with a loss in the final scheduled Bedlam game.
Ohio State is not the No. 1 team
Disclaimer: Ohio State is a good football team. Ohio State is a College Football Playoff-caliber team. But no matter what the committee’s rankings might suggest, the Buckeyes aren’t the best team in college football right now.
Ideally, college football’s best team is complete. Ohio State isn’t. Surprisingly, it’s the offense holding things back here. The offensive line has been below-average after losing three starters and quarterback Kyle McCord hasn’t been able to elevate those around him and cover up for lackluster O-line play.
The Buckeyes produced one offensive touchdown in the first 42 minutes of Saturday’s win against Rutgers; a strong defense kept things from spiraling out of control. The résumé was — and still kind of is — Ohio State’s claim to the No. 1 spot, but the eye test shows it’s a fairly weak choice for the top-ranked team.