It’s exactly what we’ve been saying for weeks: It’s about time the rest of the country took notice of the up-and-coming Big 12 team that opened the season 4-0 and deserves to be included in the rankings will.
Oh no, not Kansas. We are talking about TCU.
After finishing last season 5-7 and firing Gary Patterson, the Horned Frogs have hardly been viewed as contenders in the Big 12 this season, but Sonny Dykes has clearly breathed some life into the offense and Max Duggan has established himself as one the nation’s most prolific featured QBs.
If you didn’t believe it before Saturday, you should have convinced the 27-point TCU that hung on Oklahomain in the first quarter. And if you’ve ever wondered how many big games it takes before Brent Venables’ head explodes, well this game certainly provided an answer.
TCU rushed for 668 yards in the 55-24 win, including four plays of 60 yards or more.
Duggan was great, throwing for 302 yards and three touchdowns and running for 116 yards and two more points. If the stat line looked familiar to Sooners fans, then so should it. In the playoff era, the only other Big 12 QB with 300 pass yards, 100 rush yards, three pass TDs, and two downs in the same game was Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts in 2019. Duggan is only the eighth player in the playoff era out of each conference to hit those counters against a Power 5 opponent.
So if Oklahoma can officially be removed from the playoff contenders list, is it time to consider TCU as a possible Big 12 champion?
This is the Horned Frogs’ first 4-0 start since 2017, and they now have notable victories over the Sooners and SMU. They have accumulated 38 points in each of their first four games and according to ESPN stats & Intelligence’s 55 points against Oklahoma marked the most allowed by the Sooners since the 2019 Peach Bowl. This one came against Joe Burrow and LSU. The last time Oklahoma conceded 55 or more against an unranked opponent was in 2016. This one came against Patrick Mahomes. whoops
With all the deserved attention TCU’s big win will receive, it’s still worth noting that the Horned Frogs failed to deliver their mid-game trolling. Roger Maris’ family must now attend every TCU game until the Horned Frogs score 62 points.
Aside from TCU and Oklahoma, a few other Week 5 games offered a glimpse of this season’s contenders and contenders.
The Ole Missdefense dealt a brutal blow to Kentucky’s SEC hopes. Purduessnuffed the early-season excitement around Minnesota. And Michigan fought its way to an impressive victory on the road in Iowa.
Kentucky had its chances for a road win, but an early safety made Will Levis’ fingers crook, and two late fumbles deep in Ole Miss territory proved the difference in Ole Miss’ 22-19 win.
Minnesota was starless running back Mohamed Ibrahim, and it showed. The Golden Gophers, who were among the most prolific offensive teams in the country for four weeks, mustered just 47 yards on ground in a 20-10 loss to the Boilermakers.
And Iowa’s plan to lull Michigan to sleep by playing offense failed miserably. The Hawkeyes poked each of their first five full drives, which is usually a winning formula, but not against Blake Corum, who carried 29 times for 133 yards and a touchdown in Michigan’s 27-14 win.
Ladies and gentlemen, UConn has an FBS win.
Please take a moment to collect your emotions.
The Huskies engineered a 94-yard drive to get a go-ahead for TD at 2:20 before the game and ended in a shocking 19-14 win over Fresno State.
It had been 1,050 days since UConn last won a game against an FBS opponent. Meanwhile, 23 teams have announced their conference moves (including UConn, which went independent), Miami has been back eight times – then not back – and James Madison, who was an FCS team a month ago, has won three games against FBS- Opponent.
Even that undercuts how long it’s been since UConn did something as unexpected as Saturday’s win. UConn was a 19.5 point underdog – the money limit for a UConn win was +1050 – and yet the Huskies clinched a win. The last win was indeed at home against the equally sad UMassin, a game UConn was to win. To find UConn’s latest FBS fuss, you’d have to go back to 2017. That was about five Taylor Swift albums ago.
That’s the beauty of UConn football. It serves as a time capsule for the rest of us, a means by which we can’t gauge the struggles of the huskies, but rather how far the rest of us have come.
Break open the Ilini
It’s five weeks into the season, and it seems like an appropriate moment for the college football world to take a quick step back, run through the rankings, and ask a question that has frustrated even the most renowned philosopher, scientist, and scholar: Hey, is Illinois good?
The Illini are 4-1 for the first time since 2015 after throttling Wisconsin 34-10 on Saturday, led by a Syracuse throw and an absolutely dominant run defense. According to ESPN Stats and Information, it was Illinois’ biggest away win since 2015 and there was an eight-game losing streak at Camp Randall.
On Saturday, QB Tommy DeVito pulled off a pretty decent trick, running for minus 2 yards in the game but also having three rushing touchdowns. It’s a rare feat to have five fewer rushing yards than rushing TDs, but in Illinois, DeVito managed to combine a newfound scoring touch with his long-established ability to serve as a tackle dummy. From 2019-21, DeVito was sacked 70 times at Syracuse despite only starting 18 games. He’s been thrown into the backfield 11 times this season, but he’s also had 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
But the big key to Illinois’ success so far has been defense, which has been a wall against the run. Wisconsin only managed 2 rushing yards with 24 carries on Saturday, marking the Badgers’ worst performance on the ground since 2015 against Northwestern. For the season, Illinois conceded just 351 yards on the ground and held four direct opponents within 100 yards of rushing.
The best thing that can happen in college football on Saturday
Phil Jurkovec led Boston College to a 34-33 win over Louisville on Saturday, throwing for 304 yards and three touchdowns, including 50, 57 and 69.
Unfortunately, the throw that will probably be the most featured shot at SportsCenter this week wasn’t one to remember. Jurkovec was essentially in a full Neo-in-The-Matrix position as he threw the ball backwards in the general direction to run back Pat Garwo III. From there it got silly.
But hey, all’s well that ends well. Malik Cunningham scored two games later to give Louisville the lead, but the Cardinals couldn’t hold on as Boston College earned its first ACC win of the season.
Under-the-Radar Game of the Day
Jaivian Lofton’s catch opening the scoring in Liberty’s game against Old Dominion would still justify his inclusion here. It’s a ridiculous one-handed hook on a 34-yard TD. But what really excels is the response.
Lofton basically treated the catch like he was picking up a DoorDash order at Arby’s. zero emotions. We hope Lofton is like that in every aspect of life. Pass a test? No problem. Win the lottery? Cool, he’ll send you his routing number in the morning. Find out that Kansas is 5-0? OK, no one could take that lightly.
Under-the-Radar Game of the Day
Holy Cross defeated Harvard 30-21 on Saturday to move up to 5-0 and perhaps cement their claim as the best team in Massachusetts this season.
Crusaders QB Matthew Sluka threw for 300 yards and two TDs while Jalen Coker caught 10 balls for 166 yards in the win. It was the first time Harvard had lost a game with more than one possession since the 2019 opener.
Holy Cross are now 5-0, including an away win over FBS Buffalo last month, giving the Crusaders a pretty good argument as the top team in the Commonwealth. Holy Cross now has head-to-head wins over Merrimack and Harvard, and both BC and UMass are under .500 for the season. That leaves Stonehill (3-0) as the only other contender, and to be honest, we just found out that Stonehill is in Massachusetts.
Big bets and bad beats
Syracuse was heading for an easy cover against FCS Wagner on Saturday, but it turned out to be a little *too* easy.
The line closed at Syracuse -54, which seemed about right given Wagner has been 1-27 since 2019 and had already lost to Rutgers at 59 this season. And as expected, Syracuse rolled early to take a 49-0 lead at halftime.
Light cover right?
Well no. Wagner waved the white flag and sports betting waived the bets.
Syracuse continued to win 59-0 – a cover for Orange and the Under, but due to the shortened quarter the bets didn’t count. Kudos to Caesars for having the courage to say what the rest of us were thinking.
There is no such thing as easy money, but the service academies offer at least something similar. Air Force received Navy in Saturday’s first Commander’s Cup matchup of the season, and that means it’s time to throw some money at the Under. What was the total? Doesn’t matter. Whatever the total, bet on the bottom. In the playoff era, the under in Commander’s Cup games is 22-2-1 and is hit 77% of the time.
In this case, the total closed at 38. That’s a low number. Low enough to worry about the under? crap no.
OK, so you bet under, then the Air Force found the endzone on their opening drive on a 67-yard passing play. Now you’re worried, aren’t you? Ah, still no.
Of the 19 drives remaining in the game, 10 ended in punts. The others: a Navy touchdown, two field goals (including one after the Navy caught the ball deep in Air Force territory), a turnover on downs, two fumbles (including one in the red zone), a missed field goal and a seven-play drive that chewed up the final 3:49 of the game.
That, friends, is a recipe for another Under. Final score: Air Force 13, Navy 10.
The Under have now played nine straight games involving two of the three service academies and 14 of the last 15.
Oklahoma State jumped out to a big lead, driving to a 36-25 win over Baylor. The Cowboys were a 2.5-point favorite, which is hallowed ground for head coach Mike Gundy. As ESPN’s Chris Fallica noted, Oklahoma State is now 14-3 since 2016 in games with a +/- 3.5 point spread, including a paltry 13-2 in such situations on the road.