1 – North Carolina QB-WR-WR Trio of Drake Maye, Antoine Green, and Josh Downs (vs. Pittsburgh)
Everything Sam Howell was supposed to be, it appears Drake Maye is for the Tar Heels. In a 42-24 win on Saturday night against Pitt, Maye and his one-two tandem of Green and Downs lit up the Narduzzi defense, especially in the second half after being down 17-14 at halftime.
Maye passed for 388 yards and 5 touchdowns and added 61 on the ground while completing 34 of 44 pass attempts. Green and Downs combined for 21 of those completions, 282 yards, and 4 of those touchdowns. The Tar Heels have been relatively quiet this season even with a 7-1 record, but Drake Maye has proven he is one of the top quarterbacks in the country already with a potential Heisman invite at seasons end.
The Tar Heels still have tough tests against in-state rivals Wake Forest and N.C. State, but an ACC Championship matchup against Clemson seems all but officially locked up at this point.
2 – Ohio State DL J.T. Tuimoloau (vs. Penn State)
Ohio State struggled to get pass the Nittany Lions on Saturday afternoon. Down 13-14 at halftime, the Buckeyes offense continued to struggle, eventually taking a 16-14 lead at the end of the third quarter. Then the fourth quarter happened.
Penn State drove down the field and scored a touchdown to retake the lead. Then, the Buckeyes offense woke up and quickly retook the lead. On the next possession, Tuimoloau sacked Sean Clifford, forcing a fumble he also recovered and set up a quick Ohio State score. Later in the game, as Ohio State was slowly pulling away and Penn State was trying to hold tight, Tuimoloau picked off Clifford (his second of the game) and returned it for a touchdown that sealed the Buckeye victory.
For the day, Tuimoloau put up a defensive performance for the ages. Racking up 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions (one for a touchdown), a forced fumble and recovery, and a tipped pass that led to another interception. The former five-star recruit with elite athleticism had the breakout game many had been anticipating, and looks to be yet another potential superstar defensive lineman for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State should skate by Northwestern, Indiana, and Maryland before a season ending matchup against arch rival Michigan.
3 – Tennessee (vs. Kentucky)
Yet again, Tennessee as a team is getting a full star. This time it comes after demolishing border rival Kentucky in efficient fashion. Star quarterback Hendon Hooker completed 19 of 25 pass attempts for 245 yards and 3 touchdowns, added another on the ground, while the ascending star receiver Jalin Hyatt went for 138 yards and 2 touchdowns through the Heupel air attack.
Defensively, though, the Volunteers had their best outing of the season. Limiting the Wildcats to just 6 points, the Vols turned Will Levis over 3 times, and allowed just 98 yards on 16 completions (a little over 6 yards per completion). Hard nosed running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. was also limited to just 64 yards on the ground. A week before a mega matchup with defending Champions Georgia, many (myself included) thought this could be a trap game for a Tennessee squad that’s riding high, but instead they turned in their most complete performance of the season.
A trip to Athens next week will be a must watch matchup for college football fans all over.
4 – Kansas State (vs. Oklahoma State)
Tennessee wasn’t the only team to decimate a ranked conference opponent. Oklahoma State traveled to Manhattan for a much anticipated matchup with the Wildcats, a team reeling after a loss to TCU with their third string quarterback a week ago. The Cowboys offense couldn’t muster anything all game, being suffocated by the Wildcat defense while their defense was gashed behind the arm of backup Will Howard and running game of Deuce Vaughn.
Howard, filling in for injured Adrian Martinez, passed for 296 yards and 4 touchdowns in the 48-0 route while Vaughn rushed for 158 and a touchdown, adding another touchdown in the receiving game. The Wildcat defense held Spencer Sanders to just 147 yards through the air while giving up just 54 yards rushing on 30 carries, and grabbed 2 interceptions (one off Sanders, one off the backup Gunnar Gundy).
Kansas State outgained Oklahoma State 495-217, won the turnover battle 3-0, and racked up 21 first downs to just 14 for the Cowboys. The Wildcats get a good matchup with Texas next Saturday night under the lights in Manhattan.
5 – Louisville Defense (vs. Wake Forest)
Wake Forest came into the week scoring over 31 points in every contest this season. One of the nations best offenses behind the arm and decision making of Sam Hartman, many expected this to continue against a Cardinals defense that’s given up big plays this season.
Instead, the Cardinals wreaked havoc on Hartman and the Deacons all game long forcing 8 turnovers, including 6 in the 3rd quarter alone that took a Deacons 14-13 lead and made it 48-14 within 15 minutes of game time. How big were those turnovers? Wake Forest was only outgained by 8 yards in total, won the first down battle 29-19, and held the ball for 7 more minutes. Granted, most of that came because Louisvilles defense kept forcing turnovers and short yardage for the offense, and two of the interceptions end up as touchdowns.
It was an impressive win nonetheless for the Cardinals and a much needed ranked victory for coach Scott Satterfield, who’s been sitting on a seat that’s been heating up in recent years. Louisville’s schedule doesn’t lighten up the rest of the season. though, as they finish with James Madison, Clemson, N.C. State, and in-state rival Kentucky.